Post-Game: Hard to watch

(Tom Szczerbowski / USA Today Sports)

The Calgary Flames have not been great lately. Since January 1, they had given up the first goal in the game in each of their last seven games. Well, the Flames gave up the first goal to the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. And then they allowed three more goals en route to a painfully dull 4-0 loss to their Canadian foes.

It was the worst of all possible outcomes. The Flames looked awful. The Leafs looked great.


There’s not a ton of things to recap from a Flames perspective.

They played a perfectly adequate first period. Just when it looked like they’d eke their way into the intermission in a scoreless tie, Mitch Marner tipped a Nikita Zaitsev point shot past Brian Elliott to make it 1-0. Shots were 13-8 Toronto in the first.

The Leafs scored again midway through the second, as Nazem Kadri scored on a wacky play: wild swings from Auston Matthews and William Nylander sent Kadri in against Engelland and despite Engelland playing it reasonably well (for him) Kadri beat Elliott short-side to make it 2-0.

Johnny Gaudreau got nailed twice during this game; the first was a big hip-check by Roman Polak on a zone entry. The second was this collision with Leo Komarov. Gaudreau left the game due to concussion testing, but was cleared and returned to the game.

Zach Hyman scored shorthanded later in the second, getting his own rebound and poking it through Elliott’s pads to make it 3-0. Shots were 12-11 Calgary, though they didn’t have a lot of gold star chances.

Kadri scored early in the second on a power play. Mark Giordano tried to redirect the puck on a Kadri wrister, but inadvertently deflected it past Elliott to make it 4-0. Whoops. The Flames shuffled around in the third but didn’t really generate much of anything. They looked defeated. The Leafs looked like they could go for another 60 minutes. Shots were 6-4 Flames.


After Saturday’s game, I asked Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan if some fragility has crept back into Calgary’s game. (He described his team back in late October/early November as “a fragile group.”) He denied that was the case. I’m thinking that he might be wrong.

The Flames give up the first goal a lot. It’s happened 29 times this season, just over half of the time. But what kills the team is when they give up the “next” goal. If they can get the game tied again, and avoid a two-goal deficit, they’re fine and can scrap their way through a game. When they go down a pair, things start to snowball and they’re dead in their tracks.


Kadri’s goal was one that Elliott had to have. It put the Flames down 2-0. It was slightly screened, but it was also far enough out and from a clean enough angle that Elliott had enough time and space to get squared up to it. It just beat him.


If I have to pick somebody, I’ll go with T.J. Brodie. He was moving around and generate some shots. But nobody was really good.


(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall. Stats via Natural Stat Trick.)

Player Corsi
Versteeg 66.7 60.0 0.515
Frolik 61.9 28.6 -0.125
Brodie 61.8 47.1 0.750
Wideman 60.0 43.8 0.425
Backlund 60.0 28.6 0.425
Kulak 57.9 50.0 0.200
Engelland 57.1 44.4 -0.050
Stajan 54.6 14.3 0.050
Brouwer 54.6 50.0 -0.200
Monahan 53.9 81.8 0.105
Chiasson 52.4 87.5 0.275
Bouma 50.0 28.6 0.125
Tkachuk 50.0 37.5 0.000
Bennett 47.6 50.0 0.150
F.Hamilton 45.5 14.3 -0.040
Gaudreau 41.7 80.0 -0.225
D.Hamilton 40.9 80.0 0.050
Giordano 34.8 57.1 -0.400
Elliott -0.600


Sean Monahan’s goal-scoring streak ends at five games.

This is the third time this season, and second time this month, that the Flames have been shut out.


The Flames (24-23-3) are back at it tomorrow, as they travel to la belle provence to take on the Montreal Canadiens.



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  • freethe flames

    So many problems not enough time to discuss them all. We needed the season to start right,it didn’t. We needed guys to have significant bounce back seasons, they haven’t. We needed the new guys to provide the leadership talent we were told they had, they haven’t. We needed our young stars to make progress; they haven’t. Have we expected to much too soon?

    We can count the guys who have lived up to our collective expectations on 1 hand. Backs, Frolik, Tkachuk, D Hamilton and Stajan. After that maybe Engs but expectations were low there anyways.

    Whose to blame: GG, BT and BB all to some extent.

  • trox

    I was initially very critical of Gully but made myself give him a chance. It now seems pretty clear that something is not right with what he is doing.

    I had a look at how players are tracking for points this season vs. last. The 3M line is having a great year. Backlund (+7) and Frolik (+15) are well ahead of last year’s pace. Some of this undoubtedly owes to playing with a great young player in Tkachuk. How much of this jump owes to Gully and his “systems” is debatable.

    Hamilton is also having a good year and is on pace for a +7 improvement. But he is playing with Giordano instead of stuck with one of the anchors like last year. Again, point is that factors other than Gully contribute to this.

    But even if Gully was responsible for these improvements, the obvious problem is our “best” players: Monahan (-15), Gaudreau (-22), Giordano (-20), Brodie (-24) and Bennett (-6) are all badly regressing. If this happened to one or two of them, we could blame the players themselves (or, in Gio’s case, age). But when 5 of the 6 players who are supposed to drive offense on this team all see a massive drop in their production, can this indicate anything other than a systemic problem?

    Yes, they look uninspired when they play and it is infuriating. But clearly there is something more fundamental going on than the players simply not trying hard enough. Seems like coaching is the most obvious suspect.

    • Newbietwo

      It is because of the system!!!!!!! Take Johnny for example and look at last year va this year.. now Johnny doesn’t get the pass at speed he gets the pass on the boards as an outlet out of our zone and they rely on the centre to drive

  • Danoilerfanincalgary

    I have watched the Flames play for 35 years I am not a troll and I am a Calgarian but an Oiler fan. I do not like Oiler trolls on this site anymore than the Flame trolls on Oiler nation go get your kicks elsewhere. If GG gets fired that means the Flames would be paying 3 coaches simultaneously not good besides he was hired to lead a young team through a rebuild. Expectations are too high and unrealistic and the fans of this team need to relax.You can’t fix what ails this team overnight it needs a couple of drafts and free agent periods to improve that means some time.In the meanwhile keep your heads up Flame fans things will get better over time you have a lot of good pieces and this team will improve. Young Tkachuk is a very good young player with a bright future but he needs to stop the garbage plays or he will turn into Matt Cooke and nobody will care how well he plays. Personally I want to see both Alberta teams play well and give us some BOA’s like the days gone by it was simply the best hockey anyone could ask for.

    • Blackgold

      I too am an Oiler fan and hate trolls that call down the other team and their team can do no wrong. All teams have them and they take away from the stories. I don’t like seeing a good player like Tkachuk turning into a Matt Cooke type player. He doesn’t need to do that. After the game GG thought they played a good game, just couldn’t score. Winning corsi because you are down 3 or 4 goals and have nothing to lose by going all offensive clouds what is really going on. Team toughness is lacking and no one is scared to play against the Flames right now. That was the Oilers problem for the past 10 years. Skilled players but no push back. Having a 4th line tough guy that can’t play isn’t the answer. Would love to see the Flames, Jets and Oilers return to the powerhouses that they were the 80’s. Those were great games to watch and were real battles. Made each other better.

  • RedMan

    if tkachuk was smart, he would have used his slew foot 0n an edmomton player – edmonton loves dirty plays and dirty players. they believe in injuring people as a game plan.

  • RedMan

    on a serious note, i sure hope the flames play a game sometime in the near future that I am able to watch from beginning to end. have not watched a full game since December. last night ended up putting on some led zeplin and doing house chores – when one would rather do dishes than watch their team, things are bad.

    • KenBone18

      Led Zepplin? cmon man are you serious? Everyone knows Fleetwood Mac is the best band to clean toilets and vacuum to.

      It’s hard to watch these guys from beginning to end. The only saving graces in games are watching Tkachuk – someone has to show some toughness and stand up for team mates

  • Ajwl27

    Well as both a leafs and flames fan that was the worst case scenario. Watching everybody get dirty was like pulling hairs. However I think Matt and uncle Leo should both get suspended. Leo didn’t try and kill Johnny, but you can’t hit a guy in the head. You also shouldnt slew fit guys… Simple as that.

  • Jay (not J)

    I guess after having the facts outlined for them Saturday night this team is going to be pretty hard pressed not to just roll ove and start watching draft position.

  • PrairieStew

    Just to bring some closure on the slew foot. Hockey Canada implemented this year an automatic game misconduct for the slew foot in minor hockey. Battles you used to see in front of the net where a defenseman puts his leg behind the forward then levers him over the leg are now a major with a game. Too many guys were hitting their heads on the ice with this play. Good rule change IMO.