Post-Game: Flickering Flames fall to .500


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(Eric Bolte / USA Today Sports)

Early this season, the Calgary Flames were a bad team. They went on nice little runs here and there, but they couldn’t crack the .500 mark. Later on, they finally broke through and went on a run into a playoff spot. For weeks, they were a wildcard team that just couldn’t quite do enough to climb into a divisional playoff spot. They seemed destined to be in the wildcard mix until the end of the season.

Instead, the Flames have gone on one of the most mind-bogglingly bad runs we’ve seen in years. They lost another one-sided game tonight, dropping a 5-1 decision to the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Once flirting with a divisional playoff spot, they’ve crashed back down to .500.

THE RUNDOWN

Much like they did against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night, the Flames played a decent first period. They were structured. They were fairly poised. They couldn’t score on any of their (few) scoring chances. Then they gave up a goal late in the period to blow up any momentum they had. With 43 seconds remaining in the first, Andrew Shaw beat Chad Johnson to make it 1-0. As you’ll see below, Dennis Wideman and T.J. Brodie played this… oddly.

Screen Shot 2017-01-24 at 6.20.20 PM

Shots were 11-7 Calgary, but they didn’t have a ton of good chances.

The wheels began to fall off in the second period for the Flames, right on schedule. Tomas Plekanec scored on a short-handed breakaway to make it 2-0. Johnny Gaudreau bobbled the puck at the Canadiens blueline, allowing Plekanec to skate in on a two-on-one and beat Johnson five-hole. Alex Radulov scored four minutes later on a power-play, off a nice cross-zone pass down low, to make it 3-0. Shots were 11-6 Calgary in the second.

The bleeding continued in the third period. The Flames went into a dump and chase routine and generated very little, as Montreal was perfectly content to collect the puck and cycle it calmly back into the neutral zone. Daniel Carr made it 4-0 off the rush, being left all alone after Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton got crossed up guarding Torrey Mitchell off the zone entry. Radulov got his second power play goal of the game walking calmly around Brodie and beating Johnson high while driving to the net to make it 5-0. Sam Bennett scored in the dying seconds of the game (on the power play) to ruin Carey Price’s shutout bid. Not that it mattered. Shots were 9-7 Calgary.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

Once again, the Flames didn’t generate much and it hurt ’em. But they also made a bunch of little mistakes against a much better team and it killed ’em. If they played a smart, structured game for 60 minutes against Montreal there was still a good chance they’d lose simply because Price is an elite goalie. But they were shaky with the puck and really didn’t do much with the puck in the offensive zone to make Montreal nervous.

Overall? Montreal’s a better team than the Flames, but they also made far fewer mistakes with the puck.

THE TURNING POINT

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The shorthanded goal sunk these guys once again. They had a chance to tie the game on the power play. Instead, they ended up in a deeper hole than they began in. Once again, when things could go wrong for the Flames it did go around… and then snowballed.

RED WARRIOR

Just like with the Edmonton game, I’m taking the option and going with “nobody.” Gaudreau skated well and was arguably the best player (along with maybe Mikael Backlund) at generating chances, but Gaudreau’s puck-handling gaffe led to a shortie.

In summation: nobody was all that good tonight. Again.

THE NUMBERS

It seems like gremlins are in the system at the NHL website (and Natural Stat Trick) tonight, since as of this writing the NHL is saying there’s five minutes left in the third period of a game that’s been over for an hour.

So let’s skip the numbers tonight. The Flames out-shot (and out-Corsied) the Habs, but that’s what you should expect when one team is chasing for the final two periods.

THIS AND THAT

The Flames gave up the first goal for the ninth consecutive game.

Bennett’s third period goal was his first since December 27 against Colorado.

The Flames shuffled their lines around a lot in the third period to try to get something going. The most consistent lines were: Frolik-Backlund-Ferland, Gaudreau-Monahan-Versteeg, Tkachuk-Bennett-Brouwer, Bouma-Stajan-Chiasson. Defensive pairings didn’t really change around.

UP NEXT

The Flames (24-24-3) take a train tonight to Ottawa and are off tomorrow. They’re back in action, if you can call it that, on Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators in their final game before the All-Star Break.

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  • everton fc

    Before I begin my rant, we may very well go on a little win streak, and surprise the league. I have my doubts, though.

    First, We have Chiasson playing RW w/Gaudreau. Not Chiasson’s fault – he’s a good piece for a team to have. But he’s a 3rd liner at best, a 4th liner in reality. Always will be. We’ve had Brouwer w/Gaudreau. Brouwer is a 3rd line RW, at best. We’ve tried Versteeg. But never Tkachuk. Why is this?

    Bennett and Gaudreau, for myriad reasons, put zero fear in other teams at the moment. They are both being ruined here this season.

    Our goalie coach should be the first coach to go. How can so many goalies come here and die?

    “On paper”, we are not an impressive team. Who put this team together? Give this some thought…

    Ferland is better than Bouma. We don’t need both.

    BT signed one of the worst contracts in a long time when he penned Brouwer at $4.5mill/season. To me, Brouwer looks on his way to being washed up. He offers very little. Versteeg is better. Chiasson is comparable, at a much better price. The Brouwer signing could be the end of Treliving. It wasn’t necessary at all. Bad judgment here, and has a whiff of Burke to it.

    Gio is not a #1 defenceman anymore. But we’re paying him like one forever. And honestly, he’s not the problem – his salary is. Another bad move by BT/BB. There second horrific contract. That may cost them both their jobs, if we fall out of playoff contention soon.

    Tkachuk was a good pick. We are ruining Bennett, though. Maybe even Gaudreau. Guys like Gaudreau, Monahan, Brodie, Hamilton… Bennett… Frolik… Backlund… Eventually Tkachuk… All will see greener grass and possible playoff hockey elsewhere, each game they experience like the last four, in this dead-end organization. All are pros, but pros get frustrated, and look for greener pastures.

    Toronto’s turnaround vs. ours is food for thought. Ditto the Wild. And look at Columbus this season. I’ve posted this here before – since the 96-97 season – 19 seasons, not counting this one – we’ve made the playoffs six times. Five of those were in the Daryll Sutter era (where he was coach or GM). Since the 2009-10 season, we’ve made the playoffs once. Who is to blame? The President of the team??

    What needs to happen?

    Burke needs to go. Maybe even Treliving. Gulutzan was the wrong hire. He needs to go. Perhaps his whole staff needs to go. I’d shop Gio (Toronto? Ottawa??), though again, his play is not the problem. I’d do my best to retain Backlund and Frolik. I’d punt Brouwer (expansion or trade, but we’ll be eating salary if we move him). Either play Chiasson on RW/4th line, or move him, too, and give Hathaway or Hamilton a chance. Move Bouma/Keep Ferland. Move Jokipaaka/Play Kulak. Move Bennett to LW. Promote Jankowski to centre him and see what we’ve got. Sign Versteeg, if possible. Call up Rittich and give him a few starts – yes, I am saying go w/three goalies for a few games to shake some sense into everybody. Personally, I think our goalie coach ruins our goalies, and our defence plays way too soft – Hamilton at least scores; Brodie is one of the softest defenders in the league. But I’d keep Brodie. He’s a good 3/4 defender, if he plays on his proper side, with someone who has some guts and grit (GG is ruining Brodie, by the way).

    The new GM could be Conroy, but I still like Jason Botterill out of Pittsburgh. Ken King should be fired now. He’s a big part of the problem here. Always has been. Like many here, I could go on and on. I won’t. Time is better spent at this hour of the night (now morning – I had work to do). I’ll leave it at that. For now.

    I encourage all fans to watch the pressers after the game. Gulutzan’s a frustrated coach – seems he’d like to move some of these guys, but maybe the problem is him, his inability yo light a fire under this group? Johnson’s presser is the most honest. These guys don’t trust one another. I think some think others are playing soft, playing as if they don’t really care as much as they should. Incredible interviews. This is a very broken, confused group w/zero confidence. Johnson at least sounds like he has some guts left.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      That’s as much crap as the Flames have shown on the us for the last several games.

      Kenny King is here and will remain here to get the new barn built. He speaks the language of big business and politicos.

      Flames should have hired Torts? Are you nuts?

      Do an Oiler job and give a beloved ex-Flame the GM job? What Rhett Warrner too busy with his radio gig?

      Yeah, Jordan Siglet is the problem with the goalies around here. As a Flames’ diehard I am embarrassed at how the likes of Ramo and that Finn from last year are NHL all-stars this season on their new clubs.

      Your logic further confounds when you said that Gio was BT/BB “second horrific contract.” But as I know, it was signed before the Brouwer deal. Did you say at the time the Gio deal was signed it was a stinker or have you made this observation with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight?

      • everton fc

        No matter what language King speaks, as a President of a hockey team, he’s poor.

        Never said Flames should hire “Torts”. The Jackets were improving under Richards – they made some good moves w/players.

        Never said hire and ex-Flame. Botterill was a Flames for a few games. He’s one of the best Asst. GM’s in the league.

        Siglet could very well be the problem w/our goalies. Our defence is also part of the problem. Prove Siglet isn’t the problem – where’s his successes?

        Bad contract #1 – Brouwer. Bad contract #2 – Giordano. And I did say the deal for Gio was a bad one when signed. I said the same about Brouwer’s.

        This team needs a coach that will kick them out of their funk. Gulutzan’s not the person. BT chose to keep Jooris over Byron. Bad move #3. And I said the same, at the time it went down.

        Not a soothsayer; just my opinion. And I’ll stick to my opinion on Siglet. Others here have the same.

  • Greatsave

    We’re a “.500” team! Fire all the guys! The janitors have to go! Ditto the concessions staffs! Call up Stockton! Next up in Ottawa, the Stockton Heat play the Senators!

    Good grief. The Flames are still ahead of their pace from last season. But you wouldn’t know it from this thread full of doomsayers and fans this close to jumping.

  • freethe flames

    Well the good news from last night was GG finally moved Chaisson to the 4th line and he did not lookout place. He put Ferland with the other 2 Mikes and he played with energy and did not look out of place. He put Tkachuk with Sam and Sam finally scored a goal and he put Johnny and Monny back together again, but that leaves Brouwer and Versteeg on the RW and they are not good enough or don’t care enough. Well enough of the good news. Oh wait somehow this team still holds down the last wild card spot.

    This team is a bubble team that is not getting enough from it’s best payers. Part of the problem is that they don’t have the right complimentary pieces for the top 6. The other problem seems that the system is not a fit for their skill set.

    The goaltending has fallen off the cliff yet this was an area most of us believed BT had addressed it should be obvious now that this issue has not been solved.

    Something has to change; either BT has to make a real hockey trade in mid season(something he has not done)T or another coaching change. The sooner the better.

  • deantheraven

    On the bright side:
    Johnson and Elliott can’t be thinking to ask for much of a raise for next season, should the Flames decide to keep one of ’em.

    Big money off the books this summer means more opportunities to improve through UFA/trade markets.

    Somebody is going to Vegas!

    • MontanaMan

      Why would Vegas pick one of them? From the Flames perspective, they need to pick one of the two as a back up goalie (likely Johnson) and go out and find a goalie that can start 60 games. It’s clear neither of the two current tenders meet that criteria.

  • The GREAT WW

    I think there are now more [redacted] Oiler trolls on this site than Flames fans….

    WW

    FN Mod: still no personal attacks, even if you think they’re trolling.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Conditions are ripe… Flames are flickering and the Oilers are looking like they might finally have a decade of ineptitude behind them. There’s a lot of pent up trash talk in Oil fans… specifically those with lower mental capabilities… which is what we are seeing now.

  • Danoilerfanincalgary

    The Oilers for 10 years constantly changed coaches and management with zero continuity and the fans paid the price. I don’t wish the same futility for Flames fans it is not their fault they are frustrated and have little say in their teams outcome. Firing the coach means paying 3 coaches at the same time the owners will not allow that. WW and Arminius continue to take their anger out at the Oiler fans a little misdirected but the more they comment the less intelligent they come off making Flames fans in general look bad. In the darkest days the fans need to stick by their team more than ever. There are some very good players on the Flames and eventually they will turn it around but all the negativity only contributes to to their struggles. Deep down inside of me there is a little Glen Sather smirk but really I want the Flames fans not have to go through what Oiler fans had to endure for years. Good luck Flame fans I hope your team gets back to playing better hockey.

  • jakethesnail

    Hockey 2 Nite: They showed the post-game comments of GG publicly teeing off on the players by saying it was a pathetic performance and making a sarcastic comment on the 4th line.

    Craig Button says that all areas of the Flames game is out of order and it is the coaches job to make sure the players are prepared. Button then says that he is not so sure that GG is a good coach!.

    AGREED!

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Why is it so hard to have a calm, rational conversation during a slump like this. So much is either over reactions or ad hominom attacks back and forth with people from Edmonton.

    You guys have all watched more than one season of hockey before. Teams go up and they do down and then…etc etc. Nobody knows where this bus is going but I know I’m not going to set it on fire because I get a flat tire one day.