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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  • Alsal

    I used to be a believer. I drank the cool aid. It was red, refreshing and I took a massive gulp and drank it without hesitation. I also got this email from this nice fellow from the Nigerian embassy telling me I was a millionaire and he need 1000 dollars to send me my million dollars. Man, that must be true too.

    And you know what Flames nation? I also believed Eric Francis. I mean who wouldn’t? He must know everything about the Flames. He played in the league right? He mentioned Chad Johnson and the legendary Mikka Kiprusoff in the same sentence. He even said Iggy could return!
    He said emphatically, the Flames will make the playoffs. Then I did something I wish I hadn’t. Life was good. Although I was feeling a little wheezy from the Kool aid and had just sent my 1000 bucks to Nigeria. So I decided to watch the Flames game.

    I thought to myself Playoffs? Playoffs! I just want to win a game! – god Bless Jim Mora.

    I was shaking. Disoriented. Down 3-0 against MTL. Then 4-0. Then 5-0. Oh my, the T.O., Nash, and Edm loss was not just a blip. Could it be… The Flames are not a playoff team!

    Chad Johnson and Brian Elliot have five holes the size of that weird blue circle thingy off Deerfoot before the turnoff going to the calgary airport. Johnson vs. kipper comparison? As one President put it… SAD.

    Bouma and Brouwer have disappeared and an amber alert should be issued. “We paid 7 mill per year officer and I can’t seem to spot them on the ice.”

    Yes, Hamilton skates like a deer (great analogy Burkie) but he acts like one too, think Bambi. P.S. Mr. Burke, did you get that clip on tie I sent you for Christmas?

    Then I asked myself, how could this all go wrong? – I point to my shakey kool aid saturated finger at GG.

    A tactician? I don’t know, but I’ll give him that cause I’m nice and feel really good since I drank that kool aid. But I do know he is not a motivator. As per my rant yesterday, he’s the kid in the playground with a calculator trying to impress the pretty girl with calculus. No lunch. No date. no shoes. Nice hair.

    What do you mean you don’t go into the dressing room (win/loss) after games GG? Would Maximus in the movie Gladiator abandon his troops after a battle? You should have said this…

    “My name is Maximus Decimus Gulutzan, Commander of the Armies of the Southern Alberta, Coach of the Calgary Flames, loyal servant to emperor Ken King. Father to an embarrassing loss to the Oilers, husband to a gutless loss to the Leafs . And I will have my vengeance, in this season or the next.”

    So GG you don’t talk to your troops post game? Motivator I think not.

    I love you Flames. I really do, and I’ll go down with the ship and start thinking draft. I’ll endure the trashes from oiler fan, because I really have no comeback. If by some miracle some players read this, prove me wrong, please. Hopefully it lit a fire because GG obviously lost his match, but he does have a calculator and has nice hair.

  • The GREAT WW

    I really wish that one of the writers of this site would educate the readers as to what a slew foot is, and then provide video evidence that Tkachuk did NOT slew foot Marincin last night.

    WW

  • flamesburn89

    Might be time to start sending messages to some veterans. Bennett has certainly played poorly this season, but there are more established players not getting the done either.

  • Xcameron

    @alsal props to your great opening to tonight’s discussion. I don’t personally have any blinding insights into what might break the spell here.

    What I’m becoming more sure of is there is a leadership issue on the team day to day. That means coaches and letters. Once again there was no fight in this team … nobody pissed off with someone else (opponent or teammate) and there was no one who let you know they weren’t going to lose a battle. It also seemed as if nobody had any intention of taking the puck straight to the paint.

    Can we get back to “does anyone give a crap” hockey?

  • Burnward

    We need to rename Wideman and Brodie. I propose Laurel and Hardy. Or how about Lloyd and Harry.

    Absolutely ridiculous.

    And Gio, what the heck what was that 2 on 2 play?

    Heads up ani.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it. “Charlie Chaplin”
    In Honor of playing in Montreal… Na Na Na Na – Na Na Na Na – Hey Hey … Goodbye(GG) ~ Na Na Na Na – Na Na Na Na – Hey Hey … Goodbye(GG) ~ Na Na Na Na – Na Na Na Na – Hey Hey … Goodbye(GG)
    If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane. “Robert Frost”
    On to Ottawa… That should be a good one too!

  • Kevin R

    No worries. Once we get to 3 games under .500 & 6 points behind the last wildcard spot with all of Dallas, Vancouver, LA, Nashville & St Louis ahead of us, the fear of success will be gone & we’ll start to play like an NHL team again. I guess we just moved up to being clear sellers at the TDL.
    Treliving, at least do us a favour & don’t wait to start selling.

  • RKD

    Glen Gulutzan isn’t the right guy to coach this team we have so much talent but so little to show for it. He said he wants to be a possession team yet the Flames pass the red line dump it in and then chase. There’s no reason a guy like Chiasson should be playing with a guy like Gaudreau. Bennett right now is not up handling the center role even on a p/t basis. Gulutzan missed the playoffs twice in Dallas and could this year too. Treliving needs to badly address getting another top 4 d-man, they need a top line RW. They should be able to score at even strength with the talent they have. This team doesn’t look like it is ready to take the next step forward, with the Flames it’s always 1 step forward, 2 steps backwards.

  • DangleSnipeCelly

    Someone wake me up when the Flames are at least watchable again…

    Fourth game in a row where all I’m cheering for is for us to AT LEAST break the shutout.

    I miss crappy underlying numbers and exciting hockey.

  • Blackgold

    Man was GG ever pissed in his interview. Calling his team pathetic. He doesn’t talk to them after games, but comes out and hangs them in the media. His days are numbered. But he has nice hair. Eakins 2.0.

  • Lucky 13

    Although it’s not official don’t peer over your head, because LA and Vancouver will soon be pole vaulting over us. Like Olympic athletes.. and without steroids in their system. Just in case someone gets a notion about unfair play?

    Speaking of that, (unfair play) if I have to read anymore about “slew footing” I’m gunna lose my mind! Let the league decide or if you wish, you can sit in the hearings and discuss at length what constitutes what till every one starts you know .. “slewing” each other. You guys are worse than lawyers , (sorry lawyers)

    Is it October again? I’m having a déjà vu.
    Perhaps this may be a blessing in disguise. At least we can address issues when there’s a repetitive theme. It’s better to catch this now then it is for us to play decent hockey until April only to lose out on opportunities that may have presented themselves earlier. ( trade deadline)

    We need fixed, but at least we know where to start…
    I hope that BT isn’t the scapegoat. Yes he hired GG, but it was Conroy that did the Grouse Grind with him and gave his blessings to Tre. Let’s not forget that.

  • Tundradog

    All appearances say the team has quit on the coach. For some, they quit in October. Looks like the rest of them just got the memo at the start of the New Year.

    Can BT just fire GG already and let the team move on?

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Still a transition year guys. Anybody who thought they saw the last slump of the year back in October wasn’t being realistic. All teams, especially bubble teams, have slumps. Obviously it would be nice to see more consistency, but just because it’s not there yet, doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future. They didn’t forget how to play hockey. Smells like a confidence issue to me.

  • MarbledBlueCheese

    Just a reminder: after you comment on obtaining a top 4 defenseman and a top-line RW this year, please follow it up with who you would then leave unprotected in the expansion draft.

  • shaner

    When the oilers are bad (see, years on end) the flames are mediocre and mediocrity beats lousy…..when the oilers are good they have generational talent and steer towards winning multiple cups and the flames are only good or maybe great but they lose to generational teams. I’d rather win cups then have years of mediocrity….the flames are good, will make playoffs once in a while and will win the odd series, the oilers are heading to the top.

    All you flames fans be proud to cheer for an Alberta team that’s successful within a few years.

    [redacted]

    FN Mod: you should have stopped there, avoid personal attacks.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Please pass on your wisdom as to how the Oilers are somehow on their way to multiple cups. That’s rich. Give yourself a pat on the back that the Oilers have one more ROW than the Flames and a bunch of OTL. Hate to be the one to break it to you, but shootouts are not part of the playoff format. A loss in 5v5 OT is a loss.

      Set yourself up for a big playoff letdown this year, if you manage to put together a winning record in the remaining months.

  • #97TRAIN

    Just saw Gulutzan’s post game presser and it really gives the impression that he might be at the end of the line. I’ve seen it many times when teams are in this position and it’s a matter of time before a change is in the works.

    The press conference had a bad feel to it if you are a Flames fan.