Flames 4, Devils 3 (OT) post-game embers: A tale of two defencemen

The Calgary Flames got a lead. They lost the lead. It wasn’t the end of the world, and they got the win.

As rough as that losing streak from just a couple of weeks ago – and it really hasn’t been that long – was, it wasn’t an accurate reflection of this team. Is this a particularly good team? Not really; they’ll hopefully still be fighting for a playoff spot two months from now, and that’s probably the best case scenario. 

But they aren’t that bad of a team. February is off to a good start, and there’s some pretty solid growth evident here.

So that’s where TJ Brodie’s points come from

T.J. Brodie is kinda notorious for refusing to shoot. He’s generally good at every other aspect of the game – but have him shoot the puck? No. He won’t be doing that. (His presence on the top powerplay unit remains baffling for that fact alone.)

Case in point: he had one shot on net against the Devils.

But then he had four assists, too.

Brodie has had a number of multi-point nights throughout his career, but he’s never had a four-point game. He’s had three three-pointers – predictably, they were all three-assist games, because again, the guy simply doesn’t shoot – but the game against the Devils was something else entirely for him.

In that one game, Brodie tied Mark Giordano in points. Both now have 22 in 54 games played, good for eighth on the team. They’re 10 points back of Dougie Hamilton; also, Brodie got out of a tie with Troy Brouwer and leapfrogged Sam Bennett throughout his night.

Brodie has not had the best season, but we know he’s good. This was an abnormal offensive breakout from him, but he really shone in this one – particularly as he controlled the play in overtime. (Corsi is used as a puck possession proxy, but it’s not a fully accurate way of measuring what possession actually is. Glen Gulutzan said he wanted a possession team; Brodie and Mikael Backlund on that overtime shift were the epitome of that.)

Now imagine what he’ll be able to do when he gets to have a real defence partner! The future remains bright, potentially stupid offseason signings pending.

You know who else is great? Matt Stajan

Matt Stajan is a mostly unheralded dude who quietly keeps his head down, goes to work, occasionally unleashes old man rage when the situation calls for it, but mostly helps shelter the kids by taking on tougher starts and is all in all a really dependable bottom six centre.

I hope Las Vegas doesn’t take him, but I’m really starting to fear they might.

With his very timely goal – thank you Stajan (and also Brodie) (as a side note, that whole thing on maintaining confidence? It’s not like the Flames were dying in the third period, they totally kicked the Devils’ asses, but I wonder if it’s a bit more than a coincidence that it’s one of those sneaky savvy veteran guys who tied the game up after blowing a multi-goal lead) – hit 18 points on the season.

Why is that notable? Because the past two seasons, he only scored 17. Stajan has officially broken out of that funk, and will in all likelihood actually hit 20 points again.

It’s not really what was expected of him when he was traded for to be Jarome Iginla’s first line centre or whatever (good lord remember those days?), but it’s hard to hate Stajan’s current role. It’d be nice if he was actually paid like a fourth line centre, but nobody really brings up his cap hit because he’s never particularly bad at his job.

And every now and then you get angry games like last night’s in which he also scores. Kudos.

Oh that’s where the kids went

At the start of the season, you were probably expecting Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan to be one and two in team scoring, or at least something to that effect. That’s what they were last season, at least, and by a fairly considerable margin. Throw in their big shiny new contracts, and… well, it was a very disappointing start.

Anyway. Guess who has the lead in team scoring right now?

Backlund, obviously. Keep up.

But after Backlund’s 35 points in in 54 games – he’s on pace for his second 20-goal season and his first 50+ point season, get hype!! – you’ll find Gaudreau and Monahan, tied for second with 34 points each. (Gaudreau in 10 fewer games played, but still.)

So hey. There they are. 

With nine in his last 10 games, Monahan has remembered that he’s really gosh darn good at scoring goals. He does lead his draft class in points, albeit partially by benefit of Nathan MacKinnon having played 24 fewer games than him; that said, Monahan still leads in goals per game. 

And the even better news? As wary as one may wish to be due to Monahan’s generally high shooting percentage, he’s actually shooting at a greater rate now than he has in his career. The more he shoots no matter what, the more likely he is to score. He’s inching closer to a 30-goal pace again. 

Gaudreau, meanwhile, is on a little three-game point streak to go along with his team’s three-win streak. Here’s to more of that. Especially when his family is in the arena for constant adorable reaction shots. He was the only Flame other than Brodie to have a multi-point night.

Brian Elliott gets to keep his net

Brian Elliott had his first sub-.900 SV% game since the whole “win and you’re in” thing started, but it’s not as though he was terrible. Two goals on the penalty kill, okay, not ideal; he also got victimized by whatever the hell Brodie, Brouwer, and Dennis Wideman were thinking at even strength in the second.

He could have had a better game, but he also did enough to win it. And so, the net remains his for the next go. Hopefully he can keep hanging on to it – both to give Chad Johnson a continued break and because, you know, Elliott continuing to start means the Flames have continued to win.

He really does look a lot better since the new philosophy kicked in, though. I’m sure a fair bit of that has to do with the Flames actually giving a damn again, but a confident Elliott appears to be a good Elliott, and a good Elliott leads to victory. Knock on wood, but those really bad goals against seemed to have gone away.

Just 28 more games of Wideman!

yayyyy

He’s really not good. Reminder that he’s one of three Flames on average to play over 20 minutes a game (the others being Giordano and Brodie). That’s in part attributed to a fair share of ups and downs over the course of this season, but man, is this a down.

We’re in the final stretch here. Just hold on and keep waiting it out. And think about how much better things will be soon – potentially stupid offseason signings pending – because one of the key regular offenders of bad play on the Flames is almost gone, leaving an almost assuredly brighter future ahead.

For the record, I fully blame the delay of game penalty on him. Yes, he was pushed; he also exaggerated it and knocked the net off on purpose. It was the right call. And it almost burned his team. At least it set up his long-suffering defence partner for a four-point night.

  • The GREAT WW

    “I hope Las Vegas doesn’t take him, but I’m really starting to fear they might.”

    Stajan to Vegas would not be the end of the world……

    WW

  • MontanaMan

    Brodie played a great game last night and showed what he is capable of. My point all year with Brodie (and FN) is that yes, he has had bad d pairings but it’s up to him to make things happen. For much of the year, he has sat back, been burned defensively and everyone complains about his partner. Last night he moved his feet, took control of the play and was a difference maker. Would he benefit from a better defence partner? Yes. Is it up to Brodie to take control and drive the play? You bet.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Easy to say go out and make plays, until it doesn’t work. If Brodie is going to play a high risk/reward game his D-pairing is constantly be scored on, what’s the point? How many fans become critics, because “Brodie is too offensive minded and takes too many risks”? There are a handful of defensemen that are so good that they can do it themselves, everyone else needs at least a competent partner. Wideman is the problem, not Brodie’s resistance to play a more offensive game.

      • MontanaMan

        So how do you explain the ability to play like he did last night with the same partner? I don’t expect that performance every game but it shows that he can do it, even with a liability next to him, given it was New Jersey and not New York.

        • ChinookArchYYC

          Who isn’t happy about Brodie’s work last night, he was excellent. Without a competent D-partner tell me your happy when when Brodie’s caught up the ice, on an odd man rush with Denise Wideman defending. The point is that his aggressive offensive play will be far less risky with a good partner.

  • FL@med

    Don’t really get all the hate on Wiseman. Sure he’s played bad, awful even… But he’s being forced to play a role that: 1. He’s not comfortable in 2. He’s not suited for 3. Is only playing in that role because GG thinks that he’s the best choice to partner Brodie. Yes I understand he’s awful defensively, but would play ok/good if played on the bottom pairing.

    • Pond Hockey

      Regardless where he plays, he is paid an ‘elite’ level salary and makes over $64,000 USD per game. You better show up and compete for this kind of money. It’s similar to the Brouwer conundrum where it’s tough to bury big money on the third and fourth line.

  • freethe flames

    So after watching the game last night is there any interest in acquiring either of the Devil’s rental players: Parenteau or Quincey?

    On the waiver wire Marchenko 25 year old RHD 6’3 210lb defender?

    Time to move on from that game and discuss the next game and the moves this organizations needs to make both short term and long term,

  • freethe flames

    10 games left before the trade deadline. 2 against playoff teams both before the break. 7 against bubble teams and one against Arizona. Need to be 50% against the playoff teams, 4/7 against bubble teams(2/2 vs Vancouver and Nashville would be best) and need to beat Arizona. While we complain about loser points when other teams get them I would be happy if the Flames got loser points in any of the games they lose at this point.

  • Eggs Bennett

    Don’t understand why the refs are so keen on waiving off the Flames goals. What part of that OT winner would have constituted as a disallowed goal??

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Oh Yah…Wideman embellished the hit into the net. Look at it again in real time, there is more contact in a grocery store. No reffing conspiracy on that play….just a bone head play. I am still not sure why players like Wideman and Chaisson, who clearly don’t pass the eye test, continue to get the benefit of the doubt.

    If you watch one of the interview clips, the first question asked by a female reporter to GG was “do you think Wideman struggled out there?” So, it would be interesting to see where this team may be if GG limited the roles of the 2 mentioned players…a wee bit earlier.

  • T&A4Flames

    I still think it would be worth considering trading Brodie our 1st and more for Trouba and Wheeler if WPG was interested. Then sign Alzner in the summer to be Trouba’s partner. I hate to lose Brodie but give to get. I think that makes our D better over all and the addition of a big legit top 6 RW with Wheeler makes us a much better team.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Perhaps we could look at Brodie + for Hamonic and Strome. NYI gets a young D with potential and another piece, while the Flames get a harder hitting player with top pair abilities and something we lack; a RHS for center or top 6.

      Easier to find a LD in free agency.

  • Cfan in Vic

    In pro sports, the onus is on every player to elevate their game when they are under performing. That is a very simple fact universally understood by most fans.

    That said, given the personal situation surrounding Brodie and his wife this season, I fully understand his fluctuation in performance. It doesn’t surprise me a bit, and it doesn’t leave me expecting more from him. If he can elevate and continue to perform at the level we’re accustomed to see him at, then fantastic. But as he and his wife transition through hard times, I fully expect that to have at least some effect in his performance. They’re humans after all.

  • Stu Cazz

    I think GG is taking too much criticism in his deployment of Wideman. I most cases a players ice time is a collective decision involving management. Given the large amount of scouts in attendance because of the pending trade deadline many players are getting ice time they don’t deserve rather than based on proven performance…as well given the criticality of these games the team is relying on the veteran experience of a Wideman vs the rookie prone mistakes that are inherent with younger D such as Kevin and Kulak….

  • freethe flames

    So between now and the trade deadline the Kings have 4 games against playoff teams, 6 bubble teams and 2 non playoff teams. The Blues have 3 against playoff teams, 6 bubble teams and 1 non playoff teams. This is going to be an interesting month. These are teams that I think we are most likely competing with for the 2 wild card spots.

      • freethe flames

        There appears to be 10 teams(5 in the east, 5 in the west) that look like good locks for the playoffs cutting this down to 67%, then two teams(both in the west) that are almost completely eliminated taking the numbers down to closer to 60%. After that there are are others whose numbers are shrinking significantly. 50% of the teams in the west are bubble teams; not as you say 75%.

  • TurkeyLips

    Don’t know where people get this idea that Las Vegas is going to fill their brand spankin new roster with old bones.

    They’re going to approach the expansion draft like any draft, by going for youth + potential at all positions. If any team manages to donate a third decade player making multiple millions to the Golden Knights, they should consider themselves damn lucky.

  • Grayone

    The was a character win, plain and simple! The Devils certainly wanted the win as much but we dug down and played a great overtime!

    All I was thinking and muttering through the third period was “keep ’em out Elliot” and thankfully he did.

    I found it curious that Hrudey dissed Schneider on a few occasions ……. I thought he made a bushel of real good saves. Kelly’s the former super goalie so who’s to question.

    Off to NYC … could we win in the Garden? Elliot would have to be stupid good methinks … sadly I don’t see it happening.

    Finally, I think it would be good for the NFL if Atlanta prevailed but Bellichek – Brady what a combo!