Post-Game: Bedeviled


USATSI_9856029
(Ed Mulholland / USA Today Sports)

It’s no secret that the Calgary Flames have been an inconsistent team this season. Tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils was basically the 2016-17 edition of this club in a nutshell. They had a good start and got out to a lead. Then they allowed many goals in rapid succession and trailed after 40 minutes. But they managed to get back into the game before Mikael Backlund won it for them in overtime.

The Flames beat New Jersey 4-3 at Prudential Center to capture a crucial pair of points in an incredibly tight Western Conference playoff race.

THE RUNDOWN

It was a very drab opening first 20 minutes. Both teams played a lot in the neutral zone, with each side relying on dump-and-chase to give them breathing room. Neither team had a ton of chances. The Flames opened the scoring just after their power play expired, with Sean Monahan scoring his 99th career goal on a really nice lengthy cycling sequence in the Devils zone that tuckered their penalty killers right out. Monahan sniped one to make it 1-0.

Shots were 16-11 Flames.

The second period was basically two big chunks. The Flames played well early on, with Kris Versteeg scoring early on a power play drawn by the Flames at the end of the first. Johnny Gaudreau entered the Devils zone with speed, then dropped the puck for Versteeg to wrist on the rush before New Jersey’s PK had a chance to set up. That made it 2-0.

After that? New Jersey woke up and the Flames seemed to lose their focus and their attention to detail that had been so strong over the first 25-or-so minutes. Adam Henrique made it 2-1 after Troy Brouwer and Zach Wood battled for a puck behind the net and it squirted to Henrique for the wrap-around goal. Brian Elliott was caught unaware by the turn of events. Pavel Zacha made it 2-2 on a Devils power play. Elliott made the initial save and Zacha beat Brouwer to a loose puck (and Elliott couldn’t get across quickly enough to make the save).

Kyle Palmieri made it 3-2 Devils on another Devils power play – Dennis Wideman was in the box for shoving the net off its moorings with the Devils pressing – Palmieri deflected a rebound past Elliott using his stick shaft. Shots were 13-11 New Jersey.

The Flames seemed to wake up during the intermission, as they were considerably better in the third than they had been in the second. Midway through the period they drew even; T.J. Brodie jumped into the rush and his shot was deflected past Cory Schneider by Matt Stajan to make it 3-3. The Flames pressed for the rest of the period but couldn’t take a lead during regulation time. Shots were 9-4 Flames.

So we went to overtime and the Flames won it off a really nice passing sequence between Mikael Backlund and Brodie in the offensive zone. They were circling and dishing it off and circling and dishing it off. The Devils followed Brodie for too long, leaving Backlund open for a pass and a redirect past Schneider. Shots were 2-1 in OT for Calgary.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

The Flames bent, but didn’t break, and they didn’t let a bad second period turn into an even worse third. We’ve seen the wheels fall off the Flames in the past, but they seemed to simplify their game in the third and the Devils just couldn’t keep up.

It also helps that they got contributions from a lot of different places, which seemingly made it difficult for the Devils to key in on any one line or grouping. Their power play scored. Their goaltending was good, although not quite as good as it was against Ottawa or Minnesota. Their fourth line scored to tie it.

THE TURNING POINT

It seems super obvious, but man, this was a really nice sequence.

RED WARRIOR

Brodie had three primary assists and a secondary assist. Despite being saddled with Wideman, he was superb tonight and was a catalyst whenever he got the puck in the offensive end.

Neither of Wideman or Brouwer were particularly good in this game.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Brouwer 68.8 80.0 0.975
Hamilton 68.6 63.6 1.075
Monahan 66.7 81.8 1.925
Gaudreau 65.7 81.8 2.250
Giordano 65.0 64.3 0.800
Versteeg 64.7 73.3 1.525
Brodie 64.7 63.2 3.575
Wideman 61.5 68.8 0.375
Stajan 61.5 66.7 1.105
Ferland 61.5 66.7 0.925
Bennett 61.1 73.3 0.165
Chiasson 60.0 73.3 0.150
Bouma 60.0 66.7 0.375
Backlund 48.3 22.2 0.925
Frolik 46.4 22.2 0.725
Jokipakka 42.9 57.1 0.025
Tkachuk 36.4 33.3 -0.375
Engelland 33.3 57.1 -0.050
Elliott 0.350

THIS AND THAT

After tonight, the Flames are 3-19-1 when trailing after two periods.

As previously mentioned, Monahan’s next goal will be his 100th.

Brodie’s game score tonight is the highest registered by any Flames player this season.

UP NEXT

The Flames (27-24-3) practice tomorrow in Central Park and then are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they visit the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

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    • MontanaMan

      I’m not sure that Wideman isn’t finished in the league. His skills do not allow him to play at the speed the game is at and even his offensive skill (once his main contribution) has deteriorated. Combine his skill level with being a marked man by the referees and I think he’s done. If the Flames are able to get a draft pick for him at the deadline, it will be a BT miracle.

  • RKD

    I hope the all star break is what Brodie needed to reset the switch on his struggling first half of the season. If he’s the Brodie we are all accustomed then he will go along way in helping the Flames make the playoffs.

    • calgaryfan

      It can not be a hockey decision that he plays, everyone can see his issues. It must be ownership not wanting 5 million sitting in the press box or Stockton. Kylington or Andersson from Stockton could not be this bad.

  • The GREAT WW

    Are you serious?! The Oilers next game is on sunday in Montreal…..the Canadians host the Capitals on Saturday?!

    The Oilers have such an easy schedule this year….

    WW

  • Ole YELLEr

    Man I thought analytics were supposed to take biases out of the equation and let the numbers speak for themselves yet Brouwer and his team best Corsi “wasn’t particularly good this game”. I have to say I think this Wideman hate is getting silly. 61.5 corsi, he takes a penalty in the the defensive zone for being hit from behind while being many feet away from the puck and he’s being defecated upon. Maybe the league and it’s fans should start paying attention to offensive inteference as well as defensive inteference.

  • Stan

    Wow Ryan, did you even watch the game? Easily Brouwers best game as a Flame, even the advanced stats back it up. This in particular irked the hell out of me:

    “Adam Henrique made it 2-1 after Troy Brouwer and Zach Wood battled for a puck behind the net and it squirted to Henrique for the wrap-around.”

    That’s just a bold faced lie. It was Wideman that lost the battle with Wood and allowed the second goal. It was also Wideman that thought he was on the diving team and swan dived into our own net giving the Devils the PP and third goal.

    You really don’t need to make shit up to hate on Brouwer, he has been awful all season. But he has been pretty dam good these last couple games on the top line, so how about giving some credit where credit is due.

    Also, wideman is literal trash. Enough said.

  • Stan

    Well Ryan clearly didn’t watch the game, Brouwer was great and has fit in very well with Johnny and Mony IMO. Also, it was Wideman that lost the battle with Wood behind the net leading to the second goal, not Brouwer… Jesus.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Agreed. Brouwer needs that edge so that Johnnyand Monny can play big. Brouwer needs to play like this if he wants to play with the golden geese. It really is simple create space for Johnny and Monny while protecting them from dirty tactics, chip in offense occasionally and you can stay on the top line. It appears to be the top line once again.

  • Flaymin Frank

    Sorry to be spraying cold water on the Brouwer love fest but I thought he was wearing the goat horns on NJ’s first two goals. But let’s not quibble, we got two points.

    Nice to see the 4th line out there with three minutes left in the game. That was good on GG’s part to show them some love after their hard fought battles all nite.

    Keep the work boots laced up tight lads. Two tough games coming up then you almost get a week off. Great scheduling software!!

    GFG

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Brouwer just needs to bring more than Chaisson….which is happening. If we want to be critical, I thought Brodie struggled defensively, but made an impact offensively.

      I can’t figure out why he refuses to shoot and then when he is forced to shoot he misses the net regularly. He has lots of great qualities but he far from playing his best despite putting up 4 points.

  • Pond Hockey

    AND for the record, tonight WW stated the following in the previous FN post (assuming that his account wasn’t hacked):

    “Not a bad effort from Backlund on the winner….”

    So the tin man may have a heart ❤️ after all. Show him some love people.

  • John Wayne's Hat

    Off topic perhaps, but this scheduling is dumb. Why don’t they schedule the season like so: the first 30 ish games are all inter-conference. All the big travel gets out of the way early while everyone is rested, team bonding, and so on. Also, in October I’m just happy there is hockey, no point wasting all those games against the Oilers and Canucks early in the season. Then, the last 50 or so games against the conference. Less travel, battling for playoff positioning, more rivalry, something to get excited about in January. That’s just a rough sketch. What are your thoughts?

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Disagree. After the very long summer break for teams that don’t make the playoffs, the fans of those clubs are starved for hockey come October. You can hardly satiate most Flames’ fans hockey fix by giving them the a fill of the Devils and Sabres for the first two months of the season. BORING! No natural rivalries there and plenty of early starts and finishes for the fans back home. With games ending by 8:00 we actually have no excuse not to talk to the wife and kiddies.

      As well as the players, we fans have to get into shape and be ready to support our heroes in October, but it is way too hard to get a game on when the opponent is the Islanders or the Panthers. There is nothing like playing Edmonton in October and November and getting into parking lot fights with Oiler thugs and also talking Stampeders-Esks trash at the same time we are exchanging punches and kicks.

      Why do you want to deny me the pleasure of running up and down the steps of the garage in VCR in October while wearing my red wig and my flaming red cape and telling the Canuck faithful to “Bite me” in Hindi, Mandarin and English?

      We fans need to get our rivalry hates on early in the season so we can truly get into the season. Think about it. What gets your heart racing more, Gio destroying McDavid or Taveras with a solid check? Don’t make me wait until December to see that.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    Kyle Palmieri is a complete A-hole. And man, would I love to see him on my team, especially in a playoff run.

    Elliott looked soft on the 2nd goal, but played strong otherwise.

    Raging Stajan played like a man on fire. Keep it up Matt.

    We just had an All Star Game break and now we have a similar schedule break. What the hell?? After this we’ll be all tied for total games played so here,’s to L.A., et al, stumbling to the finish line.

    Keep Calm & Flame On