Canucks 2, Flames 1 (OT) post-game embers: Little room for error

The game reset for overtime.

That was a bad first goal on Brian Elliott, there’s no denying that. That said, the Flames outplayed the Canucks the entire way, and to an extent that you can’t simply brush it off with a cry of “score effects!” Not with the amount the Flames pushed, and definitely not with all of those penalties they had to kill.

And they wouldn’t have been pushing as hard as they did in the final minutes if they weren’t down 1-0. The Canucks scored a goal Elliott shouldn’t have let them; the Flames broke Ryan Miller’s dam in the final six seconds. 

After that, it was a matter of overtime. Three-on-three play makes mistakes deadly. Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik got caught on the wrong side of it. It happens, and the Flames were able to crawl away with a point to keep them just barely relevant. (They’re ninth in the West with a winning percentage of .525. The Kings are at .526.)

Goalie vs. goalie

There was plenty of excitement to be found in this one, but two players in particular really stood out: Elliott and Miller.

After the first goal he gave up, Elliott was a rock. True, he didn’t have nearly as much to fight against as his counterpart did, but he still made a number of massive saves to keep it a one goal game. And remember the game he won against the Flyers? He wasn’t quite perfect in that one, either, though the goal he gave up wasn’t his fault – but his team was able to score more than once in that game.

I wouldn’t switch goalies at this point.

For as much as Elliott did though, Miller was the story of this game – exactly the same as he was the last time the Flames were in Vancouver. Think of it this way: Miller has a .918 save percentage this season, and a .972 save percentage against the Flames. They scored three goals on him all year. And he did, essentially, take three points from them in 2017. 

Those three points would put the Flames in a better position now, but even then the playoff chase would be extremely tight. There’s no margin for error – but Miller was outstanding in shutting them down.

It really wasn’t close

The Flames had an overall 63.54% CF in all situations throughout the night, culminating with a dominating 87.1% in the third period. The only time the Canucks made it close was in the second, and that was when they had a four and a half powerplays to work with.

And no: it wasn’t the result of poor systems, or the Flames trying to “game the corsi”, or any such nonsense. It was the Flames legitimately swarming the Canucks and simply being unable to score on Miller.

Well, that and for every golden opportunity they had, there was a shot that went just wide, or a tip inches away from connecting, or passes missed, or any other mess of poor executions resulting in what should have been tap-ins simply not happening.

The Flames got chances. Tons of them. And every time it looked like they should have had a goal, they themselves flubbed the play. Unless you think Glen Gulutzan’s systems are set up to make them fail to connect on purpose, then they were setting up as well as they were supposed to – and missing on the one final component that would have resulted in a goal.

This was a team with out of sync scoring chances. Three players – Sean Monahan, Dougie Hamilton, and Deryk Engelland – had five shots on net each. We’ll forgive the defencemen; Monahan had every opportunity to get his 100th goal and just couldn’t bury it.

I would stick with these lines, though. Versteeg added an element to Monahan’s line that Brouwer hasn’t necessarily, and it’s worth exploring further.

Penalty kill came to play

The Flames’ penalty kill showed up against the Flyers, and it did against the Canucks, too. It has now been four games since the Flames allowed a powerplay goal.

There weren’t any five minute majors to kill off this time around, but there was a double minor (broken up by an intermission) and an abbreviated five-on-three. You can probably raise an eyebrow at some of the penalties called – Kris Versteeg’s unsportsmanlike conduct (which especially brings up memories of this Kerry Fraser blog post), Nikita Tryamkin putting Troy Brouwer in a headlock and nothing happening – but they were all, on some level, penalties. (Not like Elliott was called for going after Troy Stecher, either.)

And the Flames didn’t budge. And when they did, Elliott didn’t budge. In a game that could have completely spiralled out of control following the Canucks’ first goal, they didn’t let it happen. They didn’t get the win, but that was more due to an inability to actually connect and score than due to them folding, as we’ve seen earlier in the season.

They killed five penalties – almost five straight, really – and without that, there’s no last-second game-tying goal.

Third pairing disparity

As much as lines and defence pairings are set, they won’t always be out on the ice together. There’s going to be some discrepancy within their numbers. But barring any particularly obvious distinctions – such as, say, Johnny Gaudreau’s presence as an extra forward – they’ll generally remain close.

At 5v5, Hamilton and Mark Giordano had very similar minutes and corsi ratings (right at the top of the list), as did Engelland and T.J. Brodie (but right at the bottom for them). Then there’s Matt Bartkowski and Dennis Wideman, who played roughly the same amount of time, but Bartkowski had a rel CF of +14.13 while Wideman was at +1.96.

That’s a pretty big difference. It’s not explained by zone starts, either, as they had the same at 66.67%.

So what happened there? Simply put, Bartkowski ended up out there alongside Hamilton for one shift – I believe early in the second period, shortly after Versteeg’s double minor expired – that saw the Flames go HAM (four corsi events for, one against). Bartkowski didn’t do anything particularly special, he just captured the luck of the draw.

That said, it is at least noteworthy that neither Bartkowski nor Wideman particularly made asses of themselves this game (or at least, not in a way that proved statistically detrimental). Hell, there were a couple of moments in which I thought Bartkowski was going to tie it – he did have some good looks – which would have been pretty funny in and of itself.

The narrowest of margins

The Flames have five games left until the trade deadline. Two of them are against opponents they are directly competing against for a playoff spot: the Predators and the Kings.

The Canucks picking up two points is meaningless. However many points the three eastern teams the Flames play in between the Nashville and Los Angeles games are meaningless, as long as the Flames are getting points, too.

But Calgary needs to pick up four points against Nashville and L.A. The Preds will still have a game in hand next time they face the Flames; a regulation win could see them either pull ahead or keep pace, while a regulation loss could see them fall behind further. The Kings will also have a game in hand when they face the Flames; with over a week out from that game it’s too far away to tell how big a point swing them playing each other could be – but it’ll probably be a big one regardless.

  • freethe flames

    The first power play unit has dried up; time to make some changes. Personally I would like to see Ferland and Bennett given a chance their. Last night I thought the line of Ferland/Bennett/Brouwer looked effective and I would like to see if that lined clicked. I’m no in love with Versteeg like others as I find him to soft and that line is already soft enough; the only solution is to move Tkachuk to that RW or make a meaningful trade.

  • freethe flames

    The first power play unit has dried up; time to make some changes. Personally I would like to see Ferland and Bennett given a chance their. Last night I thought the line of Ferland/Bennett/Brouwer looked effective and I would like to see if that lined clicked. I’m no in love with Versteeg like others as I find him to soft and that line is already soft enough; the only solution is to move Tkachuk to that RW or make a meaningful trade.

  • freethe flames

    The first power play unit has dried up; time to make some changes. Personally I would like to see Ferland and Bennett given a chance their. Last night I thought the line of Ferland/Bennett/Brouwer looked effective and I would like to see if that lined clicked. I’m no in love with Versteeg like others as I find him to soft and that line is already soft enough; the only solution is to move Tkachuk to that RW or make a meaningful trade.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    We won’t survive average goaltending. We’re just not good enough. The effort was there in spades but our ‘skilled’ players need to show us why they are ‘skilled’.

    Moose closed the door after whiffing on the 100 ft knuckle ball. But he owed the boys big time. I hope this wasn’t his Tommy Salo moment.

    Captain, my captain. Love Gio’s passion for the game. He wanted the o.t. win bad. He was perhaps a little too aggressive in the 4th frame and it cost us but I don’t care. More guys need to catch that enthusiasm bug.

    Really liked Bennett’s line, maybe give them another go against Nash.

    Its gonna be a photo finish folks.

    GFG

    • freethe flames

      I agree with you I liked the Bennett line as well. I’m not convinced that Versteeg is the right fit as he plays to much of soft perimeter game. Unfortunately there are not many options. The only one that has not been tried is Tkachuk.

      The power play unit has disappeared again and that is going to cost us games unless it finds it’s mojo.

  • RedMan

    what are the “off-ice” concerns that are starting to surface regarding Gaudreau?

    is he partying too hard? bad attitude? or is this just stupid people trying to make something out of nothing?

    • Jakethesnail

      The latest I heard was that Gaudreau also was late for a practice while on the road in New York.
      I hope with the money that comes off the books in the summer that Calgary gets some players with more size and compete level and a goalie that can play consistently well.
      You may not want to admit it but Chiarelli has one of the biggest and hardest teams to play against with a combination of size and skill, and it shows in the standings night in and night out.
      He has made a complete change in less than two years. It also helps to have possibly the best goalie in the western conference.
      We have the money and assets in the summer to turn this team around. Treleving better wake up or he’ll be out the door.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        In the offseason, Johnny needs to do weights and add between 15 and 20 pounds of muscle. When he shows up for fitness testing in September, if he can bench press a Buick, then he’s out. You can surround Johnny with a herd of elephants but at the end of the day the real test will be what Johnny can do with the puck when there is a 210 pound defenceman draped all over him. I daresay a ripped 170-175 lb Johnny will be able to do a lot more than the current Johnny Slim.

        • Jakethesnail

          The problem is he can’t add 15 pounds of muscle on his frame in one summer let alone 20.

          What the team can do is sign some people in the off season and Treleving needs to have the balls to drop the hammer on a deal to help this team. You can easily add 20 pounds of muscle through a trade..
          Need guys with size that can play not just guys with size.

      • Derzie

        The Flames signed a coach that doesn’t use skill like Johnny’s. He’s getting paid but he is on a crap team for what he has to offer. How would you feel in that situation when you LOVE hockey like Johnny does? Chiarelli has McDavid & Talbot. Take either away and we are talking about his job. Treliving should already be out the door. GG hire was the final straw.

        • Stan

          So if GG’s system doesn’t allow a player like Johnny to thrive, then how come he did exactly that – thrive – when he came back from injury?

          Your argument is ridiculous. Johnny is a young player going through a sophomore slump a year later then usual. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again. He’ll bust out of it, hopefully soon.

        • The GREAT WW

          I’m not convinced that BT needs to get fired (not offered an extension).

          He has done some good stuff, but he has REALLY bad sense of what a good coach looks like; Both GG and Huska are terrible. So obvious to see.

          WW

    • The stuff I have “heard” is rather disconcerting but also unsubstantiated.

      Comparatively Taylor Hall dickhead, was heard, seen and substantiated, repeatedly. Also, and to be fair, Hall got better with maturity and his off ice behaviour always seemed more rooted in that he lacked social skills and graces.

      As I saw it, with recognition, he booted himself in the sack, gave his head a shake and got better. He never could shake off the branding but hey, compare social medias strengths from the outer markers of throwing feces or spreading joy and intelligence, viral favours the former. (sadly).

      I have full confidence that Johnny will be fine, he has battled long odds his entire hockey career and the stuff that is behind him is monumental compared to whatever he faces currently. IMHO.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    The PK was excellent last night and I thought the Flames did a good job of limiting quality chances on every kill. The PP on the other hand was frustrating. The Flames did a decent job of establishing zone time and were able to move the puck freely and effectively, but they also abandoned a net-front presence. Miller is frankly too good to allow shots that he can see, particularly outside home plate. They needed to do a better job of screening the goalie and looking for tips and rebounds. I like beautiful goals and fancy goals as much as the next guy, but this team could stand to score a few more garbage goals in general.

    • McDavid's Comet

      I disagree Calgary needs a true #1 goalie not 2 backups. Perhaps Bishop or Flurey, there is a sleeper down in Florida’s AHL team with good stats by the name of Reto Berra. He would come cheaper than the first two mentioned.

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        As good as Talbot has been, he can’t play 75 games if you expect to do anything in the playoffs. Right now, EDM is setting themselves up for an end of season fail. Ride the only goalie until he gets hurt or completely exhausts himself. That’s what CGY did in the Kipper years.

        • McDavid's Comet

          What I’m saying is Calgary needs a true #1 goalie that can hold his own (like Talbot). A goalie that can win the game when the rest of the team isn’t performing well. Talbot has let in a knuckleballer this yr. as well, but in Elliot’s case it reminds fans how finicky he can sometimes be. Not saying Elliot sucks, just saying he is a better as a backup than starter

          As far as the Talbot to Kipper comment: yes Oilers need a backup that can take some of the load off of Talbots shoulders. Need to give Borrsoit more “at bats”, but making the playoffs seems to be more important especially when they haven’t for the past ten yrs.

          • FlamesFanOtherCity

            No doubt CGY needs a definitive #1. The knucleball was bad luck; changed directions twice. I don’t care about that, other than it was the one goal the Nuckers scored in regulation. I find that Gully can’t seem to figure out (thanks to his goalie coach) who to start. Win and you’re in sounds good, except that a game like last night should deserve another start. Get Elliott on a run and see if he can win 3/4.

            Chia needs to find a NHL backup. Brossoit is not that guy. Hasn’t exactly had AHL success this season, and his NHL experience is very limited. The Oilers only need a 500 record to get in, so I don;t see the need to run Talbot almost every game. Trying to win the Pacific on his back is pointless.

          • FlamesFanOtherCity

            No doubt CGY needs a definitive #1. The knucleball was bad luck; changed directions twice. I don’t care about that, other than it was the one goal the Nuckers scored in regulation. I find that Gully can’t seem to figure out (thanks to his goalie coach) who to start. Win and you’re in sounds good, except that a game like last night should deserve another start. Get Elliott on a run and see if he can win 3/4.

            Chia needs to find a NHL backup. Brossoit is not that guy. Hasn’t exactly had AHL success this season, and his NHL experience is very limited. The Oilers only need a 500 record to get in, so I don;t see the need to run Talbot almost every game. Trying to win the Pacific on his back is pointless.

        • Jakethesnail

          Edmonton will get a backup and it might be a guy like Bishop for the remainder of the year as a rental.
          Knowing he is a UFA at the end of the year it won’t take too much to get him from TB.
          Regardless of how many games Talbot has played this year, one thing is certain they will be in the playoffs and we may not. Do you really think teams will be lining up to face McDavid,Draisaitl,and Talbot in the playoffs?

  • Raffydog

    And Gaudreau continues to earn that 7 million dollar paycheque. One goal in his last 14 games, completely ineffective and invisible as usual. Actually, invisible would be an improvement, cause the only time you notice Gaudreau is when he’s giving the puck away. Please trade this useless sack of you know what, while we can still get something for him.

    • Gfountyyc

      I honestly think he’s a top 5 offensive player in the game. Maybe it’s the system of his line mates. Let’s not forget how dominant he was in the World Cup last fall. I think that there’s something to be said that he takes more abuse this year, and that he only has so many moves

      • TrumpeterSwan

        Out of curiosity then, who would be your top ten players in the league or your top 5?

        Crosby
        Mcdavid
        Burns
        Malkin
        Kane
        Tarasenko
        Ovechkin
        Seguin
        Benn
        Marchand
        laine
        Mathews

        Out of this list whom on here does Gaudreau beat to be #5?

        • Stan

          It’s not that ridiculous a statement. Johnny was #6 in league scoring last year and is younger than the majority of the players you mentioned. He might not be at that level this year, but he has the potential to get back to it.

  • jupiter

    That GG hockey is sure fun to watch. Pass the puck around the perimeter and let the Goalie see all the shots coming at him.

    Lots of potato’s and no meat.

    The opposition just gives up the perimeter and lets them play amongst themselves.

  • Pond Hockey

    Corsi is a good indicator of a good team, as the better and more skilled team generally has more possession and wins more games. The Flames are a moderately skillled team trying to play a possession game like a good team. They’re getting good possession results but the skill and finishing needed to get them to the next level are the missing ingredients. Some grit and size wouldn’t hurt either.

    The 3m line can play a good possession game but I’m not sure it is well-suited to the other lines. The results appear to be predicatsble dull hockey that is stifling creativity.

  • snotss

    the first goal was a back breaker…ugly!!!! this team is so fragile you just can’t let that goal in ……I miss kipper!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! goal tending will alone bring down the flames season

    • TrumpeterSwan

      For quite a few years the flames were all Kipper and Iginla. If not for those two the teams would not have won many games. The team from that era was not that good in hindsight.

      Today Iginla = Gaudreau who is not playing well
      KIpper = Elliot who is playing ok

      There is a better supporting cast today but the Flames need quite a few more pieces to be a good team. Better 2,3 line defence, better 2nd line centers and wingers. A tougher third line etc…

      • McDavid's Comet

        Calgary is in a re-build, some refuse to acknowledge this, but is true. With that being said they are still holding their own while doing it. If they stand pat until the off-season then they will be hard pressed to make the playoffs and then survive a rnd. It could be a very busy deadline for Calgary, clearly some tweaking is necessary.

      • Stan

        I dont fully agree. Yes, the team needs to upgrade its D corps. Definitely a fourth defender and preferably a fifth as well. Thankfully, they have cap and roster space to make that happen next year.

        Gio/Hamiltom
        ??/Brodie
        Kulak or other farm player/??

        I really think there is only one gap that needs to be filled in the top six, and that’s a GOOD, young winger.

        Gaudreau/Monahan/??
        Tkachuk/Backlund/Frolik

        And then your looking for cheap depth. Or (and I doubt this will happen) you expose Brouwer in the ED (or trade him if someone will take him) and use his cap space to find Bennett an actually good winger as well.

        Ferland/Bennett/??

        Anyways, those are the gaps I see on the team. Id rather them fill those first and try and get a goalie that doesn’t break the bank. I think if you improved the team (and especially the bottom 3 D) on this team, Elliott would look just like he did in STL. His contract demands can’t be outrageous after this season.

  • Stan

    Did anyone even watch the game? Yeah, the flames were sure trying to “game the corsi” with 24 scoring chances compared to the nucks 13.

    They lost a game they should have won. It happens. The question is, how will they bounce back on Tuesday vs. Nashville. Hopefully Elliott starts. He’s been much better then Johnson for the last stretch of games, but the whole team needs a big game.

    As for the “trade Gaudreau” people, you are all absolutely batsh*t crazy. You don’t just trade a guy because he is slumping. My god. Some of you say the NHL has “figured him out”. Really? So it took them an ENTIRE 2 seasons to figure out how to contain him? Bullsh*t. When he came back from injury he went on a tear, scoring at over a PPG pace. He is slumping this year for sure, this happens to young players. Look at Huberdeau, Drouin, etc… But you don’t just trade these players. You give them a chance to work out of it.

    • Lucky 13

      Thank you Stan for the voice of common sense. I know our fans just want more consistency from our players and we know they can be so much better than they have been. It is frustrating for me as well.

      It’s interesting how everyone knows what Johnny needs… more muscle, better nutrition and should stop partying like a rock star. I’m sure if the rumours were true about him engaging in illicit or bad behaviours the GM would know about it and address it immediately. We don’t need an Evander Kane on our squad.
      Nuff said.

      I must say I did notice Brouwer last night, which is a good thing. The Bennett line had a bit of everything, size, grit and speed with Ferland and Bennett. Looked promising at least.

      Tkachuk would be a great addition to Monahans line as others have suggested, I’m not sure we’ll ever see it but it should be tried. Versteeg definitely fits better than Brouwer but I believe Tkachuk would elevate that tandem to another level.
      A 19 year old kid can elevate his teammates? Funny we can say that without being facetious. I love that kid.

      I’m hoping Treliving does something by the trade deadline… aka Wideman. Even if it’s just to convey that we are not going to reward inconsistencies with our team.

  • Stan

    I wonder what it would take to get Mrazek and Smith out of Detroit. I think Mrazek could be our answer in net and Smith could improve our 4/5 defender spot depending…

    Johnson + 2nd + Hickey/Poirier? I suck at these tho so maybe I’m way off. I just don’t think the wings value smith or Mrazek too much currently, but who knows.