Post-Game: Flames Leave A Point On The Table


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(Anne-Marie Sorvin / USA Today Sports)

Saturday night’s collision between the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks was big for both teams. The Flames had a golden chance to effectively end Vancouver’s playoff hopes. The Canucks had a chance to claw closer to the Flames and keep their post-season dreams alive for another night. In a tight-checking, playoff-like atmosphere, it ended up being largely the performance of the two netminders that determined things.

The Flames lost 2-1 in overtime to Vancouver. They were both extremely unlucky to only get the single point and extremely fortunate to get anything at all considering how close they came to leaving empty-handed.

THE RUNDOWN

Here’s the gist of how this game went: the Flames had the puck a lot and had a lot of shots and shot attempts. The Canucks got a first period goal from the freakin’ center ice line, as Alex Edler’s shot knuckle-balled on Brian Elliott and beat him below the glove. Elliott was good for the rest of the game, but that one hurts.

The remainder of the game featured more of the same: the Flames had the puck a lot and had a lot of shtos and shot attempts, but couldn’t get the puck to the guts of the ice – the slot and net-front – to really bang anything home. They kept missing the net or their pass or handled the puck a little bit too much to make dangerous plays connect. They also seemed to keep taking dumb penalties – Kris Versteeg and Troy Brouwer each got unsportsmanlike conduct calls for beaking at the officials – and that really derailed the team’s momentum.

Through 40 minutes it felt like the Flames would get nothing out of this one. Then they buckled down and leaned on the Canucks for the third period. They out-shot them 18-2. They stopped taking penalties. They kept drawing penalties. Sure, the Johnny Gaudreau power play unit couldn’t get set up for good chances, but they had zone time. The Flames pulled Brian Elliott late and finally put the Mikael Backlund power play unit on, which led to Mark Giordano beating Ryan Miller with a slapper just inside the far post with just 5.6 seconds left in regulation to tie the game and send things to overtime.

Chris Tanev scored on the rush, off a gorgeous pass by Daniel Sedin on a two-on-two rush against Backlund and Michael Frolik, to end things early in overtime.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

Honestly, it was a bunch of little things. The primary reason was they didn’t make life difficult enough for Miller. He saw virtually all of Calgary’s 36 shots. There weren’t a lot of tips. There wasn’t a ton of traffic in front. They didn’t do enough to open up the middle of the ice and the Canucks, to their credit, did just fine clogging up the middle of the ice for the most part. The slew of dumb penalties the Flames took in the second period also didn’t help things.

On the other hand, they got a point out of this evening because they stuck with it. There have been a ton of games where you can virtually see Glen Gulutzan tearing his hair out on the bench because his team abandons their system and tries to get too fancy when they’re trailing. Tonight, they did their thing for 60 minutes against a goaltender that has had their number all season. They didn’t waver all that much, they just kept at it. And they seemed to believe that they’d get a goal and get rewarded.

They did, at the very last possible moment, and so they got a point.

THE TURNING POINT

Giordano’s goal, scored with the extra attacker out, tied things up at the last possible moment. It was also the first appearance of the Backlund power play unit in after the Gaudreau unit struggled to enter the zone for the better part of a minute and a half.

But some nice passing and a nice shot captured the Flames a much-needed point.

RED WARRIOR

It’s always a safe bet to go with Matthew Tkachuk. He drew two penalties and had the primary assist on the game-tying goal in the game’s dying seconds. When the game is on the line, Gulutzan seems completely fine with throwing a 19-year-old kid out there.

Elliott was quite good aside from allowing that muffin in the first.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
D.Hamilton 77.8 54.6 0.725
Giordano 76.9 54.6 1.175
Bouma 75.0 33.3 0.450
Bartkowski 75.0 66.7 0.500
Backlund 75.0 57.1 0.460
Stajan 71.4 33.3 0.150
F.Hamilton 70.0 33.3 0.265
Wideman 66.7 66.7 0.500
Gaudreau 66.7 62.5 0.500
Frolik 66.7 57.1 0.800
Versteeg 65.4 70.0 0.320
Ferland 64.7 83.3 0.325
Monahan 63.0 62.5 0.645
Tkachuk 61.5 62.5 1.205
Brouwer 61.1 66.7 0.275
Bennett 60.0 83.3 0.225
Brodie 55.9 70.0 0.225
Engelland 54.6 70.0 0.575
Elliott 0.200

THIS AND THAT

With his assist, Tkachuk moves two points back of Mikael Backlund for the team lead in scoring.

Matt Bartkowski played his first game with the Flames, wearing #44. He played 10:55 almost exclusively with Dennis Wideman on the third pairing. He was occasionally noticeable for jumping into the play, but didn’t seem to get caught. Otherwise? A rather low-key debut, which is probably good for a depth defender.

UP NEXT

The Flames (29-26-4) fly home tonight and have tomorrow off. They practice on Monday and then head out to Nashville, where they continue their road trip on Tuesday evening in a big Western Conference collision against the Predators.

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  • Arminius

    Welcome everyone to the 5 game road trip that will determine BT’s mindset at the deadline.

    None of the 5 opponents are above us in the standings. We are now 0-0-1. I don’t want no .500 trip. Hopefully the team doesn’t do the typically Flames thing of playing down to their opponents.

    If they play the same way they played tonight..they’ll be fine

    • Blackgold

      Florida has 64 points and Nashville is tied at 62. (Florida is ahead in the standings.) Those both will be tough games, so a .500 road trip might just be it, which I agree with you is not good enough at this point.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Flames will be lucky to finish this redneck trip at .500.

      Apart from Nashville where the Flames usually play well, best they can hope for is loser points on the rest of the trip because those other places are Flames graveyards.

      If they play the same way they played against the Canucks, they’ll be doomed because none of the teams they are going to be playing will allow themselves to be dominated by the Flames as the Canucks did in the 3rd. Furthermore, despite that domination, the Flames scored 1 goal. Last week against 3 teams below them, they scored 3 goals plus an empty netter. That is called not getting the job done. If they score a total of 4 goals in their next 4 games, you can be sure they won’t be bringing back many points.

  • Pond Hockey

    If I want to watch people skate in circles and try not to fall down I will watch figure skating.

    Dammit! Drive to the net and score!

    I guess Slick didn’t get the message to his players that their playoffs began last week. Two thumbs up for motivation coach! ?? (I’d insert the middle ones but then this post wouldn’t get through the spam filter).

  • Greg

    Flames played a good game, Miller just played a better one.

    The first couple periods I thought this Wideman/Bartowski pairing might turn out ok, but boy did they have some rough moments in the third. I’m starting to the the flames would be better off going with 5 forwards anytime the top 3 need a breather.

  • Stan

    The Flames played a good game for the most part and were unlucky to only get one point. It sucks, but that will happen sometimes. No need to panic yet as its one more point than LA or Nashville got tonight.

    BIG game vs. Nashville Tuesday. GFG.

  • Lucky 13

    GG must be proud of that Corsi score. No one under 50%.
    Is it just me or does something not look right with this team? They seem so concerned about possession and systems that chemistry, creativity seems to be lacking. They played well tonight ( other than the gaffe from Elliott) but I can’t say I felt satisfied with the game.

    The weird thing is I can’t seem to put my finger on it, but I just don’t feel like we have the passion that used to define our Flames. I always liked that slogan “always earned, never given ” Do we have an identity this year? If we do can someone please tell me what that is? ” It’s go time ” is about as generic as you can get but is that what Gully personifies? Again just curious if I’m the only one thinking this out loud?

    I’m glad LA lost and Predators did as well. Maybe the hockey gods are looking out for us. Guess it’s go time, hey folks

  • Pond Hockey

    We were extremely fortunate to get through the first two periods and only allow one goal. Elliott kept the team in the game.

    He should get to start the next game.

    • deantheraven

      That’s a tough one. On the one hand, he let in a 90-footer. On the other hand, the quick whistle no-goal could’ve been counted. It looked like after that Elliott was not going to allow himself to be responsible for giving it away. He never quit, and gave the team a chance. Flames had the lion’s share of the chances the rest of the way but like Ryan says, they didn’t make it hard on Miller. So, where do you hang the loss, on Brian’s softie from centre or Miller’s steady play in the face of not so many high danger attempts?

      • Arminius

        It’s not on Elliott. No one’s perfect and sure it was a bad goal but he buckled right down after just like the Philly game. I was just glad the team didn’t hang him out to dry without getting that goal back..they left it almost too late but in the end it was Miller standing on his head the only reason this game was close (and inevitably a loss)
        He will start the next game. He’s rolling at 9-4-2 most recently. No reason to give it to Johnson who has been slumping some lately

  • beloch

    Two games into this season’s Brodie-Engelland experiment, we have two very different games. The Flames were heavily outshot by Philly, but destroyed the ‘nucks in the possession department tonight. In both games the Brodie Engelland pair was atrocious.

    Tonight, the Flames had a CF% of 63.5%, which is just plain dominant. They didn’t deserve to lose this one, especially with the ‘nucks only regulation goal being a flukey hole-in-one golf shot.

    Brodie (55.32%) and Engelland (50.0%)were in the bottom five of the team tonight for CF%. Brodie is usually a possession driver and Engelland is… well… Engelland. Somehow, these two are worse together than apart.

    That’s the bad news.

    The good news is that Matt Bartowski had a CF% of 75%, second only to Dougie Hamilton, despite being paired with Dennis Wideman (who played just 3 minutes more than Bartowski and inexplicably managed to record a CF% 55.0% thanks to that). Honestly, I was not expecting Bartowski to look competent in his first NHL game in almost a year, but he sure surprised me!

    Could Bartowski play on the second pair? Given that Brodie and Engelland seem to have anti-chemistry, it’s worth trying. This year’s edition of the Brodie-Engelland experiment can’t end soon enough.

    • Greg

      Corsi needs to be taken with a grain if you look at single game stats. In a single game, a player with third pairing minutes might be on the ice for, what, 20 corsi events? It doesn’t take much to swing that from 50% to 75%. Over the course of a whole season that’s thousands of events and you can ignore things like shot quality, but not in a single game.

      Bartowksi and Wideman had two turnovers in their own end on a single shift in the third. It was atrocious and almost put the flames down 2. Similar thing happened with the Kulak/Wideman pairing last game (which did lead to a goal against). I’m pretty sure over the course of a whole season we’d see a much different corsi stat line with these players.

      I wasn’t watching Engelland too closely but the times I did notice him were for decent, simple plays. He probably doesn’t give you much for offence, and is likely below replacement level overall, but he’s a quieter, safer option for the #4 slot right now than Wideman is, and to my eye it’s not even close. I suspect the same will be true with Bartowski also.

      Probably doesn’t matter too much though… the flames have nothing but bad options after their top 3 and there’s really no way to fix that until after the expansion draft.

  • TrumpeterSwan

    I have to give some credit to G.G. his system seems to be working about as good as it can with the team in front of him. The game could have been a total loss but through perseverance and adherence to the GG game plan a point was salvaged. Even Wideman looked good tonight. Bennett and Gaudreau on the other hand need to get going.

  • Lucky 13

    Well at least GG will be happy with those Corsi possession stats.
    Is it just me that feels like our team has no identity? Remember our slogan last year ” always earned, never given ” What is it this year.. “it’s go time ”
    How generic of a slogan, perhaps it’s why our team lacks identity and why we have become a generic team. Or perhaps it’s indicative of Gullys uninspiring bench behaviour.. I don’t know

    Last season there was passion and excitement in games, now there’s possession and metrics and a stifled systemic approach to games.
    It’s not that we’re not improving, because we have, but I feel ripped off as though I had my wallet stolen by a wayward thief. Maybe I’m the only one who feels like this, but I don’t think I am alone in my thoughts.

    Good thing LA and Predators did us a favour in losing tonight. On the road as warriors in a battle against our opponents… let’s inspire our Flames troops….
    “It’s go time”

  • calgaryfan

    Was at the game, not a great game to watch. Both teams played conservative trying not to make mistakes. The Flames power play zone entry is bad, Brodie skates to the blue line and back passes to Johnny who is trailing sometimes at his own blue line. Poorly executed and not effective. They play like they are afraid of making a mistake.

    • Cfan in Vic

      I’m getting really sick of that drop-pass business. Not only is it super predictable for the opposing team, some how they seem to be getting sloppier with it. Drop pass, 3 second delay as the receiving player reaches intended position, then commence.

      • Greg

        This all day. It’s terrible, not working, and terrible. Like someone watched Mighty Ducks one too many times, but couldn’t quite sell the Flying V so they compromised with a ridiculous “surprise drop pass”.

        The only thing I can think of is they are going to keep using it until they reall really need a goal, and then not drop it back to catch everyone off guard. Seems like a stupid strategy for something that might work exactly once.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Does anyone else find it strange that we have lost the last few games when we dominated the Corsi and conversely have won some games that they we thoroughly dominated in position stats. Maybe these stats are not that great a determining factor.

    IMO the most relevant statistic that will determine if they make the playoffs lies in goal differential. At this moment, Calgary is the only team in a playoff spot with a negative goal differential -16. The flip side, is the Flames continue to be in playoff discussion despite any major contribution by its top players or consistent goal keeping.

    • Lucky 13

      I couldn’t agree more with you about this. Possession statistics are useful in terms but don’t necessarily aggregate in terms of winning games. We all know that eventually possession = more scoring opportunities and should tally into wins, but the Flames seem to defy all odds in every respect. Remember 2014-15. Worst metrics but we kept rallying for late comeback wins. All analysts said this was unsustainable and eventually it came to fruition.

      That’s why I’m so concerned about how we’re even in a wildcard spot cuz our goal differential is terrible. Yet our possession rates are up? Goes to show how bad our division is this year.

      I’m of the notion, like yourself that goal differential is the single most likely stat to be looking at for playoff berth. No team has been successful in the playoffs without a + double digit goal differential, no exception to those rules either.
      I researched it a few months ago and still stands as the best indicator of success.

      What if Johnny and Bennett actually broke out and we had stellar goaltending?
      This team could be so much better. Does Treliving actually do something at the trade deadline? Elliott Friedman indicated that Tre was very active among GM’s tonight on CBC. Is there something brewing that he’s being tight lipped on?

  • BobB

    Ok. We’re making progress with Wideman. He’s been demoted to the 3rd pairing (which, honestly, given our lack of depth on D is maybe where he should be… a number 6 guy).

    But can someone answer for me why, with all his reduced minutes, do his numbers read:

    0:02 PP TOI. 3:15 SH TOI. Huh?

    Dennis Wideman cannot defend his way out of a cardboard box. He can do one thing (sometimes) and that is shoot the puck.

    All this LHD, RHD defense lineups that GG desires, and yet on the PP our two LHD played 7:58 (Gio and Brodie, the latter who CANNOT shoot the puck) and our top PP RHD played together played 2:54 of PP time – Hamilton, who has the best shot on the team, played 2:52, and Wideman who once was a PP specialist played 2 seconds, and a bunch of PK time.

    Am I the only one confused by those PP numbers?

  • It’s hard to play hard offense when you have to play defense to save your goal tending! 1st shot; 1st goal. The called back goal was in fact another goof-up from Elliot. He may be a great goalie, but not here and not now. Fleury to Calgary for Bouma, Stajan, and Elliot.

  • AF

    43.3% chance of making the playoffs right now.

    Turns out Versteeg is a way better fit than Brouwer and Chaisson which is pretty damn obvious.

    I’m still advocating for a Gaudreau – Monahan – Tkachuk trio. I did like Versteeg tonight, but I think Tkachuk at RW is enticing, I’ve been wondering how much he’d produce with more offensive zone starts and a bit easier competition? Think Ari came up with it awhile back.

    Canucks goalies have come up big against us this year, probably a bit unlucky not to have won a game or two more in the season series.

    • freethe flames

      I have to disagree with you on Versteeg; he’s skilled but soft and the last thing that line needs is another soft player. I was more impressed with the work done by the Ferland/Bennett/Brouwer trio, there might be some chemistry there.

  • FL@med

    I think Bart played excellent. He got a couple of shots away (one that hammered the post) and played well defensively (other than the one turn over in his own zone).. Move him up to the top 4 to experiment, scratch Wides and put jj beside engo. (By the way, the flames playoff chances INCREASED by 3.4 percent as they got the loser point and both LA and Nashville lost.

  • freethe flames

    And today we watch the score board and the trade tracker. The 3 teams we are in the race with all play back to back. Today would also be a good day to make a trade as they travel tomorrow. I thought it was interesting during the 2nd intermission when EF said he thought the Flames would be buyers. It was also interesting to hear how many top people were at the Av’s Sabres game earlier in the week; I suspect most were there for the Av’s guys but I would not be surprised to see the Sabre’s make a move.

  • snotss

    bad goals,johnny just sucks this year,a questionable roster,new coach all add up to no playoffs this year, the flames are not a good team…the flames are no better than a 500 hockey club all year and that is about as much as we can ask for

  • McRib

    Dougie Hamilton isn’t appreciated enough by this coaching staff. There is no way he should ever be on the second power play, at this point he is the absolute best offensive weapon we have from the blueline.