Post-Game: Lightning crashes


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(Kim Klement / USA Today Sports)

Throughout this season, the Calgary Flames season has been punctuated by a series of steps forward followed immediately big a step backwards. Winning streaks followed by losing streaks. Challenges overcome, then self-imposed obstacles placed back in their own way.

The Flames headed into Tampa Bay on Thursday night to play the Lightning. Tampa is below the Flames in the standings. It seemed going in like a winnable game. The Flames weren’t perfect, but they were better than the Lightning in a 3-2 road victory.

THE RUNDOWN

Both teams had their chances early on, but it was the Lightning that struck first. Vladislav Namestnikov redirected Braydon Coburn’s shot past Brian Elliott to make it 1-0. The Flames had subsequent chances, including a power play breakaway for Troy Brouwer, but couldn’t bury ’em. Shots were 8-5 Flames.

Two goals in the span of 81 seconds swung the game towards the visitors. First, the 3M Line and the Giordano/Hamilton pairing had a really nice shift in the Tampa end. Every single skater touched the puck, ending with a Mikael Backlund redirect past Andrei Vasilevski to tie the game at 1-1.

81 seconds later, they struck again, as Sean Monahan whacked in an errant puck following an initial chance by Johnny Gaudreau. It was Monahan’s 100th career goal.

Shots were 10-7 Flames in the second.

The Lightning pressed for much of the third but the Flames defended pretty intelligently so not much came of it. Dougie Hamilton scored on a late power play to make it 3-1. Nikita Kucherov scored on a late Tampa PP to make it 3-2, but that’s as close as it got. Tampa Bay out-shot Calgary 13-7 in the third, but the Flames won.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

As we’ve seen in the past few games, the Flames have been pretty even-keel. Even when they got down a goal tonight, they kept playing the same general style and didn’t get away from what’s gotten them this far. They gave up as much as they got on special teams, but they managed to generate more offense at even strength than their opponent. When that happens, your club will win most of the time.

THE TURNING POINT

The two goals to open the second period swung the game. Monahan’s goal, his 100th ever, ended a span of games where he seemingly did everything but score. Everyone in white seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when it went in for him, finally.

RED WARRIOR

Hamilton had a point on each Flames goal and led the team in shots. He’s quietly been one of Calgary’s best players this season.

Also good tonight: Elliott, Giordano, Tkachuk, Backlund, Frolik, Gaudreau, Monahan, Ferland. Y’know, the usual folks.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Backlund 65.2 0.0 2.400
Engelland 63.6 44.4 0.375
Gaudreau 61.5 81.8 1.350
Ferland 61.5 81.8 0.300
Bartkowski 61.1 50.0 0.050
Frolik 58.6 0.0 1.090
Tkachuk 58.3 0.0 0.650
Monahan 53.9 81.8 1.085
Hamilton 52.6 50.0 2.425
Giordano 50.0 53.9 1.175
Brodie 45.2 10.0 -0.150
Bennett 42.1 37.5 -0.230
Bouma 41.7 0.0 -0.050
Brouwer 41.7 37.5 -0.175
Chiasson 40.0 0.0 0.000
Stone 38.5 10.0 -0.300
Versteeg 35.3 37.5 -0.210
Stajan 27.3 0.0 -0.360
Elliott 0.800

THIS AND THAT

Calgary’s win temporarily put them four points up on Los Angeles for the final wildcard spot, pending the Kings’ game against Boston.

With the win, Elliott’s above .500 (14-13-3) for the first time as a Flame.

Backlund has 43 points, three points up on Gaudreau (40 points) for the team lead in scoring. Monahan, Tkachuk and Hamilton are a smidge back with 39 points each.

UP NEXT

The Flames (31-26-4) fly to South Florida after this game and they’re back in action tomorrow night against the red-hot Florida Panthers (featuring former Nation Network head honcho Thomas Drance).

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  • cjc

    Any word on Tkachuk? Took a big hit, hope he’s okay because this team isn’t going anywhere without him.

    Refs botched calls on that hit and the high stick against Gaudreau. Grrrr!!!! However, I’m glad the team played it cool and didn’t do anything stupid in retaliation. In a close game, that would have been a bad idea.

    Also, look at those possession #s vs. zone starts for the 3M line. Ice. Cold.

  • Prototype369

    And to add, is Backlund human? Is this the second coming of Bergeron? Is Frolik the rock upon which the Backlund church will be built? (My knowledge of Christian history ends at this so I have no superlative comparison for Tkachuk lol)

    • OKG

      Honestly, Frolik is the weak link on that line. Tkachuk is becoming the Marchand and Backlund is becoming the Bergeron. Frolik is just sort of there. No disrespect to him, he’s still a solid and legitimate top 6 forward but imagine a guy like Blake Wheeler or Jeff Carter at RW. It would legitimately be the best line in the NHL. Again, not saying Frolik isn’t great on that line. Just saying that we have two thirds of a championship caliber top line and that’s not even the Gaudreau line.

      • McRib

        From a possession standpoint the 3M line is already a Top. 5 line in the league and to be honest they are the only reason we are even in playoff contention at this point, no need to even remotely think about messing up that line.

        If Ferland can continue to ignite Gaudreau-Monahan and give the Flames another standout line the playoffs are well within reach, because the 3M line can do all the heavy lifting, which allows the 2nd line or line 1B (with our two best offensive finishers) to feast on easier competition, something that should be inevitable. If at the deadline the Flames can get someone to help out Bennett (experienced third line centre? Letting him slot to wing until he finds game to move back to centre in a year or two) and our third line gets going then that would just be scary.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    Random Thoughts:

    Elliott is getting results but I’m still nervous with every shot he faces. Seems like he’s still fighting the puck.

    Bennett may not be producing but my gawd the kid is a warrior. He’s a keeper.

    Brouwer needs to up his game. He seemed really disengaged tonite. He can’t afford do to that on his salary.

    Calgary needs to adjust d-zone tactics when they face a full court press. High on the glass or the bean bag toss is completely acceptable in these situations.

    Here’s to sweeping the Sunshine State.

    GFG

  • Lucky 13

    As much as I feel for Wideman being benched for eternity, I can’t help but be thankful we are 2-0 when he’s not in our lineup. I have mixed feelings about Engelland being traded. He was really solid again tonight and seems to be doing well with Bartkowski. He’s also very physical on the opposition and we so badly need that in this final stretch.

    Bennett had a solid game again in my opinion, as did most of our players.
    I wish it was Gaudreau that had the breakaway, not Brouwer but at least I noticed him once tonight.

    I only noticed Stone getting caught on a pinch once, so far he has played it pretty conservative and smart. Elliott is above .500 and is playing the way we expected him to. Yay

    Congrats to Monahan for the ?th goal.

    Pretty decent road trip so far

  • Guest

    A general comment for the writers on this site. Your analysis over the past few years has really been spot on. Most of the players the statistical analysis likes have been good to great (Frolik, Tkachuk, Backlund, Hamilton, Byron, Ferland…) and the ones who haven’t have been bad to really bad (Wideman, Russell – Oilers fans will tell you he has been far an away their worst dman, Colbourne, Bouma, Brouwer, Grossman!!).

    Well done in keeping with your convictions. Big and gritty still comes around – sometimes – when commenters toss around what we need, but the analytical approach at Flames Nation has been pretty accurate.

    One other note, GG is definitely NOT “Eakins 2.0”. Its taken too long for real lineup change (Hamilton ice time, Wideman, Grossman!!), but the team is an above average NHL team with fewer flaws than we think. Take a look at Eakins record In Edmonton vs GG this year. It ain’t close, especially after the first 20 games.

    • Derzie

      But make no mistake, GG is a corsi coach. For a site the preaches from that songbook, a Corsi coach will be good at corsi. The players and GM are better than what Eakins had so comparing the two coaches is still valid.

    • Prototype369

      I feel like Versteeg, Brouwer and Brodie all need to be replaced on the PP. Leave the second PP unit intact, but put Bennett and Ferland on the top PP, and double shift Dougie, because he has one of the best wristers on the team

      • Arminius

        As Kelly Hrudey commented shortly before the goal..he has a twisted wrister from the slot.

        That was maybe the coolest thing I’ve heard on the air from him all year

        Actually he stumbled over it and meant to say wicked wrister I believe..genius

  • Tanner

    I wonder what the cost would be to acquire Nail Yakupov. The Oilers traded him to the Blues for a conditional 3rd round pick. To say the least, he has not had an amazing season for the Blues this year. Therefore, I wonder if the Flames could potentially get him for a 4th round pick. I think this could be worth it because of the following:

    First, he has averaged approximately 32 points/82 games over his NHL career. That is not awful.

    Second, he has been trending upwards every year in CF% (granted, this year he has played for St. Louis).

    Third, he is a RW.

    Fourth, at that acquisition cost, I don’t think it would hurt.

    I don’t know if the Blues would be interested in doing this trade, but it is intriguing to me.

    • beloch

      Yakupov actually checks a lot of boxes off for the Flames.

      1. Right winger.
      2. A positive possession player this season, although with very cushy zone-starts. He’d get similar zone-starts on Monahan or Bennett’s lines though.
      3. WOWY says he made most of his linemates better this season, sometimes substantially.
      4. Cap hit is $2.5M and he’s a pending RFA. If it doesn’t work out, he can be cut loose.
      5. Heads would explode in Edmonton.

      If St. Louis is willing to sell him for a similar price to what they paid for him, the Flames could do worse. A lot of people here are probably prejudiced against Yakupov for being a former Oiler lottery pick and the most disappointing first overall pick in decades. He also has an unfortunate history of complaining through the media via his agent, which is freakin’ unprofessional. Hopefully he’s learned to stop doing that. However, all that doesn’t change the fact that he’s probably an upgrade over Chiasson or Brouwer for RW, and possibly a better fit with Gaudreau/Monahan than Ferland.

      If the price is right and nobody better is available I’d open my heart to this kid.

      • freethe flames

        You had me until you said he is a better fit than Ferland. It however would be sweet justice if he somehow worked out here when it did not in Edmonton. Here’s a kid who likes to shoot the puck and might still have some upside. Bouma for Yakapov and we get a 4th.

      • McDavid's Comet

        Heads already exploded in Edmonton when we traded him, it wouldn’t matter at this point. Oilersnation wouldn’t be bothered (happy-in-fact) to see him in Calgary; I hope he can turn it around before he bails to KHL.

      • Willi P

        As you said, “most disappointing first overall pick in decades” and “freakin’ unprofessional”

        No thanks, not what you want for a stretch run. All about chemistry right now.

  • Arminius

    2-0-1 on road trip I looked at and said we could win all these Games..but these are tough road games to win and they have been.
    Could still fall to a 500 road trip which would be treading water if not losing ground not to mention disappointing
    Could also really knock it out the park with another 2 wins

    • ChinookArchYYC

      Backlund has long made players around him better, he’s now finally being rewarded in the boxcars. The big difference is that he plays for a coaching staff that trusts and has confidence in him.

      He must be full of personal confidence right now.

  • freethe flames

    The problem with the first power play unit is that it has 3 pass first guys on it. They need to both change 2 players and the philosophy of the unit. First change is get Brouwer off the unit and replace him with Bennett; Bennett is miserable enough to be in front of the net and quick enough to retrieve loss pucks in the corner or rebounds. Then replace Versteeg with Ferland and tell him that when the puck comes to him shoot the puck. When he does get to the net Monny and Johnny. Johnny and TJ can enter the puck well enough and can be the guys looking for Monny in high slot but that unit needs another shooter. Ideally Tkachuk would be in Bennetts spot but I don’t want to mess with the chemistry the 2nd PP unit has.

  • freethe flames

    Would the Flames be interested in acquiring Boyle as a rental? IMO he would be an upgrade over a number of guys.(Bouma, Chaisson, Versteeg, Brouwer)

    The same goes for Eaves out of Dallas.

    Again I am not prepared to give up our second or first for a rental but a later pick and a B prospect or one of the above should be able to get it done.

    • Brent G.

      You’re trade ideas are unrealistic. Why would Tampa Bay give Boyle away for a late pick and B prospect? He’s one of the best available rental players are this deadline.

      Also, why would Blue trade Yakupov for Buoma, and we get the 4th? Buoma is a marginal 4th line NHLer making $2.5 million (I believe) and, while Yak hasn’t been great, he is still averaging about 30 points a season, ie good third liner.

  • McRib

    Matt Bartkowski has been better than expected so far in his stint with the Flames, which is an ironic circumstance because I was hoping he would be in Iginla package back a few years ago (Hockey gods have now paid us back for that minor fiasco). Glad the Canucks were such a tire fire last year on defense, so that we could pick him up on the cheap. I mean it’s just logical to keep Luca Sbisa on your NHL roster over far more talented players. Hahah.

    Stone has been solid outside of a few mistakes, but having watched him a fair bit in junior he definitely seems to be labouring and isn’t playing as assertive as the last couple of years in the offensive zone. Hopefully he can continue to get healthy down the stretch. We are now 2-0 with Wideman in the press box. Did I read yesterday somewhere (I think Score Mobile) that Wideman is willing to waive his no trade? Wow, things are just going our way of late. *knocks on wood*

  • Willi P

    “Elliott’s above .500 (14-13-3)”

    Nope, Elliott has 14 wins and 16 losses. I like how his game has recovered but I have seen a few games where the soft goal was on the OTL or shoot out goal.