Post-Game: Fancy feast


USATSI_9864805
(Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports)

Tonight’s visit to the Florida Panthers was a game that the Calgary Flames probably would have lost six weeks ago. That’s not to say that the Flames weren’t playing well six weeks ago, it’s just that this game had all the makings of a let-down game: Second game of a back-to-back, nearing the end of a road trip, and the Panthers have been playing really well over the last while.

But the Flames have been playing well and getting the bounces over the past few weeks (which wasn’t happening six weeks ago). It happened against tonight in South Florida, with Calgary getting timely goals, good goaltending and good enough defense en route to a 4-2 victory over the Panthers.

THE RUNDOWN

As has become tradition on this road trip seemingly, the Flames got out of the gates a little slowly. Nick Bjugstad opened the scoring on an early power play, rifling a one-timer past Chad Johnson as the Flames tried to get set up in the zone following a unit change. The Panthers led for about four minutes, though, as the Flames answered back on a shift with a bunch of nice individual efforts. The puck careened into the Panthers zone and the Flames beat out the defender for the loose puck, battled to get the puck to the point and then Sam Bennett battled to bat in the rebound in front of Roberto Luongo to tie things up.

Just after that goal, the Flames took the lead for good on a nice odd-man rush from 3M Line. Matthew Tkachuk fed the biscuit to Mikael Backlund for a tap-in and a 2-1 lead.

Before the period was up, the 3M Line had another rush that resulted in a goal, as Deryk Engelland led the rush and knocked in a rebound to make it 3-1.

Sasha Barkov scored late off a nice passing sequence with Jonathan Huberdeau late to make it 3-2. Shots were 11-8 Flames in the first.

After the Flames had to kill off an early second period penalty, they got a goal from a somewhat unlikely source. With the lines shuffled a bit after the penalty kill, Troy Brouwer played with the fourth line for a shift and got an absolute gift from Matt Stajan as the vet put the puck right on Brouwer’s stick for a tap-in and a 4-2 lead.

The Panthers pressed from then on, but the Flames seemed content to chip and chase and wind down the clock. Shots 16-6 Florida in second.

Neither side scored in the third, primarily due to a combination of the Flames seemingly not wanting to exert themselves offensively – they focused on limiting second chances in their own end – and Johnson being locked-in between the pipes. Shots were 14-11 Florida in the third.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

The Flames just kept doing what they’ve been doing over the past five or six games. They played a very straightforward brand of hockey for three periods. They were obviously trying to leave some gas in the tank late, so once they got up by a pair they were content to merely limit Florida’s chances, but they’re not running around like crazy people in their own end. They’re defending intelligently, they’re picking their spots offensively and they’re getting contributions from their line-up when they need it.

They got enough offense and good enough goaltending that tonight’s game never really seemed in doubt after they went up two goals.

THE TURNING POINT

The Panthers are a very good offensive team. I did mention that the outcome didn’t seem in doubt once they went up two goals initially (3-1 after the Engelland goal), but Florida seemed much more deflated by the Brouwer goal to make it 4-2. They had just blown a power play opportunity which could’ve drawn them even and instead they found themselves even further back.

RED WARRIOR

Johnson came in after not playing for awhile and made 36 saves.

Honourable mention to Backlund, Tkachuk, Frolik, Hamilton and Giordano.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Chiasson 50.0 50.0 0.075
Bartkowski 50.0 33.3 0.425
Brouwer 48.0 71.4 1.100
Versteeg 45.5 71.4 0.070
Stone 44.8 54.6 1.000
Bennett 44.0 71.3 0.920
Backlund 42.1 0.0 1.025
Engelland 41.7 50.0 1.100
Bouma 40.0 100 0.600
Brodie 40.0 58.3 0.000
Tkachuk 38.9 0.0 1.275
Frolik 38.9 0.0 1.350
Stajan 37.5 100 0.780
Monahan 35.1 60.0 -0.260
Gaudreau 35.0 60.0 -0.525
Hamilton 33.3 28.6 -0.400
Giordano 31.6 28.6 -0.575
Ferland 30.6 66.7 -0.390
Johnson 2.100

THIS AND THAT

After tonight, Flames are 23-0-1 when leading after 40 minutes of play.

Backlund (43 points) and Tkachuk (41 points) are the top two leading Flames in team scoring. Hamilton leads all defenders in scoring with 39 points.

UP NEXT

The Flames (32-26-4) finish off their five game road trip with a Sunday matinee against the Carolina Hurricanes.

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  • Alsal

    Great win for the Flames! Way to go Sammy, you belong at center! And Johnson was solid! Life after Wideman is maaaavalous!

    But, I have a bone to pick with Panther fan.
    Where the H.E. double hockey sticks are you?

    Half your stadium is empty!

    Poor Ekblad.
    Poor Huberdreau
    Poor Jagr.

    Boo no show Panther fan. You team deserves better. Quebec City is calling.

    • Greg

      Except Kadri plays in Toronto so he’ll win in a landslide. It’s like Jose “shampoo” Theodore winning over Iginla. Really seems like the league should do something to balance the voting numbers geographically by now eh?

  • Guest

    Good game. We were way worse the second half of the game, but with the back to back and early Sunday game, I get the shell defence – reminded me a lot of the Hartley turtle D and deep pass days.

    I thought Brodie had a poor game in his end; really poor. Actually Stone bailed him out a few times. Its nice having both Bartkowski and Stone close space in our end, though neither is an upgrade on Kulak from what I see. Wideman should have been gone much earlier. Its a stark upgrade.

    Gaudreau looked a lot more responsible defensively for the third game. Two straight games with no OZ starts for 3M. Tkachuk and JG are going to finish for the team lead in scoring. Crazy.

    • jakethesnail

      “We were way worse the second half of the game, but with the back to back and early Sunday game, I get the shell defence – reminded me a lot of the Hartley turtle D and deep pass days.”

      I also think the 75% Humidity in the Florida arenas (tampa too) had something to do with that!

      Beautiful setup by Tkachuk with Backlund streaking down the middle of the ice! Looked like a set play by my eye!

      I also liked the deep pass to Brouwer, just too bad it was Brouwer on the receiving end! Got do it every so often to keep opposition on their heels!

    • cberg

      Stone is a huge upgrade on Kulak, and Wideman, though I do like Kulak, he is coming along. Stone brings a much stronger physical presence, and tonight we really started to see his shot come to the fore.

      As for Tkachuk, fantastic season. Just remembering back to last Spring and wondering if Tkachuk’s points were all the result of his line mates and what real contribution he was making. Well I think we now know, he was a BIG part of that’s line’s success, even with strong partners. In the same way, he has elevated the Backlund-Frolik pairing to a whole new level. Great work so far.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I get that it would be hard to pull Tkachuk off that line, but I think he might be the remedy for Johnny’s game. Tkachuk is on a different level when it comes to his playmaking so it would force Johnny to be a shooter. Right now, he sees himself as primarily a set up guy. This was not the case the last couple of seasons.

        Tkachuck has helped Backland become more of a finisher and I think we would all agree that Johnny is more of a natural goal scorer than Michael. Johnny’s play making does not need any help but his goal scoring confidence seems low. Putting Johnny on a line with the 2 best shots ( Monny and Ferland)is not a bad idea but he needs to get back to being a shooter to throw off opposing keepers.

  • smatic10

    Want to know the difference between Gully’s and Hartley’s coaching? Look at goals #2,3 and 4. Hold onto the puck and create scoring chances, limit the dump and chase. Possession is key. Not saying Gully is a savior, just pointing something out.

    Dougie not only leads defensemen in points, but he leads all team members in hilarious post-game shenanigans. If someone can make a compilation video of his video bombing, I’ll be eternally grateful.

    • Derzie

      This is a nice thought about GG but not true. Dump ins count for Corsi, holding the puck doesn’t. GG is a Corsi coach. Corsi does not equal possession as much as supporters will tell you. We having a good go right now because: 1) Wideman benched, 2)Chiasson on the 4th line. Things the fans knew in October took GG until late Feb to figure out.

  • Lucky 13

    Well thank you Brouwer for making me eat crow. After a lengthy rant by myself, you go and show me up.. kudos to you .. and I’m happy to be partially wrong about you…. ahem

    He did after all score when he was on the 4th line right? Lol

    Ok all joking aside, what a beauty of a game for Chad Johnson. Being a score effects game after 30 minutes , he held the fort door sealed tighter than a submarine…. I wanted to use another analogy but Mom is looking over my shoulder… wink wink

    Golly gee is Backlund full of confidence. Those moves he made today, show me he’s on top of his game. Tkachuk is a marvel to watch with the way he manages puck possession. GG should devote a video session just on this kids natural abilities.

    Is it just me or does Bartkowski look really good.. Stone has been holding his own too, I just notice Bart’s play more…perhaps I just have ADHD.

    Even though the Monahan line didn’t score, I’ve been impressed with their chances. Ferland is a good fit, playing a complete north-south game.

    I’m proud of our boys, yes even Brouwer and my taste of crow!

    • Guest

      Hrudey called the move Backlund put on Matheson(? I think it was him) was one of the best he’d ever seen. Tkackuk had a tap-in if the pass didn’t catch Luongo’s pad.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I think Backlund could possibly the best late bloomer we have had. He was always solid but now he is putting up points thanks in no small way to Tkachuk. The stop-go move he put on the defender would make Johnny applaud.

        • Jumping Jack Flash

          I Hope you are right. I am pulling for the guy. Something was always missing with Backlund. I remember hearing that he had the hardest shot and was one of the fastest skater at the team’ skills competition.

          The work he has put into improving his game has made a huge difference. He deserves everything that he is getting. He was always a player that coaches would move up and down the line up but not viewed as a go to player.

      • Guest

        To be fair, power play time inflates most players points 15%-30%. Backlund is similar to the past three years except he is getting a lot more PP points – Tkachuk is a great fit but the points are more PP driven. Hartley never used him on the PP consistently. And I am a huge Backlund fan for years. If he had Monahan’s shot we’d would have a top 10 forward in hockey.

      • Newbietwo

        Backlunds move on the defender wow!! Didn’t turn to a goal but man that was good.. and his speed is ridiculous now.. have to say 67 does a lot of the heavy lifting on that line in keeping it on the zone..

        I still feel Versteeg needs to be replaced with Bennett on Powerplay unit.. As for Bennett future it has always been bright the kids gonna be an awesome player very soon

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    It seemed like Johnny’s line was a bit of a defensive liability today and the possession numbers support it. I still like Ferland on that line. The other lines were strong….IMO this was Sam’s best game.

  • Lucky 13

    @ Guest and Jumping Jack Flash

    No question we are seeing something special as Flames fans in this 3M line. It’s a pleasure to watch them game in game out a how well they compliment each other.

    Can you think of a line that we’ve had over our franchise history that plays the toughest minutes against opponents, while still delivering a offensive “sonic boom ” to the opponent? I’m hard pressed to think of one off hand, but I must say I can’t think of one with a rookie on it. Can you?

    • Guest

      Never. I’m not certain you would find a rookie playing more than 12:00 a night with such low OZ starts, much less the Corsi domination in the past 20 years on any team. If one exists its not more than a handful. Tkachuk is crazy good. The point differential to Laine and Matthews is power play time, playing time and OZ starts.

      • Lucky 13

        Funny after writing this I was doing some research and came to the same conclusion… ahhh the 88-89 Flames… we were spoiled watching that team.

        I loved that line although I believe they were our 2nd line. Good call thanks for the reminder!

  • Pond Hockey

    Good job Brouwer on showing some value tonight. If the Knights need a golden anchor to meet their minimum salary cap requirements you just never know…

    Tre, pretend for a moment that you are your dad on Dragons Den and make the right business decision on this one. Think of it like getting the Get Out of Jail free card in Monopoly.

    • Lucky 13

      Omg that was me accidentally… sorry.. I was scrolling on my phone and accidentally finger swiped it … my bad… I’m the guy who was on a rant earlier about Brouwer… justice has a weird way of doing that to me.

      Forgive my clumsy fat fingers…I’ve accidentally done this a few times before and then panicked…. Please Trash away at will!

    • Lucky 13

      Omg I think I accidentally did this friend… I was swiping on my phone and my fat fingers got in the way… my apologies… I’ve done this before a few times when I meant to prop a comment.

      I need a bigger screen on this phone or an eye exam cuz I panic every time I mess up….

      Please trash at will

  • oilfan_79

    What a good game! I’m glad to see both my team (Oilers) and the Flames playing meaningful hockey at this time of year!

    Hopefully both Alberta teams can make the playoffs and make the BoA something to get excited about! Man, I would love to finally watch another playoff series against the two.

  • Eggs Bennett

    The bandwagon fans who were yelling the sky is falling down in January should all apologize…

    And yes PDO does regress to the norm over a large enough sample size (this is after considering all factors such as confidence, chemistry, etc.) Coincidentally PDO has been up since Wideman’s been benched. Hmm…

      • ChinookArchYYC

        PDO goes up as the team shooting percentage (SH%) is generally above a league averag 8% and the league average team save percentage (SV%) is above 92%.

        The idea is simple adding both league average SV% and SH% equals 100. If your team is way below 100 they’re not getting ‘the bounces’ for SV and/or SH. If the PDO is a lot higher than 100, then the team is getting all ‘the bounces’.

        Here’s the rub PDO should never be considered in its own. Hartley’s playoff Flames had league average SV%, but one of the leagues highest SH%. His team also bleed shots against the whole year. The win rate was not going to continue.

        Playing well isn’t enough, if a team gets shutout after putting 40 shots on net, while your goalie lets 1 goal that was deflected 4 times before going in, out of the 20 shots he faced, the PDO will go down.

        Too many people get all wound up for nothing. It’s just a measurement.

  • jakethesnail

    I am expecting Wideman to be traded to the Panthers tomorrow…why else would he have sat out both games in Florida, if the rumor was that the sitdown wasn’t for performance issues? Here’s hoping!!

  • beloch

    Backlund has had his “Beastlund” stretches before, but they’ve usually been cut off by badly timed injuries and he’s usually a bit off his game when he returns. When his last contract was being negotiated I thought the team needed to look at what he was worth and then pay him 3/4 of that, because that’s how much of the time he was healthy.

    Well, he’s been healthy for a long period of time now and he’s finally rolling at the level we’d only seen glimpses of before. It’s a marvelous thing to behold! Here’s hoping he stays healthy and it continues!

    • freethe flames

      Andersson by all reports is the top D prospect playing in the AHL. At this point I don’t count Kulak or Spoon as prospects as both are NHL tweeners.

      Giving credit where Credit is due; it was nice to see both Brouwer and Versteeg both engaged in the game at both ends of the ice. But before I eat crow on them; show that same effort every night(results will vary) then I will eat crow. Until then I still believe we should still be looking for an upgrade at forward. However we cannot afford to pay a 2nd(possibly a first) for a rental; the depth in our organization is at the point where we can trade a 1st or 2nd for a rental. Using either of these picks has to be for a mid 20 something player we can control for a few more years.

      Who does GG start the next game? Elliott has been sound the last few games but Johnson was excellent last night. Nice to finally have a tough choice.

  • Despo

    Finally the Bennett line got rewarded for their recent play. Very strong road trip from #10, 93 and 36 so far.

    How good was Bartkowski last night!? After a couple of games to re-adjust to the NHL he is extremly strong and a huge upgrade of our third pairing.

    Keep going boys, we can still catch the Oilers.