Flames 3, Red Wings 2 (OT) post-game embers: Getting a little complacent, there?

mikael backlund
Candice Ward/USA TODAY Sports

This was a game the Calgary Flames absolutely had to have.

Not just because of the points – although, mostly because of the points – but because we’re approaching the territory not just where the Flames are fighting to make the playoffs, but where they’re fighting for seeding. And right now, it’s not so much trying to get a divisional playoff spot – it’s more like looking you genuinely deserve to be there.

Their second period – and their goalie – would like to have a word with them.

Unideal moments

At the end of January, in Toronto and Montreal, the Flames played generally good first periods, only to give up one goal. They would crumble after that, and the entire game would be pathetically lost. This seemed to come to an end when they got the first goal against Ottawa, and a win with it, too.

In the Flames’ current eight-game point streak, they have given up the first goal seven times, the lone exception being the 6-5 overtime win over Nashville. It’s not a good habit, but at least they clearly aren’t crumbling anymore.

That said, it sure would be nice if they could actually grab a lead to begin with, and even maintain it. And when they do get it, to not fall asleep at the wheel.

The Flames were completely annihilated in the second period. Yes, they ended up winning with a 47.62% 5v5 corsi; you can pin the blame on that poor possession metric on the second alone, during which they were outshot 14-2, a period we can likely all agree was terrible. They generally looked fine in the game otherwise, but that second was unacceptable.

How did they respond? Well, in the third they went from one high danger scoring chance to four, though the Wings outshot them 9-8. Better, but still not perfect – especially as evidenced by the fact it went to overtime.

So as good as it is that the Flames picked up two points, there’s still some work to do. Before, they were easily broken. Now, it looks like they need to remember nothing is a given.

Brian Elliott is for real

Good thing the Flames didn’t trade for a goalie at the deadline, eh? They’ve kind of got exactly who they need to play in the starter’s net already, and he didn’t cost all that much to acquire.

Brian Elliott’s numbers have been baffling all season, largely in part because of the past five years: we know he’s absolutely better than this. And yet it’s been a number of bad games for him throughout this season, until he won the starter’s net back. He won it so emphatically “win and you’re in” ended, not that Elliott is having much trouble with the winning part these days either.

Thirty-three shots faced, 31 stopped, and it’d be hard to blame him for either of the two that went in against him. Particularly that game-tying goal, when he had a pretty major stop mere seconds before he was eventually scored on – not to mention his flashy glove hand in overtime.

In his past four games, Elliott has had save percentages of .920, .971, .966, and now, .946. There have been some not-so-ideal games still in recent history, but on the whole, he’s on the upswing. That’s now 18 games out of 35 in which he’s had a save percentage above .900 – not great, but progress. His season save percentage is .903 now.

Kids continue to get it done

What a goal Matthew Tkachuk scored. The awareness not just to take the puck from Niklas Kronwall, but the hands in tight to tuck it past Petr Mrazek – wow. Tkachuk now sits at 42 points – 12 goals, 30 assists – and third in team scoring, sandwiched in between Johnny Gaudreau (43) and Sean Monahan (41).

We’re still waiting for Dougie Hamilton (39) to hit 40 points as well, but in the meantime, it continues to be the kids mostly leading the way. There’s a lot to like about that.

Tkachuk probably isn’t going to win the Calder, but he might be doing enough now to earn himself a third place finish. He’s on pace for 54 points; he’s currently fifth in rookie scoring, behind the first and second overall picks of his draft class and some other Leafs. But he’s clearly more than just a scorer, as he’s had virtually no problems in all other elements of the game as well. Smart, defensively responsible, physical; hell, he’s even got the pedigree.

And if the Flames really do end up being a playoff team, well, that’s probably going to count for something, too.

Meanwhile, shoutout to Monahan for such an eye-pleasing stat line: 100 goals, 100 assists, 200 career points in 302 career games. (So close.) 

This tweet is still true. Alex Galchenyuk has a mere 195 points. Monahan’s actually only 10 points away from being top five in scoring in the 2011 draft class, so there’s that, too. He’s five points away from making the top 10 list of the 2009 class.

Mikael Backlund, MVP

While the kids are mostly leading the way, Mikael Backlund is really making the most of this season. He now has back-to-back 20-goal seasons, and he made it happen as dramatically as possible.

He has 46 points in 65 games this season. His career high came last year: 47 in 82. Remember that criticism about some players scoring when the games didn’t matter anymore? Backlund spits on that. The games matter more than ever now and he’s on pace for 58 points.

He could hit 60. Just something for awards voters to keep in mind. The shutdown centre is leading his team in scoring and he’s earned it every step of the way. 

Thank goodness for the OT win

The Flames are playing themselves into a divisional playoff spot. They’re two points back of the Ducks and Oilers right now, though the other teams have a game in hand each.

But the Flames are breathing right down their necks, and that’s why it’s important to recognize tiebreakers. By finishing the game off before it went to the shootout, the Flames collected another ROW. They have 32 on the season: the Sharks are the only team ahead of them in the division. The Ducks have 31. The Oilers have 30.

If two teams end up tied in points, the first tiebreaker is ROW. Just something to keep in mind. The Flames still have to catch up first, of course – but if they do, and ROW holds up, well, the higher seed is theirs.

  • JimmyD

    Tkachuk is just unbelievable for a 19 year old rookie. Watching the intensity of his play right now Is just awesome. Love the interview too! You can keep your Mathews and your Laine thank you very much!

    • Baalzamon

      It’s a tough choice (there have been points in the Flames’ history where it wouldn’t have been) but my vote goes to Dougie Hamilton. There’s a reason literally every team in the league is constantly looking for a defenseman who’s exactly like him.

    • Nixy

      We did not look good against an AHL team. We have taken advantage of a weak schedule (good on them) but we need to be better if we want to nail down home ice. This game had way too many warning signs to sing any praises (save for Elliot)

    • Nixy

      We did not look good against an AHL team. We have taken advantage of a weak schedule (good on them) but we need to be better if we want to nail down home ice. This game had way too many warning signs to sing any praises (save for Elliot)

    • OKG

      It says you’re building a team similar to the 2011-2014 Bruins that in playoff series, beat teams like Pittsburgh (Crosby/Malkin), Vancouver (Sedins/Kesler), and were a SCF Game 7 away from beating the Blackhawks (Toews/Kane).

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      It is time to give Backland his due. He has become clutch, which was never a characteristic that was used to describe him in the past. He has gone from being a project to our MVP. More often than not, it is his line and not Monny’s that is deciding games.

      He should be commended for working on his game and becoming the player he is today. Which is the player on the Flames with the most points, the hardest shot, fastest skater, tied for the most GWG in OT….. The definition of clutch.

        • The Sultan

          What does it say about the Oilers who are essentially a one-man team? Yeah, maybe we should have 19 year old Tkachuk leading the team, or 20 year old Bennett, or 22 year old Monahan, or 23 year old Gaudreau…

          The fact of the matter is these players are all fantastic and are still very young, very early in their careers. And they have had a huge impact. Now let’s compare that to the 6 million dollar men Hall, RNH, Eberle, and let’s not forget Yakupov or whoever else’s career was ruined going to Edmonton. Stop being such an Oilers fan boy and go pray to your McDavid idol that he doesn’t get injured. Or Talbot.

          God I can’t wait for the Oilers to lose and fall out of the playoff race. I’ll be on ON every day rubbing all kinds of salt in wounds because of any team deserves it, if any fan base deserves the hate and vitrol and suffering, it’s Edmonton fans.

          • TurkeyLips

            Look at the careers Dubnyk and Schultz are having since leaving Edmonton. Especially Schultz, now #2 on the Penguins D corp and an invaluable blueline contributor for Pittsburgh.

            Says everything you need to know about the Blue Rust.

  • cunning_linguist

    Happy for the win, but this game gives me a few concerns…namely, I hope the shakiness in this game isn’t a precursor to an upcoming losing streak.. I remember Tortorella saying earlier this year that a win streak let’s bad habits set it, and creates a trap for a team once the losses start coming. Hopefully GG can work the boys out of their bad habits before they lose their current magic.

      • The GREAT WW

        I like Lazar better on the third line than 4th.

        I’m starting to wonder if Brouwer asked BT to give him a gurantee that he would not be exposed (realizing his agents error), and BT said: “NO”. And now Brouwer is mailing it in….


        • Jumping Jack Flash

          Brouwer wash highly sought after during theFree Agent frenzy. From what I understand he leaned towards Calgary since he was building a house. I have to think there was an agreement to protect him from the expansion.

          • Baalzamon

            I have to think there was an agreement to protect him from the expansion.

            If there was he’d have a NMC. There is literally no reason for him not to have one UNLESS Treliving wanted the option of exposing him if he didn’t perform. He hasn’t performed (even up to his usual standards, which were dubious to begin with).

  • The GREAT WW

    It would be nice to see an article on all the crap contracts that were signed last free agency; Lucic, Erickson, Brouwer, I’m sure there were plenty more. Maybe even some good value contracts?

    The good and the bad 8 months later…


    • Jakethesnail

      Gaudreau and Monahan respectively only have 8 and 6 more points Lucic , come playoff time his ability to grind guys down with his size will surely help Edmonton. Both Monahan and Gaudreau make more than Lucic with no more bang for the buck this year.
      Talk about over valuing our own!

      • Lucky 13

        Thanks for the Saturday morning cartoon laugh. Comparing 22 and 23 year olds with the fossil Lucic 29 says absolutely nothing. Other than you’re dreaming.

        #13 and 23 played with a 4th liner for 25 games, that will hinder any young players skill.

        Lucic is equivalent to our very own Troy Brouwer. Comes with a great reputation but hasn’t delivered. Post season is a different animal you may object, however this game has changed with speed added as the extra element to the game.
        Can’t grind what you can’t catch…

        Good luck Lucic… heck good luck to our very own Brouwer in being this post season hero.

        I’ll gladly eat my words if I’m wrong!

      • Stan

        Lmao you have GOT to be joking with that comparison.

        1) Monahan and Gaudreau are significantly younger than Lucic.

        2) Monahan and Gaudreau make marginally more than Lucic.

        3) Lucic has had the benefit of playing with one of the best players on the entire league to pump his numbers up and they’re STILL bad. His numbers without Mcdavid? Absolutely atrocious.

        4) Way to totally try and skew your argument by comparing point totals instead of PPG.

        Monahan PPG = 0.63
        Gaudreau PPG = 0.78
        Lucic PPG = 0.54

        Lucic doesnt even deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as Gaudreau and Monahan. Go back to oilersnation where this kind of “logic” (or lack thereof) is clearly commonplace.

  • flames2015

    Backlund should be wearing one of the A’s for this team. He’s been great for this team the last 2 seasons and has been a flame his entire career. What has Brouwer done for this club? He was handed the A before even playing a game.

  • Pond Hockey

    Brouwer built his retirement home in Calgary. Not sure why anyone is surprised. He’s easing himself towards retirement. Only 3 more years to slowly wind down… Should be fun!

    Maybe the Flames should offer up their 1st rounder to Vegas to pick him at the expansion draft? Addition by subtraction?

    We should be able to net a decent player for $4.5m.

  • Pond Hockey

    Don’t get me wrong, I hate the idea of tossing away a first rounder but think about it for your own sake – 3 more years of Brouwer bashing? It’s like Wideman x 3.

    Only the trolls will be left visiting this site (mind you they’re not swift enough to notice the difference)