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Photo Credit: Candice Ward / USA Today Sports

Post-Game: To Hab and Hab Not

Way back on January 24, the Calgary Flames visited Montreal. That game was a statement game for the Flames, in that the statement they had was that they were not particularly good. In their first meeting since that 5-1 trouncing, playing at home against a Canadiens club missing several players due to illness and injury the Flames made a statement of their own. That statement? They’re actually pretty good.

The Flames were all over Montreal at the Saddledome en route to a dominant 5-0 victory, stretching their winning streak to eight in a row.

THE RUNDOWN

The Saddledome was lively from the opening faceoff, as many, many fans were in attendance representing their beloved bleu, blanc et rouge. The Habs had a lot of early zone time but couldn’t really turn it into great scoring chances. The Flames opened the scoring midway through the first. Matthew Tkachuk accepted a head-man pass and calmly strode into the Canadiens zone. Not seeing a great lane to the net, he button-hooked and waited for Mark Giordano to get into the zone and teed him up the puck for a slapshot that beat Al Montoya to make it 1-0.

The Flames had a couple subsequent chances, as did Montreal, but nobody scored for the remainder of the period. Shots were 16-5 Calgary.

The second period was an odd one. There were two fights. The Flames seemed to be passing a ton in the first chunk of the period, occasionally making one pass too many and miffing on scoring opportunities. With Kris Versteeg in the box for fighting Paul Byron – let that sink in – Johnny Gaudreau got his spot in the rotation and helped generate a big goal. Gaudreau drove into the offensive zone but couldn’t hit the net, but a few passes later and (in part due to a screen from Troy Brouwer) a Michael Stone point shot beat Montoya to make it 2-0.

As we headed into the later stages of the second, the dam burst for the Flames with two goals in 26 seconds. The first was a Stone point shot after a face-off win that bounced to Sean Monahan for an easy tap-in from the top of the crease. The second was a Micheal Ferland wrister that beat Montoya top corner. Suddenly, the Flames were up 4-0. Shots were 11-11 in the middle period.

The Flames’ third period performance was somewhat overshadowed by them missing two defenders, but they played a heck of a final frame to cement this shutout win. Shots were 11-8 Montreal, but the Flames arguably had the better chances. Gaudreau scored late in the third to make this one 5-0.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

They were better than Montreal in basically every aspect of the game. They didn’t allow the special teams play to dictate the game, and they were basically dominant for the better part of 60 minutes. You could argue that there were zero Flames players that had bad games.

After the game, Giordano called this game the best of the Flames eight games during their current winning streak. It’s hard to disagree.

THE TURNING POINT

Stone’s goal to make it 2-0 was probably the killer for the Flames. It doubled their lead and allowed the home side a measure of comfort knowing that a single gaffe wouldn’t cost them the lead.

RED WARRIOR

Gaudreau had four points, drew a penalty and generated a ton when he had the puck.

But let’s give stick-taps to the four defenders that survived this game, because they really buckled down in the final frame to preserve the shutout.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Stone 75.7 46.2 2.975
Gaudreau 75.0 62.5 4.325
Frolik 71.9 66.7 2.400
Monahan 69.0 71.4 2.480
Backlund 68.6 66.7 1.125
Ferland 68.0 71.4 1.810
Brodie 68.0 58.8 2.250
Giordano 66.7 61.5 1.675
Tkachuk 65.6 66.7 1.435
Hamilton 63.2 62.5 0.400
Bennett 61.5 55.6 0.640
Chiasson 60.0 63.6 0.290
Versteeg 57.1 62.5 0.190
Engelland 54.8 78.6 1.150
Brouwer 53.3 55.6 0.450
Bouma 52.6 63.6 0.075
Bartkowski 50.0 76.9 0.425
Stajan 46.2 63.6 0.025
Elliott 2.400

THIS AND THAT

As of tonight, the Flames have exceeded last season’s point total. They have 78 right now and they had 77 all of last season.

The Flames are now 5-5-0 when wearing their red retro jerseys at home.

Giordano’s first period goal was his 10th of the season, making him the 11th Flames player to hit double digits in goals this season. The other 10 are Monahan, Backlund, Frolik, Ferland, Gaudreau, Versteeg, Tkachuk, Bennett, D.Hamilton and Brouwer. Last season, the Flames only had nine players with 10+ goals.

QUOTABLE

“The biggest thing that was said on the bench is that we’re playing for each other here. It was said lots on the bench and you could see that the guys did that. I don’t think we turned the puck over in the third. We just wanted to make sure we were playing the right way the whole way. That’s why it’s a complete game. Nobody says it, no one says the word, but everyone knew what we were playing for.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his team’s performance in the third period to preserve the shutout.

“I think if you look at the way we were playing, we played for the shutout there at the end. Our forwards did a great job of just chipping pucks in and getting above them. When you have four D, you have to really keep it simple and shorten up your shifts.” – Flames captain Mark Giordano on his team’s efforts in the third.

MAGIC NUMBERS

Stick-tap to our pal (and yours) Pat Steinberg for busting out the slide-ruler to do the initial calculations on these!

The Flames magic number to clinch a playoff spot began the night at 13.5. The win dropped their magic number to 12.5, meaning any combination of Flames wins or Kings losses adding up to 12.5 cements their playoff spot.

UP NEXT

The Flames (37-26-4) are off to Winnipeg tomorrow, as they’ll play the Winnipeg Jets in the early game on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday evening.

  • Damm shame

    Sick game. Awesome team win. Nobody was a passenger. This game is a textbook playoff game. Just grind them down and never change the game plan. . But try to come out of the game with more than 4 d men. Hope dougy and stoner are good for wpg!

  • HAL MacInnis

    Despite the injuries, I’m still confident in this team. I hope Stone gets back into action for the Winnipeg game, as he was born there. It’d be nice to continue the win streak while he visits his old stomping grounds.

  • =H2O+CO2

    Watching the game, it seems like pass completion is something the Flames still need to work on. Other than that, it was complete domination of the Flames over the Habs.

  • Lucky 13

    I’m so happy for the dominant win, however I’m really concerned about Hamilton and Stone. Stone was amazing tonight with a goal and a assist.
    Hamilton makes our defence so much more mobile.

    Replacing these injuried players is not what we need, this group is humming like a well tuned machine. I hope neither one is seriously hurt and I don’t get the speculation with regards to their replacements. Please don’t discuss replacements until we know for sure what the prognosis is for both players.

    I’m happy and sad and eagerly awaiting any good news

    • cjc

      Stone seems to be getting better and better in the Flames system. He’s a 53.26% adjusted CF player since joining the Flames. He looks like a great bet so far by BT. Hope the injury is not too serious, but it must have been pretty bad since they were already down one defenceman.

  • redricardo

    Hope Dougy gets better… he’s a loss.

    Stone is below replacement. He’s Wideman, with good vibes due to a win streak. If Stone is out for a bit and someone like Kulak draws in, no biggie.

  • Burning Ring of Fire

    I wonder if the boys are lighting it up like the Canuckleheads reportedly do – having a pint, or many pints, and …. I’m sure the Irish media will fill us all in. Cheers!

  • HOFer_dirty30

    Ive been disappointed by browers play this season but this game he looked better; had a few good shots, mean takeaway on habs blue line, screened for stones goal. Not as lethargic as usual. Hopefully he is heating up

  • Avalain

    Oh man Ryan, having not watched the game that was just cruel of you to go straight to talking about how the Flames were down to 4 D and not actually mention who went off for what reasons! What a way to keep me in suspense!

    Anyway, it sounds like Hamilton and Stone were injured? What happened? Did it look bad?

  • C Watson

    Great game! Great to see Moose get the shutout. Hopefully (I’m praying) Dougie and Stone make it back for Winnipeg. If you have to, bring back Kulak and Wotherspoon on emergency call up. Do not under any circumstances every play Wideman again. The game is much to fast for him and has passed him by.

    • C Watson

      Double post, I know, but no edit buttons to correct my typing errors.

      Great game! Great to see Moose get the shutout. Hopefully (I’m praying) Dougie and Stone make it back for Winnipeg. If you have to, bring back Kulak and Wotherspoon on emergency call up. Do not under any circumstances ever play Wideman again. The game is much too fast for him and has passed him by.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    What was the deal with Byron beating Versteeg into a bloody pulp, something somebody should have done a long time ago? I thought there was a law in the NHL that a player cannot fight another player who buys his clothes at the Bay’s Boy Club. When Lil’ Paul loses his soft hands for passing and scoring, it seems he will still have a useful role in the NHL as a pint-sized enforcer. Love the fight in the dawg!

      • McRib

        Versteeg easily won that fight, though credit to Byron for standing up for himself. You don’t need to be 6’4″ – 230+ Pounds to fight in the NHL, what a novel concept…. In 5-6 years the NHL is going to be littered with “Paul Byron type players” in bottom six roles energy roles, speed kills (see Pittsburgh last playoffs) adapt or die.

        Montreal obviously has missed the memo though recently since firing Matt Pfeffer (see trade deadline performance picking up slow footed dinosaurs liked King, Ott).