50Michael Frolik

Bruins 5, Flames 2 post-game embers: Beware the Ides of March

Why should the Flames get to stomp around with a 10-game win streak while the rest of the teams try not to get smushed under their big record? What’s so great about the Flames, hm? The Bruins are just as cute as the Flames, okay. The Bruins are just as smart as the Flames. People totally like the Bruins just as much as they like the Flames. And when did it become okay for one team to win every game, huh? Because that’s not what the NHL is about! WE SHOULD TOTALLY JUST STAB THE FLAMES.

The end of the streak

The Flames went nearly a full month without losing. It actually has been over a month since they last walked away from a game without a single point picked up in the standings, too.

On Feb. 13, the Flames lost 5-0 to the Coyotes. On Feb. 15, they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, kicking off a 12-game point streak; 23 of a possible 24 points were collected over the span of the past month, which is massive. The Flames went from fighting for a playoff spot to being pretty dang likely to make it based on the points they’ve picked up. Unless they go on a 10-game losing streak, they’re probably good.

And not to look down on an opponent, but their next game is against the Stars, who have a .464 points percentage and will be on the second of a back-to-back, so there isn’t much reason to expect the sad times to carry on. Or at least, god, we hope not.

But did the Flames deserve every win in their 10-game streak? Of course not. And you could feel this one slipping away early on. Blame certain players all you want – and they deserve it – but that was a total team effort (or lack thereof) on the loss. They got their asses handed to them fair and square, and it’s probably been some time coming.

They still have a positive goal differential, though!

Chad Johnson wasn’t ready

Brian Elliott being too sick to play – too sick to dress, even – was unfortunate, but it shouldn’t have been what killed his team. Chad Johnson fell off the map as he finally relinquished the starter’s net to Elliott, but remember – he had one of those wins on the 10-game streak, too. He isn’t the worst goalie in the world.

He just… kind of looked like it in that game.

Johnson had 11 days between his bad game against the Coyotes (that aforementioned 5-0 loss) and his win over the Panthers. This time around, he had 19 days between games, and probably wasn’t expecting to be playing this one. The game against Florida was an obvious start for him: it was the second of a back-to-back. Against the Bruins, though, less so; especially not when the guy ahead of him was playing his best stretch of the season. This game probably caught Johnson by surprise, and it showed.

You could blame him directly for the first and second goals against. He shares a pretty big hefty portion of the blame for the third as well, although Johnny Gaudreau deserves some too for taking a scoring chance and turning it into a turnover for some completely unknown reason.

The fourth goal against, though? That was a major yikes – and not on Johnson.

What was the game plan there, exactly

T.J. Brodie, fully knowing his partner is Deryk Engelland, pinches.

Engelland, fully knowing nobody else is back there, also pinches.

I get needing to press when you’re down a goal, but the Flames still had plenty of time to try to tie it up. There was no need to be that desperate that early into the third, and yet multiple bad decisions all at once left an already shaky Johnson completely helpless, and pretty much ended the game then and there. The Flames’ second period wasn’t particularly good, but their third was a horrific showing, almost indicative of a game they had accepted they were going to lose and were already thinking ahead to the next one.

Seriously, you’re down a goal– two now– and that’s how you play? Alright, enjoy the loss then.

If anything, though, this just helped further highlight the Flames’ lack of depth. We know the bottom half of their defence is a big issue. It doesn’t look like one when Elliott is bailing everyone out, but the cause for concern has always been there, and it hasn’t been addressed.

The expansion draft makes it almost impossible to address, though. Outside of some bizarre concept of actually giving your prospects a chance, there was nothing the Flames could have done. They tried nothing and were all out of ideas. (This isn’t a complaint specific to this game, more one that’s been stretching on the whole season. This game, they really had no other options, which speaks to just how sad this all is right now – and further emphasizes how the Flames haven’t fully turned that corner. Not yet. They can’t.)

Who are you expecting to score, exactly?

Engelland led all Flames in 5v5 ice time with 18:55. Matt Bartkowski was third at 16:15. If that isn’t an indication you’ve just thrown in the towel on the game, I don’t know what is.

Dougie Hamilton actually scored a goal – not a great one by any means, but a goal’s a goal – and played less than Engelland. Engelland and Brodie got more minutes over Hamilton and Mark Giordano. Hamilton is fourth in team scoring and got shafted for a dude who has four goals, which is almost a career high for him.

Obviously you can’t put your best players out there for 60 minutes, but who you choose to have leading in ice time speaks volumes – and this one was just bad.

Mikael Backlund and his line had their hands full with Patrice Bergeron’s – and fair enough, it is Bergeron – and they had an off night (though Michael Frolik did hit his fair share of posts). It happens. He, along with Micheal Ferland, had four shots each. The chances were there, they just weren’t good enough. And when your fourth line is the only forward group getting on the board… Well, it wasn’t your night.

This ignores a line, though.

You know what’s coming

Maybe it’s fitting Troy Brouwer had the least amount of 5v5 time – just 8:26 – because he had a 6.67% 5v5 CF. He was on the ice for all of one corsi event for. One. Kris Versteeg was out there for four. Sam Bennett was out there for six. Brouwer was out there for one. Second time in three games, the first coming against the Jets back on March 11.

You know we here at FN can pick up on whipping boys. Wideman was the victim of that for a while. Lance Bouma is obviously overpaid. But I can’t recall any whipping boy being on the ice for one corsi event for at 5v5 over the course of an entire game, let alone multiple times.

This is inexcusably terrible. The so-called third line isn’t even worth discussing as possible contributors most nights, and a lot of it has to do with the Flames’ third-highest paid forward.

He played 2:56 on the powerplay. He was the fifth-most used player on the powerplay. The guy who can’t even begin to drive play towards the other end of the ice at even strength is getting primo powerplay time. Not a single shot on net. Ferland gets no powerplay time and he had four. Ferland has clearly, legitimately boosted the play of Gaudreau and Sean Monahan and he doesn’t get that man advantage consideration. Instead, possibly the worst forward on the team – and I’m including Freddie Hamilton and Curtis Lazar in this – gets the benefit of the doubt, time and time and time again, with absolutely nothing to show for it.

But hey, at least that worthless powerplay time got him up to four corsi events for. The Flames weren’t really a threat to score at any point, but four is better than one, right? Maybe that’ll convince Vegas to take him.

  • everton fc

    The last few games one can really see Chiasson’s skill-set. He’s got some nice moves, decent hands (of late). While the 4th line is producing, in terms of their role – and even getting on the scoresheet… One wonders why they continue slotting Brouwer on Bennett’s right side – it may be destroying this kid.

    Put Chiasson on the RW of the 3rd line, and I bet you get immediate production. Why? He’s big, plays physical, is unafraid to go into the dirty areas, and has way more skill w/the puck than Brouwer. Freddie Hamilton has played better when given the chance, than Brouwer most nights.

    Or, bench Brouwer, move Bennett to LW and let Stajan or Lazar (or Hamilton) centre the 4th line. Is it me, or does Bennett’s game improve when playing LW on a line centred by Stajan? And Versteeg can play both wings w/o much difference in the result. Or so it seems…

    Why Ferland isn’t getting Brouwer’s ice time on the PP…. Another good question. All things said, we are winning, regardless. These changes might take us over the top. And I think we have to go w/Kulak and Engelland, in the playoffs. Kulak is a far better defender than Bartkowski, to my eyes….

    • Alex Chiasson continues to be a low-cost, high-return (relative to his skill-set, ceiling) asset. You’re 100% on point about moving him up. Chiasson’s cost per point value is now at $42,105, which is good for third on the Flames in terms of standard contracts.

      So not only are they getting value from him at 4v5 with Bennett, but they’re getting overall production in a depth role for basically pennies. Honestly, I hope he is re-signed for the cheap in the summer just so the team has NHL level depth moving forward.

      • everton fc

        They should re-sign Chiasson. He plays like a ten year pro – knows his role now, which is great for the Flames. He’s a perfect fit here, and can be deployed “up” without hurting us too much. He’s simply a better player than Brouwer right now.

        As for Bartkowski, he’ll be in Stockton next season if we can retain Kulak and promote Andersson. Not sure which side of the ice Kulak and Andersson play – or if they are partnered ever in Stockton. But I’d have more faith in that 5/6 pairing than Bartkowski and “whomever”.

        • The Doctor

          It’s like a Peter Principle thing with Chaisson — earlier in the season, they were putting him in a role to which he’s not really suited, i.e., as a first or second-line forward. He is much better suited to 3rd and 4th line duty, and once the team did that with him, he started to thrive. Chaisson is fine as long as you don’t try pushing him beyond what he can realistically do. He’s never going to be a big scorer, and he never was, if you look at his lifetime stats.

  • redwhiteblack

    4th line doing really well of late. Chiasson and Stajan seem to have their roles figured out and they are playing well together. Dropping Brouwer to their line could effectively destroy the rhythm they have. He seems to be more of a liability than an asset. Sit him for a game or 2. Bring up Janko and put him on that line as a winger. Hopefully Vegas takes Brouwer. If they don’t what do we do with him? At least Stajan has had the drive to remain useful even if overpaid. Brouwer does not seem to have that virtue.

    • everton fc

      If BT can unload Brouwer’s contract to McPhee and Vegas, he may just prove he’s one of the top GM’s in the game. McPhee’s not so bad himself. Here’s hoping, for those minutes on RW should go to one of Chiasson, Hathaway or Lazar – and Hathaway deserves more ice time than the unproven Lazar. I could live w/Chiasson as 3rd line RW, and Hathaway as our 4th line RW. And I am concerned Vegas takes Stajan – which may be why Lazar’s here.

      • Greg

        Except that he’s also the same GM that signed Brouwer, and it’s not like that contract is a case of “hindsight is 20/20”. I’m not sure wiggling his way out of his own mistake gets him GM points. Maybe magician points.

  • flames2015

    3rd goal was on wideman not Johnny. That was a perfect pass to wideman. If your a defense and you pinch like that, you better make damn well contact with the puck.

    • Jobu

      You could see how pissed Wideman was after the goal – I think he knew that play sealed his fate for retirement next year. Probably went against GGs instructions completely.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      I don’t know about it being a perfect pass, but a forward would have received it better. I don’t mind the defense pinching if they are responsible about it. What in the world is a RHS d-man coming up on the left wing? How was it that the smallest offensive player was the first guy back on a 3 on 2?

      What bothered me about Wideman last night was that he was not doing the safe things that made him ok in the last two games. He jumped up on rushes far too many times for a 3rd pairing guy. Saying that, the Brodie/Engelland pinch was responsible for the final nail in the coffin. With Brodie/Stone, one guy was always hanging back.

      This was a winnable game. Boston gave us the lead and allowed us to tie it up. Two out of four goals should never have gone in. Two early PP chances and we can’t even gain position. Moving on. If Elliott is back in for Friday, we have another chance to start a run. LA is fragile and we play them twice in our barn. We have games against contenders that we can win. Washington is the toughest game we have over the next two weeks. We play LA and SJ on their 2nd game after they each play the Oilers. What a surprise that we get the benefit this time.

    • EST. 1980

      I agree, the 3rd goal turnover was Wideman’s gaff, but Gaudreau needs to not pass in that situation and shoot!! More pucks ON NET!! Quit missing the net/passing from prime shooting locations.

  • Zalapski

    I know that BT calls the shots, but doesn’t it seem like Brouwer is a Burke product? Last off-season rolls around and BT says we need a right handed top 9 forward, smartly trades a career minor leaguer in Sieloff for RFA 6’4 Chiasson, tenders Freddie Hamilton to be the 10th forward. The shrewdness of those 2 moves doesn’t compute when you add in throwing almost 5 million!!! dollars at Brouwer on July 1st of all days. It’s just such a strange deal. 3rd line minutes are one thing, but putting him on the PP is absurd. I like GG but his player usage confuses me at times(so did Hartley so nothing new). I think the org knows what they have in Brouwer now and are hoping a puck goes off his butt and in so he can get some confidence so they can recoup some value from the guy. It’s frustrating to watch him every night. But hey, he blocked a shot a shot in OT against the Penguins.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    Chad, Chad , Chad. You just answered to those who wonder why you aren’t a #1 goalie. I was / am a big supporter. Still tho. That first goal, yeah, five hole, sharp angle. We can say you were rusty and move on. But that 2nd one. Really. Do you need a different glove? Do you need instructions on how a catching glove works?

    Let’s not allow success to prevent management from doing the right thing. ie – Brouwer, Brouwer on p.p., etc. You either move forward or you slip backwards.

    GFG

    • Neddd

      Khudobin basically gifted the Flames their two goals (one from centre ice…). So if poor goaltending is an excuse on the part of Johnson it was off-set by the Bruins shaky back-up in Khudobin.

        • Neddd

          Have another look at Chiasson’s goal. Close in wraparound I guess you could call it??? Khudobin was already on that side though and should have had the entire bottom of the ice covered but somehow it still went in. Pretty weak.

          • Thatz Nuckin Futz

            Maybe, maybe not. But really, I couldn’t give two hoots & a holler about what their goalie gave us in this game or any other. Its what MY goalie is giving up that matters.

  • Fan the Flames

    Gio,Frolic,Johnny,Mony and Dougie one leg thanks for showing up the rest drink plenty of fluids,bed rest and consult the team Drs you must have the flu as well.

  • class1div1

    I see Bettman lost his appeal regarding Wideman suspension. Not surprising that he disagreed with the judges decision to uphold the arbitrators decision. It will be even more interesting how the officials re-act to this.

    • dontcryWOLF88

      Bettman disgusts me. Slimy elitist. Anybody here him in intermission saying how claiming he wants to support grass roots hockey, because its for the good of the game and for the community. Then on the other hand him and the owners he represents are blocking the NHL from going to Olympics because they want to make more money. The Olympics is for the sport, and for the fans, and for the players. I realize theres no profit in there for the owners of the NHL teams, but so what? If you care about supporting the game and the communities that watch it, then make the olympics happen. Hypocritical mother%$ucker.

      And using your audience to present your own biased opinion on whether or not the flames need a new arena during a depression? #UCK OFF! That is a decision for the people of Calgary to make. It has nothing to do with the NHL, nor even the Flames ownership group, for that matter. If the Flames owners want to pay for the whole rink, then go nuts, build it anytime you want. Otherwise, shut up and let us do it the way we chose, and at the right time. What I know is i definetly dont appreciate the NHL King Snake coming in and trying some 6th grade jealousy tactics on us “well, look how nice the oilers new rink is”. Economics has NO PLACE for that kind of thinking.

      • class1div1

        Bettman also claimed “This isn’t my first rodeo”.I am well versed in what has to happen here.I could play the role of Facilitator between the city and the owners.Nenshi,Bettman King and Burke negotiating a compromise is laughable, and would likely push the two sides even further apart.

        • The Doctor

          As far as I’m concerned, one can never say enough bad things about Bettman. The most anti-fan commissioner of any major sports league. The fans come last in Gary’s universe.

  • Jessemadnote

    Wow Ari, I feel like you’ve been repressing a lot of negativity that you finally got to let out. This feels like a review of the 10th loss in row not the first loss after a 10 game streak.

      • The GREAT WW

        I didn’t read the article. I rarely read the articles. I decided to read the first paragraph after I read this comment…..WTF Ari?!!!!!

        This is why I rarely read the articles…..

        WW

      • Longshot1977

        Not a whole lot of English or History majors here in the FN comments, I suppose.

        This is a bit of play by Ari. The “Ides of March” refers to March 15th, the historical assassination date of Julius Caesar. In Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”, the Caesar is warned by a soothsayer to “beware the Ides of March”, foreshadowing his impending betrayal on that date. The phrase has survived the years to become a kind of warning on reversals of fortune happen in March???

        Anyhow, Ari plays off of that by paraphrasing a scene in Mean Girls where a ditsy girl presents her high school project summary of the historical event in front of the class. The Flames play the part of JC, while the Bruins are Brutus.

        Class dismissed.

  • Nick24

    My question is, what is it worth to the Flames for Vegas to take Brouwer? Like, do we need to send them a 3rd or 4th? Because I wouldn’t want to chance it.

    • Greg

      Brouwer is getting dangerously close to to buy-out territory. So I guess you have to ask what it’d be worth to not have a $1.5M cap hit for the next 6 years? A third probably sounds about right given $2M salary dumps usually go for a 2nd.

      Unfortunately we don’t have any more of those sitting around…

      • HOFer_dirty30

        I would advocate “Brock osweiler”ing brouwers contract and give up a 3rd to move him. We need the capspace for deserving players and he is toxic to this team.
        (Apologies for the football reference, atleast we aren’t paying brouwer 72mil over 4 years)

  • Rocket66

    I for one am glad flames lost. They kept saying if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Well it broke last nite so maybe now we can see a couple line changes. I personally hope they leave all the lines together except for the third line sit Brouwer the floater and try other combinations till something works

  • flamesburn89

    Ari, did you already forget that Brouwer gets a free pass until the postseason? He will emerge astride a white unicorn during warmup of game 1 and use his leadership skills to rouse the team with a fierce battle cry. He’s done it before you know…

    Definition of a boat-anchor contract. Just when the Flames are about to rid themselves of one (Wideman), they go out to sign another one.

  • Burning Ring of Fire

    I get that the Heat are trying to make the playoffs but I don’t get why they don’t make room to bring up the occasional prospect, let them have a spin to give them a taste, and make them hungry for more. Plus, come playoff time you never know if or when you’ll need some help from the farm.

    • Ari Yanover

      Barring emergencies, teams can only recall four players after the trade deadline. That hampers their ability to do a lot of stuff. I’m pretty sure Andersson would’ve made his NHL debut by now if that wasn’t a rule.

  • Derzie

    For those that used the streak as a “see how good GG is”, the ice times for Eng and Bart should put the brakes on that talk. He still makes boneheaded personnel deployments. As long as he keep the 2 biggies intact: Wideman sitting, Chiasson away from the top 6, he is trending in the right direction.