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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Back in the Saddle

The Calgary Flames lost to Boston on Wednesday night. That loss snapped their record-tying winning streak at 10 games. It was a game they probably should have lost, both stylistically and based on how their games have been going. Boston’s a tough team on a roll.

Dallas? They’re a much easier out. The Flames were full marks in beating a team they should reasonably be expected to beat, carrying play for the majority of the game en route to an impressive 3-1 victory. It’s their 40th win of the season and nudges them closer to a playoff berth.

THE RUNDOWN

The game got off to a rather disjointed start, with both teams having the puck a fair amount but both failing to generate a ton. They had four shots combined by the midway point of the period. Despite all the offensive lulls, the Flames opening goal came from a familiar source: the vaunted 3M Line.

It was either a missed pass or a calculated dump-in, but Mikael Backlund got the puck into the Dallas zone, retrieved it and passed it to Michael Frolik for a wrister that beat Kari Lehtonen to make it 1-0.

Shots were 6-5 in the first in favour of Calgary, but were 6-1 prior to a late-period flurry by the visitors.

The next period began with a bit more action, as the Flames had a couple nice chances and then a monstrous shift that resulted in another goal. Mark Giordano put a puck on net after a lengthy stretch of Flames play in the Dallas zone – for reference, Micheal Ferland gained the zone originally and the Flames managed a full line change while maintaining pressure – and Matthew Tkachuk tipped it past Lehtonen to make it 2-0.

It became 3-0 rather soon afterwards, as Tkachuk’s forechecking towards an errant pass in the Dallas zone led to a turnover, a bunch of stick-work, and then a Mark Giordano wrister that had eyes. It beat Lehtonen from a distance to extend the Flames lead.

The Flames had a few more chances, but that’s all they got through 40 minutes. Shots were 13-10 Dallas in the second.

The locals were all over Dallas for much of the third, score effects be damned. They narrowly whiffed on a few chances, and Lehtonen was also really sharp on a few more. Brett Ritchie broke Brian Elliott’s shutout attempt midway through the period, intercepting a miffed T.J. Brodie pass and beating Elliott five-hole to make it 3-1. But that was as close as the Stars got. Shots were 8-7 Flames.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

After losing a series of battles against Boston (and losing the game), the Flames took advantage of a tired team and won a ton of battles all night long. They caused turnovers. They made smart decisions with the puck. They held pucks in. They put pucks on net. Their game had all the nice detail work you’d hope to see when a playoff-bound team is playing one that’s not headed to the post-season.

THE TURNING POINT

The third Flames goal completely sunk Dallas. It was off a seemingly innocuous play along the boards, but Tkachuk crashed and banged and knocked a puck loose, and Giordano made a clean shot on net. They never looked back.

RED WARRIOR

Let’s go with a collective Red Warrior for the Flames’ top line (Tkachuk, Backlund and Frolik), top pairing (Giordano and Hamilton) and goaltender. Other players were good tonight, but these six gentlemen really set the tone for the entire game.

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 71.4 66.7 1.975
Frolik 70.0 60.0 2.015
Tkachuk 65.6 60.0 2.550
Hamilton 61.3 66.7 1.475
Engelland 59.3 50.0 0.350
Bartkowski 56.5 50.0 0.200
Bouma 50.0 40.0 0.075
Giordano 48.7 66.7 2.600
Chiasson 47.4 40.0 0.100
Bennett 41.7 40.0 -0.185
Gaudreau 39.4 42.9 -0.350
Monahan 39.4 37.5 -0.195
Ferland 38.9 42.9 -0.425
Brodie 38.5 36.4 -0.500
Versteeg 28.6 50.0 -0.260
Stone 28.2 36.4 -0.850
Stajan 25.0 50.0 -0.310
Brouwer 16.7 50.0 -0.325
Elliott  1.650

THIS AND THAT

Bennett and Stajan swapped spots to begin second period, with Bennett functionally demoted to the fourth line.

It being St. Patrick’s Day, the Flames wore wacky green jerseys in warm-up. I’m not a huge fan of ’em, but if they’re down your alley the Flames are auctioning them off on their website.

The Flames are now 22-8-1 when scoring first, 19-3-1 when leading after 20 minutes and 29-0-1 when leading after 40 minutes.

QUOTABLE

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 9. Their win drops it to 8.
Any combination of 8 Flames wins and Kings losses results in the Flames heading to the post-season.

UP NEXT

The Flames (40-27-4) practice tomorrow, then host the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday in a gigantic game with playoff implications for both teams.

  • flames2015

    To make your 6th red warriors, it should include Elliot. Good game for him after back from the flu, would have had a shutout if it wasn’t for Brodie’s gaft infront of the net. Good game, and one that we should have won.

    • Burning Ring of Fire

      This is one of those comments where you’re not sure whether to cheer it or trash it (because the content mentioned in the post is unbelievably bad). I’m starting to think that they pay his salary in coins on game day and old Money Bags is toting his loot around with him on the ice.

  • Atomic Clown

    You know a goalie is playing good, when someone (me) was chirping Elliot at the start of the season, and now I was getting angry at Brodie, not for giving up the puck leading to a goal, but for ruining Elliot’s shutout.

    And just an innocent observation. Tkachuk’s hockey IQ is off the charts. Monahan probably edges him out in terms of pure offensive instincts, (dude knows where the rebound is gonna end up, or where the pass infront of the met a is gonna be, every time) but Tkachuk’s read of the ice is unparalleled to any player I’ve seen don the flames jersey. And never in a rookie.

      • Burning Ring of Fire

        On that note, I wonder how the stats are looking for these new blog sites. Based on the number of comments, trashes etc. I’m guessing the stat line is sucking wind.

        • dontcryWOLF88

          I agree. Wasnt uncommon to see 50-150 likes/dislikes for the top posts. I rarely see this crack 20 now.

          I wonder who’s sweating over that drop…?

          I left a bad review on Tru Knowledge. Maybe not their fault, but somebody should have caught most of this stuff before it was swapped over.

          They basically just copied the way YouTube comment sections work from what i can tell. That model makes sense when you have thousands and thousands of comments. Not so great for the more community atmosphere of the comment section here.

          • HAL MacInnis

            I’m not absolutely positive about this, but I think you could cheer and trash comments before without being a member. Now, I believe you have to be logged in for your vote to count.

    • HAL MacInnis

      I’ve never seen a rookie so aggressive and yet composed. Maybe Tkachuk will be mentoring the older players soon. I don’t know, but the kid is on another level.

  • TurkeyLips

    That was one of the funniest games in recent memory​,

    Johnny. G throwing himself into the net like a baby seal.

    Mark. G curled on the ice like a sea cucumber defending Troy.

    T.J. Brodie putting whipped cream on Dallas’s shutout breaker.

  • Guest

    Regarding Brouwer. Obviously Calgary will expose him, but there is no way Vegas is taking him to meet the salary floor. Vegas should (and WILL) be in the business of we will take your bad contracts if you throw in good draft picks or prospects. Would you dump your 1st rounder to save 13.5 over three years? A second in next years draft isn’t getting it done. Woof. I blame Burke and have good reason to.

    The Brouwer contract is looking so bad. I disliked it when it happened, but never thought he would look this poor. He must be injured. The last two weeks its like he doesn’t belong in the league. I remember when Glencross dropped off. It happened real fast, but Brouwer is 2 years younger.

          • Guest

            Its a total nightmare. You don’t want to sell low on Brouwer, but is he coming back?
            I also hated the Lazar deal because I think we could have waited until summer and offer sheeted him. Nonetheless low risk deal. Brouwer might be Smid by the fall at this rate. Paying a first to dump a contract is close to worst case.

        • supra steve

          First, offer sheets almost never work, and the club you are poaching from now hates you. Second, OTT was going to be in a position where they may not have been able to protect Lazar in the expansion draft. If Lazar was Vegas property, good luck, because they could match any reasonable offer with all the cap space they will have, or they would gladly accept the draft choice compensation for an unreasonable offer. Third, what’s the compensation for signing Lazar as a RFA? $1.2-1.8 million/yr is a third rounder…$1.8-3.7 is a second rounder. So how do you get Lazar as a RFA without giving up to much cap space, and giving up a pick? Answer is you don’t, because it would not have happened the way you think it could have. I’m not arguing that Lazar was or was not worth the price that Tre paid, time will tell. Just arguing that the RFA idea was destined to fail.

  • Guest

    On a positive note. Solid dominating game. Playoff style discipline.

    Boston is a weird team. Ultra aggressive forecheck and risky in the offensive zone. Outside of Toronto I can’t recall a team like that. Calgary had numerous odd man rushes but those led to many turnovers – its like we were not prepared for that style of game. I was thinking the Oilers with their crazy forward talent would play Boston better and thats what happened. Boston would be beatable over a series. That style doesn’t fly when you are prepared.

    Kings game gonna be huge. Iggy. Intensity. Good times.

    • Atomic Clown

      Dude, the Stockton heat’s official Twitter account officially has the worst tweets. I’m not exaggerating. They love making puns on players name, all of which suck. They insist on using gifs to accentuate goals for/against or big moments, and none of the gifs convey a message anywhere close to what the tweet is about.

    • Atomic Clown

      Dude, the Stockton heat’s official Twitter account officially has the worst tweets. I’m not exaggerating. They love making puns on players name, all of which suck. They insist on using gifs to accentuate goals for/against or big moments, and none of the gifs convey a message anywhere close to what the tweet is about.

  • Burning Ring of Fire

    Why can’t I get a $4.5M x 4year contract to show up but not show up? Oh yeah, because I’m only as good as my last job and if I screw up I’m ….

      • ThisBigMouthIsRight

        I agree dontcryWOLF88, GG has done a nice job on the back half of the season changing to fit the players chemistry together… The only reason they seem stuck on the Bennett/Brouwer conundrum is wanting Sam to find his way to be a good Center and Brouwer seems to be the $$$ & Idea of his reason to be here. Really If they want them both to achieve their effectiveness for the team to succeed its time to make a move to where they may have that success. Ignore the $$$ and put Brouwer on the 4th line with Staj & Bouma, He is an effective crash & bang RW Vet who works well with Staj and have found some positive chemistry together. Chiasson has Earned the bump up as of late and might just help out Bennett find his groove? C’mon GG Damn the $$$ and do the right thing for these guys to have some meaningful impact with the team! I’m sure once the Flames clinch we’ll see some roster movements to tinker with the less than great line combos that have flat-lined right now. Heck sitting Brouwer to let him watch and figure out his roll might not be a bad thing after all. I hope they all find their way! Go Flames Beat those annoying LA pretenders on Sunday. Cheers!

  • Greg

    Skimming the comments, you’d think we lost again. I don’t know what’s happened with the change in discourse due to the new format, but there use to be some interesting discussion, and now it’s getting to be not worth looking at. Kinda like Brouwer’s contract.

    Anyway, a win Sunday and the magic number is 6. That would pretty much seal it, especially if LA loses tomorrow too.

    • Avalain

      Honestly, I kinda think that it’s all the winning that we’re doing lately. Now winning is the new normal and people have gone on to be critical about smaller issues.

      Anyway a magic number of 8 is still pretty close to sealed as it is. The team is playing well and would need to be passed by 3 teams to miss the playoffs. Nothing to get anxious about unless they go on some crazy losing streak.

  • Fan the Flames

    I thought Bennett played well with Chaisson and Sam was able to play his energetic game and not be trapped in his own end all night trying to cover up for Brouwer.
    Sure happy to see Stone back in the lineup to steady the defence and Elliott was excellent again .

  • VoRaCS

    I’ve said it before, but whatever line Brouwer is on becomes the 4th line—even the power play. Right now the most logical move to improve this team is to minimize—or better yet, eliminate—his ice time. Replacing his pp time with Bennett or Ferland will restore the first unit’s success and get us ready for the playoffs. Now is time to take advantage of every possible strength and do what is necessary to become even better as we prepare for a run.

  • Porridge Boy

    It is tough to rationalize Brower’s role or effect on the game. Looks bad. Bottom line though is we are winning and there must be something, these things are always intangible, that he brings to the table. Maybe he caught a referee with a goat or something