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Photo Credit: Candice Ward / USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Better than the worst

The Calgary Flames won on Monday night at the Saddledome. They were playing the National Hockey League’s worst team, the Colorado Avalanche, and handed them their 52nd regulation loss of the season. The Avalanche are bad and the Flames were better than them and won 4-2.

That said, it wasn’t exactly a game where the Flames looked like world-beaters. But they never trailed during the game and beat a team they really should be expected to beat.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames got on the board early, as former Flame Joe Colborne gave them an early power play. Sean Monahan continued the trend of the St. Louis game on Saturday with an odd deflection off Erik Johnson’s stick to make it 1-0.

The Flames had several chances after that, but seemed to make one too many passes in the offensive zone and that’s all they got in the first 20 minutes. Shots were 9-6 Flames.

The home side connected again the second and doubled their lead. The culprits? Young Johnny Gaudreau and some guy named Micheal Ferland. Ferland biffed on an odd-man rush, followed up on the loose puck and then went to the net for a rebound off a Gaudreau chance from the side of the net to make it 2-0.

Once again, the Flames had a good many chances after that but couldn’t bury anything. Shots were 11-6 Flames.

Colorado refused to go away in the third, partially because the Flames seemed to lack the ability to make a simple outlet pass from their own end. The Flames got hemmed in a few times here and there. Sven Andrighetto scored on a power play opportunity after an initial shot missed the net and bounced off the back-boards and right to him for the tap in to make it 2-1. Troy Brouwer reinstated the two-goal lead with a nice wrister on the power play, shades of his power play goal from Saturday, to make it 3-1.

Andrighetto got another one with a low slapper through traffic that beat Elliott to make it 3-2. However, the Avalanche couldn’t get anything else. They took a neutral zone penalty with their goalie pulled and Gaudreau added an empty netter to make it 4-2 and seal this one.

Shots were 14-7 Colorado.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

The Flames were better than Colorado tonight.

It’s not much of an accomplishment given how bad the Avalanche have been this season. The Flames arguably gave up too many good scoring chances and often had trouble clearing their own end. They’re probably guilty of playing down to their opposition, and this game really should not have been as close as it ended up being given how much time the Flames spent with the puck on their sticks.

That said, their power play was better than Colorado’s and their five on five play was much better than Colorado’s, defensive gaffes aside.

THE TURNING POINT

Ferland’s goal made it 2-0 and cemented a lead the Flames would never relinquish. Colorado tried to claw back from that point, but just couldn’t get enough pucks on net to do so.

RED WARRIOR

Let’s go with Monahan, who had a four point evening.

Also good tonight? Hamilton, Giordano, the 3M Line, Gaudreau and Ferland. Heck, Sam Bennett was buzzing for much of the evening as well.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Hamilton 70.4 63.6 0.925
Giordano 66.7 63.6 0.475
Frolik 66.7 50.0 0.825
Backlund 65.2 50.0 0.370
Tkachuk 63.6 50.0 0.425
Versteeg 62.5 57.1 0.825
Brouwer 62.5 57.1 1.140
Bartkowski 61.3 30.0 0.575
Stajan 58.8 57.1 0.115
Engelland 58.6 30.0 0.425
Gaudreau 57.1 71.4 2.025
Ferland 56.5 71.4 1.900
Monahan 54.2 71.4 3.045
Bennett 52.6 o.o 0.230
Bouma 47.1 o.0 0.100
Brodie 46.4 50.0 0.650
Chiasson 45.0 0.0 0.025
Stone 44.4 50.0 -0.100
Elliott 0.900

THIS AND THAT

Chad Johnson was awarded the Peter Maher “Good Guy” Award by the traveling media, honouring him for being the most cooperative with the media. I’ll say this for Johnson, he’s always available by his stall after a bad showing or after giving up a rough goal. (The past two winners of the award? Joe Colborne, two seasons in a row.)

The assist on Ferland’s goal was Gaudreau’s 200th NHL point.

T.J. Brodie and Mark Stone were the only Flames without a shot on goal.

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 3. With the victory, their magic number is now 2; any combination of 2 Flames wins or Los Angeles losses clinches a playoff spot.

UP NEXT

The Flames (43-29-4) practice tomorrow and then have a chance to officially clinch a playoff spot on Wednesday night when they host Jarome Iginla and the Los Angeles Kings.

  • Cofred24

    Clinch a playoff spot? Man that feels good to hear. Flames have been playing like an elite hockey team for the past two months and they are incredibly entertaining to watch, which is a plus. So excited to see what this team does in the playoffs.

  • Damm shame

    Boys… brouwer is warming up for post season. 3 goals in 4 games, and a positive corsi tonight?! But seriously he’s a decent nhler just a tad overpaid.

    • HAL MacInnis

      I’m not ready to give Brouwer a pass just yet. He’s still got a lot of answering to do, but it’s good to see something positive from him as of late.

  • SeanCharles

    The team is playing well but, playoff positioning and AHL playoff run aside, wouldn’t it be fun to see?:

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Ferland
    Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik
    Versteeg-Stajan-Brouwer
    Bennett-Jankowski-Lazar

    Chiasson plays well in spurts but he disappears for stretches and we all know Bouma has been a big disappointment. These two are utilized on the PK so I get why they are in the lineup but Backlund, Frolik, Bennett, Brouwer and Stajan are used on the PK also so I don’t think it would diminish the PK much.

    I was really liking the play of Bouma-Stajan-Chiasson while they played together but I’ve noticed less and less from Bouma and Chiasson lately. They seem to be the least consistent players on the team, throughout the entire season, outside of arguably Brouwer, Bennett, Johnson, and to a lesser extent Stajan. However, those four are more integral to the team, now and in the future, so they aren’t quite in the same boat.

    This season the bottom 6 has been frustrating in which both lines rarely have good games at the same time. I think a lot of it has to do with chemistry and lack of consistency. Versteeg-Stajan-Brouwer has looked good since being joined..if only we could get the last line rolling.

    Playing Bennett with young guys and sheltered minutes, you would think, would help the line develop chemistry, chemistry that isn’t quiet there with a lot of the older less skilled players Bennett has primarily played with. Lazar and Jankowski could provide size and grit that is lost in scratching those two as well.

    I don’t expect to see it anytime soon and rightfully so considering Jankowski being the go-to guy down on the farm. Just an entertaining thought due to almost being completely pleased with the entire roster.

    • Justthateasy

      Bouma is not a bust. He’s a driving force and has some skill and a lot of never quit.
      And hey, he’s not afraid to hit anybody. He is not afraid to stand up to anybody in any kind of scrum either, is he?
      I would suggest to you that Lazar is the bust and he will be until he climbs out of that hole is in which may never happen. There are many examples of first round picks that never made it.

  • Scarface

    It seems we always need to have a whipping boy. Perfection is the only option. This seasons goat not be mistaken with goat is Brouwer. I wonder if Engelland misses wearing those horns we adorned on him. Actually, I wonder if he even knew?

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Question: which current Flame was universally despised on this forum last season because his production fell far short of his pay and his bad contract was deemed an albatross to the team? He has had a bounce back year in 2016-17, so much so that many of the same posters who wanted to run him outta town last season have expressed concern that he might be selected by the Knights and his void in the Flames’ lineup will leave a noticeable hole. Hello, Matt Stajan.

    Is Brouwer this year’s Matt Stajan? Have a great playoffs, and Brouwer will be given a clean slate by the fans next season. Even if he has an unremarkable playoffs, who is to say that Brouwer won’t be a much more effective player next season just as Stajan has been this year?

    Sure Brouwer is badly overpaid, but that was obvious when he was signed last July. Accept it but just make sure Tre has no access to any communication device–flags to smartphones–when FA frenzy starts in July. It is the only way to save Tre from his own excesses.

  • McRib

    One thing I have noticed at least possionally is Matt Bartkowski feast on weaker competition. In the games we have faced non-playoff teams he always walks away with a positive Corsi For, but against good opponents he gets killed. He seems to go into a shell and crash in on own goal against good opponents and if he can move away from that he could become more effective overall.

    That said why didn’t Rasmus Andersson play last night? That was a perfect time to get an audition and see what we have right now heading into the playoffs.

    • McRib

      positionally* We need an edit button again (as I write all my posts on my iPhone, it was handy to prevent against not noticing auto correct mistakes with a smaller screen).