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Photo Credit: Candice Ward / USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames come up empty against Ducks

The Calgary Flames hoped to get a couple points tonight. They clinched a playoff spot in their last game, and several players and coaches admitted to the media that maybe they had gotten a bit sloppy and held their sticks a bit tight in anticipation of clinching. Given the chance to unclench a bit and just play against the Anaheim Ducks, the Flames responded by playing rather poorly.

The Flames were victimized by a series of unforced errors and shoddy defensive play en route to a 4-3 setback to the Ducks in their final regular season home date of 2016-17.

THE RUNDOWN

The home side had some nice jump early, skating rather well and just whiffing on some decent chances in the offensive zone. They took a penalty, though, and the Ducks made them pay. Patrick Eaves boxed out Mark Giordano out front and buried a rebound from an initial Ryan Kesler shot to make it 1-0. (For some reason, the Flames began the penalty kill with Matt Stajan and Lance Bouma rather than the usual Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik pairing.)

The Flames recovered reasonably well from that goal and got their legs under them again, but the Ducks made them pay on the rush just prior to the end of the first. The Flames got all tangled up with each other on a Ducks zone entry, leaving Jakub Silfverberg wide open for a really nice wrister that beat Brian Elliott high to make it 2-0. Shots were 10-9 Anaheim.

Calgary roared back in the second with a pair of power play goals from Kris Versteeg. On the first, early in the period, he was left wide-open on the half boards and got a really nice shot off that beat Jonathan Bernier just inside the post to make it 2-1.

On the second goal, with the Flames nursing a two-man advantage, Versteeg wandered right to the side of the net and jammed home the puck to make it 2-2.

But once again, the Flames gave up a late goal in the second. Once again, it was some lapses in defensive coverage. Matt Bartkowski’s lazy rim around the boards couldn’t get out of the zone, he and Deryk Engelland couldn’t recover the puck, and Korbinian Holzer snuck in from the point and beat Elliott on a redirect to make it 3-2. Shots were 12-7 Anaheim in the second.

The Flames pressed a bit in the early third and a great shift from the 3M Line, forcing turnovers and pursuing the puck, led to a nice redirection by Michael Frolik of a Mark Giordano point shot to make it 3-3.

It seemed that this game was destined for overtime. But once again, some bad defensive play cost them late. Bartkowski pinched from the point but bobbled the puck, leading to a Ducks rush. Bartkowski and Engelland rushed back to cover Kesler and negate his initial shot (which he got off from a bad angle), but nobody (especially not Johnny Gaudreau) covered Logan Shaw and he buried the rebound to make it 4-3. Shots were 12-5 Ducks.

WHY THE FLAMES LOST

The Flames had very little going on at even strength. They’re healthy and had last change at home, but they really seemed to have no answer for Anaheim’s pressure at 5 on 5. It also doesn’t help that they were occasionally very bad in their own end, frequently just tossing the puck up the boards from behind the net and hoping that Anaheim wouldn’t grab the loose puck.

It’s a shame, too, because while this wasn’t a game they had to have it was up for grabs in the third period and they just couldn’t grab hold of it.

THE TURNING POINT

The Shaw goal was absolutely the wrong goal at the wrong time. Bartkowski made a dumb move with the puck in the offensive zone. Engelland and Bartkowski (and everyone else, seemingly) seemed fixated on Kesler’s initial shot. Elliott kicked out a big rebound into the slot. Nobody picked up Shaw entering the zone. Bad on many levels.

RED WARRIOR

Versteeg had two goals, so let’s go with him.

THE NUMBERS

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Ferland 55.6 66.7 0.025
Tkachuk 50.0 40.0 0.225
Monahan 50.0 71.4 0.040
Stone 48.0 60.0 0.050
Bouma 47.1 60.0 0.025
Bartkowski 46.7 16.7 -0.250
Giordano 46.4 50.0 1.475
Frolik 46.4 33.3 1.050
Backlund 46.4 33.3 0.765
Hamilton 44.4 50.0 -0.100
Stajan 43.8 60.0 -0.090
Engelland 43.3 16.7 -0.425
Gaudreau 42.3 62.5 -0.025
Brodie 41.7 60.0 1.050
Versteeg 40.0 20.0 1.650
Chiasson 38.9 25.0 -0.350
Bennett 37.5 20.0 -0.510
Brouwer 37.5 60.0 -0.190
Elliott 0.000

THIS AND THAT

The Flames now mathematically cannot catch the Ducks in the standings. If the Oilers get one more point, the Flames cannot catch them, either. The Flames seem destined for either third place in the Pacific or a wildcard spot.

UP NEXT

The Flames (44-31-4) fly to Anaheim tomorrow. They play the Ducks at Honda Center on Tuesday night.

  • Zalapski

    Bartkowski had his best game as a flame and still cost them the game. Fat Ras and a right/right D pair for the rest of the season and playoffs please. He is absolutely a waste of a roster space and the fact he gets into the lineup night after night is hurting the flames.

    • Thatz Nuckin Futz

      Bart has a grittiness to his game but his blunders make me cringe at times. His unforced rim around went straight to Getlaff’s stick for that 3rd goal. Those mistakes will cost you games. As for him fanning the puck on that 4th goal, I don’t want to be too hard on him… but it was converted into a turnover and a Duck’s goal.

      We can play with these guys, there’s no need to fear any team in the west. But the devil is in the details such as unforced errors & mental lapses in the dying moments of period breaks.

      GFG

  • I am Batman

    It was a fun game. I was cheering for the Flames to make it a bit easier for the Oilers to get 1st on the Pacific, but oh well, we will take care on our own, no need for help.

    See you in the 4 games that the BoA will last or… good luck against Chicago.

  • RKD

    Outside the SJ game, the Flames haven’t looked great in 3 of their past 4 starting with that win against Colorado. The Ducks are a tough team to beat, the Flames can’t afford to be off they need to learn to beat the Ducks. Guys like Steeger I feel will be huge come post-season time.

  • The Doctor

    Too many bad and botched clearing attempts to count. We were really, really bad in that department. Also, Anaheim is really good at disrupting play, putting sticks in the way of passes, etc., and we didn’t have any answer or counter to that. We just let them constantly intercept and disrupt our passes. And ANOTHER thing: if we want to beat these guys, we need to be tougher in the corners and in puck battles. A lot of the time, it just looked like the Ducks wanted the puck more than we did.

  • aye

    As bad as Bart was last night, defense is a team game and the forwards need to do a better job supporting the D, i.e. make themselves available to receive an outlet pass so Bart wouldn’t have to try rimming around the boards.

    • The Doctor

      There were a lot of Flames last night making lousy passes, and especially outlet and clearing passes that ended up not making it out, getting picked off, etc.

  • Zalapski

    Talk bad about Wideman all you want, cause I sure did. But absolutely trash turnovers were not part of his game. Bartkowski is a worse option. He needs to go. Hopefully they will change that pairing and not bump Eggs up and Stone down. Barts coverage is laughable and so is his gap control. The guy should be in a different league let alone playing 18 minutes a night.

  • P0pcan

    Calgary is doing everything they can to not meet Edmonton in the 1st round maybe then they can bet a crippled San Jose team and loose to Edmonton in the second prob not though my bet Calgary out in the first round 5 games