16Curtis Lazar Profile
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Sharks 3, Flames 1 post-game embers: Season’s over, time for something better

Let’s be honest with ourselves: that game was pointless. Sure, there was a little bit to get out of it; Rasmus Andersson and David Rittich made their NHL debuts, after all, and that’s always special. But in the grand scheme of things? Useless.

You can’t really analyze a game like that. Why was Michael Stone a leader in powerplay ice time? Uh, probably because Mark Giordano, who is never a healthy scratch, was a healthy scratch. Nothing to see here, really.

With one exception: did anyone play well enough to force themselves into the playoff lineup? Two years ago Sam Bennett made his NHL debut in a useless Game 82. He assisted on a Micheal Ferland goal as the Flames lost 5-1 to the Jets. Nothing truly meaningful could be discerned from that game. But Bennett did make the playoff lineup – though Lance Bouma being injured earlier that week probably played a part in that. (Recall that, even though Bennett performed extremely well over his first nine playoff games, as soon as Bouma was healthy he bumped Bennett from his spot on Mikael Backlund’s wing down to the fourth line. That was absurd back then but it just reads as an even more horrific lineup decision now. Wonder what happened to the guy who made that call?)

So, with a couple of days off in between the regular season’s end and the playoffs, practices will be underway – and could there be a lineup change to go with them?

If anybody has a shot based off of Game 82, you have to think it’s Curtis Lazar. Not just because he scored the Flames’ only goal, either; he showed more jump and enthusiasm than most in that game, and didn’t look too out of place alongside Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk. Not as good as Backlund, obviously, but if Lazar makes the lineup he won’t be doing so in a top six spot.

Really, the only guy he could conceivably displace would probably be Lance Bouma. It actually fits: Matt Stajan moves to the left wing, Lazar takes centre, Troy Brouwer remains unscratchable on the right. (Next game is what he’s here for, right??) Just because Lazar is in the Flames’ longer-term plans doesn’t mean he can’t play right now, especially considering what was given up to acquire him and the fact that he can’t be sent down.

You would hope Rasmus Andersson made something of a case for himself as well. He looked much more alive when he was playing alongside Dougie Hamilton as opposed to Dennis Wideman. It was great to see him get that chance.

Also, at least it was something of a confirmation that Glen Gulutzan isn’t married to left-right pairings 100% of the time – just 99% of the time. But hey, that’s something, isn’t it?

Stray thoughts to go out on:

  • I do not say this lightly: Lazar has a smile that rivals Jarome Iginla’s.
  • When the Lazar trade happened, I wasn’t a fan of it. The saving grace to it was that the Flames consciously kept to a particular age group. Tkachuk’s reaction to Lazar’s goal, specifically, struck me. They’re about the same age. I’m hope that means something.
  • I believe that was the first time Tkachuk has led all Flames forwards in ice time.
  • What more did Johnny Gaudreau have to do to pick up a point? His entire line was buzzing offensively. Hopefully it counts on the scoresheet next week.
  • Always nice when nobody gets hurt in these things.
  • Happy the Flames have mostly stopped dressing players like Micheal Haley. Every Sharks fan I know loses their mind when he’s in the lineup.
  • How much more confident would you feel if David Schlemko was still on the Flames’ third pairing? That one hurts.
  • At 23 years of age, Dougie Hamilton is a 50-point defenceman. He cost a 15th overall pick, plus two seconds, to acquire.
    • Andersson was picked immediately after the third pick the Flames gave up. To date, he has played the same number of NHL games as those three players selected combined.
  • How many active defencemen have had 50-point seasons by the time they turned 23? Ten. Well, 11 now with Hamilton.
  • Hard to be grumpy at a 45-win season. The loser point is what keeps the Flames out of a divisional playoff spot. Maybe they’ll learn to lose games in 65 minutes rather than 60 next year.
  • Avalain

    I mean, sure Tkachuk could be happier for Lazar because of his age compared to others. But I would think it would have more to do with Tkachuk making $200k on that goal.

    • McRib

      I think a second rounder was a little much to give up for Lazar (especially with how we have drafted last two years), but that said he isn’t as bad as he appeared this season in Ottawa for certain, as Mono had a big impact this year.

  • Zalapski

    Lazar looked good! Funny how not playing with hot garbage can do that to a guy. Troy “The Ghost” Brouwer did what he does. The more I watch Bouma the more I’m grateful the Flames didn’t throw money at Colbourne. Seems like they’ve learned their lesson regardless of the Brouwer contract. If we are upset about it I can only imagine what the brass is thinking every time he has a no show. Fat Ras has something slick about him that I liked, he could compete a little harder but maybe guile is his game. Nice to a right handed shot that isn’t Wideman, Eggs or Stone. I still think Stone should be on the first PP blasting howies like last night, it would give the flames a legitimate threat. I’m not good with the internet but can someone tell me how many PP points Brodie has that aren’t secondary?

  • Lazarus

    Time for some sobering facts to temper enthusiasm. The Flames have made the playoffs 12 times since 1989. 10 times they were bounced in the first round. 9 of those times that Flames team had a regular season pts% equal to or higher than this year’s edition.

    Prepare for the worst, Hope for the best. I know I have seen enough Flames in the playoffs to know what is most likely..

    • Cfan in Van

      All that first round history has zero relevance to today’s team. You’re trying hard to spread pessimism, but none of the current Flames had anything to do with those losses. That’s like saying that the Oilers haven’t made the playoffs in a decade, so they wouldn’t this year either… Sound logic.

  • Rudy27

    Is it just my imagination or do the Flames give up more goals in the last 2 minutes of a period than any other team. Seems if they’re not giving up a goal, they are scrambling for their lives trapped in their own end.

  • Cheeky

    Lazar deserves to start. 3rd line of Versteeg, Lazar, and Bennett. 4th line of Chiasson, Stajan, and (gulp) Brouwer. Can sub in Bouma if needed…please dont play Wideman ever on PK…