Ducks 5, Flames 4 (OT) post-game embers: What is there to say?

Three games, the Flames have been the better team.

Three times, they’ve lost.

Well, let’s have at ’em

I do not blame the officials. I go out of my way to avoid blaming the officials. And really, how can you when the Flames didn’t have to kill a single penalty, and got five powerplays of their own? It looked like the tide had turned on that front, at least for a home game.

And sure, it was penalties that hurt them in the first two games. But the possibility of killing them always exists. Ultimately, it’s up to the team to do just that – and they can control their own play on the ice.

But between calling off Alex Chiasson’s goal in Game 2, and deciding Nate Thompson’s goal in Game 3 wasn’t the result of a high stick – only the officials can control that (by calling the plays in favour of the Ducks on the ice first, and by the war room essentially shrugging after minutes-long reviews to go with them). The only last gasp option after all that would be to challenge the call, but what would be the point of that after such a long review had already taken place?

That’s where you can’t win. Penalties get called all the time, penalties get missed all the time – but video review is supposed to get things right.

Video review that would have the Flames at least in overtime in Game 2, and winning Game 3, instead playing directly into the opposition’s hands – and giving them two wins instead. You go back two years, to Sam Bennett’s non-goal in a different Game 3 against the Ducks, and it’s good enough to leave you feeling defeated – and you’re just a fan. Your actions don’t mean anything in this space.

So I can’t imagine what calls like that, in particular, would do to the players.

As I’ve seen it put like this time and time again elsewhere: you can beat the Ducks. But you can’t beat the Ducks AND the officials.

Where’d Game 1 Brian Elliott go?

Game 1 was a display of excellent goaltending from both goalies, with Brian Elliott ultimately the better over his counterpart John Gibson despite the loss. Gibson was serving up rebounds the Flames didn’t capitalize on, while Elliott kept his team solidly in it, and couldn’t be blamed for anything that went past him.

Pucks are still bouncing off of Elliott’s defencemen and in, but the stellar play from Game 1 has been gone since the puck dropped in Game 2. The latest two losses would be fair to pin on him. Had he been sharper to start Game 2, the Ducks don’t jump out to that early lead, and then Flames maybe take it. And had he been able to do literally anything in Game 3 – especially after being gifted a three-goal lead – then the Flames aren’t in a 3-0 hole.

Elliott absolutely takes the blame on this one. He himself has admitted as much. He faced 27 shots; he let in five goals. Gibson faced 16 shots; he let in four goals. Jonathan Bernier faced 16 shots and stopped all of them.

That leaves a question for both teams: who starts the next game? Do the Ducks go back to Gibson? And do the Flames go back to Elliott, even after the past two performances?

The Ducks can afford to guess wrong. The Flames can’t. And before deciding, remember: the last time Johnson posted a save percentage above .900 was Feb. 24, and he hasn’t played a full game since March 23.

Not that the skaters are blameless

In the first period, the Flames had a 5v5 CF of 58.33%.

In the second period, it was 55.56%.

In the third period, 42.86%.

They had a two-goal lead – what should have been a three-goal lead, were it not for that late-period collapse – and couldn’t hold it. That’s what this comes down to. Was Elliott poor? Yes. Would he have had the chance to be poor if the team in front of him had played better? No. The Flames stopped doing what they had been so successful in doing the first two periods, the Ducks took over, and that cost them.

As if their end to the second period wasn’t a strong enough hint that they wouldn’t survive if they kept playing that way, they had to go and test the theory.

It’s hard to maintain that pace for an entire game. And if you’re so inclined, you can give credit to the Ducks for pushing back and forcing it to be a game again. They had a role in their win, too; it wasn’t just the Flames giving away another game as a collective unit.

Except, you know… it kind of was.

And at even strength…

The Ducks were undisciplined. They committed a number of infractions in the game – whether self-inflicted or play that the Flames’ at-the-time superiority forced them into – and three out of five times, the Flames made them pay.

They needed that. They absolutely needed that. Even the Ducks couldn’t do that when they had seven powerplays to work with. The Flames forced the Ducks into taking penalties and used it to draw blood, and that is a crucial factor that deservedly got them the upper hand in the game.

They also only scored once at even strength, a Michael Stone bomb that went ripping past Gibson. For every other scoring attempt they had – and at 5v5, it was 22-17 for the Flames – they simply could not get it done.

The Ducks could. Five times. And as much as the goaltending deserves the blame, as much as the skaters do too, that was the difference. The Flames got their chances, but couldn’t actually capitalize unless they had the man advantage. And everything just went right for the Ducks – and they didn’t need a single penalty called in their favour to do it.

This is not a reflection of this team

So… who’s ready for a reverse sweep, eh? Wouldn’t that be something?

I genuinely don’t know how one goes from here. The Flames are down 3-0 in a series, and they have a -3 goal differential to show for it. Three other teams – Columbus, Minnesota, and Chicago – are also down 3-0 in their series, but they can’t say that. They have not lost each of their games by one goal. Their series are mathematically not as close as the Flames and Ducks have been.

If that makes the Flames the best among the losers… so be it, then? Half of the first round series are in danger of being sweeps, but the Flames, for their part, do not deserve to be in the position they are in. Individual mistakes have cost them, but they are not a team so bad that they should be down 3-0. There have been moments in which they’ve clearly dominated the Ducks, including most of this game. And then there’s a five-man line change, or a bad bounce or five, or a war room decision nobody can fathom… and they’re down 3-0, despite going toe-to-toe and hanging with the Ducks every step of the way.

Three one-goal games is not an indication of a team being outplayed. It’s simply not. It’s an indication of one team, between two evenly matched opponents, getting all of the bounces, having all of the luck (and then some) go their way.

So what’s the comfort, or solace, or silver lining to find in any of this?

Same as the last time.

This team has grown. This series and the one from 2015 aren’t even remotely the same. And you combine the lessons – the very, very hard lessons that have been learned over these past three games – with a smart offseason, and in October, this could be a dangerous group.

There are a lot of maybes there, but considering how everything has gone, there isn’t too much reason to think it won’t be done.

It stings now. But this is the long con. It stung in January, too – and they learned from that to have a chance at these new heartbreakers.

It has been a good season. It has been a good postseason. And it’s not over yet.

  • Jessemadnote

    I don’t buy this “the flames blew it in the third” narrative. They allowed 2 High danger scoring chances in the 3rd. 2. They allowed 4 high danger scoring chances for the entire game and there were 5 goals. Every single goal was a deflection on a low percentage shot. Refs were bad but sometimes that worked in the Flames’ favour. Elliot could have been stronger. But ultimately for me this comes down to some of the worst luck I’ve ever seen a hockey team have.

  • Cheeky

    I don’t have any faith in this team. As soon as it was against the Ducks I knew but to blow a 4-1 lead is beyond words. What is it: coaching, goaltending, leadership, heart, who knows but they seemed to start watching the clock come midway through the 2nd period. End of game Ducks pushed but we were playing for OT (did they forget there’s no loser points in playoffs). Atrocious is perhaps the only word I can come up with. Here’s hoping at least we don’t get swept…

    • flamesburn89

      Yeah, right when Elliot let in that first Theodore goal late in the second, I had a sinking feeling. Just knew that the Flames were going to go into a defensive shell in the third, and since Elliot couldn’t stop a beach ball last night, I thought Anaheim would at least make a game of it.

      • Thatz Nuckin Futz

        After that first Ducks goal I said to my friend that we’ll need 5 goals to win cuz BE was sub par in game 2 and I knew game 3 was even gonna be worse for Moose. That’s just the cycle of his play. Or so it seems. I was nervous with every shot he faced no matter how far out it was taken from. If I can feel that thru my t.v., I can only imagine how the non-confidence ripples thru his team mates on the bench.

  • trox

    I’m searching really hard for a silver lining, and the best thing I can come up with is that a first round elimination will ensure management (let’s hope it is Tre) is not wearing rose colored glasses when decisions need to be made this summer on Bartkowski, Stone, Engelland, Elliot… Runner-up: I’m not longer concerned with Bennett’s development as he has been a beast.

  • TrevorKidd37

    For those defending Elliott, clearly you dont know a whole lot about rebound control. Brian has struggled with this all season. You cannot give up a goal, like the first goal scored on him last night. He faced a textbook wrist shot from just over the blueline and kicked out a huge rebound. The same thing happened in Game 1, as well as the ‘home and home’ against the Ducks at the end of the season.

    If we look at the starting goalies in this years playoffs, who would take Elliott over any of the other 15 tenders? There is a reason Elliott is the age he is and hasn’t established himself as a ‘true’ starting goalie. We took a chance on him this season at a relatively low cost; it did not work, and luckily we will be able to move on at the seasons end.

    With potentially 1 game left in the season, i’d turn to Johnson or Gillies for Game 4. Sure, Johnson seems like the obvious choice, but consider that Gillies has been playing much more of late, and also is a big reason that Stockton snuck into the playoffs. That said, i’d lean towards Gillies for Game 4

  • NickRash

    Blame the refs if you want but Game 2 that disallowed goal was the right call, Chaisson simply can’t push a goalie’s blocker sending him back into his own net without ever touching the puck, that’s as clear cut interference as you can get, we don’t even have to mention Bennett who was probably also guilty. As for game 3 that “high stick” wasn’t high enough, it was very close but there is one angle from center ice that shows his stick level with the crossbar when contact is made. Yes we’ve been unlucky with some of the goals against but not on those 2 in particular. Plenty of bad bounces and questionable goaltending to complain about, why focus on the calls they got right.

    • trox

      I’m not sure on the rule on pushing blockers into the net. But assuming you are right, why did Perry’s OT winner in game 5 in 2015 count? He clearly shoveled at Ramo’s glove to push the puck into the net. I was ok with Perry’s goal, by the way, and I felt that Chiasson’s should have counted. If the goalie doesn’t have control of the puck and his blocker is between the puck and an opposing player, surely that player has the right to try to get his stick on the puck.

      • NickRash

        I think you need to rewatch that Perry goal, he simply beat Ramo to the puck. Ramo’s glove comes down on top of Perry’s stick blade..pretty obvious and not at all interference. As for Chaisson, yes he absolutely does have the right to try to get his stick on the puck, but the thing is…he never comes close to touching the puck and only made contact with Gibson’s blocker, propelling him backwards into his own net, this is called goalie interference, had he made contact with the puck it’s a whole other story but he didn’t and the right call was made.

    • aye

      Not blaming the refs or the war room, but when every 50/50 call seems to be going against them, it’s hard to take. I’m not just talking about the last 2 games, we’ve seen it throughout the season, I don’t even recall getting a review in our favor. Even going back to the playoffs 2 years ago, the Bennett no goal, the Perry OT goal that could’ve been goalie interference…
      Yes, the players need to close out the game, but they absolutely deserved better in this series.

  • Flaymin Frank

    We started this year with two goalies who were both new to the club. We had ups & downs, hot & cold streaks with both, a collective patch work of decent net minding. Unfortunately Elliott has cooled down and we ain’t going anywhere with him in net. Every team needs a hot goalie to steal some games but were are giving games away right now. The Ducks could sense that from the get go last nite. The were directing pucks from any where at any angle because they knew Moose was fighting & fudging the biscuit.

    Love watching Sam B’s play. The kid is a warrior & I look forward to watching him develop into a star over the next couple of years.

    On a slightly different note, I am really digging that young Toronto team. And I’m a life long Leaf hater!! That group of young guns have no quit in them & are fun to watch.

    • cberg

      True, both. I would like to see Gillies get the start. Time to see if he can get the job done on the biggest stage, which he has always done to this point in his career. I believe Elliot’s future goose is cooked here, especially if Gillies can come up big in this series. Better long-term if we know about Gillies which allows us to make the best decision between Elliot and Johnson for next year….

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        Would love to see it as well….but given GGs track record. We may see Johnson maybe Lazar….but I will not be surprised if he does not make any changes.

  • RKD

    Stunning defeat, this team lacks killer instinct. They go up 4-1 and got complacent, Gulutzan didn’t call a time out because as he puts it they were not ‘under seige.’ That’s your answer? Terrible. Elliott struggled big time, looking for an easy way out on the 4th goal complaining to the refs. The team is down 3-0 put in Johnson, Lazar and Freddie Hamilton change things up because it’s not working with this group.

    • Derzie

      A team’s instinct is a reflection of the coach and captains. Also, bad goalie = loss, great goalie = win. The NHL refs and review process, in general, are very, very poor. The game moves fast and you can only expect so much from them. Where they fail though is accountability and growth. They hide their mistakes and double down on bad calls with bad reviews. A thin skinned group which is also a reflection of the thin skin of grand puba Bettman. He will get his wish. His priority is money and that comes from US TV, Leafs Nation and the star system (Crosby, McDavid). We are not part of his plans and are done for the year.

  • Newbietwo

    Bennet was always going to be a beast.. don’t know why it take the play offs for everyone else to see it.. I’m more concerned with Johnny and his development this year.. it is clear he was paid too early.. the kid needs to learn to shoot, to control a game that matters and not run scared.. if he can’t I don’t see how we win the cup with him

      • flames2015

        And for once, I’d like him to take a slapper when a pass comes on the pp. Everyone assumes he’ll take it, hold onto it for 10 secs before he dishes it off. Change it up.

    • Connor'sGotHart

      With all due respect I don’t think this team will get the Flames to where they want to be. I think you need a couple of real studs in the forward group and I don’t see this team having that. They are still too small to compete and win in this division. Nashville is a big team and they are taking it to the Hawks.

      • aye

        Don’t think they are too small to compete at all. They are not being dominated by the ducks physically, I believe they are actually more physical than the ducks in this series. They’ve done well against the kings and sharks, and they did alright against the blues this season too.

        • Connor'sGotHart

          I’m not saying they are not playing hard it’s just that if they were bigger they could impose their will against other teams. Doing well as opposed to being swept is not the same.

    • trox

      I wouldn’t be surprised if he hurt his hand again on that nasty Bieksa slash. When they showed him sitting on the bench, it looked all swollen and it seemed like he couldn’t move his fingers.

  • The breakdowns in our own end, allowing the Ducks to mill around in the slot and set up screens, did not help Elliott either. This allowed Ducks to take advantage of rebounds. Then add to that our mostly ineffective 5 on 5 scoring.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      When a goalie randomly starts crying foul and looking for blame….you know he has lost his confidence. Remember after he let in the 2ng goal muffin… He came within a crossbar of having the game be 4-3 going into the 3rd.

      The problem I have is the Flames had some quality chances on Bernier and never stopped coming. I seem to remember that at the 8 min mark the Flames had given up 2 shots. They were never under siege.

  • Connor'sGotHart

    If you were told at the beginning of the season that the Flames would come out of the gate like crap only to be one of the better teams through the rest of the season and finish in the first wildcard spot and make one round of the playoffs I think most people would accept that.
    As for me I’m going to enjoy watching the Oilers dispatch of the Sharks!

  • Kevin R

    Pretty depressing is about all I can say. I guess the only silver lining when you work your way through the rubble is in 2015, the Ducks were light years ahead of us & we were totally dominated by a way superior team. I don’t feel that way this time around. I guess we need to grow some more from this but honestly, i am tired of waiting but there is little choice. There is a lot of BS that as a fan am totally disappointed with the league as a whole. My opinion that officiating in this league is the worse of all professional sports. I guess just something I will have to deal with myself if I want to continue to be a passionate fan of a hockey team in the NHL.

    Just some notes. Gaudreau needs to be sat down, shown some film & smacked into his psyche that if you are in a a prime spot to shot, then shoot the f**@%g puck. I have lost count of the number of 10 bell opportunities he’s had in prime shooting spots & he gives the way the puck without even a shot attempt. What’s the point of having good possession numbers if you don’t attempt to get a shot on net.

    Elliott has me confused. He’s a good goalie but he is obviously having issues. I am not sure how I feel about who we should have as a #1 goalie next year. Leaning toward someone else quite frankly.

    Sorry everyone but it looks like next year. If we can come back next game & actually win game 6 in Anaheim, even if we lose the series back in Calgary, I will feel a bit more comforted. Right now I am just one big disappointed fan.

    • The Doctor

      I could not agree more with you about Gaudreau. He’s a great player, but his brain needs a slap. He’s way too addicted to trying to make fancy plays, when in certain instances the fancy play is the stupid, low percentage option. Especially in the NHL. Maybe you could pirouette and do a thread pass through a Dman’s legs at Boston College, but in the NHL most opponents will block your passing attempt and then congratulations Johnny, you just turned the puck over.

  • SeanforMVP

    For me the biggest disappointments this series have been elliot and johnny but lets be honest, the flames were not supposed to go on a run this year. So hopefully some of the guys take this disappointing playoffs and turn it into a productive summer and get better. But hey with all the bad luck going calgary’s way maybe the hockey gods have a miracle lined up for them

  • wendel clarks moustache

    ….there’s a knock on the door
    “Hi is Owen there?”
    Little Johnny gets his step stool to look through the peephole…
    “OWEN 3 little buddy, 0-3”

  • The Doctor

    I don’t think Elliot was as bad as the author makes out. A lot of those Ducks shots that went in were total seeing eye shots. A number of them over the series have been deflections, including more than one deflection off of Flames players. I think our failure to capitalize on chances has been way more of a factor. And I wish to God that Johnny Gaudreau would dial down on the trying to be fancy and just shoot the puck when he has daylight in front of him. Even Ferland was guilty of that last night — he had a clear shot at the net and instead made a stupid, unsuccessful passing attempt. It’s like he’s learning the wrong things from playing alongside Gaudreau.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      If you look back at Johnny’s shot from tha last few years it was deadly… Something happened after the injury and it was never the same…. This made him one dimensional and easy to defend. As for Ferland, the play you are referring to he was pressured on his backhand and clearly did not feel comfortable shooting.

  • Alsal

    Golden state led by 3-0, the Indians led by 3-1 and the Falcons were up by 19 with a quarter to go… Regardless of how this plays out.. the Flames will be better next year because: 1) Elliott is gone 2) Wideman is gone 3) somebody better will take their place

  • Connor Mcdavid 1

    the flames are not going to win 4 straight games, so with this said I think its time for the fat lady to come out singing. sorry boyz but if you cant protect a three goal lead in the first round of the playoffs you likely wouldn’t do anything passed the first round anyways, I am very disappointed like all of you flames fans are because I was praying for a good ole battle of AB bashing. No I am not saying its 100% guarantee that the oilers will get passed the sharks but I will say id rather be up 2-1 vs beings down 3-0.. I know I know them damn Refs eh.

    • Moneyball

      I beg to differ. The Flames will come out and light up the Ducks next game and then steamroll them to win 4 in a row. In many ways the Flames are in a better position than the Oilers. The Flames have dominated the games, just got some bad breaks and a few rookie mistakes. The Oilers could easily get blown out when the Sharks show up.

      • Avalain

        I’m sorry, but I disagree. I’m a Flames fan first and a Sharks fan 2nd, and even I have to admit that there’s something about these Oilers. It’s not like they are getting their chances while McDavid is on the ice and then holding on for dear life. Game 2 was a slap in the face for me. I’m not sure that the Sharks can get back to how they played in the first game in time to take over this series. Meanwhile, Calgary just can’t seem to make it happen. Anything can happen but I wouldn’t bet on it. I’d much rather be the Oilers than the Flames right now.

  • Flames4Lyfe

    Flames are still the best.
    Unless we make some drastic changes though, this is going to be challenging.
    Come on guys, let’s get this done!
    Kris Versteeg at least tried last night.

    There must be something we can do.
    How about putting Johnson in net?
    Elliott needs a rest!

    Finally, we need to stick to the plan.
    Last night was good.
    And we can keep it up.
    Maybe we can reverse sweep after all?
    Even I still believe in the Flames!!!
    See ya!

  • KenBone18

    Life isn’t fare. Most don’t deserve the fate they get, and yet it happens. One must always move forward, rather than ruminating about the past.

    Flames in 7.

  • Moneyball

    In some ways the Flame are not in bad shape. They have had a run of bad luck and they have not been outplayed by the Ducks. Heres hoping that luck changes and the Flames run the table. Flames in 7!

  • Skylardog

    There has been no desperation, no urgency to ensure a win in any of the 3 games. Watch the Toronto and Ottawa series, both teams are doing whatever it takes to get a win. Pitt, Montreal, Edmonton, Nashville and St Louis are also paying the price. The Flames aren’t playing with an edge, a sense of do whatever it takes, get to the puck at all costs mentality.
    Frankly I think it is the result of being over-structured. I don’t even think the Ducks have that “urgency” that it takes to win the Cup. They have just shown a little more than the Flames have shown.
    This is exactly what I expected from them unfortunately. This years team has been about winning only when they get the goaltending. Without a 10 game and 6 game win streaks where goalies put up around 0.950 save percentages, this team doesn’t make the playoffs. And I am only talking about losing 4 of those games in the streaks (they won 6 of those 16 in OT or SOs) where Elliott or Johnson stole wins, and all of a sudden they are behind Winnipeg and LA. (I have goalies stealing 14 points in those 2 streaks, but 8 points was enough to be behind Winnipeg)
    And you all look at Gulutzan as the savior. Hartley gets the goaltending that Gulutzan got this year (which I know at times has been awful, but it has been a huge step up from last seasons mess) and Hartley makes the playoffs last year. Flames sit at 80 points if Elliot and Johnson don’t stand on their heads during the streaks.
    This is a good core, but the development has halted. Not even Tkachuk is the player he was at the start of the season. Gaudreau is not playing at his ability, Hamilton is playing below his talent level. Monahan can only score on the powerplay, Ferland is getting only 12:19 average ice time in the playoffs yet was the difference maker in 2015. Brodie is less than he was a year ago, Bennett has struggled all season. Gulutzan has taken a strong core and destroyed their development and confidence. If it was one player, then it is that player that has the issue, but it is almost the whole core that is faltering.

    • T&A4Flames

      Jesus man, hit yourself and rethink things. You’re suggesting fire GG and bring back Hartley, trade Gaudreau, Monahan and Hamilton? You’re a fool if you think it’s only goaltending that held us back last year and got us in this year but only because of lucky 6 and 10 game streaks.
      Hamilton just had his best season and Johnny and Mony are more rounded players. All of which started the season off in a bad way. And Tkachuk is a 19 year old in his 1st NHL playoffs. He still plays as 1/3 of top shut down line so why would you expect a playoffs like some battle-tested vet player? Get over yourself and your crying.

      • Skylardog

        Never said hire Hartley, nor trade any one. Where did you get that from?
        Hamilton is a product of Gio, take Gio away and he flounders. Tkachuk has digressed since early season. No one believes Gaudreau is playing at his potential, no one. Last year, Manahan was being called a young Toews, no talk of that this year.
        Gulutzan is lost on the bench. He is nervous, indecisive, unable to provide the leadership needed when things start to turn bad. His player ice time management is horrid. Bartkowski is out on a shift right after the high stick goal when the team needs a rebound shift and to protect against a momentum swing. Ferland and Tkachuk, are getting 4th line minutes, although Tkachuk did better last night, while Brouwer and Chaisson get more than 15 a game. Stajan has played in the last 2 minutes when the Flames are down by one all season.
        And yes, goaltending was the difference last year in not making it (they were horrid last year) and making it this year (although rough start and at times, there were streaks where the goalies were unbelievable this year. Most of all during the streaks where Elliot was 0.943 and Johnson was a crazy 0.951. 6 OT and SO games and 2 – 1 goal games in the 2 streaks. One bad goal in each, or even a huge non-save, and they lose 6 wins, and go to OT 2 times instead of outright wins. That’s 12 to 14 points. All of it goaltending. They are the sole reason we have playoff hockey in this town this year.

        • T&A4Flames

          I’m not here to defend GG but your reasoning and general line of thinking needs to be questioned.
          Tkachuk has regressed. Really? Wow a 19 year old who we weren’t even sure would be on the big club this year has hit a small point of regression? OMG what a terrible coach. 19!l year olds don’t just hit rough patches unless they have aerie or coach, right?
          No one thinks Gaudreau or Monahan are playing to potential. Only, they’ve gotten better as the year has moved on haven’t they? Didn’t Mony just about hit similar #’s as last year? And with a horrible start to the year. Not to mention that he is also still just a kid. And Monahan is not looking like Toews? Well this year, Toews isn’t looking like Toews. Maybe GG wants Ferland playing with peak energy and thus the limited minutes. And the Goaltending ideas you have “1 bad goal or huge non-save”, are you serious? Those can go either way. So they wen the right way for a stretch. Yay us.
          As I said, I’m not so much defending GG as I am questioning your thought process, because I do question some of the personal and shifting decisions he has done. But you need to give the man his due in regards to turning the season around and making the playoffs. Just like you want to support the goaltending that got us here despite it looking pretty shoddy the last couple games.