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.

  • DJ_44

    I does not serve you well to blame officials (on-ice or Toronto); both calls were how they have been called all season. I have yet to recall a “high stick”, not called high on the ice, overturned. All situations were almost identical to the Thompson tip. The rule has been applied uniformly as far as I can see (neutral observer, by the way).

    Calgary received huge benefits of the calls on-ice last night, especially in the first. The hit on Bieksa in the first was at least a 2 minute boarding, and boarders on 5 and a game. You remember, square in the numbers, leaving his feet, head into the boards…

    I cuts both ways; can’t hang that on the refs.

    • Derzie

      The ref incompetence is not new, but it is incompetence. Complacency of the teams is part of the problem. If I’m Burke, I rail on the league in media. Fines and hush orders be damned. Nothing will change until officiating is accountable for their actions and learn from their mistakes. Same thing will happen next year. And in other series this year. Ours is done.

  • 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!

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • Druds

    Oh man major whine….its the refs fault….but yet they gave us all the powerplays….its Elliotts fault but yet he got us to the playoffs…its the War Rooms fault…those guys in Toronto hate us…. WTF…. stop crying and man up. You are going to lose and thats that…no sense in making it even worse by such load of bull excuses.

    • Thatz Nuckin Futz

      You do know this is a ‘fan’ site where such things are discussed, complained about, & other such hyperbole. ‘Fan, is short for ‘fanatic’. If you want a Peace In The Middle East discussion, try CNN. Move along sunshine.

  • 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.

  • 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”

  • Bob Cobb

    I love how the Flames lose because of Goaltending, its never the Defenses fault, or the Forwards for not coming back to help out. Its not on the refs either, they let everything Calgary did last night go, there could have been 2 or 3 hooking or holding penalties on the Flames in the first alone, and than the hit on Bieksa, a hit from behind right, on the numbers, on a defenseless player, close to the boards, and nothing. Imagine if that would have been Giordano getting hit by Kesler, the outrage would have been legendary. Just admit, it the Flames aren’t good enough, good teams don’t use refs as excuses, they play the game, they create their own breaks, and they find away to win. Calgary has a long way to go.

    • Newbietwo

      Sorry bud but when your team spots you four goals and they lose that’s the goalie every time.. this isn’t soccer this is hockey the goalie stands still and covers them thirds of the net.. Elliot’s positioning and lack of calmness where he is jumping all over the place.. what upset me most about his performance is every time a goal was scored he was getting frantic about someone else.. just stop the puck and shut up

  • 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!

  • 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. very unfortunate to think we had a chance at a second round battle of AB

  • 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.

  • 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

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • aye

      I wouldn’t even pay him 3.5, he’s too inconsistent to be a #1, and you just don’t pay a backup/1a that kind of money.
      Parsons single handedly stole 2 games against Erie to tie their series at 3. Wonder what the Flames do with him next year.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Why would you sign Elliott when you know that he lacks consistency. I bet that Gillies and Rittich could be productive for the Flames. We also give up a 3rd rounder if we sign Elliott.

  • snotss

    wow what a choke job Calgary….first it was the stamps chokeing and giving away the grey cup by stupid calls…bad plays….poor coaching…… poor defence etc….now the flames are barffing up winnable games..due to stupid calls……bad play…..poor defence{goaltending}…it’s tough to be a Calgary sports fan when these teams choke continually….what is it???? …… both teams seem to like to tear your heart out every year…I try and keep a stiff upper lip year in and year out…..but……..it’s pathetic……….. year in and year out they choke!!!!!!!!!!!! what else would you call it!!!!!!!!! very disappointed Calgary fan