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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Canes Blow Flames Away

The Calgary Flames returned to action after a four day break when they hosted the Carolina Hurricanes. The Flames played, at times, like they were still on a vacation. The home side played roughly 45 uninspired minutes of penalty-filled hockey before finally making a late push, but they dropped the game by a 2-1 score to the Hurricanes.

It’s their second home loss in three games at the Saddledome this season.

The Rundown

The Flames sure looked like a team that had four days off in the opening period. The team struggled with exiting their zone with much efficiency, and on several occasions were hemmed into the own end – if you’re thinking to yourself that it was probably some combination of the third defensive pairing and fourth line, you’re right. The Flames were on defense for much of the period, occasionally creating bursts of offensive zone time that didn’t amount to a heck of a lot. Shots were 9-8 Flames, but scoring chances were 9-6 Hurricanes – Carolina missed the net a lot in the opening period.

Carolina had a power play carry over into the second period, beginning a theme. The Flames penalty kill was good throughout the three penalties they faced in the second – by which I mean Mike Smith was pretty good. After a penalty was fully killed, though, Carolina struck: Johnny Gaudreau was stripped of the puck just inside the Flames blueline and Jeff Skinner leaned into a slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle that beat Smith just inside the far post to make it 1-0. The Flames, again, couldn’t create a ton off the rush this frame. Shots were 15-6 Carolina and scoring chances were 8-5 Carolina.

A scrum at the end of the second period led to a Carolina power play to begin the third. Justin Williams was given way too much space and beat Smith in-close with a wrister to make it 2-0. From there, Carolina played prevent defense and the Flames gradually, finally, found their game. In garbage time Sean Monahan scored one to break the shutout, Jaromir Jagr won a corner battle and cycled the puck. But despite that late push, it was too little, too late. Shots were 11-10 Flames and scoring chances were 7-3 Flames, but y’know… score effects.

Why The Flames Lost

Take your pick!

  • They were awful defensively, frequently getting stuck in their own end and failing to clear their end.
  • They took a ton of penalties, predominantly in the defensive zone.
  • They didn’t generate much of anything off the rush.

In short: they looked like an uncoordinated, undisciplined heap of players rather than an organized 20-man unit for the majority of the game.

Red Warrior

Mike Smith. For the upteenth time this season, it wasn’t even close.

The Monahan line woke up in the third period and scored a goal, so they were okay overall.

The Turning Point

The Skinner goal, even though it only made it 1-0, was a back-breaker. The Flames looked ugly to that point and were probably hoping that a good penalty kill could give them some momentum. Because of a bit of sloppy defensive work by their skaters, it didn’t. Carolina didn’t look back from there.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Tkachuk 60.0 33.3 -0.025
Jagr 59.3 66.7 1.250
Monahan 59.3 66.7 1.365
Gaudreau 55.9 66.7 1.040
Frolik 55.0 33.3 0.275
Hamilton 51.6 58.3 0.275
Backlund 50.0 33.3 0.170
Brodie 50.0 20.0 0.600
Hamonic 50.0 20.0 0.200
Giordano 48.5 53.9 0.125
Stajan 30.8 0.0 -0.260
Brouwer 25.0 0.0 -0.325
Versteeg 21.7 20.0 -0.490
Bennett 20.7 16.7 -0.985
Glass 20.0 0.0 -0.250
Ferland 19.2 14.3 -0.865
Bartkowski 10.0 33.3 -0.850
Stone 6.3 40.0 -0.750
Smith 1.600
Lack n/a

What the Hell, Refs?

Kris Versteeg left the game midway through the first period in a scary, scary situation. Off a faceoff, Versteeg blocked a Jeff Skinner shot with his right knee and dropped. Then, the game wasn’t whistled down until after he blocked another Skinner shot with his head – the shot shattered his helmet. Remarkably, he was fine and actually returned to the game after clearing the concussion protocols.

The play wasn’t whistled down under NHL Rule 8.1, which gives discretion to officials to whistle down a play if there’s a “seriously injured” player on the ice.

“It’s kind of a dangerous rule, in a sense,” said Versteeg after the game. “But it’s an understandable rule. You don’t want to blow it. I know I’ve been fortunate to score on those plays sometimes and unfortunate at times. It’s just kind of tough.”

Quoteable

Glen Gulutzan had some choice words after the game.

“We just didn’t execute. They’re a quick team so you’ve got to execute quicker. I thought we looked slow at times tonight. We didn’t, not until late in the third, did we try to move the puck. That’s what happens when teams hold the lead, but we need to play that game a little bit earlier. I thought we were non-chalant with some of our breakouts. We could’ve been more direct. We couldn’t get any rhythm with the penalties and I don’t think we were very good at executing.” – Gulutzan on his team’s difficulty getting out of their own end.

“We’re in the exact same situation as we were last year at this time. The only difference is we’re getting better goaltending and better specialty teams. That’s the only difference int he two starts to the season. For us, right now, it feels like to me, you give everybody a fair shake coming into a new season… It feels like to me it’s the same guys taking penalties, the same types of penalties, and those guys are gonna dress but unfortunately they’re going to lose some of their prime real estate ice time because we’ll just clean it up with the guys that can control themselves.” – Gulutzan on his team’s tendencies.

“What’s disappointing is we’re doing the exact same thing that we should’ve learned from last year, and did learn from in the second half of the season, basically after 15 or 20 games on we learned. We’re right back to where we started. Hopefully it doesn’t take us 15 games to get out of it, but we’re going to get out of it.” – Gulutzan on disappointment with the game’s result.

“I felt like they forechecked very hard. And us, as forwards, we didn’t help our defense. We were too high and we didn’t get the puck, but it was our fault because they forechecked so hard and we were too high. We should come back a little bit lower, even if you won’t have breakaway, you can get the puck and play together. We were too spread.” – Flames forward Jaromir Jagr on his team’s performance.

Up Next

The Flames (4-3-0) are back in action on Saturday night when they host the Minnesota Wild.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    The fact of the matter is that Bartkowski, Stajan (love you, Matty, sorry!) And Brouwer could be replaced with better players for our next game.

    Also, we lost a game. We have the kind of team where we can do that and be fine, I think.

    But it WAS ugly.

    • ssamze

      I’m sorrt to burst your bubble, but yesterday loss was not on them. The whole team except the first line stunk.
      I know it’s easy to blame the usual scapegoats.

      • Skylardog

        Even the first line wasn’t great. They had defensive moments that were awful. JG giving the puck away how many times?

        I was very surprised the first line guys had positive possession numbers. They got boxed in 3 of the first 4 shifts, although they did get a couple of chances early on in a couple of those shifts. Jagr went off early in at least one of them and was not on the ice for the last part of the shift, thus the better number. The first line was very lucky not to have been scored on once or twice in the first 5 minutes.

      • Rudy27

        I was at the game and in the first half (or most of the 1st), the 1st and 4th lines rarely got out of their end (even if they started in the Cane’s end). The 3M and Bennett line held their own during that stretch of the game.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        No, I agree that the whole team stank, and I’m not pointing out those guys as scapegoats, it’s just that what I said about them would hold true any night.

        But yes, the whole team except smooth stunk.

  • Skylardog

    The reality of the start to this season is that we should be 1-6 or perhaps even 0-7, except that Smith has been exceptional. Unlike last year, not only has he been solid, but he has also been timely in the saves he has made. Without him this would be a train wreak of epic proportions given what was done in the summer and the assets that were given up.

    We lack 5v5 scoring, 10 goals in 7 games, yet a 3 goal preseason player with what appears to have a sniper’s touch is in the minors. We are putting out defensemen that were castoffs of teams with major defensive issues and less depth than we have, while the second best defenseman in camp, Andersson, is also in the minors, because he apparently holds his stick wrong.

    Jagr is not a first liner, yet he seems to fit there at the moment. But even that was not very productive. They did get a late goal. There is not a single line that is performing to expectations, except for Backlunds.

    Time to throw out all the lines, and the notion of who we have to keep because of contract, and start putting guys together that have chemistry, and begin auditioning a bunch of prospects. The notion of who is the first or even the 4th line also has to go and see who can earn it.

    Chemistry: Backs line, but we need Tkachuk to help elsewhere. So we have

    Versteeg-Jagr – throw in the sniper Janko. Jags and Steeg seem to cycle well together
    Backlund-Frolik – Try a prospect. Start with Klimchuk because he doesn’t have to clear waivers, next Lomberg, and Mangi
    JG-Bennett – Only because they had a great half game together against Winnipeg. Try Lazar, as he was the winger when it was working.
    That leaves a bunch that need to find their chemistry, including Mony, Ferly, and Tkachuk, only because there has to be someone that he can help and click with. I guess that is a line then. Tkachuk-Mony-Ferly to test.

    Stajan and Brouwer free up $1.025 mill of cap space each in the minors, more than any of the prospects. Time to go. Bet neither report. Feel bad for Stajan, but this is a business. Give him the option to retire and put him on the payroll upstairs.

    • dontcryWOLF

      That’s pretty damn dramatic for a 2-1 loss. Seriously, sometimes it seems like this is the first season of pro sports some of you have ever watched. Every year has it’s ups and downs.

      A team having a bad game doesn’t mean the sky is falling. And if you think jankowski being in the line up is going to be some night and day difference maker with all of one NHL games worth of experience…come on. Be realistic.

      Flames were very mediocre tonight. Agreed. But they can do much much better, and you all will eat these words later.

      • TrevorKidd37

        A bad game!? It was awful; similar to the majority of the games they’ve played this season. Sure, we’re 4-3 but we shouldn’t be. Luckily Smith has been rock solid.

        Further to this, why didn’t Bennett get benched last night. Perhaps it wasn’t as obvious on TV, but if you were at the game, you would have noticed that he looked Ike’s absolutely lost.

      • Skylardog

        They are about to go on a nightmare with a stretch of 6 games that is against some of the cream in the NHL, with questions about effort, defense, the ability to score, and discipline problems. Should be interesting.

        And it is not 1 bad game, it is 7, except that a guy named Smith has been better than advertised.

      • Chucky

        The team obviously lacks scoring, Jankowski has a history as a guy that can find the net. The team has a problem winning faceoffs, Jankowski has a record of winning faceoffs. The team has a problem with posession, Jankowski is a player that controls the puck. Is he the only answer? Probably not. Could he be a major help? Maybe. Is it time to find out. YES

        • Skylardog

          If you also think that you are inserting Janko for Brouwer, it is a huge upgrade.

          Only need a goal a game to make the 5v5 a whole lot better.

          If you could get a goal every 2 games from a Janko line (the fourth has done nothing).
          If whoever Mony plays with produces at the rate Mony’s line does now.
          If you could get a goal every 2 games from a revamped Bennett line, which is currently producing at about 0.
          Back’s line would have to hold their own without Byng. Could they do that with Poirier?

          That would give you 1 more goal 5v5 per game and change the outcome in each game dramatically.

  • Falung_69

    Kudos Ryan
    I live 16000 Km away
    And am not a paid refree

    But……
    If I was
    And I send what happened after the block shot by Chris Veersteeg
    On That faceoff
    I do not know Chris nor Am I a professionally paid NHL Ref
    Hence the reason for me mentioning the distance between where I live and where this incident happened
    I seen from 16000 km away A player was hurt
    Not Faking Not Dropping Or Faking Or trying to “Get A Whistle” (Remember these words of trying to get a whistle and Faking)
    Cause it does happen during a game of hockey
    I have seen it from 16000 km away

    I watch on Game Center and paid for it

    I live far far away (This is the reason I Keep Mentioning How Many Km away I live and seen this incident)

    Chris is not a Faker
    Chris got hit by a shot off the faceoff
    Chris goes down (He is not a dropper or a faker as per his past history of doing this drop thing)
    If I did not live so far away and was on the ice at this moment and was a paid linesmen/referee and seen Mr Versteeg go down like he did and seen Mr Versteeg go down after taking a shot to the knee and drop and wither like it happened from 16000 km away.

    Which I seen

    And the play went on and on while Mr versteeg was to me this far away
    Was hurt and obviously hurt and could not as I seen from this far away
    And has not history , Never mind seeing ” A Player go down after taking a puck on a very vital of body”
    And still withering as the play went on and on
    Had to be way more than several heartbeats ( I’m not sure of how many seconds and the puck goes back to the point and gets passed over to the middle of ice and the man is still down and withering , Obviously hurt)

    And he takes a slapper from a guy who is just trying to put a puck on net and did not see the injured player obvious to me from 16000 km away

    But not to the officials that were alot closer than me

    Why was the play not whistled down ???

    No really the guy is down
    And to me this far away (16000 km away)
    He is hurt

    Well no Call
    The puck gets moved and the man is still down and is hurt

    I live 16000 Km away
    And seen the man was down and hurt and not a faker

    He is in a shooting lane (Bottom of face off dot . He was in a very vulnerable spot)
    And his history points to as not being a dropper or a faker
    A guy who would do a drop nor a fake to stop play

    I am not 3 feet away nor as the camera angle provided to me on NHL.com
    I am 16000 km away
    Flame Fan or Not

    Why with all the shots to head (In NFL/CFL Concussion Protocol regulations in place)

    Why the official whom was alot closer than me

    Not whistle that play dead and check on a Obviously hurt withering player with no history of faking or dropping
    Well turns out Mr. Versteeg returned to the play of chasing a chunk of frozen rubber around a chunk of ice

    But during the play going on and from 16000 km away
    I could see a player hurt
    The player takes a frozen chunk of rubber from a player who winds up and shoots the puck
    Whom it appears from 16000 km
    Was only trying to get a shot on net and did not see this hurt player
    The guy had his head down and ripped the frozen chunk of rubber ( It happens fast I know and get it)

    But from 16000/Not 1600/Not 160/Not even 16m away

    The guy who was alot closer than me

    Did not put a whistle to mouth to stop the play

    He let it go while a man was withering and tried his best to get up and move and was to me 16000 km away was hurt

    And was in vulernable postion

    Thanks to the hockey gods Mr. Versteeg’s helmet on got cracked
    And the man came back to chase a frozen puck around a sheet of ice

    Refrees
    Clean it up
    There was more than enough time to protect a injured prone player

    And NHL who is supposed and conscious a injury to the head
    This to me 16000 km away
    Was a disaster about to happen

    Thanks to the hockey gods that the man’s helmet took the brunt of a chunk of frozen rubber
    And the player who to me 16000 km away returned to the game he has dedicated his body/head& life to

    Thank You Mr. Versteeg

    Falung_69

  • Namtrab

    Long time reader, first time poster. I find the posts interesting on the wide range of opinions. I do have a question for the posters. If you were coaching the game last night, and you recognized that the opposition had more speed or jump, what kind of in game or 1st intermission transition would you do. Fore check against was dominating the flames. Would you look for an “off the glass and out” tactic? Lack of offensive zone time also hurt. Would you change to a “dump and chase” style? Maybe making the game simpler would have helped? I, like many of the posters I am guessing, never excelled at the game and did not play at a high level, so I am interested in different perspectives for improvement.

    • Scary Gary

      If you’re the slower team and are already losing puck battles, then handing the puck over once you get it will not lead to offensive zone time or scoring.

      • Namtrab

        Fair enough. Then what would you do? I get that line up decisions may not have been correct, so if you recognized that during the first few minutes, as a coach, I believe there are some adjustments that could have been made.

        • Atomic Clown

          You have to get Carolina to change their tactics. If you’re unable to carry play because of a high pressure forecheck, dump the puck, send one man to pressure it, then stifle the red line. For the longest time, Calgary was terrible against the Ducks, Blues and Kings. They played a heavy possession game, but when things weren’t going their way, they just stifled any thing coming back. You do that for about 10 minutes, the other team is going to stop sending three guys to forecheck one puck carrier and start playing zones instead to look for a way out. Calgary is lethal on a breakout, (except last night we couldn’t hit the damn net), so any loss of structure from the other team, Calgary usually pounces on quickly. That’s what makes the 3M an elite line, they never over commit to any player, keep their sticks moving, and usually pick up stray passes.