Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Missed it by that much

The Calgary Flames were pretty good on Saturday night at the Saddledome as they hosted the Minnesota Wild. They played well with the puck, for the most part. They managed to stay out of the box, for the most part. They played a solid game, for the most part. Unfortunately, a few momentary lapses led to a pair of goals by the Wild and, in a tight game, spelled the difference.

The Flames dropped their fourth game of the season, and third at home, losing to Minnesota by a 4-2 score.

The Rundown

The Flames looked a lot better in the first period than they did against Carolina – bearing in mind that they were playing a team that lost the night before in Winnipeg and then hopped a plane to Calgary. They had a few first period power plays, generating three calls from moving their feet and looking strong on their first man advantage but less so on the other two. Neither team scored in the first, but the Flames were the better team. Shots were 18-8 Flames and scoring chances were 11-4 Flames.

The home side was back on their heels a bit in the second as the Wild came out of the locker room with some jump. That jump drew a pair of minors to Michael Stone and Troy Brouwer and gave the Flames 1:18 of a two-man advantage to kill off. They managed to burn off 1:16 of it, but Chris Stewart got own rebound with two seconds left in 5-on-3 and beat Smith short-side to make it 1-0. Calgary found their legs after that goal, though, and had a few nice scoring chances as the period wore on. The Flames finally hit the scoreboard with 27.5 seconds remaining in the period: T.J. Brodie’s dump-in was played by Alex Stalock but his pass to a teammate was intercepted by Troy Brouwer, who found Sean Monahan in the slot for a tap-in to make it 1-1.

The Wild challenged the goal on the basis of an off-side, but the challenge was unsuccessful (and the Wild got a minor penalty). Shots were 13-8 Minnesota, but scoring chances were 9-8 Flames.

Calgary opened the third on a power play and stretched it to a two-man advantage after Johnny Gaudreau was slashed on a rush into the Wild zone. On the ensuing five-on-three, Kris Versteeg drove the net and put his own rebound past Stalock to make it 2-1. The Flames pressured after that, but couldn’t bury any chances. Midway through the third, Ryan Suter beat Smith with a wrister off the rush to make it 2-2. Everyone backed into the slot, making tracking the puck extremely tough for Smith and Hamonic inadvertently screened his goaltender. Jared Spurgeon made it 3-2 1:35 later with a slapper from the faceoff dot that beat Smith just over the shoulder.

The Flames had a late power play and couldn’t score. They pulled Smith for the extra attacker and Daniel Winnik iced it with an empty-netter to make it 4-2.

Why The Flames Lost

They played a pretty good 50 minutes of hockey, but unfortunately they needed to play a good 60 to capture any points. They got a bit too comfortable with the lead and a bit too casual in their own end. It cost ’em.

Red Warrior

Let’s go with T.J. Brodie, who played just shy of a half-hour (28:52) and ran the show offensively for much of the game. He had a pair of assists and just generally looked very good.

But a lot of players looked good tonight. Following the game, Glen Gulutzan said he thought it was the team’s best game of the season.

The Turning Point

The Suter goal to tie things up toppled over the apple cart. The Flames were coasting to that point – almost to a fault – and the tying goal sent them reeling for a few minutes. After they regained their composure, they were down by a goal and chasing.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
Giordano 68.6 50.0 0.900
D.Hamilton 61.8 55.6 0.375
Tkachuk 60.0 33.3 0.650
Backlund 59.4 33.3 0.605
Frolik 58.3 33.3 0.515
Monahan 56.7 57.1 1.485
Gaudreau 54.6 55.6 1.075
Hamonic 51.3 63.6 0.275
Jagr 50.0 100 0.075
Versteeg 50.0 66.7 1.005
Bennett 50.0 100 -0.090
Brodie 50.0 63.6 1.525
Brouwer 50.0 40.0 0.830
Ferland 45.4 66.7 -0.015
Lazar 44.4 100 0.100
F.Hamilton 44.4 40.0 0.040
Stone 42.9 40.0 -0.225
Kulak 36.8 44.4 -0.400
Smith 0.550
Lack n/a


There was a lot of prospect action tonight:

  • The Heat got goals from Garnet Hathaway (two), Morgan Klimchuk, Cody Goloubef, Tyler Wotherspoon and Marek Hrivik, 22 saves from Jon Gillies and an assist from Mark Jankowski to continue his point streak en route to a 6-3 Stockton win over San Diego.
  • Tyler Parsons made 43 saves in a 3-2 Kansas City victory over Fort Wayne, who beat them 8-2 just a night prior.
  • Adam Ruzicka had a goal and an assist in a 7-2 Sarnia victory over Barrie.
  • Matthew Phillips had his 11th goal (and 28th point) of the season in Victoria’s 4-2 loss to Brandon.
  • Juuso Valimaki had an assist in a 6-3 Tri-City win over Kamloops.

This And That

The Flames video crew designed their own Saturday Night LIVE style intro. It was awesome.

Jaromir Jagr left the game with 5:57 left in the first period with a lower body injury. When asked after the game, Gulutzan said he hadn’t heard anything about Jagr’s status.

Brett Kulak played in his first game of the season, getting 8:25 of ice-time on the third pairing with Michael Stone. Gulutzan said that Kulak had a good game by his estimation.


“The league is unforgiving, and it’ll put you in its place. And four-and-four is probably our record with the way we’ve played. And tonight I felt we could’ve deserved a better fate, but we didn’t and we are where we are.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan assesses his team’s first eight games.

“First one’s tough, made a good shot, kinda used [Hamonic] there as a screen. Third one just gotta be stopped. Plain and simple, gotta be stopped. Especially in close games, you’ve just gotta make those saves and tonight it didn’t happen and we lost because of it.” – Flames goaltender Mike Smith on the tying and go-ahead goals by Minnesota.

Up Next

The Flames (4-4-0) hit the road now, as they play the Nashville Predators on Tuesday and the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday before turning home for a game on Friday against Dallas.

      • Cheeky

        We were penned in our zone alot, poor passes and lost control without great breakouts. Most shots were from outside and not much net pressure. Yes they did have some good showings but not overall. If you consider that a great game (against a team with multiple injuries to top players) well then…

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    The Flames best game of the season? Really GG???? Baaaaahaaaa, Wow, if that’s the Flames Best under you… This team is in Deep Deep Doo-Doo up to their eye balls! ~ No Paddle For You!

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      Second Thoughts goes out to Jagr, I hope he is OK. Maybe the best way for Jagr to help this Flames team is to take over the on ice coaching of the players. Someone has to step up and get the job done.

      • ThisBigMouthIsRight

        Oh, The Heat won tonight 6-3 over the San Diego Gulls(Anaheim Ducks) I didn’t know this until tonight, but San Diego is where Leland Irving has landed. Stockton goals~> Morgan Klimchuk (2) ASST: Marek Hrivik (3), Garnet Hathaway (4) ASST: Andrew Mangiapane (6),Cody Goloubef (1) ASST: Oliver Kylington (3), Mark Jankowski (4), Tyler Wotherspoon (1) ASST: Joseph Cramarossa (1), Emile Poirier (1), Marek Hrivik (1) ASST: Spencer Foo (2), Oliver Kylington (4), Garnet Hathaway (5) ASST: Cody Goloubef (2) (EN)…. Some Good News 🙂

        • redmonton

          Meet the semi-colon: Stockton goals~> Morgan Klimchuk (2) ASST: Marek Hrivik (3); Garnet Hathaway (4) ASST: Andrew Mangiapane (6); Cody Goloubef (1) ASST: Oliver Kylington (3), Mark Jankowski (4); Tyler Wotherspoon (1) ASST: Joseph Cramarossa (1), Emile Poirier (1); Marek Hrivik (1) ASST: Spencer Foo (2), Oliver Kylington (4); Garnet Hathaway (5) ASST: Cody Goloubef (2) (EN)

  • MarbledBlueCheese

    Poor Smith–all the Flames shots on Stalock from the circles hit him right in that stupid Wild logo, while the Spurgeon goal finds the only puck-sized hole it could possibly go in at.

  • Aadvarkian Abakeneezer

    It was honestly a pretty good game. Zone exits are still an issue, but truly it was enjoyable hockey to watch and the Flames looked generally good. I’m not sure where this surge of negativity is coming from because to my eye this loss looked a lot better than several recent wins.

  • Franko J

    If this was the teams best effort tonight, boy oh boy, do they ever have a long way to go. Maybe I was watching a different game from Gulutzan, I just think that outside of the goaltender, maybe one or two forwards and one defensemen, the Flames continue to struggle. Tonight the third period clearly showed the lack of resiliency, speed and skill required to win close games. A few years ago I would be very optimistic the Flames would win if leading in the third because of their work ethic and ability collectively as a team to out think their opponent. Not so much right now when it comes to this current incarnation of the Flames.

    Maybe they can bounce back on the road next week. However what I witnessed from the Flames tonight I have no idea what kind of team will show up in Nashville and St. Louis.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    Here’s what happened in a player’s huddle before the game:

    “Guys, let’s make every pass JUST a bit off. That’ll really p!ss off the people watching.”

    Sam: “I ain’t doin’ sh!t!”

    “We know that, Sam.”

    Honestly, that game was like buying a great new computer, getting a windows update and staring at a loading bar struggling mightily to make it across the screen for two hours.

    Frustration is the word of the day, and a road trip is just what Jobu ordered.

  • RU63

    the wave 🙁 this is why we lost. stupid fans doing the wave when it is 2-1. do you guys remember game 3 against anahiem in the playoffs earlier this year? we were up 3 goals, fans started doing the wave, then is we we up by two goals, people still doing the wave, chanting, “you can’t win here”, doing the wave. and we lose in overtime.

  • BendingCorners

    They still have issues to sort out but they played well enough to win. The two goals in the third happened because no Flames forward picked up the trailing man. Nashville and St.Louis will be tough to beat but if they focus on supporting each other positionally they will be okay. 4-4-0 is still a better record than their play so far this year deserves but it’s early yet. Some teams take a while to kick it into gear and maybe the Flames are one of them. Excuse me now while I go whistle past a graveyard.

  • Chucky

    Two goals off the rush where Gaudreau put in a half effort. On Suter’s if he puts his head down and skates hard the shot never happens, on Spurgeon’s if he foregoes the pleasure skate the shot never happens. Time for the top players to take defensive responsibility not just float until we get possession of the puck.

  • buts

    JH either shorten your stick or change the lie, you fumble the puck at the most inopportune time. You have more turnovers than a bakery. GG you had the game until you put the blender to a bench one too many times. GG your team can’t pass, it plays on the perimeter, you can’t ice a roster with chemistry, your special teams suck, you can’t match lines, you don’t know what position suits a player best and you can’t motivate. You said your team played well yet I haven’t seen a 60 minute effort yet this year and very few times last year for that matter. BT it’s time to make a move as your coach is taking this team nowhere.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    As I am Canadian, I cannot do math. It stumps me. What I wanna know is based on the first 8 games, what are reasonable projections for goals and assists for Sam Bennett, the highest draft pick in Flames’ history? Much appreciated and thanks in advance.

  • KeepitReal

    I thought it was a good effort but Calgary found a way to lose. Its said that it’s easier to coach defense into a player’s game than it is offense. If that’s true, pls tell JH that despite the ‘possession game’ you all wanna do, it’s better to chip and chase than to turn the puck over in the neutral zone cuz you wanted to try a cutsie little lateral pass. Teams like the Wild feast on these opportunities. That turnover was converted into the Wild’s 3rd goal. Arghh…..

    I spose you have to take the good with the bad. Big shout out to Troy B for putting us down 2 bodies and allowing Stewart’s hot streak to continue.

  • cberg

    Though my memory is getting a bit suspect, I still recall fondly watching that team, just a few years back that played intense, inspirational hockey. No opponent’s lead was ever safe and if we got the lead, watch out, it was OVER! The team played full 60 minute games and our young guns rampaged like stallions in the wild, hitting, scoring and skating like the wind. We were fast, we were skilled and darn, that was the most exciting hockey seen around these parts in decades. We even made the playoffs, supposedly against all odds and crushed one of our mortal foes before bowing out to a far stronger foe, but with respect.

    But, “experts” said it was unsustainable. The numbers said so. Number-crunching wizards in baseball became mainstream, and eager acolytes pushed the narrative into hockey and Corsi and “possession” became all the rage. Sabremetrics remolded the baseball world and broke the 86 year old Babe Ruth curse and brought the World Series Pennant back to Boston, while top Corsi teams ruled the roost in the NHL… well, until they didn’t.

    Today, our Corsi is way up, we’ve finally broken the Duck Pond curse after beating those Anaheim beasts with a third of their line-up injured. Yeah! Our stars are sputtering, we can’t play a 60 minute game, we can’t keep a lead, we aren’t inspirational, but hey, its great watching a 46 year old legend (it is)! We signed so many great leaders to show the way, while relegating the speedy, inspired and hungry kids to the minors or just dropping them because, you know, smarter minds know what they are doing. In spite of the lackadaisical play, the horrific turn-overs, the poor effort and the inconsistencies, they vets will come around… you know, they’re studs. Didn’t they do it, just a few years ago? We’re all hoping, and hey, we got off to a much better start, 4-4 and ai think 1 point better than last’s year’s unmitigated disaster with all the excuses in the world built in to explain why. Well, at least we now have a pretty hot goalie who’s fun to watch (he is). Meanwhile we wait. We try and figure how this is supposed to be better than what memory recalls, but somehow, those pictures are fading. Was it all just a dream?

    • Skylardog

      Awesome! The Flames were the lunch bucket guys. They awarded fireman hats to the hardest worker. Now they all sit on the bench looking dumbfounded at what is transpiring on the ice.

      But hey, We’re an above 50% Corsi team now! – Huh… Is 49.25 more or less than 50%?

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Why not try for a player that has a high hockey IQ; Sam Reinhart. Straight up. Buffalo gets a player that could do well on a team that only cares about offense, while CGY gets a player that know how to read the play. Right now, both are close in value.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        You’re thinking the right way as the Sabres have some fine young talent but they are once again struggling mightily. They have already got a new GM and coach, so what’s next? Shake up the talent. Sam may be available, but I reckon the Sabres wouldn’t deal him unless a club would be willing to take the contracts of Moulson or Bogosian. Sabres have to cut costs to re-sign Kane. Kid is on pace to have a monster year!

        Reinhart makes a lot of sense in Calgary. It was my hope in his draft year that he would still be available at 4 when the Flames picked.

  • Flaming1

    So it looks as though we may have found a goalie. What is our excuse for losing now. I would say it’s our overrated defence. They look like a good year tire fire.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Not excuses, just a few reasons.

      1) We insist on having a grinder style 4th line. Stajan is done and needs to sit the season or play in Stockton where we are short centers. I though buying out Bouma was the end of a line that only can try to prevent goals.

      2) The 3rd line has no identity. Bennett plays one way, Lazar plays a speed game and Versteeg is all about passing. Bennett will try to do it himself, but Lazar is flying out there waiting for the play to develop. Versteeg is playing a patient game, but the passes are mishandled.

      3) Where is Janko. Freddie may be a great guy to play 10 games a season, but we need someone to play every night. He showed better than Stajan and Bennett in the pre-season. He’s playing like fire in Stockton. He’s built like a NHL center. Yet, we insist on forcing Bennett to be a center that can come back when they lose possession. News Flash, he doesn’t skate hard enough to get back. He’s watching the play, waiting for a turnover.

      4) Kulak already looks like an upgrade to Bart. He wasn’t great, but you really didn’t notice him out there. That’s a good thing from your bottom pair. I would suggest that Andersson is the better of the two, but OMG you can’t have any RHS D-men playing on the left side. D-men can’t do that. It Verboden.

    • cberg

      No, defense not bad, better last night. Inconsistent play and ineffective play by several forwards. I’m looking at the coaching…. and not icing our best team, that’s on the management/coaches.

    • Southboy

      Honestly i think its the same as last year ( outside of goaltending ) the team does not buy into the system they are supposed to play, and we are shy a 3rd line that can produce points.