The Columbus Blue Jackets are a really good hockey club. They play an intelligent, structured brand of hockey. The Calgary Flames played Columbus tonight and fared better than expected – largely because of star netminder Mike Smith. With the team in front of him largely unable to muster the type of offense they had created in previous games, Smith was all-world and held the Flames in the game all the way until overtime.
A T.J. Brodie gaffe later, and the Flames still managed to capture a point in a 1-0 overtime loss at Nationwide Arena.
Here’s what you need to know about the game: Columbus out-shot the Flames in all three periods. Scoring chances were even for the first two periods, then Columbus took over the game a bit in the third. Overtime was back and forth, but T.J. Brodie whiffed on some puck-handling behind his own net. Nick Foligno corralled the puck and fed Josh Anderson for a shot that beat Smith and ended this one at a 1-0 score.
But man, Smith was awesome. He faced tips. He faced screens. He faced layers of traffic. He played behind a team that tended to give up a lot of odd-man rushes and turned the puck over at their own blueline quite a bit. It didn’t matter all that much. He was at his battling, scrambley best tonight.
Mike Smith, what are you doin' bud? pic.twitter.com/b1Ie2ktgGX
— Mike Pfeil (@mikeFAIL) November 23, 2017
Oh, and Sam Bennett got dropped down to the fourth line midway through the game. It didn’t amount to much, but it’s not a good sign.
Why The Flames Lost (in OT)
Smith got them to overtime, but the team simply wasn’t good enough to generate offense during the game. Brodie’s bobble was unfortunate, but probably inevitable given the way the team played with the puck.
They’ll probably learn a lot from tonight’s game tape; the Flames often struggle playing against teams that clog up the neutral zone and break things up at the offensive blueline. If they can get something from this game, it’s learning to adapt and adjust to that type of neutral zone play.
Smith. Nobody else was close.
The Turning Point
The overtime goal off Brodie’s whiff is the only possible choice here.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
The Flames (12-8-1) are hopping a plane to Dallas. They’re off tomorrow, then play the Stars on Friday night.