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Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Johnny be good, defense be bad

The Calgary Flames are a team of extremes. At times, they’re very good. At other times, they’re very bad. Both sides of the team were on display on Friday night in Dallas. Their top guns scored many pretty goals. But their defense coughed up many pucks, which led to many Dallas goals.

Despite three point performances from Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, the Flames dropped a 6-4 decision to Dallas in the fifth game of their lengthy six game road trip.

The Rundown

The opening period was very back and forth, though the Flames struggled to generate very much on the rush. Just when it seemed like this might be a game very similar to the Columbus outing – with the Flames hanging in there despite not scoring many goals – Dallas opened the scoring late in the period. Mike Smith collected a dump-in and passed the puck to T.J. Brodie, who hesitated with the puck and was overwhelmed by Dallas forechecks. Tyler Pitlick stole the puck and fed it to Antoine Roussel for a tap-in and a 1-0 Dallas lead. Defensive zone turnovers would become a theme. Shots were 13-12 Stars, scoring chances were 15-9 Stars.

The Flames evened things up in the first minute of the second period, with the top line establishing a second theme with offensive brilliance. Sean Monahan fed Micheal Ferland for a scorcher of a one-timer from the high slot to make it 1-1.

The visitors took a lead a few minutes later, as Dougie Hamilton’s attempted carry-in was halted by Dallas but Johnny Gaudreau yoinked the puck from Dan Hamhuis and beat Ben Bishop with a wrister to make it 2-1.

But that lead wouldn’t stand: Brodie and Travis Hamonic coughed up the puck and Tyler Seguin snuck between the defenders – neither picked him up – and tipped Mattias Janmark’s shot over Mike Smith to make it 2-2. The Flames regained the lead on the power play soon after, as Sean Monahan buried a rebound in front of the net to make it 3-2.

But that lead wouldn’t last – again – as a few minutes later Mark Giordano hammer John Klingberg with a big hit, but Hamilton couldn’t clear the loose puck and Alexander Radulov shoveled it past Smith to make it 3-3. Shots were 18-12 Stars, but scoring chances were 12-8 Flames.

But once again, the Flames regained the lead. A few minutes into the third, Gaudreau strode into the Dallas zone, back-handed a pass between a pair of defenders to Monahan for a wrister that beat Bishop blocker side to make it 4-3.

But in case you weren’t paying attention, of course the lead did not last. Hamilton coughed up the puck behind the net to Brett Ritchie, who fed Gemel Smith at the side of the net for a chip-in goal to make it 4-4. Dallas retook the lead a few minutes later as Michael Stone’s attempted bank-pass clear was snagged by Seguin, who fired one past Smith to make it 5-4. Seguin completed the hat trick with a late empty net goal to make it 6-4. Shots were 12-10 Flames and scoring chances were 9-7 Flames.

Why The Flames Lost

These guys cannot hold a lead. And they cannot hold a lead because they handle the puck in their own zone, at times, like it’s a live grenade. They’re both way too cocksure and way too tentative in their own end, often at the same time. Their defenders combined for four defensive zone penalties and five turnovers that led directly to Dallas goals. That’s horrendous.

Their top line has been lights out, Smith has been consistently good, and the third line has quietly generated tons of chances. But it’s hard to win when your much-lauded blueline is playing as shakily as they are.

Red Warrior

It’s gotta be Gaudreau, who had a three point night, seven shots, and generally looked dangerous every time he was near the puck. Honourable mentions to Monahan and Micheal Ferland.

The Turning Point

The fourth Dallas goal was pretty bad. It was the third time the Flames blew the lead, and it came off a non-chalant Hamilton turnover with very little direct pressure on him.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Ferland 71.4 30.0 1.745
Gaudreau 65.5 41.7 3.275
Giordano 62.5 53.3 0.675
Bennett 60.7 100 0.420
Monahan 60.6 41.7 3.020
Jagr 59.3 100 0.625
Jankowski 57.1 100 0.045
Hamonic 55.9 60.0 0.050
Stone 53.6 25.0 0.225
Brodie 51.4 60.0 0.250
Hamilton 50.0 57.1 -0.065
Tkachuk 47.1 20.0 0.035
Kulak 46.2 33.3 -0.450
Backlund 44.4 20.0 -0.035
Lazar 42.1 50.0 -0.310
Brouwer 41.7 66.7 0.540
Frolik 40.9 20.0 -0.460
Versteeg 38.9 50.0 -0.030
Smith 0.450
Rittich

Up Next

The Flames (12-9-1) are on a plane to the Mile High City. They play the Colorado Avalanche tomorrow night in the finale of their lengthy road trip.

  • The GREAT WW

    In 2013 GG was fired from Dallas mid way through the season with a .500 record.
    (To put this in perspective: a .500 record finishes the season with 82 points…).
    Will history repeat itself?
    And Jagr was on that team too…

    WW

    • Skylardog

      Flames are 7-9-6 in regulation this season, and that is with Smith playing like a God. There is no 3v3 or shootouts in the post season.

      In the GG era, the Flames are 39-42 in games decided in regulation. They were the only team below 500 in regulation last year to make the playoffs. All other teams that were in were at least 6 games over 500. Anaheim was 17 games over. Wonder why we lost 4 straight in round 1?

      • The GREAT WW

        Are we the only ones who can see that the Flames top rated D is giving up WAY too many shots against, high scoring chances and turnovers in our own zone?!

        BT and BB can’t be oblivious to this (I have a feeling BB was never really sold on GG from the start).

        WW

      • Off the wall

        Skylar, I loved the breakdown you provided on our quarterly report.

        You should just copy and paste that on every new blog from here on out.

        It was good stuff, you shouldn’t hide those words under the lamp.

  • Chiz

    Somebody posted earlier about how bob hartley was fired because he took the team as far as he could. If you take a look at the team Hartley took to the 2nd round of the playoffs compared to this years squad, there was no hamilton, hamonic, smith, tkachuk. Ferland was not impactful until the playoffs. Johnny and mony were two years younger. And the goalies were hiller and ramo

  • everton fc

    Brodie admitted early last season he was having issues adjusting to Gulutzan’s system. Perhaps he simply can’t? Breaking up the 3M line to basically promote Bennett and demote Tkachuk… Is not the answer.

    I wonder out loud here what a package of Bennett and Brodie would fetch? But what do we need?? Would Mangiapane-Jankowski-Jagr score goals and be a threading line, in the NHL? Could we throw in Brouwer with Brodie and off-load to a team like Phoenix, or Buffalo?? What I think we need are draft picks… Not more bodies…

    As for the coaching… Everytime we lose, everyone want to fire “GG”. (I bet a lot of bald guys here would love to have his hair, by the way!) Anyway… AS much as I don’t want to bring in a coach will a lot of miles on his tires… I think this is what we need. However, you’re talking about another “system” change… Can this haphazard group handle more “change”??

    Ultimately, I don’t think our defence is as good as we all think, as some in the league think (some don’t, like the Wings announcers). Stone/Hamonic, and yes, maybe Brodie, are 5/6 defencemen, I think. Hamonic’s probably the best of that trio right now, but not by much. We are still one year away from tossing the dross – Stajan (sign him to a role in the organization, please!) hopefully Brouwer… Maybe Jagr, who most likely won’t be retained (if he isn’t, who replaces him?)… with Andersson w/o a doubt in the NHL next season, one of the three aforementioned d-men has to go. Andersson plays right-side. How would Gio-Andersson work? Then have Kulak with Hamonic, Brodie or Wotherspoon w/Stone… One of Brodie and Stone seem most likely to be moved, and based on performance and current value, meshed w/what’s on the farm… Brodie seems the bargaining chip. If we can move Brodie a/Brouwer… We need picks…

    Just thinking out loud here. Also – Tippett, Ruff, etc – the coaches w/experience… Do we really go there, now? I think they’d just replace GG w/Huska. Less damage, in terms of learning a new system. But Tippett’s teams never had to many defensive issues…

    Watch Rittich get a shutout vs. the Avs. GO FLAMES!!

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I am far from a GG fan but it is too easy to blame him for the mistakes his players are making. Case in point, Brodie bobbles the the puck behind the net against Columbus without any pressure leading to the OT game winning goal. I think it is safe to say most coaches use Brodie in this situation, I also think it is safe to say that this mistake happens even if Brodie is on his preferred side.

    The first goal against Dallas was a function of a simple pass from Smith to Brodie in the corner. Brodie loses it in his feet and it ends up in the back of the net. The winning goal by Dallas was a function of an il-advised pass up the boards that even the forwards were not expecting. These are examples of plays that ended up as goals and ignores the numerous other chances that did not result in goals. None of this can be on GG since regardless of the coaches system these are 100% on the individual.

    Now GG’s questionable player usage is subject to a whole new book.

    • Skylardog

      It the coach that is to blame if the players have no clear idea of where the puck needs to go because the system is easy to shut down and there are no open players available to pass to.