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Flyers 5, Flames 2 post-game embers: Deja vu

Don’t confuse emotions. Or lack thereof.

(That picture has nothing to do with anything but what am I supposed to do, let it slip by and not save it for future use??)

You don’t want to say mentally weak, but…

I am absolutely loathe to call anyone mentally weak. Fact of the matter is, I don’t know them. It takes a lot of interaction to determine how someone is going to react to something, nevermind the mental strength they may or may not possess.

But the Flames, as a collective group, look mentally weak.

Let’s do a quick rundown: the Flames dominated this game. They absolutely dominated it. They were the better team in every single avenue but goals, and eventually, they were rewarded for it with a lead.

That they surrendered a minute later.

But nevermind that, nevermind that the Flames have, in 27 games so far this season, left the first period with a lead all of three times. Three. The Sabres, Panthers, Flyers, and Oilers have done it six times. Those are teams at the bottom of the league standings, and even they’ve managed to have better first periods than a team that’s supposed to be contending this year.

But nevermind all that. They entered the second period tied. They continued to play well. The game was still there for the taking–

Goal.

Goal.

Goal.

Seventy-one seconds, and the game was over. Mike Smith lets a squeaker through, and suddenly nobody knows what to do anymore; defensive breakdowns of a hilarious nature follow, and who really cares if Michael Frolik’s penalty should have been called? You take the cards you’re dealt and apparently the Flames’ move is to just fold no matter what their hand.

Whatever.

Brian Elliott was better

When the Flames last played the Flyers, Smith was just that much better than Brian Elliott. This time, it wasn’t even close.

Elliott had a great night. The Flames chucked 45 pucks at him and he had all but two of them. Compare that to the Flyers’ 21 shots – 21! – and the five goals they scored, and it was a complete nightmare. Elliott deserved the win, full stop; the Flames could have made it a miserable night for the Flyers and Elliott made sure they didn’t get that chance. Smith did not provide his team the same luxury. December is two games in and he’s given up 10 goals already.

Smith is tied with Frederik Andersen for most games played in the NHL. He’s seen the second most shots by a fair margin. Here’s one small difference between Smith and Andersen, though: Smith is 35. Andersen is 28.

I think we all knew the .931 save percentage Smith posted in October wasn’t going to last. The .918 in November wasn’t too bad, though. But honestly, how long was anyone expecting this to last? Eddie Lack got demoted in part because he needed playing time; maybe actually playing him earlier in the season would have helped? Henrik Lundqvist is the only other goalie near Smith’s age who has faced a similar workload (by which I mean one less game, almost 100 fewer shots).

You can’t blame the entire night on Smith but at some point he’s gotta start mixing a save in there again.

At least Sam Bennett looked good

If there’s any one player who’s stood out as a disappointment this season, it’s been Sam Bennett. So it’s nice to see this little turnaround. he’s now riding a four-game point streak: two goals, four assists in that time. Nine points in 27 games is still a pretty ugly look, but considering how he went the first 15 games of the season pointless – even with plenty of chances – it’s a marked improvement.

There’s your silver lining these past few outings. While things have been going exceptionally poorly, Bennett has been playing probably his best stretch of the season, and he actually has something to show for it now.

It’s not much to be happy about, but it’s a start. You hope this isn’t just a good stretch, though, but a total turning of the corner. The Flames had a rough outing in the playoffs last season, and Bennett was one of the few bright spots – maybe everyone can build on it, this time?

-8

Teams with positive goal differentials tend to be postseason teams. Teams with negative ones tend not to be. It’s not foolproof, but it’s generally good for a quick look.

The Flames have had a positive goal differential at times this season, but it tends to immediately be stripped away by a blowout loss. So here’s what I’m wondering now: has it just been poor timing, these losses, or is it just a quick correction for the level the Flames should truly be reflected at?

Despite some very good efforts earlier in the season, do they actually deserve to be a negative goal differential team? Is this the truer reflection of their overall talent level of the season? It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity, especially now, but it’s sure looking like it. The Flames have seven multi-goal wins so far this season. They have 10 multi-goal losses.

The potential of a lost year

This is where the apathy really settles in.

The Flames have to make the playoffs this season. They absolutely have to. Because they don’t have a single pick until the third round (well, a second round pick if they miss), and just six picks overall, half of which come in the sixth round or later.

There is no silver lining to this season. It’s either have a good postseason performance or absolutely nothing, because there is nothing to look forward to beyond the season’s final game. The Flames spent pretty much every currency they had to build this team for this season: a season which was supposed to herald them as having finally entered their contention window.

And then they do whatever this game was.

It’s not the worst position to be in right now, but it’s getting there. And the Flames are fast reaching the point where they will have to go on a massive winning streak – not just for the points, but to restore any kind of faith that the entire year won’t have been a pointless exercise that won’t advance the club in any way, shape, or form.

  • Just.Visiting

    Miscellaneous observations…

    If something isn’t working out with someone in a position of leadership in the workplace, people are generally a bit forgiving in trying to make it work and hoping things get better. There comes a point, though, when people look to the leader’s leader to act, where failure to act at the second level is regarded as a total absence of leadership. I can’t see any radical change in the coaching staff’s approach in the future, which means that things are just going to get worse. For everyone’s sake (and their families), please make the inevitable coaching move soon.

    Great to know how dominant we were on CORSI last night and that my eyes are obviously wrong. Perhaps we should focus attention on high risk shots, instead of thinking that all shots are created equal?

    Trying to trade Brodie at the moment or singling him and benching him to play Bart isn’t particularly helpful to the team. I’d be more focused on seeing what I could do to help him adapt more fully to the system, as he’s an integral part of the team. If that means that you move him with Stone, you do it. If that means that you forget handedness, you try it. I remember how much respect I lost for GG in the spring when he chose to start Elliott and then pulled him after a weak goal. It was humiliating, and I suspect that the players didn’t care for seeing Elliott treated like that either given that they wouldn’t have made the playoffs without him standing on his head in the second half of the year.

    Still trying to figure out why the scouts were so high on Hamonic. He seems more in the OK to good type range when the dust clears vs the very good that we thought we were buying. A very steep price to have paid relative to what we had to give up to get Stone.

    I don’t care what CORSI says, but Dougie makes me very nervous in our own zone when the opponent is on the attack.

    Just in case GG and Cameron check out FN, here are some tips from Captain Obvious to help with your popularity in the near term:

    -do not play Brouwer on the PP or up the lineup until you hear an outcry from the fans that he is playing so much better;

    -do not play Bart unless someone is injured;

    -move Dougie and Gio to the first PP unit;

    -have Brodie and Stone on the second PP, with a strategy of having Stone bomb the net a few times each game (reduce the perimeter passing);

    -leave Ferland where he is and stop tinkering with him-he deserves his ice time, so give it to him;

    -move Stone with Brodie to give Brodie’s game a different feel and provide him a chance to play his way out of the current ebb;

    -continue with last night’s experiment of trying Janko and Bennett on the PK; and

    -be much more selective in trying to carry the puck over the other team’s blue line. When predictable, it’s not a high percentage play-sorry JG.

    • The Sultan

      Elliott single-handedly lost is the playoffs. He never should have started that game. And when he got scored on early on an easy shot… his career with the Flames was over. Doesn’t matter what happened in the past. Hockey is about results and Elliott let us down when we needed him the most.

  • Flint

    TJ Brodie is brutal. If you are tempted to give a “trash it” please watch the third goal and tell me WTF he was doing.
    First… he’s the strong side defender and he’s late getting to the Off. Blue. Hamonic is actually there first.
    Second… he’s reading the play. Hamonic starts retreating as the play is broken, while Brodie is still going forward.
    Third. He blows his gap like a atom defender. He continues a slow fall back (meanwhile, Hamonic is already at the redline) and Raffl is about to blow by him.
    Fourth. In a panic he finally turns, but is way too slow and now it’s a two-on-one. So, he decides waking Raffl and taking a penalty is a smart idea.
    Fifth – Brodie (who can acutally skate) leaves the appropriate pursuit of Raffl, and instead takes the long route to the middle toward Hamonic’s side? leaving Raffl wide open and then tries a kick save! to prevent the pass back from Voracek???

    Has he completely lost his skill? Or better his mind? Or is this how he’s being coached? WTF was that?

    • Lucky 13

      It’s weird you say that, because at the moment Brodie was doing it, I had the same reaction.
      Huh? What are you doing Brodie.

      #5 Why would you cross over to Hamonic’s side when it was clear he had that lane well covered? Hamonic was perfectly positioned to take his man.

      It put Hamonic in no mans land, and I’m sure Hamonic wasn’t too thrilled about it either.
      Communication breakdown?
      I honestly have no words to explain it either.

    • Sensei

      I agree, Brodie is brutal! In the Edmonton game he looked like a Chihuahua trying to hump Patrick Maroon’s leg while trying to move him from in front of the net or trying to take him off the puck several times. Couple that with his defensive gaffes and it’s no wonder he’s on the ice for so many goals, shots and breakaways against.
      That said, the Flames defence core collectively plays soft on the opposition and look like a bunch of Lady Byng candidates. Where’s Brian Burkes’ “Truculence”???? Come on Dougie – hit someone like you mean it!

    • Lucky 13

      I know, it’s kinda sad.

      Let’s have some fun with this, cuz I could really use some.

      Any predictions, expectations you care to share?

      I’m bored, sick and home alone again — I need some stimulus..
      I’ve already read the equivalent of War and Peace.

      I know, I’m pathetic, however please indulge me..anyone?

        • Lucky 13

          Yay, the Fall to the rescue.

          I like the way you think sir, it’s evident Johnny is unleashed and dangerous.
          The Backlund comment might be the whole summary of the Flames season. He doesn’t get nominated for Selke this year.

          I’m believe Monahan will hit 40 goals this season, Johnny will get 90 + points, Ferland (if Gg keeps him where he belongs) will post more equal goals and assists. He’s always been heavy on the goals, but quieter on the apples. 25-g 20a ratio, my thoughts.

          Brodie will end up with the worst +/- in his career, or we’ll end up trading him for Marner.

          Bennett turns the corner – ends up around 40 points
          Jankowski scores 20, Jagr retires before season ends, injuries (sorry Jagr)

          Tkachuk gets moved from the 3M line, has his best season to date.

          Brouwer scores 5 goals in total,
          Lazar gets 4th line centre ice duties full time- makes the best of it with 7g -4 a

          Oh and GG doesn’t last past 40 games.

          I might have stretched some of the assumptions, but hey what’s the fun if you can’t have an imagination.

          • Kronk

            I’ve got to think the indifferent play has been a problem the entire stint of GG and Cameron. These Jeckle and Hyde inconsistencies can only mean ineffectual leadership behind the bench IMO.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    So, this is the kind of article I like. We here in the comments are allowed to call for firings and trades, but in the articles…we’ve been trumpeting major change in the comment section now for a while. I like articles like this because it shows that it’s
    okay, it’s time to ask questions. It’s time to be frustrated. I also like how our situation this season and the following was explained. We truly are all in now, and we can’t afford to be playing like this.

    Timely. This article was appropriate and timely. Thank you, Ari. Another great one.

  • Alberta Ice

    Was at the game last night. Elliot, not Smith, was the difference. Yep, we are the team to play right now if your team needs a lift in energy and what ails ya. And just like the Flyers were probably eager to get out of their town, I would assume the Flames are too. Hey, by the end of the Vancouver game we could be under .500 and slipping toward the draft lottery contest which everyone knows is owned by the Oilers. Call it Grey Cup Blues for us Calgary fans. Or should we now call it the Blue Cup? This has been a couple of tough weeks for Calgary sports fans and it’s not looking too hopeful for the road trip. Hope the Flames team will prove me wrong and at least move me from the emotional Blue back to at least Gray. (Others of the C of Red are truly seeing Red while feeling Blue. Sucky days indeed.)

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    On a good note, I thought Hathaway was awesome on the give and go screen for Monny’s goal. Lots of passion and desire in that guy. And I thought I was watching Ferly mid way thru the 2nd on a PP? But he wasn’t playing the blue ice goal screener/agitator though. He was playing the high side, kinda being the QB. And he was doing a helluva job BTW. Full disclosure – I was somewhat distracted by MNF where there’s was lots of passion, hate, and head shots. The Flames could learn a thing or two from that AFC North rivalry.

  • Squishin

    These past few games have been hard to watch. Really hard. The defensive zone play is just mind-boggling sometimes. I don’t know what you all see in D. Hamilton, I think he’s a tire fire. Consistently terrible giveaways, stupid penalties galore, and lacking in hockey sense throughout. A defenceman has to actually be good at defence, not just offence. Gio is working is butt off to cover for his partner, and is doing a damn fine job. I actually think Brodie is a much better defenceman than Hamilton, but he’s also been playing terribly lately.

    • buts

      I agree with you squishin 100% about Dougie. I know he can be good offensively but I was in the dome for the WJC semi against Russia in 2012 and he was thee worst player on the ice. He is soft hasn’t got any grit which for his size is a shame and is prone to bone-head errors and penalties at the worst times. He led the team in minus against the ducks last spring. Boston let him go for a reason and we know why. He could garner a nice return in the market after last years numbers….I’m hoping he’s traded and we can let the nepotistic flames throw Freddie in the deal.

    • Derzie

      Offroading with a sports car, the car looks pretty lousy. The coach does not deploy players correctly. They play poorly and get discouraged as well. Just like us fans. When we get the urge to turn off the TV, the players get the urge as well but they tune out the coach.

  • The Doctor

    BTW, why is Vancouver ahead of us in the standings right now? One reason is goaltending. Tonight after being outshot 12-3 in the first period against Carolina, the score is 0-0. Markstromand Nilsson have both stolen many games this year.