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Wild 2, Flames 1 (SO) post-game embers: Stupid luck, stupid powerplay

The Flames were the better team. They just were. But instead of finding a way to put the Wild away from the start – something their play very easily could have done – they just… didn’t.

They walked away with one point. They should have had two.

It’s just a meme at this point

The Flames played a phenomenal first period. They were outshooting the Wild 6-0 early on before getting a powerplay. At 5v5, they out-corsied the Wild 19-8. It wasn’t even close – so of course, the Wild got the first goal of the game.

Credit or lack thereof where it’s due; according to Natural Stat Trick, the Flames had just two high-danger scoring events, while the Wild had one, and made it count. And you can outshoot an opponent as much as you like – really, it’s encouraged – but if you aren’t getting good chances, well, you can’t be too upset.

There’s plenty else to be upset about, though. Micheal Ferland had a wide open net in the third period and he somehow hit the crossbar. Sean Monahan had a tap-in in overtime and he somehow completely missed the net. It turned into a comedy: how many 99% sure goals can the opposing team give the Flames, only for the Flames to take the 1% miss? That’s probably what was most painful about this one – it should have been two points in regulation. Instead, the crappy shooting percentage that’s been screwing with them all season did it again.

Also, the powerplay sucks

The Flames had all the momentum in the first period – until they got a powerplay, and did nothing with it. And then they gave up a goal immediately after their second powerplay expired. It’s gone from stalling the team to actively hurting them.

Seriously. Nuke the entire thing. Decline powerplays when they come. Have Mike Smith throw the puck over the glass again when on the man advantage. The Flames are more trustworthy at 5v5 play, 4v4 play, whatever, than they are when they’re supposed to have the upper hand. These are multiple games in a row, now, where a halfway competent powerplay would have, if not won them the game outright, at least made things less stressful.

Three chances, including a gift late in the third period that could have put the game away. Nothing even remotely threatening.

I’m going to pick one thing in particular to scream about: Dougie Hamilton leads the Flames with 96 total shots on net. What the hell is he doing with only 1:32 on the powerplay. “Oh but he’s a defensive liability!” 1. No he’s not, shut up, if that was the case he wouldn’t have the sixth best CA/60 on the Flames; 2. The Flames have already given up four shorthanded goals this season, who cares, it’s not like things are going to somehow be worse even if your bias decides to enter reality.

The powerplay is not working, it is directly costing the team wins, just blow the whole damn thing up.

Micheal Ferland scores a lot

Tragic missed yawning cage aside, wow, has Ferland got a nose for the net – and a hell of a shot to get the puck there.

He’s now up to 12 goals this season, on pace for 32. His career high is 15, from 76 games last season. His 17.3% shooting percentage is a little high but like. Damn. It’s probably unsustainable? But he just has a really, really great shot. And he’s never really gotten this full-time chance before, so we don’t really know if this is just the player he is. After all, he shot at 14.2% last season – and he only started getting a real chance in the final quarter.

It’s easy to miss that he only has five assists this season. It kind of fits in with last season’s stat line, though: 15 goals, 10 assists. It’s fun to see just how high he can go, if this fifth round draft pick who needed that little extra nudging, that little extra time, who may have been more known for his fists than his shot first coming in, if he can become a 30-goal scorer.

Also? That Johnny Gaudreau’s linemates both have deadly blasts? If they get over this shooting percentage nonsense, it could prove to work out amazing in the longer term.

Sometimes Mike Smith’s puck handling is anxiety-inducing

He almost gave the puck away in overtime. He was so close to it. There are moments where the broadcast will excuse him, like, “When you go to retrieve the puck and catch a rut in the ice, that’ll happen!” and it’s like, well, it doesn’t have to happen, you know? He could chill for two seconds and the Flames would be just fine.

Also what he was doing in trying to corral the rebound he gave up that led to him falling on his stomach and the Wild’s first goal… It just feels like that shouldn’t have happened. At that point you recognize that you’re pretty much asking Smith to get a shutout in order for the Flames to win, which is an unrealistic request most of the time, but maybe it shouldn’t have been too hard in this one.

I guess you can give credit to the Flames here. They had nothing to show for an incredible first period, but they didn’t roll over and die like they were a week ago. That is some progress.

Also, apropos of nothing, but that was some pretty tight defence from the overall group in overtime, the goalie nearly giving the puck away excluded. Nice to see. And while I’m mentioning random overtime things in here! How is it that neither Hamilton nor Matthew Tkachuk got a single shift outside of regulation. Just. What.

The Wild are SO BORING

The roster can change. The coach can change. But a universal truth will never be escaped: games against the Wild are extremely boring, like it’s a law of nature or something at this point, and I hate them.

    • Ludis Fanaticus

      I have been reading the comments on this site for 2 years now, and posting very occasionally for the past few months.

      I have always enjoyed The Great WW’s somewhat caustic takes. Despite my not often agreeing with them. I hope you continue.

      While I’m here, the vitriol toward the coach is overstated. The staff are playing a long game and too often, I feel, the amateur annalists here are looking no further than that immediate game, period or shift.
      We’re fans and most certainly entitled to our opinions and to rail against the coaches and their decisions. But if we want to sound intelligent we should try and little verstehen and recognize that the decisions are not always going to be based purely on the moment in hand – payoffs, perhaps, excepted.

      Further, the ongoing dialogue regarding the deployment of the 4th line is, I feel, off base. Put it in context with who came of the ice and when.
      Recognise that the 4th line is partly used on the penalty kill, and I think most of the decisions make perfect sense.

      Thanks to all for making this an entertaining place to come for a read.
      Happy holidays.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    At 15 and 16 Zarley Zalapski was doing things on the ice that men who were veteran NHL defencemen couldn’t do. He was a prodigy, like Mozart.

    Some wonder why his ceiling wasn’t higher given his immense skill level, but if you had spent any time with him, you would have understood that he was exactly where he wanted to be. He loved the sport, but he didn’t like being called a hockey player as the label undersold him. He was much, much more than just a hockey player. He was a father, husband, scholar, inventor, enthusiast, philanthropist, humanitarian, builder, teacher, student and the wearer of many other different hats.

    Zarley lived the way he felt which explained both his unusual route to the NHL and why he never reached the expectations that “others” had of him. Matthews and McDavid have lived, breathed, ate and slept hockey since they were little kids. Zarley was never this passionate about and consumed by the game. From the time he was a boy until his untimely passing, he had far too many diverse interests to preoccupy himself with just hockey. Some called him an underachiever because he didn’t meet “their” expectations for him as a hockey player. Zarley , on the other hand, would tell you he was doing just what he wanted to and he was exactly where he wanted to be in life.

    With his passing, the world has lost not only a very gifted hockey legend, but a true renaissance man and a gentleman by every definition of the word.

  • The GREAT WW

    We are still 4 games over .500.

    We need to get to 12 games over .500 to get to 94 points by seasons end. (Loser points are like kissing your sister; lots of fun but they don’t count…).

    We need to string some wins together….

    WW

  • Skylardog

    The Case To Break Up The Backlund Line

    They have been a fixture for over a year. The Backlund line has been the picture of line stability in the GG era, and one of the most stable lines in the NHL since the beginning of the last season. Is it time to make the bold move and split them up?

    In the last 21 games, the have been on the ice for 3 goals for 5v5 with 8 against, playing over 225 minutes together. One goal every 7 games is not good enough. But to put it into perspective, Troy Bouwer and Curtis Lazar together with an undetermined linemate, have been on the ice for as many goals for, and they have scored those 3 goals in just over 67 minutes, or about 30% of the time.

    Last 21 Games
    TOI GF GA GF% GF/60
    3M 225.6 3 8 27.2 0.80
    SM-JG-MF 244.4 14 6 70.0 3.44
    SB-MJ-JJ or GH 151.6 9 4 69.2 3.56
    ??-CL-TB 67.7 3 4 42.9 2.66
    3M Apart 112.4 5 12 29.4 2.67

    A few notes on these stats. The 4th line is always in flux, but Lazar-Brouwer are 2 fairly consistent linemates. Jankos line has been faced with time without Jagr, with Hathaway often the replacement. The line has 5 goals with Jagr in 105.8 minutes, and 4 with Hathaway in 45.9 minutes.

    Backlund, Frolik, and Tkachuk, have been more than 2 times more effective at scoring goals when apart. The concern has to be what is happening from a GA viewpoint. But when you consider that the GF% for them apart is still better than with them together, the concern may be mute. Knowing the players, the GA is more than likely something that could be improved, it is an anomaly. Neither of the 3 players are consistently a defensive liability.

    All 4 lines above have Corsi% over 50%. 3M is the best, as we all know, but it appears that the line is missing an ingredient that ends up with the puck in the net. They appear to be generating chances, the puck just won’t go in. The lack scoring touch as a whole.

    One has to believe that the Backlund-Frolik pair should remain together. That leaves Tkachuk as the odd man out. Stats actually say that Backs-Tkachuk are better together than Backs-Fro 5v5, but we also have shorthanded experience that says Backs-Fro is a powerhouse. You move Tkachuk if you move someone.

    But to where? Tkachuk is not a 4th liner. Bennett-Janko-Hathaway have put up 4 GF with only 2 GA in 45.9 minutes together, a 5.23 GF/60. They are untouchable right now. The first line is in a temporary slump, the right move is to flip Tkachuk and Ferly. It would give JG and Mony a forechecking menace, and it would give Backs and Frolik a guy that can score but still offers some grit. That would leave the lines as follows:

    JG-SM-MT
    MF-MB-MF
    SB-MJ-GH
    CL-MS-TB

    And by the way, the 4th line is more stable defensively with Stajan, so for the moment, don’t even go there.

    • Skylardog

      Simplified chart

      In the last 21 games

      3M Line: GF/60 of 0.80 with 3 GF
      SM-JG-MF: GF/60 of 3.44 with 14 GF
      SB-MJ-JJ or GH: GF/60 of 3.56 with 9 GF
      ??-CL-TB: GF/60 of 2.66 with 3 GF
      3M Apart: GF/60 of 2.67 with 5 GF

      • Lucky 13

        I love all the work you put into your posts Skylardog.

        It is definitely an eye opener when statistics are put into there proper perspective.

        Keep up the good work, you’re converting this member!

    • flames2015

      Nice write up. I’ve been wanting to see Tkachuk moved from the 3m line for the past few games. His offensive numbers should improve with more offensive starts. Him on the 1st line, or a swap with Hathaway on the 3rd. Bennett/Janko/Tkachuk would be a thing of beauty.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I have been saying this for a while now but did not back it up with the stats. I want to see the change because Tkachuk is one of the more creative players and we need more scoring from him which happens if you put him with better scorers and away from the other team’s top lines.

  • Squishin

    My thoughts on Hamilton stand. He is absolutely overrated defensively, and I believe his corsi numbers are boosted due to playing with Giordano. HOWEVER, I 100% agree that he should be quarterbacking the PP1. Use his penchant for offence as a positive.
    I have never been a fan of the shootout, it’s a crappy way to decide a game.
    ALSO – NHL point-accruing rant coming up – the loser point is wrecking the standings. There are like 6 western teams at 35 points right now! Seeing this level of parity at this point in the season is ridiculous. 13 out of the 15 teams in the Western Conference deserve to make the playoffs right now. The NHL needs to switch to a 3-point system, which will greater reward teams for regulation wins.
    3 points – regulation win
    2 points – overtime win
    1 point – overtime loss
    0 points – regulation loss
    This way there are always three points up for grabs, which eliminates some games having a greater combined value than others. I know I’m not the first person to think of this! It needs to become more of a widespread idea.

    • Derzie

      Watching teams go into prevent mode in tie games late in the third is painful. OT is super exciting but really it’s a pointless skill because the playoffs don’t use it. Regulation wins should be a premium in reg season just as they are in the playoffs.

      • Flamesfansince04

        Revamping the point system is definitely something that needs done in the NHL.
        They could also reduce the number of regular season games to 65 or 70…reduce the potential for injuries, player fatigue, and who knows…if guys have more energy, maybe scoring goes up? Back to the point system though, regular season games would definitely be more exciting. Three points is harder to make up that two, so you’re gonna push like crazy for a regulation win.

        • The Doctor

          One thing I really like about 3 points for a regulation win is that it would punish those really trappy, put-’em-to-sleep teams who are the worst offenders in terms of constantly gunning for the regulation tie and avoid offensive aggressiveness like the plague.

          • Skylardog

            And it would punish the Flames. We are 22 in the league in Regulation wins, 2 games below 500. Was the same last year, as we were the ONLY team to make the playoffs with a sub 500 record in regulation.

      • Carl the tooth

        Tell that to Bennett who scored the game winner in the previous game with around a minute left? I here ya though if it’s an eastern team they definitely will coast out the last ten minutes.

      • The Doctor

        Derzie I couldn’t agree more. It’s so bloody obvious that teams go for the tie late in the game (or even at the start of the third period). And teams that are bad at 3 on 3 pray for he shootout. It’s gaming the system, which is what coaches and teams will do when given the opportunity.

    • Derzie

      Amen. We need separation. Anyone who thinks the standings are valuable to look at right now is kidding themselves. Almost nobody knows anything as to their playoff fate. Pointless to even look.

  • Danomitee

    Very confusing team. When they’re playing GG’s system properly all of their offence seems to be squeezed out, but defence is good. When the offence is firing, the defence is out to lunch. Can’t we for once have a game where the offence and defence is working? Power play let us down again, losing big time points because of it.

    Fire Cameron or shave GG’s head to mix things up, either or I’m easy.

  • Cfan in Van

    Wow, OK. I really like the Post Game Embers, and appreciate how it’s a completely different take from Pike’s post game write up. I think it adds a nice extra dimension of coverage. I’m not usually one to point out grammar or rag on someone’s writing style. However…
    I find it really annoying that the style of these posts seems to be devolving to use more twitter-esque type of language that’s really hard to digest when reading. Starting mulitple sentences with “Like” (not this post, but many of them). Creating a string of sentences such as “And while I’m mentioning random overtime things in here! How is it that neither Hamilton nor Matthew Tkachuk got a single shift outside of regulation. Just. What.” I mean, that’s just really bad. There are certain things that can be rattled off in casual, in-person conversation that sound just fine, but once you’re reading them they’re just absolutely grinding and don’t convey the notion that’s intended.
    Again, sorry to be the whining and complaining type, but I think readability should be considered. Rant over. Thanks for the content.

    • JMK

      That’s funny, as I was reading that article, I was thinking the opposite. I quite enjoyed the colloquial conversational style and thought it complimented the tone of the article. I’m not always in the mood for an emotional rant but I’m very much enjoying Ari’s passion lately in her morning articles. There’s no specific way to write – take a look at Ulysses.

      • Lucky 13

        So we are giving grammar lessons to a great writer now?
        How many Pulitzer’s do we need for a hockey blog? Just asking .

        Ari is my favourite writer, because of the very things that you mentioned. It’s conversational, fun and whimsical, I’ll take that any day over benign structural writing all day.

        I didn’t become a member to be a critic of writing prose, try reading with the same inspiration that Ari writes and you might feel better!

        • Cfan in Van

          No Lucky. Just some constructive criticism. I’ve been reading this site for close to a decade and the writing has, for the most part, set a pretty high bar. I still enjoy it, but I’ve noticed the readability has decreased. I’m glad you enjoy the conversational style, to each they’re own.
          Again, I never complain about this type of thing, so thought I’d put my cents in.

          • Lucky 13

            That’s fair. I apologize for being defensive. I really enjoy Ari’s articles.I haven’t been around as long as you have, so I can’t really make any assumptions about content. But I feel very fortunate to read FN, compared to Oil Nation content.

            I noticed we have decreased members too, however there is a lot of other content available for hockey fans, so perhaps that’s why we’re seeing a decrease in readers? That and no EDIT function.

      • JMK

        I’ll assume you meant to reply to Cfan, since I agree with you. We should be careful though, we are in the presence of Walt Whitman. The lad knows a thing or two. 😉

    • Walt Whitman

      I agree, Cfan in Van. I too appreciate Ari’s posts and take on the various aspects of the Flames, however the writing is devolving poorly. Perhaps it is not so much the Twitter-esque writing style, it certainly feels more conversational. Unfortunately the conversation is reminiscent of one a person would have with a teenager having a passive approach to life.

      You can do better, Ari. I’ve seen better of you.

      • Cfan in Van

        I guess the “twitter-esque” comment is based on the fact that the only time I come across this type of phrasing is in short social media bursts, where all grammar and traditional writing styles go completely out the window. I think you pretty much summed up what I was getting at.
        Again, I’m not trying to be offensive with my feedback, it’s just something that I’ve found increasingly annoying over the last while.

  • Flaymin Frank

    Johnny Hockey is and elite player. When I see him on the blue line for a pp though I sometimes have to wince. Dave Cameron needs to swallow his pride, put aside his ego and rejig the pp unit. Its one thing if the pp doesn’t success but its entirely another thing when it becomes counter productive as Ari pointed out.

  • McRib

    Why does GG always choose to put Troy Brouwer on the most meaningful PPs late in games? I can kind of understand (not really, but I digress) putting Tory Brouwer on the odd PP early in games, but he only puts him on key PPs late or behind in games.

  • Vernon30

    As a Canadian living on the MN border, in ND, Minnesotans are fond of believing they invented and perfected the game. In reality, neither is true. They are knowledgeable, but most still say “off-sides” instead of “off-side.” I wouldn’t give them too much credit. Wild, to me, seem like an aging team with no fun or reason to be optimistic. Apparently they have a good farm system?

  • Kevin R

    Well there is hope, Mr Coach actually said he wasn’t happy with the power play after the game.
    It’s something. If it were me I would have been flipping tables & kicking garbage cans in that locker room & then nicely punch one of the reporters that asked why the PP sucks balls. That’s just me cause I hate losing.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Minnesotans are very knowledgeable hockey fans and aficionados of the game at its highest level, so why would they accept year after year of boring hockey? It is not as if the club has won a ton of cups with its snoozy play. The Wild are not the Devils of the trap era. Why aren’t the fans demanding a more exciting style of play?

    • McRib

      I’ve been to games in St. Paul, Wild fans are very aware of this and when you mention it they usually will bring up the upcoming high school state tournament (or the Gophers) to deflect and they will say “the high school tournament sells out sooner and sooner every year for a reason”.

      They also have the Vikings, Twins, T-Wolves to focus on (Hey Mr. Edwards, welcome to life in a major American market, at least sports fans in Minnesota don’t suck like in Houston, who can’t sellout the Astros in a World Series season with a team full of .300+ hitters or the Rockets with Harden & Co).

      Anyway I f you ever have the chance to go to the Twin Cities, do it, such an underrated city!!! I’ve been to 35 states and most major American cities and Minnesota is right up there with anywhere (except maybe Chicago, Chicago is the greatest city on the planet. If you need to get laid go to Chicago, guy or girl it will happen). The people in Minnesota are all incredibly friendly, all really good looking (mostly all of Swedish ancestry) and the bar/food scene is so amazingly underrated and fun. Outside of Nashville, Minneapolis is the most fun I have ever had in a weekend, actually Minneapolis might have been even better thinking about it.

      • CofRed4Life

        I agree. I spent a year in the twin cities, and the people there are great. The weather isn’t the greatest most of the year, but it’s a beautiful place, and a lot of fun. I always loved talking hockey with them (they would inevitably ask when they found out I’m from Calgary). Definitely worth a visit.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Here are my thoughts on OT in the NHL. I’ve never been a fan of the shootout to decide OT games. That’s my bias.

    Teams are tied at the end of the third, they should play sudden death 3 on 3, which they do now, but instead of a 5 minute period, make it 10 minutes. As it is now, the winner of the 3 on 3 gets 2 points and the loser gets 1 point. Keep it. If after 10 minutes of 3 on 3, then go shootout with two differences from what they have now. One is that it isn’t 3 shooters against 3 shooters. First shooter scores while the first shooter from the other team is stopped, it’s game over. Sudden death shootout, if you like. Here’s the other big change. The club that wins the shootout, gets 2 points, while the loser gets nada. Harsh? No. It encourages clubs to go all out during the 3 on 3. I just don’t like how the 1 point for OT is awarded now as those loser points do have an impact on clubs getting into the playoffs and their seedings.

    • fumanchu1968

      10 minute 3-on-3 overtime would improve the entertainment factor and probably speed up the game. Why the phuck hasn’t the NHL thought of this? Good comment though…

      • EhPierre

        The NHL has no power over the TV networks. Hockey has a three hour time window until the next show comes on that’s why they introduced the shootout so the chances of a hockey game interfering with the next show that is programmed to be on are limited.

        As for a 10 minute 3-on-3, I’m sure the NHLPA would reject that motion. Playing 3-on-3 is extremely fun but extremely tiring. Having to do it for 10 minutes is just torture. Imagine a team with a back-to-back having played a 10min 3-on-3 the previous night? It’s too much to ask in a 82 game season.

        • The GREAT WW

          10 minute 3 on3 would force teams to play bottom rotation guys; could you imagine Brouwer, Stajan and Stone on the ice as a threesome?!

          Good times!!!!

          WW

    • oilcanboyd

      10 minute sudden death OT. If still tied the game ends in a TIE, each team gets one point. Playing 3 on 3 for 10 minutes will have someone tuckered out and result in a goal. Teams like Minny can’t hang on that much.

  • Brownblazer

    How is Hamilton not on in OT? Gio had at least two shifts, where he looked tired and seemed like he was just worried about keeping possession (a good thing), but wasn’t pressing forward. He lacked any creativity or food speed to do so. I know we have a good record in OT, but let’s go for the win – not in the shoot out. Hamilton is underused in my opinion this season. He had some great looks in OT last year. We need to use that. I wonder if he’s in the coach’s dog house this year?

  • Lucky 13

    I love it when you get fired up Ari. I concur with everything you said. Plus it made me laugh. I like laughing.

    Our PP is atrocious . It would be nice to see it changed up, but no we probably won’t do that because… it worked before.

    D Hamilton needs to be used on the PP with the 1st unit and for gawd sakes please take Brouwer off of it. Hamilton is a shooter, duh.

    Brodie should be moved to the 2nd unit PP with Gio. At least Giordano will shoot. Brodie can make all the passes he wants to Giordano.

    I loved the overtime, we wouldn’t let the Wild have the puck, the fans were booing, because they couldn’t get it. Keep away is fun.
    That play where Giordano passes it to M.Smith in OT gave me a mild cardiac infarction.

    I thought our defence played a pretty strong game again, I’m quite happy to see them working much better as units.

    The Sharks are going to be a tough team to beat. I just hope we are ready for them.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      There needs to be an iron fist inside the velvet glove sometimes, and Ari provides that. While writing from emotion is always a risk, it is also a necessity.

      Leave the monocle-with-brandy-snifter type humor to Ryan. He’s good at it. And Ari is good at things like the R-Rated Iggy rant (which was classic).

      Don’t change, Ari, don’t change.