Too much stagnant play for too long. A third period surge that didn’t do quite enough. And of course, you can trace a lot of things back to a comically pathetic powerplay that not only do they not score on, but it sucks the life out of the rest of their game, as well.
The Flames went nearly a full eight minutes without a single corsi event for in the second period. That isn’t just no shots in that time – that’s virtually no meaningful offensive zone play whatsoever. For almost half of a period. That is just not acceptable.
But in turn, it happened to the Sharks as well, albeit spanning the end of the second period and the beginning of the first. That’s because the Flames came out for the third on fire, and played at a high level throughout the entire frame. No, it wasn’t perfect – it rarely is – but they earned their game-tying goal, and they probably earned a better fate through that period alone.
That’s the problem, though. The game isn’t 20 minutes long, it’s 60. And you cannot definitively say the Flames were the better team over the full 60 minutes.
The game-winning goal was a real backbreaker.
There are two players pretty much everybody would probably point to when asked who the Flames’ MVPs are so far this season: Johnny Gaudreau (39 points in 32 games, tied for third in NHL scoring) and Mike Smith (one of the most busiest goalies in the NHL this season, but not one near the top statistically, not anymore). You could also easily point the blame at both for the game-winner: Gaudreau for conceding to Justin Braun in the offensive zone, resulting in the turnover and one of the Sharks’ few offensive efforts that period; Smith, for letting that puck just dribble right on through and in.
It was just stupid and preventable, a total breakdown on every part of the ice, and it cost the Flames at least a point when they really, really needed to have something to show for this one.
Take the powerplay out back and shoot it
I don’t know what to say here anymore.
The Flames had a five-on-three and responded by immediately giving the other team a shot on net. A five-on-three. And the other team. Had a better scoring chance. Than the team with the two-man advantage.
The Flames had three powerplay opportunities in all and not only did they squander them, but they let those pathetic efforts stymie their regular play. This is genuinely not a bad team at five-on-five – not when they’re playing the way they’re capable of, at least, and when they are on they’re legit – but you give them a powerplay and it’s like the floor has caved in and you’re left with a bunch of people attempting to claw their way across the blue line.
Gaudreau is third in points league-wide. Sean Monahan is fifth in goals. These are two players who can absolutely score, they are among the best in the world at it. So… what the hell. What gives.
Corsi events on the powerplay, at 5v4, according to Natural Stat Trick? The Sharks had three goes at it, including a goal: they were 4-0. The Flames had three goes at it: they were 2-1.
Who is Garnet Hathaway
There has been a lot of talk about Garnet Hathaway as of late. There very well should be; while Jaromir Jagr is out, Hathaway is playing in the top nine. He played 13:02 last night, his second highest ice time this season. Hell, toss that aside, he played 6:01 with Gaudreau.
The injury-based recall who has yet to look like a true NHL scorer played with one of the best offensive players in the league, and through his perseverance on the puck, the former got the latter a goal. He’s up to five points in nine games, which is a pretty respectable stat line for most players, let alone a guy most would peg to be on the fourth line in the best of circumstances.
This was unexpected.
The Bennett-Gaudreau swap worked: it created a goal. Corsis either shot up when the change was made or remained relatively static; the Flames had a great third period to thank for that. Not that those are going to be regular line combinations, in all likelihood, but I think this is more a testament to what Hathaway can, apparently, bring.
At what point do you start to believe in him to have more to offer? It’s still only been nine games: a very small sample size for a relatively older prospect who is only, just now, starting to hint at being a little something more. I don’t think it’s time to blindly accept faith in him yet, I still believe when Jagr comes back you drop Hathaway to the fourth line because Jagr has that much more potential to score, but there is so much to like with Hathaway with each passing game.
So, what of the division?
This was the first time the Flames and the Sharks faced each other this season. The only team from the Pacific the Flames have yet to play is Vegas.
So this game was pretty important. The standings in December don’t mean much, but a regulation win would have had the Flames jump two points over the third place Sharks, with the Sharks still holding two games in hand.
Instead, the opposite happened: the Sharks jumped two points over the Flames, while still holding two games in hand. It was the worst possible outcome here.
The Flames are now 5-4 against their own division this season, and it’s not good enough. There are still a lot of games left to be played, but this was a litmus test of sorts – a team that looks like they may be on about the same level, a team they haven’t played yet, and far enough into the season that everyone should know what they’re doing – and the Flames failed it. Going to overtime wouldn’t have been good enough, because that’s still a point to a divisional opponent, and the Flames need to prove themselves better. Overtime is not good enough.
They lost in regulation.
Not even close to good enough.