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Sharks 3, Flames 2 post-game embers: Not good enough

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.

Almost redemption

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.

MVPs?

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.

  • flames2015

    Top 3 powerplay teams and their first units (courtesy Daily faceoff):

    Tampa Bay: 27.8%
    Killorn – Namestnikov – Kucherov – Stamkos (RH) – Hedman

    Nashville: 27.4%
    Forsberg (RH) – Johansen (RH) – Smith (RH) – Ardvidson (RH) – Subban (RH)

    Winnipeg: 26.3%
    Connor – Scheifele (RH) – Laine (RH) – Trouba (RH) – Wheeler (RH)

    First off it’s crazy that Nashville has that many skilled right handed shots and all deployed on the power play. I was curious to see who was on the top power play units and right/left handed ratios. The common theme here is that all 3 teams have a right handed shot who can wire one timers on the left half wall, at least 2 puck movers and a puck shooting defenseman. You’d think this personnel concept was simple enough for GG. For a coach who loves his videos, you’d think Cameron and him would be watching videos on the top pps in the league. If for some reason, management is pushing Brouwer to play for whatever reason, then at least have him in a position to where he can actually use his shot. Put Johnny on the right side, where he’s had success on the PP. And put Dougie on the point.

  • trox

    Just did some counting. If toes still existed, the Flames’ record would be 10-13-9. Bottom quarter of the league with what I believe is a pretty good roster.

  • Derzie

    Does anyone else feel this way? I’ve been watching this team for years. Never miss a game if I can help it. This year? I don’t setup my PVR. I tune in late. I see the same old dumb coaching and boring play and I turn off games in the middle. I rarely did that now it is the norm. Look at that picture at the top. That’s what we had the 1st year of Hartley & what Vegas has this year. The players and coaches give a crap and work hard for each other. This year? Most players are underachieving. Smiles are rare. 1 goal losses are plentiful. I just don’t understand how Brad Treliving can sit back and watch this and think that things are OK. With the moves we’ve made and the personnel we have we should be a better team than we are. We’ve seen Gio, Brodie & Hamilton put themselves in Norris discussions. 3M be among the best defensive lines in hockey. Johnny & Monny be a force to be reckoned with (that is mostly intact by sheer will). The weasel of a coach who won’t go into the dressing, calls out Johnny (who is the best player we have) for trying to not lose the game. Does he think Johnny will appreciate that? Become a super-duper player, rather than just super. Coaches/managers that don’t do face to face will never be as effective as those who do. In summary, we are in the thick of a playoff berth (small picture), but we are not able to live up to our potential under this management (big picture). Do your job Mr Treliving. If you won’t perhaps Burke will. Barring that we’re toast as Ken King is beyond useless and Murray Edwards only cares about money and power.

    • Stajanforadirtyboot

      I like this post. Honest and heart felt. I to never missed a game in years past. This year I find watching this team frustrating. Whenever I watch I see Stajan in the lineup, the Brouwer-play, and General Gel throating a water bottle and it just pisses me right off.

  • flames2015

    Re: Flames new article regarding the pp
    So does a correction come down to player application? Tweaking what already exists? Fresh blood? What?
    “If you look at our units,” said Gulutzan, “one of them hasn’t really changed a lot, in the Backlund unit. We’re talking about two powerplay units that were in the top 10 in the National Hockey League last year.
    “Nothing much has changed powerplay or penalty-kill wise.”
    “So we just gotta kinda get executing a little better.”

    This guy truly is a clown. ” Well I’m going to leave everything status quo because well it worked last year”. Win the draw, Brodie bump back to Gaudreau, opposition stands the line. If it works Johnny will pass it to Monahan at the line. Pass around the perimeter, one time the shot from the left and miss, then it goes around the boards and out. Execution? Seems pretty consistent to me.

    • freethe flames

      Like you I’m tired of this coaching staff. But the PP could be more effective with more effort. Getting to the point where I would prefer watching paint dry than the Flames on the PP. Also tired of people saying we muss Versteeg, the PP was getting stagnant with him as well. Enter the zone with some speed everyone moving , crash and bang, shoot the puck get rebounds.