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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: The post game

The best team in the Western Conference came to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday night, primed for a battle with the Calgary Flames. The home side played great in the first period, and generally looked pretty good against a strong opponent. But a few broken sticks, a few scoring opportunities clanged off goal posts and crossbars, and a few bounces later, the Flames dropped a 2-0 loss to the Predators.

For the umpteenth time this season, the Flames played very well for long stretches but had very little to show for it on the scoreboard or in the standings.

The Rundown

There was no scoring in the first period, but for the home side it was not from lack of trying. The Flames played one of their better first periods of the entire season. Mark Giordano hit the crossbar on a three-on-one rush after a successful penalty kill, while T.J. Brodie hit the post late in the period. Shots were 12-6 Flames.

The middle period was weird. It was looser on both fronts, as the Flames opened things up a little bit. They had a strong power play early but couldn’t score. Then they had a strong penalty kill, generating some nice offensive zone time despite being down a man. Garnet Hathaway got clipped by Austin Watson in the middle of the period, leading to (a) a fight with Troy Brouwer and (b) Watson being ejected from the game. Due to Brouwer receiving an instigator penalty, there was a period of four-on-four play. The Flames were caught on their heels a bit and a bouncing puck was swatted by Ryan Johansen and careened into the net off Mike Smith’s foot to make it 1-0. The Flames then had a lengthy power play sequence, including a full two minutes of five-on-three. Their two-man advantage generated three shots and their remainder of the Watson major at five-on-four generated zero. Kevin Fiala deflected a Kyle Turris shot through Smith’s five-hole to make it 2-0 with 38.7 seconds left in the period. Shots were 16-9 Predators.

The Predators turned on their defense for the third period. They did their best not to give very much up, and largely succeeded. The Flames pressed late in the period, even pulling Smith for the extra attacker, but they couldn’t mount any kind of a comeback. Shots were 11-6 Flames.

Why The Flames Lost

There were two big culprits, and they’re related.

They could not beat Pekka Rinne. And when they were able to, they missed the net or clanged a shot off some metal. Hockey’s often a game of inches, and tonight the Flames just couldn’t quite put the puck where they needed to. (To steal a phrase from Maxwell Smart, they “missed it by that much.” Their power play was a lot better than it has been recently, and by that I mean they got into the offensive zone and had some chances. That said, they just couldn’t get anything in the net.

If you’re looking for positives, their puck management (especially in their own zone) was a lot better than it has been over the last while.

Red Warrior

Let’s go with Giordano, who led the team in shots and seemed primed to score a goal. He didn’t, obviously, but he was the best of the Flames players that didn’t score any goals.

The Turning Point

The Flames had three minutes of power play time in the middle of the second period, including a full two minutes of a five-on-three. They generated three shots, four blocked shots and one missed shot during that span. They had some good looks, including a great one in the slot where Micheal Ferland’s stick exploded. The Predators killed the penalties off, though, and Fiala scored late to put this one completely out of reach.

That power play scores one (or more), and it’s a completely different game.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Giordano 63.0 71.4 1.200
Gaudreau 61.9 57.1 0.325
Ferland 58.8 42.9 0.375
Hamilton 57.1 71.4 0.550
Hamonic 56.7 54.6 0.375
Monahan 55.6 57.1 0.300
Backlund 54.8 66.7 0.095
Frolik 53.9 60.0 0.160
Tkachuk 53.1 71.4 0.100
Jankowski 50.0 37.5 0.210
Jagr 47.4 50.0 0.100
Brodie 46.9 54.6 -0.050
Hathaway 44.5 50.0 0.080
Bennett 44.4 37.5 -0.025
Kulak 41.2 28.6 -0.400
Brouwer 40.0 50.0 0.025
Stajan 37.5 50.0 -0.040
Stone 35.3 28.6 -0.300
Smith 1.100
Rittich

This and That

Mike Smith was presented with a silver stick prior to the game to commemorate his 500th NHL game on the last road trip.

Matthew Phillips scored a goal and an assist, but Victoria lost 6-2 to Vancouver. Glenn Gawdin had a goal in Swift Current’s 3-1 win over Kamloops.

The Flames power play is 3-for-37 since Kris Versteeg went out with his injury.

Following the game, Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan indicated that he disagreed with the instigator penalty to Troy Brouwer in the second period, feeling that his fight with Austin Watson had “two willing combatants.”

Quotable

“We’re not playing bad hockey. We’re actually playing good hockey, but we’re not getting any help with our power play. I thought our penalty kill today looked real sharp. Our five on five game’s intact, we hit four or five crossbars or posts. We’re having a little bit of trouble generating, we’re squeezing a little bit five on five, but our power play is the one thing that’s gotta bail you out when you go through these things, and it’s not.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his team’s performance.

Up Next

The Flames (16-14-3) are off to Vancouver! They play the Canucks tomorrow evening at Rogers Arena.

  • Stu Cazz

    Smith at 35 yrs old is on pace to play over 70 games. As well as he has been playing he is starting to look tired. His playing time needs to be managed better….

  • BendingCorners

    They do look better than they did at the start of the season. Hopefully the puck starts going in for them and they put together a little win streak starting Sunday in Vancouver.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    A cooty hardos to Brouwer for stepping up. I am not sure why Ferland would let the Preds push him around. As long as he has been put on the first line it appears that he has been instructed to not fight.

  • Mickey O

    Versteeg was actually decent at getting over the blue line, stopping and making a logical first pass in the zone. Now about the only zone entry strategy on the PP is to give the puck to Gaudreau who goes 1 on 3 and gets the puck knocked off his stick.

    Brodie should have been off the 1st unit a long time ago. If they are going to use one defender, it should be D. Hamilton. Brodie never shoots, so that’s one less thing for the penalty killers to worry about. And if you need a goal down 2-0, hell let’s put Brouwer back on the PP because it has been golden in the past.

  • Mickey O

    There were also 3 instances in this game where you could argue that the refs took the easy way out, because the Flames were already on the PP.

    1. That clearing puck went straight out, but the refs said it was tipped after huddling for a few seconds.
    2. Brouwer gets an instigator which rarely gets called in that situation when a player is sticking up for a teammate after a dangerous hit.
    3. The boarding penalty on Bennett. That might have been a major if the Flames were not already on the PP. Bennett doesn’t need to feign an injury there, but popping right up gave the refs an easy call for just a minor. Bennett should have stayed down.

    • DJ_44

      Thats a pretty biased view of the calls. As a neutral, I thought the calls were pretty balanced.

      The 5 minute major to Watson was excessive; he clearly let up and even tried to avoid the hit. Should have been only two minute.

      The instigator against Brouwer will always be called if the puck is no where near the player.

      There is not way the boarding call is 5 minutes simply because the head was not involved.

      I did not see the reply on the delay-of-game non-call (so I can’t comment on it).

      Lets not start crying you are not getting the calls, or worse, getting jobbed by the officials.

      You did not mention Gudreau’s slash to the hand at the bench? They go both ways.

  • Lucky 13

    It’s funny to read our comments from 11 months ago. The same issues were brought up.

    This is a quote from Monahan 11 months ago:
    “It wasn’t good. We had a lot of power plays, we had a five-on-three, and those kind of things cost you when you don’t get momentum from it. So our power play has to be better there and obviously the simple little mistakes, we need to fix those to win games like that”

    Sounds familiar, right?

    Only we had a chance to get Gallant at that time.

    How do we feel about that now?

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    In Other “Of Course” news tonight… Eddie Lack let in 3 (+1~EN) in the Heat’s Loss 4-1 (T, Glass scored for the Heat) to the San Diego Gulls (6TH in the Pacific Division, only 2 points up on the other 2 bottom teams in the Pacific Division, ya a real powerhouse team.) and thus the Heat Fall to 3rd in the Pacific Division. Happy Holidays Everyone!

    • Stockton's Finest

      What you didn’t say was that the Heat allowed 44 shots. The 3 goals were all power play goals. The Heat are now 0-2-1 on this current 7 game roadie.

      Bad goalie management by Huska in allowing Gillies to play in 4 straight while keeping Lack on the pine for the past 2 weeks.

      Lack actually kept them in this game, as the Gulls had 30 shots in the first two periods while only scoring 1 goal. Also, the Gulls have players coming back from their NHL assignments, so it’s not the same club as the start of the season.

      The Heat have 2 more games in Tucson, then venture to San Jose before heading back to Ontario and then a home tilt back home on New Year’s Eve against Bakersfield. Stockton needs at least 6 points in these last 4 road games to make it a successful trip.

  • flames2015

    I’m getting tired of this line blending in the 3rd period for the 3rd straight game when we are down. Mix up the first two lines ahead of the game, so we actually have a chance from the start at and not when we are down.

    This season has been nothing short of frustrating. One problem after the other. We finally get a goaltender, shed some dead weight on defense and replace them with what should be better players. They were horrible at the start of the season when we had our offense clicking. Now the defense is rounding out, so offense has gone bone dry. Our pp was rolling, and the team takes 5 penalties a game so pk was crumb . We’ve cleaned that up and our now our pp is garbage.

    Our pp was great at the start of the season, and PK was crumb. Now it’s the opposite. And we’ve finally stopped taking 5 penalties in a game.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Flames are now playing like they did in the playoffs against the Ducks. They outshoot and outplay teams but find different ways to lose. If they score first, I think they win this game. We had enough high quality chances to easily win this game.

    Johnny missed the net in the slot from point blank, how many times has Ferland broken his stick on a one timer. I think we have our answer as to why Stone is not on the point on the PP. He has no control of his shot. I can’t think of another defender that is reluctant to shoot. Brodie elects to pass in to the corner expecting Johnny and Monny to win board battles. Brodie is the best at turning high quality chances into low quality chances.

    The PP generated enough chances, the PK was excellent. It is time to blow up the lines. If that does not work the we need to change personnel.

  • buts

    Actually thought the flames played very well, one of there best games this year. Game winner was 4 on 4…. another specialty team loss you could say. No puck luck tonight. Flames will probably win in Vancouver because they won’t have enough time for GG to install a game plan. 😉

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      LOL, What are you talking about? Its the same “Game Plan” every Game, for Every team.. If anything they might win Because GG Doesen’t get the Last Line Change as the visiting team! I Hope Rittich gets one of the Stars of the Game!
      GFG~!

  • Franko J

    Execution. The Flames just can’t finish.
    From my perspective the Flames overall just don’t have have enough players who can win the puck battles in front of the net.
    I think it is time that the team needs to really change up the power play. If this team has any aspirations of making the playoffs their play on home ice has to vastly improve.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    In other news, Parsons left the game at the end of the fist after being scored on and did not return. Everyone’s favorite whipping boy, McDonald mopped up the game only giving up 1 goal in 40 + minutes to Colorado one of the top teams. So to recap, Flames lose, Heat lose, KC lose…and Oilers win. Think I will call it a night.

  • Chucky

    I feel sorry for Gulatzan, he is so obviously out of his depth and has no idea how to fix the problems. He has a team that can dominate the “best team in the west” but he cannot figure out how to harness his horses. He has no new ideas so falls back to the same old solutions that have not worked in the past. Hopefully Treliving will find a way to put this poor guy out of his misery soon.

  • Stu Cazz

    Fact is the Flames lack finishers. Johnny is a great playmaker and Monny is one of few that can finish. When his game is off the Flames simply can’t score. BT I’m sure is still looking at a top skilled RW. With young depth on defence Brodie/Hamilton are his chips…..

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    Chalk it up as a ‘moral victory’ as they like to say up north.

    Hey, we win if hitting posts count, 4 – 0.

    There’s no quit in this team, I’ll give them that. A victory in Vancouver would be nice.

  • oddclod

    Jagr has a pretty nice posession game. Glad they waited to heal him. He’ll start filling the net with the looks like he got against that great defence. First zone time I’ve seen all season with a flames 4th line they didn’t know what to do with the pucks Jags gave them. Stajan is toast. Brouwer is barely a serviceable 4th liner. Also with Sam Bennett playing playoff style hockey and Troy Brouwer on the powerplay theres some playoff hope. Wait… Brouwer ON the pp WTF?? GG & Cameron tried to look smarter than everyone. They failed. try something new. Anything.