Flames 4, Blackhawks 3 (OT) post-game embers: Do it again, with more feeling

It definitely could have gone better, but it was really, really good to see the Flames close out the year with that extra point.

Prepared, and then not

While the Flames didn’t bother to show up during the first period in Anaheim at all, they absolutely dominated the Blackhawks last night. Just like they were fortunate to only be down one to the Ducks, they were unlucky to only get one goal on the Blackhawks – and just barely, at that. But they were rewarded for their efforts on the most bizarre penalty call I have ever seen (seriously – what were the refs doing, making everyone think it was a Blackhawks powerplay?), and that made a lot of difference heading into the second.

The second period, where they kept it up, scoring twice in 65 seconds – and then promptly falling off.

A 3-0 lead should have been enough. It’s not as though a handful of players were to blame for surrendering that lead; it was a team-wide breakdown. The Flames had 43 corsi events for to take a 3-0 lead just over a period into the game. The remaining 34 minutes and change of regulation? Just 20 events for. The Blackhawks fought like hell to get back in it and the Flames let them, even after quick back-to-back goals of their own should have warned them not to get complacent.

That can’t happen.

And sure, the game was maybe a bounce or two away from giving the Flames a multi-goal win – if Johnny Gaudreau scored on the breakaway, if Sam Bennett’s empty netter went in – but that wouldn’t have made the failed preventative defence okay, and this is exactly why (not to mention Richard Panik completely missing a wide open net). No, you can’t always ball out and go hard for a full 60, and a three-goal lead should be pretty good, but these guys still have work to do.

Mangiapane watch

Playing his first career NHL game, an overaged sixth round pick stepped onto the ice and got a shot on his first shift. Andrew Mangiapane played just 7:26, though, with no special teams time. He officially had two shots on net and led the Flames in 5v5 corsi with 66.67%.

I don’t think you can suggest his numbers looked good because the Flames had a strong opening to the game and then just kind of quit trying to create offence, though. Mangiapane played 2:34 in the first period, 2:25 in the second, and 2:27 in the third. He was thrown out there a bit at a time, and he was absolutely fantastic with what little he did get. He even seemed to put an extra jump in Troy Brouwer and Matt Stajan’s steps, for that matter.

If he looked so good, why didn’t Mangiapane play more? It could have something to do with it literally being his first ever game in the big leagues. There are AHL graduates on this team – Brett Kulak, Mark Jankowski, maybe even Garnet Hathaway – but they’d all played in the NHL before. For Mangiapane, this was completely brand new.

Since Michael Frolik will be out until probably at least February, Mangiapane should be getting more and more experience. With that should come increased ice time (and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, time with Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk – if Jaromir Jagr can’t handle that much ice time, then Brouwer definitely is not the answer). If that doesn’t happen, then that’s probably worthy of agitation, but in the meantime, give the kid as smooth a debut as possible. That’s what happened last night. His most common opponent was Lance Bouma; Mangiapane was sheltered, and he had a great first game. No need to rush things.

The powerplay scored!

The last time the Flames scored more than two powerplay goals in one game was Nov. 20, against the Capitals. The game before that was Sean Monahan’s powerplay hat trick in Philadelphia. So it’s been well over a month since the Flames’ powerplay has not only looked respectable, but maybe even won them a game.

Special teams were theoretically perfect last night – two-for-two on the man advantage, two-for-two on the penalty kill (the Blackhawks scored six seconds after Garnet Hathaway’s boarding penalty expired) – and that went a long way. Coming out of the first period with a lead was huge. Building on it was so much bigger. How often throughout December would the Flames have been in the game, or maybe won outright, if they’d just scored a powerplay goal? Last night was the positive result of that.

Tkachuk is one of the Flames’ top offensive players, and he’s only 20 years old. He’ll probably fill that role for a while yet. He should be on the first powerplay unit. He’s now tied for third on the team with nine powerplay points, and is third with four powerplay goals.

The Flames’ powerplay is now clicking along at an 18.6% success rate, good for 19th in the NHL. There’s still work to do, but that’s markedly better than before.

Big guns came back to life

The Flames’ depth has been playing better as of late – Bennett, in particular, says hi – but while the team has been playing well overall, they just couldn’t get those wins. The top offensive players not scoring had a lot to do with that, and you could see it early on in their games: Monahan passing off prime shooting opportunities, for example. Dude’s made his bread and butter in the slot, and even if his linemate was wide open, to see Monahan not take the shot while standing uncovered in the slot just made you think something was off.

So boy, was it good to see him score again.

Gaudreau, Monahan, Tkachuk, and Backlund are the Flames’ four leading scorers; they each got two points last night. Gaudreau is hilariously far ahead with 43, Monahan at 34, Tkachuk has 24 and Backlund 23. Micheal Ferland pulls up with 20, and T.J. Brodie – who did get a point last night – rests at 18, half of which have come on the powerplay.

Mark Giordano got two points last night, as well, giving him 16 on the season, and tying him with Bennett and Dougie Hamilton (Michael Frolik, rest his face, trails just behind at 15).

Pretty much everyone who scored last night really, really needs to keep doing that.

What a shot

A regulation win would have been so much better. Scoring an empty netter would have been much less dramatic.

But an absolute bullet from the captain is a pretty good way to ring in the new year. Hopefully it gives them what they need for 2018, because it’s still an uphill battle from here. Happy New Year.

  • Alberta Ice

    Mangiapane is another breath of fresh air. I hope he gets more time, more opportunities, and other line mates down the road. Great win for the Flames considering it almost got away. That was a very needed two points and hopefully turns this team into a winning machine. Happy New Year!

  • freethe flames

    The only thing I disagree with is when you say”don’t rush Mangiapane. Based on his speed alone he is a better fit with Backs and Tkachuk and if this team is going to get on a roll this line needs to contribute and I don’t see it happening with Jagr or Brouwer.

    • oilcanboyd

      I said it yesterday and I will say it again, concurring with Ari. It was Mangiapane’s first game in the NHL so give him a skate in his first game. Flames don’t play again until Thursday against the Kings so there will be plenty of practise time to get him more comfortable, even skating with Hats and Janko.

  • Stu Cazz

    For me a key measure of a player’s success is his ability to make his line mates better. I thought Mangiapane made that 4th line more effective. Eventually he will play with Janko & Hathaway given their AHL success…..

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        The only reason to move Bennett from that line is to move him to the top line. It is become clear that Ferland’s cryptonite is the on timer. In the last few games he has missed some sitters from his linemates. Put him on the fourth line for a bit while still keeping him on the 2nd PP.

  • Calgarycandle

    Flip Ferland and Byng on the First and Second Lines?

    Currently Johnny, Mony and Byng are our three most talented offensive players. Bennett probably belongs in that conversation long-term, but other than spurts the offense remains in potential mode.

    Byng’s first goal included an assist from Mony; his second was on a beautiful pass then his tip from Gaudreau. For the first time in what seems forever our powerplay clicked. It was not just dangerous it actually scored. Two Goals. in ONE game.

    That raises the question in my mind–why not play the three players together–all the time.

    It’s been noted that Gaudreau has played bigger since Ferly has been on his line and I believe that’s true. But the difference in size between Ferland and Byng is small. Both are 6’2″. Byng is 202 and Ferland 208. As Byng showed against Anaheim, he is willing to fight when necessary.

    I feel Ferland is an incredibly valuable player for Calgary. Not only does he have 15 goals, many scored without riding on Mony and Johnny’s coattails, he hits virtually every game. What if he was paired with Backs and Frolik when Fro comes back? Ferland generally has high defensive awareness and hustle.

    On the Flames roster both are listed as LW. I seem to remember Byng saying at the beginning of last year when there was a question if he would make the team he could play right wing.

    Please evaluate this post on its own merits. I am going to ask a question in the next post.

    • oilcanboyd

      Byng was on the power play to score 2 goals and he was on the 3 on 3 when Giordano scored the winner. He didn’t get an assist because the Hawk defender had the puck after the save but was instrumental in the plays that lead to the wining goal.

      I don’t necessarily say Byng should switch with Ferland on the top line but he should be given more PP time as well as 3 on 3, shootouts. If Monny and Johnny continue to struggle a switch may be in the cards. Wouldn’t hurt.

    • Skylardog

      The reason to put Byng with JG and SM is less what Byng can do for those 2 and more for what Ferly can do for Backs and Fro once he is back in the lineup.

      Byng can score, but Ferly has the touch. Backs and Frolik need a guy that can finish their chances and Ferly has a sweet shot that would be very effective with all the chances that line gets, but right now just can’t bury.

      Byng brings a ferocious checking mentality that will get pucks to JG and SM, and as a disturber will cause havoc and draw players to him leaving JG and Mony open when the defenders lose their minds trying to control Byng.

      It is worth a try. This team is still having trouble scoring 5v5. Only 21st in GF 5v5, and 18th in GF%. That just isn’t good enough to get in the playoffs let alone win a round or 2.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        “Byng can score, but Ferly has the touch.”

        But Ferly only got that touch like, last half of last season and this season, because he was put with Sean and Johnny.

        Plus, something about putting a scrum-generator like Chucky with non-scrum guys is a bit worrisome for me.

        But it still could be worth a try. I ain’t no line-juggler, that’s for sure.

  • Vinnsanity12

    Is Mony hurt? Or is his confidence at an all time low? He had 3 or 4 point blank chances and passed them off. Unlike him to not shoot. Unfortunate reappearance of the two headed D monster (Brodie and Hamonic). Brodie a brutal give away on Toews goal, Hamonic unlucky deflection on the tying goal. Previous 10 games they’ve been solid, though. Funny, I thought playing Mangiapane with the two boat anchors would surely be the beginning of the end of his career before it even got started, but he actually may have helped to revive Stajan and Brouwer for a couple of games. GG now has an excuse to never take them out of the lineup. Lastly, Jagr is done my friends. It was fun while it lasted, but he brings nothing to this team on the ice, and that kind of matters the most. Especially with the supposed shut down line, he cannot keep up. Flip him and Mangy or throw anyone else on that line. Still a tough stretch coming up. With all of San Jose’s games in hand, it now looks like the Flames will be fighting for a wild card spot instead of third in the Pacific.

    • Roger the Shrubber

      Agree on Jagr. Brodie’s giveaway that led to the goal was atrocious. I like him and think he’s a better defenseman than he’s showed this season but man, stupid giveaways have to stop.

  • Calgarycandle

    It was probably a very common eye test that Jagr looked out of place last night on the second line. In fact his penalty was related to a lack of speed. JJ belongs on the 4th line–he and Stajan and Brouwer seemed dangerous several games back before JJ’s last injury.

    While Frolik is out Bennett could move up to play with Backs and Byng. That would reunite the Stockton line and give Mange more ice team. Why Fro returns, I would make the switch with Ferly and Byng as described in a couple of posts earlier above.

    • Skylardog

      Jags need to hang them up. This has become a young man’s game, with speed at a premium. He is great at controlling the puck in the corners, but that isn’t even a strategy that works today. In the offensive corner it is a cycle game with flow and movement, not a standstill version. He no longer has the legs to cycle.

      Very few of us want to say it, cause he is Jagr, but he too is taking a spot away from guys that we need in the lineup, like Mangi. We need a youth movement.

  • buts

    There’s no need to shelter Mang, it’s hockey and Mang has all experience. If he was a rookie out of junior then I would agree. We won yet people are still calling for GG’s head. How anyone can think we could eliminate a team in the playoffs with this coaches system and usage ………no way.

      • buts

        Flame nation, do you want to see coaching? Watch the Las Vegas golden knights! 5 on 5 and special teams. The other GG uses speed and quick puck movement. Even Derek England who looked slow in Calgary, doesn’t look slow there.

        • oilcanboyd

          The LVK coaches let the players play hockey. They roll 4 lines. They don’t need to overthink what they are doing on the ice, where they should be positioned, etc. General Gel just confuses the hell out of his players with trying out his hockey theories on ice….

          • freethe flames

            I have been an advocate for rolling 4 lines for as long as I can remember and I believe the LVK prove this but or management team(BB and BT) and coaching staff are stuck in the old NHL. That is what frustrates this fan; the game passed Stajan bye last year but there he is; Florida did not resign Jagr because the game was changing and they could see he was to slow and it is not evident that this is the case. If his groan is the reason put him on IR and bring up someone who can skate at the NHL level. Lazar can at least skate at an NHL level; I’m not sure he can do much else but I would prefer giving him a chance over Stajan. Brouwer is a 4th liner in today’s NHL and should never be on the ice in any other situation.

        • Skylardog

          And watching a Vegas games is down right fun. Most entertaining games I have seen this year all include the Golden Knights. Funny, we haven’t played them yet, and I have watched all but 1 Flames game.

        • canadian1967

          Actually Engelland didn’t look slow, he is actually a good skater, most people would have looked slow paired up with Brodie. Engelland is certainly A technically better skater than Gio by a long shot.

  • The GREAT WW

    So THAT is why no other team has ever made a 19 year old their captain……

    The Oilers would have been better off resigning Hendricks for $700,000 and made him captain.

    Couldn’t have happened to a better fan base…..


  • Chiz

    The score released their latest NHL power rankings. They have the oilers at 14 and the flames at 30. How the sabres, coyotes and Canucks are ahead of Calgary. The blue jackets and islanders are behind the oilers…

    • Brent G.

      It’s the media, try not to read too much into it. Just pandering the unintelligent fans in northern Alberta. No different than when the all mighty oil were 2nd favoured odds at winning the cup. Nothing more than a cash grab because they are easily swayed and searching for whatever meagre hope they can rest their little hearts on. You commenting on the flames poor position on a nothing list is exactly what they want.

    • Skylardog

      30 is probably too low, but bottom 7 makes sense. I would put them in the 22-25 range. We sit 20th in the standings.

      As for Columbus and NYI, they too are living on OT and SO wins. Like Calgary, they have trouble winning in regulation. While we are 4 below 500 at 12-16, CBJ are 2 below 500 at 13-15, and the Isles are 14-15.

      The regulation record is a much better indicator of how good a team is than the overall record. I haven’t updated to last night yet (other than a quick look at us, NYI, and CBJ), but we do sit 24th in regulation, and I also know Detroit matched our record last night.

      And it is such a big indicator of how teams will fair in the playoffs.

      • Ktop

        This team has the most young talent I’ve seen on a flames team in a long time. It’s the coach that’s killing us!
        We have 4 above average C, great LW, 2 great Goalies, 7 good D(ones in the AHL), the only thing we lack is RW.

        This team needs to play with speed and pressure and to activate the D.

  • Zesty14

    What really sets me off is every time the opposition scores and the tv cuts to the benches to get the coaches reaction GG’s head is down like someone hit the off switch. Get a little emotionally invested yell, slap the back of some heads. Don’t just stand there as is your batteries just died. Tkachuk for president.

  • BendingCorners

    Apart from one of two brief stretches the Flames didn’t seem to be playing worse after going up 3-0. The low Corsi number suggests they were looking for the perfect shot instead of just any shot, which is definitely something they need to work on.
    Is it worth trying Lazar with Backlund? He is okay defensively and with remedial practice on puck handling could become reliable as a passer. His shot is still decent even though I haven’t seem him shooting this year.
    When Frolik is back (and assuming Mangi settles in nicely) might a fourth line of Mangi-Lazar-Jagr(Brouwer) be effective? Lazar can play PK and Jagr can play 2nd PP and Mangi could probably take a shift on a higher line after a PP or PK.
    The whole team should spend an hour each day practising just on the backhand – passing shooting and carrying the puck. This needs to become a natural thing for them.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I am afraid that Lazar may have missed his window… Stajan is playing much better and is full value for his ice time lately. Mangi did more in 7 min that I have seen Lazar or Hamilton do this season. There are players that can score and there are goal scorers. A few practices with the Flames will help his comfort level. GG is going to start sending some players to the AHL to help them compete. Brother Freddie pack your Sh$t….

      • Stu Cazz

        How has Stajan played much better and deserves full value for his ice time? Specifics ? I don’t believe he has won a face-off this season, is slow, Mike Smith has more points and he does not make his wingers better….just wondering?

        • Jumping Jack Flash

          The fourth line has been the farthest from the problem in the last couple of games. I am not a big fan of either Bruower or Stajan as players but the are better options than Lazar and Hamilton. I would say that Stajan’s best game this year was with Jagr and his second best game was with Mangi. I still think better option lie in Stockton…. those are the specifics.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    Missed game, living on hi-lite video. Good to hear positives on Magpie’s debut. Hope he gets a real chance to showcase his talent. Captain, my Captain. Whoa, what a shot by Gio in OT. His team mates swarmed him like he’d just won a major. What was that about – they obviously have a lot of love for their leader. And he’s deserving of it.

    • Roger the Shrubber

      Yeah, they definitely have a lot of respect for Gio. I love the guy and think he exemplifies a leader on and off the ice. His “give a crap” meter is always on high and he’s got a motor like he’s still in his early twenties. So glad that a guy like that is leading this team.

      With a leader like Gio, it’s really difficult to see why this team seems to lack motivation some games.

  • class1div1

    If there’s anyone on this team that need’s sheltering it’s the head coach. He has not advanced his skills from assistant duties, and his stubbornness is annoying too watch. What exactly is he hoping too gain by making the same mistakes over and over again.