Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Flames out-work Kings

The Calgary Flames closed out 2017 by playing a pretty solid 60 minutes of hockey. They opened up 2018 by topping that effort. Facing a very good Los Angeles Kings club, the Flames had the bounces go against them for the first period but they just kept coming and ended up posting a 4-3 victory over a key divisional rival.

The Rundown

The home side got off to a bit of a slow start, with the club not doing a ton to generate scoring chances off the rush early. The Kings opened the scoring about five minutes in, with Derek Forbort’s low wrist shot from a wide angle found a hole in Mike Smith’s pads – shades of Brian Elliott – to make it 1-0. The visitors doubled their lead in the final minute of the period, as Dustin Brown sprung Tanner Pearson for a re-direct – Pearson had to beat out Matthew Tkachuk in a brief footrace – to make it 2-0. Shots were 15-13 Flames and scoring chances were 10-7 Flames, but the Kings got the bounces.

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The Flames have been getting chances for weeks. The dam seemed to finally burst in the second period. They cut Los Angeles’ lead to 2-1 with a nice pass from Johnny Gaudreau that sprung Micheal Ferland on a partial break. He protected the puck and his shot trickled through Jonathan Quick’s pads.

A nice sequence of puck retrieval – repeated puck retrieval – made it 2-2. The Flames had a couple nice chances in the midst of a line change where Matt Stajan jumped on for Mikael Backlund. Stajan, Troy Brouwer, Tkachuk, Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton kept retrieving loose pucks and winning battles for the Kings tried to clear, and eventually Brouwer knocked in a rebound.

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They took the lead off a great individual effort from Mark Jankowski. He pounced on a Kings turnover in their own zone. His initial shot was stopped by Quick, but the rebound bounced towards him and he bunted it in with the shaft of his stick to make it 3-2.

Sean Monahan made it 4-2 by finishing a nifty passing sequence off the rush with Gaudreau and Ferland. It was a goal in the final minute of the period, to boot. Shots were 13-5 Flames, scoring chances were 18-5 Flames. It was a one-sided period.

The Kings pressed in the final period, but the Flames defended intelligently – though they probably sat back a bit more than would’ve been ideal to see. Pearson added a late goal with the extra attacker to make it close, but the Flames held on. Shots were 10-9 Kings, scoring chances were 7-6 Kings.

Why The Flames Won

When the Flames got down a couple goals, they didn’t abandon what they were doing: they doubled down. Their second period was perhaps the best 20 minutes of hockey they played all season. They battled. They hustled. They drew penalties. They scored goals. And in the third period, they defended intelligently and didn’t let the Kings get back into the game.

If they can play like this consistently, they’re a playoff team.

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Red Warrior

Let’s give a joint award to Monahan, Gaudreau and Ferland, who looked tremendously dangerous all game. But let’s be fair here: nobody had a bad game.

The Turning Point

Jankowski’s bunt-goal. It was the right goal at the right time and it gave the Flames a lead they never relinquished.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
Kulak 79.2 83.3 1.000
Stajan 76.9 72.7 1.095
Stone 74.2 64.3 1.150
Bennett 70.0 50.0 0.915
Hamilton 68.4 58.3 0.775
Lazar 66.7 72.7 0.290
Tkachuk 66.7 60.0 1.125
Brouwer 65.5 60.0 1.190
Giordano 64.9 53.9 1.675
Hathaway 63.2 50.0 0.475
Mangiapane 62.5 72.7 0.250
Jankowski 62.5 50.0 1.625
Ferland 57.9 12.5 2.125
Monahan 56.8 12.5 2.130
Backlund 56.0 60.0 0.050
Gaudreau 55.3 12.5 2.125
Brodie 51.2 0.0 0.450
Hamonic 45.7 14.3 0.100
Smith 0.350

This and That

For reference: the Flames were 21-17-2 (with 44 points) after 40 games last season.

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Up Next

The Flames (20-16-4) practice tomorrow, then they entertain another divisional rival in the form of the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night.

  • Off the wall

    So we bring up Mangiapane and are 2-0 with him in the lineup.
    Is Mangiapane our Hathaway from last seasons winning streak? I say give that kid an extra hug!!

  • Calgarycandle

    So that’s what real Calgary Flames hockey looks like–everything from the middle of the first period on. Calgary finally has enough size and grit to contend with the west coast teams. The Stockton guys–Janko-Hathaway make this team so much harder to play against, plus bring skill. Huska can’t be doing that bad a job preparing the troops. Mange also makes the fourth line dangerous. I thought Lazar brought a defensively responsible element to today’s game–if he ever rediscovers his hands that line will be dangerous.

    If Janko needs a summer job, he should apply to the Blue Jays as a pinch hitter whenever they need to move a player from first to second in a close game.

    • McRib

      “I thought Lazar brought a defensively responsible element to today’s game–if he ever rediscovers his hands that line will be dangerous.“

      Not to pile on Lazar, but he’s never really had any hands, even in junior. He scored in junior because he was stronger and faster than everyone, so he just blew past people to the outside and out muscled them in front to create enough chances to be successful offensively (though not super successful). He is what we call a tweener or an early bloomer. Now that he is in the NHL and he can’t dominate because of strength and speed with all NHLers being bigger, faster, stronger he is unable to get enough chances in front of the goal to be successful at this level.

      I’m loookimg forward to seeing Hrivik get a chance on that fourth line, he and Mangiapane may have great chemistry. If you want hands, Morgan Klimchuk has always been a better producer than Lazar at every level with far less help.

  • freethe flames

    It was nice to see them play with speed and some aggression. A lot more fun to watch than some of the plodding games we have seen this year. When you have some speed on each line you can play 4 lines. The coach still needs to do a better job managing the last few minutes of a game. Interesting to see Feralnd with Tkachuk and Backs for the final minute. How many posts or crossbars have this team hit this year at key moments. Great win but still lots of work to be done.

  • Chucky

    They get down 2 goals and have to abandon the (yawn) system. Forced to play the aggressive hockey this team is designed for they dominate. Still with less than 2 minutes to go the brain trust has Stajan taking a face-off in the defensive zone. I guess they were trying to get to overtime.

    • Skylardog

      It did feel like the system was thrown out the window when they got down by 1. They got aggressive after the first goal and started to push back. The second barely resembled the disciplined defensive boredom that we have come to know. They pressed hard, it paid off. You can’t get scored on when you are checking so hard that the other team can’t get the puck.

      The 4th line and Stajan were stuck out there after an icing. The question was why was the 4th line out at all with less than 2 minutes left. Just about cost them, as Backs line gave a up a great chance after LA’s 3rd goal.

  • Justthateasy

    Yes that is a good word ‘out work’. Finally some real effort.
    Way too many icings. I’m tired of looking at Brodie standing still and taking the easy way out.

    • BendingCorners

      Maybe bench him and play Bart instead?
      Seriously, he knows he can’t hang on to the puck against bigger players and he had nowhere to go, so he made the safe play. Repeatedly. I think his confidence has taken a knock this year and some kind of adjustment is needed but there isn’t much to criticize about burning a few seconds off the clock while the puck bounces down the ice.

      • everton fc

        In addition, it just dawned upon me how down Dougie’s offensive production is this season. One of Brodie/Hamilton may be the trade bait to get this team a 1st round pick, and a decent forward/prospect, if the team truly decides to shake things up. I think the “shake up” is bringing in the kids. And it looks like it’s working.

      • Justthateasy

        It’s not just in the final two minutes. It’s passing anywhere on your own side of center hoping the puck will be touched which it wasn’t on more than one occasion resulting in a needless icing. Head manning from deep in your own end is worthwhile chance to take.

  • Skylardog

    There was a hustle last night that is rarely seen. They were buzzing in the LA end in the second. Really wonder where that team is most nights, but it shows what they are capable of. You get the feeling when they were down one, that they knew how important a win was, and picked it up a country mile.

  • Hockeyfan

    The 2nd period was a joy to watch. Where is that drive the other 75% of the time? Smith so-so in this one, give Dave the ducks gel man, alternate the two for a few. Who knows, maybe TB will play great for the next 10 or 15 and mngt. can punt him finally. Maube the Jagr sideshow is over? I, for one hope so, totally ineffective. JG, man up a little, don’t turn away and give up the puck the second there is a physical threat within 5 feet of you, you are in the NHL, not the CWHL. Seen Mangy taking and giving hits, it won’t hurt you JG, maybe a little, but you will live.

  • buts

    The flames earned the win no doubt…..great to finally see a lineup that most FN commenters have wanted since October….just a few more tweaks and it will be fine. I was at the game and LA didn’t hit, they played like it was game 40 and wanted to get on the plane home. Still good on the boys for the win.

  • freethe flames

    It was a big game after an extended break with news flying around them and for a change they responded; this is a good sign. More speed in lineup helped. It seemed they played a more aggressive style last night and it paid off. There are still a lot of things to work on; the PP could have salted this one away but of course did not score, playing Stajan’s line late in a 2 goal game leads to it being a one goal game. Will they step up again against the Ducks? Let’s enjoy this one.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    Newsflash!!!! Elite team beats elites team and everything is awesome!!!!! 😀 😀

    And Johnny was wearing a RIDICULOUS Flames hat in the post-game!!!!!!!!!!! It was glorious!!!! You guys should take a look!!!

    You don’t have to watch the Mony scrum, though, I’ll lay that down here:

    * monotone drone for minute and a half *
    “…got the two points.”

    * cue music *