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Photo Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Canes not able to beat Flames

The Calgary Flames are a weird team this season. They played really well and controlled the puck a lot for about six weeks, but were a .500 team during that stretch. Lately they’ve had the puck less than their opponents but seem to be a bit better at utilizing the puck when they do have it. The Flames beat the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon by a 4-1 score. The Flames led the entire way and the outcome never really seemed in question, despite the Flames being out-shot for the fourth consecutive game.

The Flames hit their CBA-mandated break on a seven game winning streak.

The Rundown

The game was pretty even in the opening period, though the Flames did a good job at generating chances and making them dangerous ones. They opened the scoring off a nice effort from their fourth line. Curtis Lazar stole the puck inside the Calgary blueline and drove into the Carolina zone and towards the slot. He toppled over as he approached the slot, but Matt Stajan jumped on the loose puck and shot it past Scott Darling to make it 1-0.

They later made it 2-0 off a nice sequence. Micheal Ferland hit Sebastian Aho to dislodge the puck in the neutral zone, then went off for a change. Johnny Gaudreau snatched the puck and entered the Carolina zone, passing back to the trailing Dougie Hamilton for a wrister and a two-goal lead.

Shots were 10-10, but scoring chances were 12-9 Flames.

Neither team scored in the second, but Carolina played arguably their best period of the game. You can argue “score effects,” and you’d probably be right to some extent as the Flames sat back and let the game come to them. But the Flames also took two penalties and had to kill them off. Shots were 16-12 Hurricanes and chances were 9-5 Hurricanes.

Mark Giordano got tossed from the game early in the third period with a match penalty for a check to Sebastian Aho. The ensuing skirmish – and a subsequent high-sticking penalty – resulted in a Flames goal. Carolina hit the post on an odd-man rush in the Flames zone, resulting in the goal horn going off and some confusion. Since the puck wasn’t in Calgary’s net, the Flames grabbed it and went back the other way on a three-on-one rush. A nice passing sequence ended with Hamilton tapping in his second of the game to make it 3-0.

The Flames made it 4-0 later in the period on the power play. Matthew Tkachuk attempted a cross-crease pass to a wide-open Gaudreau. The pass rebounded off a defender back to Tkachuk, who decided to put it on net and scored on a confused Darling.

Lee Stempniak scored on a rebound on a late Carolina power play to break Mike Smith’s shutout bid, but 4-1 was as close as Carolina got. Shots were 12-4 Carolina but chances were 7-2 Flames.

Why The Flames Won

Carolina wasn’t all that good tonight. The Flames may not have had the puck a ton, but Carolina didn’t do a lot with it when they had it. The Flames got strong goaltending (again) and managed an even performance on their special teams (again) and got timely goals from their best players, and their fourth line. It was hardly a five-star performance, but it was also a perfectly acceptable effort from a team playing their last game on a long road trip.

The fear was the Flames would come out flat with their eyes on the five day break. They came out and played well early, which got them the points.

Red Warrior

Let’s go with Hamilton, who scored twice. But Tkachuk and Gaudreau were also pretty sharp, as was Smith.

The Turning Point

Goals late in periods are often killers, and the 2-0 goal for Calgary was this afternoon. Carolina got a bit crossed-up and the Flames got an odd-man rush and doubled their lead. It ended up being the game-winner.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Hamilton 57.6 22.2 2.175
Giordano 56.0 22.2 0.250
Brouwer 56.0 12.5 0.990
Kulak 55.9 55.6 0.500
Lazar 54.2 66.7 1.025
Hathaway 53.6 62.5 0.190
Gaudreau 52.0 37.5 1.665
Tkachuk 52.0 25.0 1.785
Jankowski 50.0 66.7 0.095
Stajan 50.0 50.0 1.055
Backlund 50.0 12.5 0.975
Hamonic 48.7 54.6 0.215
Mangiapane 47.8 71.4 0.000
Hrivik 47.6 50.0 0.165
Bennett 45.0 57.1 -0.070
Stone 41.7 57.1 0.275
Brodie 40.0 55.6 0.000
Ferland 35.3 42.9 0.375
Smith 3.050
Rittich

This and That

D’Artagnan Joly had two assists in Baie-Comeau’s 5-3 win over Cape Breton.

The Drive to 95 (Points)

The Flames now have 54 points with 37 games remaining. They need 41 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 20-16-1 record to hit the 95 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.

Up Next

The Flames (25-16-4) head back to Calgary today and enjoy a nice break. They’re back on the practice ice on Friday afternoon and back in action on Saturday afternoon at home against Winnipeg.

  • EhPierre

    Wasn’t able to watch the full game. Can anyone tell me how Bennet did centering Gaudreau? Did GG keep him on that line for the full game or switched the lines around?

  • RKD

    Flames are the hottest team in the NHL right now. This bottom six is looking a lot better than it was a couple months ago. Keep the guys up here, they are making us a 4 line team.

  • Orrwasbest

    There is no way Gio should even have gotten a penalty on the play. No call was made till Aho didn’t get up. Good solid clean old fashion hit. Lets face it you get a 5 minute / game misconduct these days anytime you hit someone to hard in todays league regardless of its ahead shot or not. Might as well make the NHL stand for No Hit League!

    • Hockey for life

      I mean aho was hurting this isn’t directed towards him. But you see it so much now where players dive And act injured because that happens allot where there isn’t a penalty until a player stays down. Then magically it’s a penalty. That’s why I hate magic

  • Stu Cazz

    Good on BT & GG for leading the Flames into what appears to be the playoffs for two consecutive seasons….specifically BT for recognizing that success comes from an effective draft strategy and developing players from within the organization. In just over 3 years he has accumulated/developed assets that are ready and contribute when called up. As well for hiring a smart young coach who knows how/when to push the right buttons & implement technically sound systems while developing a winning culture. Most importantly managing both Burke and King to keep their noses out of hockey operations !

    • Skylardog

      As the Flames move into 2nd in the Pacific, lets put things into perspective. Keep in mind the Pacific is the 2nd weakest division in the NHL

      Last year’s standings:
      Anaheim – 105
      Edmonton – 103
      San Jose – 99
      Calgary – 94
      Los Angeles – 86
      Arizona – 70
      Vancouver – 69

      The Flames should have been better last season. A slow start, poor last few weeks and weak goaltending left them below what they should have been capable of.

      This season, holes have been plugged. The goaltending issue has been rectified, and the defence core is substantially better. In is Hamonic, and Stone was signed for the whole season. Kulak was an upgrade to Bart. Out are Wideman and Jokipakka, Bart is irrelevant now, he played a great deal last season. Up front some of the deadwood was bought out, Bouma, and Chaisson and F. Hamilton are gone with their replacements a clear upgrade (Janko in place of Hamilton, and Ferland moved up to the first line, which is clicking).

      So what about this season. Arizona and Vancouver were expected to be bad, really bad, yet only in the last 2 weeks have we begun to put some distance between us and the Canucks. It took the 7 game win streak to do that.

      LA was not expected to be great. They struggled last year and have a new coach. We should be better than they are, given we were better last season, we upgraded and they made very few changes. Slow starts are not a “necessary” part of a coaching change for all those giving this team a pass at the beginning of last year and this one for “getting used to the GG system.”

      San Jose was only a short distance ahead last year, and are a team in transition. The had a big hole to fill in losing Marleau. They have made few to no upgrades since last year. We should easily erase the 5 point differential. If you remember, only 10 days before the season ended, we were in a battle with them fighting for 3rd in the Pacific.

      Anaheim is getting older, and it began to show last season. They started the year without Kesler, then lost Getzlaff almost right away. He wasn’t healthy top start the season. Add in injuries to the defensive core, and the Flames should have been far ahead of them early on. Yet there they were, ahead of us only a week ago, despite the injuries (most games lost in the NHL, and most of those to their best 5). While 11 points difference seems like a lot, only 3 more losses by them and 3 more Flames wins with our improved lineup is enough to wipe out the difference. Heck, with their injuries for almost half the season, the have already given back 10 to 12 points. Just beating them 2 times gives us 4 more.

      That leaves Edmonton. Many thought they would contend for a cup, but they were in trouble replacing Eberle’s 51 points. Cap, namely signing 2 guys to about $100 million, has left them in trouble for years to come. Add in the Klefbom injury to start the season, and the expectation should have been a drop-off. It should also be of no surprise that Talbot was unable to come close to matching last years performance. They were never winning the division.

      And then there is Vegas. No one could have anticipated the expansion team to compete, let alone lead the division. How many of you saw them ahead of the Flames in the standings.

      Keeping all this in mind, is there anyone out there that does not believe that the Flames should be the best team in the Pacific this year?

      That is why I hate what this coaching staff has done so far. They created mediocrity out of what should be the best team in the division. And it took a 7 game win streak to climb out of a big hole. Just win 3 games (equivalent of 12 points) against Edmonton this season and that would erase their lead of 9 points last year.

      Perspective – we are 7 points back of an expansion team, but they have a great coach.

      Anything less than 1st in the division should be a disappointment for this team. Start judging this team by its capabilities. This 7 game run is the first we have seen of their potential this year.

      • Lucky 13

        Well said Skylardog. I love reading your posts.

        I also believe we have the team to be leading this division, yet our destiny with GG speaks of incremental gains, when they should be monumental ones.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy over the 7 game winning streak, however I cannot imagine what this team would be capable of under the tutelage of a veteran coach and staff.

        I think Vegas has taught us that this season.

        I’m not trying to be negative about GG, however I will never really fully support him.
        I don’t believe he’s capable of leading this team into the future.

        Our potential shouldn’t be limited by coaching, it should be optimized by coaching.

        That being said, he isn’t going anywhere soon, so we’ll need to adjust our expectations..

      • freethe flames

        It took you a long time to say despite the 7 game winning streak you think this team is under performing under GG and his coaching staff. Yikes I thought I could be long winded.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        All this praise for Gallant…he had ONE winning season before Vegas and he’s never been past the first round. There was nothing to indicate he’d be good.

        That Vegas bubble is going to burst just as soon as there’s a body of videotape to be analyzed by the rest of the league.

        “Anything less than 1st in the division should be a disappointment for this team.”

        That’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve posted. What, so beating a team in the playoffs in 5 games instead of four…will that be a disappointment? You know what, if this team is such a disappointment for you and second in the division is not good enough and a 7 game winning streak is not good enough and being in the playoff picture for the whole season is not good enough then maybe this isn’t the team for you, man. Seriously. Go to Vegas if you love the coaching so much there.

        I’ll take the wins, thanks. Go Flames, baby.

        Woo.

        • Lucky 13

          Settle down there BTF2.
          Skylardog is entitled to his opinion as you are to your own.
          You don’t need to get all churned up like butter.

          You could also say, “I respectfully disagree.”
          Give it a try pal, it works!

      • Derzie

        Whoever trashed this has not been paying attention. You know who you are. Nothing improves without some critical thinking and analysis. Rah Rah helps no one.

    • Chucky

      Beautiful sarcasm! We really have to admire how Gulutzan can judge the temperament of the team to the point where he yells at them at just the right time. If he had done it a couple of weeks earlier the team would not have been in the right mood to tell him to take his system and put it where the sun don’t shine. Only after dumping the Gulutzan system in the second period of the LA game would the team have the confidence to tell him to shove it for the rest of the season.

  • Honkydonk

    I know think the Flames have a very good chance of making it to the Stanley’s Cup Final.

    I know it is way to early etc etc etc but looking at the Western Conference I see this as a real likelihood.

    -Chemistry is kicking in
    -We barely lose when scoring first or have a lead after 1 period
    -Goaltending is solid
    -Chemistry is solid

    There’s also a real argument to make on if Frolik is expendable? He is a good skater and shut down guy but he doesn’t score for what he gets paid

    • flames2015

      To me Frolik is the only UFA signed to a fair value contract we have. Second line winger, consistently puts up around 40 points, and 15 plus goals each season for the last 4 years. Strong on the Pk, defensively responsible and perfect with Backlund. Who would be able to duplicate all this if you make him expendable? Especially considering we are likely playoff bound. Frolik is important to our success in my opinion.

  • Sven

    I love Travis Hamonic as a person
    but

    Hamonic:
    6’2 205 lb 24 year old Right Shot defense at $3.75M / year
    1 Goal + 5 Assists

    Andersson
    6’1 215 lb 21 year old Right Shot defense at $750k / year
    4 Goals + 18 Assists in Stockton = NHLE of 27

    Hamonic Game Score after 41 games = 0.24
    Hamonic Game score against Minnesota = -.125
    Hamonic Game score against Tampa Bay= -.05
    Hamonic Game score against Florida = 0.80
    Hamonic Game score against Carolina = 0.215

    is there anyone who doesnt think Rasmus could step in today and play at a similar level for $3M less?

    • MontanaMan

      I’ll bite. I wouldn’t replace Hamonic with Andersson full stop. You’re comparing players playing in a different league and in different situations. And there is much more to being a defence man than points. Yes, I’m anxious to getting Andersson in the lineup at some point, but saying he is a better defence man at this point is ridiculous.

      • Sven

        3 years younger
        $3 Million less of a cap hit

        and with Fox and Valimaki rising – something has to give

        I’m thinking Rasmus would play at a similar level as TH- and I’d love the chance to spend that extra $3M up front

          • Sven

            and so –
            looking at wins above replacement data WAR
            (WAR model is comprised of six components: EV offense, EV defense, PP offense, Taking Penalties, Drawing Penalties, and Faceoffs)

            which suggests that the on ice performance of D men begins to decline after age 24…

            how can anyone suggest that Hamonic is a better investment?

            Last year with the Islanders his game score (0.17) ranked him 5th of their 6 defencemen

            and to date with the Flames his game score of 0.239 after 41 games places him 5th of Calgarys blue line crew
            (or 6th if you include the 0.5 game score Andersson pulled in during his one skate with the big club)

            not saying Andersson is better
            but his trajectory is upward –
            and Hamonics is not

            https://hockey-graphs.com/2017/03/23/a-new-look-at-aging-curves-for-nhl-skaters-part-1/

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I am the wrong person to answer this, since I am a big fan of Ras and think Ras is going to be a top pairing. Hamonic makes too many mistakes and can only play a simple up the boards game.

    • MontanaMan

      Limited role and limited minutes but very strong on the puck, skates well and thinks the game at a high level. I’d like to see him get a few more games to accurately assess.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I am the wrong person to answer this, since I am a big fan of Ras and think Ras is going to be a top pairing. Hamonic makes too many mistakes and can only play a simple up the boards game.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I was hoping for more from the 3rd line, Mangi was getting burried on the boards and Janko did not create much. Hathaway was the best on that line today. It shows that Bennett brings more than we realize…and Monny is a great fit on the first line. The fourth line was really strong…. Impressed with Hrivik.

      • everton fc

        I think Hrivik and Lomberg will be the extra forwards, if Lomberg plays his game. Note Freddie hasn’t played a game yet, in Phoenix. Tells me something….

  • Eggs Bennett

    Flames second in division. I like our chances against LA in the first round, previous playoff success be damned. We usually make Quick look silly with his over aggressive style. Let’s hope we keep it up and get home ice advantage!

  • Alberta Ice

    Congrats to the Flames. My 7 game winning streak prediction has come to pass. Not so sure about the next 3 games mainly because of this 5 day break and now Gio’s unfortunate collision with Aho. The Jets really are playing good and we now motivate the Oilers to play a higher level of game. But if the Flames play like they did against LA, Chicago, Anaheim, or Tampa Bay in this streak, they should remain unbeatable over the next 3. GFG.

    • Eggs Bennett

      Not much prediction after they’ve already achieved the 7 game win streak. Do you “predict” they will win the next 3 or not? I don’t see much of a prediction in your comment.

  • McRib

    “Shots were 12-4 Carolina but chances were 7-2 Flames.“

    So I’m starting to see why Carolina is underachieving according to most analytic folks. Junk shots on goal are not equal.

  • everton fc

    The Flames road to a deep run in the playoffs starts at home. We are 12-11-0 at home, 13-5-4 away. This needs to change.

    Two other factors; PP needs to improve, and we need to win more faceoffs. Looking forward to Lomberg’s debut. Something tells me Lomberg’s first game will be one where he makes a seriously positive impact. With Lazar a lock on the 4th line (ditto Stajan) Mangiapane, Hrivik and Lomberg will be shuffled in and out of that 4th line/LW role, until Frolik returns. One will hang on as the extra forward. Maybe two. Hrivik and Lomberg make the most sense, as Mangiapane needs to play. (Unrelated, but Kulak’s +7. Quietly impressing…)

  • everton fc

    I missed the game, and forgot to ask; any magic between Gaudreau-Bennett-Ferland? I see in the comments above, Bennett’s absence hurt the 3rd line. Mangiapane not yet ready for an increased role… Yet, though soon…?

    • Chucky

      It might be that Jankowski is facing better opposition as the other team’s coaches recognize his abilities. This is a learning exercise for him and we will have to see where he ends up. At the start it seemed like other teams thought that they could play their fourth line against the Flames third. Yesterday it seemed like the third line was seeing time against the Canes first line, a tribute to the young guys but a difficult task. Carolina learned what happens when the focus goes to the Backlund line to the Jankowski line.