22

Jets 2, Flames 1 (SO) post-game embers: Welcome back, here’s a point

The bye week isn’t an excuse for the loss. Not really, at least. The Jets were coming off a bye, as well, and actually had six days in between games. But the Flames did lose on a coin flip, so it wasn’t exactly soul crushing. It just… was.

The good news is the point streak is still intact. The Flames have points in their past eight games, and have picked up 16 points over their past 10.

That’s Smith’s point

The Flames owe their single point to Mike Smith, who stood on his head but for one tipped goal and most of the shootout. (Though his stop on Patrik Laine was, in a word, awesome.)

His stops were both dramatic and timely. The Jets had a number of dominating shifts, courtesy in part due to the Flames’ inability to properly clear the zone, and Smith didn’t give them much to work with. He registered a .971 save percentage, the third game in a row his save percentage has been over .970.

In fact, Smith hasn’t had a sub-.900 game since the Dec. 14 3-2 loss to the Sharks. So far through January – admittedly a shorter month on the schedule due to the bye and, later, all-star weekend – he has a .946 save percentage. Smith is up to a .925 save percentage on the season, tied for third league-wide among goalies who have played at least 20 games. His even strength save percentage is .931, fifth amongst all goalies with the same criteria.

Smith had a bit of a slump at the start of December, but seems to have completely rebounded since then. Hopefully it keeps up, because when the top scorers are having off-games and the depth just can’t bury it, his value becomes more evident than ever. They were one lengthy review from winning in regulation.

Poor Brouwer

So that’s goalie interference, eh?

In a game filled with questionable calls – I kinda wonder if Mark Jankowski got the tap to do the shootout in part because he was denied a penalty shot – the one that hurt the most was the one that took a goal away in what ended up being a one-goal game.

I’m a fan of the idea of putting a time limit on reviews. To overturn the call on the ice, it has to be definitive, right? If a review takes several minutes then how can one claim it was definitive? Taking the time to get the call right is important, but after a certain point, you’re just splitting hairs.

It was an extremely close call. I get that. But it was also a very subjective one. The officials on the ice saw Troy Brouwer’s goal as a good one when it happened; now it isn’t, because Matthew Tkachuk was fighting for position outside of the crease, brushed a Jet into his own goaltender, and then at least a second or so ticked by before the puck was in the net. Connor Hellebuyck had time to lunge over to try to stop the puck; he wasn’t totally helpless.

And that extremely close call ended up being a game changer.

The Flames shouldn’t have put themselves in position for that to be the case. It’s difficult to win games with just one goal, and they had plenty of opportunities to score again. They couldn’t, and that’s on them. But it does sting just that little bit extra, that they could have had it and just… didn’t. Just because.

In the meantime, poor Brouwer. He hasn’t had a multi-point game since Feb. 24, 2017. He should have had a multi-point period. Some of the scorn he faces is fair, but he didn’t deserve to have that goal taken away.

0-fer

You know what would have helped, though? Scoring once. Just once. On one of their four powerplay opportunities.

The streak, if you can call it that, of back-to-back powerplay goals is over, and the Flames can once again point to an inability to score on the man advantage as one reason why they didn’t come away with two points. I’m not sure which is more comical: that they only scored once Sean Monahan took a penalty and the game was four-on-four, or that their most dangerous chances looked like they came on the penalty kill.

Apparently, Kris Versteeg was crucial to having a powerplay that resembled something successful. He won’t be an option again for a while yet. The only other right shot they have available who might actually be able to do some damage offensively is Dougie Hamilton (he had eight shots yesterday. EIGHT), which makes me wonder if another right shot could be a trade deadline target. (Even if not for this year’s powerplay, they’ll probably need one for the future, regardless.)

Shut down

According to Natural Stat Trick, at even strength, Mikael Backlund was on the ice for one shot against, Tkachuk for two, and Brouwer for three. Keep in mind, the Jets had 33 even strength shots for, and that entire line played over 14 even strength minutes, mostly facing off against Blake Wheeler, Laine, and Kyle Connor: three of the Jets’ top five scorers.

That’s phenomenal. That line came to play.

Someone else who came to play? T.J. Brodie, apparently, who played over three more even strength minutes than Mark Giordano, Hamilton, and Travis Hamonic, for some reason. (Hamonic took a penalty which cut into his ice time; neither Giordano nor Hamilton did). Brodie is pretty clearly the third defenceman on this team, yet he continues to get top pairing minutes, and it’s odd, to say the least; particularly when Giordano had a roughly 16% even strength corsi improvement on him, and Hamilton, 19%.

The good news: recently, Glen Gulutzan had elected to play only Brodie and Giordano in overtime. They still got the bulk of the minutes, but Hamilton – who only scored an overtime winner against Minnesota because Brodie was in the box – actually got some ice time, as well. Just 1:07 compared to the other two’s 1:54 and 1:59, but baby steps, I guess?

Coin flip

The Flames could have beaten the Sharks on Dec. 28, but lost in a shootout. They could have beaten the Jets yesterday, but lost in a shootout.

For as good as Smith has been in games – and on breakaways, even – that hasn’t translated to the shootout. However, the Flames are at the point where they need him to be perfect.

Versteeg didn’t score on either of his two shootout chances this season, but he was four-for-five in 2016-17. Monahan was the only other Flames to get a shootout goal that season. He’s two-for-six this season; Tkachuk leads the way, three-for-four.

Those would, ideally, be the Flames’ three shooters, but one is obviously unavailable. Since then, the Flames have been testing other guys to pretty much no success; the only other Flame with a shootout goal this season is Johnny Gaudreau. Micheal Ferland, Jankowski, Backlund, and Sam Bennett have all failed. Gaudreau, a career four-for-16, might be the Flames’ best bet, though that’s not fair to Ferland or Jankowski, who have only gotten to try once.

The good news? No shootouts in the playoffs. The bad news? Gotta make the playoffs first. The good news? The Flames are third in Pacific Division points percentage. If the playoffs started today, they’d be in. The bad news? The division is so tight and there’s no telling where things are going to go, and that extra point really would have helped.

  • freethe flames

    The Jets are a good team and we had a chance to beat them in large part because of Smith. But when you go 0/4 on the PP and there are far to many games where this happens; you are not going to win. To beat the other good teams in this league your PP needs to score. To beat other good teams your best players have to better than the other teams best players and I would say that was not the case against the Jets. No use lamenting the loss; time to refocus and make sure you don’t lay a stinker against the Sabres and Oilers both teams below you in the standings. Between now and the TDL this team needs to know where they stand and what BT needs to do.

  • buts

    MT pushed Hendricks but MT was well outside the paint and it’s not MT’s fault Hendricks lost his balance ..doesn’t matter it should have been a goal, bad call. Obviously flame players enjoyed there 5 days off better than the jet players :). Smith is a true star now and yesterday he was awesome again I sure hope BT trades for some help on the top six and PP.

  • WillyWonka

    it’s the inconsistency of the calls that is so frustrating. i remember a goal against where smith was interfered with, but the official conclusion was that he had time after the interference to recover and get across to cover the crease… this could have applied last night, but didn’t for some reason. oh well, Winnipeg, unlike the ‘posers up north, are a legit team, and Ehlers… wow talk about wheels

  • KeepitReal

    Coach’s Challenge; the timer should start as soon as the challenge is made ( or when the ref puts on the headset). 2 or 3 minutes max IMO. If no ruling is rendered within that window then the on ice ruling stands. These reviews are agonizingly slow and suck the life out of the game. The other major sports seem to have figured this much out.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Hey it was a competive game, lousy call on goalie interverince, ref’s must have also been coming off a 5 day break. I thought Greg Millen was fired a long time ago, going on and on about Smiths puck handling ability, how the Jets were going to defend against it, sure glad we don’t have to listen to his dribble.

  • snotss

    goalie interference is one big cluster f–k…..the nhl has got to get more definite guild lines …..way to inconsistent from call to call…….its a joke…really

    • oilcanboyd

      I totally aqqgree with an earlier post – to overrule the ref’s decision it has to be obviously wrong call to overturn it. Referee’s are on the ice and make a split second decision, but in this case they made the right one and the people with HD replays took too long for it to be a definitive wrong call by the ref. End of Rant One.

      Another sticky point: the players are given the break but then you stick them (both teams) with an afternoon game in Canada with 2 Canadian teams playing. That is why you end up with a sloppy game. Non-break teams should play the afternoon Canadian game. or move the Hockey Day in Canada to another date. End of Rant 2.

      Go Flames Go! Suck this game up and come out flying in the next 3 games!

    • Zesty14

      Plus should get rid of the phantom point that appears after a tie. I would go 3 points for a win, 1 point each for a tie play for the last point in overtime 10 mins 4v4 10 mins 3v3. This would stop coaches always playing for the tie and slowing the game to almost unwatchable. Just imagine the ice actually opening up in the 3rd while teams can’t afford to not get the 3rd point especially with divisional rivals.

    • oilcanboyd

      I agree to eliminate the coaches challenges. Hockey is a speed game and this just slows it down, and don’t necessarily result in the right call being made.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    We keep hearing about Janko’s shot, yet most of his goals come in tight. He has a great wingspan fo decking but lost the handle on both break aways. He is just scratching the surface on how good a player he is going to be. I would switch Janko with Monny while Monny is struggling.

  • Off the wall

    Brodie must love playing against the Jets. 25% of his points have been from playing against them.
    That’s in just 2 games this season ! Wow

    I can’t really be disappointed in the no- goal by Brouwer. It was determined a good goal by the ref, but was overruled by Toronto. I take more exception to the evidence Toronto found that ruled against us.

    The Jankowski —no penalty shot is far worse. Or the mugging on Monahan from two Jets that resulted in HIS penalty. To me those were glaring errors.
    Officiating is becoming a growing concern. Not just for us, but the league itself.

    At the next GM meeting, it should be addressed. It’s obvious to anyone who knows hockey, that our game is evolving and becoming more inconsistent in officiating. New rules each season (we had 3 adjustments this year) is making it more difficult for officiating as well. Some changes are necessary, others just waste valuable time.

    I’m not ostracizing the refs— I believe the refs are getting shafted too. Too many calls are being reviewed, the tempo and integrity of the game is being lost.

    I watched games where you’re on the edge of your seat, the refs were not a factor or stood out. That’s the whole idea of officiating. Be there when glaring infractions occur, otherwise be as invisible as possible on the ice.

    I loved officials like Bill McCreary, he’d always be engaged with the players. He wasn’t a law maker- he considered himself extremely fortunate to watch the best players in the world play. It showed in the way he handled his games.

    Wes McCauley is currently the most animated of all of them. He is a great official overall.

    That was a mouthful, just to say I think we need to review our officiating standards.

    Either way, I don’t blame our loss on officiating, our boys were a bit flat and they weren’t generating much in the way of offence. Credit to the Jets for playing a strong game.