Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Sabres sharper than Flames

The Calgary Flames weren’t great against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, but they got a point. They hosted the Buffalo Sabres on Monday evening in a game everyone in red probably hoped would be a mulligan for them. Unfortunately, the Flames were still pretty flat and played down to their opposition en route to a 2-1 overtime loss to the Sabres. It’s the type of game where the only positives were “the goalie was good” and “at least they got a point.”

The Rundown

The Flames got a lot of offensive zone time in the first period, but couldn’t generate a lot of good chances. They opened the scoring on the power play. After Matthew Tkachuk drew a tripping call, he also scored the first goal by redirecting a Johnny Gaudreau slap-pass over Chad Johnson’s shoulder to make it 1-0. The home side only had the lead for 24 seconds as a pass in the defensive zone took a bad bounce and ended up in the slot with Scott Wilson, and he beat Mike Smith with a wrister to make it 1-1. Shots were 13-12 Flames and scoring chances were 11-6 Sabres.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Nobody scored in the second period, but the Flames were much better than they were in the first period. Shots were 12-8 Flames, scoring chances were 10-5 Flames. While the Flames had more chances, Buffalo had a lot of good chances and Smith had to be sharp.

Nobody scored in the third period, but Buffalo came out with a ton of energy and the Flames seemed to be trying to hang in there for overtime. Shots were 11-8 Sabres and chances were 7-1 Sabres. Michael Stone and Mikael Backlund took successive late-period penalties that sent Buffalo into overtime with a 4-on-3 advantage.

And in overtime, Jack Eichel scored on a corker of a one-timer 90 seconds in – just after the Flames penalty expired – to make it a 2-1 final for the visitors.

Why The Flames Lost (in Overtime)

The Flames just couldn’t generate enough at even strength, and just couldn’t get enough from their special teams. They had three power plays and scored on their first one, which was easily their best. They failed to really finish off their final kill and it cost them.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Red Warrior

It’s gotta be Smith. He and the Backlund line were strong, everyone else was… iffy.

The Turning Point

Backlund’s late penalty. If the Flames can begin overtime at three-on-three, it’s a completely different ballgame.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
Giordano 65.6 60.0 1.375
Hamilton 64.5 60.0 0.375
Lazar 62.5 50.0 0.185
Tkachuk 60.7 44.4 1.800
Monahan 58.6 63.6 0.355
Ferland 57.1 63.6 0.335
Backlund 57.1 44.4 0.330
Brouwer 53.6 44.4 0.185
Gaudreau 51.4 70.0 1.125
Hathaway 50.0 50.0 0.050
Kulak 47.5 40.0 0.150
Jankowski 45.5 100 -0.240
Bennett 45.5 100 -0.250
Stone 44.7 40.0 0.075
Hamonic 44.4 55.6 -0.100
Brodie 39.1 55.6 -0.250
Stajan 37.5 0.0 -0.135
Hrivik 28.6 0.0 -0.250
Smith 1.750

This and That

Curtis Lazar fought Nathan Beaulieu early in the first after Beaulieu crashed into Lazar and nearly clipped his knee behind the net. Beaulieu went down hard and never returned to the game.

Matthew Tkachuk now leads the league outright in penalties drawn in all situations (with 31), at even-strength penalties drawn (25) and is tied for the lead at all situations penalty differential (+16). What a pest.

The Drive to 95 (Points)

The Flames now have 56 points with 35 games remaining. They need 39 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 19-15-1 record to hit the 95 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


“You could see a little bit at the end, if there was a scrum or something they’d try to take a guy off with them or something. Hey, you get us down to four and maybe you get one of the top two on the back-end off with them, they can cause a little trouble.” – Sabres defenseman Justin Falk on the Flames trying to make life tough on them with five defensemen (after Nathan Beaulieu left after a first period fight).

“I looked at our guys a couple times and they told me they were fine. I thought they did a heck of a job. There were a bunch of stoppages there with pucks going over the glass, so I didn’t think that had anything to do with the goal.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on opting to keep the Giordano-Stone-Brouwer PK trio out for the entire Backlund penalty kill in overtime.

Up Next

The Flames (25-16-6) practice tomorrow, then host the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday in (a) a big Pacific Division clash and (b) the first of two back-to-back games, as they play in Edmonton on Thursday.

  • seamax

    Nothing to do with the goal? Most coaches would put a centreman on the ice when trying to win a defensive zone face off short handed in overtime, but then again most coaches will get another head coaching job eventually. This is surely the last time Gulutzan is given an NHL bench to run.

    • I should be GM

      We should send the coach back to Van. Their record is more appropriate to his coaching style. This team is far too good to have such a mediocre record. Use one of your worst players at the most critical time of the game.

    • Skylardog

      With 5 seconds left in the penalty, you put out a centreman, and the guys you want on the ice when the PK ends. That means for sure Mony with Gio, or Brodie, and likely JG, although that would be up for debate. The error by GG is compound given that Brouwer lost the faceoff with 25 seconds left. No top level coach would leave the same guy out for a second faceoff, especially when the guy had played the last 1:24.

      When I coached, I wouldn’t have let a winger take the first draw with 25 left, let alone the second one.

      I cannot stress how big an error this really is for a coach at any level above Bantam. Brouwer isn’t even a centre. It might, and I say might, be acceptable if he was your best faceoff guy, but even then, sometimes the matchups just not in the favor of your best guy.

      NHL coaches don’t make deployment errors night after night after night… after night.

      • buts

        GG’s comments after the game when asked why he left the same group out on the pk said the boys said they were fine just goes to show how absolutely stupid this guy is. This is the nhl where special teams, player usage, situational awareness is of the utmost importance. It’s the difference between 97 points and 91 points. He puts out a winger (Brouwer) to take face offs and after losing 2 cleanly….guess what he loses it cleanly again. Absolute insanity that this guy can look into the camera after this game and many others and have zero accountability. Fire his ass and Cameron along with.

  • Calgarycandle

    Brouwer had decisively lost two faceoffs. What made GG think he’d do any better on the third? With 5 seconds left in the penalty why not send out say Bennett or Jankowski who are used to taking draws. This decision total baffles me. Two flat games in a row. Play like this for long and the seven game run is going to be pretty meaningless.

  • The Sultan

    God GG is a complete moron. How he fails to get the boys fired up for games or utilize home ice advantage is beyond me. With him at the helm We’re squandering away our competitive years. While I love the Flames, I have absolutely no confidence in their ability to win games with GG behind the bench. Playoffs, if we make them, will be even more of a gongshow. Like last year when we lost all four games. Someone fire that man.

  • Off the wall

    GG, “ I looked at my guys a couple of times and they told me they were fine “

    Great coaching there GG. I thought YOU were supposed to run the bench.
    Is Brouwer the new centre-man now? Dumb and dumber coaching beyond explanation.

    Don’t shorten the bench to create offence, however shorten the bench for PK ?

    I’m done..

  • Skylardog

    Anyone notice how Lazar was so much better than his linemates in terms of Corsi. It should also be noted that the Buffalo goal in regulation was scored while Lazar was still in the box serving his 5 for fighting. The penalty had ended and he was waiting for the next whistle to get out. He has been solid in his play defensively all year.

    And that begs the question: Why would you put out the 4th line right after you score the go ahead goal? And the even bigger question, why would you put the 4th line out then, when one of its members is in the box with only 11 seconds left in his major penalty. You go Jankos line, as it is intact and rested (Mony, JG, and Tkachuk were on the ice on the PP that scored), then come out with the 4th line intact when the whistle blows and Lazar gets out of the box. If it takes a long time for a whistle you go back to the Backlund line before the 4th.

    The other time that Lazar got a bump in Corsi, was when Hath came off early and Janko, Bennett and Lazar dominated the Sabres for about 40 seconds. Hate to say it but Hath’s initial surge when he came up is fading. He is becoming average, and the whole line is suffering. Lazar is going to pop a goal soon, and hopefully the floodgates open up.

    • McRib

      “Hate to say it but Hath’s initial surge when he came up is fading”

      Couldnt agree more, Hathaway has been holding back Janko and Bennett especially in the offensive zone the last 5-6 games. I still think Hathaway has value as a fourth line checking line forward and its nice that once and awhile in spurts he has shown capable of stepping up, but he isn’t ever going to be a regular scorer in the NHL. Hathaway never put up more than 0.63 PPG in the NCAA, it’s not like we didn’t see this coming. If Foo has a hot stretch in the AHL we should try him on that third line.

      • Skylardog

        Agree, except for the Foo part. He has a long way to go to become an NHLer. Suspect we will never see him in a Flames uniform.

        Bring up Klimchuk and put him with Backs and Fro, when he returns. That frees up Byng to play with Bennett and Janko.

      • ThisBigMouthIsRight

        In all fairness the Flames should never have been hemmed in their own zone with 1min left in the game. That holding the stick penalty may have well prevented a deflection goal in regulation(watch the penalty replay). This Flames Team should have had this game in the bag by the time the third period even started, let alone to be left playing for the emotionless tie… Meh, its all a mute point now.

  • Off the wall

    Well there’s one silver lining to this debacle tonight.

    I have now saved enough money in my swear jar to buy a new TV.

    I lost track of my total, but tonight alone I made a substantial contribution of $47. All directed towards my favourite coach.

    Thanks Goof Gulutzan, I will now be the recipient of a 58 inch TV to curse at you even more!

    Next purchase? A new hockey stick to throw at GG..

    • Skylardog

      Beat ya to it. Got my new 55″ just after Christmas. The jar had been fairly dry the last few weeks, but I loaded it up tonight.

      As I have a new TV, and as of tonight, money to burn, I am headed to the LA game on Wednesday. The wife suggested that I confront GG and get all of the frustration out while at the game. She claims the house will be much more peaceful if I am not at home to curse and swear.

      Unfortunately for all of you, I have no intention of stopping my FlamesNation ranting.

  • Mickey O

    That wasn’t the reaction I was looking for from Gulutzan. It is obvious to all that he made a mistake in overtime. If he can’t see it then that’s pretty grim. If he could see that he made a bad mistake then just admit it and move on – he needs to take a chunk of responsibility for this loss.

    Now the players are going to be rolling their eyes and thinking what a coconut they have behind the bench. Maybe it is just the psychology/sociology major in me analyzing these situations, but the players have to be questioning their coach more than normal. Gulutzan just made the situation worse.

    • Joeyhere

      Exactly- sure we as fans are upset – a boneheaded coaching move leads to a loss against one of the worst teams in the league, but imagine the players perspective- this is the guy who is supposed to lead you, motivate you and OUT COACH the playoff opponent. If your in this team your thinking “why bother, no matter what I do the coach is an idiot”

      • Mickey O

        Still say the players have been tuning out Gulutzan for a while and were playing a different style on the win streak. Now they will really be tuning him out. It takes a few guys to take it upon themselves to step up and forget who’s behind the bench.

        Smith, Giordano, Tkachuk, Ferland, Bennett, even Hamonic. Guys that hate to lose the most on this team, guys that play with jam. They need to set the tone in the room, and on the bench. This is gut check time with the next couple of games coming up against LA and the Oilers.

        • Joeyhere

          But that’s part of the problem- the coach isn’t calling the shots! He’s relying on the players to tell him what decisions to make. You may indeed be right a few good guys who don’t like to lose are running things. But then why do we pay GG and that lack of leadership certainly won’t get us far in the playoffs

    • Skylardog

      I was playing in the Provincial Championship many, many years ago. Up by one with under 2 minutes to play, the coach took off the best 2 defensemen and put out our 3rd and 5th D. We knew he was making a mistake when he made the change, but as a player you respect his decision.

      They scored to tie it up. The coach apologized on the bench, after the game, and last year at a 30 year reunion we had. He took the blame for us going to OT at the year end banquet too.

      Best coach I ever had. Won 2 provincials, a Western Canadian, and 4 City Championships playing for him. It never fell on his players, ever. It was always about him putting us players in the wrong situation.
      And he was able to admit when he was wrong.

      We managed to win in OT. That was the year we won the Westerns.

      A little side note for fun. Mike Babcock was at that game. He was scouting for Red Deer Collage where he coached. My D-partner went on to play for him at RDC, then went on to play for Willy Desjardins at the UofC. Not a bad way for him to end his playing career, playing for the best coach in the world, and a guy that will lead Canada at the Olympics in a couple of weeks.

      • Mickey O

        Right on, love stories like this. Adds a bit of a personal feel to the joint.
        Good on your coach for realizing he’d screwed up and for taking responsibility.

  • Chucky

    Any athlete believes he is good to go all of the time. To play any sport an elite level you have to believe that you can cope with anything. That is why coaches decide who is on the ice, at bat, on the mound/ That is why a good caddy tells you to layup rather than carry 250 over water.
    When a coach leaves it up to the players he should be fired.
    When a coach decides to use players that have been out too long or don’t have the skills to play a specialty position he is simply not the caliber that a professional team requires.
    Brad Treliving needs to grow a pair and get this guy out of there now.
    If BT can’t do it then Burke needs to replace both of them, now.
    If Burke doesn’t have what it takes then King needs to clean house, now.
    They might give up a couple before the all-star break but it could save the season. Right now they are doomed to wallow in a pit of stupidity and something has to change.

    • cberg

      I agree with the sentiment and that GG’s comments were about the worst thing he could have said. However, there is no way he is getting fired now, with the team in a playoff position, even though I think he needs to go. He has this season and we’ll just have to gut it out.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    YEAH Baby~! We Got The “TIE”~! GG is on a roll, two in a row and back to playing GG Style Hockey! After 7 wins in a row I’d almost forgotten what that looked like… Lots of passing/turnovers, Slow down in the O-Zone and hang out by the boards and pass pass pass. Lock down in the third and give the other team chance after chance to get a goal… So Awesome! Did we win the Corsi? I Liked All the Line Juggling(NOT), that really seemed to screw everyone up good! Unfortunate that the Brouwer Kill failed on the third try in a row… That was Surprising(NOT). I’m sure all the GG lovers will avoid FN tonight like a Flames PP Goal. Besides the Obvious reasons to be upset after this game… These Players Need a serious Kick in the pants and an honest break-down berating for this useless effort. But Who is going to do it? GG? LOL … Is what it is!

  • Joeyhere

    There were team elements to this loss. Two easy points we are going to have to win back against a tougher opponent, it’s not all on the coach. Just mostly! He failed to motivate them, failed to adjust a pp that can’t score and his use of Brower at the end of the game is baffling. Worst of all he didn’t man up and take responsibility afterward. How would you feel playing for him ?

    • HAL MacInnis

      I agree, Joey.

      Glen is an idiot. You don’t ask the players if they are good to go and use that as a crutch for your ineptitude. These guys don’t get paid millions to tell their coach that they don’t feel good about the situation. Deploy your best players when it matters. Period.

      I just wish somebody close had the balls to tell Gulutzan to friggin’ be a coach and stop being a pal to his players. Is he worried that Brouwer will unfriend him on Facebook or something? What a moron.

      I hope the players mutiny soon. This has got to stop.

  • buts

    I was mad after the terribly scrambly lousy hockey game that the flames gave away, I was mad by there lack of preparedness, lack of execution, by Backlund lack of discipline. But after watching GG’s presser after I was furious. Just an absolute goof with no accountability. How upper management can let this carry on after a year and half of the same bs is beyond me.

  • Intercourse the Penguins

    When Rittich plays Flames tighten up defensively and do not overly rely on Battler Mike to save their bacon all the time. Mikey had to rob a poor team all night long just keep Flames in the game. Play Razor Rittich at home so Flames do not let “putting on a show for our home fans” or whatever make them lose their drive and concentration on home ice. The sadassledome’s silent fans are no excuse.

  • RKD

    Terrible there’s no good reason to not get 2 points against Buffalo instead we give them the 2 and settle for 1. We need to beat the bad teams not play down to their level. What is GG thinking putting Brouwer on that faceoff? GG’s loyalty to Brouwer is disgusting.

  • GriffinJeff

    Brouwer was 1-5 on face-offs last night. He was taking draws in the offensive and defensive zone. Statistics back up the frustration shown by FN posters. Brouwer took too many face-offs and lost too many face-offs.

  • Chucky

    There should be no trades contemplated until they have the opportunity to play for a real NHL coach. Players cannot be properly evaluated when they are playing for a coach who is intent on losing.

  • Carl the tooth

    Was GG trying to reward Brouwer ? I usaully stay off the bash GG Train but I really scratching my head after the game . Stajan is actually playing quite well of late . Wouldn’t you want Backlund or Bennett or Stajan to take those draws ? Lots of invisible players last night. Hathaway ,Bennett ,Kulak ferlund ,Monahan etc

    • Carl the tooth

      I found myself just wanting the game to hurry up and end at the start of the 3rd .boring game zzzzzzzzzz . Rip that “A” off Brouwer and give it too a well deserved Tkachuk !