Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: A battle worthy of the name

Over the past several years, we’ve seen several really bad Battles of Alberta. Not only did the rivalry mean very little, but a lot of the games sucked. Tonight’s edition between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers had a bit of a sleepy opening period, but ended up being a fabulous 65+ minutes of ice hockey.

In the end, the Flames were what they’ve been for the past few games: inconsistent. They couldn’t quite match the intensity of the Oilers in the second half of the game and in the end were lucky to make it to extra time. The Flames’ extended their extra time losing streak to four games and their points streak to 11 games through a 4-3 shootout loss to the Oilers.

The Rundown

The Flames played a strong game early on, playing with some speed and tenacity. They opened the scoring early on, as Mark Giordano swatted down an attempting Oilers clearing pass. It was collected by Mikael Backlund and some quick passing from Backlund to Troy Brouwer and Brouwer to Matthew Tkachuk led to a nice one-timer and a 1-0 lead.

Chances for the rest of the period were fairly even, but the Flames jumped on another wonky Oilers defensive play and capitalized late in the period. A loose puck was collected by Dougie Hamilton in the high slot, he passed it to Giordano for a wrister through traffic that glanced off Kris Russell’s shin and in to make it 2-0.

Shots were 14-10 Flames, scoring chances were 14-6 Flames.

The Oilers gained momentum in the second period and really found their stride. Calgary’s fourth line got hemmed into their own end after an Oilers penalty kill, leading to some running around in their own end and unintentional stacking of bodies in front of David Rittich. That allowed Brandon Davidson to score on a wrister through a partial screen from the faceoff circle to make it 2-1.

Edmonton tied it up at 2-2 off a pair of ugly offensive rushes turned into turnovers by Sean Monahan’s line. Their first turnover ended up being broken up, but a second three-on-two rush saw Monahan unable to get back to break things up and Zack Kassian buried a rebound after an initial Rittich save to tie the game with the second Oilers goal in 64 seconds. Shots were 12-7 Oilers but scoring chances were 9-5 Flames.

Once again, the Flames couldn’t score on a power play in the third. Once again, it cost them. After another kill by the Oilers, the Flames lost a battle for a 50/50 puck in the corner of their own zone. Instead of guarding the point, Troy Brouwer elected to go after the puck carrier, opening Davidson for a pass and a point shot for his second goal of the game and a 3-2 Oilers lead.

But the Flames rallied back to tie the game up. Mikael Backlund stole the puck from Matt Benning and found Tkachuk driving the net for a chip-in goal and a 3-3 game.

Shots were 10-10 and scoring chances were 10-9 Flames.

The Flames had some decent chances in overtime, but the game appeared to be over and done with after Connor McDavid drove the net and Ryan Strome buried the rebound. But the goal was reviewed and called back because the Situation Room – who review every goal scored in overtime or late in games automatically – called down and decided (in consultation with the referees in Edmonton) that McDavid cutting across the crease and hooking Rittich’s stick with his back foot impeded his ability to save the second shot.

Overtime continued so we went to a shootout, where Mike Cammalleri and McDavid scored while Matthew Tkachuk responded for the Flames to make the game a 4-3 final for Edmonton. (McDavid’s deciding shootout goal was followed by a taunt by McDavid to the officials and an abuse of officials penalty as a result.)

It’s a shame that a lot of the discourse will be about the McDavid no-goal or abuse of officials call, because this was a fantastic hockey game.

Why The Flames Lost (in a Shootout)

Let’s just say once again for the record that a shootout is a terrible way to decide anything. But the Flames are really bad at them. And when they got to overtime, their players seemed exhausted and simply didn’t have the energy to generate much.

But they got to overtime by way of some flat play in the second half. It was only by the efforts of Rittich and the Backlund line that they eked their way into a point.

The power play remains awful. They generated just four shots in 7:36 of PP time. Twice they failed to score and the Oilers got momentum from the kill and scored soon after; that’s unacceptable.

Red Warrior

Tkachuk was a beast in this game and gets the nod, but Backlund and Rittich were also quite good.

The Turning Point

Let’s go with two goals against in 64 seconds in the second period. The Flames were well on their way to a regulation victory, but a lack of attention to detail led to two goals and a tied game.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
Monahan 60.9 75.0 0.200
Tkachuk 59.1 11.1 2.150
Lomberg 58.8 25.0 0.215
Giordano 56.4 44.4 1.500
Ferland 55.6 75.0 0.155
Lazar 55.0 28.6 0.080
Brouwer 52.4 11.1 0.825
Gaudreau 51.9 70.0 0.200
Hamonic 51.6 25.0 0.525
Brodie 51.4 22.2 0.550
Hamilton 51.4 42.1 0.800
Backlund 50.0 11.1 1.485
Stajan 47.8 33.3 -0.190
Stone 42.1 100 -0.250
Jankowski 39.1 66.7 0.050
Hathaway 38.5 75.0 -0.175
Bennett 37.5 66.7 -0.080
Kulak 33.3 100 -0.350
Rittich 1.150

This and That

Ryan Lomberg’s first NHL game!

The Drive to 95 (Points)

The Flames now have 58 points with 33 games remaining. They need 37 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 18-14-1 record to hit the 95 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.

Up Next

The Flames (25-16-8) head home tonight and then sit tight for the weekend. Mike Smith and Johnny Gaudreau are off to Tampa for the All-Star Game. They’re all back in action on Tuesday when the Flames meet the Vegas Golden Knights for their first-ever meeting.

      • cjc

        Overtime losses are frustrating, but they are a crapshoot. If Calgary were 2-2-0 over the past four games (getting the same number of points), people probably wouldn’t be too worried.

        What would be the point in firing GG now? Does it make sense to fire a coach who hasn’t lost in regulation for 11 games?

        • Cheeky

          @cjc – most on here aren’t pushing for him to be released based on the past 3 games, most of us look at the whole picture over the last 2 seasons as in on paper we have an outstanding team yet play average. Factor in the boring system that doesn’t win and player usage (Hey let’s try this Troy Brouwer guy all the time in every situation) that leaves even the most loyal GG fan scratching their head…

    • Prairiechicken

      If nothing else, you guys will ride Smith and get in. The California teams aren’t anything to write home about this year.
      And the Oilers … Well … Even if we were a cohesive team this year are waaaay too far back.
      I’d bet good money you make it (if I didn’t feel guilty off of profiting from Flames success)

  • BendingCorners

    Second game of a back to back against a team that plays hard against the Flames. Not the worst possible result but that PP could stand some work.
    I thought they focused a bit too much on hitting the Oilers and not enough on playing their own game.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      It would be nicer to get Frolik back and banish Brouwer to the 4th line. Seriously, the guy has a knack for being out there every time a crucial goal against is scored.

  • Franko J

    I suggest the streak will extend to 5 losses in a row. After all the team that is coming to the dome on Tuesday is the one to watch. What a waste of picks the Flames gave up for Hamonic. I guess every GM that has managed the Flames over the years has one really bad trade and this might be Treliving’s albatross.
    I don’t know what is more pathetic the PP or their lack of finish and execution in a shootout.
    I will say it know by the time the trade deadline approaches the Flames will be more in a seller mode than buyer mode.

  • Calgarycandle

    4 OT losses–an intriguing way to play .500 hockey.

    If we had 22 more Tzachuks there’s no doubt we’d win the cup!

    GG must be delegating OT coaching to Cameron too. Seriously, what do the Flames have to do to make their PP into a threat instead of something that absolutely turns momentum against them gain after game. Even if they don’t score, they at least have to consistently generate chances.

    • Derzie

      If this team lost 82 straight games in a season they’d have 82 points if they were all OTL. Think about how dreadfully unjust that is. Loser points are for losers. Period.

  • The juice

    I’d like to see JG play the right side of the unbrella on the power play. Perhaps his left spot should be used for a player with a More natural one time shot. I would be interested to try it with ferland or even stone.

  • Off the wall

    The last 10 minutes was fun to watch. We shouldn’t have surrendered the 2 goal lead. That’s just a bad omen.

    If not for Byng, we’d be screwed.
    This kid carry’s us most times.

    Player usage:
    Brouwer 17:21
    Ferland 13:52

    Hamonic 21:18
    Hamilton 21:12
    See a problem here?

    Both Gio and Brodie were close avg about 27 minutes each.

    Our #2 d – man gets #4 minutes.

    Line #1 offensive juggernaut Ferland (19 goals) gets between 3rd -4th line minutes.

    Brouwer our other offensive machine (3 goals) receives the equivalent of 6 extra shifts more than Ferland?!

    GG is a freakin genius..

  • Kass - Brought to you by BTF 2.0

    “It’s a shame that a lot of the discourse will be about the McDavid no-goal or abuse of officials call, because this was a fantastic hockey game.”

    Are you kidding Pike? That goalie interference call was a joke and calls like that are killing the game. I hate the Flames but I wish they would have won after the goal was called back. The NHL would be called out even more for this BS.

    If that would’ve happened to the Flames you’d be ballistic – Stop being such a homer

  • D

    I don’t pretend to know the inner workings of why so many Flames fans have issues with the team’s coaching, but I have seen a lot of complaints here on FN tonight. Anyway, the Calgary Flames are a good team this year. Just my two cents.

      • flames2015

        We’re cranky because we’ve lost the last 4 games, when we’ve had the lead in each of them. Loser points don’t mean much for morale victories right now. Especially tonight, up two nothing, with Edmonton having absolutely no momentum. We gift a guy 2 goals who hasn’t scored in 67 games. And Kassian. Zack Kassian. Our powerplay is hopeless. We all complained about the personnel on the units, and now they’re what it should be. Except clearly now the problem is coaching. Specialty teams has been the difference maker in these last 4 games. Man do I hate the shootout. When was the last time Monahan scored one? Surely, everyone’s got the book on him now. Why not pull a Hartley/Schelmko and put in Hamilton or something. Nothing frustrates me more than losing to the Oilers when we should have/could have won.

      • freethe flames

        Ask your self why is the fan base cranky? The winning streak helped to mask the problems with this team. The 4 game losing streak (yes I know we got points) has just allowed the same problems to resurface.

        1. Lack of PP success; the best the PP has looked IMO was when Ferland was on the first unit, currently there is no one who shoots the puck on that unit. The Flames need to replace Backlund with either Hamilton or Ferland on the first unit. Have Backlund play with Janko and Bennett.
        2. Player usage. I’m not going to jump on Brouwer or Stajan here because to be honest the best hockey they have played the last 2 seasons have been in the last month. Overtime loss to Buffalo; after being on the ice and losing 2 faceoffs in a row he leaves Brouwer out(this is not Brouwer’s fault); this a coaching error- GG had plenty of options and made none. The fact that in OT he basically only plays two units whether or not they are playing well. It’s time to play Hamilton in the OT; here’s a combo I would try Hamilton/Janko/Ferland or Bennett; all guys who can skate.

        The crankiness has been here for a long time; again masked by the winning streak.

    • loudogYYC

      Coaching decisions have been detrimental to the team this season. Brouwer and Hamonic have not been having great seasons but the coaching staff still has blind faith in them. The 4th line is among the NHLs worst by a few different measures yet they still get very painful 3rd period shifts every game. Our PP has been in bottom 3rd of the league for over a year yet loyalty overrides reason so nothing changes.
      Flames are a good team however they should be better and it’s very frustrating to watch.

      Question for all, which available consultants/coaches are known to be PP specialists? Is Adam Oates still in hockey?

      • D

        @cheeky – Thank you. The Eakins reference puts it in very easy terms to understand for us Oiler fans.

        I hope that coaching doesn’t cost the Flames a playoff spot – because the team on the ice is pretty good.

  • Brownblazer

    I’m sick of gg’s player usage big time! Especially with Hamilton. The no. 1 unit is broken. Try Dougie on the right point in this first unit! This is the second game in a row that Johnny and Monny looked tired on the ot. The Hamilton 77 93 unit finally got a shift, drive it to the net and got subbed off? For Monahans line . . . again? Tell me Hamilton doesn’t bury that chance Brodie had in ot. GG – for 4 straight games it’s not working- change it up!

  • Stajanforadirtyboot

    I have a dart board. On that dart board there is a picture of Glen Gulutzan. Glens face has so many holes. I don’t want to waste printer ink to put up a fresh picture. I hope he’s fired soon. He is a bad coach. He is an enjoyable target for sharp darts. Why is Stajan on the ice in the 3rd period. Why is Stajan still in the NHL. Is Brouwer a centerman now. I thought he was an overplayed winger. I have heard some say he is a plug. I don’t want that plug in my tub. I don’t want that plug on my favorite team. Stone shoots 105 mph. That’s a fast shot. Stone sits on the bench and watches wrist shots at the net on the PP. Is it a Power play when it drains your team of power. I think it’s a in power play.

  • canadian1967

    We need Hoffman for our PP.
    Every time I see Backlund or Johnny try a weak one timer from the sweet spot it makes me sick. If you’re paying attention, teams PK isn’t even crowding them in that spot because they are no threat at all

  • freethe flames

    I hope the Flames send Lomberg/Hrivik/Mangiapane and possibly Hathaway(I am not sure if he can still be sent down) all down to join the Heat for the weekend. Then recall those who can play; Frolik should be back after the break. Not sure what to make of Lomberg. I would prefer to see Klimchuk get a chance rather than recall either Mangiapane or Hrivik; neither were bad but it’s time to access Klimchuk and maybe re-access Shinkruk.

  • cjc

    If Cameron is really the guy running our power play, then he has to go. It is killing this team. Gulutzan has thrown lots of personnel combinations at Cameron’s system and nothing has stuck.

    As bad as Calgary’s shooting percentage has been at 5v5, a few more power play goals and this team is a comfortable second in the division, maybe even pushing Vegas for first overall.

  • Toofun

    Adding up Pike’s scoring chances for/against shows 33 – 20. Another night where we have 50% more chances to score than the opposition and we lose despite good goal tending.

    For the record, I don’t know where the data comes from or how subjective it is but it would interesting to know where Calgary stands league-wide in scoring percentage vs. chances, both for (how often our players cash in) and against (how often our goalies save us).

  • Dunk

    why does Ferly get little respect?
    Zero over time minutes.
    No first line PP minutes.
    He is fast, creative. great shot, good passer, great stick handler and physical. He has been terribly miss used by this coach.