Golden Knights 4, Flames 2 post-game embers: You just gotta laugh

Well, if you didn’t want the game to go to overtime, you definitely got your wish.

A most impressive collapse indeed

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

Two minutes to go. A one-goal lead. It’s not ideal, but it’s set for a regulation win, and riding a four-game losing streak, not to mention the opponent being a divisional rival, it is a breath of fresh air. They’d controlled the game, for the most part. The finish line was within sight, and the outcome was going to be positive.

And then Michael Frolik tried to pass the puck back to T.J. Brodie, missed his mark, caught an unaware Mike Smith, and set him up to be left helpless by a rebound that never should have happened.

And then it was over. Frolik gets a modicum of forgiveness because he hasn’t played in a month, but still, Glen Gulutzan deployed his defensive line and one of them just ruined it.

Seemingly shellshocked – they had not even two minutes of clean, smart hockey to go – the Knights got the puck back into the offensive zone. Jonathan Marchessault danced around Mark Giordano, popped the puck over a Smith who seemed unsure of what to do, and all of the good work the Flames had done over the course of 58 minutes was completely undone. Nothing really signified that more than Giordano, down from Marchessault getting around him, gently setting his head down on the ice and just… lying there. Only for a second, but that was a defeated man.

Still 96 seconds to try to tie it back up, but nah. They weren’t doing that. That was never going to happen. And to be fair, it’s hard to see any other team in that kind of situation rallying to tie it back up, not after literally giving the game away.

But they were the ones who gave it away in the first place. Was it on purpose? No. Was it incredibly unfortunate? Yes. But none of that matters, because the Flames, of their own volition, destroyed their shot at a clean win. Vegas didn’t make them do that. Vegas didn’t put any pressure on them to force it. They did it to themselves.

Everything good was undone

Sam Bennett finally scored again, snapping a six-game pointless drought. It probably shouldn’t have gone in, but it did.

Matthew Tkachuk picked up where he left off from before the All-Star Break, continuing to make his case that he might just be the best skater on the roster, completely embarrassing Marc-Andre Fleury. There are mind games that piss off the opponent and then there are the ones that turn into goals and the latter is so much better.

Smith had another decent outing. Not spectacular, but he didn’t really need to be in this one.

The Flames showed they could go toe-to-toe with the top team in their division, one of the best in the NHL. For the vast majority of that game, they were never out of it. They played well.

And absolutely none of it mattered because they got nothing out of the effort. They have spent too many assets for moral victories to count in any capacity this season. Gradual on-ice improvements mean nothing if they come away from them with nothing. It’s great to see Frolik back. It’s great to see Bennett get back on the scoresheet. It’s great to see just how great Tkachuk can be. It’s great to see the Flames hanging in there with a top-level opponent. All of those things are, truly, great.

And worthless.

Lights out

The Flames have won 25 of the 50 games they’ve played. Their goal differential is zero. They are a .500 team in every way but the loser point.

With a .580 points percentage, they sit fourth in their division, 10th in their conference. They are not out of the playoff chase yet, not by a long shot. There are still two months and change to go and a lot is going to happen over that time.

It took a seven-game win streak to make them look like they belonged in the postseason and since then they’ve done nothing but cough up mediocre one-goal leads, do absolutely nothing to build on any of it, and just look like a team content to plod along to the status quo. Two weeks ago they looked like they had it in them to have a perfect January; they finished it 6-5, with a five-game losing streak. (I’m done acknowledging loser points.) This is an absolutely hysterical slide from a team that spent most of its assets to build this: a .500 team that can maybe eek out a playoff game win or two if they even make it that far, and nothing more.

They’re 8-9 against their division this season. They are failures. There’s always the “we’ll see how they respond next game” moment but… who cares, really?

  • Vinnsanity12

    The ironic thing is if you prorate the points the Flames have gathered over the last 12 games (18 points) it leads to a 123 point season! I’m pretty sure that most fans would be ok with that? I still believe, however, that when the core players of the Flames hit their prime in 2 or 3 years that you may as well have a supporting cast that has experience as well. That means Stajan, Brouwer and Versteeg have to go. Put the young pups in now, they can’t be any worse, can they? Give them the experience that they need to be a part of the big picture. Maybe dangle Brodie as part of a package to get some help on the right side, or to re-acquire some draft picks. He truly seems lost out there, and I’m sure a change of scenery would do him good. We have the D depth to provide what he has to date…

    • Derzie

      Brodie is lost because the system and pairing does not suit his game. We’ve seen what he can do in a system that matches his skill. Don’t be fooled by the GG Stifle.

      • KKisTHEproblem

        And clearly the move to his “correct” handedness side is a bust, when he was on the “wrong” side, he was a much better player. Another great GG GG player usage decision….

  • Derzie

    I don’t know if you guys feel this way but here’s my thoughts: I’ve never really turned off games until the last year or so. I’ve been thinking about ‘why now?’ I think it comes down to control. It just feels like the great players we have do not have the control they need to excel. Whenever the refs are not doing their job or the coaches stifle the players, I get the feeling of defeat, as a fan. If I’m a player I’m thinking: let me do what I’m good at to get past this. If the coach is preaching boring systems and deploying the wrong players, how can I do that. Bottom line for me is the more control that coaches and refs have, the less enjoyable the game is. That’s why I turn it off. i want the players to control the outcome, not the administrators.

  • Dougiefred

    Been a Flames fan since they came to town in 1980, can’t remember much about the 80’s except the 88 cup and the 89 first round exit.
    What we witnessed last night is what we have experienced the past 25+ years. Expectations of varying degrees usually ending in a form of what we experienced last night utter disappointment.
    The burden gets harder to bear. Is it the 3000 plus altitude?
    Is this the perpetual fate of some teams, Washington comes to mind.

  • Brownblazer

    Hey everyone – its actually my fault. I’m a huge fan of the Stampeders (i.e. Grey Cup give away 2017), and the Saints (i.e. divisional play-off bone head move in the secondary to give away the game in the last play). I also coach my son’s hockey team which, in the first 5 games of our season we had the lead with 2 mins left only to surrender a tie or loss. Looks like I’ve got some bad karma this year. Sorry.

    • Kevin R

      Lol! No don’t be too hard on yourself, I think your bad karma takes a backseat to my buddies conspiracy theory. He thinks maybe it wasn’t such a great idea that Vegas got a franchise because what would the odds have been for Vegas to win the Cup at the start of the season? Pretty outrageous. He says he looks at that Frolik gaff & can’t help but think the fix was on. A player like Frolik doing something like that is simply unbelievable, I don’t even think a rookie like Hathaway or Mangi or Janko would shoot a puck back toward the net at that juncture of a game. They would have been sent back down last night. I laughed at his conspiracy theory but wow Vegas had no business winning that game, especially the way it was gifted to them. You can’t blame Brodie or Smith on that one.

  • Brownblazer

    Couple of observations.

    1. Brodie is fragile (GG system?) – should be a vet, but makes choices like a rookie this year (personal life a factor?). I’ve noticed that Brodie is the least comfortable with Smith’s aggressive puck moving. This aggressive style may contribute to Brodie’s indecisiveness around Smith. While that 2nd goal is on Frolik IMO, Brodie could’ve made it a bit better than allowing the puck to reach Smith (i.e. deflect it to the corner). Smith assumed Brodie would take it (like we saw in a game prior to the All Star break).

    2. The PP is killing us. These tight games wouldn’t need to be so tight so we’re susceptible to a bounce or gaff if our PP could capitalize. I thought for sure the coach would adjust the first unit after the break. This lack of willingness to change is brutal.

    3. While I’m as frustrated as Ari is, I still have hope. Our personnel may actually be able to carry us, despite the coaching, into the playoffs and through a round or two. We’re due for some puck luck sooner than later. Our shooting percentage is way too low and Monahan is bound to gain some confidence again.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    If we were to go back and look at some of these posts throughout the season, the common thread would be “Flames should have won but they didn’t”. Congratulations this team now has an identity….likely not one that anyone wants but there it is. The can’t quite do it Flames. I would much rather prefer the comback kids that was our identity under Hartley. The team was not as good but the faced adversity.

    The truth is that no team can blame all their losses on bad luck or ” puck luck”. They can’t expect things to change because they have a below average shooting percentage that should level out, or that having a better Corsi will fix everything.

    For the Flames to win, they need to play error free hockey which does not exist. They need great goaltending, they need consistent timely scoring, they need their best players to be at their best, they need their coaches to out coach the opposition.
    There are too many players and coaches that make mistakes on this current roster and without consistent offense one mistake can lose you the game.

    I believe a trade can light a fire under the team, it does not have to be a blockbuster. A simple trade like Anaheim made for Henrique or Eaves would suffice. Brodie is our best trade chip that we can backfill. Outside of his skating there is nothing that he possesses that we can’t replace. He does not generate shots, he provides very little offense, and he is only average defensively.

  • snotss

    this team is full of warts and they are rising to the surface at a rapid pace………….I wonder if our captain has read the riot act to these clowns…if not get a new captain!!!!!! we need a leader but after watching geo get his ass handed to him on the go a head goal………may be geo needs to look in the mirror