Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: 14 lousy minutes douse Flames against Tampa

On Tuesday night, the Calgary Flames played a pretty good game for the most part. A one-minute lapse in focus resulted in three goals against and a regulation loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. On Thursday night, the Flames once again played a pretty good game for the most part. But their lapse in focus lasted for a little bit under 14 minutes and resulted in five unanswered goals against – many of them fairly ugly. That lapse in focus resulted in a 7-4 loss to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Rundown

The home side came out strong early-on, despite having to kill off an early five-on-three disadvantage. That kill gave them some jump and they ended up getting a power play out of some fourth line zone time. Micheal Ferland capitalized on a nice feed from Mikael Backlund from under the red line to make it 1-0 Calgary.

The Lightning pushed back and managed a (weird) equalizer before the end of the first. Ondrej Sustr’s point shot was slightly redirected by Braydon Coburn and barely beat Mike Smith just inside the far post (with Smith trying to look around Michael Stone) to make it 1-1. Shots were 13-9 Flames, scoring chances were 8-7 Flames.

Tampa got an early lead in the second. With Mikael Backlund off for boarding, the Lightning power play group got several whacks at a loose puck after Smith made the initial save and Alex Killorn bonked it in (finally) to make it 2-1. But Backlund redeemed himself with a gorgeous toe-drag around Mikhail Sergachev and a shot that beat Andrei Vasilevskiy to make it 2-2.

Shortly after, the Flames regained the lead off a nice breakout. Johnny Gaudreau sprung Sean Monahan and he beat Vasilevskiy with a wrister to make it 3-2.

A little while after that, a long pressure shift from the fourth line led to multiple scoring chances – again, from the fourth line – and Matt Stajan jammed in a loose puck at the side of the net to make it 4-2.

But just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, a Matthew Peca shot off the rush squeaked through Smith’s pads and trickled into the net to make it 4-3. Shots were 10-10, scoring chances were 15-12 Flames.

The wheels fell off in the third period. 12 seconds into the period, Tampa tied it off a dump-in that the Flames couldn’t manage to clear. Killorn got his second of the game off a back-hander that beat Smith short-side to make it 4-4. A few minutes later, a bad angle shot from Cory Conacher squeaked through Smith (again) to make it 5-4. A bit of running around in their own end – again – ended up with Steven Stamkos strolling in from the point and beating Smith with a nice wrister to make it 6-4. That spelled the end of the game for Smith, who broke his stick and then swapped places with David Rittich. Rittich got a puck banked in off his back by Conacher from a bad angle to make it 7-4 and the Lightning coasted the rest of the way. Shots were 19-5 Flames and scoring chances were 12-6 Flames – but bear in mind Tampa Bay was up for much of the period, so score effects were rearing their head.

Why The Flames Lost

Smith has been to the Flames what a blanket is to Linus from the Peanuts gang: a comfort. Things just work for the Flames when Smith’s on his game. When he’s not? Things get bad quickly and everyone gets jumpy. The Flames were off-kilter in the third period because they didn’t seem to know what to make of Smith’s game tonight.

  • The Coburn goal (1-1) was a tip and a screen, and was largely a product of some iffy defensive zone play.
  • The first Killorn goal (2-1) was on a Lightning PP, and was a product of Tampa get multiple good chances.
  • Peca’s goal (4-3) squirted through Smith’s pads and he probably wants it back.
  • Killorn’s second goal (4-4) was off a bad turnover, but Smith didn’t seem to square up to it.
  • Conacher’s first goal (5-4) was from a bad angle and Smith didn’t seal things off.
  • Stamkos’ goal (6-4) was a product of a lot of jumpiness. Smith had time to square up to the shot, but Stamkos managed to beat him.

By my accounting, that’s three goals that Smith probably wants back. That’s uncharacteristic, of course, but that leakiness sunk the Flames. The players in front of him were not amazing, especially during that late second/early third stretch, but if Smith manages a big save here or there it’s a completely different game.

Red Warrior

Stajan’s fourth line was superb this evening and Stajan himself had a very strong game.

The Turning Point

The Stamkos goal both ended Smith’s night and put this one entirely out of reach.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
Stajan 70.0 40.0 1.320
Lazar 68.4 40.0 0.875
Hathaway 65.0 25.0 1.125
Tkachuk 61.1 78.6 1.325
Hamilton 60.0 85.7 1.900
Brodie 59.7 66.7 1.975
Gaudreau 58.1 71.4 1.100
Monahan 58.1 76.9 1.070
Hamonic 58.0 58.8 0.675
Frolik 57.9 69.2 0.675
Giordano 57.5 80.0 0.725
Backlund 56.4 69.2 1.720
Ferland 55.6 72.7 0.925
Brouwer 50.0 40.0 -0.005
Stone 48.3 22.2 -0.700
Kulak 48.2 20.0 -0.450
Jankowski 47.1 33.3 -0.310
Bennett 46.2 33.3 -0.475
Smith -2.400
Rittich -0.450

This and That

For a game between two teams that only play twice a year, this game was unusually spirited. Through the first 40 minutes, most whistles ended with a scrum of some type. Matthew Tkachuk fought Jake Dotchin in the first, while Garnet Hathaway fought Yanni Gourde in the third.

Anatomy of a Losing Streak:

  • One: Led Winnipeg 1-0, lost 2-1 in a shootout
  • Two: Led Buffalo 1-0, lost 2-1 in overtime (after 2 unanswered goals)
  • Three: Led Los Angeles 1-0, lost 2-1 in overtime (after 2 unanswered goals)
  • Four: Led Edmonton 2-0, lost 4-3 in a shootout (after 3 straight goals)
  • Five: Led Vegas 2-1, lost 4-2 (after 3 unanswered goals)
  • Six: Led Tampa Bay 4-2, lost 7-4 (after 5 unanswered goals)

Goodness gracious, that’s a lot of blown leads.

The Drive to 95 (Points)

The Flames now have 58 points with 31 games remaining. They need 37 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 18-12-1 record to hit the 95 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.

Up Next

The Flames (25-18-8) practice tomorrow, then finish off their homestand with a game against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks will be playing for their playoff lives.

  • RKD

    This team is at it’s lowest point mentally, they played well against Vegas then give up 3 goals in :49 to lose the game. Tonight they are up after 2 periods and then a goal makes them collapse and crumble and allow 4 goals in 8:26. Gulutzan never uses his timeouts. He has no idea how to settle his group and has no idea how to instill a killer instinct mentality on how to close out opponents.

  • RKD

    Glen Guluzan coaching history:
    2011-12 Dallas Stars: missed the playoffs
    2012-13 Dallas Stars: missed the playoffs and then fired
    2013-2016- Vancouver Canucks assistant coach, missed the playoffs two out of three seasons
    2016-17 Calgary Flames: 1st round exit a sweep
    2017-18 ???
    This is the guy who gives Troy Brouwer 1st unit pp time and take face-offs in critical moments and who I am expecting to put Barts back in the lineup is supposed to make us a contender?

      • McRib

        Yeah, Bartkowski will be back and it will be Kulak who is pulled, not the far more deserving -5 Michael Stone who literally missed a key breakout pass on four of those goals. The blind loyalty this team has to Brouwer, Stajan, Bartkowski, Stone, Lazar, etc is sinking this team.

    • cberg

      Proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes….

      This 6 game losing streak has all but cancelled out the positive benefits of the earlier 7 game win streak. The most likely scenario is they now go on another very strong streak and get back into the playoff mix, and likely squeak into the playoffs, where they will falter after 1 or 2 meh rounds. They have a very good team, they have inadequate coaching. Trying to be polite here. This will keep GG at the helm till the end of the season and the Flames tinkering at the TDL.

      The big question is what does BT do at the end of the season, and if nothing, then does BB step in and make wholesale changes? Big changes are needed. Unfortunately, I’m not too sure they won’t all take a look, shrug and say it just wasn’t our year, let’s give them another shot. This team is losing me fast this season, and if it continues unchecked over the summer its definitely going to be the time for other activities…..

      • Dr

        Ryan isn’t even including the blown leads during the seven game win streak: 3-0 against Chicago, but won in OT, 2-0 lead against the Wild, but won in OT, and 2-0 lead against the Ducks, but won on a last minute goal in regulation. 5 of those teams were below the playoff cutline at the time too. Where would this team be without OT points? After all, they have only three more wins than the Oilers.

    • McRib

      Rasmus Andersson NHLe 25.06. Michael Stone NHLe 4.82.

      People defending Stone should go watch his game closely, he spends entire shifts hemmed in the defensive zone because he doesn’t regroup fast enough on his defensive zone puck retrievals and regularly misses key breakout pass outlets. Stone is what I call a slow leak player who doesn’t have any glaring mistakes, but is playing from behind constantly all game. Kulak has made Stone respectable most of this year, because Stone was a gong show before with Bartkowski, but Kulak will sit not Stone when the inevitable happens and GG shows more blind loyalty to Bartkowski.

  • Off the wall

    I honestly don’t care anymore.
    We had a 7 game winning streak, followed by a six game losing streak. Chicago lost against Vancouver tonight, so they’ll be much better when they see us next. I foresee another loss.

    Does anyone think we’re capable of going 18-12-1 for the remainder of our games?

    My best guess is we end up 10th in the Conference. We’re now -3 in goal differential. No other team that is in the playoff picture has a negative differential. Think about that.

    Btw, the Knights just set a new NHL record in wins for an expansion team. That’s in 50 games!

    I’m jealous of an expansion team, that has no real superstars. Just hard working players, great coaching and get this— while going through 5… yes , 5 goaltenders due to injuries.
    What a team that inspires!

    I know who I’ll be cheering for come playoffs, we’re not going to be there..

    • Derzie

      The Knights are making a mockery of the NHL. The parity in the league is ridiculous. The standings are of no value mid-season. I really wish I had something else (a competing hockey league) to watch other than the NHL. If I did, I’d watch that. Since I don’t, see you next game. sigh.

        • Derzie

          It is the amount that I have a problem with. It’s like the cap. It helps create parity but the wider, the gap between floor and ceiling, the looser the parity. It’s not all or nothing. We need a league with great teams and terrible teams and some separation in the middle. Wider cap gap is one way. Less teams would help too.

          • Flint

            We have great teams – TBL, VEG, WPG, BOS, NSH…. all of those teams are playing over .650% hockey. And we have really lousy teams – ARZ, BUF, OTT are all under .450%… MTL and VAN are not far behind. That’s ten of the 31 teams who are either playing extremely well or extremely poorly.

            Try explaining how more disparity would make games in the middle of the season MORE meaningful. You mean that being 90% certain team A is going to demolish team B by a score of 8-2 or 6-0 is going to make you tune in?

            I feel like you are in fact arguing for the opposite thing you think you are arguing for and don’t yet realize it.

      • cberg

        Vegas is playing like the Flames under Hartley. Give the players the green light to attack, attack, attack. Never give up. Great coaching making the most out of the players he has to work with. No superstars, but great team play.

    • everton fc

      McPhee gets a lot of credit, in Vegas. Especially poaching Gallant. Could have been us…

      Those thinking Queenville will get fired, let alone come here… Don’t waste time dreaming about that scenario.

      We cannot seem to get stoked, at home. Our PP is terrible, but when you can’t win at home, you won’t make the playoffs. Simple as that.

      The only hope I see is we somehow get in the playoffs as the 8th seed, which helps us, because we’ll be on the road the entire playoffs. But, like the Queenville comment, aforementioned… A scenario I shouldn’t invest much time in .

    • McRib

      Vegas and Tampa Bay are leading the league because they have four lines of skilled (mostly undersized or only averaged height) players and Brian Burke is still preaching that we “need more toughness and grit”. Pittsburgh just won two cups because of four lines of skilled players. Yet we’re still trying to build a roster to compete with the “mean and tough” Anaheim’s of the world, even though Anaheim loses to skilled teams in the Western Conference Semi-Finals or Finals every year now for eleven years.

      Last night we got in a run and gun match up with a team that had far more scoring depth, therefore we lost. Blame it on goaltending all you want, but when you have a team like we do with the amount of players that we do with three goals or less (Brouwer, Stajan, Lazar, Hathaway, Brodie, Hamonic, Stone, Versteeg, etc) you aren’t going to out gun a big dog like Tampa Bay. Time to insert Andersson, Mangiapane, possibly even a shooter like Spencer Foo into this lineup to inject more offence. It won’t happen soon though because the fourth line literally played their only good game all of this season and this management is that shortsighted.

  • The Doctor

    Agree with the author that despite the extremely irritating result, Flames really didn’t play that badly. Come on people, we had 46 shots on goal. Every once in a while, no matter how good your goaltending is generally, you get out-goaltended and that’s the bottom line.

      • OntarioFlame

        Don’t look at the position, look at the points, Flames are two points out of sixth in the west with a game in hand on the ducks. 2 points back of the Sharks giving up a game. They play the ducks one more time, and the sharks twice. Those are the games where you’ll find out if this team has the balls to go on a run in the playoffs.

  • Hockey4life

    Anyone want something fun to do? Type Glen Gulutzan into google and go to images. I found one…yes just one that shows any emotion in his face. Now do the same for Hartley…the difference says it all. This team needs emotion back in their game and it starts behind the bench.

  • seamax

    I see Ken King’s favourite journalist Eric Francis is ripping Gully on Twitter for pulling Smith. That can only mean one thing – management is getting ready to fire him and is feeding Francis the lines to pave the way, just like they used him to send the message Elliott was done in Calgary after the playoff loss last year.

    • Chiz

      Francis just had an article on sportsnet that said how everyone needs to relax and that nobody is getting fired. He went on to say how the team has lost 5 in a row (now 6), blown leads in all of them, a terrible power play, lacks killer instinct, etc… but that nobody should be fired. I found it puzzling.

  • Korcan

    Time for GG to shake up the lineup. It’s not that anyone is necessarily playing badly – the effort is there, but when you are on a six game losing streak and in each game you gave up a lead, change needs to take place if for no reason than just to go into the next game with something different/new/fresh. Psychologically, it could be a positive shock to the system for a team that is looking increasingly fragile. I mentioned this after last game, and I will again. I would like to see Tkachuk spend time on a line with Johny and Mony – he has the skill set and definitely will provide a spark. So too could Bennett on a line with Backs and Frolik. Then have Ferland play a game or so with Janks and Brouwer – he might give them an offensive boost. Finally, leave the fourth line alone – they’ve been playing great. What is there to lose? It might just give each line the jolt they need to get over this mental hurdle they are facing. What we can’t continue with is the status quo.

    • Puckhead

      It’s GG’s job to lose (and Tre’s for that matter) so let him pick and choose his lines and special team formations(?). Personally I would play to win but that’s just me.

      On one hand it’s reassuring to see teams sucking a$$ more than our team but on the other hand it’s maddening to see such a waste of talent.

      I think I’ll go pee on a CoilEr jersey now – it’s one thing that’s guaranteed to always make me feel better ???

      • everton fc

        It won’t matter. We lack inspiration, many nights. All these guys are motivated – you have to be in hockey, or you risk injury and bad contract negotiations. Inspiration is what seems to be lacking, particularly at home. The PP is a big issue, as well. But when you can’t get pumped playing in front of your own fans…

        That’s a huge issue.

        Check out Vegas home record. Then ours. And it’s not because we play in the obsolete, old Dome. Gulutzan would have Vegas where the Avs were, last season. He’s an AHL had coach at best, me thinks. Perhaps a good assistant in the NHL. Perhaps a good WHL/OHL/Q coach… Or so it seems…

  • JoelOttosJock

    Despite the outcome I was impressed with Hathaway and Lazar’s chemistry. Mike Smith is not capable of holding a 1 goal lead. His save % with the one goal lead is under .900 5on5. This is not a good number and worries me. Team defence needs to be better. No killer instinct.

  • Lucky 13

    For my final act, I will be purchasing a red look- alike Flames jersey with Gulutzan’s name on it.
    I will engulfing it in ?

    I will make it visible by a “Red Mile”

    Hopefully this sends a psychological message to Treliving via his ‘dreams’ to Fire the Genius Gel. Treliving will act upon it, believing it was his idea.

    But we’ll know different…..

  • Brownblazer

    They just seem so fragile psychologically- when they’re confident they can play with the best in the league. Their play with the lead is terrible. This is directly on coach. The goal in the first minute of the third can’t happen- they looked like they were on their heals from the drop of the puck in the 3rd.

    • trox

      Related point: in what universe should our third or fourth line start a period on home ice? If Tampa starts its top line, you counter with 3M. If they start any other line, you play the top line. We get gifted one ideal match-up per period and we pi$$ it away.

  • Lucky 13

    Glen Gulutzan on facing the Lightning:

    “I know what this group is made of. If we’re going to judge tomorrow by, if we win they’re a great group and if they lose they’re a bad group then we’re missing the boat. I think tomorrow this team is playing a good team and they’re going to put together a great effort – like we did for last game and just didn’t get what we wanted – I think that’s going to happen. But once again I’m not going to get into the euphoria of the seven wins and how great we are when really we could have lost two or three of those games and the downer of, hey we blew a game at home and had it under control for 58 minutes and now the world’s going to end – I don’t ride that train. I fully expect, knowing the group, that they will be ready to play. We’re playing a good team and it’s a game and if we knew who was going to win we wouldn’t have to play the games.”

    And you wonder what’s in his gel head?

  • Rambo

    The flames are a good team. Its been a case of unfortuanate events happening all season long

    Everybody is saying goaltending has saved this team but did you know Smith has the 6th worst save percentage when the flames are leading? Inopportune powerplay bad shooting percentage bad breaks has cost the team a ton of points.we are on a 6 game losing streak but guarantee you we have been leading more than trailing, we have more scoring chances for than against . It is incredibly unlucky. Let’s hope bounces even up

  • Geeker 98

    Still don’t know why the Flames let Hartley go, as an Oilers fan I always envied your effort in those pre McDavid games. If I could hand pick a player off your team it would be Gio , I know he is on in years he is honest in his play and his path to the NHL demands respect.

  • Ktop

    It’s simple. Look what GG is doing with Vegas. What do you think he could do with us? We’re only 2 points out but our coach isn’t the coach to get us to the cup. Period!

  • PlayitagainSam

    Until this team makes a drastic move nothing will change. We are nothing more than a bubble team. Other than the 80’s,that’s pretty much what we have always been.

    • cberg

      Unfortunately, you’re pretty right on with that assessment. It seems we may have fallen into the Oiler’s mode of thinking, that just as long as the team is making money things are OK. To heck with doing everything possible to win, to heck with having the balls to make the really tough decisions when its clear you’ve made a mistake (i.e. GG….). Just ride out the season, this is ENTERTAINMENT after all… aren’t you entertained?

    • BlueMoonNigel

      I recall roasting the hiring on this site when it came down and for every cheer my comment received, I got five jeers. Supporters of the hire on this site proceeded to call me a troll and much worse–an Oiler fan. Still my generous mind wondered if the yokels truly liked the hire or were just rallying around Tre. The answer now is pretty obvious.

    • ComeOn

      I watched a single video of Gully talking about how to develop defencemen, it was atrocious and obvious that you’d be sick of him within five minutes of playing for him. And I haven’t seen anything different…at any point thus far. I just don’t want to see us waste the opportunity we’re presented with by having a goalie like Smith.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    I’m on the road and unable to watch live for long time. Living on hi-lites and FN and not liking what I’m seeing. We had a 7 game hi & now comes the low. Gotta say that they’re pretty creative in engineering the losses. Not conventional blow outs that’s for sure. This group has tons of talent and character but is the talent being managed effectively? They need a road trip and they need one fast.

  • Craigster

    For anyone who thinks GG is getting fired, it’s wishful thinking. In most cases (if not all) a coach who is fired mid-season is replaced by an assistant as an interim. Do you really want Cameron coaching this team? Treliving also does not make reactionary moves. He’s can only do this move once more before it’s his job. It’s very likely that, unless somehow Calgary makes the playoffs and goes deep, there will be a coaching change next season, but it will be in the off season.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      All what you say is true, but I am still going to toss in a “yeah but.” Yeah but why do they have to hire Cameron? Why not Jirrard? Why wouldn’t Tre want to go down in history as the first GM in NHL history to hire a black coach and to do it in Black History Month to boot? Looks like a winner no matter how you chop, slice or dice it.

    • ComeOn

      Doesn’t mean that its the wrong choice though! Treliving has a real problem, waste the potential of this team with Smith behind them…or capture the opportunity. Figure it out…we don’t need a big name coach that can only be hired in the off season