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Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: the friendship tour hits Brooklyn

After a fairly uneven and uninspired effort on Friday in Manhattan, the Calgary Flames completed their tour of the New York City metro area on Sunday evening when they faced Brooklyn’s New York Islanders. Despite getting down by a 2-0 margin at one point the Flames were generally the better team. They were eventually rewarded for their efforts, with sophomore sensation Matthew Tkachuk factoring into three goals – one way or another – en route to a 3-2 road win over the Islanders.

The Rundown

The Flames got off to a decent start, but they couldn’t bury their chances and the Islanders took a lead on a weird play (and an uncharacteristically soft goal on Mike Smith). T.J. Brodie lost the puck in his own end and it trickled right onto the stick of Casey Cizikas, who poked the loose puck through Smith’s five-hole to make it 1-0. The rest of the period was rather tight. Ryan Lomberg, in an apparent attempt to spark the bench, was dummied by the much-larger Ross Johnston in a fight late in the period. He did not return to the game. Shots were 11-9 Flames but scoring chances were even at 10-10.

The Islanders doubled their lead early in the second off another weird mixture of defensive miscues and soft goaltending. Anthony Beauvillier beat Smith with a wrist shot from the point that went between Matt Stajan’s legs at the high slot… and then through Smith’s five-hole to make it 2-0. Smith probably couldn’t see it, but that’s one he has to have in a close game. The Flames answered back later in the period off a nice effort late on a power play. Some tic-tac-toe passing from under the red line from Johnny Gaudreau to Sam Bennett to Mark Jankowski ended with a tap-in for the rookie center and drew the Flames closer at 2-1.

Shots were 14-7 Flames and chances were 8-5 Flames.

The visitors generated a lot of pressure in the third and they were able to draw even midway through the period. After a Brett Kulak dump-in, Michael Frolik beat the Islanders to the loose puck and chucked it on net, where Matthew Tkachuk redirected it over Jaroslav Halak’s pads to make it 2-2.

And Tkachuk completed the Flames’ comeback late in the third with another nifty tip. With 65 seconds remaining in regulation, he redirected a Travis Hamonic point shot that was looking like it was going to miss the net entirely. Tkachuk’s redirect went off the inside post and trickled in to make it 3-2. The Islanders pulled Halak late but could not tie things up. Smith left the game with 1.1 seconds left with an apparent lower body injury and David Rittich finished the game off. Shots were 19-7 Flames and scoring chances were 19-2 Flames.

Why The Flames Won

The Flames were decent but a bit jumpy for the first half of the game and were fairly unlucky to be down 2-0. But they absolutely doubled down on their efforts and took over the game in the second half. They out-worked, out-battled and out-chanced the Islanders in the remainder of the game and probably should’ve had more than three goals.

Red Warrior

Tkachuk. Hands-down, the most impactful Flame tonight. He drew three penalties, one which led to a goal, and scored the other two himself.

But if you look at the game-scores, nobody really had a bad game (aside from maybe the fourth line). It was as complete a game as you could ask for from this group, and a nice 180 from their uneven performance against the Rangers 48 hours prior.

The Turning Point

The Tkachuk tying goal was a long time coming, but it effectively poked a hole in the hull of the Islanders ship that was slowly taking on water before that point. From then on, the water came gushing in and it was only a matter of time before things went the Flames’ way.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Jankowski 85.7 75.0 1.545
Bennett 79.0 50.0 1.225
Hamilton 70.0 92.9 0.975
Kulak 69.6 80.0 1.000
Hathaway 66.7 66.7 0.000
Gaudreau 64.1 100 1.825
Backlund 62.2 66.7 0.745
Ferland 61.6 100 0.575
Giordano 61.3 92.9 0.650
Hamonic 57.9 71.4 1.125
Brodie 56.1 71.4 0.525
Tkachuk 55.9 66.7 2.900
Monahan 55.9 100 0.420
Stone 55.6 80.0 0.075
Frolik 55.0 66.7 1.915
Lazar 55.0 100 -0.150
Stajan 45.5 100 -0.300
Lomberg 0.0 100 -0.200
Smith 0.800
Rittich 0.000

This and That

Down in the AHL, the Stockton Heat lost a razor-thin 5-4 decision to the Milwaukee Admirals. Andrew Mangiapane had a goal and three points (yay!) but Tyler Parsons left late in the third period with an apparent injury (boo!).

Tkachuk’s goal was his 20th of the season, which likely triggers a Schedule A performance bonus of around $212,500.

The Drive to 95 (Points)

The Flames now have 66 points with 26 games remaining. They need 29 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 14-11-1 record to hit the 95 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.

Up Next

The Flames (29-19-8) head up the coast to Boston tonight. They play the Bruins on Tuesday night in pursuit of their 30th victory of the season.

  • Heeeeeere's Johnny!

    I have to say I can’t remember a game where the entire team was above 50% offensive zone starts. Some of that was Halak freezing the puck so often but it was mostly possession dominance.

    I’m very critical of Bennett but he was better tonight … other than another completely brain dead o-zone penalty. Gotta stop! Not sure what to do other than to sit him down or at least staple him to the bench for a period.

    • The Doctor

      I wouldn’t bench him right at this moment. He just played his best game in some time. But yes, the penalty was one huge check mark in the “bad” column.

  • Hockeyfan

    And all you “experts” want to sign backs and his measly 10 goals to 6 mil for 6 years? Byng drives that line, backs trade a coming along with TJ for scoring forward and 1st pick.

    • BendingCorners

      Funny guy. Backlund has 34 points on track for 48. Somebody has to set up the goal scorer and help the D. Guess who?
      Brodie won’t be going anywhere until BT is sure a good replacement is ready. Right now there are no younger LD pushing for his spot.
      But yes Chuckie drives that line.
      One out of three ain’t good but please play again.

      • Mickey O

        @BendingCorners…under different circumstances I dare say that Valimaki would make many teams out of training camp next season. I think he’s got that much potential. But Treliving takes his time with prospects, and doesn’t needlessly rush them.

        • BendingCorners

          Yes I’m looking forward to seeing him in camp and maybe as a callup next year (pretty sure he won’t be back in Junior). He might make it easier to move Brodie sometime next season or in the summer of 2019.

      • KKisTHEproblem

        Kylington? Young LD, .6 pts/game, still only 20 years old (seems like he’s been in the Flames org forever. Wotherspoon, .67 pts/game, plus 19 etc. Not quite so young anymore but I still can’t figure out what he has to do to get a few games in the show…

    • FLT

      I don’t want to dignify this with a response, but I’m half cut and weak willed. No slight to Tkachuk but Backs was driving lines long before he came along. If the flames were to trade him now they could kiss whatever playoff aspirations they have goodbye.

    • FlamesFan27

      No one wants to sign Backlund for 6 years at $6M. But he’s a very good second line centre, and I hope we keep him especially with a lack of depth at centre. Something more like 5×5.

      But Tkachuk is the real deal. He will have a big payday coming up. He shows up every night and has some pretty sweet hands and hockey smarts.

      • Mickey O

        Backlund’s camp has already said they are looking at a $5-6M contract for 5 or 6 years. Treliving won’t want to give him the 6th year, so he’ll up the salary. He’ll end up getting $5.85M for 5 years.

  • IUsedToHaveAName

    I’m not really as worried as maybe I should be if Smith is going to be out for a while. Rittich has been good every time he’s played.

    What worries me is having Gillies as the back up.

  • Mickey O

    Apart from Tkachuk’s monster game, Dougie Hamilton was all over the ice – in a good way. He was up in offensive zone many times, behind and in front of the net. Now he’s getting 1PP minutes as well, and he’s been criminally under used by Gulutzan again. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come.

    • freethe flames

      TSpoon also had another goal. Here’s my question; when will this kid get a chance? Top 10 in D for points in the AHL, plays against other teams top forward units, plays both special teams and has a great +/-; sounds to me like he has made some progress.

      • The Doctor

        I think you’re right about Tspoon, and I think the bias against him stems from the fact that he didn’t impress a ton when he was first brought up for looks in prior seasons. So he sort of fell back a spot or two in the D prospect depth chart (and Kulak stepped up). I think it’s tough to work yourself back up the depth chart once that’s happened.

          • The Doctor

            Didn’t know about Tspoon’s shoulder injury. I see what you mean about him having an impressive year — he’s on pace to put up more points than he ever did in junior, and he was a decent producer in junior.

      • Puckhead

        The only knock against TSpoon is that he really is a defensive defenseman. What drives me crazy is that we need some of these meat and potatoes Dmen on the roster.

      • Mickey O

        He’d be an ideal 7th d-man next year. The trouble is that TSpoon can walk because he hasn’t played enough games in the NHL. If he’s okay riding the pine for a big league paycheque, Treliving should really try and sign him.

    • Mickey O

      The kid obviously has talent, and the team needs to really put him on a training regime to improve his lower body strength. He should be in the gym a ton this summer. Pretty impressive for a 6th rounder.

    • The Doctor

      If I were Mangiapane, I would go on a serious Gary Roberts style strength program this coming summer. I think that’s a big part of the difference between AHL Mangi and NHL Mangi right now.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    2 more goals for Chucky tonight, but let’s not kid ourselves. By all rights, we would all rather see him in Korea now giving Doughty fits with a stinky glove to the face and an elbow to the chops and outmuscling Burns in front of the Canadian cage and deflecting a Gaudreau wrister that just goes under the crossbar behind Price for the game winning goal. Now that’s hockey!

      • BlueMoonNigel

        I don’t care if Chucky is on Team Hell and is playing Team Heaven’s Doughty and Burns in skittles, I want to see Chucky kick their arses. Ditto for Getzlaf.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        So you would be cool if Doughty, with a big red maple leaf on his chest, in an attempt to stop Matty from being the wrecking crew, gave Matty’s ankle 40 whacks and when he was done, he gave the other 41, and in so doing busted Matty’s ankle and left him on the shelf for the remainder of the season? That’s okay with you and the other hosebags? Drew “Candyass” Doughty can be plastered with maple leaves and I will never cheer for him. He’s a punk and he plays like it. Look at all the cheap shots he gave Johnny in Gaudreau’s rookie season. Thought he could do the same with first-year Matty, but the man bit the dog.

  • Boring Flames Fan

    I really like Matthew Tkachuk.
    I bought a pair of socks, one sock has, “ Tka “ on it the other one has “ Chuck”

    I will wear them at the next hockey game in Calgary.
    I will take my shoes off and show him on the Jumbotron.

    I hope he likes it and gives me a unchewed mouth guard.

      • Puckhead

        The fictional edit button is being engineered in Edmonton. Edmonton is not a happy place because they do not have one fan with special socks to buoy their vaunted hockey team to victory. I’m sorry to tell you that there will be no edit button from Shelbyville this season. Shelbyville is a sad, sad place with monotone socks. 😢

      • dontcryWOLF

        Petitioning for the edit option is a lost cause. I think we all need to accept that the older and better site is gone forever. We all got milk bagged. Deal woth it.

  • Lucky 13

    A few things of my chest and then I’ll be fine.

    I love Byng! What more can you ask for from this kid?
    He was 6th overall in the draft, he probably should have been 3rd. We’re very lucky.

    I think we have to stop comparing Tkachuk and Bennett.
    I’m not trying to say Bennett doesn’t deserve some criticism, he does. I know he’s a high draft pick, and expectations are high.
    But he’s not Tkachuk. Nor will he ever be. Tkachuk is a rare breed who was exposed to NHL players at a young age. I think it says a lot for his maturity at this level.

    Bennett isn’t mature. He’s in a bad place mentally at times and frustration eats him up. I’m sure he wants to be much better, but can’t figure out what it’s going to take to get there. GG is probably making a mess of his confidence. Jagr knew how to give positive reinforcement. Jagr is gone, so is Bennett mentally.

    We can trade him and wash our hands of him, or we can maintain a reasonable plan for his development. I believe the latter is best for Bennett.

    I won’t label him a bust, you’re welcome to, but I don’t think it’s fair.

    We have a great team. We’re underachieving in my opinion.
    Sure Gaudreau, Monahan and Ferland are having record seasons, but really who else is?
    You can’t win with one great line.
    Tkachuk is only going to get better. Backlund shouldn’t need him.

    It’s time to change the complexion of our lines.
    Did you see Bennett- Jankowski and Tkachuk share a line tonight? I sure did. It was beautiful, the Islanders were stuck in their zone for 40 seconds. It was razzle -dazzle time for that one single shift.

    If we’re ready to make a postseason push, we need 3 effective lines going and a great energy 4th line.

    The first line needs no changes.
    Hrivik- Backlund- Frolik
    Bennett- Jankowski- Tkachuk
    Lazar- Stajan- Hathaway
    Lomberg can fit in with Lazar as needed. By the way, I hope he’s ok after taking on Johnston the giant!

    Hrivik is 26 with some NHL experience. Not the perfect option but I think it gives us a better 3 lines in terms of depth.

    With Smith and his potential injury, we need to rely on scoring depth.

    I hope we consider some alternatives at least.

    • Jessemadnote

      I think it’s a great idea, though Hrivik may not quite be there, I’d be curious to see Lazar in that role, he’s proven to be at least defensively responsible even if his offense is microscopic

      • Lucky 13

        Agree it’s not ideal Jesse. It might work until Brouwer is back. Then Brouwer can replace Hrivik on that line.

        I know I’ll get trashed for mentioning Brouwer on the Backlund line, however I think it spreads the depth out a bit.
        And Brouwer was alright in that role when Frolik was out of commission.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      No linemate is going to fix Bennett and breaking up the 3M is still uncool. They’re still effective possession players.

      But in-game everyone gets a look with everyone else when anyway. Particularly when we’re down by one late in the second and Gully starts the blender. (Johnny and Stajan, anyone?)

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Why do you and others insist the Flames were lucky to get Tkachuk? In so doing, you are saying that Tre was no different from old Marge who just happened to with the lottery with her quick pick–no skill just luck. That’s where you’re dead wrong. Tre tilted the draft in his favour. How?

      Tre bent the ear of Columbus GM Kekalainen by painting a picture of Kekalainen’s bleak future might look like if the Finnish GM drafted a kid who turned out to be the Finnish floppa. (Rumour has it that Tre used the Sutter example of targeting big boys from the WHL as his ruinous draft strategy.) Once Tre planted seeds of doubt in Kekalainen’s mind, the tumblers started to fall into place. Kekalainen drafted the big French kid, whom Tre also pumped the tires on. Whatever draft strategy the Oilers had flew out the window when they saw who Kekalainen had selected. Come hell or high water, Benning was drafting a defenceman and that is exactly what he did, thereby leaving Tkachuk available at 6.

      Tre playing mind games with Kekalainen and knowing what Baldy in Edmonton would do if the other Finn was available and that Benning was fixed on drafting a defender is how Matty ended up being a Flame. Far more finesse involved than just telling the clerk, “Quick pick and the plus.”

      As for Matty, during most of his time in London, he was quick to point out to anybody who listened to him that he was the straw that stirred the drink on the top line. Cocky or brutally honest was he? You tell me.

  • 666

    If anyone actually watched the game, Jankowski (yes he scored) was not very good, again. The more i read these articles with the corsi scores after the less and less it means to me.

  • oilcanboyd

    Time to thank the three GMs who made brutal draft picks and passed on Byng so he would go to the team he wanted to play for after he went through the interviews.