The Boston Bruins are a really good hockey team. They’ve been playing some of their best hockey of the season lately. The Calgary Flames have also been fairly good, but they’re (a) five games into a lengthy road trip and (b) without Mike Smith, arguably their best player. They sure looked like a tired, shaky bunch throughout a 5-2 loss to the Bruins on Tuesday night.
A game against a top team can be construed as a measuring stick; on this occasion, the Flames did not measure up in the slightest.
The Flames got off to a rough start. The Bruins generated a bunch of chances off the opening face-off, and 28 seconds in Riley Nash buried a pass from behind the net from David Backes to make it 1-0. But the Flames answered back a minute and a half later, as Garnet Hathaway’s crashing and banging behind the net dislodged the puck… which squirted right out front to Sam Bennett for a tap-in to make it 1-1. Midway through the period, the Flames took the lead. On a shift that generated multiple scoring chances, Johnny Gaudreau tapped a rebound past a prone Tuukka Rask to make it 2-1. Shots were 11-10 Flames, scoring chances were 9-7 Bruins
The Flames were flat in the second. An early power play resulted in jack squat, but it gave the Bruins some energy. A bit of tic-tac-toe passing after a kill allowed Charlie McAvoy to set up Nash for a tap-in and his second goal of the game to tie things up at 2-2. That was all the offense anybody got in the second, but the Bruins were all over the Flames throughout the period. Shots were 15-8 Bruins, chances were 8-3 Bruins.
The Flames played awful in the third period, so here’s a picture of a dog.
Very good dog alert. ? pic.twitter.com/OBePfKReQh
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 14, 2018
What a good boy.
The Flames were scored on thrice in the third. First, with Michael Frolik in the box, Patrice Bergeron was sprung on a partial rush by Torey Krug. Bergeron’s wrister beat David Rittich to make it 3-2. Later in the period, the Bruins got a three-on-two rush off a bad Flames line change. The initial scoring chance was broken up, but Brad Marchand’s subsequent shot – with fresh Flames skaters scrambling to cover somebody (anybody!) ended up with a Bergeron tip and a 4-2 lead for the home side. Zdeno Chara added an empty netter with just under four minutes left to ice this one. Shots were 10-8 Bruins, but chances were 5-5.
Why The Flames Lost
Boston was flat-out better than them, but the special teams opportunities the Flames got really should’ve given them a chance to stay in the game. They did not. Special teams cost them points tonight.
Let’s go with Bennett, who scored a goal and was crashing and banging throughout the game.
The Turning Point
The Flames had two power plays while the game was tied. They had another power play when they were down 3-2. They generated nothing. Pick any one of those three woeful PPs, which gave tons of momentum to the Bruins.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
The Drive to 96 (Points)
The Flames now have 66 points with 25 games remaining. They need 30 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 15-10-0 record to hit the 96 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.
The Flames (29-20-8) jet off to Tennessee tonight. They’ll play Nashville on Thursday night in the finale of their road trip.