Bruins 2, Flames 1 (OT) post-game embers: Half-redemption

A point is a point, right? Ignore the razor thin margin it’s looking like it will take to make the playoffs, and the -6 goal differential. A point is a point.

Bounce back

The Flames had a number of things they had to correct.

A horrible first period, during which they were outshot 13-4? They did just that, building up to an outshot 10-8 second, and outshooting the Bruins 12-7 in the third, not to mention 5-2 in overtime. Their first period was unquestionably horrible, but they only conceded one goal, and managed to come back from it, scoring a goal of their own and refusing to give up any more. Their play improved, to the point where they probably should have had the overtime win.

David Rittich rebounded from a bad game against the Panthers. He went from stopping just 11 of 15 shots to stopping 30 of 32, including a couple of breakaways (though it wasn’t surprising to see him pissed after letting the third one in). Rittich is the only reason they even had a chance during, and after, the first period. He got them the point.

Special teams, too, had a bounce back. Against the Panthers, their kill went two-for-four and their powerplay two-for-seven, the powerplay keeping them in it but their penalty kill sinking them. Against the Bruins, their kill was a perfect two-for-two, and their powerplay, one-for-three. They have now scored five powerplay goals in their past three games, a 38% success rate, and have been seven-for-23 (30%) in their past six games, a time when Dougie Hamilton moved to the first unit. Funny, that.

Matthew Tkachuk might just have a future in this league

And then their was the powerplay goal scorer: Matthew Tkachuk. He’s up to 22 goals and 21 assists – 43 points – in 58 games. He’s on pace for 30 goals and 59 points this season. He’s a 20-year-old sophomore who takes more defensive zone and tougher competition assignments than not.

Just as Johnny Gaudreau has separated himself from the rest of the Flames in scoring, and Sean Monahan has separated himself from everyone but Gaudreau, Tkachuk has followed in suit, that third tier of separation, nine points higher than a trio of players with 34 points each (Micheal Ferland, Mikael Backlund, Hamilton). He doesn’t have the raw offensive talent Gaudreau does (50 assists for the first time in his career), and he isn’t putting the puck in the net like Monahan is (five goals back for second on the team), but he’s just about there with them.

There are a handful of excellent forwards on this team. You can probably start making the argument that Tkachuk is the best of the bunch. His next contract is going to be real interesting, because if he keeps this up, it’s going to be difficult seeing him fit under the internal Mark Giordano cap.

Ice times

Morgan Klimchuk played 7:25 in his NHL debut, not really making much of an impression one way or the other – which isn’t bad at all for a debut. Kudos to his 58.33% 5v5 CF, at least, even with 71.43% offensive zone starts – everyone has to start somewhere, and hopefully, he’ll get another crack at it.

Hamilton has really been coming into his own lately, something about maybe being used properly by his coaches. His 22:49 in ice time should raise some eyebrows, though, mostly because Brodie led the way with 26:26, including a healthy heaping of both special teams and, uh, 1:34 in overtime. Giordano played 1:11 in overtime. Hamilton played 51 seconds.

The Flames’ insistence on using Brodie as a number one defenceman despite it being very clear that he is not a number one defenceman (and there are two extremely good defencemen right above him on the depth chart) has been going on all season, and it has always been baffling. Number one powerplay unit despite being averse to shooting? Go-to guy in overtime…? There’s a bizarre infatuation here, especially considering he’s said he prefers to play on his right side and yet, under this coaching staff, is playing more than ever, all on his left. Very, very little of this makes sense.

My impression is that Brodie gets sent out more than Hamilton because he’s seen as more defensively responsible (probably in part because Hamilton puts up a lot of points and someone who scores a lot can’t be good defensively, right? Please ignore that Tkachuk over there). Not quite sure how that argument can be made as of late, and certainly not with the way overtime ended.

There are worse ways to mismanage players, sure… but here’s an example with consistently little to no payoff. It’s been 60 games.

  • moodyblue2

    The team needs a shake-up in the form of a multiple player trade or a coaching change or we are not heading to post season! Do the owners have the where with all!

    • Raffydog

      Give it up with the playoffs talk. The Flames aren’t making the playoffs. They have a negative goal differential, they can’t win at home, and they have terrible coaching. To make the playoffs they would have to overcome all those odds against them, and this isn’t a team that has “defying the odds” kind of talent.

  • buts

    Look at GG’s post game interview. His indifference, his lack of any emotion, I know some people are not going show there emotions to the press but give me a break. His team comes out flatter than a pancake in both the first and second periods, the teams give a crap meter is just like his in the presser. People wonder what the teams identity is and all you have to look at is this unaccountable “they were the better team and deserved to win” coach we have behind the bench. How BT has not made a move to replace GG and his choice of pp coach Cameron is beyond stupid.

    • withachance

      What’s beyond stupid is to hire a new coach and not have the patience to see where he can take the team within 2 seasons (only GG’s second season), or to fire a coach in the middle of a playoff race with no clear replacements in sight. I agree GG is probably not what is needed for this group, but firing him now isn’t the answer. Offseason is when major changes should be made, instead of panicking in the middle of the season when the team has a chance of making playoffs. Chill

        • withachance

          I understand this team is not where it should be and underachieving. I’m just against making rash decisions with no timing in mind. Glad BT is sensible enough to not be trigger happy

          • YWC

            Underachieving?? I know as a fan of this team we should be homers, but what was your expectation at the start of the season? I’m sure not many people outside Calgary pegged flames as bonified number one of the east nevermind the top of the division. (yes I know that was given to the Oilers). But my point is that I dont think we are underperforming as badly as people might think. We have a good D, but we still lack some depth scoring and some wings. The third line has to become a regular threat to put us in the conversation. Not blaming the the third line players but they are still inconsistence probably bc they need more experience under their belt.

        • buts

          Nothing wrong with being proactive and trying to save a season with interim coaching…..can’t be any worse and changing the coach has work for NJ and a few others.

        • withachance

          The Canucks with Green definitely didn’t have a slow start this year. Dallas with Hitchcock didn’t have a slow start (albeit Dallas has a stacked forward corps and Hitchcock is Hitchcock), Stephens with the Kings didn’t have a slow start this season either, and Gallant definitely not having a slow season. Please don’t make assumptions.

      • Cfan in Van

        withachance is right. GG isn’t the answer, but making lateral (or backwards) moves at this point in the season is going to set us back further. Unfortunately, there no awesome coaches available at the moment, and no overly-obvious player acquisitions that we can A) afford without further mortgaging the fututre , and B) fit our needs to a tee. So many people screaming for change, but without any logical suggestions for what the change might be.
        A coaching change only makes sense if there is someone ready and waiting to step in and improve the team. The team will take time to adjust to a new system, and there are 25 games left.
        Acquiring top-tier talent is going to either put us in a crap position in a couple years or make huge holes in the line-up or, whether you think they are currently filled with optimal players or not.

    • rusty_shakleforde

      Did y’all see his post game? He refused to answer a question about our turnovers, and refused to talk about how poorly we play at home. He’s just getting more and more defensive. Not a good sign.

      • Puckhead

        Backlund continually gets thrown out against top lines night in and night out. That’s a tall order and to ask of anyone and to lay blame on a single player is not right. In case you haven’t noticed, our defensive system (if you can call it that) is suspect and the teams +/- is less than stellar.

        • Burnward

          Oh, I got plenty of blame to go around. Just hoping the guy who cashed a 25 mil cheque would show a little more jam than floating around for the next two games.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Don’t know what is going on with Brodie, from a dependable offensive defenseman to a mistake prone D man. He seems to be getting worse as the season progresses. If a trade is being contemplated Brodie should be in the mix.

    • Derzie

      If any of us had to do our job at a high level from an unfamiliar perspective, we would not do our best either. Until Brodie gets back to his comfortable side, we would be trading low. Maybe he has regressed but we won’t know until he is properly played.

  • Puckhead

    Although the Flames came back with a good third period, what stood out for me with the Bruins was their confidence on the puck, quick passing, and speed. They pressure the puck carrier and when they got the puck they put their heads down and tried to drive the play towards the net. They also always seemed to have players back and seldom gave up the middle of the ice. The Bruins are a good, well coached, team.

  • Rambo

    Sick and tired of Brodie. When has he not made a defensive mistake? Finally i feel like FN is seeing what I’m seeing for the past 2 years. I have no clue what happened to this guy. He was one of best valued contracts in the league and now I would say he is over priced.

    On another note why does Mikael Backlund have the worst plus minus on the team??

    • Chucky

      It is laughable that people keep criticizing Brodie for his mistakes when they are talking about his turnovers in the Flames end. He is following the system because he does not feel comfortable. Every team with a video coach can watch the Flames and predict how they are going to come out of their own end. They can depend on Brodie to do what the coach wants so they just disguise the coverage and then jump the inevitable pass. Yesterday once he got onto the right side and came out of his zone with confidence.
      Brodie’s problems are a coaching failure, but is also a management failure because they bought into Gulutzan’s stupidity and paid through the nose for right defensemen and now have a logjam.
      Most teams would have been over the moon to have Brodie on the right side because the cost of a left defenseman to pair with him would be cheap compared to the Hamonic cost. Instead they converted a very good rarity into a mediocre normalcy.
      Somehow Brodie gets the blame because he cannot adapt to switching sides.
      13.4% of MBL batters can switch hit and even Mickey Mantle hit .330 from the right and .280 from the left. Why on earth would anyone think that Brodie is going to be as good on the left as he is on the right?

      • rusty_shakleforde

        Thanks for the response Chucky. All of this. I feel for Brodie. And I think we could maybe add Bennett, and probably a few other players in this.

        The damage that this coaching staff is inflicting is psychological at this point.

        • deantheraven

          Yes, and perhaps removing the coach would lift the psychological barrier. Guys are posting that a change now is foolish. I say, maybe it relieves the players anxiety and they just play. For sure, it can’t make things any worse. If they’re out of it now, make the change and let the boys play to their talents, not to GG’s and Cameron’s “systems”. maybe have Gelly take Gully’s job the rest of the way this year.

          • Flames fan since 83

            Everything that has been reported by people a lot closer to the team than us commenters has supported a positive relationship between coach and players.
            Dean you are totally speculating.
            Your comment about “it can’t make things any worse” is total BS. It’s in fact a huge gamble to change things up while we are within a couple of points of the playoffs.
            Not to mention there are not any clear cut coaches available.
            I don’t think Gully is a good coach, but a knee jerk firing of our coach is not the smart move!

      • HOCKEY83

        So you’re saying Brodie is not intelligent enough on the ice to know if a player coming in might intercept a pass he’s about to make. Not qualified enough to call an audible on the ice. To blame Brodie’s mistakes on anyone but himself is just dumb. I suppose it’s also the coach’s fault that Bennett takes an incredible amount of stupid penalties.

      • I still think that Brodie has a ton of brain farts. Some of his decision making has been bad regardless of what side he is on. He overplays too many situations (tries for a high risk pass or pinch) when a simple pass will do. I am not a fan of GG and think that changing sides for someone that has been comfortable and successful is not a great idea but Brodie is not innocent in the many crap games he has played.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    With 5 (3,4,4,6,7) draft picks in this year’s NHL Draft the only thing to really look forward to is waiting to see which NHL Level coaches are Available for next year. Good Times! Maybe like last year the Flames will go on another 10 game win streak? or maybe not….

  • Off the wall

    Anyone think we can beat the LVGK’s tomorrow? Not a chance.

    Our postseason hopes are fading, like a typical Brodie giveaway.

    I said I’d stop calling for GG’s firing. Well, I’m afraid I can’t do that anymore. The guy has to go.
    I don’t care if we don’t get a replacement coach. Fire him.
    Stick Gelina’s in his place.
    Heck get Jagr back from Kladno and put him behind the bench, I honestly don’t care.

    Our 45.5% of making postseason isn’t good enough and I doubt we will make the playoffs. I think LA is going to take over 3rd spot in the Pacific and we’re going to be out — because there’s no way we squeeze in a Wildcard spot.
    But we have 22 games left, so where’s my proof? It’s behind our bench and his time is up.

    Treliving needs to do the right thing. Send him and Cameron packing. The season is over.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      The road games are not a concern to me, as Gully does not get the chance to line match. There is his problem at home. For shifts where the top line faced their top line, I thought we did okay driving the play. The problem was that it was usually the 2nd or 3rd pair out with the top line. My solution? Use the top pairing with the top line and 4th line and Brodie with the Backlund line. Use the 3rd pair with the 3rd line. Brodie will only ever play with the best defensive line and not get over 18 minutes.

        • FlamesFanOtherCity

          It took how long to use Hamilton on the top PP unit? 50 odd games.
          I agree that he doesn’t learn, and can’t see his own script is failing. Considering they look at all kinds of data, I am surprised that they don’t see it. Of course, the fancy stats can hide things unless you look really deep into it shift by shift.

          (begin sarcasm)
          Brouwer? I don’t even want to consider the possibilities. We haven’t been crushing it without him, so that means he is invaluable. Frolik hasn’t looked great, so bump him down and replace with Brouwer.
          (end sarcasm)

          Strange, because the PK has been doing better of late.

        • rusty_shakleforde

          UGHHHH I keep forgetting about him/his return/what dumb things GG will do with him/what garbage spin Eric Francis will write about vs glorious return

      • Chucky

        The Flames need to make the playoffs. Because if they don’t then they are just an also ran. If they make it they will probably be the first playoff team in professional sport history to have a negative record at home and a winning record on the road.
        In theory they could be the favorite in each of their series based on the idea that they would have less home games.
        This could be historic and be used as a demonstration of how a team can overcome coaching so bad that it turns home ice advantage into home ice handicap.

  • Bob Hartley

    So Brian Burke’s plan is in full effect. Come to an organization. Get the GM fired, get the coach fired, team barely makes the playoffs only to be swept in 4 games……. TYPICAL BURKE THEN SAYS LETS SPEED UP THE REBUILD AND GO ALL IN BY TRADING ALL TOP PICKS AWAY.

    Now what do we do Brian? As your plan has backfired just like everywhere else you managed. Selfish selfish selfish.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      So, the organization should send a message to all potential free agents and prospects that if you want a contract, security and to be rewarded for good play, go somewhere else.

      In fact, what you seem to be saying could be said of ANY player. Of ANY club.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Forget about firing GG, it’s not going to happen now. BT IS going to see which coaches become available after the season is over. Should be a few good names out there.

  • BendingCorners

    Hamilton is on PP1 because Brouwer is injured. I believe that when he’s back Cameron will revert to a 4/1 split and revert Dougie. He could leave well enough alone and the PP1 unit will continue to function but I doubt it – theory matters more than results with the current coaching staff.
    Brodie gets lots of minutes on special teams because the coaching staff believe he is better at hanging onto and/or recovering the puck. His takeaway number is (much) better than Hamilton’s but overall Dougie has better results, so maybe this changes eventually.

  • Off the wall

    The Flames will finish 10th overall. That’s my prediction.

    I don’t want to be right, I’d rather eat some crow.

    If I’m wrong about us making postseason, I’ll FIRE myself and quit FN altogether. And I love it here.

  • Vernon30

    BT will be even more cautious about if and when he replaces GG, because another poor choice, and he’s looking for work. He gets 2 coach hires, max. God help us if he’s let go..Burke could step in. I shudder. Truculent…

  • imthedude63

    In a fantasy world GG would be fired now and the Flames would go on to win the Cup. Hairman will be canned at seasons non playoff end and FN will reflect on the debacle of 2017-18. The home record speaks of a lack of readiness to play and a Flames desire to make the Saddledome a tough place to play.

    I have been to a number of games this year sitting 10 rows behind the Flames bench. Great seats as I can watch the banter between players and the coaches coaching on the bench. However under the current regime there isn’t a lot of coaching ( Hairman did though, pat on the back PP wonder boy after 50 games DH) after DH scored his first goal Saturday night vs Florida . After going down 4-1, GG just had a look of frustration on his face. I thought he would lose it but he kept his cool. Yeah him…He doesn’t know what to do or how to motivate his players. He throws one stick and its a big deal.

    This Flames team is rudderless and Hairman and will be gone at seasons end.

  • redwhiteblack

    There is clear evidence that shows GG is consistent in nonsensical player usage this year (and last). The pattern is clear. He is not a motivating coach. Players seem to struggle with the system. They make a lot of mistakes and give up a lot of chances. Could not execute on the PP until recently because of simple usage changes we all called for months ago. There seems to be a lot of individual efforts but no sense of team collaboration. Why would they trust the staff as they must see what we see. Coaching issues are visible every single night. A better coaching staff would have this team working together to realize the potential as a unit. They often look beaten before the end of the first. I said it months ago. GG will be history, gone, replaced… so why wait for the inevitable? He is a clear liability to this group.

    • Raffydog

      Exactly, barring some miraculous cup run, there is no way GG is coming back next season, so what’s the point of sticking with him for the rest of this year.

      • withachance

        what’s the point of firing him this year? There’s no clear long term coach options available, and best case scenario is Gelinas takes over and runs with it, which no one knows will happen or not. What you show every potential hire out there by firing GG in the middle of a playoff chase is that management is rash, impatient, and won’t stand by their coach for even 2 full seasons. Don’t want that to be the image to potential head coaches.

          • Flames fan since 83

            Withachance is right. You have to be smart and make moves that are in the best long term interest.
            For example, if Joel Quenneville was available and we could hire him, then by all means, I’ll be first to sign the “fire GG petition”.
            Accountability, is a two way street. Withachance explained that well above. Good future coaches will take that into account before they are willing to work with an organization.

          • withachance

            Firing GG in the summer wouldn’t be accountability? Why would firing him now compared to after the season not be accountable on the management’s part???

  • Big T-Rev

    GG seems to lack the ability to make in game personell decisions. It shows each and every overtime game we have. He plays the same players regardless of how great a game other players are having. As far as Hamilton goes, not sure how you have missed the fact that he makes defensive errors…. a lot. He has a wicked shot, but his hockey sense is on the slow side to say the least. I agree Brodie is having a terrible year, but again he isn’t getting any help from his coaches by mixing it up. Clearly him and Hamonic are not working out. Hamilton has improved his game to a point where he could play with someone other than Gio, so why not put Brodie back with Gio for a while, see what happens. Or just keep doing the same thing hoping for a different result as I’m sure GG will end up doing….

  • Squishin

    My thoughts:
    – This was a better game than the past two. There was more urgency and more effort (except for the terrible first)
    – I was not impressed with Hathaway. He hustled and checked really well, but was largely ineffective. I think Bennett and Jankowski need someone better. We need Versteeg back.
    – Giving up 3 breakways in a game is unacceptable defense.
    – Out of all the breakaway attempts, the one that went in was probably the only one Rittich should have had.
    – No penalties for Backlund or Hamilton! Good job, gents.
    – Ferland has not looked good for the past number of games.

    • Peter Loubardias

      Hathaway is a good fourth liner.
      As soon as Brodie made that ‘pass’ Marchand had Rittich the rook beat.
      Ferland has played well the last few games but his contributions don’t gel with Sean John. They desperately want Chuck