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Stars 2, Flames 0 post-game embers: Sometimes you just lose

I mean, sometimes you just run into a talented goalie having a great night and, no matter how many pucks you throw at him or how many high quality chances you generate on the powerplay, it’s just not going to go your way. It happens.

Ben Bishop was feeling it

So the Flames got shut out for the fifth time this season.

Two of those games (3-0 loss to Edmonton, 6-0 loss to Ottawa) were stinkers. One (1-0 overtime loss to Columbus) was a close call. And then there was a 2-0 loss to Nashville, in which the Flames had five powerplay opportunities and still failed miserably, but that was before the time of “hey, what if the best offensive defenceman on this team played a regular powerplay shift?”

This go around, there’s just nobody to really point fingers at. The Flames had six powerplay opportunities, including a two-minute five-on-three, and just couldn’t convert. According to Natural Sat Trick, in all situations, the Flames out-scoring-chanced the Stars 43-23. They had more high danger corsi events, 17-7. Dougie Hamilton played 9:07 on the powerplay, Johnny Gaudreau 8:24, Sean Monahan 8:07, Mark Giordano 8:06, Matthew Tkachuk 7:41. They had a combined 24 shots between them, making up for 63% of the Flames’ 38 shots on the night. When the Stars’ penalty kill didn’t come through, Bishop did. It happens.

Bishop picked up his fifth shutout of the season, one back of his career high. He’s tied for fourth in the league in shutouts. He was better than Jon Gillies, and that was the difference.

First liner Chris Stewart

The last time the Flames picked up a guy off waivers right at the trade deadline, he scored the winning goal eight rounds deep into the shootout. It was awesome, if unconventional, but if you’re that deep into the shootout then might as well get wild with it.

Chris Stewart did not have a David Schlemko debut. Instead, he was picked up off waivers and instantly plonked down on the first line, a guy with 13 points on the season joining guys with 73 and 58. He displaced someone who had 23 which, okay, not great, but still, more than 13.

It was kind of an odd choice, and Stewart’s 34.48% 5v5 CF – worst on the team – hints that it did not, perhaps, work. (Very small sample sizes, but Monahan shot up from a 31.82% 5v5 CF with Stewart to a 78.57% without; Gaudreau, from 23.81% to 82.35%.) He was also shuffled off to play a bit with Mikael Backlund and Tkachuk, while Sam Bennett eventually rejoined Gaudreau and Monahan.

Not really sure what Bennett did to get booted from the line to start – he had two points against the Coyotes and helped create high danger chances against the Avalanche – but alright. Considering the way Bishop was playing, not to mention how much of the game was spent on special teams, it’s highly debatable whether the Flames would have scored with Bennett on the top line all game or not.

But it does beg the question, where to put Stewart. He had poor possession stats coming into this game, and an overall not-bad effort by the Flames didn’t do anything to smooth that over. The top six should probably not be an option again – it has been eight years since his 64-point season, five since he put up 36, the ship has probably sailed – and the way the game ended, with Bennett back up, you have to wonder if that’s how the next one starts.

And maybe Michael Frolik shouldn’t be misplaced again.

It’s not that picking up Stewart was the worst idea ever – he was free, the team has very few right shots, why not – but more even strength ice time than everybody not named Gaudreau and Monahan is not great for somebody who has averaged 10:43 minutes a game this year. The Wild waived him for a reason. Wishful thinking isn’t going to propel him to 60 points again.

This and that

I get it was a game filled with special teams, but Curtis Lazar played 4:47 total. Cool.

Two players who also racked up a number of shots without powerplay time: Frolik and Matt Stajan, with three apiece.

Hamilton is the first Flame to break the 200-shot mark this season. His six-shot effort last night got him up to 201. Only 20 players in the NHL have taken more than 200 shots so far this season, and just four defencemen. Hamilton is 4:30 powerplay minutes away from overtaking T.J. Brodie in man advantage ice time.

Tkachuk had an 82.35% 5v5 CF, which is extraordinarily good. His most common opponent was 56-point-scorer Alexander Radulov. He had a splendid night, and that’s without counting the penalty he drew, bringing him up to 41 total, which still leads the league (still tied with Tom Wilson, somehow).

The Stars have a +22 goal differential. The Flames are at -5. In hindsight, this result should have been obvious.

  • GetOn'Em

    I was curious to watch Glen Gulutzuns’ player usage with the recent return of Troy Brouwer, the acquisition of Chris Stewart and the comments made by Brad Treliving on TDD. I am no longer disappointed by this coaches decesions, as I have grown accustomed to what I consider horrible player usage and systems. Treliving has built a decent team that has underachieving in my opinion because of coaching foremost, and then because the GM did make a few bad signings. Are the Flames really a bubble playoff team because of the bad signings of Troy Brouwer, or the expensive, questionable re-signing of Mike Stone? Or even keeping the ridiculous contract of good guy, horrible hockey player Mat Stajan? The answer is no. All the players noted are beneficial to have around. Yes, overpaid, but that is a complete different conversation. The problem is player usage. The ridiculous thought process of trying to use TJ Brodie as a number 1 defenceman when he clearly does not have the tool box for the job. The continuous decesion to force Brodie into situations to fail is mind boggling. The kid is struggling, obviously having off ice issues and also not coping with playing on his natural shooting side, a good coach would shelter him and put him in a position to succeed. My rant is endless on picking apart these obvious choices, well at least obvious to a guy who coached minor hockey and loves to yell at the flames on his tv.

    • Burnward

      Yep. Then last night about 14 different line combinations because he’s freaking out and overplaying the first PP.

      Boys still should have got the W, Bishop was awesome, but the constant usage issues and the lack of recognition is mindboggling at this pont.

    • buts

      Ari no finger to point at? Sorry when you get a 5 on 3 and don’t score….not a tip in attempt, no laterally one timers, traffic in front…heck on a 5 on 3 you can put 2 guys in front…..THIS IS CALLED COACHING. Never mind the player usage. I blame BT because this dysfunctional team was obvious to everyone and he has stood pat defending his choice of coach and ego.

    • rusty_shakleforde

      And why was Brower and Stajan on the PK so much? Was GG splitting up the fantastic PK duo of Frolik and Backs so they could both individually carry Brow and Staj? What kind of absolute balderdash is that?!?

  • Burnward

    Oh and Nation…not only is mobile back to horrible…but now your actual website is lagging so badly it’s freezing up my super fast computer.

    It’s borderline unusable in any iteration. Might want to get someone on this.

  • Off the wall

    We are 4-5-1 in our last 10 games. With every loss our postseason aspirations become a mountain- like obstacle.

    When is Smith coming back?

    We need to score on 5 on 3 when given the opportunity.
    GG needs a brain scan. Why is he putting Brouwer back on the PP? Next thing he’ll be putting Stewart there, cuz he’s a right shot as well. I’ve just plain given up on GG. I lost track of the 300 combinations he threw out there, I think he was using bingo balls to select which player was up next.

    Wonder what our genius will do against Colorado.
    Never mind , I’m getting ill just thinking about it.

    • GetOn'Em

      As well as Smith has been this season, including stealing many games at the beginning of the season, the recebt skid is not goaltending. Although, if i had any say in the goaltending situation, I would keep Gillies around over Rittich. The team played better with Gillies in my eyes.

      • everton fc

        Gillies may be the one winning the backup role right now. We simply don’t have four lines that can contribute every evening. The forward depth on the farm is not deep, only Andersson and Wotherspoon could make the jump the NHL (which is pretty good, actually), but we dont have elite talent coming up from the forwards that can provide consistent scoring. All that said, we can’t win at home. The final sentence may be why we miss the playoffs.

  • Off the wall

    Disclaimer: don’t read this if you have a sensitive stomach ;

    My dog (Johnny Sockey) has been depressed lately. My wife decided that he should go to the groomers cuz his hair was looking more like Lomberg, than Mike Smith’s.
    So I had to take him, cuz he’s OTW ‘s responsibility. I asked the groomer to trim his hair. Nothing else.

    Well when I went to pick him up, he had the Matt Stajan cut. Bald as a cucumber. Yikes!

    Poor Johnny, he hasn’t been the same since. A few days ago he decided to show his displeasure by digging out my wife’s used pad and shredding it all over our bed and entire bedroom.
    A thousand pieces strewn everywhere.
    I thought he got a hold of a Kleenex and so I forensically examined it. I just about puked.
    (Btw, Johnny has never done this before)

    I was so upset, I decided to teach my wife a lesson, so I left a duece in the toilet . I put the toilet seat down cuz #1. It’s gross and #2 – I wanted her to enjoy the same thrill I experienced.

    When my wife came home, first thing she always does is use the washroom. I waited in anticipation. I know I’m sick, but that’s how I am.

    Well she went in and came barrelling out screaming, like a rat had just launched at her.
    I was laughing so hard, I fell down. I must admit it wasn’t my finest work, but it would have made Mona Lisa even smile.

    “ What’s the matter with you, can’t you flush the toilet,” she said.
    I gently grabbed her by the hand and led her into the bedroom. I opened the door and she had a look at Johnny’s work.
    “ Omg, what the hell” she said.
    I replied, “ Can’t you burn that sh^t or something?”
    We both confronted Johnny, wagging our fingers and telling him how naughty he was, while he sat on the couch,not bothering to move a muscle- just moved his eyes back and forth, like he was watching a video.
    No expression, but I’m thinking he was saying to himself, “ F you both, look at my hair!”

    Needless to say, we have now kept all doors in the house closed.

    The point of this hockey story?
    Well it just happens to coincide with the Smith injury. Johnny was ‘emasculated’ the day after.
    My plea is for Smith to come back. Johnny and I need you.
    My wife has a trimmer, and I have a suspicion I’m going to be next…

  • Derzie

    “Sometimes you lose” is for teams that are good. This team is the most underachieving bunch I’ve ever seen. And it is, was, & will be crystal clear that this is not a good coach. Every game is litter with decisions that set the teams chance of winning back. I am so tired of this coach ruining our chances at success. It is our identity. Games ebb & flow, but the coach does not get the best out of his talent. So frustrating.

  • rusty_shakleforde

    Positives: great performances from lots of our guys. Notably Gio, and those mentioned in the articles here, and I also thought Bennett was better–maybe he’s hungry for that top RW role?

    Not so positives, but maybe positives: GG clearly can’t handle high stress games. With all the thousands of line changes, his bear hug incident (tho c’mon refs), and just his track record in general, I thought it was fairly evident that he isn’t really up for the challenge of being an NHL coach during these high intensity games. We can see that in his press encounters, where he gets defensive, throws players under the bus, interrupts the media, dances around actually answering the question, etc etc.

    Negatives: player usage. Everyone here has commented on this. Contrary to some people’s posts, I do think we have a good enough team to make damage in the playoffs, tho we definitely are short a RW. I just think it’s player usage issues (Dougie/PP debacle, Brower in general, etc etc), a lack of confidence and leadership, and this dumb system GG has going on.

    I don’t want to just give the players a carte blanche excuse for things, but I think it’s just these few major issues that are holding us back. And I think they are so obvious, which is why they are so golly darn frustrating.

  • Mike Kennelly

    Just frustrated that so many shots the defensive core take from the point seem to be wide of the net on too many occasions. Perhaps the Lads should spend more time at practices honing thier sniper skills a little more, just saying. When they miss the net the puck in most cases end up being picked up and dumped out of the defenders end. At least if it hits the net there is a better chance of rebounds or even tip ins or freeze by the goalie to allow another face off in the defensive end. Just seems like a huge percentage of greater scoring opportunities are thrown away from a simple solution…… hit the net.

  • redwhiteblack

    Although they played well I didn’t feel confident they would score. The player usage situation is the definition of insanity. Putting a 4th line plugger picked up on waivers on the top line is crazy. Brouwer and Stajan should be in the stands but they both get duty on special teams. The Brouwer love-in has to stop. He is not a “special” player. Stajan and Lazar still going over the boards down 2 in the third. The case for firing GG just grows. We are going no where so get rid of him. The fact BT is still riding the GG bus is troublesome. A lot of you say “don’t fire during a playoff run”. The fact is we are not making it with him at the controls. Enough.