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Rangers 3, Flames 1 post-game embers: The rookie and the veteran

Henrik Lundqvist was significantly better than Jon Gillies. One is a goaltending legend and the other just played his seventh NHL game, so no surprises there.

Would Mike Smith have won this? Ehhh

Lundqvist turned 36 years old yesterday. Mike Smith will turn 36 years old in 19 days. Unlike Lundqvist, Smith hasn’t strung a ton of really great seasons together, but he has been having an outstanding one himself this year. Unfortunately, he’s injured.

Hence, the Flames’ AHL tandem. And while not all of the blame can really be laid on Gillies, do the first and second goals go in on Smith? Probably not. (I still don’t think the overhead camera definitively showed the puck was completely over the line on the second goal, but whatever.) But the moment that really stood out to me, negatively, for Gillies wasn’t a goal – it was an unlucky post for the Rangers. One of several, but one in which Gillies left his side wide open and the puck hit the post and travelled along the goal line before bouncing off the other post and out – and Gillies didn’t even react, had no idea where it was or, apparently, what to do.

That’s not a condemnation on him; if the Flames had their way, he likely wouldn’t be in the NHL right now at all. It just stood as a stark contrast between Lundqvist, the veteran who faced 51 shots and only conceded one goal, and Gillies, the rookie who couldn’t seal off posts or freeze the puck, and at times looked to be in awe of where he was rather than simply rolling with it.

But here’s the thing: it’s difficult to win games 1-0. Asking your goalie to post you a shutout so you get a chance at a win is very rarely going to result in success. Like Ben Bishop thwarted them a few days ago, Lundqvist took centre stage, casting aside a ton of phenomenal chances by the Flames. Smith maybe gets it to overtime.

Gillies had to be better; so did everyone else.

RIP the second period

Once again, the Flames’ second period destroyed them. Five-on-five scoring chances for them in the first were 14-5 and in the third 10-5; in the second, they fell behind, the chances 10-5 for the Rangers. Two of them went in, including Ryan Spooner’s breakaway goal off of horrible defence.

It wasn’t four-unanswered-goals-against bad, but with a goalie like Lundqvist in the opposite net, it wasn’t far off from it, either. It turned the game into a solid team loss, one in which pretty much everybody was at fault. It’s just not good enough to flail about wildly for an entire period and then play relatively well after, when the lead has been established and the damage done (goal differential now sits at -10, by the by).

This team can’t hold a lead when they get one and can’t come back when they’re down.

Offence vs. defence

Four Flames defencemen combined for 18 shots. Four Flames forwards combined for 19 shots. The remaining two Flames defencemen averaged 1.5 shots each. The remaining eight Flames forwards averaged 1.375 shots each.

The forward group is, by and large, bunk. There are a couple of exceedingly talented players there. There are a handful of steady supporting cast guys. There’s one or two so-so guys who may or may not put in a big performance any given night. And then there are guys who it’s just like, what are you doing here? Did you get lost?

Three forwards (Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund) played over 20 minutes each. One guy (Matthew Tkachuk, 19:28) came close. Two more players (Sam Bennett, Michael Frolik) got over the 16-minute mark. The bottom half of the roster was pretty much interchangable in not really being there, with three players getting a little over 10 minutes each and three below that mark.

Is it good that Micheal Ferland and Kris Versteeg are pushing to make a return? Absolutely. Would they help the forward depth out? Probably. But if the Flames had any actual aspirations this year – and trading their first round pick and not even lottery protecting it says they did – then they should be able to survive the loss of two forwards. They can’t.

And I understand Tanner Glass scored a goal in the playoffs last year but to admit he’s one of your perceived best 12 forwards during a playoff push is basically admitting defeat. One of the gems with this iteration of the forward lineup was supposed to be that the Flames could dress 12 functional skaters. That has gone up in smoke.

The Penguins had Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and couldn’t start winning Cups again until they admitted they needed a bottom six that could actually function. They got one, they started winning. The Flames do not have a Crosby and a Malkin and are trying to get by on nonsense grit signings and that time has long gone by. They don’t need to get bigger, they never did. They need to get faster and smarter, and it’s not happening this year.

  • Off the wall

    Looks like we got a full blown meltdown on FN today.
    It’s to be expected though, our aspirations have been severely letdown again.

    We want someone to be held accountable for this.
    Given the nature of our situation,
    ( 15% of making postseason) we need answers. Not questions. Who stays, who goes? Treliving needs to answer those most simplistic questions, it’s his responsibility to.

    Our fan base is becoming agitated with each day those questions remain unanswered.
    We understand patience, however this has gone past the stage of twiddling our thumbs and remaining silent.

    Treliving should be well aware of this and calling a press conference soon to address this.

    If he fails to do so, he might as well resign himself. I like Treliving, he’s done some good things with our club. He’s drafted well. But he’s also made some unusual transactions that have us questioning the future state of this franchise.

    What do you expect, when our last season for cheering was in 2004. 14 years is a long time to wait for a passionate fan base.

    It’s sad when fans are lamenting the loss of Bob Hartley, not because he was the best choice, but due to the work ethic he was able to maintain in our players.
    I don’t think this fan base deserves anything less than a club who works their tail off and is consistent throughout the season. Imagine if we did?

    We probably wouldn’t be having this conversation…

  • Trevy

    GG’s system is like the cloud, no one really knows what it is or how it works, just that it’s an enigma. As much as I would love to shoot half the team into the sun, it’ll be curious to see how some would fair WHEN we have a new coach in place. Although someone like Brouwer would be the exception, I don’t think any coach can help him

  • T&A4Flames

    We’re done. This was a must win; effectively our playoff start and we fell flat on our faces.
    I said it a while back, this team lacks any kind of care, heart, drive or killer instinct. We lost to a team that threw in the towel and traded many of their big tickets and started a rebuild.
    Our only hope is that Smith is back right away and steals 11 games for us. But these clowns in front of him don’t deserve it.
    Keep Mony, Backlund, Janko, Ferland, Chucky up front and dump the rest. Yes I would entertain a Gaudreau trade because he would bring back a boatload. Maybe we’d end up with some guys with heart and passion.
    For F sakes we lost Gia all important game at home again: in front of its fans. BRUTAL.

  • MontanaMan

    One thing that has really hurt the Flames this year is their inability to adapt to the new NHL, which when GG was hired, I wrongly thought might be his strong suit. The league is getting younger, smaller, faster and more skilled and are taking chances on young guys and allowing them to make mistakes while they cut their teeth. It’s a fine line as to when to bring youngsters in and there have been many teams where young talent has been integrated with veterans and it’s worked well and teams that have rushed young talent (Oilers) and it’s been a disaster. But the Flames seem to be old school to the max in siding with the old, tired, and slow veterans and telling the youngsters to bide their time and their chance will come. It’s a strategy that worked in the 80’s but doesn’t work today. And it’s on Tre.

  • Rocket66

    In defence of the bottom 6 that everyone is going after. How do you have 2 good bottom lines when every nite you have no idea if your playing or who your playing with That there itself is insanity. How does a line build chemistry when it changes daily or even after a shift or 2 Seems to work pretty good with 3m and top line ????

  • Justthateasy

    Fire the coach now. Open up the spot and be ready for the next veteran coach that has proven himself. BT should be fired for not protecting the lottery pick. That should have been a no-brainer and should have been highly acceptable to the Islanders because it looked like the Flames would be in the playoffs.
    Actually BT should be fired as well IF he’s the guy that hired Gigi.

  • Off the wall

    So here I am doing some laundry today. I look at all the freakin buttons on my machines and I have 12 options I can choose from, everything from what temperature I want, to degrees at which I believe my clothes to actually be mildly dirty to filthy. The dryer has about the same amount of features.

    Nice to have all those options.

    It’s weird that GG never considered options, don’t you think? He spent 60 games putting the same lines out, same strategy and couldn’t get his players to clean up the game.

    He waits until filthy day to start throwing together options. Instead of choosing the best options, he puts Gaudreau in a spin cycle, gets truculent lumberjacks to try and play a permanent press style, puts Smith on a Heavy Duty cycle and keeps him there and fashions two defence men together (Brodie- Hamonic) repeatedly on the wrinkle guard setting, while we watch our team come out of it more tumbled than they went in. I think he should learn how to do laundry first.

    I’m not a genius at doing laundry, but I know the difference between cotton and synthetic fabrics. I can separate the two. I even know my colour wheel. I don’t stick black clothes with white ones.
    That’s fundamental laundry rules.

    Does GG know anything besides the delicate cycle? Cycling the puck and putting it into the net are two entirely different programs.

    Maybe we should give him a manual on settings? Naw he’d end up putting it in the dryer and it would come out in the lint.

    Maybe we should just call him Maytag man and let him be lonely, because we know he’s getting no calls after this season..

    • Stockton's Finest

      Can you come do my laundry? Ha ha

      I was asked early in the week about Huska. The one thing I can say him is he is constantly changing lines to find the best chemistry. When he finds it (Andersson/Wotherspoon and Kylington/Goloubef), he keeps them together.

      He is not afraid to mix lines even during games. I stated before that Spencer Foo has played with 5 centers (Hrivik, Findlay, McMurtry, Smith, Lomberg) and about 8 different wingers so far this season. He even sat him a game when not producing.

      So here is an idea (and trash away): Fire GG, bring Huska up for the remainder of the season, let MacLean and Pittis run the Heat in his absence, and bring Huska back to the Heat for the playoffs. He buys you time in Calgary to find an experienced coach in the off season. And he may just shake things up enough to jump start the Flames. New face, new voice, new concept, and new way of implementing a system that the players know already.

      Lastly, it lets you evaluate the leader of your farm team closer without the flight to Stockton.

      Don’t know if coaches can get the call up and sent back down, but it is an idea that doesn’t cost you anything while still looking for that franchise coach. And if you can’t find one, maybe with some positive results, you already had one in the organization.

  • Justthateasy

    I would like to know what Brian Burke’s influence in all this is. Why is this such a big mystery? This should be public information so we know who should be fired.
    We cannot make any more mistakes. I do not/we do not need to wait another decade.

    • Rocket66

      I’m not sure how much Burke has to do with this team. I always thought his teams were rough and tough. That I haven’t seen this year how many times was JG run at or the goalie and nobody stood up for them

      • Bucky 1989

        Agree but its got to be speed first. Look at Boston and Lucic…Great having toughness if it can keep up in todays NHL. Again, Burke is yesterdays GM… out of touch

  • RegehrsForFears

    After the first goal, I made a conscious decision to watch the Raptors game instead. The Flames could learn a lot from them.
    Last season, the Toronto Raptors were eliminated from the playoffs partially because of rigid, ineffective coaching systems that the Cavaliers picked apart. Coach Dwayne Casey overhauled the team’s game over the summer, moving them towards a more fluid, ball-moving offense while keeping the defense tight. They also have the best bench depth in the NBA, so the stars aren’t required to win games even though they can definitely do that sometimes. They’re also the top of their conference. They play basketball like I want the Flames to play hockey, and GG needs to take a note on Coach Casey’s success in changing ineffective systems.

  • Derzie

    I started the season thinking this:
    – we would not win with GG (correct)
    – we had mostly good players on lines 1 & 2 (correct)
    – we had a good farm to bolster lines 3 & 4 (wrong. Not used. Plugs brought in)
    – we had 3 good d-pairs if the coach picked the right players (wrong. Not deployed properly)
    – Treliving was doing more good than bad (wrong. he’s lost it)

  • Derzie

    The number one problem in all of this is GG. He is making everyone around him worse than they are. Even the GM. A good coach would say: I need speed & youth. Call up our troops. Don’t give me the slow footed crap you’ve been signing. I don’t want it. I won’t play them. Maybe then Tre would learn: no reclamation projects and non-NHLers. Make that change and then we’ll see. Hiring a coach is tough but we can do better than what we have. We are nearing worst in the league status.

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      Don’t kid yourself GG has more input into who comes here to play for him… Even from last year, I’m not going to list them but you know who was brought in with “Familiarity” with GG. and the Nonsense that management has any say as to How When and Where GG Plugs players is laughable. Why is Glass up here? Ask GG.

  • Bucky 1989

    When ever you get in a situation where a team under performs it has to start at the top. We all agree a shake up is needed and my bet is it will come this summer. Wouldn’t it be encouraging if the Flames lose 2 of the next 3 for Tre to do a Jeff Gorton! He called the Rangers season ten days ago when they were 5 points out of the playoffs, personally took responsibility at the mic and apologized to fans and brought in the kids. Yes, Lundqvist stood on his head but they have won the last three games. It is not as simple to replace GG. Its easy to do but not the full story by any means. Look at Edmonton, 6 coaches in 8 years or something! I’m still of the belief we need to look at the best out there and right now in my view its Tampa. Speed, speed and more speed. Some true finishers ( more than just Mony, who is a defensive liability I might add) and good goaltending. We need to stick with the draft. Clean out the old dead wood ( Brower, Stajen, Glass, Stewart…these guys are the old NHL). Bring 4 kids in from the farm the last 10 games. Sit Brodie, and the whole fourth line and send a real message for next years training camp. Do not rush Smith back!!! We have a 36% chance of making the playoffs as of today and if SJ, Anaheim and Colorado all win tonight…we are pretty much done.

    We’ve been saying it all season long….no identity. When I look at Tampa, I see a clear plan from Stevie Y. Speed, skill, youth, mobility and leadership. Leadership like Stamkos stepping in and taking on Alzner last week after the hit on Kuch…thats leadership and heart and this squad does not have it!