Once again, the Flames dominated every single aspect of the game, except the scoreboard. The 2014-15 inverse continues.
Who is Christopher Gibson?
… Some guy who made 50 saves, I guess??
That was Islanders goalie Christopher Gibson’s seventh game of his NHL career, and his first career regulation win. The season’s tradition of random backup goaltenders coming up from nowhere and absolutely dominating the Flames continues, evidently.
And look, you can whine about how the Flames rack up shots but none of them are actually dangerous, or whatever. With 94 corsi events over the course of the entire game, they certainly missed their fair share of shots. Only 18 of them were in high danger areas, as opposed to 11 of the Islanders’ 48. But still, Natural Stat Trick judged the Flames as having 41 scoring chances to the Islanders’ 23; it is just beyond comical that the Flames only got two goals out of all of that. They did absolutely everything in their power and nothing.
Sean Monahan had seven shots on net and got all of one assist to show for it. One of Mark Giordano’s six shots turned into a goal, but that was it.
Perhaps worth noting that, for the second straight game, Mark Jankowski did not register a shot on net; he was the only Flame to fail to do so.
But man. Some of those chances were really, really good. It just was not the Flames’ day. Again.
The good news: Mike Smith closed out a game against the Islanders without getting hurt.
The bad news: his team wasn’t prepared to start the game, and he wasn’t prepared after.
Going down 2-0 before the game was even three minutes old was the first step to sinking the Flames. Sure, Smith was handily screened on the first goal, and the Flames gave Nick Leddy all the time in the world to shoot. And sure, Troy Brouwer tipped Johnny Boychuk’s shot 18 seconds later.
The Flames showed signs of life, though, when Johnny Gaudreau drew them back within one about five minutes after that. But Smith’s rebound – which, to be fair, neither of his defencemen could get a stick on either – three minutes later plunged the Flames back into hopelessness. And the fourth goal, also courtesy of a rebound, not even a minute into the second period, pretty much put an end to things.
Smith was not the difference in this game, and there’s no way to tell if David Rittich would have made things any better. And there is absolutely a fair bit of leeway to extend for a 35-year-old player who missed a month of action. But it simply wasn’t good enough. Not as panicky or drastic a meltdown as the other goalies exhibited during Smith’s absence – which certainly helps, and is something to build on going forward – but it was what should have been a winnable game both shot and kicked away.
This and that
Why was Garnet Hathaway picking a fight when his team was getting shots on net? Time and place and if your team is in the midst of a scoring chance you do not drop the gloves.
It’s not as though an influx of rookies from Stockton would improve the Flames’ scoring efforts. Jankowski and Hathaway are the Stockton forward graduates and they have all of three combined points in the past 10 games. They’re all Jankowski’s. They’re all against Arizona and Buffalo, the two worst teams in the league. Hathaway had 19 points in 18 games for Stockton before being called up full time, Jankowski had eight in six; AHL scoring does not automatically translate to the NHL.
The only teams that have won fewer games at home are the Coyotes, Sabres, Canucks, and Red Wings. The Flames are tied for 15th league-wide in overall regulation and overtime wins, though.
The Islanders’ four most recent victories have come against the Flames, the Rangers, the Hurricanes, and the Flames. It has been a month since they first played the Flames. They have won four times in the past month and half of their victories have been over the Flames.
There are 12 games left in the season and plenty of time for things to either go horribly right or wrong.
There’s no consolation when the Flames have consistently outplayed their opponents throughout the year only to lose and have it come crushing down on them at a point of the season that seems to suggest their year will end sooner rather than later. Close doesn’t cut it. Not when you don’t have a first round pick. The Senators, in their bizarre stretch of moves to swap Kyle Turris for Matt Duchene back in November, a third round playoff appearance fresh in their minds and looking like they could at least keep the pace with the rest of the East for a spot, saw it fit to lottery protect theirs.