Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Zombies

The Calgary Flames are a team that will need some help to make the playoffs, to the point where some have already made the point of declaring them dead and buried. The Flames won a very tightly-contested game against the Edmonton Oilers at the Saddledome tonight. Following the game, the team blared the 1993 hit “Zombie” by the Cranberries in their locker room. It seems like an odd choice, but considering many consider the Flames dead already, maybe their status among the living has them seeming like zombies.

The locals face a very steep uphill battle towards a playoff spot, but they’re still alive after a playoff-style win over the Oilers.

The Rundown

The opening frame featured two cautious teams. Neither team scored, though Zack Kassian put the puck over the line but the goal was waved off because the referee had whistled down the play when the puck was under Mike Smith. That was the highlight. Shots were 11-10 Oilers and chances were 9-8 Oilers.

The Flames came out and played quite well in the second period. They had several good shifts with multiple scoring chances generated, something head coach Glen Gulutzan noted they needed to do after Sunday’s loss. They managed to score first on a bit of a broken play, as the Oilers failed to clear after a pair of initial Flames chances and Johnny Gaudreau was left all alone in front of Cam Talbot. He chipped the puck into the top corner to put the locals up 1-0.

There were a few other chances each way later on in the period, but neither could bury another one. Shots were 12-9 Flames and chances were 11-6 Flames.

Nobody scored in the third period, primarily due to some big saves by Mike Smith and some shot-blocking on a late Oilers power play. Smith’s stop on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on a two-on-one rush with Connor McDavid may have been the best save he made all evening.

Shots were 10-8 Flames and scoring chances were 9-6 Flames.

Why The Flames Won

The Flames won a trench war. Their best players were better than Edmonton’s best players – particularly the Gaudreau line managing a goal while the McDavid line was shut down – and Calgary’s goaltender was better than Edmonton’s.

The home side’s attention to detail in the defensive zone was light-years ahead of where it’s been in recent weeks. Players were making simple plays to clear, and weren’t afraid to dive in front of shots. Those factors were a big reason why they grabbed two points.

Red Warrior

It’s gotta be Smith, who made 28 saves and was dialed in from early on.

But the Flames as a group did a great job of playing with sound defensive structure.

The Turning Point

Smith’s save on Nugent-Hopkins kept the Flames up when they needed a big stop for momentum’s sake.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)

Player Corsi
Stajan 79.0 25.0 0.620
Lazar 77.3 25.0 0.820
Stewart 75.0 25.0 0.650
Ferland 70.0 37.5 1.240
Kulak 66.7 42.9 0.525
Monahan 66.7 37.5 1.330
Gaudreau 63.6 37.5 1.500
Stone 56.8 37.5 0.500
Hamonic 53.1 36.4 0.425
Brouwer 52.2 40.0 0.185
Hamilton 51.7 40.0 0.325
Brodie 51.4 33.3 0.275
Giordano 47.2 40.0 0.025
Hathaway 43.8 33.3 -0.125
Shore 43.3 33.3 0.005
Backlund 39.3 50.0 0.025
Frolik 35.5 42.9 -0.275
Bennett 34.6 50.0 -0.250
Smith 2.800

This and That

Travis Hamonic fought Darnell Nurse early in the first period. It was fine. Hamonic had one of his better games this season, including a very nice play swatting the puck away as McDavid tried to split the defense in the second period.

Believe it or not, this is the first Flames win over the Oilers since Apr. 2, 2016. It’s just the fourth time in McDavid’s career that he’s been held off the score-sheet against the Flames.


“The mentality today was to do the little things. We’re having trouble scoring at home, there’s no secret. So the focus was, we’ve got to be good in our own end and limit their chances. And obviously you’re going to give up some, and that’s where Smitty comes in big for us. I think to win a game 1-0 on home ice where we’ve been struggling, against our rivals who have I think the best player in the world on their team, that’s big for us mentally and kinda shows us the way we’ve got to play here.” – Flames forward Matt Stajan (who played his 996th NHL game) on the win.

“I thought Backs’ line and Gio and Dougie did an excellent job. This is a special player. I mean, between him and Johnny, Alberta’s in real good shape. He’s a tough guy to handle, just the explosiveness of his skating. I thought our guys did a good job. He still gets his chances, but I thought our guys did a good job of limiting some of it.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his team’s ability to limit Connor McDavid’s offense.

The Drive to 96 (Points)

The Flames now have 80 points with 11 games remaining. They need 16 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 8-3-0 record – to hit the 96 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.


Dallas lost to Montreal 4-2. Colorado beat Minnesota 5-1. Arizona beat Los Angeles 4-3 in a shootout. The Flames finish the night two points out of a playoff spot, but the teams they’re chasing all have games in hand.

Up Next

The Flames (35-26-10) are off tomorrow. They practice on Thursday, then prepare to host the San Jose Sharks on Friday night at the Saddledome.

    • Guadfather13

      Well said…….. I believe this team has the ability to shift gears, but not without guys like Hamonic. We payed the price, he’s here to stay, now let’s go win some f$#cking hockey games!!!!!!

  • FL?MES

    The Coil go marching one by one
    Hurrah hurrah
    The Coil go marching one by one
    Hurrah hurrah
    The Coil go marching one by one
    The little one stopped to pick his bum
    And they all go marching down the toilet, through the pipes, into the septic tank
    Flush flush flush flush
    Flush flush flush flush…

    Stick it CoilErs!

  • Derzie

    The game scores show who had the McLotto assignment. They bent but the dam did not break. Amazing effort. Amazing win. All heart. Wish I could have watched but the stress was too much.

  • Calgarycandle

    At the game tonight and still recovering from the tension. Watched Stewart and he did not have trouble in my mind keeping up with the play or look slow. Also he flattened McD with a clean, hard check behind the net. Without Smith’s heroics we lose. Thought Flames came out flat in first (so what’s new), but ramped it up in second and played a relatively tight third. The would be spOilers pulled Talbot with about 1:30 left and the 6-4 was very nerve wracking. Thought it was Gio who dove in front of and blocked the point shot that then skittered down the ice and ate up the rest of the clock.

    • Cfan in Van

      I wasn’t at the game, but I thought Stewart was pretty ineffective. He may not be slow, but he wasn’t clicking with his line mates at all, and wasn’t making good choices when he had the puck. Of course, he’s barely had a chance to play, but I didn’t see anything that makes me want to see him on the ice again.

    • cberg

      If ALL that Stewart did was bowl over Mcdavid his play was worth it. How many games have we played them and everybody seemed afraid to touch the golden boy, even when he was lined up for a standard, clean hit. I’ll never understand that. He’s a player like any other, and you need to hit him and disrupt his play every opportunity you get. How many years have we watched other teams doing that to Crosby? It works. They are still great players, but….

    • ThisBigMouthIsRight

      I believe they are all down at “CopperDead RD” ~> “Crying about their enemies, seeing them win before them. And to give the lame explanations to their woman as to why it will not a go-go. Oiler’s decomposition to follow(for at least another Decade)”. LOL… Something like that anyways?

  • Drexel

    Remember when the Oilers were so deep up front they could afford to trade off a future MVP candidate and also Jordan Eberle for pennies on the dollar while signing Lucic to a 7 year contract.

  • CalgaryBornandRaised

    I was lucky enough to see that Mike Smith save on Nugent-Hopkins live, it was very fitting the jumbotron did a tribute to Kiprusoff minutes before that, cause that save was Kiprusoff like, best save i’ve seen live in a very long time

    Great win by the boys, would’ve liked it to be less nail biting at the end, but holding Mcdavid to zero points on the night is a fantastic achievement for this team

  • BlueMoonNigel

    How come Smitty isn’t wearing the captain’s C?

    Smitty rips the club in public and the game not only do the Flames beat a club they hadn’t beat in almost 2 seasons, Smitty gets the doughnut!

    Mark Giordano, you’ve never done that!

    • T&A4Flames

      Captains don’t rip their team publicly. They’ll do it in private. And I don’t recall ever seeing Gio wearing goalie pads so not likely he can get himself s shut out. But he’s been playing hard.

  • Alberta Ice

    Enjoyed the game on TV last night. With the final block by Staj we dumped the losing streak to the Northern foes. Smitty was a wall. Amazing at stopping the puck behind his net and moving it up the ice! He was on fire. It was a good one to watch and it was a “Miracle on 34th Smith Street”. Hopes are up if he finishes the year that on fire and the team continues doing what they were doing. GFG.

  • Thumper

    Flames scored a goal on a broken play and Smith had to stand on his head to get the win.

    Don’t know why everyone’s feeling so positive. Flames probably should’ve won this game by a couple of goals, barely managed to eke out two lucky points.