Sharks 7, Flames 4 post-game embers: Same old, same old

And there went the last of the Flames’ leeway.

From hero to six goals against

Sometimes, bad goals will happen. It’s a thing. Even the best goalies in the world will be victimized by them. The Flames should have come out of the first period with a lead – they were the better team to start – but at the very least, they tied things up.

And then they took the lead.

Gave it up.

Took the lead again

Gave it up.

Fell behind.

Fell behind further 90 seconds later.

And pretty much were just done to start the third period.

The game prior was a goaltender’s duel between Mike Smith and Cam Talbot; this one was Martin Jones having a shaky start, the Flames not capitalizing on it, and then Smith just completely bottoming out. His team gave him offence and even looked like they had quite a bit going for them; he sucked the wind out of their sails.

Were all of the goals on Smith? No, absolutely not – but the first goal against should have never happened. The third was pretty bad. The fourth was a wide open rebound. The fifth was just atrocious, and it should have been David Rittich coming out to start the third period, though the sixth goal against was more a team-wide failure than on Smith alone.

There’s only so many times a team can score to come back in it only to fall behind mere minutes later. Three goals against in just under seven minutes that not only saw the precarious one-goal lead evaporate, but saw a multi-goal lead established – that did them in. For as much as the Flames may have tried, there was never going to be a happy ending for them once they faced a three-goal deficit. The 19 minutes with which to work wasted away easily, one successful early pull of the goalie aside.

They gave up. By the time they wanted to try again, they were facing a team better than them that knew how to just coast away.

The second half of the second period can’t happen.

This and that

Kris Versteeg is alive! He played 11:01 in his return to action, including 29 seconds on the powerplay. Curtis Lazar was the only Flame who played less than him. His shift lengths were about in tune with his linemates’ – Versteeg averaged 38 seconds a shift while Mark Jankowski and Garnet Hathaway averaged 40 seconds – and his minutes went up as the game went along. He had a pretty blank stat line otherwise, but hopefully this was a good adjustment game for him.

Dougie Hamilton led the way with six shots on net; his 234 on the season is tied for second amongst defenders in the NHL and is far and away the best on the Flames; it’s absolutely mind boggling still that it took more than 50 games to get him on the top powerplay unit.

Speaking of the top powerplay unit, though… a 44-second 5-on-3 translated into absolutely nothing more than a display on perimeter passing. The Flames had the perfect chance to get the lead back and maybe even settle things down; instead, nothing. Their 17.5% powerplay is 24th in the NHL. They are fourth in the NHL in powerplay opportunities. What a complete waste.

The fourth line has been alright as of late. Nice goal from them. I dunno, but I guess it is a fair bit harder to get mad at them when everyone is failing so spectacularly.

So… playoffs?

Don’t be silly.

Although, say this for the Flames: if they had to lose any of these California games, it was probably best to lose to the Sharks. They’re further ahead than the Kings and Ducks, and are probably the least likely that the Flames will be able to catch. Not that they couldn’t have used those two points last night – they really, really need them to even attempt to keep pace – but of all the teams they’re chasing, the Sharks are too far ahead to be concerning.

That said, if that’s the kind of effort the Flames are going to put up against a superior opponent (re: non-lottery team) when they know their season is on the line, well, playoffs save face but what else would they really do for this group?

They had it, kind of like a seven-game winning streak. They lost it, kind of like a six-game losing streak. Welcome to the season.

  • Sven

    The hockey news –
    preseason assessment of team talent

    The six most talented teams in the NHL (in descending order) :

    the least talented teams:

    New Jersey

    and the least talented team….??

    Las Vegas


    the coach of the year who is doing the most with the least
    in a cakewalk :
    Gerard Gallant

    the first coach to be released for doing the least with the most:
    Glen Gulutzan

  • Squishin

    My thoughts:
    – It’s depressing to see the team you care about completely collapse like that during a game.
    – Johnny is outpacing his linemates by leaps and bounds. Their skill level is not even close to his. He needs someone better to play with. The year that Hudler was really hot (2014-2015) would have been the closest that Johnny has come to having a linemate to match his skill.
    – I feel that Frolik needs to be taken off the second line. It is clear that he is not a top six forward and is better in a third-line capacity. I would love to see them try Tkachuk-Backlund-Bennett as a second line. To me, Jankowski is not yet ready for the top six.
    – Brodie and Hamonic do not work well together. I really like them both as players individually, but it is clear that their styles do not mesh.
    – I have been very impressed with Kulak lately. Why not try him on a pairing with Hamonic? Brodie and Stone already work reasonably well together, so they can be the other pair. I did suggest this change months ago, and I still believe it would work better than the lineup as is.
    – I do not think the current coaching staff has the skill or vision to correctly assess when things are not working, and to appropriately fix things in a timely manner. The season could have been saved back in November had they figured out even a few of the problems.

  • Chiz

    As far as treliving goes… every gm hits home runs and every gm strikes out. As far as players go, I’m not going to point fingers at the gm. However, he was way too slow to hire a coach, and he’s been way too slow to fire one. That is my biggest bt complaint.

    • The GREAT WW

      You got that right Chiz…..

      GG needs to be gone AS SOON AS THE SEASON IS OVER…..so we can start the process of bringing in a winner immediately.

      A good coach will shake loose and we need to be first in line, not left to pick up the scraps like last time.


        • The Beej

          If the right guy is there then a change allows a new system to be implemented right away rather than burn the next 20 games of next year. If the right guy is not there…. well i dont know… i think finding the right coach is most important than a quick change for the sake of change. Like the previous post, every GM strikes out sometimes… but Tre handles this now will really show if he is bringing his A game.

          For me I have never been a fan of changing the coach every year as players and goalies take time to adjust to a new system. Firing the coach every year didnt help in Edmonton and is just more evidence of management incompetence.

          Building a winner takes time. I have defended Gulutzan a lot and advocated patience.

          That said. 2 years is a pretty big piece of work to evaluate not just the coaching but the players. We have a good young core but if our goalie cant bail us out.. well… overall we look pretty midling results wise. We generate a lot of attempts and chances though so there is still a lot of potential.

          Changes are needed and will likely come. One thing I dont get is why Gulutzan wont make any changes. If you at your job arent getting results you would think over a period of 2 years you might try some different things, no.

          • BlueMoonNigel

            Building a winner takes time? I have advocated patience?

            Genius Georgie the Brandon Kid, Gentlemen Gerry and the Golden Knights have blunted and rusted those old saws forever, so let’s bury them once and for all.

          • Kevin R

            That was exactly what I thought. Was debating that a few days ago how GG should get let go now & you basically can’t while we still have a chance. 3 more losses & we will be pretty well mathematically eliminated. Done, send him packing. Lets be first in line when at least 3 big name coaches shake loose. Any injured guys can sit out & get to healing & bring up kids. This has been one tough year to be a season ticket holder for these Flames games. I for one can’t wait for the season to end & focus on my playoff hockey pools.

    • Raffydog

      Unfortunately he has struck out way more then he hits. Other than Hamilton and Smith, I can’t think of any moves he’s made that have improved the team. Glass, Bartkowski, Lazar, Jokipaka, Shore, Stewart, to name but a few, all stupid moves. Even picking Bennett at fourth overall (highest draft position the team has ever had mind you) is a total bust. Hired the worst coach in the league, goes all in on Hamonic, who was at the time and still is one of the worst defenseman in the league. The list goes on and on. He’s got to be one of the worst gm’s in the league at the moment.

      • The Beej

        Not sure how you can fault him for picking Bennett when every GM in the league would have picked him at 4. Bennett is still really young so to write him off is just goofy. Glad you are not our GM.

        Also your post fails to mention some of his really great moved like Andersson and Kylington. But I guess thats what happens when bias forces you to only focus on the negative.

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        Glass – tough guy, not brought in to play 82 games; usage see Gully
        Bart – expansion draft requirement; usage see Gully
        Lack – failure to use early on, but likely a bad choice; recommended by Gully?
        Jokkipaka – return on a trade along with picks; usage see Gully
        Lazar – the 2nd was too much; usage see Gully
        Stewart – waiver fodder, used to be a good player, failed project; usage see Gully (top line in game 1)
        Shore – as good a player overall as Stajan for less than $1m; usage see Gully
        Brodie – played well until the shift to LD; usage see Gully
        Hamonic – solid player, has to play with a mistake-prone Brodie; usage see Gully
        Bennett – played with crap player most of the last two years; ruined by Gully
        Brouwer – mistake based on a good playoff; usage see Gully…..

        The list goes on and on. Some of the draft choices in early years were suspect but we have essentially the same scouting group; Kanzig, MacDonald, Smith. Trading for Bollig. Hiring Gully and Cameron.

  • Glensfunnyface

    Glen needs to hit the unemployment line. So frustrated as a fan. The man is an arsehat. His decision making baffles me. He has NEVER been a winner and never will be. Send him packing so the players can get a head start on a new system for next year.

    • kirby

      I’m not completely sold on Gulutzan returning, especially seeing some of the names that might be available in the coaches market this offseason. But this season is not his fault. Some questionable thought processes here and there, sure, but when isn’t there? Even guys with rings on their fingers get questioned and fired, etc. But what i’ve seen for the most part is a guy trying anything to light fire under the team, a guy trying to get his players to understand the need for a sense of urgency, and the team just not getting it. Players have talked for weeks and weeks regurgitating the same old tired cliches about how important everything is down the stretch, yet their effort on the ice rarely ever reflects it. We can nitpick who we assume better D pairings would be, but when the guys on the ice show no sense of desperation, no sense of toughness and grit, no resilience, then it really doesn’t matter what Gulutzan does or doesn’t do. The TEAM just wasn’t getting the point. Gulutzan chewed them out once, threw a stick, and they woke up for a couple weeks…..then fell right back into complacency and laziness. I don’t know if there’s egos in the room that feel like they’re above being yelled at by a coach, but even star players on Championship teams aren’t immune to that. So i don’t know if it’s the message, the messenger, the recipients, or all of the above. But to just blindly pin this season on Gulutzan’s D pairing choices is just a weak cop-out. The TEAM has failed themselves from start to finish this year. The TEAM isn’t playing to their talent level. The TEAM shows no urgency or resilience.

      They didn’t check themselves, and they wrecked themselves. It’s really that simple.

      • Derzie

        Huh? You lost me on the GG comment. It’s pretty clear he is not the coach for this team. It has flaws on its own (every team does) but this coach has hamstrung this team.

        • kirby

          Trash it all you want. The players in the locker room have been just as much, if not MORE to blame than the guy standing behind the bench. When Hamonic’s guys are constantly getting to pucks in front of the net that they shouldn’t be able to get to, when Smith is making bonehead plays behind the net and playing with poor technique, when there’s no depth scoring going on, when there’s no hustle and no heart and no grit and no toughness……..then how is it just coaching to blame? I’m not saying everything he’s done is great. I’m saying there is obviously bigger things wrong with the team this year than lineup combinations. Just feels like a lame cop out to say it’s his fault. That’s letting the players off the hook for their own consistently lazy uninspired play and i don’t buy into that mode of thinking for one second.

          Can we upgrade the HC? Absolutely. Probably will too, looking at who could be available after the year is over. But if we’re not putting responsibility on the players and the team itself then we’re all missing the point here.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    With a loss to Vegas, my Line up against the Ducks has Glass, Lomberg, Prout, and sprinkle of Gadzik for some play time with Manson, Kesler, and Bieksa.

  • Kzak

    When we gave up our draft picks for Hamonic, I wondered why we didn’t use them to get a top winger instead, since it seemed that was our biggest need. Hmm. I wonder if we could have had Kane for a third of what we gave up for Hamonic. We suffered through fifteen years or so of saying “when are we going to get a top centre for Iggy?”, and it never happened. We’re now three years in of saying “when are we going to get a top RW for any of our first and/or second lines?”. We can’t hit the net, we can’t score on the PP, and we can’t score clutch goals (Monahan aside), so either we trade a couple of our prospects (Fox, Dube, Phillips) etc for a couple big names and win now, or move out veterans for draft picks, grow those young prospects and aim for a 2-3 window. Right now, we are destined to be a 10th place team for the next couple of years (I will jump off a bridge if we draw a top-3 draft position) and that just isn’t acceptable.

    • TurkeyLips

      Hamonic is not being utilized well. He should be playing with Gio. TJ Brodie excels offensively and should synergize with Hamilton as a result.

      But no, GG has decided the players within our top two pairings are designed to compromise for, rather than complement, each other.

    • Juan Valdez

      Poirier was projecting to be that top line RW until Huska ruined him. If Kucherov was drafted by the Flames I’m inclined to think he would still be toiling in the minors as well.

      • The Beej

        Do you know anything about Poirier or his story? Guess not. If you knew anything you would know that Huska didnt ruin him… he has his issues he is battling with and according to the assistant coaches in stockton he refuses to play two way hockey.

        Think about what you just said about Huska. Its just blind conjecture with no factual basis in reality.

        Huska did great with Janko, Hathaway, Kulak, Andersson etc… but yet he ruined Poirier? How exactly did he ruin Poirier?

        You are just frustrated and need a scapegoat. Pathetic – no real thought or analysis. Perhaps Huska hasnt been given jack on the right wing to work with. Ever think of that? Cause every other position our high potential prospects are doing just fine under Huska.

        Keep your scapegoating to yourself and maybe put some actual logic or thought into what you post. Cmon just try it.

  • Puckhead

    At this point I’m focusing my attention to the offseason to see how the organization responds.

    What management-level changes will be made, what will the new coaching staff look like, which players will return, which new players will be added, and will we recoup some draft picks.

    It could be a very interesting off season and how the organization responds will say a lot.

  • Puckhead

    Also, if you look where we sit in the standings this season has not been that disappointing and we’re finishing where most analysts had us slotted in at the beginning of the season. Edmonton, on the other hand, was ranked at or near the top. Now that’s a disappointing season ?.

    • LannyMac

      I just love people who hide behind the same line over and over again “well at least we’re not Edmonton” Really that a real hi standard to compare yourself. Wake up. Calgary flames are garbage who ever you compare them to