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Photo Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em

The Calgary Flames came to Las Vegas needing points to stay alive in the Western Conference playoff race. They came in having allowed momentary lapses and dips in their play in two previous games against the Vegas Golden Knights lead to losses. Well, it happened again on Sunday afternoon at T-Mobile Arena on the Vegas Strip. The Flames played a rock-solid first but allowed things to get away from them in the second period en route to a deflating 4-0 loss to the Golden Knights.

The Flames remain mathematically alive in the West, but they’ll need to run the table and get some significant help to make the playoffs. They’ll also need to overcome the mental hurdles and defensive lapses which have defined them through this second half slide.

The Rundown

The Flames played a very nice first period, aside from not getting a ton of Grade-A scoring chances. They out-shot the Golden Knights 20-6 and out-chanced them 8-7, but couldn’t bury anything.

Not being able to bury anything came back to haunt the Flames in the second period – as has been the tradition ’round these parts. Dougie Hamilton took a rather silly tripping minor in the defensive zone, leading to a Vegas power play. T.J. Brodie couldn’t track down a loose puck, allowing it to get cycled to the point. Colin Miller’s slapper redirected off Michael Stone and into the Flames net to make it 1-0. On the very next shift, Vegas scored again. Brodie was caught up ice trying to generate a pass and coughed it up. That led to a two-on-one rush against Travis Hamonic and William Karlsson one-timed a James Neal feed past Smith to make it 2-0. The Golden Knights scored twice more near the end of the period. Jonathan Marchessault was left all alone behind the Flames net after a defender fell down. That allowed him a clear passing lane to Karlsson in the near face-off circle and his unobstructed shot went in off Smith’s glove to make it 3-0. Finally, Hamonic was caught back on an odd-man rush on a four-on-four – the other three Flames were pressing to get a scoring chance – and Karlsson completed the hat trick with a nice wrister that beat Smith clean to make it 4-0. Shots were 13-8 Flames, chances were 8-5 Flames.

Nobody scored in the third period. The home side seemed content just to defend, and the visitors didn’t seem to have a lot of pep left in their steps. Shots were 13-9 Golden Knights, scoring chances were 7-7.

Why The Flames Lost

Tell me if this sounds familiar: the Flames had a ton of chances and a ton of momentum, but couldn’t translate that into goals. A couple goals went the other way, and they just couldn’t put the ketchup back in the bottle from there. (I’m saying “tell me if this sounds familiar” because I literally copied these two sentences from the Friday recap.)

It’s a recipe they’ve followed a lot this season, and it’s a pretty crappy recipe for anything except crushing disappointment. The Flames didn’t do a ton to make Vegas’ lives miserable – Fleury saw a lot of the shots he faced – and the Flames couldn’t get a lot of secondary or tertiary chances.

Red Warrior

Giordano had some energy and put pucks on net with frequency, so let’s give it to him.

The Turning Point

Two goals against in 51 seconds is a great way to lose momentum. The Flames never got back into it.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Bennett 74.1 60.0 0.775
Versteeg 73.9 66.7 0.755
Giordano 70.4 64.3 1.200
Jankowski 69.2 60.0 0.775
Stone 64.3 71.4 0.700
Hamilton 60.5 63.6 -0.500
Monahan 59.3 71.4 0.015
Kulak 59.1 71.4 0.275
Hathaway 58.3 20.0 0.175
Stajan 58.3 33.3 0.200
Frolik 56.0 50.0 0.375
Lazar 55.0 50.0 0.225
Gaudreau 51.5 80.0 0.200
Brouwer 50.0 63.6 0.180
Brodie 47.1 60.0 -0.300
Backlund 46.2 63.6 0.440
Ferland 44.4 55.6 -0.165
Hamonic 34.7 35.7 -0.500
Smith -0.700
Rittich

This and That

T.J. Brodie was nailed with a big hit by Ryan Reaves midway through the second. He played four more shifts and then didn’t see the ice for the rest of the period. He left the game at that point with what the team is terming an “upper-body injury.”

The Flames allowed a hat trick to an opposing player for the second consecutive game.

The Flames have been out-scored by the Golden Knights 15-6 over three games.

The Drive to 96 (Points)

The Flames now have 80 points with 9 games remaining. They need 16 points over their remaining schedule – the equivalent of a 8-1-0 record – to hit the 96 point mark that’ll probably be the playoff cut-off.

Up Next

The Flames (35-28-10) immediately jet off to Glendale. They’ll play the Arizona Coyotes tomorrow evening.

  • Skylardog

    No trades until we get to see what a new coach can do. My biggest concern since Gully took over is the development of players. Byng is the only guy that has transitioned and become a better player all round since GG arrived, and I am pretty sure Keith has more to do with that than Glen. I am including Gaudreau, and he is playing well. But he is making far too many gaffs to be at the level he should be playing at.

    Bennett may have been ruined by being put with inept players. His confidence level is at zero. Janko was groomed for where he is at now, and his game is tanking. Brodie has been forced into a style of game he isn’t suited for. He was developing into an elite defender and play making DMan. He has been all but destroyed by this coach. Lazar is THE NUMBER 1 PENALTY KILLER IN THE NHL according to GA/60 stats, and can’t even touch the ice on the PK. Do you think he knows he hasn’t been scored on once in over 20 minutes. You bet he does. He must just scowl at the coaching staff when he sees 2 of the worst in the NHL go over the boards (Stajan and Brouwer) night after night on the PK. Did you know Brodie leads the defensive core in GA/60 killing penalties? Shows what he can do. When you have no forwards to make a play to because they are standing still, it is pretty hard to move the puck out of your zone 5v5. Most night the forwards are coming back into the zone, not advancing when we get the puck.

    5v5 this team is dreadful. They are worse than the Hartley teams. Gio and Hamilton have been a tire fire compared to last year. They were +22 last season 5v5, and are only +5 this year. That’s with better goaltending. Brodie (as the second pairing) has improved last season from last season in plus minus. Yet there have been no adjustments to the pairings. Hamilton and Brodie at one point this season in very limited minutes were +5, Hamonic and Gio were great together in limited minutes. Backs line is -3 this year, a far cry from being +14 last year. Yet the line has never been split up all season unless there was an injury or suspension. They have been brutal defensively since about game 10. They score less per 60 and get scored on way more per 60. GG has no concept of roles.

    Andersson should have been here. Mangi got crappy minutes on lines with plugs. Lomberg has some of the best stats of all Flames, yet is in Stockton again.

    The core was there. GG never understood that he needed the Backs line to keep the puck out of the net, and the 3rd line to score. Instead he asked the Backs line to score and gave the 3rd line nothing to help them put the puck in the net. Bennett and Janko are tanking as a result.

    • Stockton's Finest

      You need to checknthe cupboards before you go shopping. Once anew coach is in place, and that person can evaluate what he has, then you can make moves. But don’t make moves for the sake of making moves.

    • MontanaMan

      Mangiapane isn’t ready and needs a summer of strengthening, a strong training camp and possibly a start with the Heat before being considered a bonafide NHLer. His time with the big club were less than impressive and clearly not ready. Lomberg is a career AHLer. Andersson should be transitioned once the Flames are officially eliminated and given the rest of the year with the big club with the option to return to the Heat for the playoffs. Bennett has been inconsistent and hasn’t progressed regardless of who he played with. Janko has been inconsistent but I think he’s had a decent year for his first full year in the NHL.

  • Alberta Ice

    The reality is: 3 teams above 80 points are going to be folding them because only 8 teams can get into the dance. Quite stunning to realize of those team with 80 or more points tonight, only 3 of these 6 – Calgary, St. Louis, Anaheim, Dallas, LA, or Colorado – will be making the playoffs. Watch out for the hottest of these 6 (and shock of shocks, it appears to be Colorado) and those on the top of the West. Nashville, Vegas, and Winnipeg really look playoff ready. Since the Kane trade, San Jose has raised it another notch and may be the biggest surprise ahead. 3 cities are going to fall short and the Flames chances are the greatest at this point. So sad for us and the other 2 yet to be decided.

    • Franko J

      I like Colorado’s chances along with surprise Anaheim. NAS-ANA and VGK and COL in the West along with WIN-MIN and SJ and LA. While the Flames will be scattering to the four winds of the earth when the playoffs start there should be some really good first round matchups.

  • L.Kolkind

    Missing the playoffs with an unprotected 1st should be a fireable offence if Calgary misses it should be Treliving, Burke and Gulutzan leaving. No more moves until there is a new GM, and coach.

    • Franko J

      My bold prediction is: Ken Holland and Bill Peters are going to be the new guys in charge come next season. Along with that 3 new D and new #1 centre., and a legit RW.

  • Franko J

    For the Flames some things never change. Bad goaltending when they needed it the most. A team dependent solely on offense from one player while the 17 or 18 other skaters lack any offensive creativity and pizzazz. And a defense that struggles to defend. Only 9 games left to end a most uninspired and downright miserable season for this franchise. For me I think the most difficult thing is I cannot even get my hopes up for the draft or the draft lottery. With hardly a pick in this year’s draft and such underwhelming free agency class, the Flames should make some drastic and bold moves. Might as well do something to keep the fans interest.

  • Skylardog

    There were comments by Pinder that the Flames are unlikely to hire a top coach because they cost too much.

    Estimate they need about $5 mill for a top notch guy, estimate about $4 mill more than GG.

    The Dome is not full. Most of that is the economy, but part is boring frustrating hockey. The $4 mill breaks down to 1000 seats per game over 41 games. They keep this going they will lose more than that next season.

    But at $100 per seat, 19,000 seats per game in the playoffs, that $1.9 million per game in just ticket revenue lost because we don’t make the playoffs. If we just got 2 playoff games we would cover $3.8 million of the $4 million more needed to hire the best available (Quennville for $5 mill per season). The rest is gravy.

    Time for the owners to step up and pay for what we have lacked for a long time.

    • SgtRoadBlock

      Soo GG next Season cause the team capped on Cash ? the Horrors the Horrors ….lol i would hire 3 sutters at a home town discount then the GG show again

    • Stu Cazz

      Agree….you get what you pay for and at $750K we have seen the results. Time for Murray Edwards to open his wallet to a tune of $25M. That’s a 5 year term for either Quenneville or Vigneault. Also word out of Washington is that if Trotz does not take the Capitals deep he is also gone…great candidates available!

    • With Respect

      The owners unfortunately will not invest in this team anymore they want out of Calgary unless they get a new building. Hiring a proven NHL coach would be a prudent move.

      • Skylardog

        That was my thoughts. Their choice in a coach (or the status quo) could indicate if they are serious about staying or looking at tanking and leaving. The trades last summer suggest they want to be here, but that may have changed with where the arena deal is going now.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      The history of the Flames is that they go el cheapo when hiring a coach. That trend will continue until they prove otherwise.

      The Flames’ new coach will be Paul Jerrard. Makes sense as he is young and hungry and keen to establish himself, knows the players and management very well and the move will be applauded not only league-wide, but in circles far removed from hockey. Safe to say even Oprah will give a shout out to the first back coach in the NHL. Lots of goodwill from hiring Gerrard will briefly buy precious time for Tre to cover up the many cracks and holes in the lineup. And who knows, maybe Jerrard will turn out to be a pretty good NHL coach.

      • Stu Cazz

        Did you really say Paul Jerrard as head coach? The guy responsible for the performance of the Flames highly touted defence? Seriously…..Beer came out of my ass…….

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Dougie and Gio are having stellar seasons. Kulak hasn’t missed a bet since he was finally inserted in the lineup and is touted by many here as a future 2nd pairing defenceman. Stone is what he is. Put differently, if Stone was earning $1.5M rather than $3.5M, you would call him the best bargain on the club not named Chucky. His salary is on Tre, not Jerrard. Hamonic and Brodie have both had tough years for different reasons, but both remain capable defenders on very cap-friendly contracts.

          You have to give some solid reasons why Jerrard should not be considered as the Flames’ next head coach.

          • Skylardog

            Inexperience. That alone is enough. We need a veteran coach with playoff experience that knows what it takes to make the playoffs year after year, not another Gully that had never made the playoffs as a head coach when he arrived.

            Jerrard is Gully 2.0

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Bull! That’s akin to waving the white flag. What a wonderful message it will send to the likes of Chucky, Bennett, Jakno, Kulak and other young Flames about how the team fights until the bitter end despite overwhelming odds against them. You really like to poison the hearts and minds of the young.

      The kids down Stockton way will have heaps of chances to strut their stuff in the NHL in time. These kids are going to get lots of ice time in the preseason when the vets are off doing their Red China Blues roadie.

      • Jobu

        Fight to the bitter end? Have you seen this team lately? Jobu guarantee you there isn’t a single person in that locker room and front office that believes the team can win 8 out of 9. Hell, they’ve given up games after falling behind a goal in the first period.

        But hey, if you want to wait two more loses before sending some REAL inspiration (like a message to the locker room that there are guys waiting to steal their jobs) Jobu is a patient guy 😉

      • Fat Tony

        Okay so in that sense we should not buy out Brower’s contract? give Stajan another crack? keep Bartcrapski eating popcorn waiting for someone to go down or under perform so we can do a little worse out there? Maybe we could resign Iggy and really delay these kids the opportunity.
        Lets create some openings and let some of these kids earn their chance. Some of them maybe not be ready but we will find out real fast who is and who isn’t . They will playing for a job and working their tails off just to keep it. There’s more value in that then having all of these bums just happy to stay in the league another year so they don’t have to get a real job.

        FT

  • moodyblue2

    Remember when the talk was Monahan or McKinnon best of that years draft? Mckinnon is pulling ahead by leaps and bounds! All the bottom feeder clubs are playing better than the Flames right now and also have a lottery pick! Could get ugly next year!

  • Raffydog

    Wow who could’ve seen this disaster of a season coming. From the soft porous defense, to Mike Smith being a pathetic excuse of a goaltender, to the useless forwards who can’t score. Oh wait, I predicted all of that during the summer, my bad.

  • FL🔥MES

    It’s interesting reading comments after the game today. If a person didn’t know better they would think the sky was falling. Skylar provided some pragmatic input and seems to have a reasonable approach.

    Everything will get sorted out and the team will get back on track next season.

  • Roger the Shrubber

    Seeing some people turn on Smith is comical. The guy is the one reason the Flames even have a (remote) chance of making the playoffs. Can you imagine Elliott or Johnson behind this defense? Then everyone would be REALLY irked at the thought of the Flames not protecting that 1st.

    • PlayitagainSam

      For the past four years all I have been hearing is how great this team’s defence is. We are 18th in goals against. This defence is not good but we still keep drinking the koolaid. If Smith doesn’t stand on his head we lose . It’s as simple as that! Gut this tire fire of a defence and get some guys on the back end that play with some hockey sense and physicality.
      Who cares if they score a few points? They can’t keep the puck out of their net.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        For the past four years? Four years ago only Gio and Brodie were here. The defence has been touted as world class since last summer when Hamonic and Stone were acquired.

        There are few more physical than Gio or Hamonic. Hamilton is well on the way to becoming the premier offensive defenceman in the game. Kulak isn’t big enough to play a hard physical game night after night.

  • TheWheeze

    Let’s look at this through the lens of the average working stiff. You have a job, you don’t mind it, but you have a lousy manager (coach) who can’t lead, doesn’t listen, throws you under the bus, does nothing to make you feel valued, but everything to make you feel expendable, you get to the point where you are forcing yourself to come in every morning because you feel drained mentally and emotionally. Your coworkers have no cohesion or a healthy working relationship because attitudes have become soured due to unhealthy, or nonexistent leadership. That’s our Flames. I don’t care how many millions you make, everyone wants to feel energized and involved. Management matters. a lot.

  • Observers from all over agree this is a fragile team and that seems like an indictment on the coaching and player leadership to me. Fire Gulutzan & Cameron. Hire a successful assistant head coach from another team as head coach. Giordano is probably too quiet in the locker room however hes not a liability on or off the ice and his contract licks him up here til retirement. Brouwer hasn’t demonstrated why he should continue to wear an A next season. The other A is Monahan he gets a pass til at least a few games next autumn because he was a top scorer for awhile and he’s just playing injured right now.