The Calgary Flames returned home from a disastrous road trip with their playoff hopes reduced to pipe dreams. But they were still alive this evening when they welcomed the Anaheim Ducks to town. This installment had all the hallmarks of the 2017-18 Flames: a large shot advantage with few ten-bell scoring chances, some wonky goaltending, and a horrible power play.
The Flames never had a lead during a 4-0 home loss to the Ducks.
The locals looked decent in the first period, generating a lot of shots (though few really nice chances). The Flames had a power play that began with Dougie Hamilton ringing a shot off the crossbar. That was the peak of the game. Dougie Hamilton and Mark Giordano played catch in their own zone to buy time for a line change. Unfortunately, Hamilton coughed up the puck and Andrew Cogliano waited out Mike Smith and shelved a shot to make it 1-0 Ducks. The Flames pressed after that, but couldn’t generate anything that was all that dangerous. Shots were 11-5 Flamess and scoring chances 6-4 Flames.
The wheels fell off a bit in the second period, as has been customary lately for the Flames. The home side had a lot of zone time and scoring chances, but couldn’t score early. Mark Giordano hauled a guy down to give the Ducks a power play, but the Flames killed it off and seemed to have some momentum. But Ondrej Kase came into the Flames zone all alone. Brett Kulak had position on him, so Kase got off a back-handed shot that went right through the wickets on Smith to make it 2-0 Ducks. Anaheim made it 3-0 late in the period, as a Giordano outlet pass hit a leg and ricocheted to the Ducks. They re-entered the zone and Hampus Lindholm came in as the trailing man and beat Smith with a shot from just inside the blueline. Shots were 12-6 Flames and chances were 9-9.
David Rittich replaced Smith to begin the third. Neither team really did a heck of a lot in the final frame, as the Ducks were content to defend and ride this one out. Francois Beauchemin scored late with a nice slap shot to make it 4-0. Shots were 6-5 Flames and scoring chances were 9-8 Flames.
Why The Flames Lost
The Flames had many shots. They had several chances. But they couldn’t bury any of them. The Ducks had a few shots and a few chances, but between some dodgy defensive coverage and some iffy goaltending, the Ducks got spotted a couple goals and were able to play a defensive game for the second half of this contest.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s been the recipe for many, many Flames losses over the past two months.
Let’s go with Backlund, who was very effective defensively and played a decent game all night. Nobody in red had a blowaway game, but Backlund was the best of the rest.
The Turning Point
Take your pick of either of the second period goals. The 2-0 goal was particularly bad, as it came just after (a) a strong Flames penalty kill and (b) a few rapid-fire scoring chances.
(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)
This and That
The Flames are now 10-14-6 in the 30 games since the Bye Week break.
The Flames have now been shut out seven times this season. They’ve shut out their opponents three times.
“I don’t know what to tell you guys. Our scoring has dried up. Not from lack of effort. Not from lack of chances. But for some reason… posts, crossbar early, chances, point-blank chances, generating shots… It just refuses to go easy.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on his team’s lack of offense.
The Drive to 96 (Points)
The Flames now have 80 points with 7 games remaining. There simply are not enough games left for them to get enough points (a projected 96) to qualify for a playoff spot. They’re mathematically eliminated with any combination of 3.5 Ducks wins or Flames losses.
The Flames (35-30-10) head back on the road. They visit the San Jose Sharks on Saturday afternoon for another game of little consequence to playoff prospects of the gentlemen in red.