Once the Flames officially shut Sean Monahan down for the season, they admitted defeat. Why should anything else change?
David Rittich is probably the only one who didn’t deserve this
Not every goal against was David Rittich’s fault. He was subjected to defensive breakdowns and bad bounces against: two things out of his control. And as apathetic as the rest of this season will be, the least the Flames could do would be to try to be fair to their rookie backup netminder who never asked for any of this.
Rittich has had a great season overall, especially when you consider his development curve. He performed well as a backup, consistently helping the Flames to, at least, points. As a backup, he never posted a save percentage under .919. And while that was a stretch that couldn’t last, when Mike Smith went down, he faltered; that extra cushion gone, and therein everything flew off the rails.
He had a .848 save percentage in this game. He’s at .908 now. It may be an accurate reflection of his abilities – he did falter in his own right – but games like this aren’t earned. They’ll drag his numbers down, and it’s just not fair to him, to say nothing about playing 60 minutes behind a team that has largely appeared to stop caring.
Everything is a learning opportunity now so just roll with it
On that note, though, get him those starts. Even if the team in front of him won’t play well, it’s still NHL experience he can use and turn into next year.
Brett Kulak played the most out of everybody, with 23:06. So what if he made a poor cross-ice pass that led to the Sharks’ first goal – the season is over anyway, they can go winless the rest of the year and it will not matter one iota, so let Kulak make those mistakes and go over film so he won’t make them when the games actually matter in seven months. In the meantime, give him that ice. It’s of more use to him now than it is to Michael Stone. Can Kulak turn into someone who can handle top four minutes? With whatever changes may come this offseason, it might be nice to know that.
Rasmus Andersson played 15:26, the most he’s played this season. He also got 1:58 on the powerplay. He still played the least out of the defence, but if he’s going to be up in the NHL playing out the stretch instead of down in the AHL fighting for a playoff spot, it’s best to make proper use of his time.
Is Nick Shore the fourth line centre of the future? He played 13:40 in the game, including 1:13 on the penalty kill, behind only Troy Brouwer and Mikael Backlund for shorthanded forward time. He’d better be appearing in every remaining game, because all that’s left to look forward to is decisions on next season’s roster.
Just some Dougie Hamilton thoughts
A lot’s being said on the Flames vastly outshooting their opponents. But who is it actually shooting?
For the second game in a row, Dougie Hamilton had a powerplay shot go off the crossbar and turn into a shorthanded goal seconds later. It’s absurd just how bad the Flames’ luck has been this season, but that’s just how it’s been all year. And while it’s no guarantee that the Flames will experience a reversal in fortune next year, it at least does provide some hope that this team isn’t as bad as they appear to be.
I mean, they’re still plenty bad at this point – they’ve completely thrown in the towel – but there’s literally nothing left for them to play for at this point, so… why not?
Hamilton did lead the way with five shots on net though. It was the sixth straight game in which he has accumulated at least five shots. In 24 games this season, he has put at least five shots on net. He has 255 shots this year; only three other Flames are in the 200s, including runner up Johnny Gaudreau, with 221. With 16 goals, he’s still scored the most out of all defencemen in the NHL, and his shots are second league-wide by a fair margin. He plays at least three fewer minutes than the other league-wide leaders.
For the love of god, whoever is in charge of this team next year, put that man on the first powerplay unit and do not take him off for any reason. The Flames have a young, cost-controlled offensive force on their blue line and to not maximize his potential is, well, part of the reason they are where they are.