50Matthew Phillips
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames survive a wild one with the Sharks

The preseason is often full of strange hockey games. On Tuesday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Calgary Flames hosted a San Jose Sharks club that was light on established National Hockey League players. Despite this, those fledgling Sharks pushed the Flames to the limit in a wild 7-5 Flames victory.

The Rundown

The Flames started this game off slowly, being out-shot handily early on. They finally got some offensive zone time, but Michael Stone’s point shots were blocked and that allowed Joakim Ryan to spring Barclay Goodrow on a breakaway. He beat Rittich to make it 1-0.

71 seconds later, with Matthew Tkachuk in the penalty box, Rourke Chartier beat Rittich five-hole with a quick shot from the slot to make it 2-0. It was just seven seconds into the Sharks power play.

The Flames managed to answer back to make it 2-1 on a nifty bit of passing from Brett Kulak, who found Johnny Gaudreau all by his lonesome at the side of the net for a nice deflection play.

But eight seconds later, before they had a chance to announce Gaudreau’s goal, Lukas Radil drove the Flames net and beat Rittich high to make it 3-1. A Marcus Sorensen goal was disallowed after a mad scramble in the Flames crease due to goaltender interference – even after a strangely long preseason video review – but Maxim Letunov drove the net 10 seconds after the disallowed goal and beat Rittich to make it 4-1. Shots were 12-9 Sharks, chances were 8-8.

The middle frame had all sorts of goals. The Flames scored first off a dump-in by their fourth line. Glenn Gawdin and Curtis Lazar went to retrieve the puck, while Matthew Phillips went to the net and got a tap-in off a very nice tape-to-tape pass from Lazar to make it 4-2.

A few minutes later a Sharks player over-skated the puck in the neutral zone, so Sean Monahan calmly collected the puck, sped up and fired the puck past Aaron Dell to make it 4-3.

The Flames tied things up at the end of a lengthy offensive zone shift that began with the Phillips line establishing control. Tkachuk redirected a Dalton Prout point shot to make it 4-4.

But the Sharks got the lead back a little bit later, as Timo Meier drove the net and was stopped, but Sasha Chmelevski picked up the scraps to put the Sharks back on top 5-4. But the Flames got that one back with 10 seconds left in the period. After a dump-in was collected, Gaudreau faked out Antoine Bibeau from behind the net and beat him with a wrap-around to tie things up at 5-5.

Shots were 13-12 Sharks, scoring chances were 14-10 Flames.

The Flames went up in the middle of the third period on a bit of a weird play. Oliver Kylington evaded some Sharks defenders just inside the blueline, then found Sam Bennett by the faceoff circle. Bennett spun and fired and his wobbling shot beat Bibeau to make it a 6-5 game.

Czarnik added an empty-netter (by diving to beat out a Sharks defender) to make it a 7-5 final. Shots were 9-4 Flames and scoring chances were 4-0 for the home side.

Why the Flames Won

The Flames got down early because of some leaky defensive zone play and some challenges burying their chances. They tidied things up defensively and suddenly the game began to swing their way.

Looking at the rosters alone, the Flames should’ve had a talent edge. They played like they had that edge for the last two periods after getting a scare from a very flat start.

Red Warrior

Gaudreau was easily the most engaged veteran offensively and he was progressively more tuned-in as the game went on. Beyond him, there were some nice performances from Rasmus Andersson, Noah Hanifin, Phillips, Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund.

The Turning Point

Bennett’s game-winner was the dagger in the heart of a Sharks team that had been leaking scoring chances for roughly 30 minutes at that point.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Natural Stat Trick)

Player Corsi
Bennett 80.0 85.7 1.500
Jankowski 79.0 85.7 0.680
Kylington 76.7 75.0 2.025
Frolik 73.3 66.7 0.950
Stone 70.4 66.7 1.050
Tkachuk 62.5 66.7 1.025
Czarnik 61.5 66.7 1.115
Gawdin 61.1 42.9 0.610
Kulak 59.3 62.5 1.150
Lazar 55.6 42.9 0.690
Prout 54.6 71.4 0.800
Monahan 53.6 36.4 2.600
Gaudreau 53.3 36.4 2.275
Backlund 53.3 66.7 0.665
Andersson 52.0 30.8 0.275
Neal 50.0 36.4 0.660
Phillips 50.0 20.0 0.950
Hanifin 44.0 30.8 0.400
Rittich -1.600
Gillies 0.250

This and That

The Sharks dressed six players that they recalled from their AHL camp (after trimming down their roster on the weekend). Those players accounted for two of their five goals.

Up Next

The Flames hit the road tomorrow for a mini road trip to cap off their preseason. They’re in San Jose on Thursday night and then head to Edmonton for a Saturday afternoon contest to finish off their exhibition calendar.

The next time we see the Flames on home ice, it’ll be on Sat., Oct. 6 in a game that matters.

  • Flaming moe

    Good comeback boys. Hopefully we get off to better starts during the regular season because we won’t be seeing this San Jose lineup again. This was there B team.

  • SouthernFlame

    I’m just glad to see we have some promising up comers and or backups. Phillips, Gawdin, Dube, Big Z, Robinson looked good, all the D prospects and Parsons! Mangi is already there. Neal has looks hopefully he can burry them in the real season. Austin C is in or better be in. I really had high hopes for Lazar and it almost makes me sad to see him leave but not sure what’s gonna happen with him. Maybe the BP sees more in him. Hanifin looks better every time and I have no doubt he will be better than Hamilton by next year.

  • Trevy

    Feels like a Hartley style team again with the offensive prowess and the come from behind mentality. That style of hockey makes you look forward to an exciting season. However, I really hope we tighten up defensively!

    • FlushedOut

      Neal has been to 3 finals in a row. Pretty hard to get pumped up for exhibition for a guy like that. Not like he has a job to lose. Don’t worry he’ll be fine when the games actually matter

    • cjc

      I hope to god we don’t have a Hartley style team again. That type of play just isn’t sustainable. You can’t expect to come from behind every time, and it’s a bit disturbing this game was so close, given the talent gap.

      • Cfan in Van

        They’re not relying mostly on stretch passes, so I’d say it’s not a very Hartley-esque system. Hartley’s team was usually vastly out-skilled and needed to rely catching the D sleeping and then creeping back in the game, after being out classed.

        Given that this team is undeniably more talented, I wouldn’t look too far past “preseason” for the reason they started slow. Hartley’s team didn’t have a habit of starting slow, they just weren’t very good, and could claw back. The claw-back mentality is a good sign, not a bad one.

  • freethe flames

    I was at the game; what an empty and dead building. Pike suggests that we started slowly; I would disagree both Johnny and Janko had excellent scoring chances in the first 2 minutes- we could have easily been up 2-0 if they finish those golden opportunities. The defensive breakdowns and Tkachuk’s selfish and needless penalty and the game exploded on the Flames.

    It’s easy to give Johnny props for his two goals and his second was a thing of beauty but his play away from the puck was dreadful.
    For my money the best Flame on the night was Andersson(for sure he was the best defenceman). IMO he made 2 mistakes the whole game and both times he hustled back into position.
    It was nice to see Bennett get rewarded with a goal; but what I want to say is how hard that line worked without the puck and how good they were at times on the forecheck. There was a sequence in the second period where they were hard on the forecheck and a SJ outletted the puck for a what looked like a developing 2 on 1 by the time a third SJ was in the zone all 3 forwards were already back in the D zone. I loved it.

    The Phillips goal was a result of the forecheck as well.

    When Gilles came into the game he was sharp and made some good saves and for the most part he was out on the top of his crease challenging shooters and that helped him make some saves. He still goes down to early and stays down to long for my liking but he was pretty solid tonight.

    James Neal; I watched him a lot tonight and although he was better than he has been he still does not excite me. I really am worried that he is TB all over; I don’t want it to be so but it scares me.

    • everton fc

      Neal has, indeed, been underwhelming thus far. We shall see how it goes, and he did hit a post, but I can’t see him w/Gaudreau and Monahan, nor w/Tkachuk and Backlund, though he’s most likely slotted in w/the latter two.

    • CalgaryBornandRaised

      I too was at this game, was actually pretty busy for a preseason game.

      James Neal will be fine, hard to really play hard when your facing a team of SJ AHLers, top 3 NHL D missing on your own team, and two backups in net, and the game means nothing. He almost scored with a laser anyways, a couple of inches and it would have been in.

      Troy Brouwer only scored 20 goals 3 times in his entire career, Neal has scored 20 or more goals 10 times in his career, not even a comparison

      • freethe flames

        I hope you are right about Neal and although I make the comparisons to TB it is a little to early to label Neal that way. But I am allowed to be worried.

      • HAL MacInnis

        Neal and Smith know each other and obviously got along. Like minded people usually click. If Neal is even half as competitive as Smith, he’ll be just fine.

    • Derzie

      They have earned the empty building. All that’s left are the hardcore fans. Treliving’s moves have been lunacy to the general public. He’s shooting for the middle of the pack, and he’ll be lucky to get there.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I missed first half of the game but when I heard the Flames were trailing the SJ Barracuda 4-1, I immediately thought our goaltending let us down. It sounds like not a lot went right in the first half but Rittich seems to have the yips. Gillies had them last year but looks better in his last couple of games.

    I have a feeling that Parsons and another goalie will be sent packing before the next game. This was Rittich’s job to lose and he appears to be doing it. The club has always favoured Gillies until recently and now he might be working his way back but he is running out of games this pre-season.

    These next 2 games should decide the 4th line winger and the 3rd pairing. If the decision was based on pre-season, Dube, Ras, and Gillies start the season but we all know that is not the case. I hope we don’t have another Janko debacle.

  • everton fc

    I listened on the FAN, up until the middle of the third. To my ears, the Kulak and Andersson had a good night, though Kulak seemed to be playing more w/Prout, at times. Glad Phillips got a goal. Bennett and Jankowski are a good pairing. Frolik was a good lineman for them, as is Hathaway. Would be interested in Dube w/them, but I don’t see that happening. In the car, driving, when Lazar missed an empty net. That could be the end, for Lazar here. I get a funny, positive feeling Frolik is going to be one of our key players, this season. He’s a class act. Didn’t see the Rittich goals-against, but Wills and “Lombo” said he was “left out to dry” on all but one. Sounded that way, on the radio – was that the case? I am shocked and happy we won, as I’m just seeing the score. But to give up 5 against the Sharks minor league affiliate isn’t good. The fact Peters got these guys on the winning side of the ledger, says a lot. He has that Hartley affect. We’ll need it.

    We need to have better starts this season. We need to be in the lead, going into the third.

    Sidenote; if the Leafs waive Pickard, I might be tempted to sign him. And as much as I like Rittich, Gillies may be edging ahead.

  • Fat Tony

    Really liked what I seen out of the Bennett – Janko – Frolik line last night. Could be a nightmare for a lot of teams fourth line match ups. Czarnik can easily play on the 3rd or even 2nd line if necessary.

  • stuhfan

    Hanifin – Andersson looked pretty good together, and Rasmus has looked good in every game I’ve watched. Slotting that pair between Gio – Brodie and Kulak – Hamonic/Stone would result in the ideal opening night D pairings. Let Hamonic & Stone battle for which $3.5MM+ defenseman eats popcorn.

        • supra steve

          Oh, well then I completely disagree with your pairings. I expect Ras to become a 2nd pairing guy, perhaps soon, but I don’t see him starting his NHL career there.
          And I can’t see the new coach showing up his GM by placing Hamonic (last summer’s prize/expensive acquisition) on the third pairing to start the season.

  • Longshot1977

    One player I noticed that no one seems to be discussing. Kylington was amazing in this game. Controlled the play, moved the puck up ice, skated like the wind. Andersson hogs most of the discussion about making the big league lineup (deservedly), but I don’t think the shifty 21-year old Swede should be counted out.

    People might Thumbs Down me for this I’m sure, but I think I’d rather see Andersson and Kylington in the NHL over Stone or even Kulak. Nothing against Kulak, but those other guys have higher ceilings.

    Kulak (7th)

    (Trade Stone)

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Two year, two camps where Ras has played better than Stone and Kulak. Kulak needs to play the best he can over the rest of camp or he will be facing the waiver wire again. Not that he’s worse than Stone, just that Stone would be claimed killing any depth we had. Depth that isn’t a rookie, that is. Kylington is looking better each game. I think they are seriously considering him in place of Kulak, but there’s no point in doing that if Kulak is the 7th man.

      • Baalzamon

        just that Stone would be claimed killing any depth we had

        I’ve never heard of a $3.5 million cap hit getting claimed off waivers.

        Besides, Stone wouldn’t have to be waived. He’d just have to be parked in the press box.

      • Longshot1977

        Agree 100%. If Kylington makes the team, it’s to play and not sit. That puts either Kulak or Stone in the Press Box, and the other will have to be waived.

    • Cfan in Van

      I only saw the 2nd and 3rd periods (lucky me), but it was the best I’ve seen of Kylington yet. He was showing off his fantastic mobility, and made less mental errors than I’ve seen in the past. He could still use some work when it comes to making quick passes (less hesitation) where continued pressure causes a turnover, but I think he’s getting more polished as the preseason rolls on.

    • Redleader

      I agree Klington looks like a he will absolutely play in NHL , isn’t he only one or two older than Valimaki, already 3 years of pro , Flames have options.

  • Burnward

    Phillips: going to be a player.
    Andersson: going to be a player.
    Dube: going to be a player.
    GAWDin: going to be a player.
    Valimaki: going to be a player.
    Kylington: going to be a player.

    Great pre-season.

  • buts

    Rittich and Gillies are not the answer …..possibly Gillies in a year or two. We need a solid reliable backup….it is so obvious. Rittich was not tracking the puck at all and Gillies does the same.