69Flames celebration
Photo Credit: Stan Szeto/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames hold on for exhibition win over Sharks

In the penultimate game of the 2018 preseason calendar, and playing against the most stacked lineup they’ve seen so far, the Calgary Flames looked pretty good against the San Jose Sharks. With roughly 95% of their big league lineup dressed, the Flames got out to an early lead and then hung on for a 4-3 victory in the Shark Tank.

The Rundown

The Flames were chasing a bit early and gave up the first goal. Erik Karlsson’s initial point shot was stopped, but the Flames had trouble containing the traffic in front of Mike Smith and Antti Suomela poked in the rebound for a 1-0 Sharks lead

Later in the period, with Sean Monahan in the box, the Flames evened things up while killing a penalty. They forced a turnover and Mikael Backlund carried the puck into the Sharks zone. He was given a bit too much time and space, and he found Mark Giordano sneaking into the zone for a one-timer that beat Martin Jones to make it 1-1.

They took the lead later in the period. Elias Lindholm collected a loose puck and checked a Sharks defender, knocking him to the ice and spring himself on an odd-man rush with Johnny Gaudreau. Some nice back-and-forth passing later and Lindholm beat Jones to make it 2-1 Calgary.

Shots were 12-8 Flames and scoring chances were 8-7 Sharks.

The Flames added two more in the middle frame. Travis Hamonic scored at the tail-end of a Flames power play to make it 3-1, entering the zone at the end of roughly 45 seconds of pressure and puck movement – the best any Flames PP saw on the night. Following a Flames penalty kill that saw few, if any, good Sharks chances, James Neal was sprung on a breakaway and beat Jones to make it 4-1.

Suomela scored again late in the second period off some iffy Flames defensive zone play to cut their lead to 4-2. Shots were 10-7 Sharks, but chances were 10-4 Flames.

The Sharks had the lone goal of the third period, as Evander Kane found Timo Meier for a short-handed tap-in on a Flames power play – TJ Brodie was sliding on the ice in an attempt to take out the pass, but failed to do so – to make it a narrow 4-3 lead.

But that’s as close as the Sharks got. Shots were 8-3 Sharks and chances were 2-1 Flames.

Why the Flames Won

The Flames were pretty damn good in the first 40 minutes: they created chances, they buried chances, they prevented chances, and their penalty kill was very sharp. They took their foot off the gas a bit in the late stages of the game, but they were generally the better team.

The coaching staff won’t be in love with their defensive zone play, as too often they (a) coughed up the puck while attempting to leave the zone or (b) gave up secondary chances because they couldn’t clear after Smith made the initial save.

Red Warrior

It’s a joint award to Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. Lindholm was dangerous all game, while Hanifin was whirling around every zone like he was the second coming of Brodie (skating-wise).

The Turning Point

The Neal goal held up as the eventual game-winner, but it also came right after a Sharks power play that had no energy to it. It was very tough for them to claw back in afterwards.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5)

Player Corsi
Tkachuk 73.9 60.0 0.550
Backlund 69.2 40.0 1.940
Lindholm 66.7 100 2.180
Hamonic 66.7 66.7 2.125
Hanifin 58.1 57.1 0.750
Ryan 57.2 71.4 0.810
Neal 57.2 66.7 1.475
Giordano 57.2 77.8 1.300
Frolik 56.3 40.0 -0.025
Gaudreau 52.4 100 0.900
Monahan 52.2 83.3 -0.065
Valimaki 50.0 40.0 0.175
Stone 50.0 40.0 0.050
Brodie 50.0 66.7 -0.100
Dube 46.2 71.4 0.090
Bennett 43.8 25.0 -0.015
Jankowski 37.4 25.0 -0.050
Czarnik 36.4 40.0 -0.130
Smith 0.050

This and That

With all the NHL regulars dressed, Backlund wore the alternate captain’s A.

The power play units were:

  • PP1: Monahan-Lindholm-Gaudreau-Tkachuk-Giordano
  • PP2: Ryan-Backlund-Czarnik-Neal-Hanifin/Brodie

Their special teams were uneven. The PK was very solid, but the PP only really generated 35 seconds of good pressure on four advantages.

Dillon Dube played 12:54 and was +1. He was solid, if unspectacular, and he did a good job using his speed to get to loose pucks. Juuso Valimaki 13:46 and was even. He was barely noticeable, which is just fine for a 19-year-old defenseman playing against a good team.

Sam Bennett “fought” Evander Kane in the third period after a clean Bennett hit on Kane. The scuffled served its purpose, as Kane got an extra penalty for roughing and the Flames got a power play out of it.

Up Next

The Flames practice tomorrow in San Jose as they prepare for a trip to Edmonton on Saturday afternoon for their final exhibition game of this year.

The 2018-19 regular season begins in less than a week.

  • Vinnsanity12

    All of the Flames D-men even or above, TJ Brodie -2. Even Gio can’t fix this guy, on the Sharks second goal he looked absolutely lost. A lot of positives though, Hammer and The Fin looked good!

      • MDG1600

        +/- is not meaningless, particularly over the course of time. It needs to be looked at in context of the situations that a player is placed in and it certainly isn’t the be all and end all of statistics but I don’t think you can flippantly dismiss it. In my experience over the course of a season it usually aligns with the “eye test” pretty well.

        • someone

          It should be dismissed. In short, plus/minus is highly variable, there are countless factors that influence it, and more of them are outside of an individual player’s control than not. Two teammates doing everything absolutely identically to one another can see huge variance – well over 100% – in their plus/minus based on factors outside of their control like ice time, their goalie’s performance, and the opposing goalie’s performance. It’s meaningless. It’s even worse than meaningless, because belief in plus/minus actively damages attempts at meaningful analysis.

  • Heeeeeere's Johnny!

    The coaching staff won’t be in love with their defensive zone play, as too often they (a) coughed up the puck while attempting to leave the zone or (b) gave up secondary chances because they couldn’t clear after Smith made the initial save.

    Where and when have I heard this before? I must be getting senile … perhaps sometime in the previous year?

  • Jessemadnote

    *Flames win a game* Flamesnation posters: Hmmm let’s see if I can find it… Gotta keep searching… Aha! The one negative thing I can take away from this game.

    • Heeeeeere's Johnny!

      If that is directed at my post I guess I’m guilty as charged. However it remains true. Last year’s bad habits seem to still be present. They need to be squelched and quickly.

      • Fat Tony

        Maybe if we gave them a bit more time getting familiar with playing along side each other again things will turn around for Brodie. Have a bit of optimism, it’s still preseason.

      • cberg

        Actually, I think the original comment is not accurate. The Flames played a pretty dominant and outstanding game. They looked fast, cohesive and were pretty effective all night. I didn’t see a lot of major breakdowns….

  • Cheeky

    We looked fast and hard working in first 40 mins tonight. Last 20 San Jose turned it on and pressured but our passes got sloppy and we stopped skating. Need a full 60 but as it’s preseason…PP was terrible as in last year terrible (please stop the drop pass)…Valimaki got some good looks in offensive zone (as in he got in position for passes), Dube cycled really well – all 4 lines looked good at times…

    • Chucky

      Hopefully that stupid drop pass goes away over the first part of the season. There were times last night when they gave up two zones for the opportunity to stand and watch Gaudreau get checked at the blueline. Maybe they can tell Gaudreau to not follow the play .
      The other very concerning development was the inability to create space in the offensive zone. Too many times there were two Sharks battling with three Flames and the loose puck got scooped up by the third or fourth Shark when the puck came out of the scrum. The Flames need to get someone on the PP that can win those puck battles two on two.

  • Korcan

    I thought the 1st line looked good early on showing good chemistry with Lindholm who looked great. The 3M line looked very good all game. Dube looked like he belongs (Mangiapane is going to have to bring it if he gets another opportunity against Edmonton). The Jankowski line did okay, but were not that noticeable. I almost think they do better with Hathaway on the right side — maybe they just need more games with Czarnik to develop some chemistry.

    On D, i thought Hanafin and Hamonic were great, as was Gio. Brodie was pretty scrambly at times, which has me concerned as that was his hallmark last season. Stone looked fine and young Valimaki did well, much like Dube, and looked like he belongs.

    Smith looks ready for puck drop.

    I’ve really liked the pickups Calgary got from Carolina. Hanafin may not score as much as Hamilton yet, but i think he already has a better defensive game. And he and Hammer already have better chemistry than Hamonic ever did with TJ. Ryan just looks very solid in all aspects of his game, and Lindholm looks like a stud — potentially so much better than Ferland was (Ferland played hard, but he simply is not at the same skill level that Lindholm already is showing). I think by year end, that trade with Carolina is going to look like a win for Calgary.

    • T&A4Flames

      Thatvtrade will likely turn out well for CGY, they’re good players and I like them. But, we lost that trade imo in the value we gave up. I’d Fox signs with them, then there is no question.

  • Burnward

    To these eyes Brodie looks much more comfortable than last year and played quite well most of the night.

    Valimaki was rock solid.

    Forward lines looked good.

    If they can ever upgrade on Backlund somehow. this team becomes scary.

    • Getpucksdeep

      I don’t believe you watched the game at all…upgrade on Backlund??? He was skating like the wind, outstanding last night and there isn’t a better penalty killer in the league right now. Who do you propose goes up against McDavid, Schieffle or Crosby?

      • Burnward

        I like backs. I respect backs. I think he’s amazing at what he does.

        But at 5.5 I look at the difference in offense between him and 7-8 million guys and the difference is quite large.

        I just dream of a true offensive force in that spot.

        • someone

          Backs is amazing at what he does, which is hockey. Strange to compare him to 7-8 million dollar guys. I should hope there is a difference with guys that make 30-40% more.

        • Avalain

          So, I took a quick look at capfriendly at the other centers making in the 5 million range and looking only at points Backlund is right around average. So we get fair value for his point production with huge defensive upside. Yes, switching him with an 8 million dollar player is an upgrade offensively, but how do we fit that and Tkachuk in the budget?

        • Baalzamon

          But at 5.5 I look at the difference in offense between him and 7-8 million guys and the difference is quite large.

          This might be the most meaningless statement ever made about anything.

          “I like my house, but when I compare it to a skyscraper I notice the difference in height is quite large.”

          • Burnward

            Guys. This isn’t a critique of Backs. It’s a wish that we had a better scoring option in the two hole. He’s great at what he does.

            Kind of an ideal world scenario. I understand all these things.

  • Chucky

    Hamonic had his best game as a Flame. His positioning was far better and the one time he decided to jump into the play it paid off. His job is to stay at home and let Hanifin roam, he did it well. One of the things that marked his poor play was a tendency to try and slow the puck down along the boards behind his net. He has invariably lost possession in a high percentage of this situation, last night he only did this twice in the third period (maybe in the first while I was defeating the blackout and could not watch but no reason to believe this happened).

    The third period is distressing but hopefully Peters will kick some butt. The sit back and try to hang on and maybe play for the tie, has to change. There is a new group of players but the core carries the ethic of last year and the coaching staff’s biggest hurdle will be teaching them to keep the foot on the gas. I would not be surprised to see continued line shuffling until they find a group that will change the momentum in these hang on situations.

  • buts

    I’m a big fan of Brodie but what concerned me the most was not so much some bad positional play which will come with a change of sides but his puck first body second and bad puck management decisions. He is losing battles along the boards, his losing his man and right now needs to shape up his game or he will be dropping in the depth charts real quick because Valimaki and Anderson are not far behind.

  • Toofun

    I agree with the deja vu comments and also that it’s way too early to suggest that they can’t improve but from the pre-season so far it’s pretty clear that our Power Play and defensive zone lapses are the two areas they still have to clean up.

    I also agree that this version of the team is deeper and stronger than we’ve seen in years. Vegas odds has them 17th out of 31 teams but they could be very close to surprising a lot of folks.

  • The GREAT WW

    Very good all around game by the team! Even Backlund was good after the first 3 giveaways he was responsible for….

    Except the power play, how is it possible we are that bad again with new players and new coaches…?
    (I know the Sharks have a very good PK, but still; our PP was horrendous).


    • The GREAT WW

      What a difference coaching makes; remember last year when we just kept passing the puck around in our own zone until we turned it over……

      This year’s fast transition game is so refreshing!!!


      • Cfan in Van

        You’re reminding me of how frustrated I was, so early in the season last year. It was like they had a good long look at what sucked in 2016/17, and decided to double down on those things for 2017/18.

  • Stockton's Finest

    “The Flames practice tomorrow in San Jose as they prepare for the trip to Edmonton on Saturday”

    Would have been ice to see them hit the ice in Stockton for a fan fest…..

    Just sayin’

    • freethe flames

      That’s called selling the game to fan’s that matter. They should have played the two prospects games in Stockton and Bakersfield while the big boys were in China.

      You should be getting a few more bodies in the next 24 hours.

    • HAL MacInnis

      It’s amazing how little respect Calgary gives Stockton sometimes. Apparently, people in the Flames organization do read this site, but you gotta wonder how much reaches the ears of those that make things happen.

      • Jobu

        Jobu is convinced the locker he was given against the Ducks was a direct result of seeing Jobu’s profile from this site. But that was most likely the players, not the mgmt.

  • freethe flames

    So I listened to BP post game interview and he really like the first 2 periods where the Flames played with pace and made good decisions with the puck. The last 25 minutes or so they played on their heals and not on their toes.

    Lot’s of Brodie bashing so I decided to go back and look at the highlights and the goals against from a coaching perspective. Goal 1 against; the Falmes outlet the puck and the winger turns it over on the scoring opportunity both Gio and Brodie have their men tied up and Smith fails to smother the puck and Monahans’ man puts the puck in and somehow we need to blame Brodie. I could not find the second goal against on replay but here is how I recall it(please correct me if I’m wrong): the play is in the corner and Smith is down on his knees covering the post and the puck goes through the slot towards the point and the shot goes in; Smith is still on his knees and deep in his crease and again Brodie is minus. So where was the forward protecting the slot and why was Smith so deep in his crease? 3 rd goal a 2 on 1 on a turnover on the PP; I would liked to have seen Czarnik work a lot harder to get back into the play. Brodie is not perfect but just using +/- as a stat does not tell you very much.

    If there is one guy who last night did not impress me it was Czarnik, his level of play was not where it needs to be. I found it interesting how good the Janks/Bennett lined looked with Frolik and how less effective it was with Czarnik.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I am expecting Janko to break out this year but if he is stuck on the fourth line with a snake bit Bennett and a revolving winger it will be tough to put up the numbers. My biggest concern with Janko last night was how many times he got knocked to the ice in a board battle. I don’t remember this happening at the start of last season when he was able to use his frame to protect the puck.

      I had high hopes for Czarnik on that line but I did not notice him. I am starting to get the feeling that Bennett is difficult to play with. Both Dube and Czarnik had sub par games on that line while Frolik looked good.

      • everton fc

        Bennett/Jankowski looks better with Hathaway, as well, over Czarnik.

        I’ll say it again here; Frolik, regardless of his salary, is a very valuable Flame. Seems any line he’s one, plays better.

        Mangiapane gets next audition, over Dube. I think Hathaway will play next game, over Czarnik, on the 4th line, w/Bennett and Jankowski, the latter who has had a rather quiet pre-season, but who has also done well on special teams.

        • freethe flames

          Generally speaking Janko has done a good job on the PK and the pairing of Janko and Bennett do a pretty good job implementing BP forecheck system. This line has the potential to be very solid at both ends of the rink. While Hathaway is not nearly as talented as say Czarnik he is more consistent in the way he plays. Although at this point the best this pairing has looked has been with Frolik.

          • Jumping Jack Flash

            I agree. Bennett and Janko have looked great on the PK, but I can’t help think that the have more to give offensively. I don’t think Hathaway is the answer on that line although I do fee he is an honest player. Neither Janko or Bennett can drive the line despite having good chemistry so Dube could be the answer for that line to work its way up the ranks. You can tell Peters loves Dube’s game he used him on the PK and in the last couple of minutes of a one goal game. I think he offers more dimensions than Mangi and I have been cheering for Mangi.

        • Chucky

          Bennett will go into the corners and get the puck, he will drive it to the net. He needs a finisher who will go get it around the blue paint and put it in the net. Either they give the right wing defensive responsibility and the Jankowski to drive the net or get a right wing to do the job, Czarnik is not big enough to do it, Hathaway is not a finisher. Dube is gritty enough, Neal is big enough and gritty enough, Tkachuk is both and they are finishers. Any one of these three make that line a second scoring line, with Tkachuk it becomes a young dominating second line.

        • FlamesFanOtherCity

          Since it’s a meaningless game, there is a good chance that one of the “locks” sits. Hathaway is not in the top 12. I agree that Mangiapane will probably get the start, but I have to wonder if they want to also play Dube against the Oilers. Both are smart players and play well defensively.

          I wonder why BP hasn’t broken up the 3M line to try Byng on a scoring line. Try Bennett-Backlund-Frolik and Byng-Ryan-Lindholm.
          That leaves you a Dube-Janko-Czarnik or Mangiapane-Janko-Czarnik.

  • Off the wall

    I only had the chance to watch highlights last night.
    Isn’t it great that Hamonic has already matched his goal total (of last season) already in preseason?

  • KootenayFlamesFan

    I thought our 5 on 5 play, forecheck, and PK looked awesome in the first two periods (PK looked great all night).

    Of concern are the continuing trends of a HORRENDOUS powerplay and sitting on a lead in the third.

    Keep the pedal down boys, and why for cripes sake can we not play better with an extra man??????????

    I think instead of practicing a powerplay setup they should just play as they do 5 on 5 and the extra space will make it that much easier to get to the net.

    • freethe flames

      So what do your first 3 things you said all have in common? Skating, moving, being on your toes, dancing on your blades; what’s wrong with the PP? Not doing these things. The dump back and defer has one guys skating and basically everyone else watching to see if the guy with puck gains the zone. Personally I think this group would be much more effective on the PP if everyone peeled back and got their feet moving towards the blue line and hit the line with some speed; if the puck carrier can gain the circle/half wall great but if he has to dump it in the wingers are moving and are in on the forecheck and the d is jumping into the gap. Put even more pressure on the D by double teaming the puck. The PP is about skilled guys out working the other team.

  • MDG1600

    I see Valimaaki killed penalties for a decent amount of time and apparently didn’t look out of place. That’s pretty impressive for a rookie against an NHL line-up. This guy might be closer to the show than I thought.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      IMO Valimaki and Mangi have shown the most improvement in camp. Dube and Ras have been more consistent so I am leaning towards them starting with the big club.

  • calgaryfan

    It was still a preseason game, but Brodie was not good. He seemed lost especially on the power play, I am assuming he will not be a power play guy during the season.

    • Cfan in Van

      What gets me, is it’s pretty inconsistent and random. Here in Vancouver, I could watch all the televised prospect games through the Flames site or Youtube. Then I could only access half of the pre-season games through the Flames site. Yesterday’s game, it allowed me to watch the first 5min, then kicked me off for being “Blacked out in my region”. Don’t give a guy 5 minutes of a game, and then snatch it back like that. Just cruel. Of course, there are always ways around it…