75Dillon Dube
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames can’t tame Predators

The Calgary Flames ended their short homestand on a sour note on Friday night. In a game where they never had the lead, they dropped a 5-3 contest to the visiting Nashville Predators.

The Rundown

The Predators struck first and generally controlled the opening 20 minutes of action. A dump-in was bobbled by the Flames, allowing Filip Forsberg to collect the puck and find Ryan Johansen all alone in front, and his wrist shot beat Mike Smith and put Nashville up 1-0.

The Flames had just three shots in the opening period. The first was at 2:07. The second, more than 16 full minutes of hockey later, was a pass from Johnny Gaudreau from below the goal line to Elias Lindholm at the side of the net. Lindholm’s quick shot beat Pekka Rinne to make it 1-1.

Shots were 8-3 Predators, chances were 8-5 Predators.

The locals had some nice chances early in the second period, including a tic-tac-toe passing play between Mikael Backlund, Matthew Tkachuk and Michael Frolik – of course – that resulted in a tip by Tkachuk that narrowly missed the far post.

Nashville retook the lead off a turnover by rookie Juuso Valimaki. Valimaki collected an errant puck in the Flames end but couldn’t clear it, which led to a great feed from Kyle Turris to Craig Smith in the slot. Once again, with plenty of time and space, the Predators forward buried the chance to make it 2-1.

The Flames answered back on the power play. After Tkachuk drew a slashing call, the Flames took awhile to get set up in the offensive zone. But once they did so Lindholm’s shot from the top of the face-off circles was redirected off Tkachuk’s ankle and beat Rinne to make it 2-2.

But James Neal took a double-minor for high sticking and just 33 seconds into the ensuing power play for Nashville, Kevin Fiala made it 3-2. The Flames defended fairly well, but a scramble for the puck to Smith’s right resulted in the puck squirting out to his left – right to Fiala – and Smith’s attempted pad stack had just enough space for the puck to squeak in between his pads

Shots were 10-10, while scoring chances were 11-7 Predators.

The two sides traded quality scoring chances to open the third period, but the Flames managed to capitalize on one. Sam Bennett buried a superb pass from Derek Ryan on the rush, receiving the pass from between two defenders and then deking around Rinne, to make it 3-3.

Rinne was injured early in the third off a scramble in front of Nashville’s net and was replaced by backup Juuse Saros. A little while after Saros entered the game, the Predators retook the lead (again). Noah Hanifin got caught pinching into the offensive zone, leaving Rasmus Andersson alone to defend a two-on-one. Andersson guarded the passer, so Zac Rinaldo shot and beat Smith to make it 4-3.

The Flames pulled their netminder late but couldn’t draw even. Forsberg added an empty net goal to make it a 5-3 final score. Shots were 13-13, while chances were 12-11 Flames.

Why the Flames Lost

They just weren’t good enough in their own end. They made too many gaffes and had too many lapses, giving a dangerous and deep Predators squad too many quality scoring opportunities.

It’s hard to pin this on Smith – the goals he gave up were all on pretty good scoring chances – but he wasn’t amazing. He didn’t make any highlight reel saves. He wasn’t the difference between the Flames getting two points or zero, but this was the type of close game where they needed him to be a difference-maker and he wasn’t one.

Red Warrior

Bennett was a spark-plug throughout his game and was a big difference-maker in the final 40 minutes for the locals. Honourable mentions to Tkachuk and Giordano.

The Turning Point

Rinaldo’s goal was the wrong play at the wrong time. The Flames seemed to have momentum on their side before that, as they had tied the game and Nashville had lost their star netminder. Unfortunately the Predators managed to retake the lead and keep the Flames chasing for the remainder of the game.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5)

Player Corsi
For%
OZone
Start%
Game
Score
Ryan 70.0 36.4 1.300
Neal 70.0 44.4 0.800
Bennett 70.0 44.4 1.575
Stone 59.3 50.0 1.025
Giordano 57.1 46.2 1.850
Brodie 55.8 46.2 0.225
Tkachuk 54.8 72.7 1.100
Jankowski 54.6 50.0 0.060
Valimaki 53.6 50.0 0.200
Hanifin 53.6 33.3 0.025
Dube 50.0 25.0 0.065
Hathaway 50.0 40.0 0.075
Backlund 50.0 66.7 -0.070
Andersson 50.0 33.3 -0.025
Frolik 48.3 75.0 -0.160
Gaudreau 46.4 22.2 0.675
Lindholm 44.4 12.5 1.470
Monahan 42.3 22.2 -0.115
Smith -0.400
Rittich

This and That

This was the first home game this season for Flames in their “regular” red home jerseys.

Bill Peters made one significant line shuffle mid-game, swapping Derek Ryan to the third line (between Bennett and Neal) and demoting Mark Jankowski to the fourth line.

As you would expect, Peters also shortened his bench in the third period: the fourth line barely hit the ice. Hathaway had three shifts (1:52 total), Dube had two (1:14) and Jankowski had four (3:12).

Up Next

The Flames (4-3-0) have a travel day tomorrow, heading to the Big Apple to prepare for a Sunday evening date with the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

  • Skylardog

    30 lines in the NHL have played more than 50 minutes together this season.

    JG, Mony, & Lind are on that list and rank 12 in GF/60 at 4.53. They are the worst in terms of GA/60 at 6.34.

    No other Flames line has played 50 minutes together. Not sure why you would allow a line that is playing that poorly defensively to stay together, even if the change is to move Lind off the line (for all you split up JG and Mony haters).

    Ferly’s line in Carolina ranks just behind Monys in GF at 4.47 GF/60, but they have an amazing 0.75 GA/60. They are 4th best in that stat.

    It appears Ferland was much more than just a goal scorer on the Monahan line last year. Apparently he was also the defensive glue that held it all together.

    Draw any conclusions you like about the info, but I know it is time to split that line up, if even just for a few games to send them a message.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Flames down by 1 before the first minute of the game, young stud defenceman egregiously coughs the puck up leading to the GWG, defeated in the faceoff dot, giveaways coming out the ying yang and a goalie with a SV% for the night of well under .900 . Stop me if you have heard this story before.

      For all the talk about the Flames being an inconsistent club, my takeaways from last night’s game are pretty consistent for the Flames over the past how many years and under how many different coaches?

    • dontcryWOLF88

      You talk about 50 minutes like thats a long amount of time…Most of these guys spent longer jerking off that morning than theyve played together this whole season.

      Perhaps youre right, but this is without doubt a small sample size.

  • freethe flames

    Thought about last night. The entire 4th line was invisible except for Janko on the dot and on the PK. It’s on Janko to earn his minutes; it has to be clear to him that while the coach trusts him on the PK if he not engaged from the start he will be shuffled down the line up.

    I’m one of the first to be critical of Neal. If he had not taken that lazy stupid penalty last night would have been his best game of the year. He just had a good shift was right and the bench and he decided to do something stupid; “ahh”.
    The more I watch Ras the more I like him and the more I think he should be on the second PP unit. It’s going to be hard for BP to break up Ras and Hanifin when Hamonic returns to line up.

    How many times has Smith been beat on a shot on a 2 on 1 this year; 2 for sure but I think more. From the earliest of ages defencemen and goalies are taught on a 2 on 1 D take away the pass and goalies are taught focus on the shooter. Yes a world class shooter can be beat a goaltender from there but a big goalie needs to give the shooter less to shoot at.

  • Kevin R

    Its a lose lose for you guys & I love it. Your boy Cam will either duplicate last year & then no playoffs for Oilers. Sweet music. Or he has a rebound & plays well & Oilers get to the playoffs & then the Oilers get to resign him to a nice big fat juicy new deal the end of the year when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. News flash, last time I looked, Oilers dont have a lot of cap space. Enjoy, now move along.

  • Cfan in Van

    What’s sad is your use of pointless emojis and lack of contract understanding. Smith and Talbot cap hits are almost identical. Your basically just a fool taking a dump via the comment section.