Flames 4, Rangers 1 post-game embers: David Rittich is good maybe

It’s still too early to declare a lot of things: primarily, whether this is a good team or not, and if certain players who have barely played two dozen games – if even that – have arrived. But it’s not like we’re not going to celebrate the successes when they come, and on Sunday, they came.

Feel of the game

The Flames did it again: they got off to a lacklustre start and bled a ton of chances, particularly those of the high danger variety. The difference this time, though, was David Rittich, as he patiently out-waited the onslaught until Johnny Gaudreau was able to solve a goalie first.

And really, though you never expect a game to have just one goal on it, as play continued – as the Rangers continued to press and the Flames continued to mostly flounder – it started feeling as though that one goal from Gaudreau would be enough, that Rittich was locked in. There were very few heart attack moments, an oddity considering just how much the Rangers were trying to get something going. It took the fourth line pressing in the offensive zone – a deft Mark Jankowski move resulting in a Garnet Hathaway goal – for the Flames’ game to pick up, and once it was 2-0 a win felt inevitable; Gaudreau scoring mere minutes later was just the icing on the cake.

When the Rangers finally solved Rittich early in the third period with a powerplay goal, there was still no need to panic. As the Rangers completely took over the third period, there was still no need to panic. Rittich’s first NHL shutout will have to wait for another day – if it ever arrives, at that – but he was so dialled in that it really, truly didn’t matter what the Rangers threw at him. And, partially thanks to Rittich’s work in his two starts so far, the Flames are off to a good start to the season.

The good news

This was, without a doubt, the best game Rittich has ever played. Ever. He faced 45 shots, the most he ever has in his NHL career. He stopped 44 of them for a .978 save percentage, the best he’s ever posted over a 60-minute game. By NaturalStatTrick’s count he faced 47 scoring chances and 29 high-danger corsi events. One got past him. One. And the game didn’t feel like an anomaly, and there was no tension. This is exactly what we mean when we talk about a goalie having to make those saves, and yes, Rittich did get lucky a couple of times – but he was also really, really good.

Gaudreau is on another level (again). He has 12 points in eight games this season, one of the top scorers in the NHL (tied for seventh at the moment). He’s the fourth member of his draft class to hit the 300-point mark. He’s a career .94 point-per-game player. I don’t think it gets said enough: we are so, so lucky to get to watch him night in, night out.

Speaking of Gaudreau, he’s only gone point-less in one of the Flames’ eight games this season. That could sound off alarm bells – are the Flames too dependent on him, a la a certain other Alberta team? – but that’s not quite the case. Superstars will always have their impact felt at a higher level, but the Flames have 30 goals this season; they’re one of the highest-scoring teams in the NHL right now and Gaudreau is only in on 40% of it. Again: attest to the forward depth built up.

Speaking of lines and heroics, Jankowski getting back on the board is a great sign, and while we’re not exactly going to expect two-goal performances from Hathaway on the regular, kudos for some jobs well done there. Particularly for the correct response to the mindless Brady Skjei drama at the end of the game: the best revenge for attacking a rookie is a goal, not a fight. And Mark Giordano was there to protect Rasmus Andersson, anyway. Also: Andersson popping up from the bottom of the pile only to ignore everyone there and celebrate with his teammates was adorable.

Sam Bennett rang a puck off the post. That’s good news because it shows he’s still getting chances, even if they comically just won’t go in for him for some reason.

Remember when the Flames sent Andersson down to start the season? He just played most of a game on the top pairing and didn’t look half bad. Yeah, his AHL days absolutely have to be over.

The bad news

Rittich was great, but he shouldn’t have had to be that great. The Flames’ offence exploded, but its defence did not match. The problems from Friday’s game against Nashville carried over: flat play and absolutely bleeding chances, even before they established a multi-goal lead. The Flames were luckier (and had better goaltending) in this one that got them a win, and a lot of the chances against happened in part because of a three-goal lead, but it could have been significantly worse. Even if it turns out Rittich is the real deal, he isn’t going to be able to have that kind of night every night, and these guys really need to tighten up.

On that note: TJ Brodie has had his good and bad moments this season, but this game was disastrous. I assume part of the reason the Flames were comfortable trading Dougie Hamilton was that they could just turn back to the Giordano-Brodie pairing of old, and maybe that’ll work long-term, but it very much did not on Sunday. Passive would be the best word to describe his play, I think, or timid (kind of the opposite of Andersson, actually). We know he can be better than that, though; we’ve seen it this season. It’s frustrating, and maybe Andersson will be the long-term solution, but there are too many maybes surrounding a questionable defence right now.

Rittich didn’t get a shutout!! Rude. Also, Andersson still doesn’t have an NHL point yet, somehow.

Numbers of note

40% – The Flames’ 5v5 corsi on the night. Their best period was the second, when they hit 50%, particularly after they came alive with two quick goals. They were a 24.32% in the third period, though, which is a testament to Rittich more than anything else: he faced 21 scoring chances and 14 high-danger corsi events alone in that frame.

19:32 – Andersson’s ice time, including 1:48 on the powerplay, the second most out of all defencemen, seven seconds shy of Giordano. He did have a 20-minute game in 2017-18’s Game 82, but other than that, this is the most he’s ever played in the NHL – and in a meaningful game, at that. He played 12:30 5v5 minutes with Giordano, and posted a 45.45% CF with him (which, remember the numbers above, that was rather good for this game).

52.17% – Dillon Dube led the Flames’ 5v5 corsi on the night. Again, it’s totally understandable as to why their percentages were so bad, but there’s a reason I want to draw attention to this: second was Juuso Valimaki (51.35%). Third was Jankowski (50.00%). Fourth was Michael Stone (48.65%), fifth was Hathaway (48.00%), and sixth was Andersson (46.67%). Not exactly a murderer’s row, and single-game player corsis aren’t going to mean too much, but it’s nice to see a bunch of kids up there.

10:29 and 17:00 – Bennett and Valimaki’s ice time, the least among all forwards and defencemen. Everyone got ice in this game.

+6 – The Flames have the best goal differential in the Pacific Division.

300 – The following present-day Flames have hit 300 career points: James Neal, Giordano, Michael Frolik, Gaudreau. It’s hard to do. Sean Monahan, at 289, is probably next – and he’s played 81 more games than Gaudreau has, which really attests to just how good the little guy is.

Final thought

The Flames have talked about having plans to get Rittich in more games earlier on in the season. That initial plan was disrupted after Mike Smith posted a shutout and followed it up by giving up five goals in two periods the very next game. They need to figure out if Rittich is the real deal. Apparently, now would be as good a time as any. If Smith can earn an extra start because of a good game, then Rittich should be able to, as well.

  • Azim

    Great to see Riitch have a game like that. Hopefully will build on his confidence moving forward. We need to know what we have with him, Gillies and Parsons moving forward after this season. Can we rely on two of them to be our backbone, or do we need to sign another 1A veteran in the-offseason, or a solid back veteran? Goaltending continues to be such an inexact science and brutally difficult to predict future performance.

    Btw, haven’t heard much rumbling of potential post-game nine auditions soon coming to a close for Dube and Valimakki. What are the chances they both stay beyond game nine?

  • Greg

    Let’s say they go back to Rittich right away. And let’s say his performance falls short of 40+ saves (entirely possible, right?). What then? What did they gain, aside from exposing both goalies and knocking his confidence too.

    Make a plan. Follow a plan.

    Plan was to get Rittich in for 30-35 games to keep Smith we’ll under 60. That’s every third game. Stop playing gut-punches based on ridiculously small sample sizes and just go with the plan. They’ve gotta give smith an opportunity to get his groove back too.

    If in a couple weeks smith is still sub .900 and Rittich is still above .930 then you start changing the plan. He starts getting every other game, or you go win-and-you’re-in, or something. But You’ve gotta have better decision making processes than just following the whims of single game outcomes.

      • Flaming Duck

        Absolutely, Rittich earned a start in the next game. Added bonus is maybe this push from the backup will help Smith improve his game, as he is hyper competitive.

      • Greg

        And then if Rittich has a bad game, the “plan” is, what? Panic and trade next years first for a goalie?

        He did well in the backup role last year, then fell on his face when Snith went down. Give him time to take on a heavier load while he still has a security blanket of knowing it’s not all on him.

        I’m not saying months either. Just gradually ramp him up over the next several weeks and see how it goes. Don’t over-expose him and then leave yourself zero negotiating leverage if you have to go to the market for help.

        • Avalain

          Personally, I don’t mind giving Montreal to Rittich and then giving Pittsburgh, Washington, and Toronto to Smith. That gives Rittich an extra game for doing well this time, but still gives the “tough” matchups to Smith. Plus it’s 3 games for Smith and then back to Rittich for the back-to-back against Buffalo.

          If stick with “the plan” perfectly, we give Smith Montreal and Pittsburgh, Rittich gets Washington, and then Smith gets both back-to-back games in Toronto and Buffalo. Obviously that wouldn’t be a good idea, so we put Rittich in against Buffalo. That means the only difference between the two plans is that Rittich faces Montreal instead of Washington. So is it better to have him face the team which everyone expected to do badly but is currently sitting in a playoff spot, or for him to face the team which won the cup last year but is currently out of a playoff spot?

          • Greg

            Fair points. I dont think the plan was a rigid “every third game” though. Targeting “1 in 3” still gives you lots of flexibility to pick your matchups.

            And the way smith is playing I think it’ll be “1 in 2” pretty soon 😀

        • Kevin R

          That nature of the NHL, parity & every point is so valuable, you cant be rigid that you dont play a goalie who is playing the best hockey of his career because of a “Plan”. We had a coach for the last two years that was so rigid with his lineup that it was painful. He has earned the next game, play him, by the next game Smith will be chomping at getting his net back. Nothing wrong with that. It’s working for the forwards & D it will work for the Goalie position too.

        • Flint

          I think it is important to note that even the best goalies, the VERY, VERY best goalies in the league – we’re talking Price, Lundqvist, Gibson etc. only bat about 66% quality starts. So, that should be the upper limit of the expectations with any goalie. 2 out of 3 quality starts – ~.915sv% or above.

          If anyone expects RIttich to truck along stellar 90% of the time that’s not going to happen.

          But it shouldn’t be as low as where Smith is at either… about 20%. If Smith provided even .900% goaltending in two of his losses we likely win one of the St. Louis or Nashville games.

        • oilcanboyd

          A plan goes like this: Paul Maurice has been impressed with Broissoit in the nets that he says Broissoit will start every 4th game. Good plan! Backup knows when he will be playing next!

      • HOCKEY83

        Absolutely go with Rittich next game. Anything else would moronic. It’s not like Smith can’t use the time to rest and prepare hard for when he plays next. It will only make him hungry to play and play well if he wants to get back in and keep the net.

    • Baalzamon

      I get what you’re saying, but here’s the thing: Smith won’t be back next year. The Flames need to figure out what Rittich is, and the sooner the better. The longer they have to figure out the goaltending situation for next season the better.

      If Rittich can’t cut it as the starter it’s far better to find out now than in February. And there is absolutely no argument to the contrary.

      Also, as far as “sticking to the plan” the Flames already violated that when they started Smith against St. Louis. The plan was originally for Rittich to start against either Nashville or St Louis. He started neither game. Smith can stand to sit for an extra game so the Flames can figure out Rittich.

      • Greg

        What if Rittich can cut it as a starter, but needs a couple months to get confident with that? Give him a bit of time to get there and avoid spoiling the process. We’ll still know what we’ve got we’ll beore trade deadline.

      • Greg

        So they violated the plan once, it went horribly wrong, and that’s reason to violate it again? To me that sounds more like an argument to keep planning out the starts based on match ups and the intent to get Rittich at least 30-35 games. He would have started against Stl if they’d done that.

        I fully expect they’ll have enough data to change the plan in a couple more weeks. I’m just saying don’t throw it out or redo it every time someone has 1 good or bad game.

        • Beer League Coach

          Peters has said he doesn’t want either of them sitting for long periods of time. Rittich has the hot hand right now. Why not ride it for another game? Then Smith will have about a week’s rest and should be chomping at the bit to show us his best game. He doesn’t sit long enough to start gathering some rust and Rittich gets a rest after 2 good games, assuming he has another good one against the Habs.

  • Atomic Clown

    Watching Gaudreau truly is enjoyable. He’s a league superstar, and the flames got lucky to nab him in the 4th round.

    On a more serious note, the next two drafts absolutely have to about restocking the defensive corps. All three of Brodie, Stone and Hamonic are FA at the end of 2019/20, and it’s be terrible asset management to re-sign all of them, or to let them walk.

    • Skylardog

      The problem is that the cupboards are empty when it comes to forwards as well. There are some guys with potential, but Mangi has not shown he is capable, and Foo is inconsistent. Lazar, Rychel, or Graovac are really the only 3 that look like they could play here right now, and none have shown they are an upgrade to anyone on the roster, except for Peluso (he is holding a seat strictly to allow the young guys to play in Stockton).

      If we get 3 or 4 injuries, this team may need to go out and trade for some replacements. If another Dman goes down, we are definitely looking on the open market.

      • Beer League Coach

        Maybe a trade of Brodie for a young D man and a draft pick will help. Agree with you that we need more prospects at forward and D. Not just any prospects but good prospects that we can expect to make the NHL in 2 or 3 years post draft.

        • Derzie

          Brodie and Stone are playing poorly. They hold minimal value on the trade market. The general rule is that if you want to trade him, he’s not worth much.

      • HOCKEY83

        What have Jankowski Dube or Hathaway shown that Mangi or Foo couldn’t show. I’m sure the 2 of them could come up here and get 5 points between them like those 3 have. It’s not that they haven’t shown anything it’s that there’s no room for them to show anything.

        • Skylardog

          Mangi hasn’t even been on the ice for a goal for up here, 10 games played. He also played 6 preseason game, not a point. Foo is inconsistent. Those 2 are not even in the top 3 forwards in Stockton that will be brought up.

          • HOCKEY83

            Was Mangi given the same chance at playing with talent that these 3 have been given as well as the same ice time…no. Foo was given some time at the end of the season and did well. Are you saying Dube jankowski and hathaway are consistant. How do you know they won’t be brought up? Are you in contact with Peters? Can you say that with absolute certainty? I’m pretty confident Foo could come up to the flames and given the same skating partners and ice time be as good as any one of those 3. There’s nothing that proves me wrong or right or you wrong or right for that matter.

          • Skylardog

            Graovac, Rychel, Lazar, Mangi then Foo (or Foo then Mangi). Graovac has been kicking butt down there. Mangi just got his first goal on this past weekend. Doesn’t spell success with such a slow start, and zero success in the preseason.

            Did anyone get the chance Foo got?

            And yes, none of us have a clue as to who would be called up.

    • HOCKEY83

      I think the luck was not that they picked him up in the 4th round but that his game actually translated to the NHL. So many highly offensive small guys get picked in later rounds but they usually don’t work out or they’re not given a great chance to make it.

  • Heeeeere’s Johnny

    Three thoughts:

    1. This feels like the first game this year where talent won a game for the Flames. They got outworked badly and still won because they have better personnel. That only works against bad teams.

    2. The slow starts are getting ridiculous and we can’t blame coaching as this is a holdover from last year. Who’s in charge of getting the room fired up and ready to play?

    3. I can see Brodie eating popcorn at some point in the future. When Hamonic returns he is at best our 3rd RD. But I’m not sure I want to see a pairing of Valimaki Brodie so that means “stay at home Stone” plays. That would be an eye opener.

    • Flint

      I know it’s even stupid to bring it up but I wonder if the first and only ask was Hamilton, Fox and Ferland. I actually really hated seeing any of those three go, although I’m fine with the trade. Just would have loved it if it was Brodie, Kylington and __________. But maybe that’s absurd.

      • HOCKEY83

        It’s only absurd because the trade then would have been completely different. There’s no way Hanifin and Lindholm would have come back for those players. The main reason the Flames got Hanifin and Lindholm was because Dougie was involved.

  • Skylardog

    Just before the season started, I posted a few targets that I believe the team will need to hit in order for the season to be called a success. We are now 8 games into the season, roughly 10% of the way through. How are the Flames doing?

    Points 10 – Target 102 – Projected 103
    League Rank 8th – Target 8th
    Conference Rank 5th – Target 4th
    Division Rank 2nd – Target 2nd
    In a Playoff Spot – Yes

    Even GF 23 – Target 195 – Projected 236
    Even GA 17 – Target 175 – Projected 174
    Even Goal Differential +6 – Target +20 – Projected +62

    Special Teams
    GF 7 – Target 60 – Projected 72
    GA 7 – Target 45 – Projected 72
    Goal Differential 0 – Target +15 – Projected 0

    Overall GF 30 – Target 255 – Projected 338
    Overall GA 24 – Target 220 – Projected 246
    Overall Goal Differential 6 – Target 35 – Projected 62

    Save% 0.902 – Target 0.915
    Shoot% 11.72 – Target 9.42
    Shots For/Game 32.00 – Target 33
    Shots Against/Game 30.75 – Target 32

    As I said at the time I posted the targets, GF and GA could fluctuate as long as the goal differential remained at +35 or better. Scoring is up this season, and as a result we have scored more, but we have also allowed more goals than the target. But the GD is strong at a projected +62.

    So far, I give the Flames an A-

    However, keep in mind how much 1 game can sway the outcome. The Flames get a poor performance from Rittich last night and lose 5 to 4, and they are a F. They would be out of a playoff spot, and have a weak GD.

    The A- is at best precarious. Special teams is even, not trending to create more goals than they allow. Save percentage is well below what is needed, and they are not getting enough shots. Special teams has been inconsistent. The PK, disappointing.

    Yet despite this, based on win%, the are actually tops in the Pacific this morning, with more regulation wins than Vancouver, and a game in hand of Anaheim who sits just 1 point ahead.

    Much work needs to be done, and at times, it sure hasn’t felt like a good start, but things are going correctly. Signs are all there for a great season.

    • Flaming Duck

      Nice summary, thanks. Your target values make sense and I agree. Just from the eye test alone this team looks better. Still hoping for at least league avg goaltending. I do believe the defence will tighten up, new systems and players,etc.

      • Skylardog

        Yes – but I decided before the season to evaluate this on a regular basis. My initial thoughts were games 8, 10, 16, 20, 30, 41, 51, 61, 71, and after 82. I had thought of skipping this one, but it gave me a chance to put a positive spin on the start, and I am well known as being very critical and pessimistic over the past 2 seasons. If they had lost I would have waited for game 10 for the first look.

  • Kensington

    Brodie was brutal and the Flames played a very uninspired game. Ritchie stole this one and the Flames need to pick up their game or they won’t win many being this loose in their own zone. Don’t sugar coat this game as that only encourages this uninspired play!

  • Grayone

    Ari: another insightful article. I think your logic and the questions you ask (especially at the end) are correct. Rittich should play in Montreal … that being said, if Smith starts, make his leash really short!

    Based on last night, it is hard to see Czarnik drawing, in barring an injury. I think it was Everton who asked what the Flames record was with Hathaway in the lineup? I suspect it is pretty darn good.

    That open ice hit by Ras came as a big surprise eh? Kind of ahead shaker in that the Flames play pretty soft generally imo … frankly I wish more players would finish their checks more often. Not sayin’ they have to be bone-jarring hits just finish into the boards.

    For the future, drafting a number of defense prospects has to be a priority. You nailed it Ari with your concerns about the way the defense is playing … my only proviso would be, is it a team thing in that forwards are not doing the job they should in our zone? Time will tell and thanks to all the posters for their enthusiasm and thoughtful commentary!

  • buts

    I have to admit I did not see the puck tracking and quickness at the later end of last year and in this years pre-season regarding Rittich. I was wrong on Rittich and kudos to him for a super effort last night ….he stole the game from the rangers. Brodie has regressed so much I’m shocked….thanks GG for screwing him up…..he will come back tho it might take till January. Neil has to be in the top 6 or he is a waste of money….here’s hoping he gets it going. D zone play has to be more physical from everyone, just way too many quality chances given up. If our goalies don’t play great we are in deep trouble.

    • Justthateasy

      It seems to me Brodie is at a crossroads. His previous game during a power play he actually took a couple of shots. So maybe he is working on that. If he doesn’t start taking his man and being tougher he may not advance to another level. If he doesn’t start playing more like a hard-nosed defenseman he will forever be just what he is.

  • Justthateasy

    I am starting to notice that Johnny is minimizing his downside. His two defensive changes are the following. He is starting to work in the corners and he is not doing a high danger move at the blue line with a chance of a turnover.

    • Skylardog

      I noticed the “lack” of HD moves at the blueline even in the preseason games in China. He was given a message by someone, and made the change immediately.

  • cjc

    I’ve seen enough of Brodie this year to know that, whatever touch he had is gone. Maybe he never had it? He looks like an average defenceman who’s warts were masked playing alongside Gio. I hope they can find a taker for him before it is too late.

    I hate to rake muck, but as good as Lindholm has been, Ferland has been equally good in Carolina. Same stat line, but Ferland has 31 shots to Lindholm’s 18, all while averaging 4 mins less than Lindholm. No way Lindholm continues to shoot 27.8% And for those who like a bit of snarl, Ferland is out PIMing Lindholm 9 to 2.

    Hamilton has continued his elite play in Carolina as well. 3 assists, 35 shots in 8 games, despite still being under-utilised. And only 2 PIM so far – I know a big complaint was the lazy penalties he took. Hanifin, by comparison, has 2 assists, 12 shots and 2 PIM while getting slightly more ice time. I know Hanifin is a bit younger, but it’s not a good look that he’s being outshot 3:1 right now.

    Fancy stats:
    Hanifin is 47.45% CF, -9.25% CFrel, 45.04 ShotsF%, -7.38% SCFrel, -3.82% HDCFrel
    Hamilton is 61.22% CF, +1.50% CFrel and 62.81 ShotsF%, +4.83% SCFrel, -3.56% HDCFrel

    Lindholm is 48.02% CF, -7.46% CFrel and 42.12 SF%, -11.74% SCFrel, -9.90% HDCFrel
    Ferland is 55.29% CF, -7.21% CFrel and 59.98 SF%, -8.92% SCFrel, -9.61% HDCFrel

    And Calgary gave up Fox.

    Small sample sizes and all, but the trend is toward Carolina winning this trade.

        • HOCKEY83

          Dwelling on a trade is just silly. The Flames have gotten rid of players many many times in the past far more talented than Dougie Hamilton for considerably less. Hanifan and Lindholm when they actually do mature will be great flames for as long as they are a flame. Those 2 guys are the past…lindholm and Hanifin are the future and are as good as those 2 at a younger age which bodes well for the flames in their favor regarding the overall trade. Fox had already mentioned that he wasn’t going to sign in Calgary so who cares if the flames got rid of him. He was a never gonna play here player.

    • Skylardog

      I have been more impressed with Lind than I expected. Ferland has been awesome for Carolina. The difference right now is defensive play. Ferland’s line has been lights out, 0.6 GA/60.

      Hamilton has sat on a dock somewhere during a summer and figured out how to get a big contract by inflating Corsi numbers. He just plain puts everything at net regardless of the chance or option to pass to a teammate for a higher percentage chance. It is not condusive to winning. His “under-utilised” status may be a very sharp Brindamour figuring it out.

      Fox is mute. He was never signing here, and he won’t sign in Carolina either.

      Hanifin > Dougie
      Lind will last longer than Ferly, even if Ferly is great in Carolina for a few years.

      Despite me being critical of Lind defensively, we win this one. And Ferly was my favorite Flame. Hope he comes home as a free agent, but if he keeps up his play, Carolina will put up a 5 year deal at $5 million. He’s taking that.

      • The GREAT WW

        You mean the same contract we just signed Neal to…..?

        We don’t need to win this trade outright; I’m fine with a win/win.
        Very happy for a Ferland; looks like he is going to get PAID!!!!

        How’s the Flames D unit looking without Hamonic?
        We seem to be winning more than losing without him in the lineup…..


          • Just.Visiting

            I never understood the Hamonic trade at the time if the Flames knew that Valimaki was a draft target and that their intention was to sign Stone. After seeing Hamonic play, I understood it even less, as my eye test doesn’t show him as any better than Stone in his own zone and that I prefer Stone offensively because of his lethal shot.

            I thought it was interesting in yesterday’s game that Stone was getting it on the net regularly, when the norm for him has seemed to be to miss the net with his boomer. If he can keep that up, it adds a new look to our play in the o zone when he’s on.

            I’d like to see the current D group stay together to understand what we have before rushing Hamonic back into the lineup.

            In fact, if one accepts the premise that the market for Stone isn’t high, I might be open to moving Hamonic for a future now given that Ras and Valimaki look like they belong and will be assuming more responsibility.

      • Just.Visiting

        Exactly…One of the dangers with too much of a reliance on CORSI is the degree to which the stat can reinforce to certain players the benefit in potentially inflating their CORSI by a flick towards the net, particularly in the context of a change. I thought Hamilton was guilty of that here, and never bought into the elite comments about him after seeing his own play in the neutral and defensive zones, despite the very positive CORSI outcomes. I believe that Hanifin is an upgrade, recognizing that he’d need PP time to come closer on the points totals.

    • Chucky

      It is good that both teams seem to have benefited from the trade. It may take a few seasons to determine who won or lost but right now the only people that should be complaining are fans of the other teams in the divisions.

    • Derzie

      This right here gets lost in the fact that the Flames are getting better results. The simple fact is that GG is so bad, that almost every other NHL coach would make a significant improvement. There is no doubting that as of today, we gave up better players than we got back. That may change, but right now, they won.

  • Chucky

    Watching the defensive play it is not clear what coverage is expected. It is pretty obvious that it is poor defense to allow an opposition forward to linger uncovered in front of the net and yet this seems to happen on a regular basis. It is also pretty obvious that the system Peters is trying to implement does not include leaving uncovered forwards in scoring areas.
    Last year they played a very passive defensive system, allowing the other team to have possession and keeping them to the perimeter. This year the system is much more aggressive in every zone, the speed of the defense has allowed them to commit to aggressive checking in the offensive and neutral zone. Unfortunately there is not enough time to recover from an over aggressive mistake in the defensive zone but I don’t think that it is a cause for concern at this point. They will adapt to increasing the defensive pressure while covering the high danger areas and this pressure will result in less time spent in the defensive zone.
    Changing a system takes time and work, during that implementation phase some great goaltending will be needed to keep the goals against down but this approach will result in more offensive production and defensive lapses will dwindle as they get more comfortable with the system.

    • The Doctor

      Related to what you say, a number of opportunities we’ve given up lately have been from out DMen pinching , resulting in a turnover and the other team breaking out with numbers.

  • MDG1600

    I wonder if the shuffling of the D-men and the Andersson/Gio combo was Peters sampling his options for moving Brodie out of the top 4 at some point. He has been in the league far too long to be turning the puck over as often as he does. And as a side note – remember when Brodie broke in to the league how good his skating was compared to others. Now his skating barely stands out which I think is a reflection of how fast the league has become compared to even 5 years ago.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      You bring up a good point regarding Brodie’s skating, I get the feeling that since it was always a strength he does not work on it as much as others. Last year we were making excuse for Brodie and referencing GG and his homelife as the sources. His giveaway yesterday coming off the sidewall was exactly what we saw last year when he came from behind his net in OT losing the handle resulting in an easy goal. No more excuses he makes too many rookie mistakes….fortunately our rookies don’t make these mistakes.

  • Squishin

    My thoughts:
    – Good on Rittich. This is exactly what the Flames need in a backup; someone who can come in solid and give the boys a chance to win. He did that and more last night!
    – Sloppy breakouts and poor neutral zone play were the main issues in the game. The Rangers were good at creating turnovers, testing Rittich a number of times. The transition game is too slow and cautious – it looks like players are overthinking it and forcing a play that isn’t there. Get the red line and move the puck in fast.
    – I’m loving this new forecheck. All of a sudden the Flames are looking more dangerous in the O-zone, just by being hard on the puck and forcing the opposing defence to act more quickly than they want to.
    – Andersson looked good with Gio. My complaints about him are all experience-related, and very fixable with time. His gap control needs a bit of work and his thought process on the o-zone blueline should happen faster. He chose a good place to make the open-ice hit near the end; enough guys were back and the timing was perfect.
    – I thought Stone played well. Good sense of where to be.
    – Poor Brodie. Confidence is huge for him, and it’s just not there right now.
    – I didn’t think Monahan or Lindholm played particularly well. Monahan had a good forecheck on Johnny’s first goal, but was otherwise unnoticeable. I don’t think Lindholm is as good defensively as we’ve been led to believe.
    – Chucky is already such a leader. So strong on the puck and smart down low and behind the net. We need 12 of him.

    • Chucky

      If Anderson can make a hit like that every couple of games he is going to find a special place in Flames fans hearts. With him and Bennett hitting team toughness would take on a different complexion.

  • Off the wall

    No love for Czarnik these days.
    I honestly don’t know why he’s sitting, rusting away.

    If you check all the stats, he’s number #2 in Corsi % at 63.4%

    He’s top 5 in generating shots on net and has the lowest GA/ 60 at even strength. (1.0) Among all players on the Flames.

    I don’t understand why Peters is sitting him.

    Hathaway had a great game, don’t misinterpret my dialogue, but Czarnik is NOT a detriment to the team. All the stats say different.

    Every. Single. One.
    Dress Czarnik, we will need his speed and play -making against Les Habs.

    • Chucky

      He relies on the other guys on his line to do the hard work and takes the gravy. Master of the flyby, quick pass, quick shot and floating. Even Gaudreau has picked up his aggressiveness on the forecheck, if Czarnik is going to play in the NHL he needs to get his nose a little dirty.

    • MDG1600

      Czarnik did squat the last 2 games before he was scratched. Peters is interested in what have you done for me lately aka please show up to play every night or take a seat in the pressbox. Czarnik will draw back in and he will play better.

      • Off the wall

        Tkachuk- Czarnik have chemistry. Because of one good game by the 3M line against Boston, it’s become a THING again.

        Sorry, I disagree. It’s time to reunite Tkachuk and Czarnik.
        3M is dinosaur philosophy..

        • Skylardog

          Using Backs line to score is the dinosaur philosophy. Remove Tkachuk, put him with a scoring centre, and use Fro, Backs and someone to shut down the oppositions top line. Watch how far the team goes when BP takes on that philosophy.

          Still think we have a much deeper lineup if Klimchuk or Lazar plays with Backs and Fro, leaving the offensive guys to destroy the opposition on the other 3 lines. A few injuries, and it may come to this.

    • Skylardog

      Czar is displaying exactly the attributes that he showed in Boston. It is why I have been very critical of the signing, especially signing him to a 1-way deal.

      He has the second lowest GF/60 of the forwards on the team at 2.03 5v5. Frolik is worse, and he also sat. I am excluding Peluso, for good reason. In Boston, in his 59 games, he had a 1.54 GF/60. In 59 games, he was on the ice for just 15 GF.

      Of the 15 goals he was on the ice for, he had points on 12 of them.
      Of the 2 goals for in Calgary, he has points on both.

      He simply is not on the ice when goals are scored enough, and for the most part only when he is involved in creating the goals directly. Seems like he is good, but what it really means is that he is not creating space for his linemates, or the defensemen he is on the ice with.

      He was brought in for the 2nd PP. They have no goals when he is out there.

      Hath is the exact opposite. Players around him score, and score frequently, even if he does not pick up a point. He creates space, Czar does not.

      If the PP doesn’t work with him, and he is the worst Flame killing penalties (yes, it is a very small sample), and he is second last in GF/60 on ice, and if he doesn’t hit, then really, what is his use?

      His goal was an empty netter.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I tend to agree, but I am not to sure who sits. My gut says to send Dillon to the AHL before he starts to see himself as a fourth liner. Maybe bring Mangi or Graovac to battle Hathaway.

      • Just.Visiting

        I see Dube displacing Frolik in top nine before year end.

        For now, I’m fine with Dube getting NHL experience, but I don’t like the way that Peters limits the fourth line minutes. While it’s fine to shorten the bench in the third period when you’re down, I don’t think the fourth line should be getting as little time as they have typically been getting.

  • Ben.

    “David Rittich is good maybe”… after his few NHL games I think he is good, but needs to be consistent

    after his many NHL games Brodie is also good, but needs a sports pyschologist

  • MiamiRedhawks

    We should make a trade for an AHL goalie. After Saturday night, I don’t see Gillies as a viable backup for up north. Too many soft goals and way too slow to get up.

      • MiamiRedhawks

        I was hoping they were going to trade him. I think this past off season was his peak value. His stats from sat night make him look better than what he did in net. SJ put more effort in the empty netter than with him in there. This was more than just a bad game.

        Speaking of positioning. Kylington looked good and always in the right spot. Lomberg did a nice job keeping the puck down in the offensive zone.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        Parsons won yesterday but it is a little early to cut bait on Gillies. If Parsons can steal the number one spot from Gillies then I agree with dumping Gillies but if Gillies is pushed to be better then it could work out. I did not see the highlights of Saturday’s game but he faced a lot of shots.

        • MiamiRedhawks

          The stats make it look like he had a workout. Neither team did much offensively well. The ones that went in were soft and I don’t recall any impressive shots. Like Skylar said, his positioning is bad. Once he is down he stays down until the whistle is blown or puck is out of the zone.

  • TKO

    The forward depth of this team is standing out huge early in the year, even with Neal’s pedestrian start. When they get their defensive game in order, they will be one of the leagues top 10 for sure, and I still predict 1st in the division, 2nd in the west, by Years end

    • Skylardog

      When you look at the 12 guys we put in the lineup each night, you have to think we may have the deepest 12 forwards in the NHL. Still concerns me as to who is going to actually put the puck in the net, but we sure have 4 good looking lines.

      • oilcanboyd

        The initial euphoria of a new season with rookies with blazing speed new to the NHL sparking tons of offence will soon wear off. Defensive minded coaches will put their “plug the neutral zone” and wait for the opposition to make mistakes. That is what the Preds did to the Flames. The Leafs have been held in bay the last two games, McD shut out….and so on.

        • Getpucksdeep

          Edmonton is ridiculously 1 dimensional and TO has 2 good lines and a goalie and not much else. 4 line depth is harder to deal with over the long haul and if Riddich stands out and Smith gets his mojo back with Gio, Hamonic and the young guys on D Calgary has more than just “1 dimension” and should continue to improve.

          • oilcanboyd

            Agreed.. There will always be “ifs”… what we all would like to see is improvement from everyone. The point I was making is that we should enjoy the type of hockey we are seeing in most games now n the NHL because it will not last.

            I haven’t seen any articles on how the equipment changes are affecting the goalies. Has anyone?

  • MWflames

    So so impressed with valimaki and Andersson so far, they get better every game. Interesting how Andersson has a way different opportunity just by virtue of handedness… I wonder if next year we look at something like gio/Andersson and valimaki/hanifin? Gotta think valimaki earns a step up in ice time by next year?

  • MWflames

    I’ve said this before, but it bares repating. Do the flames bad games seem a lot better than the bad games from last year? there seems to be more engagement even in their poor showings, and they’re full of confidence this year which makes such a huge difference.

    It’s also a lot funner to not watch this team trailing basically every game

  • calgaryfan

    A bad performance by the Flames as a whole. Good on Rittich, he has been good in his starts, better than I thought he was. Hope he can keep this going. I feel bad for Brodie, he tries so hard but makes bad decisions, the coaches need to find a way to simplify the game for him, get him to do less and just make the easy play. Retrieve the puck make a pass, move back to your defensive position repeat.

    • Atomic Clown

      Brodie needs to do what Bennett is doing. Simplify his game, play to his strengths. Bennett no longer makes a beeline for the net everytime he gets the puck. He’s got underrated puck control, and uses it to create small gaps at the line, and lures the backchecking opposing forward in and dishes off a simple pass to a linemate.

      • Derzie

        Bennett is playing more within himself this year. His weaknesses are his decisions and his hands when under pressure. Not rushing into congested areas will help with that.

  • Just.Visiting

    Thought Janko had by far his best game yesterday. He was moving his feet a lot more, seemed a lot more engaged and was going into the dirty areas. To go deep, he has to be contributing in a top nine role, so hope he keeps this up and realizes that this is what he has to demonstrate to earn minutes.

    Also, Bennett or Janko (or both) need to replace one or both of Ryan and Backlund on the second PP unit.

  • Vinnsanity12

    Benny’s ice time is an embarrassment. There is no one who deserves to be on that second power play unit over him. He is showing his stuff and still getting shafted. Come on BP, give the guy a chance, he’s earned it!