The Ducks’ starter has a save percentage of .933. Their backup, who the Flames faced Wednesday night, has a .936%! Two really good goalies. I wonder what that’s like.
Feel of the game
It’s easy to feel like you’re off to a good start when entering a game on a four-game winning streak; it’s a lot tougher to feel good about it when you quickly spot the opposition back-to-back goals. The Flames have done a good job of coming back in third periods as of late, but it isn’t necessarily the third period-specific comeback – it’s that they consistently generate chances throughout the game, and for whatever reason, they all seem to be going in during the third period.
The Flames really turned it on in the second period and never looked back, generating high-danger chance after chance after chance, only for the puck to just never go in (hit the post, miss a wide open net, just a little too discombobulated on what would have otherwise been a tap-in). The will was there, but they were just missing each other all night.
Going down by two in the first period is highly unideal. Drawing back within one at the end of that period is great, especially with a quick powerplay goal, an area the team has very noticeably been struggling in. Doing everything in your power to tie the game up is great, too.
So when Mark Jankowski scored shorthanded in the third, the game took on a new vibe: they did it, they tied it up, they can keep this going. And then, 27 seconds later, that was lost: the defence is shoddy, the goaltending even more so, and they couldn’t keep winning forever.
And yet, maybe they really did deserve better.
The good news
The powerplay only went one-for-three, and another goal would have at least helped them tie it up, but it sure seemed like a step in the right direction. Matthew Tkachuk needs to be a staple in front of the net; his tipping prowess cannot be praised enough. And though they didn’t score, the Flames had a ton of chances in the second powerplay, as well. The final one to close out the game was a letdown, but with the way things have been going the past couple of seasons, this is a moral victory.
Jankowski has been angling for a shorthanded goal for some time now, it feels like. He’s only fifth in forward shorthanded ice time, but leads the way with three shorthanded shots, including the one that turned into his first goal of the season. When he’s able to get the puck into the offensive zone on the kill, he just feels dangerous. Really glad to see him get rewarded for that work. Hope there’s some more of that to come.
Granted, I’ve been a fan of James Neal since before he became a Flame, and it would be much better if he had more points than he does at the moment, but I’m still enjoying his game and liked seeing him with increased ice time and more talented linemates. On the other hand, it feels like we’re constantly saying, “Oh, maybe this is the game in which he breaks out.” But at the least, you can tell something is there. The contract invites Troy Brouwer comparisons, but I don’t see that at all in actually watching them.
Just feels like we could use a reminder that the Flames have an all-rookie pairing in Rasmus Andersson and Juuso Valimaki and though they’re getting reduced ice time, because rookies, they don’t look out of place, and that’s nice.
The bad news
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) November 8, 2018
No, seriously. The defence had its poor moments, and you could argue that some of the shots that turned into goals (or turned into rebounds that turned into goals) never should have been allowed to happen. But. At some point. The goalie has to make the save. He can’t keep guessing poorly, he can’t keep flopping around, he can’t keep kicking out dangerous rebounds or letting squeakers in or having no idea where the puck is or singlehandedly deflating his entire team. Just as the Flames missed a lot of obvious chances, so did the Ducks: this could have been much worse, and maybe it should have been.
(This isn’t on-ice, but listening to Kelly Hrudey try so hard to justify Smith’s place on NHL ice is getting increasingly painful, too. Jakob Silfverberg’s shot wasn’t that amazing. Smith is just literally one of the worst goalies in the NHL now, if not the worst.)
Missing so many prime scoring chances is definitely really frustrating. NaturalStatTrick had the Flames at 23 scoring chances in the second and third periods, and 12 high danger corsi events. That offence was working it, they just couldn’t put it together.
Numbers of note
61.70% – The Flames’ 5v5 corsi throughout the night. They were legitimately trying.
19:27 – Neal’s ice time, his highest of the season yet.
3:04 – Jankowski’s time on the penalty kill, the second most out of all forwards, behind Elias Lindholm (3:32, plus with 2:16 of powerplay time he led the way with 23:59 in total ice time – more than Mark Giordano’s 23:51). Jankowski only played 9:16 total, though. A lot was asked of him when down a man and not much else, but he definitely did end up justifying that.
8:04 – Austin Czarnik returned to the lineup. He got 1:03 in powerplay time. So, not much really happened. Cool. (Better than Anthony Pelsuo playing 4:20?)
Someone who is good at goaltending please help the Flames budget this. Their save percentage is dying.
(Seriously, though, in 11 games this season Smith just barely has more games with a save percentage over .900 [three] than games in which he’s been pulled [two]. The Flames aren’t going to win every game, and that’s fine, but Smith has the power to singlehandedly stop them from reaching the playoffs. He isn’t getting better. The writing is on the wall.)