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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames lack bite against Sharks

The Calgary Flames headed into San Jose to face the Sharks for their second game in a back-to-back stretch on Sunday night. The Sharks weren’t great, but the Flames lacked jump and execution en route to a 3-1 loss to San Jose.

The Rundown

Mike Smith made the first save of the game, but he allowed a goal on the second shot he faced. Off a defensive breakdown at the blueline the Flames failed to clear the zone, allowing Evander Kane time to get a shot off from a faceoff dot that beat Smith to make it 1-0 Sharks. The game was a minute old.

The Flames struggled to generate much for the remainder of the period. Shots were 12-8 Sharks and scoring chances 9-6 Sharks.

The Sharks made it 2-0 in the second period off another defensive lapse by the Flames: Noah Hanifin and Mikael Backlund didn’t chase Kane behind the Flames net. That gave him time to put a pass through Backlund’s coverage right to Joonas Donskoi, whose wrister beat Smith to double the lead.

But the Flames responded back before the end of the period. They killed off a Mark Jankowski penalty and as Jankowski headed towards the Flames bench Erik Karlsson blew a tire in the neutral zone. Jankowski collected the puck, fed a pass to Sean Monahan and Monahan’s wrister beat Martin Jones to cut the lead to 2-1.

Shots were 11-8 Sharks and chances 15-3 Sharks.

The third period was quite back and forth, but the Sharks defended fairly well. Sam Bennett generated a penalty shot opportunity with 7:38 left in regulation but couldn’t beat Jones.

There were a few missed penalty calls here and there, but the most frustrating for the Flames was a missed delay of game call with 1:05 remaining after Kane swatted the puck out of mid-air into the crowd. It wasn’t called and a few seconds later Joe Pavelski added an empty-netter to make it a 3-1 final.

Shots were 14-6 Flames and chances were 8-4 Flames.

Why the Flames Lost

The Flames just couldn’t get enough pucks and bodies in front of Jones to make the game close. They got a lot of shots on net, but didn’t generate very many secondary chances or redirections.

The team, as a whole, seemed a step behind the pace tonight and shortening the bench in the third period didn’t do a lot to help that. Their key players just didn’t have enough jump in their step to be difference-makers against a rested Sharks squad.

Red Warrior

Smith needed to have a good showing tonight, if only for his sanity, and he was extremely sharp after the first San Jose goal. Bennett was arguably the next-best player, generating a ton of shots and chances when he was on the ice.

The Turning Point

Donskoi’s goal doubled the lead and made the climb back a little too steep for the Flames to muster.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.Hockey)

Player Corsi
For%
OZone
Start%
Game
Score
Bennett 62.9 77.8 1.230
Jankowski 58.8 75.0 1.080
Ryan 58.3 71.4 0.595
Stone 57.7 62.5 0.450
Valimaki 57.1 62.5 0.050
Tkachuk 55.2 75.0 -0.150
Brodie 53.9 75.0 0.300
Giordano 53.7 66.7 0.250
Gaudreau 51.4 50.0 0.325
Hathaway 50.0 50.0 0.125
Monahan 48.4 50.0 1.425
Backlund 47.2 80.0 -0.275
Czarnik 44.4 50.0 0.200
Lindholm 43.8 50.0 -0.170
Frolik 42.3 75.0 -0.100
Hamonic 41.0 50.0 -0.250
Neal 40.0 60.0 -0.175
Hanifin 38.7 55.6 -0.650
Smith 1.100
Rittich

This and That

As you’d expect, Bill Peters shortened his bench in the third period. Austin Czarnik and James Neal were benched, Bennett was bumped to the second line to play with Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund, and Michael Frolik slid down to the third line to play with Derek Ryan and one of Garnet Hathaway and Jankowski.

The Flames allowed 12 high-danger scoring chances, the first time they’ve let the opposition hit double digits since their 9-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins a few weeks back.

Up Next

The Flames (10-7-1) head home tonight. They’re off tomorrow, then prepare to host the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

  • Toma41

    Prior to this 3 game road trip, I dont think anyone would have been happy with 2 out of 6 points. Our scoring dissappeared. Still waiting for some consistant secondary scoring. Its becoming obvious that Neal and Ryan do not want to be in Calgary. Czarnik doesnt have that finishing touch. Bennett can crash and fight all he wants but he still isnt putting up points. Backlund played very poorly and when our top 6 arent 100% it exposes our weak, and expensive, bottom 6. Looking forward to having Rittich and Andersson back in the line up.

  • Kzak

    Most frustrating game of the season. Bad calls (either he tripped or he dove, one or other), Bennett just doesn’t belong on any line whose job is to score, Janko likewise, Monahan can’t win a frickin faceoff to save his life and should not be taking any faceoffs with the net empty, and did no one see that the puck was shot over the boards by the Sharks. Anway, venting done (my girlfriend heard the loud audible version). On the plus side, Smith looked much better, the Pk did well, despite being exhausted we outshot them and the Oilers got beat pretty bad tonight. Enjoy the days off.

  • Phockey

    It was apparent the Flames worked last night and were not at their best tonight. Still they didn’t mail it in and likely did in many ways earned their pay cheques far more than the F’n Zebras. From the missed high stick infraction that was not a follow through ( thanks Cassie ) that the officials had convened for shot night last night at a local pub and were not able to fully complete their duties even though they only had to punch the clock for 60 minutes. What a disgrace.

  • Off the wall

    At least we can’t pin this one on Smith. He was good. 929 Sv % this time.

    Turning point for me? 4 vs 4.
    Derek Ryan on the ice. Seems odd to put Ryan in that position. We needed offence.

    Would it have changed the outcome? I don’t know, however if you’re going to shorten the bench, wouldn’t you use players more suitable for generating scoring chances?

    Tkachuk was not good. Neither was Backlund. The 3rd and 4th lines were better.

    The 3rd line was doing well, then .. Peters changes it. The 4th line was getting chances. They were shut down.

    Honestly, I think Peters blew this one..

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      You get the sense that Tkachuk and Backlund were pissed that BP keeps taking Frolik off that line despite some strong play. It showed in their play this road trip. Janko’s confidence is shot and needs to be rebuilt.

      • buts

        Frolik a 4 th liner….he and Backlund drag MT down. Backlund lost draws all night long, lost his man again on a GWG again, he’s missing wide open nets. 5.35 million for a 3rd liner. He’s playing like garbage.

        • Brian McGrattan's Salute

          No, on the second goal Backlund was covering for Hamonic, and therefore couldn’t get to his man in Donskoy. A play like that, you have two d down low and the centre high. Hamonic wasn’t anywhere near the action on that one, and came in too late (he wasn’t going for Donskoy anyways)

          • Korcan

            I agree, Backlund could not cover Donskoy, because if he had Kane would have had an open lane to carry the puck out from behind the net. Backlund was preventing the wraparound, and unfortunately Frolik was unable to adjust his coverage in time to prevent Donskoy from receiving the pass and converting. I know it is in vogue to bash Calgary’s #1 all-around center, but in most cases it is unjustified. Backlund is a gem, even if he is having trouble scoring these days.

    • Flint

      Can´t pin this one on Smith is absolutely correct. .929sv% is an excellent start, also correct.

      We were also out-goaltended and Smith needs to work on his glove tracking (sure he makes a flashy desperation glove save) but he can´t catch a straightforward shot to save his life. The number of simple wristers that sneak under his glove, over the pad, are amazing… blocker side those are tougher cause of the stick, glove side should be picking cherries.

      He did play well, but the book is out on his glove. Those are going in every game.

      • Off the wall

        They have to start spreading out the scoring. Your idea is good.

        Get Tkachuk up to the top line, move Lindholm down to centre two heavier bodies in Neal and Bennett.

        Gaudreau- Monahan- Tkachuk
        Bennett- Lindholm- Neal
        Frolik- Backlund- Dube
        Hathaway- Jankowski- Ryan or Czarnik

        Looks great to me!

        • Redleader

          If it’s a physical team Backlund disappears he is scared to get hit and doesn’t drive pucks to the net , I’m not a fan of perimeter players , and Flames got a few , if Johnny drives right into 4players all the time and gets levelled every once and a while and still drives the puck right down there throat ,so when I see the bigger guys playing like wimps I gots to call a spade a spade ♠️. Backlund s get tougher !!!! Same with Ryan ,Frolik,Brodie get meaner your a topline defenceman!! why is it that’s Flames get mugged after every whistle but our defence will barely stand up and push anyone of our goalies , this team is soft . Czarnik is another softy , this is why Stine was brought in for this game and maybe more to come , Hanifin get meaner!!!

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    The reffing was bad on this California road trip but the Flames were not keeping their legs moving and forcing the refs to call penalties. As good as Smith was, he still doesn’t give the team a chance get the lead like Rittich does. The team feeds off of Rittich’s calmness until they get going. Smith is more inclined to let in a softy which forces the team to chase the game.

  • The GREAT WW

    Good call by CC for calling out the one sided officiating.

    When Bennett got the penalty shot I said “there is ZERO chance he scored on this”….

    Smith was good for the most part.

    Our biggest problem are the Neal and Backlund contracts for the next half decade……

    WW

  • buts

    Neal looks like he doesn’t give a crap. A bigger body who is what you need against the ducks and sharks, seems like he is pouting over not getting top 6 minutes. I’m sure they promised him top 6 minutes and line mates for him to sign. Maybe Toronto might want him?

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I really hope Smith finds his game, but there is no excuse for the coaches to not ride a goalie that is in a groove in these 4 point games. I think the team’s demeanor embodies its goalie. Rittich is calm, calculated, and composed which breads calmness from the players in front of him. Smith on the other hand is playing erratic and unpredictable which makes it hard for players to stay composed. The team knows that they can make less errors in games That Smith starts which leads to more pressure.

    Finally, the difference between Ras and Stone is night and day. There is no surprise that the team bleeds more HDSC with Stone in the line up because he has a hard time getting the puck out of his zone while this is a strength of Andersson’s. Most of Andersson’s mistakes come from his lack of explosiveness but he thinks the game at a quicker level to compensate.

  • herringchoker

    Sky is falling….sky is falling
    Listen guys…..Smith letting in the clean early goal was a back breaker. Huge mistake playing him even if his numbers were decent. I said it before and will say it again…..bennett is a heart and sole guy who powers the engine. When he’s on the ice his line spends a ton of time creating chances. The guy is still learning to finish at the NHL level. Theres no way he can continue to play this strong and not put up points. He needs to be on a line with finishers with some edge. Frolik and Ryan are far from it. Put Neal with Monahan and Johnny and give them some time. Put Lindholm between chucky and Bennett. I personnally think Dube needs a year in the Ahl. He needs to get stronger on the puck. I’d put Janko with Frolik and Backlund. Janko looks unconfident and could stand to focus more on a defensive role. He has all the tools…..again sophmore jinx.

  • checkmeup

    BP is a hell of a salesman, to talk BT into signing Ryan for 3m for 3 yrs was quit a task. His go to guy from the Spokane Chiefs days just can’t do it at the NHL level. If I was Neal and you see this guy getting more ice time then me, I would be pissed. Bennett could not put a puck in the ocean standing on the dock. Backland needs to wake up.