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Golden Knights 2, Flames 0 post-game embers: The epitome of meh

Not only did the Flames not score five goals in the first period, but they got shut out for the first time this season. That’s quite a turn.

Feel of the game

Some days, you just never have it. This was one of those days. Maybe it’s because it was in Vegas, maybe they were just due for a “meh” game; either way, after what had been a back-and-forth first in which both teams had their fair share of chances (edge to Vegas), the Golden Knights took over. It didn’t seem over when they finally got on the board late in the second, but it definitely felt over once they made it a two-goal lead early in the third.

David Rittich had a strong game, but so did Marc-Andre Fleury, and aside from some chances from the top line, the first powerplay unit, and Dillon Dube at times, Fleury didn’t have as much to do.

Unfortunate an effort this lackadaisical came against a division rival, but the Flames weren’t only going to have good games the rest of the season. Every team has those games in which they just aren’t in. That was the Flames, at an earlier start time than normal, in a unique city. Oh well.

The good news

Even though Rittich got the loss, it would be rather difficult to really blame him on either goal scored against; a tip went in against him and a screened powerplay marker. He still gave the Flames a chance to win the entire night, and that’s really all you can ask of a goalie. He’s started four straight games now, and he’s had four great efforts – there’s little doubt as to who the Flames’ top goalie is.

TJ Brodie had the kind of game that reminded us why the Flames were comfortable pinning their hopes on him reuniting with Mark Giordano being a successful top pairing. He fell off the couple of seasons he couldn’t play on Giordano’s right side, but the years in which he did, he was often one of the few bright spots on the Flames. With Travis Hamonic shining as of late as well (coincidentally, they both had three shots each, second most on the Flames), the Flames look like they have a real top four defence – and that was a concern a dozen or so games ago. Much less so now.

This was just one game. The Flames have still had more good games than bad.

The bad news

James Neal only spent a year in Vegas, so it’s debatable how much of a “homecoming” this was for him, but he was an inaugural Golden Knight, so. Maybe that put extra pressure on him; who knows. But even though the entire team got shut out, it extends Neal’s point-less streak as well, and that isn’t going to lessen the scrutiny on him (besides, it’s not like the entire team was devoid of scoring chances, but he wasn’t exactly as inspiring as some others). The Flames probably weren’t going to score anyway, but his penalty at the end of the game was astoundingly unnecessary as well.

After a couple of games in which the Flames were able to jump out to early games and then coast to victory (or try to; the Jets didn’t exactly let that happen, though their lead was just sizeable enough), watching them kind of skate through the motions even though they didn’t have a goal was unfortunate.

The score could have been worse – don’t forget about the posts the Golden Knights hit, especially when Rittich left a wide open cage at the end of the first. The Flames didn’t play well, and losing by two goals didn’t really indicate how poor it got at times.

The Flames got shut out for the first time this season, which is just never fun in general.

Numbers of note

50% – The Flames’ 5v5 CF. They had a sub-50% first and second, but a 72% third. They were also trailing by two goals at that point.

1 – The number of times the Flames have been shut out this season. They still have two shutouts of their own, though: one against Nashville, and one against Los Angeles, so at least they’re ahead on that front.

75.3% – The Flames’ penalty killing percentage on the season. It’s ranked 25th in the NHL.

4 – Johnny Gaudreau picked up his first penalty minutes of the year. What a goon.

8:49 – Austin Czarnik had by far the least amount of ice time for the Flames; it feels like he’s only in when they have no other choice nowadays. Which is why I’m surprised the Flames recalled Ryan Lomberg – it doesn’t make much sense to dress him, especially with Garnet Hathaway already playing regularly. I thought they would have brought up Kerby Rychel or Curtis Lazar.

16:56 – Rasmus Andersson played the least out of all Flames defencemen, and that’s probably in part due to him not playing on the penalty kill. (Although seeing him out on the ice when the Flames have an extra attacker, again? Always heartwarming.) Giordano and Brodie were the only ones who got over 20 minutes.

.929% – Rittich’s save percentage. He still has a .930% on the season. The game against Chicago – in which the Blackhawks only bothered to take 15 shots on net – has been his only real “ehhh” game this season, knock on wood. He’s just so dang reliable.

Final thought

Well, hopefully they’ll have a stronger effort next game. At least there’s no way any of them think this was acceptable, right? Though about a month ago they were in the midst of a poor stretch, maybe some sustained success through November can help them get back into gear a little quicker.

  • Jobu

    Vegas + US Thanksgiving = Hangover. Clearly didn’t have the same legs as last two weeks. Credit to Vegas though – the clogged up all our passing lanes and didn’t give us any time to establish a rush or a forecheck.

  • First Name Unidentified

    Neal looks totally uninspired which is disappointing to see. Sammy is finally bringing home the hammy. TJ is playing hockey as good as he can beat-box. Rittich’s chronicles continue. Chucky is the real big cheese. Hammer is a surprisingly good skater. BT’s FA signings flop again. But he wins the trade war with the Canes.

    • Ari Yanover

      To be clear, I still really like Neal overall and I still have faith the signing will pay off in the end. But it’s kind of like with Smith’s “you can try all you want, but at some point, you actually have to make the save”. At some point, Neal actually has to start scoring points. The bad news is more “he still isn’t doing that” rather than “he sucks and he’s Brouwer 2.0” (which he very much does not and is not).

      • MWflames

        maybe time to try Neal on the left side?

        Neal isn’t getting good shots away. I feel like a lot of attempts to pass to him on landing in his feet. can’t decide if thats his positioning or his line mates just aren’t passing well.

      • Justeen Trudope

        I agree he needs to start getting points but if you want to see him start getting points then you put him with Byng and Backlund or Johnny and Monny. I really like the bottom 6 they have but to expect Neal to get 20 goals playing with Ryan who is not an offensive player and Czarnik who also has shown nothing at the NHL level. He’s not built for the bottom 6 he’s not a great 200 foot player he’s a goal scorer so he needs to be put in that role. But also I wouldn’t change the lineup I just don’t have huge expectations for him playing low minutes on the 3rd line.

        • The Doctor

          Neal doesn’t seem to be very creative with his shooting choices so far either. He’s been mostly shooting right into the goalie’s midsection, or trying to go 5 hole and failing. He doesn’t seem to be trying to pick corners very often.

      • Albertabeef

        His stats aren’t the worst on the team. He is also playing with guys who don’t normally score more than 10 goals a season. You are not going to get 20-30 goals from third line guys, unlike the old days. Hathaway and Janks have the worst corsi and fenwick on the team. However Hathaway, Brodie, and Dube have the best “5 vs 5 on ice save percentage” according to hockey reference. Hathaway adds a lot to this team but offence is not one of them.

  • MWflames

    what a snooze fest. the flames have been been very entertaining this year, but boy oh boy was this tough to watch. And i watched it on PVR fast forwarding through. Felt like a minnesota wild game from 5 to 10 years ago

    other than reviewing some film about how to enter the zone when the other team is playing the trap, forget about this and move on.

  • Phockey

    Not a great game all in all. Flames were definitely Meh. Ice looked like it may have been the same as the game was pretty sloppy. Not the only factor but I saw a lot of unusual hops and bounces that broke up a ton of passes. Can’t believe that guy JG crosschecked is alive. I’ve never seen such a violent hit. Oh wait just every shift JG has taken in the past 3 years he gets hit like that with close to zero calls. Consistency is a struggle with officiating for sure. Didn’t want a downer in Vegas at Gobble Gobble time.

  • MontanaMan

    I have been highly critical of TJ Brodie and rightly so, but I thought he looked great last night and was likely the top d-man on the ice for the Flames. Let’s hope this trend continues.

  • TKO

    Neal’s penalty with 5 minutes left as they were trying to make a push really ticked me off. it’s one thing to be slow in finding your legs, but to take such a stupid, unnecessary selfish penalty really is ignorant

    • Speed Kills

      In all fairness, after several ignored Hooks, Holdings, Slashes and one very obvious and intentional Trip on Benny at center ice Not Being Called Against LV …. Getting called for a coincidental collision during a line change with Zero impact on the play was/is to say the least a Joke of a BS call. Getting upset about that penalty and Not the missed calls is kind of like being mad at the dog for peeing in the house after you left him alone at home for 2 days.

      • calgaryfan

        Agree (Speed Kills) the Flames were beat by a team clogging up the middle and a goalie who played really well. But Neal is the problem by all these comments. Where was Tkachuk, Monahan etc.

  • The Doctor

    From what I saw (didn’t watch the whole game, whichever turned out to be a blessing), our offensive zone puck management was too often lousy in this one. We made too many dumb pass attempts that got picked off, and there were too many occasions where we had a shooting lane and didn’t shoot — instead we hung on to the puck trying to make a better play and ended up turning the puck over. To their credit, Vegas played a good defensive game and really jammed us up and frustrated us. Nothing particularly wrong with our defence in this one, plenty wrong with our offensive play.

  • HOCKEY83

    What was it 56 hits to 20. Highest hitting game of the season for the knights. The knights beat the game right out of the flames. When reporting about the loss this seems significant fact to leave out. especially under numbers of note heading.

    • Off the wall

      Good call Hockey 83.
      We were outhit and outplayed.
      It was obvious from the outset, that Gallant had a great strategy for this game. I think we really have to credit the Knights for a strong performance.

      Gallant would not allow us any favourable matchups. He had the team well prepared for this game.

      We limited Vegas to 5 measly HDSC, yet the Knights only allowed a mere 3 against.

      That’s going to allow a team to win it’s fair share of games, especially when your hitting them every time they touch the puck..

  • Off the wall

    TJ Brodie was so noticeable.
    I’m really happy he’s become his old self.

    Not once, but twice he thwarted two on ones with a perfectly timed slide.

    We could have easily lost this game 4-0 if it wasn’t for Brodie’s stellar play on the back end.

    I’m giving him a BIG shout-out despite the results!

  • Off the wall

    Hey did anyone notice Cassie Campbell make a slighting comment about Hamilton last night?
    She indicated the reason Giordano is having a great season was due to trusting Brodie, something which he couldn’t do with Hamilton?

    I had a good laugh, as she back-peddled, trying to offset that comment.

    I’m liking her more and more. I never thought I’d say this, but she is definitely growing on me.

    She offers more interesting dialogue on the game than our homer Hrudey.

    It would be nice to see her do more colour commentary. I’m getting exasperated with Hrudey and his 14,000 ‘right’ comments a game.