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Post-Game: Flames hold on against Blackhawks

The Calgary Flames haven’t been amazing as of late, but they’ve still been good enough to capture points consistently. The story was the same on Sunday night in Chicago, as the Flames played an imperfect game but beat the Blackhawks by a 3-2 score at the United Center.

The Rundown

The Flames were all over the Blackhawks early, with several lines generating chances and Corey Crawford holding them in the game. Finally they broke through midway through the period, as Sean Monahan drove the net and bonked in a rebound off an Elias Lindholm scoring chance to make it 1-0 Flames.

But the Blackhawks responded, as Jonathan Toews caught Noah Hanifin napping at the offensive blueline, blew past him and beat Mike Smith off the rush to make it 1-1. Shots were 18-6 Flames and scoring chances 9-6 Flames in the first period.

The second period was a bit back and forth, but the Flames took control after an elbow from Chris Kunitz to Travis Hamonic led to Kunitz’s ejection from the game and a five minute power play. Early in the major advantage Lindholm beat Crawford as the netminder tried to glove the puck. Play continued, but the 30 seconds later Toronto called down that it was a good goal that made it 2-1 Flames.

Later on the same advantage, with Sam Bennett screening Crawford, Derek Ryan’s wrister eluded Crawford to make it 3-1 Flames.

But the Blackhawks got one back before the end of the period with James Neal in the penalty box. Ryan Strome was sprung on partial break, beating Smith glove-side with a backhand to make it 3-2 Flames. It was a pretty even period: shots were 11-10 Calgary and chances 7-6 Chicago.

Neither team scored in the third period, but the Blackhawks pushed hard and had several good scoring chances. Smith robbed Alex Debrincat with the back of his pad to keep the Flames up by one.

Shots were 12-8 Flames and chances 7-5 Blackhawks.

Why the Flames Won

Chicago’s not a great team and the Flames were defensively sloppy throughout. But the Flames’ key players were better than Chicago’s key players – their top power play unit and Smith were big difference-makers – and that was enough to capture two points.

Red Warrior

Smith. He was a bit shaky early, but much like he did against Los Angeles he made big saves at big moments to keep the Flames up.

The Turning Point

Kunitz’s ejection gave the Flames a ton of time and space to operate and they made Chicago pay (twice). The Blackhawks were chasing for the remainder of the evening.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
For%
OZone
Start%
Game
Score
Neal 85.4 66.7 1.440
Giordano 65.2 60.0 0.850
Mangiapane 63.2 71.4 0.625
Backlund 61.1 50.0 0.240
Ryan 57.9 83.3 1.295
Tkachuk 56.3 50.0 0.475
Monahan 54.2 80.0 1.985
Brodie 53.9 40.0 0.200
Bennett 52.4 50.0 0.165
Lindholm 52.2 100 2.075
Hanifin 51.9 44.4 0.875
Hamonic 51.9 60.0 0.450
Kylington 50.0 100 0.125
Gaudreau 48.2 100 1.825
Andersson 35.0 80.0 -0.450
Lomberg 28.6 40.0 -0.025
Jankowski 18.2 33.3 -0.370
Hathaway 10.0 33.3 -0.135
Smith 0.700
Rittich

This and That

This game finished with just three officials after Matthew Tkachuk inadvertently dropped Greg Devorski off a first period face-off.

American national treasure Nick Offerman played “Shoot the Puck” – an in-arena game where celebrities try to hit the net from center ice – over the second intermission.

Up Next

The Flames (16-9-2) are off to scenic Columbus. They practice tomorrow and face the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

  • The GREAT WW

    Bennett is painful to watch out there.
    What ever happened to his skills?
    Don’t get me wrong; I like his heavy game, but what happened to his scoring touch?!

    WW

  • Korcan

    Pretty ugly game. The game should never have been close, but after dominating play the Flames would get very loose defensively allowing Chicago to get back into it.

    Great game by Smitty and hopefully this means he is getting his groove back. He should be feeling confident after this one.

    I was impressed with the young Stockton boys. I thought Mangiapane and Kylington both had noticeable games and Lombo was effective in his role. Love the depth Calgary has developed through the system — it should serve them well down the road.

    A win is a win, but please tighten up on the defensive side before Columbus.

  • Toma41

    I am confused and getting angry at Bank is ice team. It’s just not fair and no logic behind it. Playing a 31 year old I stead of a 25 year old 6″4 215lbs centre. Teams dream of getting an opportunity of developing that kind of centre. Here we are wasting his most important years so that Derek Ryan can be forced into the best situations possible.

    • R4anders

      Jankowski has done nothing to warrant moving up in the lineup, like Neal he’s gonna have to figure it out on his own. We’re first in the division and a top ten team. No way the team ruins the chemistry it has right now to get one or two guys “going” that just doesn’t make any sense.

      • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

        Jankowski had 7:19 minutes Even Strength, Derek Ryan played 5:34 Even Strength.

        Jankowski has never done anything on the man advantage for me, Ryan scored one tonight on the other hand and he is a better passer in traffic on set plays. I think Mangiapane eventually takes that role, but I’m okay with Ryan on PP2.

          • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

            Jankowski just isn’t great playing the puck in traffic, if you look at most of his goals it’s usually when he gets in alone on net. I’ve mentioned it before here, but I have the same problem with Jankowksi as I do Bennett. They’re average to below average skaters and as a result they have a tough time gaining separation in the NHL, I think they both would be better suited if they played with shorter sticks, which would increase their lie and allow them to handle the puck better in contested areas in tighter to their body. Honestly though for me I don’t mind Ryan on PP2 at all, at least for now. He gets in the tight spaces and makes things happen and he’s actually a decent shooter, as we saw tonight. Jankowski also has been an effective penalty killer for us, so he’s been getting that opportunity. All that said though, I wouldn’t mind seeing Jankowski get some PP2 time once and awhile on games he is feeling it (I find him rather hot and cold). If Jankowski cut a good six inches off his stick, I honestly think he would be an entirely different player, as I have mentioned before. I think it would open up a world of possibilities offensively. PP2 has been decent of late (outside of Neal not being able to finish anything, I’m okay with it right now).

  • The Doctor

    Three stats that I’d be interested in seeing:

    1. Of the games the Flames have played this season, on how many occasions have we outshot our opponent.

    2. What is our cumulative shots on goal vs. shots allowed this season.

    3. What is our team shooting percentage so far and where is it relative to the league average.

    I ask because it sure seems to me on a smell test that we’re outshooting our opponents a lot, and often by big margins. But I do have issues with some of our O zone puck management and decision making.

  • Garry T

    nd and 3rd. Periods and I think they are playing amazingly well . If you appreciate the hard forecheck game, you have to understand that like teams know how to get into the right lanes and Chicago is a better team than the standings show. No need to call the Flames sloppy. Scoring chances occur when you are trying to box the other team in. When was the last year we had 34 points at this point and we were a high end high scoring group?

    Go Flames

    • Clayton

      Flames hit 34 points after Game #30 last year (December 9th). So this means they Flames are 3 games ahead of last year’s pace. The trick will be to not got through any prolonged multi-game losing streaks like they did last year.

      • The Doctor

        Yes and I’m particular to not implode like we did over the final 20 games or so. I’m pretty confident in three respects: I think Gulutzan lost the room near the end last year and that had a lot to do with said implosion; we have more depth and talent this year; and with all the changes, I think of anything we stand to improve a bit as a result of these guys getting more familiar with one another.

  • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

    I wonder if after sending Dube down clearly in favourite of Mangiapane coming up, they will do the same thing with Valimaki after Kylington has showed to be capable. It sends a good message of earning your shot in the minors.

  • Flamesforever

    Thought Mangiapane looked solid out there, deceptively fast with a great shot (he rang one off the iron) and all the skill in the world. It looks like his game has matured compared to last year. Oh and relentless on 50/50 pucks.

  • SydScout

    What I find interesting is that these write ups are often leaning towards the negative. Crawford was lights out in the first period. It wasn’t even close. I was sitting amongst Hawks fans and they were basically frustrated that they didn’t see the puck. Toward the end, same deal. We played beautifully – held the puck, shut it down. We were the far superior team.

    A few things I noticed: Mangiapane was excellent. Twice smashed a dude far bigger than he into the glass. Kinda hilarious. His shot was a laser!! Just off by half an inch. Smashed into the iron. I was out of my seat assuming it was in. The kid is great.
    Kylington is a gun but Andersson has to take a cross checking peno because of a too-fancy play (a weird through the legs pass). I don’t mind that stuff – if he gets it right, and is the ice at some stage, when he’s fully developed, with Gaudreau they’ll tear it up.

    • KeepitReal

      Agree to most of what you say. It looked like the Flames were dictating the game on their terms for large parts of the night. But those beer league breakaways we gave them were headscratchinly frustrating to watch. That has to stop.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Tonight’s takeaways.

    Another solid effort from Neal. He is rounding into form. Given the choice, I’d rather have a hot Neal for the last half of the season than the first half.

    He’s baaaack! Smitty looked sharp again. Rittich might want to defer buying a home in Calgary if Smitty keeps giving efforts like he did tonight.

    Mangipane’s had a lot of jump out there. He deserves to start again against the Jackets.

    Which coach is responsible for working with the defence? Is it Peters? Why don’t the Flames go gridiron and hire a defensive coordinator because man oh man did they look shaky in their own end not that the forwards did much to help their defensive compadres.

    Hathaway Senior looks like he might be one helluva party hound.

    Is that the same Brodie who pissed away two years of his career languishing under Gully’s systems? It’s fortunate that Tre did not surrender to temptation and trade TJ because he’s a peach out there.

    Did Hamonic lose a tooth/ teeth following that Kunitz’s elbow smash that would have done Rickey the Dragon Steamboat proud?

    Early cup finalists have to be the Jets and the Leafs. I’d buy that if for no other reason that it might prompt Bettman to slit his wrists as that would be one tough sell in America and a no sale in China.

  • smatic10

    Was at the United center for this one!

    Overall, we dominated all game. We were better on one–on-one battles, our passes were crisp, and we were pressuring them, I was very impressed with what I saw.

    But then some defensive lapses began occurring. Guys being left alone in front of the net, breakaways being handed to the Hawks, it was scary at times.

    The game should not have been that close, Crawford was playing out of his mind and keeping them in it.

    Smith played well overall, but early on in the game his puck handling aged me 20 years. He nearly gave the puck away multiple times. And I had the best angle on the scorpion save, my goodness everyone in my section stood up and couldn’t believe it. One of the greatest saves I’ve ever seen.

    Gio and Brodes are incredible. Hanifin looked slow at times (clearly evident on Toews goal). Kylington, Andersson, and Hamonic were solid. Mangiapane, Hathaway, Ryan all had really solid games. Top line was buzzing, they could have definitely had more points. Tkachuk and Backlund played great defensively responsible games. Bennett was trying out there but this was one of those nights where the puck kept sliding off his stick. Kid needs offensive luck in the worst way. Janko was not really noticeable. Neal is skating and trying out there, it’s only a matter of time before pucks start going in for him. Lomberg was decent, filled in and did what he needed to, forced a turnover that led to a decent shot.

    Tighten up on some of those defensive miscues, and this team is golden.