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Flames 9, Blue Jackets 6 post-game embers: That’s a lot of goals

Going into this season, there was a basic assumption: the forwards were improved, the defence was slightly weakened, and goaltending was a giant question mark. With all that in mind, a reasonable prediction would have been that if the Flames found themselves in a run and gun game, they’d probably come out on top. And that’s exactly what happened.

Feel of the game

Sometimes, there are games in which everyone collectively decides not to bother playing defence. This game didn’t start out as one of those – though it did start with the Flames playing particularly sloppy, and even though they scored first, they took a well-deserved 3-1 deficit to the locker room after the first period.

Columbus continued to take over the game, scoring on Mike Smith just 49 seconds into his entrance in the second period. That seemed to wake the Flames up, though – and, more importantly, it woke their powerplay up. Getting their first man advantages of the game, the Flames went to work, and tied things up: a realization that they couldn’t coast as they had been, they’d have to work to get this win, and work they did.

And then their earlier sloppiness seemed to infect the Blue Jackets, as both teams traded high danger chances – and sometimes, goals – in what turned out to be a chaotic second period. Even though the Flames kept scoring to build their lead in the third, it kind of started to calm down, and eventually, two things became clear: the Flames were going to skate away with a regulation win; and sometimes, it just sucks to be a goalie.

The good news

The Flames had their best offensive performance in years with nine goals. They’ve been pretty good at scoring all year, though: they don’t have any eight-goal games this season, but before this particular goal-fest, they already had two seven-goal games, three six-goal games, and two five-goal games under their belts. That’s 51 goals over their eight highest scoring games this season. Sustainable? Absolutely not, but it keeps happening on occasion. Fun? Hell yes.

A lot of that credit goes to the top line. Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Elias Lindholm have their occasional off nights, but more often than not they’ve been among the NHL’s top offensive players, and it remains a genuine treat to watch them – Gaudreau, in particular, has been feeling it lately. Throw in Matthew Tkachuk and the Flames’ group of young forwards is just absurd – a little more on this in the “numbers of note” section.

Special teams were working in the Flames’ favour, big time. It was their powerplay that got them back in the game, and scoring on three out of four tries typically means you had a good night. The penalty kill played its part, too: the Jackets’ powerplay could have brought them back to life, same as the Flames’ did for them. But the Flames only gave up one powerplay goal on three tries. In a game like this, special teams were crucial, and it worked in Calgary’s favour.

It’s always nice to know that this is a team that can stare a three-goal deficit in the face – including what could have been an extremely demoralizing early second period goal (if this was the 2017-18 season, that would have killed them and they’d have probably lost 9-1 again) – and still believe they can win. I’ve said this before, but they’re like the 2014-15 “never quit” Flames, only with far more talent and skill.

The Flames’ recent blowouts have been against Vegas, Winnipeg, Arizona, and Los Angeles. The Jets are good, the Golden Knights might be, the Coyotes and Kings are not. The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, have a real chance at winning the Metro – a division that’s definitely tougher than the Pacific – and the Flames went toe to toe with them and came out on top. Beating up on weak teams is one thing; this is a far more encouraging end result.

The bad news

Though the end result was good, this definitely wasn’t an ideal game. Enjoy the win, absolutely, but I’d bet there’s a sense of awareness that the Flames need to tighten things up, big time. Outside of a frantic second period goal burst, they were sloppy for most of the game; that can’t continue.

I wasn’t a big fan of pulling David Rittich after the first period – not when we’ve seen Smith perform far worse and get to run with the net until the game was thoroughly out of reach. It didn’t even seem to wake the Flames up; going down 4-1 did. Rittich wasn’t to blame for the first period so much as the entire team was. It’s more about the future of the Flames than anything else – Smith shouldn’t be getting special treatment; he almost certainly shouldn’t be here next season. Rittich might be, and the Flames need to give Rittich more chances to prove himself. It worked out this time around, but hopefully Rittich will still see plenty of starts in the near future. Complaint rescinded if he does.

Numbers of note

44.87% – The Flames’ 5v5 corsi on the night. It improves to 47.31% when looking at all situations. The team had a brutal first period, a much improved second, a lot of help from special teams, and a need to fend off a talented team that was suddenly chasing. It was a lot all at once.

23.8% – The Flames officially have a top 10 powerplay in the NHL. Dave Cameron who?

30+ – The Flames have four forwards all with at least 30 points on the season: the top line, plus Tkachuk. Gaudreau leads them all in points (35) and age (25). Colorado, Ottawa, and Toronto all have three players with 30+ points; nobody else has more than two.

27 – Also, Mark Giordano, with a three-point night, remains fifth both in Flames scoring and league-wide defenceman scoring.

5 – The Flames scored five straight goals in a single period. Again. It’s the third time in eight games they’ve done it. That’s certainly one way to overcome a three-goal deficit. The Flames are first in third period goals (43), fourth in first period goals (31), and 24th in second period goals (24). They’re working on that last one, apparently.

100 – They also scored two overtime goals, and so, Austin Czarnik’s tally to mostly-officially put the game away was the Flames’ 100th goal of the season. It took a third of the year to get there. In 2017-18, the Lightning led the league with 296 goals for. The Flames are tied for fourth league-wide in goals at present.

3 – The number of Flames who didn’t get to play in the third period: Garnet Hathaway had one shift early (on which he drew a penalty, and then we never saw him again), while Sam Bennett and Derek Ryan were benched for the entire frame. On the plus side, that meant 15:01 in ice time for Andrew Mangiapane, and I think we can all agree that at this stage Mangiapane getting more minutes can only be a good thing. (Also, it’s good to see in action that Bill Peters doesn’t necessarily get random, unconquerable vendettas against players: James Neal still got to play, Czarnik got bumped up the lineup, Ryan apparently isn’t infallible.)

.692% – Sergei Bobrovsky played the most out of the four goalies in this game, and saw the second worst save percentage for it. Sure puts Rittich’s .786% and Smith’s .813% in perspective. Everyone was bad, but some were worse than others.

Final thought

Upgrading the forward lineup sure has paid off for the Flames so far this season. Also, you know what’s fun? An offensively engaged TJ Brodie – someone we hadn’t seen much of prior to this year.

A lot of little things are working out right now, and it’s a third of the way through the season, a pretty decent sample size. Maybe these overall positive performances will keep up? And if they do… what then?

    • Marvin the Paranoid Android

      Marvin understands WW. Why indulge in happiness when misery and darkness are easily available? Sharing that misery with others somehow seems to make it seem more real, n’est pas?

    • BlueMoonNigel

      I love Willard Reaves, the closest thing the CFL has had in my time to the legendary Jimmy Brown, a guy who would beat you with power and speed. While I whole-heartedly approved of Ryan Reaves taking out the trash last night and would be happy to see him in Flames’ colours against the Oilers and Ducks, I am not sure he would have signed with the Flames except for a massive overpayment, and that would have been bad business for the club. Contracts being equal, it would have been a drop kick last summer for Reaves to choose Vegas over Calgary. Way too many positive factors on and off the ice in Vegas’ favour. It’s cool to think of Reaves as a Flame, but Tre made the prudent choice in opting for Jimmy Neal.

      • KeepitReal

        I remember a Flames game a few years back where Tim Jackman was the recipient of a cheap hit that landed him on his arse. He got back up mad as hell and grabbed the first guy he saw & it just happened to be Reaves. I think Tim landed the first punch and then it was as if Jackman had a Wolverine by the tail. Poor guy didn’t know what hit him.

        • Mickey O'Reaves

          Great memory…on YouTube. Reaves had 2 goals that night as well.

          Ryan Reaves vs Tim Jackman fight April 25 2013 Calgary Flames vs St. Louis Blues NHL Hockey

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        I think it’s probably fair to call Reaves a plug with hockey sense.
        Don’t like his game, but would prefer him, even at $3m, over Lucic every day. Would not play him 82 games though. He is what he is, functional toughness that would have replaced some of what Ferland brought. Some, not all.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Disagree. I saw signs of some good chemistry developing between Neal, Jankowski and Mangipane last night. Hope Peters saw the same thing and keep these fellas together next game.

          • Brian McGrattan's Salute

            I agree. He pushes people off the pucks/wins the 50/50s, rather than getting knocked on his ass. He looks like a legit NHL’r.

            Also, I am so happy Janko is on that third line. He is looking really good in all aspects of his game, except maybe a bit shy on the offensive side of the puck, in the last 20 feet of his 200ft game, so to speak.

  • withachance

    Thoughts:

    1) Brodie is an absolute stud. i know he’s with Gio but I think he’s performing better due to a boosted confidence. He’s the prototypical NHL dman today. I was entertaining the thought of trading him but Right Side defenceman dont grow on trees and the Flames would be dumb to trade what is essentially a top pairing dman unless getting something in the similar value back

    2) Czar needs coaching. He does play small and he does tend to drift throughout the game, but the current NHL doesnt need tough guys like Kassian to bump into the opposition every play…That power move he pulled off before the goal is what teams need now and he can be a fit. Im ok with Czar getting scratched from time to time if it means BP can coach him everyday to be more of an effective player.

    3)Mangi is the real deal. Points and goal will come but he crash and bangs with the best of them. Something needs to happen to get Neal going… not sure if hes a dud but hes getting closer…

    4) Gio for Norris. That is all.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Mangipane can win scrums and if he can get the puck to the sniper Neal or the always hardworking Jankowski, goals will be scored. Book it. Peters just has to be patient and let these guys grow together.

      • withachance

        Agreed. Only thing is where does this leave Bennett. If the lines stay as is and Czar stays with Backs and Tkachuk, Bennett goes to the fourth line, which would be a travesty. Great problem to have for BP

        • Heeeeere’s Johnny

          That is the cutting edge of having a depth of talent. If you’re not going you’re sitting. Sam needs to get it going again. Other guys want his spot.

          • Justthateasy

            Bennett will be there the next time the bell rings. His niche did not present itself last night. He plays a hard game and that is not easy on the body. I would not read anything into him sitting the third period. If you think everybody should score on a night like that, you have 20 goals.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      I agree. I thought Brodie was the best defenseman on either team last night. His spin moves were epic. He is playing absolutely lights out this season. So far, he’s been a nice case study in how just a few big changes (coaching, playing on the right side) can make all the difference. I agree with the Mangiapane-Janko-Neal as being a solid 3rd line. I think that line could really take off. Where does Benny go? Not sure. But let’s see how it goes!

      I still hold hope for Benny playing on the second line, though he has slowed down a bit in the last few games. But Czar consistently looks real good on the second line, too… again, good problems to have.

    • Luter 1

      Mangiapanie was impactful all night in the Blue Jackets end, through a beauty hit and just time before he starts scoring, in contrast Czarnik was impactful for 3 seconds when he scored but was invisible the rest of the game. Don’t let one goal in an 8-6 game form your opinion on Czarnik, he needs to be way more involved.

      • I liked what I saw all game from Czarnik, actually all year.
        He has been getting chances and not being rewarded, finally got an opportunity to play with more talented players and got rewarded
        Keep him in the lineup
        Mangipane was good too, he deserves to stay…

        DOODLES

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    This game was many things. Boring wasn’t one of them. Love how the d-men can effortlessly jump into the play and figure into the scoring. dJango didn’t score last night but I thought his game continues to trend upwards. I agree about your assessment of Smith – Rittich. Diesel should be part of the long game and should be handled as such. Smith is short term.

    Sidebar: Wilson got absolutely rocked last nite vs. the VGN. Karma? Street justice? What goes around comes around.

    • Willi P

      BP saw that the team needed a spark after the first. He made the change to Smith. Perhaps he was thinking the long game for Rittich; if it was going to be a blow out, let Smith deal with that instead of ruining Rittich’s confidence. Given the results and because he is an NHL coach, I will give Peters the benefit of the doubt.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Getting tired of this guy and that guy will get Neil going, Neil has to get himself going, no one else. He shows flashes now and again but just not finishing, maybe he should sit in the press box for a few games, won’t hurt, he’s not contributing anyway.

    • withachance

      So the organization who acquired a perennial 20 goal scorer shouldnt try to help him and instead just let the guy figure it out or else sit him out when hes going through what might be a slump? Yeah that’s great asset management and coaching…

      • BendingCorners

        They will try, and should. But my prediction is that they will fail. Neal did score 20 goals each year in his NHL career, but now his career is over. Even Willie Mays looked bad at the very end, and he was the greatest ball player ever.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Someone said earlier that we shouldn’t talk about Nealer on this thread, but I guess I’ll join in.

      What stood out to me was the Hanafin goal. He jumped in to the play because he saw that rebound coming. He knew that was good positioning, and he went for it. Watch the replay of that goal. Neal was right there, but Hanafin beat him to it. I’ve seen that a few times. Hopefully Neal gets a bit more tenacious, or whatever it is he needs to do–but it’s pretty great that we’re kicking arse despite him!

      • aye

        No, Neal was on the opposite side of the crease, and the puck was heading away from him, he had ansolutely zero chance of getting to that puck. Just look at the freeze frame of that goal which is on nhl.com headline section, that was right after Hanifin scored and the puck has bounced out of the net, so you can back track a half second and see where the puck and Neal were.

    • Captain Ron

      Neal does too much thinking and not enough just reacting on the fly and playing the game. If he can get out of his own head he will come out of this funk he’s in. I think it is as simple as that. He should spend some time with Brodie and ask him what he did to get himself back into top form between his ears.

    • mrroonie

      “…he’s not contributing anyway.”

      You must have missed the breakout pass he made to Jankowski that started the play on the Hanifin goal. Just because the name doesn’t show up on the scoresheet doesn’t mean the player isn’t contributing.

  • buts

    Kudos to BP for going down to 9 forwards and sorry Ari, Rittich was not tracking the puck, Smith is better in a run and gun no defense type game …..not everyone is going to be going every night. My big concern is Neal and also Bennett seems to have lost something, he isn’t 2nd line worthy and looks to be a career bottom 6 player.

    • everton fc

      I think Bennett-Backlund-Frolik would be a good shutdown line – and our new 3rd line. Tkachuk-Jankowski-Neal should also get a longer look.

      Seems they are set on Tkachuk/Backlund as two of the three on the 2nd line. The RW’s who should be given a chance there are Neal and Czarnik. Bennett can now play both wings. If Bennett’s a 3rd line checker, so be it. He’s good at that. If he gets 10-15 goals, so be it. Don’t make him into more than he is. But, as critical as I’ve been of Czarnik, he seems to play well (his best), with Tkachuk.

      As for Neal… He’s being outscored by Ryan. Bennett. Jankowski. All guys he’s been paired with. Neal and the possibility a goalie goes down, are the big concerns. But if we can win with Neal doing zip, so be it. If we move him at the trade deadline, no loss.

      I hope Mangiapane’s stays here, in Calgary. I think they have to run w/Mangiapane-Jankowski-Neal, for at least one game (gives you a 4th line of Bennett-Ryan-Hathaway, if they move Czarnik to 2RW, to see if he continues to click w/Tkachuk. I hope they do try this, as well).

      When Frolik returns, we have some decisions to make that are good ones. Frolik was playing well, when used in the right way. He certainly adds some flexibility and “options”, to this team. But I wonder if we may have a trade hiding somewhere, before Christmas, for a goalie who can hang out in the “A”, get games, and be ready, need be. And I hope Rychel gets a look up here, soon.

      • Luter 1

        Every line looks good until Neal’s name is added. If it’s a fast skating line – he’s too slow. If it’s a playmaking line – he’s no passer. OK for sure he will be good on the PP -…… not so much so far. I’ll be honest I was excited when they signed him, power forward with an edge – haven’t seen any of it, plus either a little lazy or out of shape because the guys no back checker and as evident by last night doesn’t cover his man in our own end. So far he’s a disaster.

        • Off the wall

          My personal nickname for Neal is “ 3 strides and glide”

          Not to pick on him, but watch him during games. 1, 2, 3, glide, repeat…

          Did he do any off season training, or is he really that out of shape?
          Sorry Neal, I wish I could say nicer things about you..

          • Captain Ron

            I mentioned this a few threads ago and got trashed for it but I think Neal has been riding on some pretty good coat tails at times in his career. He’s not a terrible player but he needs someone else to lead the way for him so he can do his thing. If not then this is what he is I’m afraid.

  • freethe flames

    I just rewatched the game and have to give BP credit for coaching. I can’t really blame Rittich for the 3 goals he gave up, first goal against a rebound which if Neal is in position and puck aware he probably should either pick up or at least checks the shooter, second goal against a weird sequence where the puck comes out of a scrum and a PP goal is scored, third goal a turn over and a heck of a shot to beat him. Switching to Smith was a message to the whole team as well as juggling the lines at the start of the second and limiting the ice times of the guys who were off their games in regards to effort. Hathaway, Bennett and Ryan saw limited ice time in the second and virtually no ice time in the 3rd. But the juggling started at the start of the second. That’s coaching.

    • Luter 1

      Consider Bennett and for sure Hathaway after the fight the other night; injured. Ryan hopefully benched for having the whole ice to put it in deep and change but shoots it right into the defenceman then loses a battle and changes lines while we got scored on. Kind of stuff that Peters doesn’t put up with that GG didn’t even notice. Peters also noticed Mang who for a little guy was a beast out there and was rewarded with icetime. Unfortunately playing with Neal right now, will be tough to get rewarded with points as Mr. Neal is struggling big time.

    • MDG1600

      Rittich wasn’t very good. First goal should have been an easy save with no rebound plus he didn’t know where the puck was so he left an open net. 3rd goal wasn’t great either. Our record is good so I think there is a little complacency right now about our goaltending. Right now I am not sold on either Rittich or Smith being a guy who can take us deep in the playoffs.

  • Burnward

    Bennett sitting conspiracy theory: BT worked out a trade for parayko with Armstrong.

    Him and Brodie head there tomorrow for him after the blues game.

    Neilson never headed to Stockton to be home ready to play in case of emergency.

  • TurkeyLips

    Treliving deserves all the credit in the world for bringing Lindholm into the fold. That trade continues to impress and having signed Elias below 5 for six bloody years is just incredible. His R shot and faceoff skills are leveraging that line in the most perfect way. Our faceoff percentage has been consistently higher than the opposition this season and seems to be an important factor.

    Finally. The pairs on the 1st and 2nd D-lines have catalyzed something special – they were the relative difference last night and made Columbus D look completely outmatched. As usual, Giordano was a defensive stalwart exactly when we needed it most. So often, the way he sets the pace translates to the forward corps for a high-octane transition into enemy ice. I love it.

    Special teams. Although the concept of owning an actually effective man advantage is new to Flames fans, having such a penalty threat is undoubtedly a sight for sore eyes. Gaudreau is like an entangling root – his puck handling leaves the opposition flat footed while a set play develops. Let me tell ya, these Flames are pretty darn fresh.

    • Kevin R

      Lindholm has been the long awaited missing piece. The ability to roll young D like Andersson, Kylington & Valamaki on that bottom pairing & give them 10+ minutes per game is huge. I always thought face off percentages would go hand in hand with possession metrics, but that is rarely correlated on a statistical sight. Might be prime time for someone to come up with a new stat that measures 5 on 5 goals scored after winning the faceoff & PP goals scored after winning the faceoff. Need some creativity.

  • Lazarus

    Absolutely the right move in pulling Rittich. You could see he wasn’t happy but hey, at that point in the game after that bad 3rd goal to close the period. Yeah you do that. Kudos for Smith on bailing him out and grabbing an unlikely win

    • TurkeyLips

      Besides, I think Smith was the better choice against Columbus. Like it or not, the way Smith quickly stops dump ins can really throw a wrench into other teams play. I felt that the zone entries from Columbus became less and less confident as the game wore on.

  • Burnward

    By the way. I don’t think we’re emphasizing that they scored 9 GOALS enough.

    I mean. These were legit hockey goals. No flukes. Not many off brutal giveaways or something.

    They went out there and GOSHDARN SCORED 9!!!

  • Alberta Ice

    Anyone else getting phishing scams at this website? Anyway, glad to know the scoring machine is still going. Figure out how to shut down goals now ahead. Good to see Smith looking a lot better and I trust Rittich will not lose his good play in the process.

  • Flint

    Dubas just signed their “sixth, maybe seventh best player” to his contract extension at 6.9milAAV x 6. Nylander has missed a quarter of the season and his previous best totals were two seasons with 61pts (~.74PPG). Nylander’s contract runs through 2023/2024.

    Trelving signed Nylander’s fellow Swede Elias Lindholm, likely Calgary’s “sixth or seveth best player” to a contract extension which also runs through 2023/24 for 4,85 million. 2,05mil AAV less than Nylander (or two depth roster players) and Lindholm is trucking along at 1.08pts/game now that he’s playing with linemates similar quality to what Nylander plays with.

    1,11pts/game currently for 4,85AAV for 6 years for a comparable roster depth player in Lindhom…. Nylander 6,9AAV for six years…. man, he better put up a heck of a lot more than his 0,74PPG or the leafs got fleeced, or Tre did it AGAIN.

    • KKisTHEproblem

      I’d add that Lindholm is also very versatile: can play center if needed and has a 55% FO win % which really helps that line out. I don’t know if Nylander can play another position or take face offs but it sure is nice having Lindholm’s flexibility which will really matter if Monny gets injured

    • Flint

      Another consideration is the Flames top line has 98pts combined in 28games (3,5PPG between them), with a total cap hit of 17,975AAV. They’re on a 287pts season pace or almost 15.97pts/mil AAV.

      Some comparables:
      McDavid, Draisaitl, RNH – 275pts season pace (27AAV) or 10.18pts/mil AAV
      Stamkos, Gourde, Kucherov – 257pts pace ,this year (14,26AAV or 18!pts/mil) but next year (23,16AAV!) ~11pts/mil?
      Eichel, Skinner, Pommeville – 233pts pace, (21.32AAV) or 10,92pts/mil AAV

      Will be interesting where Toronto comes in with Matthews and Marner about to get huge raises. As well, Col as Rantanen is going to get paid! If you include those RFA’s… or even Tkachuk it’s too many unknowns, but Tkachuk does actually have more points than Lindholm.

      Point is, Calgary is getting massive value out of their first line for many years to come. Maybe best value in the league?

  • Skylardog

    One of the concerns that I expressed going into the season, was who was going to score. They have killed that concern and then some. I was wrong on that front. I truly believe that this is a team that should make a conference final with little difficulty. The issue right now in doing that, has to be consistency.

    I have recently been spouting about scoring that is concentrated in bunches and not consistent. 51 goals in 8 games is a great stat. But the reality of that is that they only scored 49 in the other 20. They also have 4 goals in 3 games, meaning 63 goals in just 11 games, or 5.7 per game. That also translates into just 37 in the other 17, or 2.2 per game.

    The other stat that supports what I am saying, relates to the amazing four 5 goal periods and how the rest of the NHL has just 3 combined. It also means that 20% of the goals we have scored this season have come in just 4 of the 84 periods. I was trashed for these comments the other day, saying all teams score in bunches. No one else scores in bunches like the Flames, and the four five goal periods emphasises this. We are just darn average in 80 of the 84 periods played this season at 80 goals in those 80 periods. 9 of those are empty netters.

    The concern remains: If a team shuts down Mony’s line, they win. Secondary scoring remains a problem, although it is improving. Where we are killing it right now, is that the Monahan line appears unstoppable, but this in reality is not the case. They are scoring in bunches like no other group.

    And yet, despite appearances, they are just 17th out of 63 in GF/60 at 5v5 of all NHL lines over 100 minutes played. How can this be when they have had such massive scoring periods? The answer: They get shut down more often than not, at least at 5v5 (the PP is truly a great thing to watch these days).

    They also rank 49th defensively out of the 63. They are 32nd in GF%. Not the stats of one of the top lines in the NHL. Take away the outbursts, and they become well below average.

    Top lines should be hard to play against every night.

    Did you know, that a line can be an offensive juggernaut, and defensively responsible? Check out NYI’s line of Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Josh Bailey. 5.20 GF/60, 0.00 GA/60. 10 goals for, none against in 115 minutes of play. Compare that to Monys line at 3.96 GF/60 and 2.77 GA/60, for 20 GF and 14 GA in 303 minutes.

    You can play defense and score.

    4 of the 20 goals Monys line have scored came last night. That means they scored just 16 in the other 27. Some of those are multiple goal for 5v5 games. Roughly half of the nights, this unit gets nothing 5v5. Unacceptable given that almost all of our eggs are in that basket. And we are letting other eggs rot in unproductive lines.

    Why is it that this team only comes alive in some games when the line blender comes out.

    My point is this. This is possibly the best team in the NHL, I really believe that. They have one of the best group of 12 forwards, and a solid defensive core. But they, even with how well the season is going, are underachieving. The come out flat many nights, leave their goalies flopping in the wind in stretches, and score only when they “feel” motivated. Last night was a perfect example of that. It could have ended horrifically if Bobrovsky was on his game. Yet they have shown they can shut down teams, limit scoring chances, and score.

    I really believe it has to due with the lines. If the Monahan line is not one of the top 10 in the NHL, and they are not, then we really need to find consistency and depth scoring by balancing the whole lineup.

    You can always reassemble a group like Mony, Johnny and Lindy when you need a late goal.

    This team is good enough to win a cup despite the goaltending. But are they consistent enough to survive a 7 game series against a team like the Ducks or the Sharks that can shut down the Monahan line almost every night? Our record in the Pacific should be enough to cause concern.

    Can’t make the finals if you can’t beat the team you play in the first round.

    • buts

      Good write Sky, I agree with most of what you say because you can teach defense and its almost impossible to teach offense…. but the conference final? I don’t think so with the present goaltenders.

      • wot96

        Detroit won some cups without anything like the best tender in the league. It could happen. I don’t think anyone should put a mortgage payment on it, but it could happen.

    • freethe flames

      The question remains how does a coach justify breaking this line up when it has a night like last night. I don’t know how you break the Johnny/Monny pairing up. So if you keep them together who is the right fit to play RW with them? If you want them to be more defensively responsible who plays RW? It can’t be Neal as he is not reliable defensively. So look at the RW options: Bennett, Frolik, Mangiapne(all LHS), Ryan or Czarnik- two RHS neither of whom is physical. Might the answer be to move Tkachuk off of Backs line and play him with some other offensive guys and put Backs and FRolik back together to be a 3rd line whose job it is to check. Tkachuk/Janko/Czar or Mangiapane?

      • Skylardog

        Believe it or not, but the answer is Hath. It works putting that player on a top line for OV (Wilson) and it is working for Reaves. Hath creates space, for which Mony and Johnny would Benefit.

        • freethe flames

          I thought we tried an experiment like that a few years ago under GG with a guy called Chaisson and most of us did not approve of it. Interesting to see Chaisson having success in Edmonton playing with McD.

    • Flames fan since 83

      Well written Skylar. When I read your name, I can’t help but to think of Breaking Bads (WW) wife Skyler.
      Because your opposite to the FN WW. Well thought out and articulated.
      Skylar, you definitely have opinions, however you express them in a non condescending way. And you don’t, directly or indirectly, call everyone who disagrees with you “idiots”.
      The stats you have above I assume are true. The point I’d like to make is situational.
      The situation is that our team is still getting used to new line-mates and more importantly, a new coach.
      The Johnny line is still rounding into full force. And the stats you have above combine one snapshot the entire learning curve. I’d like to give it more time, to see if the Johnny line can get to a spot where they are more consistant.

      • Flames fan since 83

        ok I re read your post. And you do break down sections and not just take one snapshot. But I still would like to see the Johnny line together for a longer look.

    • Chucky

      I am quite confused by the “4 of the 20 goals Monys line have scored came last night”
      When I add 17 and 13 and 12 I get 42.
      So I thought that you might be talking about 5 on 5 but when I subtract 15 from 42 I still can’t find the number 20 just have 7 unexplained.

        • Chucky

          Are you sure that you have not gone to the point of cherry picking the data to prove an untenable point? If you look at the idea that scoring in bunches in critical situations is most important they have scored more than half of the GWG.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      All I’ll say is that Monahan has definitely been stepping it up in the defense and backchecking departments of late. Mostly irrespective to your last comment, this is a very good thing. He has the skills to do this, as evidenced in his junior career, and it’s nice to see them on display. Also, will he get close to 40 this season?

    • aye

      That is a very “glass half empty” way of analyzing stats!
      It’s true that the Flames have 11 4+ goal games to pad their offensive stat, but stop and think about that for a second, that’s 11 out of 28 games, just a shade under 40% of the time they scored 4 or more in a game. If that is not good offense to you, then I’m sorry, you need to dust off those VHS tapes and go back to the 80’s.
      By contrast, they have scored less than 3 goals in regulation 10 times, and 3 goals 7 times. I would say that’s much more indicative of a solid offensive team, and it’s not just fluke.
      As for 20 goals in 4 periods, you can’t simply single them out and say “without these 4 periods, then such and such…”, it’s a fun stat, but ultimately it’s a 60-minute game, and they are simply part of those 60 minutes. There will always be good stretches and bad stretches within a game and a season, the bottom line is that the Flames are consistently out-playing and out-scoring their opponents, and getting W’s, and that’s the sign of a good team.
      As for your analysis of the top line, again, same as my reasoning above, I think it’s very partial. I personally believe despite their already high shooting percentages, they should all actually have more points then they currently have based on the amount of high-quality chances generated, i.e. JG hit 3 posts against LA that didn’t even count as a shot on goal. In other words, their high shooting percentage isn’t luck, but is actually sustainable (or unlikely to crash too low) because they are actually that dominant on many nights. Yes, they aren’t great defensively, but same can be said about many top offensive players around the league. And comparing NYI’s line to them is simply comparing apples to oranges.
      I remember the Iggy retirement press conference where Conroy re-told one of their stories where he dumped the puck into the corner and Iggy told him “if he wants to do that then he can go get it the next time, they are a scoring line, not a checking line”.

    • cberg

      While it is fine and enlightening to focus all the discussion on 5v5 time, almost every game is at least 20-30% PP time. What happens then as well as PK time is crucial to the team’s success. The other critical thing is being able to perform when you have to. I remember clearly back in the 80’s and the record of Grant Fuhr. The guy was a sieve and had far from top-level goalie numbers, but when the team got the lead in the third period and needed a bunch of stops, he was a wall. According to your write-up, the trio of Lee-Nelson-Bailey is killing it in all ways, and the logical conclusion is you would have no problem improving the Flames by trading Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm. Hahahah. The numbers “lie”(mislead) and you know it very well. When you look at stats you have to take into account context, like what is the quality of opposition, for instance….. I’m betting the opposition is spending a whole lot more time shutting down Barzal and Eberle, ya think?

      In any case, number crunching is a lot of fun and sure adds spice to these sorts of discussions, even if they are somewhat meaningless by themselves. Hey, great win, no?

    • Kevin R

      So which teams have the best secondary scoring? How does ours compare to the rest of the league? I think you will find, secondary is on every NHL teams wishlist.

  • FlamesFanFromMI

    They are winning every one is happy. So am I but last 3 games or so defense is leaky and I am afraid it’s going to come and bite us. I hope they fix it before they lose 9-1 again

  • Skylardog

    So I will put my mouth on the line right now.

    If JG-Mony-Lind are a set line going into the playoffs, the Flames will not survive to the conference finals.
    If they are all healthy, and so is Tkachuk, and they are split up, the team will make a conference final.

    Caveat – Gio must remain healthy entering and in the playoffs or they will struggle no matter how the lines are formed.

    Book it!

    • withachance

      It’s just hard to justify splitting these guys up in terms of a coaching decision. Looking at the perspectives of the coaches, you just know that it’s not an item for discussion right now in the coaches’ meetings. But I think BP is the coach to change it up as soon as it is clear that there is a strong need for the lines to be split.

      I agree with you though, in the playoffs, that line may need to split up to balance out scoring and energy in the lineup. Big thing we always forget is how much the Flames’ dmen are involved in the offence. They are essentially a 5th line the way they jump up in the play.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Well, lets explore this then.

      Above, you suggested 1RW for Hathaway. I really don’t see that as tenable (side issue we can debate), but lets see what we can do here folks. I’ll start by suggesting we put Bennett top RW, if we’re thinking of splitting up the current first line: he’s been really really solid defensively, and has had moments of offensive potential. He hits, and makes space. Wouldn’t he be better than Hathaway, following your argument? Where would Lindholm go then? I really don’t think it makes sense to split up Chuck and Backs, as they continue to provide defensive mastery, and strong possession metrics.

      Interested to (re)open this can of worms.

      • Atomic Clown

        That’s the issue I have with splitting up the top line. There isn’t really a tenable option otherwise. Other than Gaudreau, neither Monahan not Lindholm are play drivers. If we were to put all 3 on different lines, I’m not sure we’ll get distributed and consistent scoring. Leaving pure goalscorers aside, it’s usually the elite passers that get other lines going. Getzlaf, Thornton, Backstrom come to mind

  • Dog makes good points, writes well and has a very impressive grasp of the new-age stats to help back up his point-of-view. I read all the comments I can of his. Stioll, I have a hard time getting aoard any train of the thought that advocates splitting up a line with the top 6 NHL point scorer, top 8 NHL goal scorer and another NHL top 20 point man. It seems to me that line is doing very well.

    • cberg

      Right on. Don’t create problems where there are none. Sure, come playoffs teams play different so very likely BP will too. That’s pretty much a given.

      As far as Dog’s big comment and his comparison of our top line to the NYI’s, I repeat, if he believes they are so much better than the JG-SM-EL line, would he trade it straight across for that NYI trio? Maybe Dog should focus his mouth on something more relevant to back up the point he seems so intent to make…. Isn’t it so obvious from his stats?

  • His Dudeness

    The comparison the the NYI line is completly ridiculous and cherry picking. So is when he compares skinner production playing alongside Eichel to Ryan. It’s not even apples and oranges. It’s apples and toast.

    As for splitting up the top line, later in the season, if we have built up a decent lead in the Pacific we can give it a try. Play Lindholm at 2C with chucky on his win. Leave monahan and JG together, and put Backs back with Frolik as a pure shutdown line. Mix and mash the others to see what works. I wouldn’t mind seeing Janko play on the wing in a top 6 role. Bennett has been a Turd since playing in the top 6. Maybe Czarnik or somebody else can find some chemistry. It’s a long season and right now what we have is working. Let’s build a nice cushion in the Pacific then tinker around.