43Noah Hanifin
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames lose to the Blues

The Calgary Flames went into the holiday break on a down note. A superb second period push wasn’t enough to overcome a slow start and some general puck management deficiencies. They dropped a 3-1 decision to the visiting St. Louis Blues.

The Rundown

The Flames were sloppy in the first period. Their puck management wasn’t great and they lacked jump in their step. The Blues opened the scoring on a weird goal that took advantage of the Flames’ lack of jump. On a 50/50 battle the puck was launched high into the air. It landed right at the feet of David Perron and, with the Flames defenders caught off-guard, he fired it at Mike Smith. The puck beat Smith short-side to make it 1-0.

The Blues made it 2-0 on a power play later in the period. With Sam Bennett in the box Smith made the initial save on a Patrick Maroon wrap-around, but the rebound went right to Tyler Bozak and he launched the puck over a sprawling Smith to double the visitors’ lead.

But the Flames answered back late in the period with a dandy power play goal of their own. Seven seconds into their man advantage, some tic-tac-toe passing off a face-off win allowed Matthew Tkachuk to bury an Elias Lindholm feed to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Shots were 12-9 Blues in the first, but scoring chances were even at 4-4.

Neither team scored in the second period, but the Flames were much better than in the first period and really carried the play. The Blues didn’t get a shot on goal for the first 11 minutes of the period and the Flames were unlucky not to tie the game. Shots were 13-5 Flames and chances 17-3 Flames.

The Blues added to their lead early in the second. The initial shot from Ivan Barbashev was stopped by Smith, but the rebound went into the slot. Rasmus Andersson couldn’t grab it and Oskar Sundqvist beat Smith to make it 3-1.

The Flames pressed, but couldn’t answer back. Shots were 10-7 Blues and chances 6-3 Blues in the third period.

Why the Flames Lost

Let’s get this out of the way: Smith wasn’t great. On all three goals you can point out things he didn’t do great – the Perron shot went through him and on the other two his rebound control led to second chances.

But on all three goals, the Flames’ defensive zone (and team) play is just as much to blame. The Flames were sloppy and their puck management was all over the place. They made life tough on themselves and their goaltender by playing too loose and it ended up costing them two points.

Red Warrior

Johnny Gaudreau was skating well and generated a ton of strong scoring chances, especially in the second period. He was the victim of some bad puck luck, but he looked very good.

The Turning Point

The Flames opened the third period down a goal but with a ton of momentum on their side, but Sundqvist’s goal really let the air out of the balloon. They just couldn’t muster enough when down a pair to claw their way back.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
Jankowski 81.8 60.0 0.515
Frolik 81.8 60.0 0.750
Hamonic 77.8 88.9 1.000
Ryan 70.0 75.0 0.220
Hanifin 66.7 88.9 0.625
Tkachuk 65.4 90.0 1.275
Neal 61.1 87.5 0.825
Bennett 60.9 50.0 0.600
Giordano 60.7 76.5 0.400
Hathaway 57.1 50.0 0.050
Lindholm 55.6 92.3 0.635
Brodie 54.3 72.2 0.000
Monahan 53.9 92.3 0.090
Backlund 51.7 81.8 0.300
Gaudreau 48.5 85.7 0.700
Kylington 45.5 100 0.075
Quine 40.0 50.0 -0.050
Andersson 27.8 80.0 -0.425
Smith 0.150

This and That

The Flames goal song is now “Taking Care of Business.” It was previously a remix of AC/DC’s “TNT.”

Bill Peters shuffled lines early in this game. He swapped James Neal and Sam Bennett midway through the first period, putting Bennett with Mark Jankowski and Michael Frolik and Neal with Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund.

Up Next

The Flames (22-12-3) are off for their Christmas break. They’re back in action on Dec. 27 when they visit the Winnipeg Jets.

  • Speed Kills

    3 L in a row… Something to be proud of heading into X-mas break… Smith needs to be promoted to Goalie Coach…
    Their effort against Dallas & The Blue today is more the problem than the losses… When a team loses like against TB, I have No problem… but the other two… absolute garbage and there should be consequences. BP better get on them and make some changes before complacency rules the room!
    such is life,
    Merry Christmas to everyone…
    May the New Year bring more Tampa Vs Flames Style of games & effort, rather than the other two Stinkers we saw.

  • Flamesforever

    On my Xmas list this year, a competent back up goalie to platoon starts with Rittich (60/40 split would be ideal) and another top 6 forward not named James Neil. I wonder if we can pry Wayne Simmonds or JVR out of Philly. Make it happen BT.. I mean umm Santa Clause. Work your magic! This is the best Flames team I can remember. We can really go places with some minor adjustments to our roster. GFG ?

  • MontanaMan

    Such a great first half of the season ended with a bad game and questionable effort. Too bad but it happens. Anyone who at the beginning of the year said the Flames would be first in the Pacific at Christmas would have needed their head read so we have to be happy with where the squad is at this time of year. It’s been a good run.

  • moore_tweets

    That was one of the most boring games I’ve seen in a while.

    Of note:

    Allen was good. Smith was not

    Neal is terribly snake-bitten

    Flames played 15 mins of hockey

    Some of these players are better actors

    Smith was bad (in case you missed it)

  • Game Thru Rose Colored Glasses

    The view thru roses colour glasses

    1. I started to get what James Neal could be today
    2. Derek Ryan was totally solid today.
    3. Johnny bucked the trend … I thought he tried to drag the team through the game.
    4. The players stayed for the whole game. No one bolted to the airport for their flight home.

  • RKD

    Flames were solid against Tampa but laid a dud against the lowly Blues what waste of 2 points. Are the boys in Christmas mode? Peters is much better than Gulutzan but I still have a lot of concern regarding their starts and slow/sluggish 1st periods.

  • MDG1600

    Not the Flames best effort but at the end of the day how many really tough stops was Mike Smith asked to make? Should have been an easy point and probably an OT win if Smith plays an average game. And btw Ryan, the first Blues goal did not go in short side it went in through Smiths armpit like about 10 others have already this year. Dude is still struggling with the smaller chest protector.

  • Stu Gotz

    Smith is no longer able to track the puck from any kind of distance. He has lost confidence as has the team in front of him. BT needs to respectfully set him aside and somehow bring in an established backup for Ritter. Does not have to be elite just good enough to win you a few games down the stretch and address this further in the off season. Smith is done!

    • Cheeky

      I cringe everytime the opposition shoots at him…You can see the team plays different in front of him than Ritter, they try to ensure no shots on Smith (yes I’m sure someone will comment that is the goal of every team), and play more keep away from other team than try to take chances and leave Smith to have their back…

  • calgaryfan

    Flames did not show up today, were not going to win standing around watching the play. Mike Smith continues to have trouble stopping pucks. Forty five games left hopefully Rittich plays most and Smith gets to watch.

  • slapshot444

    Missed this one, what was the Neal effort scale today? FYI, Cris Versteeg whom I have great respect for says to back off and let him find his game, that he WILL come through in big games down the stretch. Time will tell.

  • Spider you muda&@#ker

    Pretty sure BT is burning his phone out trying to make a trade for some secondary scoring wonder what players with some scoring punch are on expiring contracts

  • checkmeup

    When will BENNETT realize that his stick is to long to put pucks in the net from the front of the net. If his stick was 4 inches shorter he scores. With the better play of Canucks and Oilers I would not think we are guaranteed a playoff spot just yet.

  • Score When I like Nieuwendyk

    Play Jankowski on second PP
    Get Andersson and Jankowski on the second PP!!!
    It’s a waste everytime Second PP skates out on to the ice!