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Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Sharks 5, Flames 2 post-game embers: Could’ve been something

The Flames’ skaters showed up for the game. For 85 seconds, their goalies didn’t. And they could never overcome that.

Feel of the game

Both teams came to play from the beginning, and the initial stages of the game were exactly what you’d expect out of two of the top teams in a division. When the Flames struck first, it was well-earned; still, though, you got the sense it was going to be a close game.

And that was all promptly undone by an absolutely horrid 85-second stretch by the Flames’ goalies. It wasn’t entirely on them, but most of it was. David Rittich letting in a goal five-hole like that was deflating, but hey, things happen. Brent Burns taking the puck right off Sam Bennett as the latter was trying to move it up on the powerplay wasn’t great – but even worse was Rittich’s response to it, coming out to play the puck and giving it right back to Burns, giving the Sharks a quick lead. And the decision to pull Rittich and put in Mike Smith, who promptly gave up a goal just 22 seconds into his time in the game, yielded nothing.

In a sense, the game was over then and there: the Flames could only score two goals all night, and those 85 seconds gave the Sharks all they needed to win. But, in a more accurate sense, the game was far from over. The Flames did everything they possibly could to try to come back, dominating much of the second period. When the Sharks made it 4-1, the Flames were able to quickly respond and get back within two. And the third period was pretty similar: the Flames were doing everything they could against a tough opponent to score. Frankly, some better puck luck would have seen it go into the net more than enough times to draw them even.

But it didn’t work out. Try as they might – and they very much did try – the Flames couldn’t undo that brutal blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stretch in the first period. We’ve seen a fair number of games in which the goalies bail out the skaters; this time, the goalies let the skaters down.

The good news

The Flames’ skaters were good, though. Yeah, they gaffed, but that’ll happen every game. The fourth line was still trying to create chances. The 3M line really created a lot of chances. The top line needed a bit to properly get going, but once they did, it became evident why they’re the top line: they do have the raw talent to be game changers on their own, especially Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm. It didn’t work out, but you can’t say the opportunities weren’t there – they were just a post, or a whiffed shot, or a mad scramble, or an exceptional block by a Sharks defenceman away. They dominated the game for large stretches at a time. I’m sure some of that was score effects, but a lot of it was also just the Flames having a generally good group assembled.

The second powerplay unit really does have a lot more life – and opportunities – ever since Rasmus Andersson joined it. This is purely observational, and without any data to really back it up, but TJ Brodie does seem a lot more willing to shoot with the current makeup of that group. And he did at least get a goal out of it.

It’s been a refrain all season, but at least it’s nice to see it keep coming true: this team doesn’t fold easily at all. Their response to giving up three goals in 85 seconds was to keep trying, and even take over the game at times, in an effort to score. They didn’t let up until it became hopeless when the Sharks got their fifth goal late in the game. Last year’s Flames would have given up and let the Sharks score 10 against them. This year’s saw the hole they were in and figured, “Yeah, we can score our way out of this.” In the end, they couldn’t – but at least they gave themselves a chance.

The bad news

Goaltending cost them. Rittich’s first goal against was bad, his second goal against was really bad, Smith wasn’t ready for his first goal against, and that was all the Sharks needed. Goalies give up bad goals all the time – it’s just a thing that happens (and Smith gets more grief for it than Rittich because Smith does it way more often) – but it was just not a great game from that standing alone. And of a little extra annoyance: if Smith had started the game and given up the same two goals Rittich had, there’s probably no chance he would have been pulled. Maybe there’s something else going on behind the scenes we aren’t privy to, but it’s frustrating to see – Rittich had a bad start, but he could at least get the opportunity to play his way out of it.

I just want to put a ban on Flames goalies playing the puck. It isn’t just that Rittich gave it right back to Burns – it’s that he has a habit of making decisions that end poorly when he decides he wants to play the puck. Rarely do they result in goals against (I believe this was the second one, a giveaway to the Flyers being the first), but it was coming. At first it seemed like he made the right decision coming out to play it, but it doesn’t work if someone is bearing down on him and he doesn’t know what to do with it. And then, in the third period, we got to see Smith give it away, dodge a goal against because the Sharks hit it off the post, and then take a penalty. I feel that, for as long as Smith is on the Flames, goalies’ puck handling is going to come under increased scrutiny – and this was really bad.

The Flames ended up with seven powerplays because they, overall, outplayed the Sharks. You outplay the opponent, you force them into making mistakes. That they could only score on one of their chances hurt, though. That’s not to say that they didn’t try – there was the puck sitting in the crease and nobody able to put it in (a couple of times) and Gaudreau’s whiff – but a better powerplay maybe could’ve gotten them to overtime. Throw in Burns’ shorthanded goal against and it wasn’t a great night for the man advantage, even with Brodie’s tally.

Sometimes, you can do most things right, and they just won’t go your way. It happens. It happened to the Flames against the Sharks. Maybe they didn’t deserve the win, but they probably deserved more than two goals, at least.

Numbers of note

52.27% – The Flames’ 5v5 CF on the night. They had really strong second and third periods, although they were chasing, so that probably played a part, but at least it’s nice to see they can still be capable of that against a team as talented as the Sharks. In all situations, their corsi was 57.94%, though powerplay time heavily favoured them.

8 – The number of shots Evander Kane had against the Flames. His line was the biggest threat to them. The 3M line was tasked in playing against his group; they got beaten. It happens.

10 – And so, Lindholm’s point streak died at a mere 10 games. He scored 12 points in that time. Gaudreau also had 12 points during that stretch, while Sean Monahan had 10. Because they score so much throughout the season, their absences on the scoreboard are noticeable, and they hurt. And there’s one of the biggest red flags when it comes to the Flames’ offence: their top four scoring forwards are all having career high shooting percentages, Lindholm especially. (Monahan’s is actually pretty in line with his career average, but everyone else has at least a four percentage point difference.) They’re clearly talented – they aren’t relying solely on high shooting percentages to score, like lesser players have done for the Flames in the past – but it is, at least, something to watch out for. The team is top-heavy, but their depth is about average. It’s certainly, at least, something to keep an eye on – especially with only a couple of weeks left until they can no longer add forwards.

6 vs 4 – The top powerplay unit got around six minutes of ice time; the second unit got around four. There seems to be more of a willingness to go to the second unit nowadays. Again: props to Andersson. Though it is a bit strange that Mikael Backlund has been scoring such high-skill goals as of late, is sixth in team scoring, and doesn’t get any time on the man advantage at all.

22.9% – The Flames’ powerplay is presently ranked eighth best in the NHL. Going one-for-seven wasn’t great, but it’s probably still worth remembering just how much better the Flames are this year compared to last.

18:50 – Hamonic played the fourth most minutes among the Flames’ defence in his return to action, not far behind Noah Hanifin’s 19:33. Hopefully he’s not too banged up from the end of the game. Seriously just a force for the Flames this year; at the very least, his willingness to constantly take a beating for his team is admirable.

Final thought

The Flames had every chance to win this game, and it’s chances they created for themselves. They just couldn’t dig themselves out of that brief, game-changing first period stretch.

Unfortunately for them, this game against the Sharks was probably their most important game of the month. They won’t play anyone who can really threaten their divisional standing again until March 6 against the Golden Knights. They didn’t absolutely need to win this one – they’ll be fine – but the four-point swing went against them. Instead of being six points up on the Sharks with a game in hand, they’re now only two up with a game in hand. If anything, it’s a strong reminder that there’s no complacency to be had if they want to take the division.

Otherwise, this game would be perfectly suited as a moral victory – except this was the exact wrong opponent for that. They tried. They failed. There’s still two months to go in the regular season, but a big opportunity was lost here. They’ll just have to keep trying that much harder.

  • Korcan

    James Neal. Instrumental in both Flame’s goals: started the play that resulted in first goal and set up the screen for the second. His game is coming around and he could still prove to be a key part of the team’s success down the stretch and in the playoffs.

  • Flaymin Frank

    Proposal – clip a Bungy cord to the back of Diesel’s butt and we should be good. I thought the boys played very good considering the erratic schedule they’ve had in the past two weeks. There were several instances last nite where the Sharks goal crease looked like a yard sale in a tornado. Lady Luck was smiling down on Marty Jones. It won’t last. But that’s how hockey goes.

    • Skylardog

      “the Sharks goal crease looked like a yard sale in a tornado”

      So true. Still have no idea how the puck wouldn’t go in. Not sure how you cram 5 Sharks into the crease, but it happened. When you realize the only one not in there was Jones, it becomes even weirder.

      The Flames could have won that one 6-2. Jones wasn’t where he should have been about 6 times, and the puck stayed out.

      • Cfan in Van

        Yes, you can chalk about 70% of that loss up to luck. I usually hate to use that excuse for losses, but that’s how it felt the whole game, absolutely cursed. Johnny wiffing on that open net shot, then Hrudey completely gushing over how Jones stopped it… I almost kicked over my coffee table.

          • Cfan in Van

            Agreed. Cassie stumbles sometimes, but she’s got coherent comments that provide additional shades to the game.

            I usually give Hrudey a bit of a pass, after watching what some of the other teams get for Sportsnet color analysts (John Garrett, barf!). But last night I was a bit of a turning point for me with Hrudey. He’s absolutely horrible at that job.

        • THE WW Bandwagon

          Luck?

          They allowed more than they scored.

          They lack luck in the goaltending department right now.

          At least THEIR goalkeeper game to play. Ours came late.

          That was the difference

          • Cfan in Van

            The two are not mutually exclusive. Let me spell it out for you. Their goalie outperformed ours, but the biggest difference in the game was the fact that our guys were absolutely snake bitten on a lot of their top quality chances (bad luck). Some of the difference in the goalie performances was luck related also.

            I’m impressed with you rigorous picking-apart of my comments here. Very thorough. I’m not sure I’ve every had so much attention, I feel special.

  • Day1-Cfan

    A lot to be disappointed about last night. BSD clumsy as can be on the first goal, Bennett getting stripped of puck entering offensive zone on PP, then BSD with the right move then the wrong move. Next wrong move comes from coach Peters and then Mr. Smith lets in a goal on first shot against. Pretty easy to pick it apart from here though.
    We are still in first with a game in hand on SJS. Hope the team can figure it out from here and take it out on Vancouver tomorrow and the rest of the teams ahead this month.
    Hope Hammer is OK. One tough hombre there.
    GFG!

    • withachance

      I agree with the pull. BSD made two howlers, should be held accountable. First Smitty goal was a screened, tipped shot, pretty hard to stop for any goalie. He then kept the Flames in the game until the third when the puck literally just would not go in the Sharks net…

    • THE WW Bandwagon

      According to Cfan in Wan all is well though.
      Flames have no warts. Goaltending just had a bad game. Opposition was just lucky and all is peachy in Flamesnation.ca.

  • freethe flames

    I really felt that the fab 4 were out of sink last night. While they created some chances they were not crisp; have they grown stale? In a game like last night might it not have been a time to do experimentation; perhaps play Neal with Johnny and Monny for the entire 3rd period, try Janko with Byng and Lindy and Bennett with Backs and Frolik. Yup not their finest hour but no need to dwell on it forever.

    • KootenayFlamesFan

      I thought Lindholm looked decent, but the other three were non-existant. Monahan has been invisible ever since the break. I get that the goalies were at fault, but the rest of the team’s horrible play put them in that position so its not 100% on them. Other than that, horrible giveaways and horrible bounces decided this one. Forget about it and move on. We’re still the second best team in the league despite losing two of our last three, so the sky is not falling.

  • withachance

    “If Smith had started the game and given up the same two goals Rittich had, there’s probably no chance he would have been pulled”

    If Smith had let in those two goals, the fans would line up outside the Dome with pitchforks and demand Smith’s head. But most people seemed to say “oh its Rittich, he shouldve stayed in the game”. Theres a pretty big double standard around the Flames fans regarding the goalies. Lets be honest here, the goaltending lost the game for the team, BOTH the goalies, especially Ritter. The first two goals shouldnt have happened.

    Lets take this for what it was, a pretty flukey game where 80secs decided the game. On another night, the Flames would have 4 PPG… Adversity is good, and heartening to see that BP isnt the type of coach to keep players accountable especially after TWO HOWLERS. Looking forward to the bounceback game on Saturday.

    • MDG1600

      I wouldn’t call it a double standard as much as a reality that Rittich has bought himself some good will with the fans through his excellent play. Smith has not because he has been letting bad goals in all year. Last night was an exception for Rittich and Standard operating procedure for Smith.

      • Cfan in Van

        I think Smith was actually OK last night, he was just ice cold for that goal. Ritter shouldn’t have been pulled, we all know that if that was Smith in the first quarter of the season (or last season), it would have taken 4 goals before he got pulled.
        I was pretty pissed off last night, but I actually thought the team played a decent overall game. The top line wasn’t on it for the first half of the game, but it was a combo of snake-bitten, 2 bad goals against, and a really good Aaron Dell. It was unfortunate, but not horrible.

        • Jourflamesfan

          Smith was okay?

          Cfan sometimes your optimism blinds you.

          Smith constantly gift wraps the opposing team at least 2 goals in the first 30minutes.

          Rittich’s numbers at home and in general have almost been Smith like lately.
          BSD has allowed 7 goals in two games vs the sharks.
          These signs are not something to just brush away with blind optimism.

          If the team and the goalies keep giving up 4+ goals a game eventually it WILL catch up to them!

          Like last night.

          • Cfan in Van

            I’m not blind with optimism, even if it might seem that way sometimes. In reality, I try to be unclouded by the pessimism that comes with a loss.

            Smith let in one really nice tipped shot between the legs when he was ice cold off the bench. Most goalies aren’t saving that shot. The second one was a point blank rebound that was shelved from a few feet away. Again, extremely high danger chance. That’s not Smith spotting them 2, by any measure.

            Sure BSD has let in 7 in the last 2 against the Sharks, but the Flames scored 10 in those same games. Sure, the Flames could tighten down defensively and that should be the focus until the playoffs, but this team is a run-and-gun team this year and the Sharks are really good. Goals are going to be scored.

            There’s a whole lot of hyperbole around here after every loss, and I get it, it’s sports, and people get emotional. Don’t let the pessimism blind you, Jour.

      • withachance

        Smith was much better than BSD last night… and the team couldve easily won the game with Smith in net if pucks bounced differently and goal scrambles went our way. The first goal he let in was a screened tip in shot, one of the harder shot to save.

        You have to give credit where credit is due. Ritter is the de facto starter, but that shouldnt buy any good will with fans. He screwed up last night during what turned out to be the pivotal part of the game. If fans would be ok with pulling Smith in that situation, then Rittich should be held to the same standard. Hoping he has a good bounce back against Van.

        • FlamesFanOtherCity

          Well, it’s a different issue between goalies. The first goal was bad. Both have given up one of those on occasion. The 2nd goal, if done by Smith, is typical of his high risk plays with the puck. BSD has done it twice that I can remember. You can’t forgive either for doing them, but BSD takes his cues from Smith.

          This was a bit of him second guessing things. He had a play a few games ago where he skated out and froze the puck; gets called for delay of game. This one had 2 Sharks coming at him. He either stays in his net and has two on none or comes out to play it. He chose middle to avoid the other Shark.

          With either goalie, you have to give them a chance. Two of those on SMith, we should let him continue unless he looks like crap. Same for Rittich. He didn’t look like crap, he made one mistake and had a weird goal go off Ras,s stick and he tripped himself up.

      • Lazarus

        I would also offer that everyone loves an underdog story and Rittich has been that this year, that and the fact he is just so damn affable and loveable also buys him a longer leash.
        (Yes he has been great this year and deserves to be #1. No one disputes that but he also has those 2 cards up his sleeve)

        • withachance

          All true, just saying Smith also has intangibles that is loved by coaching and the players on the team… Smitty chirping Kane on the bench telling him to suck it up was the highlight of the game, but things like that is glossed over by the fans because of how terrible Smith was beginning of the season.

          I love BSD and I really think he’s the #1 goalie of the future, just dont think he should be excused of having a bad night and getting pulled because of that

    • Eggy

      I loved Rittich’s post game interview when he said he was not happy at all with his performance and is gonna go get some sleep wake up and get back to work and have a better game next time. Nothing more we can ask

  • Skylardog

    The problem right now is the defensive play. We are bleeding chances on the counter attack. It was not just last night, it has been happening for the last month. Frankly, the D needs to settle down.

    What I am seeing in particular, is Brodie behind the play. There are others on occasion, but he is getting beat on the left side (or is just not where he should be) 4-5 times a game. Gio is good enough most nights to keep it under control, but it just can’t happen at the rate it is now. This team needs to tighten up.

    I will beat that drum, I always do.
    Shut down our top line and you win. We finally get a good night out of our third line, and everything else disappears. Welcome to playoff style hockey.

    Add a top 6 forward, or split the top line up. One of the two has to happen to go deep.

    • withachance

      I think thats going to be BPs secret weapon in the playoffs. No need to do it now, but I think if any coach in the NHL is willing to blend up lines in the middle of the game and split one of the best lines in hockey, its going to be BP

    • Stockton's Finest

      As we discussed last night, would it hurt to move Andersson with Gio for a few games and move Brodie with Kylington/Prout/Valamaki? Obviously do this when things are locked up, but may be worth a look. It would also give you a future read on where Andersson is and if Brodie is expendable.

      • Cfan in Van

        One thought about that. Don’t do it with Prout. Brodie is pretty incapable of playing the left side, and seeing Andersson a bit uncomfortable on the off-side with Prout makes me very hesitant to put Brodie there.

      • Eggy

        If Brodie was gonna be with any rookie I would choose vali but I like him with gio. Kylington And Brodie play so similar and aren’t exactly tough guys both are some of the best skaters on the flames tho.

    • freethe flames

      My earlier point supports this especially in a game like last night when the top line is out of sink; break them up for a period and make them have to think and work to be productive.

    • calgaryfan

      first two goals were forwards turning the puck over at the opposition blue line, which usually end up in your net. The Flames need to be more aware of the situation and make the safe play. Most teams if you shut down their best line you have a better chance of winning. Monahan has been coasting around doing nothing the last few games.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I think it is time to shuffle the top line, all teams go through it but you can see that it is getting a bit stale. Johnny was uncharacteristically bad last night…he seemed scared. Lindholm was the best of the bunch.

  • Flaming Glory

    I think we’ll have a great series with the sharks. I don’t think we’ll win this year though. This game was proof that this year needs to be a scouting/learning year. The real run will be next season.

    • MDG1600

      You will get trashed for this post but I kind of agree with you. The Sharks have an unbelievably strong line-up – especially their defensive group. Notwithstanding last nights game their achilles might be Martin Jones though.

      • Flaming Glory

        Both teams playoffs will be determined by goaltending. Can Rittich play like he does most nights or will he buckle under the pressure? Will Jones restore himself to his usual standards or will he continue his sloppy play? I think outside of goaltending we can go seven games. We might not win but it will be close either way. Goaltending will be the tie breaker.

        And just so we are clear, I

  • Jimmyhaggis

    I hate to repeat myself again, but goaltending is going to cost us from going anywhere in the playoffs. Never mind thinking about adding a tough winger, defenseman, we need an established goalie plain and simple.

    • withachance

      Thats the first time the starting goaltender has looked bad all season. Literally just his 6th loss…. this is the recency effect in full swing here

          • Cfan in Van

            A very different team, with way less injuries, and a way better coach than last season. I’m not projecting last year’s results to this year at all.

          • Cfan in Van

            Are you kidding me? Get a grip Imposter Guy. I respect people’s opinions on here, I just get a kick out of some of the over reactions that come from a loss against a really good team.
            Totally agree, everyone has the right to post their opinions, even that ones poking fun at the reactionary nature of sports fans. Calm down, embrace the community, and try to keep the insults to a minimum. This is a hockey blog, not a youtube or facebook comment section.
            I’ve been posting here for over a decade, and pretty sure I’ve only been directly insulted once in that time. You’re the second. So keep it up, you do you, and I bet it’ll make you plenty of friends here. At the very least, maybe consider an identity isn’t the 4th WW account. That stuff got old months ago.

    • Cfan in Van

      BSD doesn’t usually let in 2 complete stinkers, and Smith actually played OK, just cold when he got in. I think next year there’ll be a backup upgrade, but most games we actually have pretty decent goal tending.

      • Stockton's Finest

        So does BSD play any different if he plays both games against Washington and Carolina? You had 10 days off, 2 games in a day and a half, then 5 days off. Plenty of time to rest, especially knowing his history.

        • Cfan in Van

          I honestly think it’s just a bad game, but 5 days may have been a bit of a detriment itself, let alone an extra couple. I’m confident he’ll rebound, and really hope he plays in Van. He deserves a chance to redeem himself, like Smith would always get when he was the starter.

          That said, they don’t want to run him into the ground, so maybe I’m biased given I REALLY want to watch BSD in the first Flames game I’ve attended in 9 years.

      • THE WW Bandwagon

        I agree on the first part. Bsd is a proven starter THIS year but only up to this point.
        Your wrong again on Smith. He did not play ok. He let in 3 goals and his first 2 were his patented give away goals he does EVERY game.

  • redwhiteblack

    Clearly the tending sucked but we controlled the game and had bad puck luck. If that is the Shark’s best I feel good about a match up post season. We have played worse games and won.

    Kelly Hrudy stated post game “The Sharks top line outworked the Flames”. That is just a very lazy and untrue comment. He is getting paid. Do the job better Kelly. Watch the game and say something intelligent instead of filling air space with ridiculous half baked comments. Unacceptable. Get someone like Brad May in here. I’m done with the lazy color crap we are fed.

    • Cfan in Van

      “Filling air space.” That’s exactly the problem with Hrudey, he’s always trying to force a cliche hockey observation, instead of speaking from observation. It’s like he comes up with a list of 20 comments he wants to shoe-horn into the broadcast before the game, and jams them in when he can.

      That said, if you’ve watched many of the other Sportsnet broadcasts that are fed to other smaller Canadian markets, they aren’t much better (Vancouver and Edmonton especially). Decent play-by-play and horrible color.

      • THE WW Bandwagon

        I would like to see you go do his job and then see how you take criticism.
        Guy is isnt perfect and can be annoying at times but he’s better than most we have had come through here.

        • Cfan in Van

          Thanks for being my personal sounding board, 4th WW. It’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of my every post.
          Like I say, I’ve given Hrudey the benefit of the doubt for his first couple seasons, but I actually think he’s gotten worse. His “broadcasting skills” were actually more rough when he started, but I feel like his commentary was actually more from the heart, more observational. I think he’s done some broadcasting training, that’s actually helped some aspects of his delivery, but taken away from his ability to be creative. This season it’s wearing on me far more than it has.
          Well, that’s just like, my opinion man…

          • THE WW Bandwagon

            Good reply on THIS post Cfan. I agree.

            Btw, you said earlier I should give you the benefit of doubt but in my first post you didnt give me that.

            I like your positive approach but I’m certain I was not going overboard in my assessment of the team.
            You should have given ME the benefit of doubt.

  • Off the wall

    No the sky isn’t falling, but it sure looks weird with all this white stuff falling from it.

    We’re on pace for a big dump of this ugly white stuff. 15 cm, maybe more. Yuck

    Great, we’re gonna have traffic jams, multiple collisions and mayhem on the Island. Here it’s the equivalent of a Zombie attack.

    Everyone here panicks the moment we have this rare thing fall from the sky. You should see Mrs Otw. These Island girls are real beauty’s, however I need to provide her with a brown paper bag every snowfall- so she doesn’t hyperventilate.

    Of course as fans, we never panic. We light the fire and enjoy the glow of Flames. It’s just that sometimes you can’t get the fire to ignite.

    I’m pretty sure that’s mostly what happened yesterday. We just may need some better kindling. Perhaps Treliving will surprise us with some.

      • Off the wall

        Haha, good for you! I love mine to death.

        After my last girlfriend threw away my Flames jersey, I thought I’d never find anyone who allows me to enjoy hockey as much as I do. Let’s me watch it as much as I want and play it weekly.

        Mrs Otw is a gem. I’m very lucky!

    • deantheraven

      Subtle, OTW and yet… not. It seems you will not stop fanning the Flames for a trade at the TDL.
      Put another log on the fire. Change the tires…
      And you know that it ain’t feminine to fight.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Last night’s Takeaways:

    I’ll mention George Canyon, but I didn’t miss him.

    1-2 since the break and losses against playoff-bound clubs. Not good. Can’t blame last night’s loss on the gruelling schedule. Three games in three weeks! The schedule maker has it in for the Flames!

    Was this the loss that finally convinced Tre he has to acquire a goalie by the TDL or has he been of that mind for some time and last night just heightened that urgency?

    The top line as a group was again largely ineffective but Lindholm played well and Johnny had a few bright shining moments. Only time I noticed Monahan was when he was lying on the ice after the cross check. How bad is Monahan going to look a few years from now when Johnny is a Flyer and Monahan still has a year left on his deal? Fortunately, that $6M+ he will be making might look like chump change then.

    PP sucked big bobo last night.

    It really is painful watching Backs get/ make scoring chances in close games because he has absolutely no finish. (That’s because he’s a Swede.)

    Burns vs Gio. Who won last night’s tilt between these Norris candidates? Saw off in my eyes.

    Man did that miserable old lady who has been sitting behind the Flames’ bench for years look especially miserable last night. Reminded me of the Molson gnomes who used to sit behind the Habs’ bench during the last Montreal dynasty and how they would stare daggers when the club wasn’t playing up to snuff.

    If I am Tre, I am showing highlights of this game to Chucky’s agent to illustrate why his client isn’t worth $8M+ per season.

    Arguably the two biggest Flame dousers around are Stastny and Kane, both of whom play in the Pac. Any reason to worry that for the Flames to win in the playoffs, they are likely going to have to beat one of these killers?

    Speaking of Kane being the man of the moment, in making the Flames history last night, he blackened our moods which seemed an apt but unhappy way of celebrating Black History month.

    I’ll end with a simple question. Are the Flames still in first place in the Pac at the end of the night next Saturday? This is a scary roadie coming up. I am already declaring a loss against the pesky Canucks and what happens in TB, Flo and Pitt is anybody’s guess. Normally, I balk at a .500 roadie for a very good team, but I might not in this case.

    • Off the wall

      You’re a funny one Nigel.
      But please don’t pick on Darlene behind the bench ( yes, we’ve given her a name) she’s a gem. She’s a faithful fixture and we love her!

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Who’s picking on her? She may be as nice as pie, but she usually looks as miserable as Job and last night after the 3rd Sharks’ goal she looked as miserable as hell. I did too, but no camera on me. Whatever her name is, I admire her putting her money where her mouth is and going to the games in good times and bad. She has been front row to some very bad hockey for a lot of years, so she is a bigger fan than I have ever been or could ever be. Mind you her partner at games doesn’t look like a barrel of monkeys either. Watching those two, the games look like grim bloody death, not high-end entertainment. I wonder how many Flames’ newbies over the years have been scared witless by the stern mugs of those two. Just to be clear, I wasn’t picking on her, only saying she looked more cheerless than usual.

      • Cfan in Van

        Purely speculation, since he grew up a Philly fan and his family live across the river. People have been saying he’ll go to Philly since before he signed his entry-level with Calgary.

        • THE WW Bandwagon

          Oh so now your clairvoyant? You have some mystical powers that you know the future?
          Or is it that your opinion trumps everyone else?
          People can blah blah all they want but its Johnny’s decision in the end and there is NO guarantee either way.

          • Cfan in Van

            Did I say he’s guaranteed to stay? I think you need to take a step back, and try to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their posts. If you read the post, I said it’s “speculation”. That’s a fact. The reasons I stated for that speculation are a fact. We HAVE been hearing that about Gaudreau for years, a lot of people on this blog were convinced he wouldn’t sign here for his entry level deal, because he’d rather play a 4th year in college so he could go to Philly or New York or… That’s fact. Not sure how you ended up with that stick so firmly lodged up there, but for your own good, chill out buddy.

  • Cassie Campbell

    Can’t help but think if I had been working that game I could have pointed out all the bad things the Flames were doing. How dare Rittich have an off night! Like most of you on here I believe we agree on the fact these players must play a perfect game each and every night. If they are not a hero they are a 0. But thankfully the people who really know hockey (all of us) can get this ship going in the right direction

  • Raffydog

    Where was the golden child, future captain whose due to make 10 to 12 million a year this summer.? You’d think if somebody is demanding that kind of money they could bother to show up more than once every five games. Dont get me wrong, I love Tkachuk but if he’s going g to be making that kind of money he should be trying a lot harder than that.

  • snotss

    with the score 4 to 3… lindholm breaks in on a two on one… shoots hits the post…game changer..had that gone in the flames with the way they come back this year at least get 1 point…the way they played in the third they might of had two points…tough loss…they will rebound

    • BlueMoonNigel

      It was a weird game. The Flames didn’t play poorly, nor did they play particularly well, yet they could very easily have come out of it with a point or two. Those kind of games happen every so often. The loss will be quickly forgotten if the Flames capture at least 6 out of a possible 8 points on their upcoming roadie. One thing this club has managed to do very well this season is to avoid being mired in a losing streak, so I am prepared to call last night’s loss a bump in the road. That being said, this is one tough, tough roadie. It could be a season-changing journey.

  • deantheraven

    Not one word about Martin Jones, or TJ Brodie.
    Those two had more to do with the final score than Evander Kane.
    Jone was nigh on unbeatable, made some ten-bellers look like shagging flies.
    Brodie was soft and or out of position on at least two goals against.
    Those two can’t take all the credit. I put this one on the coach (a first!).
    BP had to know Smitty was not going to steal the game back. It would’ve been better to go with BSD, hang the loss on him (if it ended up that way), and put Smitty in against the Canucks as planned. Peters’ even admitted it was an experiment that failed. Hopefully BSD is as optimistic as he sounded in the quotes section, and gets a bounce back.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Perhaps Rittich should have been pissed and spitting fire after being unceremoniously yanked. He should have Stewie stared at Peters as he skated off? He should have trashed the locker room? He should have told the media Peters was wrong to have pulled him? Loveable laid back Dave might be too laid back to play in winning-starved hockey market like Calgary.

      A generation ago Flame fans absolutely ripped Vernon for his causal attitude. Fans were dying agonizing deaths with each loss, yet Vernon was ho hum about losses. This made him one of the most hated on the beloved and contributed to the myth that the Flames won the cup despite Vernon. Don’t think Flame fans really appreciated Vernon until he went to Detroit and wowed him there.

      • Off the wall

        Nigel, just so you know, I’m fascinated by your opinions.

        You sound like my alter -ego. A bit Otw but with more outlandish ideas.

        I’ll say this though, Rittich is learning to be a real pro. His personality is infectious and endearing. Frankly, I’d be really surprised to see an outburst from him. I think that’s why he’s so effective in net. Personally, I like calm in net. It exudes confidence and helps settle the team.

        You get ‘head cases’ like Hextall, Billy ‘the stick’ Smith and more modern day- Rask, it tends to hurt you more than it helps.
        They might be competitive, however your teammates are walking on eggshells with those types of goalies. Not a great recipe for team sports.

        I used to play with a goalie that was extremely temperamental, mostly mental.. and you never knew how to talk to him and was quite disruptive in the dressing room. No one felt at ease.

        We got rid of him even though he was a good goalie.

        I seem to remember our favourite goalie, Kipper was about as even keel as you get.
        Soft spoken, yet a prankster in the dressing room, which many didn’t see. But it was the work ethic that was serious to him. Rittich is the same, he cares about winning and his work speaks for itself.

        I hope we don’t need to see a ballistic Rittich. I love him just the way he is!

  • buts

    I said it before and I will say it again, which I did last spring. Goaltending weas thee number priority in the off season for BT to address and he did nothing. Where would we be if Rittich wasn’t having such a good year? It would be a shame not to address this before the TDL. Right now I would go after Anderson, Howard or McElhenney as they are better than Smith who is DONE. You can’t give up 1 bad goal against good teams never mind 3 bad goals. By the TJ Brodie with all his ability doesn’t hit, doesn’t tie up sticks and is brutal defensively lately and this is while playing with Gio. How bad would he be with anyone else?

    • withachance

      Wow, look, a GM who trusts and bets on his players! If Tre did anything, Rittich wouldn’t be a darkhorse Vezina candidate…. Please dont let one bad game dictate your thinking. Smith played better than Rittich last night, Rittich is our de facto starter.

      I wouldnt want ANYONE in the market right now to start for the Flames over Rittich. Who in their right mind would start Howard or Curtis frigging McElhenney over Rittich in the playoffs… This team rides or dies with Rittich. Full stop. If we have to lose the 2 or 3 games BSD rests in the plays then so be it. Im not forking over anything for a sideways move at best in the goalie department

      • deantheraven

        Smith didn’t play better, just longer.
        BSD is the de facto starter. BP jumped to a decision, the kind which often works with forwards and D-men but rarely with goalies, and he messed up my well thought out rotation for the rest of the season.

      • Day1-Cfan

        Correct! This is one of the reasons that we need to play out this year with the status quo. We need to see what kind of damage we can do with the players we already have through this season and playoffs. Then we can evaluate what we have accomplished and make informed decisions at the draft and over the summer.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      You know how bad Brodie was last season with Travis.

      No, Tre did not address the pressing goaltending problem last offseason, but I believe he thinks he can fix it –if it eally needs fixing–before the playoffs. If he doesn’t fix it right by then and bad goaltending unhinges the Flames in the playoffs, feel free to point your finger and cuss at Tre. He will be deserving of your wrath.

      • Cassie Campbell

        Rittich is a top 10 goalie in the league. Smith played fine last night looked like a great back up. Even Roy had off nights and got pulled. By addressing the goaltending you mean get a new starter? Or a more capable back up? It’s ok chicken Little’s the sky is not falling.

      • Rockmorton65

        BMN, what makes you believe BT thinks he can fix it, in season? He’s never said anything about the goaltending. Who knows what his plan is for the deadline?

        • BlueMoonNigel

          At the end of last season, the entire team was in flux and Tre made changes everywhere except in net. I don’t believe he overlooked that. Not satisfied with the options available, he decided to bring back the disgraced duo and run with them. Had the pair bombed during the season, I strongly doubt he would have kept running them out night after night to get destroyed as the club slipped further out of the playoff hunt. He would have a sought an in-season solution. He was so confident that he could fix the problem on the run that he kept the goaltending static. What we know about Tre is that he is meticulous and doesn’t leave things to chance. If he didn’t think Smith and Rittich were up to the job, he would have brought in another goalie or two last summer. If he needed to replace one or both of them during the season, he believed that he could. So far, Tre looks like a bloody genius with his goaltending decision.

  • Uncle Iroh

    If Smith had let in the first two goals, Peters would have left him. The double standard is there. Rittich has to play terrific, Smith has to play above .900. Only one of those things has happened consistently this season.

  • Toma41

    Monahan goes through atleast 2 stretches of around 10 games where he does nothing. I just hope he isnt injured. He hasnt been playing well since he took that slash on the empty net goal against Florida(?). Hope it didnt mess up his wrist

  • thepharmacist

    BP has done an exceptional job coaching this year and it is reflected in the standings. However some of his coaching decisions with the goaltenders has been questionable. I strongly disagree with the decision to pull BSD so early in the game. BP didn’t like the goals. I didn’t like Johnny’s turnover at the blue line that led to the 2nd goal. But he sometimes does that. He’s our MVP. You don’t sit him. BSD has been an MVP on many nights. In his defense he did get enough of the puck on the first goal to make the save but the puck was propelled in by his trailing moving back foot. That was unlucky. Burns is one of the best in the business in reading and blocking shots, that was a great play by him on the 2nd goal. BSD would have not let that rattle him. He would have reset and would have refocused on preventing the next goal. That’s what good goalies do. It was only 2 to 1 with most of the game left to play. BSD has earned the confidence of the team. Getting pulled was very Keenan-like and showed lack of confidence by his coach. You can’t blame Smith on the next goal a very short time later. He wasn’t mentally prepared to go in. That was on BP. Had BSD been allowed to play out, I would have bet that he would have battled to a 2 to 2 scoreline in the 3rd. But we will never know. Instead, the star of the game became the goaltender at the other end. Talbot was given a vote of confidence by his coach and started the next game after he was pulled. BP should do the same. My prescription for BSD: Be resilient. You no longer need to prove yourself.

  • A few things stood out for me watching. First, our goalies try WAY too hard to handle the puck. It is as if Smith is teaching Rittich how to make stupid passes and unforced errors. Second, Tkachuk has been just okay. He isn’t a liability but he isn’t his usual self making highly intelligent plays and passes. Third, Sharks just converted on some of the high quality chances they had. We didn’t. Not the end of the world. Game could have easily been 5-2 Flames. Fourth, Monahan also seemed to be fighting it. Part of it is a credit to the Sharks that seemed to collapse the net when a shot or pass went that way. Jones had a hell of a game. Give him credit.