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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Flames 4, Islanders 2 post-game embers: Mostly dominating

When the Flames are at their best, they’re really something else.

Feel of the game

The Flames looked to be in control early on, but at a certain point – shortly before they scored their second goal of the game – something shifted, and they just completely took over all facets of the ice. Thomas Greiss did everything he possibly could to keep the Islanders in it, including thwarting multiple chances by the Flames’ top line, but there’s only so much one can ask of one’s goalie. The errant pass that led to Mikael Backlund opening the scoring was brutal; the sustained offensive zone pressure before Travis Hamonic was able to score off of a faceoff a theme of the night.

The Islanders just didn’t have an answer, a TJ Brodie turnover and Mike Smith falling forwards aside. The extent to which the Flames outplayed the Islanders was comical, and Greiss was the entire reason the Flames only had a one-goal lead going into the third.

One that was erased early on as the entire team – top line, top defence pairing, and goalie alike – all somehow had no idea Anders Lee was wide open in the slot. Suddenly, for as much as the Flames dominated the 40 minutes prior to that moment, the game was in jeopardy – at least, until the team turned it back on in the form of yet another Austin Czarnik goal and an extremely quick Johnny Gaudreau powerplay marker for the insurance tally.

It was pretty much over from there on out – which apparently gave the Islanders licence to throw their weight around the ice, whether in legal circumstances or not, as the officials somehow not only refused to penalize them, but gave further punishment to the Flames by kicking out Backlund. It was a completely unnecessary end to what had been one of the Flames’ best games of the season – but in the end, two points were obtained, and the Flames continue to look like a team that might just make some noise in the spring, recent losing streak apparently completely behind them.

The good news

The Flames held the Islanders to just seven shots through the first two periods. Greiss is having one of the best seasons of any goalie this year, and he lived up to it; there was just only so much he could do, and he’d already done a lot. The Flames played a near-perfect game, with every single forward line rolling and generating scoring chances, all the while forcing extended play in the offensive zone. They didn’t have to do much defensively until the third period, really; it was an impressive effort.

The top line has had its well-documented struggles as of late, and it took a powerplay for any of their members to score. But they really did have a lot of good chances – it’s just that, well, Greiss was better. It does look like they’re continuing to work their way out of their funk, though. It was an encouraging game for them. (That’s not to say anything about how they were defensively – which was less than great – but they’re here to score, so if it looks like they’re going to start doing that again, that’s something to celebrate.)

So, what’s Bill Peters’ reaction going to be when Austin Czarnik doesn’t score? As long as Czarnik keeps playing the way he has been since getting back into the lineup – three games now – it’s going to be difficult to find an excuse to sit him. The Flames have some great forward depth; he’s yet another part of it that’s showing off as of late, and he’s proving very fun to watch all while doing it. Great game by his line – but great game by him in particular.

There’s still so much to love about Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington. I genuinely can’t recall the last time the Flames had such young defencemen that not only looked like they belonged early on, but looked like they had a lot more to offer as well. Andersson is stepping up into players and is so solid he seems to be unfazed (illegal, goon-ish hits aside); Kylington skates so well he can cover for himself, his partner, and create chances all the while. It’s really something to watch. You look back on all the slow third pairing defencemen the Flames had earlier in the decade, then you see these two, and you just have to wonder how they managed before.

The bad news

The way the Flames played through the first 40 minutes, the game never should have been tied at any point. Credit to Greiss for sure, but both of the Islanders’ goals were so easily avoidable – don’t turn the puck over in your own zone, stay upright; don’t have six players – including five of your supposedly best skaters – be completely unaware of a guy standing all alone in the slot. It turned out fine in the end – two quick goals will do that – but it was a disappointing moment.

With Juuso Valimaki likely to establish himself as an NHL regular sooner rather than later, and both Andersson and Kylington looking like they’ve played themselves into “don’t you dare trade me” status, who’s the odd man out? You have to think, at this stage, it’s Brodie: Mark Giordano is having an unfathomable season, Hamonic has been a defensive rock all year, and Noah Hanifin is the same age as some of the Flames’ rookies, only with a couple hundred games already under his belt. It’s a shame, since Brodie is one of the Flames’ original draft success stories: the third longest-tenured member of the team, after Giordano and Backlund. He was the last defenceman they really properly developed before the current bottom pairing kids. Sucks to see games like this from him. You’d think maybe it could, in part, be the injury that held him out last game, but this isn’t the first time we’ve seen giveaways of that nature from him this season.

I really can’t, for the life of me, understand how the risk/reward on Smith playing the puck is worth it. Two instances stood out to me early in the game: Smith trying to play the puck with an Islander bearing down right on top of him trying to steal it directly from him, and a pass to a Flames player in front of his wide open net while said Flame had an Islander right on top of him as well. Both could have so easily resulted in goals against. Is it really worth it?

Hoping David Rittich gets some games in before the Flames play back-to-back games next week. Yeah, Smith is winning, but getting Rittich’s confidence back up and his feet back under him before the playoffs should be a priority, too.

Well that officiating was a nightmare, particularly at the end of the game. Isn’t it cool and fun watching games and knowing the people who are ejecting Backlund are allowed to have their own MLB-umpires-throwing-a-tantrum moment with no consequences?

Numbers of note

60.4% – The Flames’ 5v5 CF. They were well over 60% through the first two periods, and controlled 5v5 high-danger corsi events at 70% through the entire game. Just an absolute show.

81.25% – I don’t really like to look at single-game player corsis, except when it’s a really notable number. Czarnik didn’t have that much ice time, but hitting 81.25% at 5v5 is definitely eye-catching.

38.89% – On the opposite end of things, it looks like someone finally figured out how to shut down Derek Ryan. He was the only Flame to have a 5v5 CF below 50%.

3 – The number of goals Czarnik has scored in the number of games he’s played after being a healthy scratch for a month. He has nine points in 32 games, a third of his scoring coming from just now. It’s probably not going to last, of course, but if one needs bottom six scoring in a pinch, well, why not Czarnik?

11:00 – Czarnik got double digits in ice time for the first time since Jan. 7.

30 – Gaudreau tied his career high in goals with his 30th of the year, and is the first 30-goal scorer the Flames have this season, putting him in a tie for 14th league-wide. With 79 points, he’s also fourth in NHL scoring. And he hasn’t even been that great these past few games.

7 – Gaudreau had seven shots on the night. He really wanted that 30th goal.

18:39 – Brodie’s ice time, while the rest of the regular top four were all at about 23 minutes. He had seven shifts each in the first two periods, which aligns with the rest; in the third period, though, he only had six, while Giordano had 10, and Hamonic and Hanifin had 12.

80 – The Flames are the second NHL team to cross the 80-point threshold this season. They sit at 81, 20 points up from the last wild card spot in the West.

Final thought

Players keep oscillating. Backlund’s line has been mostly consistent at providing offence as of late, but the third line has really stepped it up, as well. The fourth line was finally held off the scoreboard. The top line, which has carried the team through most of the 60 games they’ve played, is trying, but they aren’t quite back yet. The Flames are unquestionably a team that can roll four lines, though. And three defence pairings. And it’s leading to some great hockey.

Two games until the trade deadline. You have to think they aren’t stressed about goaltending anymore. With Valimaki and Michael Stone, they have some resources on defence. And they have so many contributing forwards. If there’s a deal to be had – that doesn’t involve giving up a roster player – you have to think they take it. The losing streak is behind them, a new winning streak is in its place, and they’ve been winning most of the season. At the very least, they could make some noise this spring. It’s starting to get real.

  • Skylardog

    Why can’t we play with that kind of jump every night?

    Man they kicked butt.

    Smith was good, but while I felt like he had found his old form after last game, not so sure after last night. He was back to diving forward, lunging, and falling on his stomach. He is playing with too much weight on his toes. In the long run, this will be his downfall.

    • withachance

      Was a great game, but I feel like its pretty hard to sustain that kind of jump for this team. I dont think they’ve experienced the “top dog” mentality yet to consistently deliver it night in night out – give BP more time with this team, will be interesting to see if they can bring it in the playoffs and next season

    • BlueMoonNigel

      While the Islanders have a few players who can score, the club is noticeably lacking in offense. That is their biggest weakness. That being said, the Islanders are like Navy Seals who do a lot with just a little. Credit to the Flames for sticking with their game plan after the Isles tied it and again when the Flames went up 4-2. They didn’t crumble when NY tied the game despite their overwhelming edge in play nor did they get soft and content when they regained the 2-goal edge with some six minutes left. They stuck with their script and prevailed which makes the rematch a can’t-miss game.

  • Skylardog

    Bounces.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like how Czar has played in the last three games. He has significantly upped his game from earlier in the season.

    But lets review the 3 goals he has scored in those 3 games.

    Against Pitt he scores on a very good rush. He makes a good shot, but frankly, Murray should have had it easily. In reality, that was the best of the 3.

    In the Arizona game, he gets the rebound from a shot that Bennett should never have taken, shoots from the slot where he has not gotten open, breaks his stick on a shot as he is falling, and the goalie, misjudging the shot because of the broken stick misses the puck. It counts, I do get that.

    And last night, he is in a mucky area, great! But he swats the puck back and away from the goal (possibly a pass back?), and an Islander puts it in his own net.

    Bounces going his way.
    He has been an upgrade on Neal.

    So here we are this AM, saying how great he has played, when if even just 2 of those bounces don’t go his way, the conversation is very different.

    Not saying I don’t like how he has played, it is much, much better. But for the many on here, if you take away 2 of those goals, the hounds are calling for Lazar to take his place.

    For the record, I keep Czar in, but the jury should still be out on whether he belongs. I still have no evidence that when the game gets tough, like in the playoffs, he doesn’t just disappear. But keep it up Czar.

    • withachance

      Im with ya, his goals have seemed pretty flukey, but maybe it just balances out all the goals that should have gone in earlier in the season that didnt.

      He is still probably the most expendable trade piece, and when Neal comes back, his best case scenario is probably rotating healthy scratches with Mangi

      • Pancakes

        Regardless of how flukey Czarnik’s goals have been it shows that at the very least he is in the right spots to score. Those goals are not the least but pretty but they went in and I’ll happily take them!

        So will Czar I’m sure!

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Yeah, I dunno how far this logic can get you. I see what you’re saying, but as the saying goes, luck follows skill and effort.

      What I think is the more important point is how Jankowski and Bennett are playing with Czar. That line was absolutely flying last night! (I commented below but should have just done so here). They maintained possession and had a strong cycle game, around the perimeter, but most noticeably inside and below the circles. That is where these big fellows need to be.

      Czarnik was finding openings to receive passes all night, just like Mony does when he’s on his game.

      And Jankowski finally looked deadly offensively, using his big body and reach to maintain possession. Bennett looked like a natural playmaker.

      It’s just one really great game in a three game stretch with this line, but I think we need to look at more than just Czarnik’s goals, whether they are lucky bounces or absolute snipes.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      100% agree on Czarnik getting some fortunate goals. He is getting some greasy goals that players like Bennett can only dream of. But, as long as he feels he is contributing and shows the fire then he can build off it.

    • Derzie

      Speed.
      He was flying. Things that happen faster than normal are harder to react to. He was getting to the puck & spots super quickly and things went from there. Speed Kills (the defense) and Speed Thrills (the fans). Neal is a turtle. Czar is a whippet. Makes stuff happen.

    • cberg

      Very good analysis, to which I agree. Even so, its better having someone rush the net and muck it up and get some bounces then someone waiting for the perfect opportunity. Besides scoring, he was skating great and had solid D positioning which allowed the whole line to be pretty dominant.

  • Mongauchuk

    Going to order my playoff jersey next week. Getting Mongauchuck on the back # 55. 13 +23+19 . It is my favorite number and soon to be my age. Won’t wear it till playoffs and living in Winnipeg I will wear it proudly. Really enjoying this season.

  • Despo

    This team is one good RW away of making significant noise this spring. If the rumors about guys like Stone, Zuccarello or Simmonds turn out to be true, we’ll have some serious fun coming up.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    … “and both Andersson and Kylington looking like they’ve played themselves into “don’t you dare trade me” status, who’s the odd man out? You have to think, at this stage, it’s Brodie”

    I honestly don’t see TJ being on the team next year let alone at the end of his contract. His value may never be higher than right now with the Gio bump. I’d look to send him back home to Ontario. Say… Ottawa in a package for Mark Stone! The freed up cap helps us re-sign stone next year. I’m thinking like Brodie + 1st + Gawdin + Czarnik (while he is hot right now) for Stone + depth D for playoffs (Borowiecki?)

    Johnny-Monny-Stone
    Tkachuk-Backlund-Lindholm
    Bennett-Jankowski-Neal/Lazar
    Magpie-Ryan-Hathaway

    Gio-Ras
    Hannifin-Hamonic
    Kylington-Stone
    Borowiecki

    • Joel Ottos Jock

      Stay away from Borowiecki. He is nothing special, and after seeing his videos with Senators owner Eugene Melynk..no thanks! The guy comes across as a joke. I do agree however, on Brodie. His value is at its highest right now, let’s capitalize on our 3rd pairin being capable of sliding up.

      • Derzie

        If we see the mental blunders Brodie makes, you don’t think scouts see that as well? A real simple premise when thinking about these available players is that they are available for 1 reason:

        They are not valuable enough to keep for the money they want.

        It really is that simple. Applies to Stone. Applies to Brodie. Applies to Panarin.

        The teams that pick these players up need to have a glaring need that makes the value worthwhile to pay the implied premium. Brodie will not fetch us as much as people think, unless we find a trade partner with really weak D on Brodie’s side (or Chiarelli gets another job)

        • cberg

          Yes Brodie made one, or two bad passes up the middle, as well as 15-20 great passes and as many great rushes. Overall he’s a huge positive for the team. Unfortunately the gaffes are very obvious and often cost the team a goal against but to say he has low value is being blind….

          • Joel Ottos Jock

            I strongly disagree about the 15-×0 great passes. I will try to objectively watch next game, but it seems like Brodie has more bad passes than good. His high risk high reward plays are usually in the negative.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Woops. Forgot Frolik. Put hin in there where Lazar/Neal are. Not sure who of Neal, Frolik or Bennett moves to line 4 when everyone is healthy, but doesn’t really matter… crazy good depth!

    • withachance

      No thanks on Stone. He’d be nice for the next two months, but he’s going to walk in the summer – essentially giving away Brodie for nothing. The Flames dont have enough cap space to sign Stone, Tkachuk, Bennett and Rittich. Even if you trade Frolik and Michael Stone it’s going to be too close to comfort.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        I respectfully disagree. I’ve run the numbers on capfriendly and it works fine. With Brodie gone & Frolik traded in the off-season, it frees up almost 9M in cap; plus a rumoured increase in the cap to 83 – 84M next year gives another 3 to 4 to play with. Rittich won’t be as expensive as Smith’s cap hit and a capable back up at $1.5 leaves plenty of room, assuming a re-up to Bennett of about 2.5 – 2.75M per. You don’t even have to trade Mike Stone. You don’t do the deal without some comfort on the Stone re-up. If Stone wants 10M you don’t do the deal. 8.5 – 9 could be doable. If Tkachuk wants 9M + then you bridge him to the end of RFA status… shortens the window a bit but creates one hell of a window.

        • withachance

          “If Stone wants 10M you dont do the deal” That’s my point, Stone wants 10M. The current contract offer is reportedly around 10.5M… Just makes no sense to use great assets to get Stone now, when he’s most likely to walk in UFA. And if the Flames do make the cap work, they can just get him as an UFA for free??? No need to use good assets now

          • Rockmorton65

            But chance, could it be he wants 10.5 to play in Ottawa? Maybe he IS greedy, but maybe he would take a little less to play for a contender for the next five years.

          • withachance

            @rockmorton:

            Are you willing to give up 3-5 premier assets for nothing to find out about a maybe? If I was a GM i wouldnt mess with the future of a contender just for that.

            And I wouldn’t necessarily say its greed, Stone’s value is definitely around $9-10M, a PPG defensive forward? Thats almost unheard of in the current era.

        • Kevin R

          Bean I like how you think, but I just cant fathom how we get Stone to agree to an extension prior to Monday. Otherwise , no way no how do I make that trade. As sexy as it may sound that we replace Frolik & Brodie with Stone on an extension, it’s pipe dreams & a gamble Tre could lose his job over. Wont happen.
          Brodie will be just as valuable at the draft & that is where we get our 1st rounder back if we have to give up our 1st in a rental deal. I would rather see us deal Brodie to the Leafs for Gardiner & a 2nd if people want Brodie gone so badly. Leafs could very well be a target for the Leafs at the draft anyways.

  • Skylardog

    Looks like Minny sent Coyle to Boston and took the spot I had been trying to advocate the Flames sending Frolik to fill. Boston got a prospect and a 5th for Coyle.

    Coyle, 26, 60GP 10G 28P +1. Roughly $3M with a year left
    Frolik, Age 31, 43GP 13G 22P +16. Roughly $4.3M with a year left

    It is a shame that Boston picked up Coyle rather than Frolik. It was a good way to dump some cap, while getting back some value. Frolik, in my opinion, would have been a better fit for Boston in the short run, and could have been had for less assets up front. I am sure the Flames were on the phone at some point with Boston. But in the long run, I think we all would take Coyle here because of the age difference.

    I guess I will have to find another suitor for Frolik. 😉

    • withachance

      I dont think Tre would actively shop Frolik in the middle of such a great season for the team. Trading Frolik in season makes 0 sense, but wouldnt be surprised to see Tre get creative in the offseason.

    • Jimmyhaggis

      I don’t know about you but Frolik is playing just fine and come playoffs you need defensive minded forwards. If anybody should be traded it’s Brodie, he makes at least 1 bonehead play every game, and I mean costly mistakes, which you can’t have in the playoffs.

      • withachance

        Brodie quickly becoming the Gardiner of the Flames. Probably the 2nd best dman on the team as a Right sided dman (the unicorn of the league) and is critical in the transition game.

        His mistakes are really noticeable, while his upside for this team is underlying and less noticed

        • Baalzamon

          I have nothing against Brodie, but Hamonic is the second best defenseman on the team. And I’m not fully convinced that Brodie is better than Hanifin either to be honest.

          • withachance

            This is my point. Come on, you think Brodie is worse than Hanifin? I agree Hamonic and Brodie are properly on the same level, two sides of the same coin (one stay at home and hard hitting, the other smooth and puck carrier).

            Dont let eye popping plays blind your judgement, Brodie helps so much in the neutral zone and his skating gets the team more opportunities through transitions and joining the rush. He’s a top pair dman for a reason. Would you trust Ras or Hammer to be alongside Gio at the beginning of playoffs over Brodie? I wouldnt.

            It’s also not a concidence that Gio’s best years came when he was with Brodie.

          • hulkingloooooob

            All this Brodie bashing is actually blowing my mind.

            Yes he turns the puck over, everyone does. The way he plays increases the chance of this slightly, but the gains we get in quick transition, fantastic passes, speed, skating, vision, and those sneaky deaky plays no other defence men can pull off is well worth it.

            More? Sure, his o zone play, gio’s comfort level, those stretch passes, and just pure team chemistry.

            You want to give all that up because of some perception he’s a peak value?

            No thanks.

            Hockey games (and shiny silver cups) are won by playing great hockey, AS A TEAM, not maximizing so called asset value.

            The way this team played last night I wouldn’t change a thing. No trades needed.

        • Flames fan since 83

          I agree with your comparison of Gardiner and Brodie. Toronto will not be able to sign Gardiner after this season because Gardiner will want more than his current $4 mil. in his next contract.
          Brodie is signed at $4.6 mil for another season.
          I think we should trade Brodie for Kapanen. We may need to sweeten the deal a little.
          But TO gets an Ontario boy in Brodie, a very much needed Defenseman for this years playoff run, and a guy that replaces Gardiner when he leaves this summer.
          Calgary gets a right shot, Right Winger with youth. And I think we can sign him for TJ’s departed money.

          • Kevin R

            Thats an offseason deal at the draft. Would want a pick back from the Leafs as well as Kapanen. Brodie has been playing top pairing all year, that does hold value in the league.

          • Rudy27

            Right! We get rid of Brodie before playoffs and then we lose one of our other starting d-men to injury before or during playoffs. Everyone would be asking for Tre’s head for making a bonehead trade!

          • Flames fan since 83

            Maybe off season.
            Kevin, you realize Kapanen is 5th in scoring on TO. Ahead of Kadri.
            18 goals and 37 points. That would place him 5th on Calgary right behind Gio and ahead of Backlund!
            Anderson (IMO) is currently better than Brodie. Brodie holds a first pairing job, and thats good, but GM’s out there are not as dumb as you think they are. I think straight across trade would be awesome, but doesn’t get it done.
            Rudy, I agree it’s a gamble. But no one will be asking for anyones head… Relax.
            I actually don’t mind Prout. He is a younger Derek England. And more mobile than Derek too. Not to mention Stone and Valimaki on the way.

          • Kevin R

            @ Flames fan: Keep in mind Kapanen played higher in the lineup because of the Nylander impasse that has boosted his totals. Also RFA at a bad time for Leafs & with Gardiner walking come July, to get Brodie for 1 more year under 5.0mill has to have value for Leafs. My view Gardiner & Brodie are both a wash in what you get in your top 4.

          • Flames fan since 83

            @kevin.
            I agree that Gardiner and Brodie are a wash in terms of ability and effectiveness. That disagrees with your assertion that Brodie should get 1st pairing return in a trade. Most GM know that Brodie is a 2nd pairing guy (like Gardiner is) elevated by playing with Gio. To be honest, I wouldn’t even be suggesting trading TJ if I felt he were a bonified 1st pairing guy in the beginning. This is a “sell high” train of thought.

          • Flames fan since 83

            @Kevin
            You can’t use the Nylander out excuse.
            Kaps #’s are legit. Watch him.
            Nylander is back and playing third line, below Kap!
            Last. Anderson has come in and played lights out. He got an opportunity due to injury. But you can’t say that Stone is better and when Stone gets back Anderson will be sat out or sent down to Stockton! Anderson came in and earned what he has. So did Kapanen.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    After seeing the hustle and sizzle of Czar, “fluky” goals aside, you realize what an anchor that Neal is. This kid is looking like the one we traded for. 3 games – 3 goals. Think about that. Not sustainable but its nice to see a player play with jump and keep up with his line mates.

    • Off the wall

      I know our resident Dog isn’t high on Czarnik. But I honestly believe his speed is what he has going for him. I watched him create 3 turnovers last night from his hustle. Two of them resulted in decent high scoring chances.

      I agree, he’s not the type of player who’s going to wow you with corner work, that’s why he’s with Bennett and Jankowski.

      His role is passing and shooting.
      Similar to Gaudreau’s game. I’m not comparing Czar to Johnny, so don’t misunderstand the point.

      Peter’s has been on him to shoot the puck, and he has been. I don’t care how his goals come, it’s not a fluke if you’re in position to score.

      I’m enjoying this new hustle from Czarnik and will be cheering for the kid!

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Lumbering Neal is really out of place on this team, so how long will it take Tre to right the wrong? Neal will undoubtedly be back next year to prove that this season was a one-off, but even if Neal were scoring this season at his usual clip, his pondering style really doesn’t match with the kind of club Tre is assembling. I am not prepared to say Neal is washed up and has no place in the NHL, but he doesn’t appear to be a good fit with the Flames.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, Smith was lucky, still makes me nervous when the other team is in our end. Pucks were hitting him, 2 goals 8 shots.
    Good thing the team were playing one the best games in awhile. No trade other than goaltender needed, solid looking, first line to fourth.

    • MDG1600

      Careful Jimmy – apparently the fandom are a sensitive lot when it comes to criticizing Mike Smith and the goaltending. Not sure why because it seems pretty obvious that what is standing between the Flames and good playoff run is some good goaltending – which they objectively, statistically and clearly aren’t getting from Mike Smith. I pin my hopes on Rittich bouncing back and carrying the mail in the playoffs but for some reason Brad Treliving loves his Mike Smith.

      • Joel Ottos Jock

        I’m still on the get rid of Smith wagon. He is not good. He had 1 good game, 1 lucky game and 1 good thing the other team didnt get any shots games in his 3 in a row here..

        • Alberta Ice

          I am rooting for both Smith and Rittich to be better than they both were as we head toward the playoffs. Fact is, Smith is better now. And that should motivate Rittich to be even better. As everyone knows, goal tending will be the key for advancing in the playoffs. KIGF.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Agree…Rittich likely would have got a shutout yesterday. While I think Smith’s stick handling fits his game it is not something that Rittich should emulate.

      • flames2015

        there’s no guarantee what kind of outcome it would have been if Rittich would have played. He’s allowed some bad goals as of late, but by no means is he perfect.

  • Alberta Ice

    The NHL reffing? Baffling at times. Not an easy job. Mysterious at times too. I guess Garnet Hathaway easily takes my vote as one of the most abused Flames and gets the least calls. If I was watching the Stampede rodeo, the Arizona guy who took Hath down the other night like a steer wrestler taking down a steer, would have gotten a world number. And no call? Really? And embellishment on Backlund last night? Backs has been sent to the box for some of the most delicate stick love taps one can imagine, but when he gets hooked royal, he’s called for embellishment? And that Clutterbuck hit on Rasmus? No call? I guess the refs must have a much better view of these events than those of us watching from the TV monitor. As has been stated by others before, the one consistency of the NHL reffing is that it is inconsistent. Expect anything. (And talk about having a gripe about reffing, at least I don’t live in New Orleans.)

  • aye

    I agree Brodie hasn’t been great lately, but I’m not sure all the bashing is warranted. I mean Hanifin makes way more defensive mistakes, but people seem to give him way more slack because he’s only 22, but really, this is his 4th season, and don’t forget he makes more money than Brodie. Age and future aside, I know I’d rather have Brodie over Hanifin right now in the playoffs.
    On the other hand, Kylington has been way better than advertised defensively. And he has worked well with both Andersson and Prout. A pleasant surprise!

    • calgaryfan

      I am a Brodie fan his skating is elite, but he has a habit of glaring turnovers. He has been struggling with turnovers lately. He needs to stop throwing pucks up the middle in his own end. Hanifin has nothing to do with Brodie’s bad plays lately. Brodie has to own the bad passes and clean up his game.

  • Alberta Ice

    Trade deadline comment: This team is just fine as it is. Keep using the depth in your own system please. BP is doing a great job with mixing and matching what he has and has done a great job to get this team looking like they did before the All-Star break.

  • Off the wall

    After last nights game, are we reconsidering trade talk?

    It seems as if we have the players to make the playoffs interesting. If everyone shows the way they’re capable of playing, we might not have to do much at all.

    So far we’ve put on the chopping block- Brodie, Czarnik, Neal, Frolik, Bennett, Hanifin, Tkachuk, Jankowski, Ryan, Lazar, Smith and Kylington that I can recall.

    Does last night game, put things into perspective for us?
    Just asking..

    • Pancakes

      We have moves we can make with some of those players but you just don’t do those moves at the TDL! The team is doing amazing and we shouldn’t mess with that by removing a roster player. Make moves after the season is over to better the team. The only thing we should be trading right now are 2nd round or lesser picks for truculence (blah, barfed in my mouth a bit there thinking of Burke) and depth.

      • Kevin R

        Yeah & earlier I would have given up Czarnik for Kassian but now I think Foo & a 4th would get him. He’s the only element I would like to see on this team when things get nasty dirty & we can counter the nasty brainless players that will have intent on targeting our talented players. Really, unless a Zuccarello or Simmonds land on our laps without having to give up our 1st, that is all we really need to do.
        On a human note, I would love to ride the hot hand of either Ritcch or Smith & let these two take a run for the roses & let Smith take one last serious shot in the playoffs, even if he only gets into 1 or 2 games, just being part of this would be awesome.

          • Pancakes

            Mark Spector thinks Kassian is available for a 5th round pick. But you still have to pay him another year at almost 2million! That’s a bit of an anchor. I wouldn’t mind him on the Flames for a 5th if he was solely a rental and had no term left.

          • Off the wall

            Gee Puck. You don’t hold back your thoughts do you? Diaper boy, now brainless meat. You crack me up!

            I don’t know if we really need a Kassian, Kevin. I have a feeling him and Tkachuk wouldn’t get along nicely in the dressing room?

            I think there’s better options available, no?

            I do like your idea on Smith getting a game or two in the playoffs. He’s been highly criticized for so long and it would be nice to show him some appreciation for the last two years of being a good teammate.

            Besides, it makes for a great story! ?

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      I think it would be a point of pride for the players if Tre made no major moves. A sign he believed in them.

      I do too. No major moves? We’re scoring, we’re winning, we’re overcoming adversity. I say stand pat.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Both the Flames and Islanders might want to heed your advice as both have done remarkably well with rosters many thought were iffy and inadequate at the start of the season.

        • Jumping Jack Flash

          My only concern about last night’s game would be that neither the Isles nor the Flames are built for the clutch and grabbing playoffs that typically take place. Prout is more than enough grit on the back end. I expect he will rotate with Kjillington. A Kassian type player but not Kassian could rotate on he 3rd or 4th line. My preference would be Clifford for a 5th or 6th.

          • Pancakes

            Haha! “A Kassian-type player but not Kassian”!!! I totally get it. I’m unsure if Kassian could fit on any team having been on such a dysfunctional one for so long! Would he be too much of a disturbing force in the dressing room? Possibly.

  • Trevy

    Well considering Peters sat Brodie for most of the 3rd as a result of his inept attempt to clear the puck that led to a goal, I’m guessing Brodie’s status is descending quickly. I’d be including him in any trade. Gio/Andersson are a much better pairing, then alternate between Stone and Valimaki on the 3rd pairing with Ky. Also, what happens to Czarnik if he continues his play when Neal comes back? And if we do make a trade that doesn’t involve a roster player, where would they fit in? Something has got to give!

    • Puck Head

      Aren’t the numbers about right when you throw in Neal and Valimaki? There will undoubtedly be some injuries, underperforming players, or better player matchups for certain teams in the playoffs. Having extra bodies seems like a good problem to have.

  • Brian McGrattan's Salute

    That was by far the best game I have seen from that third line all season, and arguably one of the best games I’ve seen from Jankowski.

    It’s been mentioned here above, but Czar looks like just a much better fit than Neal (albeit in a short, three game window of comparison). And it isn’t even about goals: the speed of Czar, or whatever it is, just fits so well with Benny and Janks. Like I said, I haven’t seen that line look this dangerous all year. They could have had a couple goals themselves. They looked offensively engaged, were cycling pucks not just around the perimeter of the O-zone, but inside the hash marks all night.

    Bennett and Czar looked great, but man was it nice to see Jankowski so offensively engaged, using his big body and reach to maintain possession.

    What a game for them.

    Really, what will happen with Neal when he returns? Czarnik is playing really well, too. Forcing turnovers, going to the corners. Really, to me, all of our critiques of him (other than his size) he has addressed.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    That was the best game I have seen the Flames play this season. Say what you want about Smith but when he is playing the puck with confidence like last night he keeps teams off balance. That was the difference in the game. You saw early that Ras was pressured into a bad give away so with Smith alleviating the forecheck pressure our young D can make easier outlet passes which the do very well.

    To be able to hold one of the top teams in the NHL to 8 shots after 40 mins is remarkable. Personally, I don’t think the Isles had one of the best games but that was full credit to the Flames. Who knew bringing up Lazar would lead to Czarnik finding his A game?

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Ultimate irony of trading for Stone and then extending him is that in the move to clear cap space to accommodate him, brother Michael would quickly become an ex-Flame.

  • Greg

    Brodie is actually the reason I’m ok spending a bunch of futures this year – because I do think he’s the odd man out, and will be used to recoup those futures in the off-season.

    The log jam is on the left side though. I’d bet Kylington is the most likely to succeed on the right given his skating ability. Much as I think he’s already earned a spot, I wouldn’t mind if the flames did add someone like Kronwall, and sent Kylington down but specifically to work on playing right side. Having him and Valimaki (and Stone) as the playoff depth options would be pretty good IMO.

    • withachance

      we would need him to show it at the AHL level. Personally skeptical to put someone who was noted to have some positioning issues in his own zone on his off side. Dman playing on his off sides needs to have extreme comfort level on their backhand, which Brodie does, not sure Kylington does

    • Mickey O'Reaves

      Valimaki has been playing on the right side in Stockton.
      Hanifin can definitely play on his off side, he did it in Carolina under Peters.
      It gives some options going forward anyway.

  • Derzie

    Reading this gave me a flashback to 1 short year ago.
    The piece that triggered it was the Czarnik performance and the healthy scratch leading up to it. Czar was a world-beater in pre-season and then fell off of the map, and was rightfully benched. Now he has sprung out of the gate and looks like a world-beater again. This is no accident. This is coaching. Knowing what to do to get the best from your players. Peters did it with Czar & Frolik with positive results (except for Frolik whining about it through his agent).
    Which brings me to why I thought of last year. Every article was about something that GG was doing wrong or not doing at all. A masterclass in how not to coach. It’s ironic that if there were Razzie awards for worst at their job, Edmonton had the whole market cornered prior to freeing Chiarelli.

    Loving the atmosphere and the articles. Personally, it has taught me that I can spot bad coaching (what GG did) but I have no idea how to spot good coaching (i.e. Peters potential). Peters and Lindholm have been a revelation that I in no way saw coming, but am so glad to have been wrong. Completely wrong.

    • flames2015

      calling Czarnik a world beater is a huge stretch. He’s definitely played well as of late, and his goals are a result of being in the right place and having it go in. Huge confidence booster for sure. It’s great to see him have that compete level, but he still has huge lapses defensively.

  • Al Rain

    Re: is it really worth it for Smith to play the puck? I say yes. Most times it gains clean possession, saves a hit and clears the zone. I’m convinced that 7 shots against in 2 periods is partly Smith’s doing.

    And it’s damned fun to watch.

  • I am so with you with Smith and handling the puck. A few good passes that look good but really don’t make that big a difference vs the risk of crap goals against or high danger scoring chance on his end? It’s stupid. I don’t understand how coaches have not sat him at told him to stay in the Fing net.