50
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Flames 5, Rangers 1 post-game embers: Meeting expectations

Now that’s exactly how one would have thought the game against the Devils was going to go – no dramatic third-period scoring outburst necessary.

Feel of the game

The Flames got off to a strong start and never once looked back. They put the pressure on and rarely let the Rangers get much of anything. You’d be forgiven, though, for a sense of deja vu – Johnny Gaudreau opening the scoring on a nice breakaway courtesy Matthew Tkachuk, followed by the Rangers soon after tying the game up was probably enough to raise anybody’s eyebrows.

Though the Flames didn’t crumble once they got scored on. Defensive errors were kept to a minimum, overall dominant play resumed, and though the Flames probably should have had a lead exiting the first, they were, once again, the undeniably better team – just with the game more in reach.

The start of the second period erased any possible future doubts. Tkachuk resumed his tear, picking up another two points and giving the Flames an early 3-1 lead. That pretty much seemed to be the entire game from there on out: the Flames wouldn’t let the Rangers get much of anything in the way of chances, and some early third period scoring cemented things. From the third goal on, the game was never in threat.

Pretty much exactly how you’d expect a team fighting for a division title to play a team not going to the playoffs – and the Flames pulled it off near perfectly.

The good news

Tkachuk had himself an absolute night. Two games after scoring his first career hat trick, he registered his first ever five-point game, and looked a force to be reckoned with all night. To their credit, linemates Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik looked ready to keep up with him, as well – and especially further ready to help him to a six-point game in the third period – but Tkachuk is the one who stole the show. Remember when he had a seven-game point-less slump back in early February? So… maybe it’s time to get excited about the playoffs again.

Tkachuk is the only one who really, truly stood out in a major way – five points will do that – so let’s give a couple of other players some individual shoutouts, particularly after the previous game. First: TJ Brodie. Playing the second most minutes out of all defencemen on the team – and the most at 5v5 – he played a clean game, with no particularly obvious errors, nothing disastrous, and helped keep Rangers players to the outside and away from dangerous spots, including on the penalty kill. He had a good game playing big minutes. That’s the case with him most of the time – hence why he gets those minutes to begin with more often than not.

David Rittich wasn’t particularly busy, either, but he remained composed, especially when the Rangers were buzzing around his net. He maybe could’ve stopped the one goal they did get, but it was also a good play by the opposing team and a good shot – and goals against will happen. But there was zero concern for him throughout the night, and it was a good bounce-back effort after giving up four in the previous game.

Even after losing one of their top forwards in Sean Monahan, the Flames still played like a complete, composed team, and there was little doubt from the second period onwards as to who would win. Playing against weaker opponents is never a guaranteed victory, but it’s fair to expect victories out of these games – and the Flames played great. If they can keep that kind of effort set for the rest of the season (and beyond), they’re in a good spot.

The bad news

Monahan missing the final two periods wasn’t great; and not having him for the second of a back-to-back – against a pretty good team in the Jets, at that, also battling for their division – is less so. But an illness is better than an injury – and hopefully it won’t spread further among the players.

For two games in a row, the Flames had a player score at least five points. That’s great! But their streak of hat tricks was broken. That’s less great. So much for a hat trick of hat trick games.

So, about Tkachuk’s future cap hit… (Seriously, there was practically nothing to complain about in this game.)

Numbers of note

62.32% – The Flames’ 5v5 CF. They fell off a bit to a 44.44% CF in the second period, but were well above 50% in the first and third – they controlled the game, and it became especially clear once they took the lead.

15-5 Natural Stat Trick credits the Flames with 15 high-danger corsi events at 5v5, and the Rangers with just five. The Flames were strong defensively.

70+ – The Flames now have four players with 70+ points. Pittsburgh and Tampa have three players with 70+ points each. That’s it. The Flames are alone in this regard. Mark Giordano is sitting at 66 points; he’ll probably join the four forwards soon enough.

4 – The Flames are also the only team with four players over a point-per-game in scoring. Boston, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Tampa, and Toronto have three each. Giordano is three points off from being a point-per-game player himself – though if he makes it by season’s end, he’d become only the third ever defenceman 35 years or older to score 80 points in a season… so a little bit of extremely high praise trivia to root for.

5 – Tkachuk set a new career high in points in a single game. He had five four-point nights prior to this game, all this season.

16 – Since breaking free of his seven-game point-less drought, Tkachuk has scored 16 points in 14 games. Yes, nine of those points have come in just two games, but he has been consistently contributing offensively, even if it’s only with a point here and there: in the past 16 games, he’s only been held without a point five times.

101 – Tkachuk now has 101 career assists. In over 200 games, he’s a career .79 point-per-game player. He’s the first player from his draft class to hit 100 assists, and he’s 12 points back of Patrik Laine for second in overall 2016 draft class scoring.

8:58 – Monahan’s total ice time, all in the first period. Gaudreau played 3:55 total 5v5 minutes alongside Monahan. He played 6:07 with Derek Ryan, 3:27 with Sam Bennett, and 1:40 with Mark Jankowski. Tough to see if this will hold any affect for the next game with Monahan out, but the smart money might be on Ryan getting the major promotion. (They did well in the third period against the Devils together… who knows?)

17:09 – Ryan’s total ice time for the game, fifth among forwards. He played less than Elias Lindholm, Gaudreau, Tkachuk, and Mikael Backlund.

+51 – The Flames now have a +51 goal differential on the season, clearing another milestone. The Lightning are the only others to have cleared the +50 marker this season (and how, currently at +90). Remember, the Flames were a -30 team last season.

Final thought

The Flames have had their ups and downs all season. It’s mostly been ups. They’re on another upswing. And yeah, you can make the point the Rangers aren’t as good of a team, but neither were the Devils, and the Flames sure seemed to clean up their play in between games. They’re also mostly facing non-playoff teams from here on out – time to build good habits. They showed them in this game.

  • Skylardog

    Can clinch a playoff spot tonight with a win, or with a Minny loss, not that that is really important in the grand scheme of things.

    Getting Arizona as opposed to Vegas. Now there is an important target.

    • Off the wall

      It must be difficult to write a blog day after day. How do our writers continue to pump out all this information, while staying fresh on recent/ current topics?

      Research, dedication and staying up to the wee hours editing their work.

      I could never do it. I’d go crazy.
      ( that’s already debatable)

      A BIG shoutout to our FlamesNation staff for an admirable job in keeping us updated and informed all season long. I don’t know how many times I’ve been amazed at the sheer content and in depth analysis delivered each day.

      Thank you writers- all of you, for making this blog the best Nation site ever!

      I hope we can keep you all busy with postseason games that will last until June.

      Your tireless efforts do not go unnoticed!

      Cheers!

      • Off the wall

        Side note: My truck will be done on Tuesday with some Flames adorning ‘ole Stanley’.

        Is there an option for us to display our wheels for an upcoming blog?

        Not that it matters, as I’m proud to show off my Flames support for the postseason, here in Victoria! 🔥

  • Day1-Cfan

    Been trying to keep the comments to a minimum. Will stick to the glass half full.
    Sure like the looks of the team the last couple of games. Hope they keep cleaning up their game, get some hurts fixed up and stay ahead of the SJS.
    11 games to get to the real hockey!
    GFG!

  • Alberta Ice

    Once again I would like to thank the Blue Jackets, Oilers, and Canucks organizations for passing on Matty Tkachuk on draft day 2016. Good grief. Could you imagine where any of those organizations might be today if they had drafted him? And where we might be had we not? KIGF.

    • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

      Yup, hard to say that you can steal anyone at 6, but we STOLE him at 6. I remember when the canucks got up to the podium, all I could think was “they have to be taking him right?”. And then It starts…. “the Vancouver Canucks are proud to select, from the London Knights” and I’m thinking oh great, we JUST missed out…. and then they take Juolevi…. I honestly laughed out loud

      • Alberta Ice

        I was ecstatic and in shock that we actually got to draft this game scoring goal memorial Cup winner who is still showing he is a winner with a lot of incredible hockey know how. What an amazing pass to Johnny for his breakaway. That whole sequence is a highlight reel jaw dropper.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Hope you can keep saying that after Matty becomes the highest-paid Flame in history in another few month. Also lets hope that in Matty’s case the acorn will roll far, far away from the oak in that I’d hate to see Matty get the money and take after his old man who was one of the laziest and most disengaged players of his time despite having all he tools and a shiny toolbox to put them in. If you ever get the chance, ask the likes of former Flames Theo Fleury and Stevie Bozek what it was like to play against the much bigger and more skilled Keith Tkachuk. Their insights will also help you to understand why the Yank pros despite having talent coming out of their ying yang struggle so mightily in the Olympics and World Cup.

      I am not thankful at those other clubs for passing on Chuck as I am that hopeful that Chucky is his own man–unlike your PM Trudeau–and will slash out a career very different from his old man’s.

  • Trevy

    This is why BT went out and signed some depth players. Flames didn’t miss a beat with Mony out. We still have great options to tinker with going forward and we’ll see who rises up to the challenge with this opportunity. Tonight is going to be an epic battle

    • Lazarus

      They were fine without Monahan for 2 periods against the Rangers with the lead yes. Surely you aren’t insinuating he wouldn’t be missed if he was out long term though

      • Trevy

        What team wouldn’t miss a perennial 30 goal scorer? Simply saying that someone like Janko could possibly move up and showcase himself on the top line as an example

        • supra steve

          More likely Lindholm at C with JG on his left and Neal (when he returns) on the right? This would not disrupt any of the other 3 lines. The Flames have depth like we haven’t seen in decades.

          • Trevy

            Somehow I believe they’re going to leave Lindholm and Johnny in their respective positions and replace experiment a couple players as their center during the game to see who steps up. Do we know if Neal or Quine is playing yet?

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Nice to see the boys meeting expectations and crushing an inferior opponent. Will need all hands on deck for a strong jets team on a back to back while down our top line center.

    Funny how stats go sometimes. A 5-1 thrashing and somehow Lindholm was a -1

  • Em Durp Em Hrudey

    Ok Google failed me. Let’s see if anyone on Flames nation has got this. Backlund has 46 penalty minutes this year. How many of them are for lazy or stupid stick infractions. It seems to me that he takes a lot of unnecessary penalties and if this is the case Peters better smarten him up b4 playoffs. Don’t dislike him, but this is the type of garbage that can cost them games come playoff time.

    • Cfan in Van

      I think a lot of that isn’t laziness, but his style of play. He’s a top defensive forward who doesn’t play crash and bang. He’s 90% positioning and stick work, so he’s going to take some stick infractions.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I would love to see Janko get his shot with Johnny but I have come to the realization that is is not going to happen. He is not playing like he deserves it but Ryan is.

  • The GREAT WW

    Interesting look at the top 7 scoring leaders;

    4 first overall picks (McDavid, Kane, Crosby, McKinnon)

    3rd overall: Drisaddle.

    58 overall: Kucherov.

    104 overall; GAUDREAU!!!!!!!

    WW

  • Raoul Duke

    I think Rittich is regaining his swagger and is ready to take the reins as the number of. The entire team did a fairly good job of minimizing the chances against, so Rittich didn’t have a difficult night. There was one big save that I think was the turning point in the game, right after the Flames went up 2-1 the Rangers stormed right back up the ice and Rittich flashed the leather and made a big save. If that goes in the game goes completely different.