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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Kings 3, Flames 0 post-game embers: Bland and boring

And, when you factor in context – the best team in the West against the worst, and when the best still has something to play for (first isn’t clinched yet) – it’d probably be fair to also say bad. The Flames have certainly looked better.

Feel of the game

The Kings scored early, which was… fine. Whatever. We’ve seen the Flames concede goals to lottery-bound teams before, but it hasn’t exactly stopped them over the course of 60 minutes. So why would it this time?

Well. The Flames blatantly outplayed the Kings, but it wasn’t a particularly meaningful kind of outplaying. That is to say: they got a lot of shots, but how many were dangerous? You congratulate Jack Campbell for a job well done, but he also didn’t have to do a ton to begin with. He had his glove side pretty well covered; the Flames kept going for it. He was, perhaps, busier watching the Flames pass to one another than he had to focus on stopping pucks himself. And when the Flames had a powerplay, Campbell had the luxury of mostly being able to watch as the Kings forced the Flames to chase.

And that was basically the entire game. There were spurts of the Flames actually looking dangerous (mostly powered by the 3M line), but for the most part, nothing happened. The Flames started slow, and by the time they were ready to do something, the Kings had little problems stymieing them. When they doubled their lead in the third period, even with more than enough time left for the Flames to catch up, you knew that was it. The empty net confirmed it.

The good news

During a game in which the Flames didn’t seem too inclined to play, one line really showed up: Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, and Michael Frolik. That trio was easily the most dangerous of the bunch, and consistently so. Their passes didn’t always connect – whatever was plaguing the rest of the group seeped into their games as well at times – but they stood out positively in what was, otherwise, a complete and total slog.

Didn’t mind the top pairing one bit, either. Mark Giordano giving it his all is always good to see, and TJ Brodie’s been really solid as of late.

Killing off a lengthy five-on-three? Always a good thing to do. Things had the potential to be much worse than they were. It even looked like, at one point, they were going to try to score during the five-on-three which, hey, you’ve gotta admire the commitment before traditionalism (and, perhaps, sanity) took over.

Goaltending did its best to help the team in a fruitless cause – fruitless because of the skaters in front.

The bad news

The Flames were credited with 42 shots, which is cool and all, but they rarely, if ever, actually seemed like they were scoring chances. There were a couple in there, for sure, but outshooting an opponent 42-20 sounds like it should be dominant and it just never really felt that way. Grumbling about the bottom six is petty – they’re the bottom six for a reason – but the top line is a whole other story in and of itself. One that – stop me if you’ve heard this one before – needs to get going. Occasionally Johnny Gaudreau seemed primed to try to do everything himself but never really got that deep in the offensive zone to do it, occasionally the top line seemed to connect on a passing play and a shot would go off, but the Flames needed one of the highest scoring lines in hockey to do something and they just were not doing it. At all.

The powerplay was particularly miserable. It took too many chances for them to actually get set up, and once they did, it was mostly just a whole lot of passing with no actual shooting. It has now been 18 straight powerplays without a goal. A decent powerplay is going to score about a fifth of the time; it has been over two weeks. They’ve scored two powerplay goals in the month of March.

Two penalties in his second game back is probably not the return James Neal had in mind for himself, but alas. There were far worse problems than his play, but he’s still one that’s going to get watched a little more closely since this has been a poor season (albeit with an uncharacteristically low shooting percentage) and his return has yet to actually do something for the lineup.

Numbers of note

71.59% – The Flames’ 5v5 CF. Sure, they outplayed the Kings, and noticeably so, but that was about it.

10-6 – Switch to all situations, and via Natural Stat Trick, the Flames had 10 total high-danger corsi events to the Flames’ six. (At 5v5, the Flames had eight – so they got just two high-danger corsi events out of four powerplays. Wow.)

90.91% – Brodie’s corsi for, at 5v5. A grand total of two corsi events went against him. A lot of Flames had high ratings, but his really stood out.

13, 4 – The disparity between the second and first lines: Frolik is credited as being on the ice for 13 high-danger corsi events at 5v5; for Gaudreau, just four. One line was working, one was not, and the numbers back it up.

7 – Backlund led the way with seven shots on net. Giordano was second with six shots. The ones that were going for it were obvious, at least (possibly further in part because there was so few of them).

19:20 – So it’s probably not a surprise that Backlund led all Flames forwards in ice time (19:20) and at just 5v5 (14:39). Frolik and Tkachuk had the second and third highest forward 5v5 ice times, too.

20.4% – The Flames have gone from having a top 10 powerplay to 14th in the NHL.

5 – The Flames have now been shut out five times this season, and for the second time in just under three weeks. They were previously shut out twice in December, and once in late November.

Final thought

So the Flames had a bad game. It happens. The entire season hasn’t been washed away, they’re still very likely to be the first place team in the Western Conference, and they still have just as good a shot at making some noise in the playoffs as they did when they were beating up other teams 5-1 or 9-4 or whatever. There’s no “well at least they got that out of the way,” there’s no “this team is a lazy disgrace” – they’re just a good team that had a bad game.

Though it would be great if the top line consistently got things going again. If there was any one red flag earlier in the season – if there’s any one overarching concern now – it’s that. It didn’t change with Monday night’s game, just as it hasn’t changed much as of late.



      • Alberta Ice

        There was one game last night that was the exception to the rule – the Tampa Bay Lightning. Good grief. 2 goals down to the Bruins in the 3rd. 3 unanswered goals to win it. The question becomes, “Does any other team have a chance to win the Cup this year?” Doubtful. Hopefully the Flames can make it an interesting run and we can have some enjoyment. Games like last night are hard to swallow as we close in on the post season. Agree WW- onto the next game (of which Dallas has beat us twice by one goal, so got to do better for sure).

    • cjc

      I disagree with the assessment here. Sometimes a good team loses to a bad one. They weren’t as dangerous as they have sometimes looked, but if they get a couple bounces they win.

      The powerplay is a big concern – you need it when things aren’t going in at 5v5. But beyond that they were pretty good. We are nitpicking here.

      • oddclod

        Agreed. Not a bad game. They looked structured with great puck speed. Just a first place team going through their paces. it’s gonna come together nicely. Young team still, it’s on the coach to get em ready. Players have proven effective. Neal’s starting to shove, Smitty battling for the starter job like any team could ask for, great signs moving forward. GFG

  • Skylardog

    Love this team, love the season, love the record, love the scoring…

    But red flags are starting to go up, and I am not talking about the 4 red car flags I have ready for the post season.

    The fourth line cannot put this team on their backs and carry them in the playoffs like they have been for the past month. Your stars have to do that.

    Right now 6 of your top 9 forwards are not cutting it. Peters and the boys better figure this thing out quick.

    You have to go Quine in for Czar next game, just to shake things up. Czar has been invisible as of late (along with others), but it appears his goal run after returning to the lineup was the aberration, not the long run for the other 43 games or so that says he is not an NHLer. And you all thought he was the second coming. Just wait until the game really gets physical once the playoffs start.

    Neal has about 4 games left to show he belongs in the line up. After that, he needs to take a seat. That won’t happen.
    Mony needs rest. If he isn’t hurt, then he needs a dose of perspective from the popcorn section. Either way he needs the next 4 games off.

    The problem here is we only have 1 extra forward on the roster. I get that, we have to look after cap (bonuses can’t get put into next season). But we need to send Mony, Janko, and Czar immediate messages, and Lindholm, Johnny, and Benny (I know he is injured but his game was fading before he went out) messages if they don’t pick it up while the first 3 are getting nights off.

    Quite frankly, I don’t thing Peters knows how to fix the funk we are in. He has belief of who are the best 13 forwards are, and will be/is, unwilling to look beyond. The best 19 guys will not be on the ice when the playoffs start.

    Love the passion Hath showed in going in against Dion when he went after Mangi. Could we get that passion from the other 3 lines please. Hath so gets that you protect your line mates. What we saw after Smith got knocked down in the Vancouver game was laughable.

  • UpTkachuk

    Not that it matters…
    This game would have had a very different look if Tkachuk would have “dropped them” with Doughty.
    Had this game mattered more, the entire team could have been “pulled” into the game with this fight.
    …would have been great to see…

    • Ralph Waldo Emerson

      …would have been great to see…

      Yes, yes – let’s risk injury on a playoff bound team by fighting a lottery-bound team.
      Genius. Pure, unadulterated GENIUS.

  • Off the wall

    That game was so boring, that even Johnny Sockey fell asleep watching it with me.

    He likes to bark when we score a goal. No wonder he fell asleep.
    Poor dog. We had our pre game warm-up playing sock hockey, he was great. Stopped a couple of one-timers I had labeled for our make-shift net. He follows the stuffed sock so closely.
    Kind of like the way Campbell did last night.

    I think he’s ready for the DHL, the Dog Hockey League. He’s been in the Minors for 4 years, waiting for his opportunity. He doesn’t have playoff experience, but he’s biting at the sock, for his shot at the BIGS. He’s small, but damn he’s fast. He’s been working on his (paw) edges for some time. I’ve yet to see a dog as small as him, that can turn as quickly as he does.

    He knows a good one- timer when he sees one. It’s hilarious how he doesn’t take his eyes off the sock. I keep reminding him to take the body, not the sock. But he’s come a long way.
    Speaking of one- timers …It sure would be nice to see one of those on our PP.

    My wife thinks I’m crazy . I’ve heated up the plastic- pasta spoon several times, just to get the right curve on it. It’s a beauty! Whenever Johnny sees me pull it out of his hockey bag, he goes… nuts. Yes he has his own hockey bag, with his number on it. It makes him feel special.

    Not once has he complained about sock-hockey. He’s always ready. Put me in coach, I’m ready to play!

    It would be really nice to have this kind of enthusiasm from our players, especially since we’re still trying to obtain 1st in the Conference.

    Oh well, at least Johnny Sockey and I had a great time…

  • Ramskull

    Smith played well last night but I think the team plays better with Rittich in net. I haven’t looked for stats to support it but I think this team is a better scoring team when Rittich plays. Which makes me wonder if Smith’s puck handling skills are not only overrated but detrimental to the attack.

  • KootenayFlamesFan

    If you think Calgary looked bad, watch the SJ-DET game! Pretty sure Detroit had a record number of breakaways in that game. It seemed like every second shift they got one. That game should have been WAAAY out of reach long before the end.

    • ZZMiddle

      For those of you new to this, lets talk about how the game changes come playoffs. Large, tough men run around intimidating small, not so tough men. Players finish most every hit available to them. Ref’s put their whistles away. What was a penalty in the regular season, is not a penalty in the playoffs. No matter what the new age tofu generation media tell you, the truth is, when hockey is played by men, intimidation is a huge factor. Threat of injury is real. Tre has built a fine regular season team. When your team is so completely undersized as this one, with as many soft players on it as this one, you are doomed in the playoffs. Was wondering years ago why they drafted, added such tiny men to the organization on a regular basis. There is no “new NHL”. Come time to battle for the coveted Stanley Cup, it will be a war. This team does not have the size, strength, or mean streak to win it. And they all know it.

      • Rockmorton65

        ZZ – I agree that the Flames lack a certain “sandpaper” quality, but the game is shifting. There’s a reason why heavy teams like LA and Anaheim are at the bottom of the standings.

        • ZZMiddle

          While I do appreciate your point Rock, I have to disagree. LA and the Ducks are at the bottom because their top players got old. I hope I am wrong, but, this aint my first rodeo. Seen this show before. Maybe the Flames can buck the trend, time will tell.

          • Skylardog

            Agree.

            Playoffs are built for guys that can skate and hit or be hit. This team, and in particular the top line, are already unwilling to go into the tough areas. It will only get worse unless they take it up a notch.

            That is why Hath is beginning to excel now. It has moved from a skill game to a war, and the first bombs haven’t even been dropped yet. Byng is getting into the dirty areas too, but last night he left them once it got uncomfortable.

            The Flames played on the perimeter in the LA zone because no one wanted to get into the physical battles.

          • Porcupine at a balloon party

            Going to play devils advocate here. I would suggest Calgary had no interest in getting involved in a dirty playoff type game against a team that IS NOT in the playoffs nor will likely be in the playoffs in next couple years. Just cause Doughty runs his mouth doesnt mean we have to get involved in a dirty game. Look at the Vancouver game, Markstrom throwing slashes, Edler running Smith. Having Hathaway on the ice doesn’t change that. Nor does Reaves. Tkachuk had no problems running VGK goalie despite them having a nuclear deterrent in reaves.

            LA has nothing to lose, so they play like that. We on the other hand, are trying to stay healthy for the playoffs. I have no issues with them trying to evade getting into a dirty game with a team that is not in our league.

            As for “toughness wins Championships” … I see the argument, and don’t dispute the logic in it. But for every “tough” team that wins the cup, you have a “skill” team that wins the cup (or even 2:1 I would say). If we wanted a team of goons, we could’ve signed PC as GM… but thank god we didnt.

          • Porcupine at a balloon party

            Previous Cup Winners
            2018 – Washington – Hybrid Skill / Toughness but would lean more to skill
            2017 – Pittsburgh – Skill
            2016 – Pittsburgh – Skill
            2015 – Chicago – Skill
            2014 – LA – Tough
            2013 – Chicago – Skill
            2012 – LA – Tough
            2011 – Boston – Tough
            2010 – Chicago – Skill
            2009 – Pittsburgh – Skill
            2008 – Detroit – Skill
            7-3 skill to tough cup winners +1 hybrid. I’ll take my chances with the best team in the west as it is thank you very much

      • HOCKEY83

        3 guys are below 6 feet tall the rest are between 6 and 6’5″. all but 8 are well over 200 pounds. what they lack in height or weight which would be minimal they make up for in massive offensive talent. Flames should worry about these teams that appear to be smaller than them because….?
        Colorado 9 guys under 6 foot.
        Minnie 8 guys under 6 foot
        Dallas 5 guys under 6 foot.
        Arizona 5 guys under 6 foot
        San Jose 8 guys under 6 feet
        Nashville 8 guys under 6 feet
        St Louis 2 guys under 6 seven guys right at 6
        vegas 1 guy under 6 but they do have 8 guys right at 6 even
        Winnipeg is the biggest team in the west…Maybe Nashville can take them out…but to say we are Completly undersized when we are bigger than most possible playoff matchups is ridiculous. Relax..enjoy the best Calgary Flames team the city has seen in 30 years.

        • ZZMiddle

          Not sure you see this clearly. Janko. Big, soft man. Monahan, fairly big, soft man. Backs, Fro Brodie, Hanifin, soft soft soft. I could go on, but I hope you see what Im sayin. So funny you people here after the Canucks game. F’n ref’s. Dirty Canucks players! haha That was barely a taste of whats coming and the poster’s are whining. I already said, I hope Im wrong. But most likely this place will be a whine fest right after the boys get manhandled in the playoffs. Nuff from me. Will keep this stuff to myself from here on out. Good luck.

          • Skylardog

            Yes – Its not how big you are, its how you play.

            And by big I do not mean goon. Malkin is not a whimp. He hits, he fights, Crosby is tough. Toews, Zib when he was there, and the defense on Chicago – tough.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Better start spending time on the power play, it is so predictable, bump pass to Johnny, teams are ready for this. Shoot more, tip shots, bang in rebounds, get dirty in front of the net, nobody except Tkachuk causing havoc in front of the net. No time for pretty passes come playoffs, hard to the net, work hard.
    Also, so tired of Kelly Hrudy singing the praises of James Neil, plays hard with an edge? That ship has sailed.

    • Alberta Ice

      Totally agree about the power play. Johnny looks very predictable. Neal looks very lost at times. On a positive, wow, can Andrew Mangiapane put on the jets! I would like to see him thrown into that first line power play and see what happens.

    • flames2015

      Exactly the PP has become predictable. Teams don’t have to prepare for the point shot because no one takes it. It still bothers me how we do not have a right shot playing on the left flank for one timers. We pass around the perimeter all day, and the only guy who will shoot is Lindholm on the right side. Fire some one timers, fire some intentional wides shots off the back boards and hope for a rebound. I think it’s time to ditch the four forwards and 1 d set up. Move Anderson up to first unit PP so we have some more point shots happening.

  • redwhiteblack

    The top line has been off for a month and a half now. The consequences will not be good if that trend continues. I would argue they have no time left to get going. They are not generating many good chances. How did they all go from dependably hot to dependably cold? Are they all hurting? What gives?

    • Flameon13

      I posted this earlier on another thread but I will again for you to see.
      Monny has 4 of his 31 goals since the all-star break. He has 43 shots on net for a 9.3 shooting percentage over that time down from a 15% career average. He averaged 3.10 shots per game before the break and is now averaging 1.87 shots per game.
      Lindholm has 6 of his 27 goals since the all-star break. He has 57 shots on net for a 10.5 shooting percentage over that time still slightly above a 10.2% career average. He averaged 2.33 shots per game before the break and is now averaging 2.28 shots per game down slightly.
      Johnny has 6 of his 35 goals since the all-star break. He has 68 shots on net for a 8.8 shooting percentage over that time down from a 12.8% career average. He averaged 3.31 shots per game before the break and is now averaging 2.72 shots per game.
      A total of 18 goals scored by our first line in the 25 games since the all-star break (Monny missed 2 of those games). Based on the numbers the whole top line seems to be snake bitten as far as shooting percentages, but overall the shots generated by the top line has dropped (besides Lindy) a lot. Whether due to over passing or injury something is not right on our top line and is really becoming a concern with the playoffs around the corner. The fact our sniper is averaging over a shot per game less may be the most concerning and probably indicates an injury of some sort and based on his percentage being down too its possible its some sort of hand/wrist injury.

      • redwhiteblack

        Great stats breakdown, thanks. If Monny is hurt again that does not bode well for the playoffs… or for future years as it would now be a trend. I would not say any established NHL player is soft, but in contrast to those who push through and excel, (Gilmour, Roberts, Iggy, Thachuk) Monny is not even close. I wish he was but he is not.

    • Toma41

      Johnny looks fine. The other 2 look hurt. Monahan can’t shoot the puck anymore. Shades of last season. Real question is, how long do we last in the playoffs if they continue playing like this? Depth scoring only helps when your stars are playing like stars.

  • Toma41

    Also noticed Fantenburg get beat a few times last night. I think Kylington should be given a few more games. His speed and offensive upside would help. I’m confused as to why he has been scratched so long.

  • Flameon13

    Drouin might not like playing in Montreal maybe a Brodie for Drouin trade this offseason? Has spent time on the right wing and would finally fill that right wing scoring slot on the second line that’s been missing.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Monny’s play is a touchy subject in our house right now. My older daughter has always been a fan likely due to his matinee idol looks. She has a hard time admitting that his play has slipped despite my supporting stats.

    I am not sure if Monny is injured or not but I am sure that he is not showing the fire to get out of this funk. Most star players would be embarassed and help the team win in other ways when they are not scoring….Bennett, Janko, and Hath do this.

    I think the first point of order is to replace Monny on the PP with Mangi. Monny is becoming very predictable which makes our PP predictable. Last night I saw a PP with Johnny, Monny, Tkachuk, Gio and Brodie. It was pretty easy to defend since teams know Brodie won’t shoot, Johnny is a pass first player not known for his shot. Monny is known for his shot but like Neal he is not quick enough to get it off lately.

    BP May feel that Monny needs to stay on the top line to get out of this funk and maybe that is the case but if he is not getting his shot off, won’t fight for space in front of the net, can’t protect the puck or enter the zone with any consistency…what is his role.

    These are all the things I try and tell my daughter but like BP she does not want to hear it.

  • Great Wall of Kipru

    Im sorry to seem outwright or u knowledgeable but does no one remember when monanhan was hitting puck s out of the air like the. Great one in the Anaheim series if anyone has a doubt of Monahan a next level think back to when his back was broken in jrs and the team didn’t bring his gear to the rink in playoffs but he showed and was the MVP by far unreal but I’m sorry if this feels like a far shot for you but I believe in moneyhands that guy can be frickin Jenny’s when he try’s