It’s a lot easier to talk about a meaningless game when the team at least scores some goals.
Feel of the game
The game was sloppy from both teams, though particularly so for the Flames. The Oliver Kylington-Dalton Prout defence pairing had a bit of a rough time, spotting the Ducks two early goals (that’ll make for some good learning moments, one would think). Some wide open ice and pretty passing from the makeshift top line got the Flames back within one, but that was pretty much all they had in them.
Ryan Miller made some good saves on some good chances, but the Ducks were definitely the better team, and the game was cemented when Ryan Getzlaf briefly reminded us Rasmus Andersson is still a rookie (but what a rookie he is) and scored to make it 3-1 just as a Flames powerplay had expired.
The Flames got plenty of powerplay opportunities but didn’t do anything with them, and it was an all around pointless, dull affair. Kudos to whoever needed a tuneup; that game was for them and nobody else.
The good news
Derek Ryan continues to be absolutely awesome. This season he’s quickly gone from “why are you here, you aren’t doing much” to the embodiment of what it means for a team to have outstanding depth. There’s a reason he’s the one who has gotten to play with Johnny Gaudreau for a couple of games; he’s genuinely talented and puts the work in. Great player.
Matthew Tkachuk popped up in the offensive zone with a number of close chances, so good to see him going for it. It’ll be more meaningful in a couple of games.
Oscar Fantenberg only has one assist as a Flame, but it was nice to see him up in the play and trying to score a fair bit, as well. Especially since he’s made it clear he should be the team’s sixth defenceman.
A couple of times the Flames had the chance to throw out a Valimaki-Andersson pairing and it was a cool glimpse of what could be to come.
The bad news
From Game 1 to Game 81, opposing players are pulling dangerous moves on Dillon Dube for some reason. What did he do? The hit on Sam Bennett the previous game was rough and certainly had the worse outcome, but Jacob Larsson’s boarding on Dube was vicious and uncalled for. What the hell.
Numbers of note
36.71% – The Flames’ 5v5 CF. They weren’t exactly thinking about this one.
4 – Tkachuk, Fantenberg, and Juuso Valimaki led the way with four shots each. A bit of positive standouts there in a game otherwise pretty devoid of them.
38 – With his goal, Ryan tied his career high in points: 38, which he registered in 2017-18 as well. One more game to pick up another point and break it, though coming up with an even 40 would be cool, too – and would give the Flames seven 40-point scorers.
98 – Happy Gaudreau was in on the Flames’ lone goal. Two more points in one game would be nice, and hopefully he gets it. Assuming it’s a full lineup for Game 82, Gaudreau will be the only Flame to dress in all 82 games this season.
109 – The maximum number of points the Flames can reach this season. One more win or any kind of Boston loss will clinch second overall in the NHL for the Flames. Boston sits at 105 points with two games to go, so they can hit 109 points as well, but the Flames will hold the first tiebreaker should it come down to that. Oh – and Boston’s regular season finale is against Tampa. So it’s not a done deal yet, but…
Well, that was definitely a game that happened. A couple of young Ducks players had something to prove; nobody else did. Soon the Flames will get the chance to play for a lot more than two meaningless points. And the rookies of theirs that will be dressing next week will get the chance to contribute to a whole lot more than merely trying to stake out a place in an NHL lineup next season.