Photo Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Avalanche 3, Flames 2 (OT) post-Game 4 embers: Running out of time

The Flames looked much better to start off Game 4. They took some very necessary steps forward. It was the kind of game you’d be happy with if they were tuning up for the playoffs, not fighting to avoid being one game away from getting eliminated.

Feel of the game

After the overall disaster that was Game 3, the bar was set pretty low for the Flames, but they were able to clear it early. No, they weren’t getting too much in the way of actual offensive chances of their own – occasionally thwarted by a missed pass or a stick just not being in the exact spot it needed to be, mostly thwarted by their own undoing as they played a perimeter game in the offensive zone – but they were also doing something very right: they were limiting what the Avalanche, and specifically Nathan MacKinnon, were able to do.

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That’s where the positives end. It seems as though the Avs have gotten completely in the Flames’ heads: they were easily burned by them in Game 3, so they focused on shutting them down in Game 4. Unfortunately, while working to shut them down, they neglected to actually try to score themselves.

As the game went on, that structure loosened up, and everything devolved into chaos. Or, rather, chaos from the Flames’ point of view, because the Avalanche seemed to know what they were doing. They were consistently the more dangerous team, that earlier structure turning into “eh, Mike Smith will handle it,” with no real visible payoff for the Flames themselves.

Sure, the Flames led for most of the game, and even briefly had a two-goal lead in the third period, but right when that earlier defensive structure really would have helped them, they let the Avalanche dictate everything. That resulted in the game being tied with mere minutes to go and, just like in Game 2, set the Avalanche – the better team all night – up for the win.

The Flames aren’t dead yet, and they made real progression in this game. But after seeing how the first four have gone, expecting them to win three in a row might be a tall order. Sure, things would be different if they could have held on in Games 2 and 4, but the poor play would have still been there, and has been for most of these playoffs.

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A number one seed shouldn’t be letting a number eight seed dictate the series to them, and yet here we are.

The good news

Smith. Doesn’t really need elaborating at this point. He’s the main reason they won Game 1 and is the main reason Games 2 and 4 were even winnable to begin with.

Rasmus Andersson and Juuso Valimaki. This was technically Andersson’s rookie season, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I thought of him as a rookie: he’s been poised for months on end and he was one of the few Flames actually consistently trying to create offence, whether it be through taking a lot of shots or even straight up driving to the net. As for Valimaki, he not only picked up his first career playoff point, but he stood out on a couple of defensive plays as well – all in his very first playoff game, after barely playing in the NHL since November. The Flames have a bright future on their backend with those two; it seems like a top pairing in the making.

As poorly as things have gone, it’s really cool to see all of these players who haven’t had a chance to do anything in the playoffs make the most of it. The two defencemen referenced above are two of them, as is fellow rookie Andrew Mangiapane. It was also nice to see Elias Lindholm get his first playoff goal (as disappointing as he’s been overall the past several games). But the real feel-good moment goes to Derek Ryan: he took the long road to get to the big league, he never had the chance to play in the playoffs before, and at 32 years young, he got his first playoff goal, too. He’s been a revelation since at least the second half of the season, and it was awesome to see him achieve that.

The bad news

Nathan MacKinnon is still the best player on the ice. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing in and of itself – some things just can’t be helped – but it would be nice if one of the experienced, talented Flames skaters (say, anyone who scored 70+ points in the season) could challenge him at some point.

I’m really loathe to put him here, because there was a lot of blame to go around – these are team-wide failures, it isn’t isolated moments costing the Flames their past three games, it’s 60+ minutes of just not being the better team – but Mikael Backlund had some rough sequences to end the game. The late penalty call (though Noah Hanifin could have joined him in really wearing the goat horns right after), being that close to scoring the overtime winner and just failing, and missing his man on the actual overtime winner. His line showed a lot of improvement from the previous game, too; things just deteriorated as the game went on. He’s still an important player for the Flames, which is what made the end of the game such a shame for him.

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That said: in the regular season, the Flames were tied for the second most goals scored with 289. The instant analysis for this series was that the Flames’ scoring abilities would overwhelm the Avalanche and their main weakness would be in net. It’s been the opposite: their strength has been in net and their scoring has completely dried up. It’s not a case of Philipp Grubauer outplaying Smith, either; they just are not getting the chances. At all. The top line briefly had some life early in the game and it just went away. Nobody could make anything actually connect. The powerplay remains non-lethal. You’re not going to win if you can barely score.

So far, the only way the Flames have been able to win is if Smith gets a shutout. That’s a terrible strategy to take – especially when giving up 50+ shots to the other team in back-to-back games.

The officiating was better this time around – the refs actually let the teams play, for the most part – but what they chose to let go and what they chose to actually call was baffling. Oh well!

Numbers of note

40.65% – The Flames’ 5v5 CF on the night. It got progressively worse as the game went on, culminating in a particularly brutal 34.38% third period. They may have been the second best team on the ice, but they might have pulled off a win if they had played better to close out the game.

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60%+ – Only two Flames players had high corsi ratings on the night: Valimaki and Andersson.

1+ – Seven players have gotten their first career playoff point(s) out of this series: Matthew Tkachuk, Andersson, Lindholm, Mangiapane, Ryan, Valimaki, and Hanifin.

1 – Johnny Gaudreau has all of one assist in this series. So that’s not great. There’s nobody else who can really fill that 99-point void. Players like that are really tough to find – so when they go cold in the all-or-nothing nature that is the playoffs, the entire team feels that.

0 – Six Flames still have yet to pick up a point this series: Oscar Fantenberg, Michael Frolik, Travis Hamonic, James Neal, Garnet Hathaway, and Mark Jankowski. Of the six, Frolik and Hathaway are probably the only ones who deserve at least a point at this stage. As a depth defenceman now unlikely to draw back in, Fantenberg gets a pass.

52 – The Flames followed up allowing the Avalanche 56 shots in Game 3 by letting them get 52 in Game 4. They are not in this series. At all.

7 – Andersson led the shot clock for the Flames with seven of his own; the next highest was three from Backlund, Lindholm, and Mark Giordano each. On the one hand: yay, Andersson is awesome! On the other hand: what the hell is this formerly high-scoring team doing with a rookie third pairing defenceman taking the offensive charge?

17 minutes – Valimaki and Andersson both got relatively limited minutes compared to the rest of the Flames defence, but they provided everything and more you could possibly want out of a bottom defence pairing. No guarantee they’d have played as well as they did if they’d gotten more minutes and tougher opponents (they were kept mostly away from MacKinnon), but it probably couldn’t have hurt to have given them a shot.

Final thought

Welcome to the playoffs, in which the regular season doesn’t matter. Yes, the Flames are disappointing right now: they shouldn’t be on the verge of being eliminated in five games. But also, the NHL playoffs are the epitome of things just sometimes happening. No team is going to be a bigger disappointment than the Lightning were this year, but nobody’s going to say the Lightning were a bad team based on just four games, right?

It’s hard to win a championship: there’s a guarantee someone will do it every year, but it’s only ever going to be one team. A lot of things have to go right for that one team to do it.

Things aren’t going right for the Flames right now, and that’s largely their own doing. But don’t forget: they still have the foundations in place for a good future, and they didn’t go all in this year. The long-term should be fine, even if the short-term is frustrating.

  • The Sultan

    This team needs major changes. Time to restart the rebuild and move on from #13 and #23. Absolutely no heart or compete level. Consistently disappointed, outclassed and outplayed. This team isn’t winning anything with Monahan and Gaudreau.

    • _vntony

      Careful, folks around here will want to skin you alive for saying you want to shake things up by trading Monahan or Gaudreau.
      While I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to trade Gaudreau, but if you can get a true elite/#1 centre upgrade over Monahan, I’d do it any day.

      • The Sultan

        Gaudreau has been an absolute non-factor for this entire series. Never seen someone so scared to touch the puck or shy away from physical contact. He needs to take a page out of Mangiapane’s book and learn to play tough. But at this point I’d cut my loses and trade him while his value is high.

        • fumanchu1968

          I have always been on the fence with Gaudreau. He is a good player but his constant whining about being hacked and slashed is a buzz kill. Last night he was elbowed in the face, and even though he still had control of the puck he put his hands to his face and dropped to puck in order to complain to the ref..that was in the offensive zone – he should be a soccer player. I would not shed one tear if he is traded. Monahan is a keeper.

    • quinneroma

      I”m a diehard Flames fan, and for years I thought Monahan was a Jonathan Toews type player, but nope,not even close. His compete level in our own end is horrendous, and he doesn’t go into the corners offensively to get pucks either. So only Lindholm is doing it, and he looks worn out from having to do so all the time, for the past 30 games! I would explore the Trade market for Monahan and Gaudreau, and take whatever anyone is willing to give for Brodie. He’s awful. Neal needs to be healthy scratched for Czarnik or Dube, asap. Jankowski too. Too many

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Way to slow, Av’s skating circles around the Flames, fast precise passing and shooting. Guys like Neil are totally useless in this new style of hockey, Sakic has that figured that out, BT is going to have to adjust in the off season.
    Put Dube, Czanik in, we need speed. Sure can’t blame Smith, without his outstanding goaltending we’d be blown out every game.

  • Day1-Cfan

    At the TDL I was happy to go with the ones that got us to the dance and get some playoff experience. Sure was hoping that we would get a little more payoff experience than 5 or 6 games, still possible but looking less and less likely. There still is some slim hope. But someone is warming up the vocal chords.

  • Skylardog

    I will start by saying one thing that we all need to remember as we wake up disappointed this morning:

    All of the Flames players, gave it all that they had through the first four games of the series. You don’t become a high level professional athlete by not giving it your all in the biggest games. It is not in their nature. Sometimes, it just isn’t enough.

    But to ice the same 12 forwards, in the same configuration, when 2 of the 4 lines, including the top line, have struggled for the last 31 games of the regular season, and now 4 post season games, is sheer and utter madness.

    All of my fears have been realized this morning. What I saw back in January, when the Flames an the first line were absolutely rolling, have come to fruition.

    It will end however even before I expected it to. I thought we would at least make it to round 2.

    Johnny and Mony have now gone 8 straight playoff games without a goal for, at 5v5. And our lack of two true scoring top lines, has left us on the brink of elimination, when it so could have been a trip to the Dome to end this round on Friday, all for the want of just one more top 6 forward that pots or sets up a key goal in regulation in the 2 overtime games.

    I will hold out a slim hope of a 3 game win streak. But when you allow 108 shots in just 2 games, that hope is less than slim.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      “But to ice the same 12 forwards, in the same configuration, when 2 of the 4 lines, including the top line, have struggled for the last 31 games of the regular season, and now 4 post season games, is sheer and utter madness.”

      This makes too much sense to me.

    • buts

      To have 3 previous games where this lineup under performed and the only change you make is to a #6 defensemen showed that BP isn’t the smartest. Neil is an anchor with 0 points in 4 games, Monahan is a #2 centre, Frolik is over the hill as he can check only he has no offense and is a 4th liner at best. When your best playoff line is your 4th line you have problems. Bottom line is Monahan, Frolik and Neil are dragging down 3 of our 4 lines and you can bet that Dube, Czarnik would help 2 of those 3 under performing lines, Brodie and Hanifin just won’t hit and are too soft, Gio has looked slow in the last few weeks. Backlund took another bonehead penalty that cost us the game. You can complain about refs all you want but you can’t give the refs a chance to make that call with 3 minutes left in a 2-1 game. Smith has raised his level of play and unfortunately from the captain to 3 of the 4 lines …they haven’t raised there play. Anyone that has watched playoff hockey knows that you have to raise your compete/grit level in the playoffs and the majority haven’t. Treliving has a lot of holes to fill before this team can compete for the cup.

      • Heeeeere’s Johnny

        Disagree on Hanifin. He has been throwing his weight around enough. 4 hits last night and the game before. I do believe the softness in this team is an issue that starts with Peters. His teams are known for low penalties which means lower physicality. Moving on to players on D the soft guy is Brodie as you identify. We need to move on from him anyway to get our young guys ice. On F there are three guys that are soft and I would do something about two of them for sure … Jankowski and Monahan. The third is Johnny.

        Jankowski I’m sitting him down and telling him he’s not good enough to not use his size … turn it up or get lost. Dube can take his job next year. I’m starting to warm up to bringing Ferland back if the price isn’t stupid.

        Monahan I’ve seen enough. This series has exposed that we aren’t getting where we need to go with him. Trade him for a 1st line RW and move Lindy to 1C. Should be an available deal as a 2C would be worth a 1st line winger.

        Johnny is a wild card. I love the talent but the approach isn’t playoff ready. He can be effective as a complementary piece in the playoffs but can’t drive the game the way he plays. If a deal comes up to move him out east for top line talent I’m listening

        • flames2015

          Rudy, Backlund has more penalties than anyone in the dying minutes of a period. So no it’s not unlucky, he needs to have awareness and not take stupid penalties when the refs were calling everything against us.

    • trox

      Related point on lack of adjustments. No counter-strategy after 4 games of having the Avs move the puck with speed through the neutral zone at will. I don’t understand Peters’ thinking on this.

    • Luter 1

      Totally disagree Skylardog, lots of guys not even close to giving it their all. Just like on the job some give more than others even when the talent or skills are different. Playoff hockey is about heart and we haven’t shown near enough. Peters really hasn’t done anything to take Colorado’s top line oyt of their comfort zone including taking 2 minutes for a well deserved wallop on Mckinnon

  • Honkydonk

    They do not have thenfoundations in place for a good future stop saying that. Our issues aren’t one offs they are glaring and obvious.

    Monny isn’t good enough period!! Backlund ain’t good enough period, that means we are weak and slow and lack playmaking and defence at the middle of the ice.NO ONE-WINS a cup that way.

    Look at Washington last year. Three centres! Look at their points and plus minus.

    Now it’s crazy to me honestly absolutely crazy to me that we are able to let Colorado completely force shutdown Johnny and still they manage to get a crap ton of odd man rushes from their defenders!!!

    This is the team we got before Pittsburgh nailed them! You cannot win when your top player absolutely goes missing! When the goes gets tough that’s when they diss appear and that is why they aren’t best players!

    Scratch Neal! He is a Semi Truck in a Formula 1 race!!! Put Bennett on the first line with Lindholm!! Johnny on the 3rd or 2nd line!!!

  • Derian Hatcher

    – First of all, while perhaps not a reassuring thought right now, but the flames have had a great season and a solid core moving forward – can they come back? Doubtful, but you never know. Smith is lights out right now.

    -Johnny has to be hurt, he is shying away from any contact. While he’s never going to be a physical player, I have never seen him avoid contact like he is now

    – I said this last night…after watching Milan Lucic for 3 years, I know a bad hockey player when I see one, and James Neal is a bad hockey player. I think the Flames are actually short-handed when he’s out there. If he was asking BP for more ice time during their intense chat at practice the other day – that’s comical.

    – The Oilers should have drafted Tkachuk ahead of Pujliarvi. That being said, I realize, he’s only 20, but Tkachuk has to do more than start scrums after whistles. His skating is below average and with his contract coming up, what’s he worth?

    – I would take Travis Hamonic on my team any day. The guy is a warrior.

    – I have really enjoyed watching the Flames in the playoffs. Last nights game was so intense and entertaining. Thanks Flames (and Jets) for providing such great playoff entertainment as the management of the team I cheer for wander in the desert. I have also enjoyed the look of bewilderment on Mike Babcock, the most over rated coach in the NHL, as Bruce Cassidy schools him on in-game adjustments.

    – Flames win Friday

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Neal has been identified as a plug. No eureka discovery there. The question is what is Tre going to do with him when the season is over? Register him in Dr. Fang’s “Miracle Rejuvenation Plan?” Neal has been a poor fit with this club since Day 1 and that is not likely to get better as Neal gets older. Seems to me that Tre needs to send Neal packing this offseason for pennies on the dollar or buy him out. Your reference to Lucic is fitting. Has he really got better in his 3 full seasons in Edmonton? How about the failed Brouwer experiment? Did e get better the longer he stayed a Flame? Tre phucked up signing Neal. Admit it and fix it ASAP.

      I am not so sure Johnny is playing hurt. He is playing scared because he and his mates are overmatched and overwhelmed in this series. Like the fans, they did not expect it. As some have suggested, Johnny may not be built for close-quarter playoff hockey. I hate to kick a guy when he is down but he finished with 99 points. He couldn’t get his 100th point despite being on the ice for half the game against the sad sack Oilers. That futility takes some doing. Johnny’s 99 points reminds me of another not-so-great Yank: Jimmy Carson in ’89 when he scored 49 goals. He had a few games to get his 50th, but never did, and that season was his high watermark in the NHL. Maybe Johnny is the same. For those fond of classic literature, make the case for or against that Johnny is the spiritual twin of Conrad’s “heroic” Lord Jim.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      “The Oilers should have drafted Tkachuk ahead of Pujliarvi.”

      Hindsight. Everyone forgets that Chucky wasn’t nearly a sure thing at the draft, or in camp. I remember when he came out blazing in his first season and everyone was amazed. Yes he was good, but so were the other picks. The Oil drafted according to their positional needs, which isn’t that bad of a strategy, even though every GM says; “we’re going to draft the best player available, regardless of position.”

      Picking in the top five or six is just as much a lottery as the draft lottery itself.

      • Derian Hatcher

        Valid points – I guess I give the Oiler management / scouts no leash at all based on their history. It’s also hindsight that it was a red flag when the Jarmo – the Finnish GM of the Blue Jackets passed on Pulijarvi.

        To Blue Moon Angels point – if JG is NOT hurt, his desire and passion meter is more than questionable IMO.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    It is fitting that a club that did the Chinese friendship tour last fall nowhas a fanbase now doing a Chinese fire drill.

    Yanover writes, “they still have the foundation in place for a good future,” yet all I have been seeing in post after post last night is to trade Johnny, Mony and Backs. Gio is too old and slow. Janko is a pretender. Neal must die! There is complete panic among Flames’ fandom. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

    For those proposing wholesale changes involving key personnel in the offseason, I suggest you might want to first start by replacing Tre. The same GM should never be given a second chance to rebuild a rebuild. That’s a no-no.

    To put this debacle into perspective, consider former Flame greats like Vernon, MacInnis, McDonald, Otto, Peplinski, Mullen, Roberts, Nieuwendyk, Hunter, etc. After the ’87 first round playoff flop, Flames fans denounced them as losers who needed to be run out of town ASAP. The ’88 first round sweeping at the hands of the hated Oilers and the cry for big change was even louder than the previous spring. “Lanny is too old,” “Verny is a sieve,” “Mullen is too small and plays scared,” “Macinnis can’t hit the net with his boomer and is a defensive liability,” “Nieuwendyk is too soft and won’t go to the dirty, greasy places on the ice to win battles,” “Robs takes too many dumb penalties,” and so on. All was forgotten and forgiven in the spring of 1989. The bums that should have been run outta town in 87 or 88 are now immortals in the eyes of Flame fans.

    My advice: grab some perspective, a cold one and chill.

      • His Dudeness

        He’s not saying fire tre. He’s saying that the people who want to trade everybody and rebuild should be calling for his name first. If you want a re build then you don’t let a GM have a second chance. I agree with this. The second part is outlining how the people calling to trade everybody are ridiculous and he was giving some perspective as to why they are being ridiculous. I usually don’t agree with Nigel but unless I misunderstood his post, I agree with all of it. Quite shocking actually…

    • Jobu

      Agreed. The window has just opened. Lessons can be learned. Playoff experience grows.

      While jobu absolutely hates the Flames performance so far, one can hope that this lights a fire under them.

  • Phockey

    FN Therapy. This is my coping process after last nights disappointment. It looks painfully clear that Calgary has started the second phase of the rebuild process. BT has assembled a good regular season team that can compete in the first season. We are now seeing what this team has to offer in the much different second season. I had my doubts that this team was built for the playoffs. Although there are a lot of shortcomings in the Flames play of late, this is still part of the evaluation process to determine what we have and what we need more of going forward. The lineup holes and team softness were inevitable when the team doesn’t make it to the playoffs frequently enough to gauge the team’s ability. I am hoping for a longer evaluation period in these playoffs but the tale of the tape so far is kind of telling.
    Blue line: I think BT has done an exceptional job shoring up the blue line. Lots of depth size and skill. Would love a large mobile bruiser. I am surprised by Zadorov’s effect thus far. ( hate him ) But put on our need list.

    Forwards: On paper, the Neal deal looked great initially. I can’t fault BT for that signing but it now looks like that signing is a fail. Who knows, maybe on a roster better equipped for the physical grind of the playoffs Neal might once again look like a legitimate NHL player – doubtful but we have committed to see that one through regardless of his ability and the results of this year’s team play is not Neal’s fault. The bulk of the forwards who supposedly were built for speed and skill have not been able to show case any of that in the post season yet. The recipe book is still open and NHL GMs have been experimenting with the ingredients since forever. Not sure what the answers are but likely some bold moves will be considered.

    Goaltending: WHO KNEW Mike Smith would be the backbone and not the Achilles heel.

    Coaching: Love the work this year by BP. Is he getting schooled in the playoffs? Certainly, his troops have not been performing like the regular season and there is not a lot of Grit out there but the Flames are lucky to have one victory so far. Again part of the evaluation process. Hard to make a solid evaluation on this with the less than stellar playoff lineup on the ice.

    Hope the Flames can find some grit and grind some W’s out yet this year still. GFG

    • Skylardog

      One of the problems we have going forward is that we haven’t done much evaluating.

      We still have no clue as to how to proceed on the goaltending front. What is Ritter? Do you sign Smith again? If so, at what price? Or is a 37(?) year old, who basically sucked through an entire season, a clear “let him walk” guy. Do just 4 games make a player? I would hope we are looking at guys that play at a top level almost every night.

      We have a book on just 13 forwards. We have guesses on 2 more. We have no clue on the remaining prospects, and one guy with a boatload of NHL experience that was brought in as a reclamation project that couldn’t even get 5 minutes of icetime down the regular season stretch when the team had locked down a playoff spot. What do you do in the offseason with Lazar? He was the Stockton player of the year, but obviously, has no future in this organization. He may be better than 4 to 5 guys on the Flames roster. He is definitely better than Neal. Better does not mean a scorer in all cases, as Benny has proven this playoff season.

      On defense, we fail to move a young defenseman with potential, as part of any package, to pick up a player we desperately needed up front. Yet Kylington now appears to be our 10th defenseman, with 4 clearly better options on the left side ahead of him. He had peaked in value at the trade deadline. As a 5th stringer, what is his value today? At the dealine I would consider Ky in a trade if I am a GM. Today it is only Vali that I would consider. Vali is going nowhere. Ky is going to Stockton next season.

      Funny. Tampa did the exact same thing as we did.

      Ran a great season to a conference title.
      Locked down a playoff spot early
      Made few to no moves of significance at the deadline
      Used the same 12 to 13 forwards night after night to end the regular season
      Never experimented with call ups to see what else may be available.
      Made an early, unexpected, and disappointing exit from a playoffs they were expected to go deep in.

      Apparently, this plan is a recipe for disaster.

      • FlamesFanOtherCity

        Where I would differ with the comparison with Tampa is that they closed out the season fairly strong. They were coasting a bit, but never struggled to score that much. The Flames on the other hand and only finished first due to the Sharks failing hard.

        My issue with the end of the season is that we did nothing to address the scoring issues that cropped up. No changes to lines except when a player was injured or took a night off. There was no backup plan in case we were being shut down. When your 3rd line has one player that does anything, the line is going to get shut down. Janko and Neal don’t work with Bennett. Should have been obvious some time ago. When was the last time Neal actually got a shot on goal on a rush? That’s where he scored a lot a year ago. Turned him into a grinder.

        Mangiapane played better than Johnny, but still was limited to 10 minutes or so. Ryan was the hardest working player out there, other than Benny. 3M was muted by playing too much against McKinnon and forgetting to play hockey. Backlund looked gassed everytime he needed to turn on the offense. It was like a drip. Muffin shot. Barely get it past the blueline.

        The top line got shut down the last month. No changes of any interest. Monahan was not helping Johnny and Lindholm was missing everything he touched. That should have been fixed in March, not almost the end of April.

    • Rudy27

      I think BP is coaching conservatively with regards to player usage and positions. Probably because moving Mony off the top line, benching a top PK specialist like Janko, or even sitting a playoff veteran like Neal would have us all up in arms if after those moves we were still down 3 games to 1. Now is desperation time and he can make some of these moves because the lineup that got us here isn’t working in this series. The big question is…will he?

  • Jobu

    Jobu will refrain from making GM decisions until after we are officially eliminated. But when that happens, look out nation!

    Jobu doesn’t have much hope of a turn around based on what we’ve seen so far.

  • Jobu

    People are complaining about the top line are rightful to do so.

    Just note that that line and our power play (no coincidence) has been struggling heavily for the past month.

    Our hope was to continue to get big performances from our other players.

    Turns out our only hope now is Mike Smith putting up a wall.

  • oddclod

    5 of the top 9 are muffins. Smitty’s best answered by a team of floaters. There’s no future in that and it’s not even close. Vegas will dismantle Colorado’s one man band to amplify just how far off the “Flames” are. Seattle has a brighter future and it’s not even a funny.

  • His Dudeness

    Other than Smith, the 3 best players on the ice have been Rantanen, Landeskog and the new best player in the NHL MacKinnon. Sorry Mcyoyo but MacKinnon does everything you can do except he leads his team of mostly nobody’s to the playoffs and then dominates.

    4th overall pick this year, Cale Makar, Mac on a contract that pays half of what Mcdavid makes and tons of cap room. The Avs are going to be a good team for a long time…

      • His Dudeness

        Yes 100 million percent. Just on the basis of the contracts alone. Also the next contracts, McDavid is perceived as a God and wants to be paid like one. Mac will make a few million less making it possible to add another player.

      • The GREAT WW

        3 players we need to trade this off season;

        Neal (no other team would want him without a big sweetener)

        Backlund (no trade clause)

        Brodie (should be doable for a decent return)

        Work it BT….


      • With Respect

        Have you officially thrown in the towel? if the Flames make a miraculous comeback it proves who you are. I will withhold criticism until they are eliminated and cheer them on until it is over and I am not even a Flames fan. My team did not make the playoffs so I am cheering on the Flames they are a good team and had a great season it’s not over until it is over.

    • Joeyhere

      For years I have rolled my eyes when WW rags on Backlund. I note so many who point to his shut down skills and solid second line centre numbers

      But last night even the CBC commentators could isolate all of his lapses. Leaving McKinnon open, not closing the gap, staying too high and forcing your D men to double cover
      Not to mention missing open nets and a tendency to take really banks timed penalties

      Tons of blame to go around of course but Backlund was just awful last night

  • BendingCorners

    Too much anguish. The Flames are still a good team. They need to play a more structured game in their own end and a more aggressive game in the O zone, but they will learn to do this.
    I’m not optimistic that they will learn in time to win this series, but I will be cheering for them to the bitter end.