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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Avalanche 5, Flames 1 post-Game 5 embers: Outplayed

The Flames’ 2017-18 season ended unceremoniously because, in part, it seemed that every time the team encountered adversity, they’d immediately fold. In 2018-19, that aspect of their game appeared to be largely absent, but for a few moments at the start of the season – and for pretty much all five games of the playoffs.

There is, of course, still work to be done.

Feel of the game

The Flames were just never really in it. When the Avalanche were in the offensive zone, they attacked, they forced turnovers, they created legitimate scoring chances. The Flames did that on occasion as well, but for the most part, when they were in the offensive zone they were meek, they played a perimeter game, and they just did not threaten: the same as it was through most of the series, but especially during their four straight losses.

Not that Johnny Gaudreau wasn’t trying. The effort from him was obvious, Sam Bennett performing well as a complementary player, but there’s only so much one person can do. Springing Gaudreau on multiple breakaways was all well and good, and maybe could have changed the direction of the game – especially when the Avalanche’s second goal came right after Gaudreau missed his shot – but, for all his offensive skill, it isn’t exactly an area he thrives in.

Things were pretty far cemented as hopeless, though. Even when TJ Brodie, in the dying seconds of the first period, hauled ass and did a lot to create his own goal to make it a one-goal game, it didn’t necessarily feel like the Flames were going to come back. In theory, that would have been huge going into the locker room, but in practice, the Flames couldn’t do anything with it. They couldn’t score on an early second period powerplay, they couldn’t get it out of their own zone, the Avalanche made them pay for it again. Gaudreau’s goal was disallowed. The Avalanche scored again. It was over. They scored again to start the third period. It was really over.

There have been times – not as common this season as last, but still, times – in which the Flames have dominated a game early, not gotten a goal, and fallen behind. The Flames didn’t dominate, though they also maybe didn’t get that one bounce that would have gotten them on the board. And then they were scored against. And then they’d give up.

That was the series.

The good news

This was Gaudreau’s game. He was trying to score. If there’s one forward you’d want to have the game on his stick, it was him; he had it. The effort had mostly been there in previous games, as well – at least before things got so out of hand every skater just gave up – but he didn’t have the linemates to keep up with him, and so, chances died. Bennett helped rectify that somewhat. This game, though, was Gaudreau finding that little extra gear, still trying to do it all while everyone else he knew was struggling offensively, and just not being able to do it. But it was a really good effort – and that’s kind of the baseline for praise in this series. Have a really good effort.

Rasmus Andersson and Juuso Valimaki are going to make a great defence pairing. I’m still in awe of how much Andersson stepped up over the season. He’s already a leader on defence. He’s 22.

The Flames did not buy at the trade deadline (part of the reason why Valimaki should have several great seasons for them coming up). They did not go all in. This was not a wasted season. It was a disappointing one, yes – but, the assumption that age will actually catch up to Mark Giordano over a sustained period of time aside, the door is still wide open for the future.

The bad news

If I’m going to credit Gaudreau for trying to get something done but discredit his linemates for not playing on his level, then Sean Monahan has to go in this section. Bobbling a pass that turned into a good scoring chance (albeit not one from Gaudreau) aside, he just couldn’t keep up. He’s still obviously a good player, but he was so consistently behind the play all series long, and he just wasn’t helping. The Flames’ top players were all disappointments, really, but when he’s the one who’s been paired with Gaudreau for almost the entirety of their careers to date and he can’t keep up with him, well, it’s certainly not good.

Though, once again, aside from a few bright spots here and there, this was a team-wide failure, just as it was in all of their losses. This team was not prepared for the playoffs. Whether it was due to going cold at exactly the wrong time, a matter of buying into their own first seed hype and underestimating their opponent, or just genuinely not being good enough, they were not ready to play. After their Game 1 win, I held an assumption that they could have been better, but also that they would be: the top players didn’t necessarily do their jobs that game, but their defensive and depth guys did, and that early series lead would help them figure it out. From Game 2 onward, it was apparent that was not the case. They played poorly, consistently so, and that was the series.

Numbers of note

49.38% – The Flames’ 5v5 CF. The telling number is their 38.46% first period CF. They got off to a bad start, Mike Smith stopped being otherworldly, and that was really all it took to sink them.

5 – Elias Lindholm actually led the way for the Flames in shots, though Gaudreau followed up with four of his own. Monahan had, uh, one. So did Matthew Tkachuk. To round out the 70+ point players, Giordano had three.

5:00 – Austin Czarnik replaced James Neal in the lineup. He played five minutes. Neal, in the final game of his disappointing first season with the Flames, was healthy scratched for a guy who played five minutes. So that’s going to be looked at. He’s under contract for another four seasons to come.

9:33, 9:35 – Mark Jankowski and Michael Frolik’s ice times. Fair, since Derek Ryan has proved himself better than Jankowski over the course of the season. Frolik, on the other hand, rebounded from one of the worst seasons of his career to put up respectable numbers, all the while fighting with Bill Peters to stay out of the press box or get off of the fourth line. So… that never really ended.

20:29 – After Giordano and TJ Brodie, Andersson had the third highest ice time among all Flames defencemen. I’m so excited to see where his career goes from here.

Final thought

The season was great; the postseason was a flop. There were a handful of bright, individual moments; they all meant nothing. The Flames are spared by the Lightning from having the most embarrassing flaring out of the playoffs, though, and they’re still a team on the upswing.

This was a pathetic showing, but it was far less pathetic than 2017-18. Progress is not always linear. They’ll be fine.

  • Skylardog

    Good morning to all and I hope you are all having a great Easter weekend!

    Thank you Flames for a great season. The excitement level was high for most of the season, and on a positive note, Mrs. Sky is feeling quite certain that things will now get done around the house. Spring clean up is in the air.

    The problem I have with this all, is that it didn’t have to be this way. This is a team that had some serious potential to go deep, but the lack of understanding from the men that ice the team, of what it takes to win in the playoffs, is most concerning.

    We learned nothing about any of the areas for which we have lingering questions. On the forefront of that thought, is the nagging question: “What is David Rittich?” He was our best goalie this season, yet took a backup role when it mattered most. Mistakes will be made in the offseason because we did not get answers. Before Smith is signed, (and he shouldn’t be, he was one of the worst NHL goalies for most of the regular season), you had best go look at San Jose’s predicament. They got stuck with a guy that once had it but has lost it. We can’t be that team next season.

    While Smith was amazing in the playoffs, his form was at times brutal. His 5 game stint will not be repeated again. The mechanics just aren’t there. He was not good enough last night. We so needed a save late in period one. You have to make yourself big in the net to take away that deflection.

    All for the want of a deadline deal for a top 6 forward. Just the one player, that could help us score one regulation goal in games 2 and 4, and we are still in this with a series lead.

    Fact is, the Flames faithful deserved that deadline deal. Season ticket holders definitely deserved that deadline deal. Businesses in the city that were excited to see a run and what it could do for their bottom line, deserved that deadline deal. The guys in the room, that had put in an amazing season, deserved that deadline deal, as a way of saying, “You are close, and I believe you can win a Stanley Cup, and here is a piece added to your roster to help you guys get there.”

    When you make your top line better, by default, you also make your second line and bottom six better.

    I am sorry Mr. Treliving. Your lack of activity on February 25th and the days leading up to the biggest work day of the year for you was a shameful dereliction of duties. You had a responsibility to the team, the players, and the community to make a difference on that day.

    All you did was get a redundant bottom level defenseman that has some game, but quite frankly we have no spot for.

    I will now go out and wash the yellow paint off the red truck parked out front, and remove the flags that adorn its windows and tailgate. The Easter Bunny better hope he is not in my path on the way as I am looking for something to stomp on.

    • cberg

      No, can’t agree with either. Smith was probably Calgary’s best playoff performer. Rittich will get his chance next year to be the guy. Secondly, getting Stone may have been a great boost to the team (and probably only him), giving up Valimaki for Stone in the playoffs, is too steep a price, as is giving up Tkachuk if Stone re-signed with the Flames….. This group likely was not going to win it all regardless.

      • Skylardog

        Where does it say get Stone? I floated that idea weeks before the deadline, but iced it about 4 days later when I did the math. I consistently asked for a top line center, and there were some available. There were also some that could have been pried away from where they were if the price was right.

        As for goalies, you say Ritter will get his chance next season, but also say Smith should be back. Sorry, those two things you mention are not possible together. You either sign Smith and Ritter takes a back seat again, or you move on from Smith, with Ritter and someone else. My point here, is that we have no clue what Ritter is. Is he a playoff goalie? Is he a backup? Is he a 1A or a 1B?

        I never said Vali for anyone ever…

        • The OG

          This wasn’t the year for the Flames to make a big splash at the deadline, especially when you consider the acquisition costs of key players. If they did acquire a top line player, it’s true, they may still be playing but honestly don’t think 1 player would save the Flames in this series. They were outplayed in all 5 games and simply didn’t deserve to win any of them.

          This series has highlighted the need to have a true #1 center – on a cup favourite team Monahan would be on the 2nd line, Backlund on the 3rd. That type of acquisition is best saved for the offseason IMO. That being said, I have no idea what BT could offer to even begin that discussion.

          The bright spot of this year is that the future is bright, particularly for the blue line. Valimaki, Rasmussen and Kylington (to a lesser degree) look outstanding and will be a treat to have for years to come. Throw in middle 6 contributions by Dube and Mange, suddenly there is some upside. In a couple of years when Vali and Ras reach a more dominant level is when the Flames should go all in. Thankfully BT saw this team for what they were – imagine if he traded for a big player and still lost in round 1.

          • Skylardog

            To some extent I agree. The problem with doing nothing, is that you are not moving the team forward during one of 3 times in the season a GM has an opportunity to make his team better.

            I ALWAYS said in the weeks leading up to the TDL, only make moves for players that can be signed for next season.

            What we will now find, is that the guys we need to move out to create the cap space for next season are almost unmovable. Players like Frolik, our Stone, and Brodie are not desirable for teams in the summer. These are guys that ONLY have value at the TDL as teams add depth for a playoff run. In the summer, deals are made to build teams long term. None of our guys we need to move out, fit that bill.

            If we can’t move Brodie, Frolik, or Stone, we may find it very difficult to sign Ritter, Bennett, and Tkachuk without affecting our ability to get another goalie. Cap is that tight.

            And yes, a top 6 guy up front does make a difference. It makes the entire lineup more difficult to defend. One more top six guy, and Neal sits after game 1. That alone is probably enough to make this at least a 3-2 Flames series lead heading into game 6.

          • Skylardog

            And I think you are wrong on what BT saw. He made no move because he thought he had done enough and that the team was good enough to win at least a round and likely 2 or more.

            Making a deal and not getting it register on time? That just can’t happen at a professional level.

          • Derzie

            It’s not about ‘big splash’, it’s about improving the team. Everyone’s mind leaps to the biggest trade possible. There were lots of doable options out there (Dzingel, Zucker, etc.) Treliving blew it and revisionist history prevailed. ‘Good enough’ was an incorrect assessment. And the whole Zucker thing sounds on par with the Feaster/O’Reilly fiasco.

        • Day1-Cfan

          Yes what is Rittich, he never was given one lousy minute in the post season. He deserved at the very least a game.
          All over but the crying this year.
          GFG 2020!!

        • The OG

          This is a reply to your most recent post, I can’t reply directly to it given the website functionality.

          For you and I to speculate on why BT made no moves is pointless, we really don’t know his logic in late February.

          I don’t agree that Brodie and Frolik are not trade-able. Frolik is one of the better middle 6 shut down players in the NHL and put up pretty good points for his role in the regular season (too lazy to look up exact points). Brodie is a high risk, high reward player who has value to someone. He’s likely better on a 2nd line but his salary is inline with players in these positions. Brodie should be traded because they have better rookie options to replace him.

          I’m not saying either player will elicit a massive return. They will acquire some assets for them tho.

          Stone hasn’t been move-able since he signed that terrible contract was signed. Throw in the blood clot and now you have to wait that one out.

        • cberg

          Skylardog, first off, how about we try to keep to the actual comments? I did not suggest above we keep Smith next year. To me, he is done, it is time to move on. Secondly you mention a Top6 forward above, and now changed that to a Top Line Centre. Which is it? They are way different. I suggested Stone as the best of the available rental players as being too expensive, as a discussion point of TDL pick-ups also noting the issues re rentals and re-signings. As far as Top line centres go, the only one I recall available was Duchene and as a rental giving up one of our top young D seems too pricey. Now that our playoffs are over and the needs have been proven, BT can look to trades or signings to restructure the team without disrupting what was a great group and season.

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I think it is safe to say that getting Rittich into a playoff game would help the organization advance more than having Smith play one more game to try a secure a contract. Smith was great this playoff but easily should have stopped 3 of the goals last night.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      I didn’t have a problem with Tre not trying to hit a tater during TDL. He gambled and lost. Now he has a clear picture of who should Flame on and who should Flame out.

      The Islanders were the other surprising team that did nothing on TDL, yet with what most of us would consider an inferior roster to the Flames, they impaled the Penguins.

    • Vernon30

      I agree that Smith played well and competed hard, but I’ll argue that the Flames could have been a better team with Rittich in net. They had swagger during the year with him in goal, different energy. I don’t know if it would have made a difference, but watching a game with BSD in net vs a game with Smith, the players just seemed to have a different energy. I like BSD, and I think he’ll be a possible starter next year.

      • Derzie

        Agreed. Smith seems like a ‘I’ll only play well when it matters’ guy. And he also comes across as a pushy leader. Old school motivation. BSD seems more like a teammate. Does his job and lets that inspire the troops. If Smith stays, that’s a mistake. Time to move on.

  • Who is Alberta’s team?

    We need to rid this team of the selfish i can do no wrong, it’s all about me cry babies. Gaudreau, Smith and Neal need to be shown the door. What an embarrassment of epic proportions this series was AGAIN!!! Feels like another sweep. Red Mile wasted AGAIN!!! Treliving bring in some TEAM players that play for the TEAM. Ps if Monohan doesn’t find a heart donor this offseason then trade him. And please brad… no more Lady Byng candidates.

  • Flint

    Random Thoughts:
    1. Season was a success even with this failure. You don’t go from 11th to 1st in a league with so much parity without doing a lot of things correct. That is a massive, massive step in the right direction.

    2. Nathan MacKinnon is the most valuable player, and arguably ‘best’, all things considered, in the NHL. Even excluding contract (6,3mil through ’22/23) you can make the argument, including contract… it’s not even close. Build ANY team in the NHL from ANY player and you pick him @ that contract first 100 times out of 100.

    3. Mike Smith played above expectations, but served up a .844sv% in the most important game of the season. 2 bad games out of 5. We should not re-sign him unless he agrees to something in the 1,5mil range which he won’t. It’s time to move on and to youth.

    4. James Neal cannot and will not play another game in a Flames jersey. Most important game of the year and he’s scratched? Tre getting him out of town is the most important task this summer, even more important than getting Tkachuk’s exact $$’s and term correct.

    5. 3rd on Tre’s list needs to be a ‘leader’ among the forwards who can take the game into his hands and shift momentum. Sure, they are hard to come by but it doesn’t need to be a MacKinnon-level offensive guy, just someone who can handle the playoffs and shift the game. Neal was supposed to be that guy….. but…

    6. Lastly, we’re bursting at the seams on defense. Time to move forward. Brodie and Stone need to go. Changes have to be made, our youth can play, and they’re older guys from our defense on contracts that need to be moved. Brodie has value to bring in assets and his role can be filled.

    Onwards and upwards.

    • Flint

      oh… forgot one.

      7. There is no more room on this team for guys without elite-level skating. Monahan, Tkachuk, Neal, Jankowski… we can be successful with 1, 2 maybe 3 of those guys… but that is a lot of avg to poor skaters (poor in the case of Neal) who are supposed to be main offensive contributors. No more! The game is youth, transition and SPEED kills.

    • _vntony

      To your point #5 Flint,
      I actually think Tkachuk was supposed to be that guy. Many here, myself included, have said that this guy could be our future captain. He plays his best game when he’s in the ‘fabric of the game’ and asserts himself as a pest in front of goal and a dangerous point producer.
      He’s won championships at almost every level he’s played in.
      But other than Game 1, Tkachuk was largely irrelevant and almost had no impact.
      He was one I think many were hoping could have that extra gear in the playoffs.

      • Flint

        It’ll come. It’s a big ask from a 21 yr old. Sometimes guys have it (MacKinnon is only 23) but I’m thinking a little more veteran (~25-28yr old) kinda range. We have lots of youth, and lots of guys still trying to find their way, but we don’t have a lot of leadership up front.

        • Missing Ferland

          Before we make too many moves let’s remember the most disappointing year in Flames history. 1987-88. Dominated the regular season, owned the Oilers and then got swept by the Oilers. Living in Red Deer at the time, packed with Oiler fans that was a tough one to take. The good news is they didn’t blow up the team and we one the cup. Now someone got traded the summer of 88, I can’t remember his name right now, but that helped too.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Tkachuck played like his old man used to in the playoffs. When you visit the Keith Tkachuk Museum don’t pay the extra fee to see his playoff plaques, baubles and bling because it’s a huge ripoff as the table they are displayed on is 4/5ths empty!

  • Raffydog

    Well that was a disappointing night to say the least. But the sun came up this morning and the world continues on, almost like the result of a hockey game is rather meaningless. It’s been a fun year, and I know I get on people’s nerves, and rub people the wrong way, and can be kinda irritating at times, and I’ve butted heads with a bunch of you over the year, but I did love waking up in the morning, and reading Flamesnation while having my coffee before heading off to work. Hope you all have a great summer, and we’ll give em hell next year.

  • Bikeit

    The last two years I have wondered if gaudreau was legit for playoffs. This playoffs has confirmed some of my fears. My wishful thinking has been gaudreau for barkov for some time. Don’t think Florida would do that now.

  • _vntony

    Disappointing end to what was an absolutely wonderful season.
    Like skylardog said above, the fans, the season ticket holders, and city deserved better.

    But with that, I hope Tre starts thinking about the future asap. This short playoff stint showed us all the areas in which the flames were lacking.
    1) A true #1C that can drive play, keep up with the pace of the game, and take over the game for long stretches of time.
    2) Address the need for more players with skill, speed to burn and sandpaper like grit to play against.
    3) Address the leadership issues on the team. Aside from perhaps Gio, by my eye, no one else that had a letter deserved a letter.

    Not going to be an easy offseason for the players and management of this team. A lot of self reflection has to be done.
    Better luck next year boys and thanks for a great season.

  • cornwallroyals

    Depending on how 2 other series end up, the top 4 teams in the regular season may all be gone in the first round!!!!!
    Don’t know if I can bring myself up to cheer for the Leafs.

    • The Lovely Kim Wexlar

      I keep wondering if Jason Zucker could have made a difference this last week. And if Minnesota would bite on the same trade over the summer. I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts on that…thanks!

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Yes too small, not necessarily soft. Monahan, Jankowski not rugged guys, never were, never will be.
    Team has talent, team not built properly, GM fault. Peters hired with no playoff experience, completely out coached this series.
    I give credit to Johnny for at least trying, his linemate’s let him down, he’s small, got hacked and wacked, let go in the playoffs.
    Boy, at least this series exposed our weaknesses, BT had his work cut out for him this summer.

  • buts

    They are who we we thought they are……referring to the flames. Too small, no grit among the top players, too many soft defensemen and a bonifide trustworthy goalie. If the problems are obvious to many here on FN then they must be very obvious to management. If Tre stands pat with this lineup as he did at the tdl I will be pissed. He has to get a number 1 centre and some grit. I’m tired of watching us get pushed around and he has assets to trade for what we need. Kudos to Colorado as I think they can go deep the way MAC is playing.

    • _vntony

      The scary part is we all knew MacKinnon was already a star in the league, but these playoffs could be his real coming out party. They way he’s playing right now, he’s by far the best player in these playoffs and looks like he wants to challenge the guy up north for the title of best on the world.
      I know, huge statement.
      But his drive, desire to win and leadership is remarkable. And enviable as a flames fan.
      Ryan Leslie was on the fan yesterday pregame and said the MacKinnon got frustrated during the practice prior to game 5, and called out his team. Urging them for more intensity, to give more, to give everything.

      That’s the leadership I want to see from someone on the Flames.

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Why would this be scary? You don’t want to Canada to bring home the gold in 2022? Crosby will be a little long in the tooth by then and McDavid might still have not played a meaningful NHL game by 2022 apart from that accidentally playoff run a few years ago. Team Canada needs a guts and glory leader. Why not Mack?

        Hell, I am getting hot just thinking of Mack giving Chucky a forearm smash to the chops in the gold medal final and stealing the puck from and putting it in the Yank net.

      • Derzie

        My heritage is in Halifax. There are 3 high-level players that the locals hear much more about than the rest of NHL regions. Sid Crosby, Brad Marchand & Nathan MacKinnon. The locals know that Marchand is the guy who drives around town in his Ferrari with vanity plates, telling everyone how important he is. An arrogant weasel on and off the ice. And it works, but he’s no leader.
        Sid & Nathan are friends. They have cottages in the area, drive sensible cars, spend time with charities, do Tim Horton’s ads. A quick google of what Sid has done, will give you an indication of his character & results. Nathan is learning from a generational player on and off the ice. He is one of the only guys in the league that can skate with McLottery. He’s the real deal.
        As an exercise, have a look at Monahan’s stats relative to Nate’s. Very similar. After watching this series, who would you rather have? That’s the difference between stats and character/leadership. It’s not quite the same but Sid & Ovi can be compared similarly. One player makes everyone around him better, one wins Rocket Richard trophies for individual performance. It’s a team sport. The best team wins the cup.

        • _vntony

          Can you ask if Monahan and Bennett can train with them in the offseason too?
          We need more guys to be like Sid & Mack. Maybe Sid can teach Bennett how to be an effective center in this league. Then Mack can help Monahan with his skating and heart.

  • First Name Unidentified

    I would guess Frolik, TJ, Jank, Stone, Czar are gone.

    I would love to see Skinner donning the red next season, I just don’t know how that would be possible to fit under the cap with chucky extension. But I drool at the thought of Johnny – Lindy – Skinner line.

    • The OG

      Here’s hoping those players are gone. If BT finds a way to trade Neal (for anything) and Monahan + to acquire a real top line center, he will secure himself as the best GM in 2020.

      Is Duchene a better player than Monahan? My thought is no but maybe?

      • BlueMoonNigel

        There can be no “if” with regard to moving Neal. He must be moved even if costs more to move him. Neal doesn’t fit with this club. That was shockingly apparent during the regular season and painfully apparent during the playoffs.

    • The OG

      If those players are traded, it would save about $13M in cap room (quick math). Throw in Neal and you have close to $20M. That would be more than enough to sign skinner and Tkachuk. The hesitation with Skinner is he’s another small player with no playoff experience. Not sure he would have an impact

      • Kevin R

        We need a bruiser on the backend who is capable of playing 2nd pairing. We need a bruiser forward that is capable of playing top 6. That is Trelivings shopping list. We have the pieces to make that happen. Monahan may be one piece that can bring one of these players. 30 goal scorers are extremely valuable in this league, especially ones that are 24 & signed to a pretty darn good cap in today’s cap world. Problem is get ready to trade Gaudreau, because he will not be happy trading his good buddy, which may be a country club problem evolving.

        I heard during the season these guys were pretty happy & got along, but that’s easy to do when you’re winning. Wonder what they think of each other today & on garbage bag day.

        I would have conversations with Buffalo, Rousteleinen (sp?) is built like a tank, has some short comings but may be something needed here. Brodie has some qualities Buffalo are needing on their backend.

        • Kent Nilsson

          WOW wasn’t that long ago Johnny was the face of the flames , make no mistake! Now we’re thinking of trading him! Stop talking drama all the time come down to earth. You have a rough time picking who your pulling for from game to game.

  • Abagofpucks

    Like the Oilers, the Flames will be busy in the off season. James was a bad deal, everybody has one it seems we have looch and his 20 point season. The way i see it tho Johnny learned something in these playoffs and will be a much better elite player in the future. Monahan, well it might be time to find him a new address same as Frolik, stone, and maybe number 7, while they still all have value left for some new pieces. And i hear that there was a few jerseys thrown as well, welcome to the club hehe.

    • Kevin R

      LOL seems most teams have these garbage contracts. Right now, I’m in the mood that if Lucic & a 2nd round pick were offered for Neal, I would probably do that deal. Sadly Neal has more speed than Lucic but after the whistle, Lucic could have at least had a little chat with that puke Zadorov after what he did to Gaudreau & a bunch of our guys all series.
      I think Neal would be an upgrade in your bottom 6, both have 4 years too long left on their deals. Yikes!!!

      • Kent Nilsson

        Sounds like we need another of your get a steal for something we don’t want which isn’t happening.
        If you have thought of it, probably isn’t going to happen because there aren’t any GM’s that don’t know more than you.

    • snotss

      johnny’s finish these playoffs was poor…he has crapped the bed twice now in the play offs he can’t handle the tough grind which is what play off hockey is all about…he tried but the end result was he got “schooled” on what a supposed super star are to play like during the play offs…he just was not nearly good enough

  • _vntony

    One concern I do have going forward is what do you do with Sam Bennett.
    Many here talk about getting rid of Neal, Frolik, Stone etc.

    But I’m wondering what do we do with 22 year old Sam Bennett. He had an excellent playoffs (which itself isn’t surprising or new) but had a dreadful regular season.
    He can never seem to put it together and find that playoff consistency for the regular season.
    At this point, he is what he is right?
    I’m worried he’s going to ask for more than he deserves based on these playoffs and the team will balk at his asking price. He’s a guy with grit, speed and some skill. Would hate to see him go. He’d be a pain in the butt to play against for years to come.

    • Skylardog

      I hesitate to say it on here, but I have thought for a long time that you move Benny as part of a package to get what we really need. I like Benny, but he is never going to be a top 6 guy. Yet here he is leading us in the playoffs.

      The real problem is that he is leading us in the playoffs…

      • _vntony

        Right, I do find that to be an interesting reality. Sam Bennett being our best forward in the playoffs.

        I also like Bennett, but I guess my concern is if he can play like that in the playoffs, why not in the regular season? The worry is if you trade him and he somehow actually becomes this generations Doug Gilmour, as he was once touted to be.

        Can we attribute Jankowski or Neal to slowing/dragging Bennett down? I don’t have the stats to back that statement.

        • Speed Kills

          Lets not put the blinders on when it comes to Bennett, Last night his Hockey IQ Came to roost with costing the Flames a Goal (Dumb to run the goalie) and a Goal against while in the Box (Dumb Penalty to take). I’d keep him but leave him where he should be, as a second or third line winger, no more no less, Is What It Is… and should get paid accordingly.

          • deantheraven

            Oh, please. He was in a shoving match with their Dman who bumped Gru (who then conveniently lost his stick at the side of the net). A fair call, as the rule stands, but to call benny’s play dumb is, well, dumb.
            Unless a Eastern team sees great value in him (like a top- sixer in return), Bennett will provide grit, scoring for several years.

    • The OG

      I can’t imagine Bennett being able to hold out for too much – guessing he’ll get paid around $3M. They should absolutely keep him. He’s the one forward who showed up in the playoffs.

    • Derzie

      Bennett leads in the playoffs because the rules change. During the regular season, whenever he plays his game, he ends up in the box more than not. When the refs change the rules in April, his game becomes relevant. He’s one of those players caught between old school and new school NHL.

    • Sterls

      I’m more of a mind that this off season should be about getting guys that compliment Bennett’s style. He just doesn’t fit with anyone we currently have. Kadri comes to mind, he had a couple of good seasons with just Komarov on his wing. If we get that 3rd line playing a strong north south heavy game, that contrasts the top lines finesse, that difference in attacks might throw off the other team and give the top line more space.

      • deantheraven

        Yes, a couple guys that fit with Benny’s style would change the way teams play the Flames. But please don’t suggest hot-headed hatchet man like Kadri.
        We all love having Chucky on our team and he performs the job of pest well enough without suspension-worthy acts of violence.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    I’m just sad that now I have to read endless trade suggestions for the next five months.

    Here, allow me to save us all some time: trade everyone for someone else.

    Thanks for the season, Flames! Remember the loss! Come back hungry!

    • Kevin R

      Yeah, there will be the knee jerk reaction to blow this sucker up when there is this much disappointment from so much expectation. But, there are some pretty Captain obvious changes that I dont think are knee jerk reactions from these last 5 games & definitely worthy of being kicked around in this aftermath:

      1/ Progression of the young D has to be recognized & allowed to progress. Hanafin, Andersen & Valamaki need to be slotted in the top 6 next year. Gio is going nowhere. So what does that leave? Discussions about Brodie, Hamonic & Stone. All these guys have 1 year remaining, all these guys will not be resigned in 1 year. Cap & asset management dictate at least two must go. I have no idea if Stone has any value at all, he may be a flat out buyout. Hamonic is a type of warrior who I would have no problem resigning for that bottom pairing & knowing Hamonic, he will probably sign for a very good home discount number. Brodie has good value & we have similar players like Hanafin who are capable of replacing the offence he brings. Fantenberg would be worthy of a 1-2 year deal in the $750-1.0 mill per deal. Perfect depth guy in my opinion. Thats how I see the summer thought process will unfold.

      2/Neal needs to get moved & I have absolutely no idea how that can get done. God speed Tre, you made this problem & now you need to fix it.

      3/Team needs a top 6 gritty forward. Not sure who or where but Im sure no one will like what we would have to give up to acquire said player. Frolik saw his role diminish this year & didnt like it. Wont get any better next year. Not sure what kind of return, but he will be moved. Janko is a very enticing piece, his size will attract some buyers. I am disappointed how soft he played for such a big kid. I would be prepared to move him in or as part of the right deal.
      4/ Decent deals for Bennett, Tkachuk & Riitch. These alone will give you a reprieve from the wild trade suggestions.

      You’re right, was a great season, was nice to comfortably qualify for playoffs & experience the feeling of being a top seed for the first time since the 2006-2008 era. Agree, we cant forget what got us here in the regular season & we will be needing the same to get us that seeding next year in the regular season. Blowing things up & trading perennial 30 goal scorers isnt the answer.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    The biggest question for me heading into these playoffs was when the immortal Cher hit town in late May would the Flames already be “down in flames like Jesse James” and if they weren’t, would the legendary diva jinx the club by belting out her crowd pleaser “Just Like Jesse James?” Question answered.

    Correct me if I am wrong but on his penalty shot and his clear breakaway that happened soon after, Johnny didn’t register a SOG with either shot! How is that even possible? Those are the times I thank the good Lord that Gaudreau is a jock and not an airline pilot attempting to land a plane stuffed with passengers on a dry, wide-open runway on a clear, sunny, windless day.

    If either or both Johnny and Mony were hurt during these playoffs, how shallow is the Flames depth that Johnny playing at 60% or Mony at 70% were still way better than any of the black ace replacements? Frighteningly, it might be true.

    If either or both Johnny or Mony were hurt during these playoffs, how exactly did they endear themselves to anybody? They just sucked! It’s wonderful if either or both played through terrible injuries, but in a results-oriented business, their results were awful, and that is how they should and will be measured.

    Do you really think this playoff experience is going to benefit the young Flames who were playing postseason for the first time? Previous playoff experience did nothing to uptick the games of Gaudreau, Monahan, Giordano and Backlund.

    Funny how Bennett, who first distinguished himself as a pro in his first playoffs against Vancouver, was yet again one of the few bright Flames in this series. My conclusion is that playoff experience is overrated. You can either rise to the occasion or you can’t. You either get the nickname the Big Moment or you don’t.

    How funny in a stupid sort of way will it be later this year when Chucky is given a contract that has a higher AAV than Mack’s?

    I am as negative as they come about the Flames, but even I tempered my speculation about their playoff chances until their Game 4 loss. Why? No Flame team had ever had a regulation season like this one in that they unexpectedly but well-deservedly won the Pac and the West. So how they were going to fare in the playoffs was a complete unknown. They could have been bounced in Round 1 or made it to the grand final and no fan should have been surprised by either outcome. Now we know. Next step is to fix it.

  • Barry Badrinath

    Great regular season, absolutely shocking first round exit. Outplayed almost the entire series. Gaudreau is stifled when players key in on him in the post-season. No speed, no tenacity, looks like a boy amongst men.

    Monaghan’s lack of mobility was extremely visible in this series and the whole James Neal situation (what a contract…) is not good. Our D is fantastic but we could stand to lose Brodie, especially if it nets us a decent return.

    How did anyone think Mike Smith was going to take this team anywhere? Seems almost negligible to rely on him come playoff time.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    The post mortem is going to be spicy. How could we be so wrong about our team? I would have bet my house that the Flames would have shown up for this game and reward the loyal Sea of Red Faithful. I was not convinced that we were going to come back to win the series but I was sure we would not meekly slink away into the night. That was disturbing to say the least.

    I credit Johnny for trying to put the team on his back and will them to play another game. Most of the mistakes he made was a function of him trying to do to much in the abscence of his linemates.

    Now the harsh reality is, we don’t pay our elite game breaker to try, we pay him to be a difference maker. Only not in the way he was. He had no business playing the last 3 games for personal gain. He had no business being saddled with Monohan when it was clear he was a detriment to the top line. He also should not have to guess what infractions against him will be called in the playoffs.

    The truth is Johnny does not need to grow but he needs to grow up. The refs do not enjoy being shown up when he shakes his hand after a slash. He needs to spend more time on working on the fundamentals like shooting, and breakaways and less on throwing the puck up in the air 50 feet and catching it on his blade. I never saw the use for that play in a game,

    It is time to take the game serious. An elite athlete does not live and eat like Johnny. Johnny thrives in this league in spite of his lifestyle choices. As fans we hope that our young players learn from disappointment but what did he learn from his last playoff appearance against Anaheim?
    He had a much better supporting cast and yet his offensive output was non existent.

    But there is plenty of blame to go around. If Johnny is our Golden Goose that we rest our success on the the organization needs to shelter him and build a line that allows him to play with swagger…Ferland was great at this and Monohan not so much. If Monohan’s and Lindholm’s success was a by-product of Johnny we should be able to bring in players that have edge and can succeed.

    BT clearly has a recipe to build a successful regular season team but since I don’t see the reffing becoming consistent anytime soon the team composition will need to adapt. Remember we got the playoff matchup that we wanted and had home ice throughout the playoffs once TB was eliminated…good teams take advantage of this.

    • slapshot444

      Apparently McKinnon trains like a beast in the off season. That’s what kept Cammalari going late in his career. You make a good point about Johnny. Eats junk and admits it. The kid needs to learn what bench looks like. Hoping the frustration of this season will get him to realize that. Imagine a stronger Johnny, wow!!

      • BlueMoonNigel

        Mack is an absolute pisshead, but that’s not a knock on him. Some guys can do it and other guys can’t. When Snake Stabler was with Alabama, he would routinely get pissed up the night before the game such that Bear Bryant would get a call around 4:00 am on Saturday to pick Snake up at the drunk tank. Bear would drop Snake off at the locker room and let him sleep it off. A few hours later, Snake, wearing his game face, would be scorching his opponents for 500 yds and 6 TDs. Snake could do it. Ryan Leaf could not.

  • Rusty Shackleford

    There are some positives like all the young D, Johnny, Chucky, Gio. However, team speed is an issue and well as grit. The Neal signing is officially a disaster. Monahan disappeared two months ago. And lets be honest, the coaching staff didn’t have these guys prepared enough.

  • slapshot444

    I used to hate it when Burkie always talked about needing truculence. Now I get it. That’s what we were missing. A physical and verbal leader among the forwards. We have the C in Gio for sure, but that’s not the same as having a tough elite skating forward. The Av’s came to the party with McKinnon, the Knights with newly acquired Stone, the Sharks with an assortment of them but unfortunately with an absentee goalie. The Jets have Wheeler. The list goes on with Ovi, Tavaras, Sid. Elite level skating with a determination to win that raises the rest of the bench to the best they can be. Tre needs to develop that or trade for it, and he knows that. I wasn’t expecting to go to the finals this year but the effort and preparedness to go more than five games would have been nice. Even if we got to round two and went out in seven, that would have been fourteen playoff games. OK. When we beat the Canucks in game six coming from behind only to get creamed by the Ducks was still a rewarding playoff season. Let’s get the guy to lead the forwards and the goalie to save the games and see what we can do. Thanks for the season Flames.

  • Kzak

    Instead of wasting the day saying this player needs to go and we need this player etc etc, we should be looking at why we lost and I’ll give my two cents on that.

    First, we gave up waaaayyy too many shots, and the reason is none other than the fact wee had so many problems clearing our own zone. There were shifts where we had three, four, even five chances of clearing the zone and they couldn’t do it. Nothing frustrates me more than when our team has trouble with hockey basics and the inability to clear our own zone will lead to more chances and more goals.

    Second, we took inopportune penalties (like the over the glass penalty we took to give them a 5 on 3). I realize penalties will happen, but you can’t give a team with MacKinnon a powerplay in the last minutes of a 2-1 game.

    Third, we had major trouble getting shots through to the net, as the Avs were either blocking or tipping the majority of shot attempts from both the blue line and anywhere near the net. It obviously has to do with a strong effort by their team, but the Flames just waited too long to take shots. I don’t whether they were just looking for the perfect opening or if they just didn’t realize that it’s the playoffs and everything happens faster than it does in the regular season.

    Fourth, even though we did score some PP goals, it was generally slow, sloppy, and we weren’t able to score in clutch moments, like the early part of game 4’s OT. Meanwhile, the Avs PP was sharp, quick passing, and had our PK running all over the place. It actually reminded me of the Flames earlier in the season when our top line was putting up 2 or 3 goals a game.

    Finally, we just got beat by a better team. Their first line was far better, their goaltending was better (though that’s no knock on Smith), their special teams were better, they were more clutch, and I think we were out coached. But with all that being said, we are a young team, hopefully some of the boys take some hard lessons out of this, Tre will get to work in the offseason, and we’ll continue to be heavily competitive over the next 5 years or so.

    Thanks Flames for indeed giving us an exciting season and once we get over this loss, excitement will build up again for another great season next year.

    • Speed Kills

      Yup, Flames got out coached esp on Special Teams. Avs Pressured on the PK, took the body and sticks on sticks, blocked shots and moved around to disrupt the Flames whom just seem happy with perimeter pass pass pass foolery. Flames PK is just standing around in position waving their sticks at empty space leaving the other team to close in and get free shots on net.. and a goal usually results. This in Not how they Played the PK all year… Why do it in the Playoffs? Dumb coaching~!

  • Off the wall

    I know we’re all really disappointed with the playoff results. And yes, we have legitimate reasons to be.

    I can’t imagine Tampa is going to do a lot in terms of change in the offseason. They had a +103 goal differential!

    Reflecting, we were 2nd in that department, with + 62. Good teams lost. And you don’t reshuffle the deck when you have a season like we did.

    I agree we could use some minor changes, but our season as a whole, pointed towards something special for the postseason. I don’t think you can necessarily fault Treliving at the TDL. He was looking for extra depth, yet could only land Fantenberg. He was a solid acquisition, I think we could say that. However, he wasn’t giving up our first pick, nor our future players for the high ask by GM’s.
    I think we have to admit he did the right thing, no?

    We’ll recover from our hangover postseason, but at the same time, we’ve gotta prepare for the future of our team.

    While we deserved better, so did Tampa. Both teams just couldn’t match the intensity of their 8th seed team. But you’ve gotta credit the team that was better.
    They earned it. We didn’t.

    I’m going to look at the positive things we accomplished. And even though we have questions that need to be answered, I’m going to trust that Treliving will make those as needed.

    We have a good GM. He demonstrated that the Carolina acquisitions were great trade-offs. Ryan was a great signing.

    Patience might not be our friend right now, but that’s exactly why we need it.

    Thanks for the great season Flames. My truck was proud to carry your colours!

    And it will be next season as well! 🔥

  • BlueMoonNigel

    For those searching for a ray of hope in the wreckage, go back to the 1987-88 Flames. They were the #1 team in the NHL when the regular season ended and loaded with future HOFers, but after quickly dispatching the Kings in the first round of the Playoffs, the were skunked by the Oilers. That wasn’t supposed to happen, especially after ’86 when the Flames finally slayed the Oilers in the playoffs. In ’88, the Flames got got by the ghost.

    The following season, the Bums of ’88 became the Champs of ’89. All you need is Tre to find a Dougie Gilmour clone in the offseason and this year’s playoff pissout will be a lost memory.

  • snotss

    choke choke choke choke choke and yet another choke………..cheering for this team is pain full man!!!!… disappointing once again………i thought with the reg season record this year would be different…..nope…… choke

  • Jim Red Deer

    After the Flames got first place, I posted here that this team wasn’t big enough, tough enough and mean enough to win a 7 game series against anyone. I only got 2 agree votes and a stack of disagree, what were you people watching.