A couple weeks back, the Calgary Flames were horrendous in the first period of their game with the Los Angeles Kings. They managed to battle back and get a point, but Saturday night’s return engagement seemingly proved that they learned nothing from that outing. The Flames were, in a word, trounced by the Kings by a 4-1 score at Staples Center.
The Flames got down early in the first period off some wonky defensive play by Noah Hanifin. Hanifin attempted a poke-check on a rushing Tyler Toffoli just inside the defensive blueline. Toffoli calmly walked around Hanifin, strode into the slot and beat David Rittich with a wrist shot to make it 1-0 Kings.
The rest of the period had a lot of penalties back and forth. At even strength, the Kings largely kept the Flames to the outside. Shots were 8-8 in the first and chances were 8-4 Flames.
18 seconds into the second period, the Kings doubled their lead. Beating TJ Brodie on the rush, Jeff Carter’s attempted pass to the slot bounced off Mark Giordano’s back skate and bounced over Rittich’s pad to make it 2-0. Bad luck, but Brodie got beat both on the zone entry and on the rush towards the net. Things got worse from there.
With the Flames on a power play, Anze Kopitar stripped Giordano of the puck at the point and went in on a breakaway. His wrister beat Rittich to make it 3-0 Kings.
Shortly thereafter, the Kings drew a power play and Ilya Kovalchuk teed up a slapper that beat Rittich top corner to make it 4-0 Kings.
The Kings spent the majority of the period in the Flames zone. Shots were 20-4 Kings and scoring chances 12-4 Kings.
Cam Talbot relieved David Rittich in the third period. The Kings seemed content just to run out the clock and did a good job keeping the Flames to the outside. If you like chaos, Matthew Tkachuk and Drew Doughty also sparked a bit of a scrum midway through the third.
Drew Doughty upends Matthew Tkachuk and a dogpile ensues pic.twitter.com/sbUrOM0YHp
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) October 20, 2019
Mikael Backlund scored on a penalty shot with 2:10 left in regulation to break Jonathan Quick’s shutout attempt, but that’s all the Flames got.
[don't tweet "the comeback is on", don't tweet "the comeback is on"] the comeback is on, baby pic.twitter.com/2e8GwBhpG0
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) October 20, 2019
Shots were 11-8 Flames and chances 8-5 Flames in the third.
Why the Flames Lost
In the words of Homer Simpson: “They just plain sucked.”
They lost tons of 50/50 battles for loose pucks. Their power play didn’t amount to much. Their penalty kill bled chances. They constantly misplayed or turned over pucks. They took plenty of ill-advised penalties.
The Kings are an energetic bunch this year and they were pretty sharp. But their lives were made easier by the Flames basically helping them get two points.
He got the hook after 40 minutes, but Rittich was working his butt off and made plenty of big saves. He was the best of a bad Flames bunch.
The Turning Point
Carter’s weird ricochet goal to open the second period was bad luck, but also tremendously bad timing. The Flames seemed to spiral and get panicky after that marker, which contributed to them digging themselves into a pretty big hole for the rest of that period.
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.
This and That
Once the Flames got down 4-0, and finally got back to playing five-on-five, here were the new lines late in the second period:
- Rieder – Jankowski – Frolik
- Tkachuk – Ryan – Czarnik
- Gaudreau – Backlund – Lindholm
- Lucic – Monahan – Bennett
- Giordano / Andersson
- Hanifin / Brodie
- Kylington / Hamonic
The Flames (4-4-1) stay in the greater Los Angeles area tonight. They’ll face the Anaheim Ducks tomorrow at Honda Center.