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Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Flames 6, Panthers 5 (SO) post game embers: just like they drew it up

Well, that was a fun romp. A romp that was decidedly more stressful than it needed to be when they were up 4-2 in the third, but a fun romp nonetheless.

Feel of the game 

My kingdom for a save. Goalies definitely felt optional in this affair, which meant a lot of momentum swings. It was also odd, heading into the shootout, and waiting to see what the tone of this article was going to be. The Calgary Flames seem to be a different team period-to-period, which is a major factor as to why this season has felt like such major whiplash.

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On the bright side, some real nice offensive things going on here! Even though he let in five (plus two in the shootout), Bobrovsky was full of highlight-reel saves throughout the night. It’s bizarre that he was able to make so many great saves and see the top line of the Florida Panthers have their way, and then still see the team lose.

Speaking of top lines, where is Calgary’s top line? This feels bizarre to say as they aren’t playing poorly, but the results just aren’t there right now. What’s particularly odd is that Elias Lindholm is still scoring at the same rate he did last season (and leading the team in goals), Johnny Gaudreau is tied for second on the team in points, and Sean Monahan has looked engaged and committed through this stretch. Is it worthwhile to split them up for a stretch? Or is it better to chalk it up to something that will course correct?

This was a rough night for David Rittich, but not just because he let in five goals on 23 shots. He took a scorcher off the mask, had Keith Yandle fall over him, and seemed a little discombobulated after the first. Hopefully it’s nothing serious and tonight was a one-off, because he’s definitely the #1 goalie at this point and it’s not close.

At the end of the night, it’s appropriate that this came down to a coin flip. The Flames look solid so much of the time, but still seem to be holding themselves back. That’s two games in a row now where they’ve let in five goals. This still feels like preseason hockey, and that has to stop.

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The good news

Matthew Tkachuk scored, and then he scored again because he said in the second intermission that he wasn’t happy with the hockey Calgary was playing. He seems to be taking the fact that the Flames seem stuck in second gear rather personally, which maybe isn’t the most fair thing. Did you know that he’s leading Calgary for even-strength points? It would be great to see him cashing in like this more often, but he’s not the slouch some might suggest.

The second power play unit scored a goal! And unlike last game, they actually did it on the power play! Congrats to them for getting their first goal of the season. The fact that it came 12 games into the season belongs in bad news, but whatever the Flames won and PP2 contributed to that.

Sam Bennett, who I’ve always believed in and never doubted once (don’t check my Twitter) scored a goal when it counted! The crazy part is that I keep checking my calendar and it still doesn’t say April. He looked good alongside Derek Ryan and Andrew Mangiapane. Perhaps not “have to keep them together” good, but good enough for good news.

The penalty kill was perfect again, and only had to take the ice twice which is even better. That first penalty kill in particular was a treat to watch and nearly cashed in on their first shortie of the year. It’s great that the special teams have been so reliable the past while.

That hit from Rasmus Andersson ruled. Rasmus Andersson rules.

The bad news 

Mark Jankowski does not have a point yet this season, and he also does not look like he deserves a point. He had a particularly rubbish night from an analytics perspective, with a -35.71 CF%Rel and a -31.90 xGF%Rel. Both of those were team worsts, and both by at least ten points. He certainly isn’t giving the Flames any second thoughts about nearly trading him this summer.

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The Flames went into cruise control after scoring the fourth goal, which is not a luxury they can afford with how inconsistent they’ve been this season. The Panthers have some particularly lethal snipers (did you see Huberdeau’s first goal?) and also the Flames aren’t in a position where they should be tempting fate (did you see Pysyk’s goal?).

It sucks that twice now this season when a bottom-six player looks to be putting something together, they get injured. Hopefully, Austin Czarnik doesn’t miss any games from this, because he’s finally getting some real good chances (and appropriately-increased ice time). There’s also the fact that the Flames just cannot afford any more injuries.

Not really game-related, but it didn’t seem like the right decision to scratch Rieder last night. He finally gets his first goal in over a year, and he brings more to this team right now than some other bottom-six players. Hope he’s able to work his way into the lineup on a more regular basis, and not because of injuries.

Numbers of note 

3 – The number of great scoring chances that Lindholm and Tkachuk generated each. It might be getting time to see them together (although I still maintain that Lindholm should play right wing on that hypothetical line and not centre it).

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1 – The number of points on the season for Travis Hamonic, finally getting his first point of the year with an assist on Bennett’s goal. He was the last player to get a point that’s played in every game so far, although unlike Jankowski’s drought this one feels a lot more like bad luck. He seems particularly cursed lately. Also, his fight sure was just a very long, aggressive hug.

7 – Frolik took his team-leading seventh minor penalty last night. He’s not making it easy for himself to climb out of Bill Peters’ doghouse by doing that (although the rest of his play against Florida sure helped his case).

0.901 – Rittich’s save percentage after this one, which is not great. It also doesn’t feel like a fair reflection of how he’s played. Yet, that’s definitely the stat.

Final thought

The next game for the Flames is outdoors, where they not only have a perfect record, but have never even given up a goal (miss you every day Kipper). It sure would be great if the 2019-20 Flames kept that going.