It would be ironic considering the point of this article to begin with the cliché “the definition of insanity is trying the same thing and expecting different results” but hey, it really does fit.
Feel of the game
The game started as a fast paced encounter between two evenly matched teams, giving the feel that it would be a close one that would be decided by the thinnest of margins.
To their credit, the Flames did get on the board first (a rarity) and actually had a multiple goal first period until Mikael Backlund’s 2-0 goal was called back thanks to an offsides review.
The Flames apparently didn’t get word that the goal was called off and played the rest of the game like they had to defend a two goal lead.
And the Hurricanes pretty much took over from that point on while the Flames held on for dear life. It took until the dying moments of the game, but the Canes finally got two past David Rittich, which was enough to send the Flames packing without any points. With the Flames not doing much – or anything – to help their own cause, it kinda felt inevitable.
It was another great game from Rittich, who has increasingly been the Flames’ only bright spot in some of these games. There’s not much he can do about having the goal of the year scored on him, or a really good screen on the power play not even a minute after his chances of having children was decreased. Carolina could’ve ended this one in the second period if not for Dave (but maybe that would’ve inspired the Flames to score some goals. Hot take: is the Flames’ goaltending too good???).
I’m struggling to think of non-David Rittich good things, but it’s hard when there was really only twenty good minutes of Flames hockey. The new look first line looks good, but that’s to be expected from three high paid young forwards.
I feel the best way to honour the spirit of the Flames’ performance last night is to end the article two thirds of the way through. See ya!
But seriously folks, was that third period lousy or what?
This graph should tell you everything you need to know. The Flames let this one get away from them when there was never any reason to. Carolina started the second hot, and the Flames had a brief stretch where they were wrestling back control, but it was all Hurricanes after that. It appeared only one team knew the score during the game.
I don’t really want to talk about the various individual bad things of last night’s game. There’s a lot of them, but they’re a lot of the same issues and I don’t like repeating myself.
I want to talk about Svechnikov’s goal. It’s amazing in it’s own right, but in a way, it’s the antithesis of Flames hockey thus far.
So you’re Carolina. You’re clearly controlling play, but nothing’s going in for you and you’re running out of time. The game isn’t out of reach, but you’ve been frustrated for so long that it’s starting to feel like it is. Conventional hockey isn’t doing the trick.
Now you’re Svechnikov. You’re right behind the goal with a few options:
- Pass it out in front and see if someone can get a clearer shot.
- Wrap-around attempt
- Work your way in front of the net and try and jam in it
- Skate back along the boards and see what develops
I’d say 99.99% of the time, that’s what happens immediately after you find yourself in that situation. That’s how you’re trained to play hockey.
Svech doesn’t do that, he instead opts to bust out a move that you practice but never try. He pulls the Michigan move out of his back pocket, a goal that requires perfect execution from start to finish. The space between Rittich’s head and the post is so small that he needs to place the puck exactly in the right place for this to go in. He also needs to do all this in maybe half a second. I’m not counting precisely, but there’s about 300 ways for this to go spectacularly wrong, a few ways it could go right and still not achieve the desired outcome, and only one way it could go right.
He nails it. He pulls off the move smoothly, puts the puck exactly where it needs to be, and ties the game up.
More briefly: he tries something. It worked. It was maybe the lowest percentage play there was, and the chances of failure were way higher than the chances of success, but he applied unorthodox thinking to the problem and reaped the rewards.
That’s what the Flames have lacked all season. They’ve found themselves in similar situations that the Canes found themselves in last night, but their answer every time has been the same thing. A thing I’ve noticed through the early days of the 2019-20 season is that the Flames are predictably predictable, rolling out the same players and systems in the same scenarios. They play like they’re frozen in time, that time being the 2018-19 season.
I’m not suggesting that the Flames go into their bag of tricks and find some obscure move to score goals, nor am I expecting them to pull off more one-in-a-million plays. Hell, the risk involved probably hurts them at points too. But obviously nothing else is working so you might as well try something new. They’re a team that’s lacking the forethought to understand why their hockey isn’t working, the creativity to solve those issues, and the bravado to actually try it. They seem complacent, expecting exactly one outcome to happen following a play and then drawing blanks when it doesn’t.
I can’t name the one particular area that needs a shakeup, or the one solution to their woes because the Flames aren’t One Weird Trick away from being first in the West again. It’s the whole approach to the game that needs changing.
Numbers of note
19:38- The time elapsed between Flames shots on net. I don’t know if anyone keeps track of that stat, but it’s probably a record.
3- Flames shots in the third period, all coming with the net empty.
53.85%- Oliver Kylington’s 5v5 CF, the only player with a number greater than 50. I’ve always liked him, so it’s nice to see him finally become a positive contributor at the NHL level (Yes, I do know he is in the featured image, which is a picture of him being on the ice for a goal. He was great otherwise).
8:48- Andrew Mangiapane’s 5v5 ice time, who is probably more deserving of second line minutes than Alan Quine.
82.41%- Carolina’s xGF percentage in the third period alone. That seems bad!
Optimistically, it’s still early in the season, the team typically doesn’t wake up until November, they’re just three points behind where they were last season, and they’re lacking the puck luck that would see them in a better position standings-wise.
Pessimistically, they’re still plagued by the same issues that haven’t resolved themselves at any point during the past 14 games, they remain inconsistent, and barring some big shakeup, none of that feels like it’s going to change any time soon.
I still believe the real Flames aren’t quite here yet, but with every passing game, that optimism fades.