42Zac Rinaldo
Photo Credit: Stan Szeto/USA Today Sports

Flames stick with the game-plan against the Kings (and get rewarded)

Heading into Saturday’s meeting with the Los Angeles Kings, the Calgary Flames were focused on the same thing they’ve really dialed in on for the past few weeks: themselves. Rather than worry too much about their opposition, interim coach Geoff Ward is trying to get his crew to take care of their own business, play with structure, and stick with the program.

On Saturday night, it was mission accomplished.

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“I just liked, first of all, our composure,” said Ward. “We got down 2-0, there was no panic. The guys just kept going to work. They kept talking to each other on the bench, it was real upbeat. I thought the guys did a really good job responding after being down, coming out and starting with a strong, strong second period.”

In their two previous games against the Kings, the Flames allowed the game to get away from them.

  • In their first game at home against the Kings, they were thumped and out-chanced 14-3 in the first period (4-0 in high danger chances) in what Mikael Backlund called one of the worst periods they’ve ever played in the ‘Dome.
  • In their second game in Los Angeles, they had a decent first and then were out-chanced 12-4 in the second period (7-0 in high danger chances).

The Flames were right there with the Kings throughout this game, out-chancing them in two of three periods and getting more high danger chances in all three periods. They didn’t have a let-down period and they managed to keep moving in the right direction.

Ward noted that the last two games the Flames have played were better than the first two under his watch. The team seems looser and more confident, and they’re much less prone to catastrophic breakdowns than they were weeks ago. They made the Kings look like the Kings on Saturday evening, rather than playing the Washington Generals to their Harlem Globetrotters.

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The Flames extended their points streak to six games (5-0-1) and their winning streak to four games. They remain undefeated under Ward.

The adventures of Zac Rinaldo

Playing his first game in awhile, and his fourth of the season, Zac Rinaldo had a weird night. He scored the game-tying goal off a nice feed from Dillon Dube. He also got into a scrap with Kyle Clifford during a TV timeout.

Here’s what Rinaldo had to say about his scrap:

Cliffy’s a great guy and I know him. But I knew I had to be accountable for that hit. I had no problem doing it. I just didn’t think we were going to fight during the TV timeout. He asked me to go, I said “Cliffy, they’re shoveling the ice, we can’t go right now.” He said “we have to go, we have to go.” I’m like “I don’t think we can go right now. They’re a TV timeout.” “No, we’re going.” I’m like, “Fuck it, let’s go. Alright. If you’re not going to get away from me, then we’re going to have to do what we have to do.” Yeah, that’s what happened

By coincidence, Rinaldo and Clifford are both represented by Todd Reynolds of Uptown Sports:

My agent said a couple days ago, “You’re in, fight anybody. Just don’t fight Clifford.” I’m like “Yeah, no problem,” and sure enough that’s the way it happens.

The game misconducts for the pair appear to be due to the fight taking place during the break – “Fighting other than during the periods of the game” – and it’s likely that Player Safety will take a long look at this due to the uniqueness of the situation.