Sunday: New Jersey Devils @ CGY
The Calgary Flames recovered from another rough start to beat the New Jersey Devils 5-4 in a shootout. Mike Smith probably had his worst game as a Flame, yet still made several incredible saves to bail out his teammates during a less than stellar first period. This game was one of the most entertaining the Flames have played this season; it had a bit of everything including two penalty shots, a shorthanded goal, Johnny Gaudreau magic, and an exciting overtime/shootout to close it all out. The Flames have now won three in a row. They’ll continue their home stand on Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks.
Flames Player of the Game
POTG honours go to Michael Ferland. He had a fantastic game playing with Gaudreau and Sean Monahan on the top line. He registered a goal and an assist, threw his body around, and even earned a penalty shot. Ferland finished with 55% CF in just over 17 minutes of ice time. It was nice to see the same dominant Ferland we saw at the tail end of last season. Hopefully he can use last night’s performance to put together a string of strong games.
John has been busy with graduation so make sure you guys wish him well.
Bill: With a big chunk of pending schoolwork, it means I was only able devote a small portion of my screen space to watching the hockey game while I had a blank document open. The Flames were awful in the first, and seemed to be caught off-guard by the speedy Devils. A theme that’s reoccurred for a few games now, the Flames truly can not afford to have such slow starts for much longer. It was surprising to see them come out on top in the corsi battle given how behind they were after the first period, but this seems to be the result of having a simplified game. The Flames were lucky in picking up the win, as Smith had some blunders, but they finally had much needed goal support. This was the first game since playing against Vancouver that they put up more than four goals in a game. Every game between then and now has finished with the Flames scoring two or less goals, with the exception of an 3-2 overtime win against Nashville. Hopefully this provides a good enough spark for the team so that Smith doesn’t have to bail them out every game.
Karim: Shout out to StubHub for the $6 tickets to the game last night! It was a nice family outing and what a game. Definitely the most entertaining Flames game I’ve seen this year, they may have started sluggishly but the game was back and forth all night and ultimately ended in some quality free hockey. To be completely honest, the players who stood out to me were mostly on the visiting team. Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier were phenomenal all night; they were creating chances and plays every shift. Hall always seemed to find open space on the ice and was definitely the most dangerous Devil as a result.
The Flames won the overall Corsi battle with 54% CF, but the Devils had more high danger chances, accounting for 60% HDCF in the game. It was the third game in a row where the Flames faced an opposing backup goalie for a team who had played the night before. It is a bit concerning that they aren’t dominating more teams who are facing this situation as they come to the ‘Dome. Fortunately they are winning games, but they’ll need to figure out how to play a complete 60 minutes if they want to keep winning games.
The 3M line were the Flames’ corsi leaders and, once again, they were powered by none other than Matthew Tkachuk. Also scoring the shootout winner, Tkachuk has displayed a full arsenal of offensive tricks over the last few games. Last night, he had a beautiful toe drag to beat a Devils’ defenseman and get a quality scoring chance. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Tkachuk’s offensive ability and potential are being wasted on the 3M line. Don’t get me wrong, the 3M line is without a doubt one of the best shutdown lines in the NHL, but Tkachuk is an offensively minded player; don’t forget, this is a guy who put up over 100 points in junior. The fact that he’s been able to adjust to the NHL level and play responsible defensive hockey against the league’s best is absolutely phenomenal. I don’t think it will be long before he’s in the same conversation as Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine for the very best player from the 2016 draft. I think, especially because of the Flames’ scoring woes outside the top-six, that Tkachuk should move off the 3M line and be a driver of another scoring line. Maybe a Tkachuk, Mark Jankowski and Sam Bennett line could do some damage. All I’m saying is think about it, Glen.
Game data courtesy:
Tuesday: Vancouver Canucks @ CGY