The Flames found themselves in a 3-1 hole at the end of the first period, but managed to battle back to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime yesterday afternoon. This was the first time ex-Flames goaltender Brian Elliott faced his old teammates, and was burned for five goals in the Flyers loss. Mike Smith made his return to the crease after missing one game with an upper body injury, and despite looking shaky at times, managed to hold the fort and earn his 10th win of the season. Sean Monahan put up three goals and an assist to move into 23rd in NHL scoring. Johnny Gaudreau posted three points of his own, still sitting third overall in NHL scoring with 29 points. Michael Frolik was the overtime hero, converting a cross crease pass from Mikael Backlund just over one minute into the extra frame. The Flames were without Matthew Tkachuk as he served a one game suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct in Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.
With their 11th win, the Flames sit 13th in the NHL and third in the Pacific Division.
Flames Statistical Breakdown
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Monahan led the Flames with 75% CF over 60% OZS.
- The fourth line of Kris Versteeg, Matt Stajan, and Curtis Lazar combined for 0% OZS and 13.2% CF.
- Troy Brouwer replaced Tkachuk on the 3M line, posting 50% CF. He was the worst player on the line; Backlund finished at 51.9% CF and Frolik at 57.7% CF.
- Taylor Leier of the Flyers finished at a whopping 91.7% CF in just over seven minutes of ice time.
- Philadelphia’s top line of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier had the worst CF for the Flyers at a combined 41.8% CF.
Stats courtesy: hockeystats.ca | hockeyviz.com | Natural Stat Trick
Player of the Game
With his first career hat trick, scoring all on the powerplay, the player of the game easily goes to Monahan. Adding an assist for a total of four points on the night, Monahan is now scoring at a 47 goal and 86 point pace. He and Gaudreau have been dynamite on the top line for the Flames and look simply unstoppable as of late. It’s hard to believe that Monahan had yet to score a hat trick after potting 115 goals in the NHL.
Thoughts on the Game
Bill: Bill was also suspended one game on Saturday, by no fault of his own. We have him listed as DTD.
John: Let’s talk about Johnny Hockey. So far this season he has been absolutely unstoppable. Yesterday, Gaudreau was able to extend his point streak to nine games, which is now the longest of his career. Through 19 games he has accumulated 29 points and is already halfway towards last season’s goal total. While we expected a bounce-back season, I don’t think it was a given he would respond with what we are witnessing now. There are many factors that have gone into this resurgence of sorts. Cassie Campbell had a very strong analysis during yesterdays game:
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) November 18, 2017
Gaudreau has been accessing those tight openings in the offensive zone to both create space between himself and his defender, but also leave his teammates with better looks. Monahan and Micheal Ferland have been the primary benefactors from this change, as both’s offensive numbers are on pace for career seasons. In addition to attacking the middle of the ice, there is a clear mental change from Johnny that is evident with each puck touch. While last year the common theme used to be that Johnny was doing too much with the puck, which often led to turnovers, this season the killer instinct had returned. He is getting off a bigger portion of higher quality shots, while also making the smartest pass to his line-mates. The most glaring memory from last year’s playoffs was when Johnny had a wide open look to tie the game, but instead opted to pull a spin-o-rama pass which resulted in a turnover. As a fan, I would say there was hesitation last season when Gaudreau had the puck sometimes as he was highly unpredictable. This year, that worry has dissipated completely as it’s almost a guarantee that something magical will happen when he has the puck. He has been at an MVP caliber all season long, and in my opinion should be included in the early conversation for the Hart Trophy.
Karim: One thing that separates the good teams from the great teams is the ability to battle back from early deficits. The Flames had this ability in their unsustainable 2015 playoff run, but it wasn’t as evident last year. This season, however, I’m finally starting to see some elite confidence from the team. They were in an ugly hole at the end of 20 minutes and it’s difficult to take a breath and come back with a strong effort after the intermission. It really looks like this team is able to win every single game they play and that is really incredible. I remember being in Edmonton last year and seeing the Oilers never break; that’s what the Flames are trending towards right now. That ability to win games and having that killer instinct definitely bodes well for the next 61 games.
As John mentioned, Gaudreau is playing the best hockey of his career and with Ferland’s emergence as a legit top line winger, the Flames boast one of the best top-sixes in the league. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the third line for the rest of this road trip, though. It’s one thing to have success at home when you have favourable matchups and plenty of offensive zone starts. It’s another to have the same success on the road. It looks like the only things the Flames really need to work on are their penalty kill (see below) and for the third line to establish some consistency on the road. I’m excited.
What needs to be fixed? Penalty Kill. Again.
This seems to be a recurring theme, but the Flames’ penalty kill was atrocious once again. They let in another powerplay goal against, and still sit dead last in the league with a 70.6% success rate on the PK. The Flames will need to figure this out quickly, as they face some of the league’s most prolific offenses on their current road trip.
What needs to continue? Happiness.
In hockey, especially the NHL where the season is a long 82 games, it’s important to establish a feeling of comradery among teammates. Seeing the Flames dress up as they set off on a 50s themed train ride to DC in what is likely a bonding exercise goes to show how close knit this team is. At its roots, hockey is a game, and it’s impossible to succeed at a game if you’re not having a good time. Hopefully, as the season continues, the Flames can continue to have a good time as a close, winning, and successful team.
The Flames continue their road trip against the Washington Capitals on Monday. The Capitals have started to pick up the pace a bit over the last couple weeks, so a trip to Verizon Center should be a good test. With a win, the Flames could move into second place in the Pacific Division; the stakes are high even in November. Remember, American Thanksgiving is a key date as far as the NHL standings are concerned: it is extremely difficult to climb into a playoff spot if you find yourself on the outside come Thanksgiving Monday. The Flames will definitely be looking to add to their strong start. As mentioned previously, the third line had a rough outing in Philadelphia and, if the Flames want to establish themselves as a lethal offensive threat on the road as well as at home, the third line will need to start driving possession a lot more. They did have a couple good chances yesterday with Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski both hitting iron in the contest, but more sustained offensive zone pressure is what they’ll be searching for on Monday.