ALN_21_Boxscore

It was a night to forget for the Calgary Flames as they fell 1-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime. After appearing nearly unbeatable in extra time the last few seasons, a costly TJ Brodie turnover led to the only goal of the game, reducing the Flames’ overtime record to 12-3 over the last 1.25 seasons. Mike Smith was excellent last night, stopping 40 of 41 shots and was the only reason the Flames managed to earn a point in the match. The other netminder, Sergei Bobrovsky, stopped all 22 shots he faced in the shutout win. There is no doubting that he is the best goaltender in the league right now. Six Flames players were without a shot on goal last night with only a handful registering multiple shots. Smith summed it up perfectly: “to be honest, we got what we deserved”.

Flames Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF  43.5%  46.0% 47.6%
SCF 43.1% 46.5% 37.1%
HDCF 31.3%  41.7% 45.0%

5v5 Player Stats

Stats courtesy: hockeystats.ca | hockeyviz.com | Natural Stat Trick

Player of the Game

It’s a no brainier this time around, Smith gets the honour yet again. He single-handedly stole a point for the Flames in what was a lopsided affair for most of the night. When the team gets a performance like that from their number one goalie, you expect the players will throw in some goal support. You can’t win them all, but Smith deserved better for his outstanding efforts.

Thoughts on the Game

John: In a game where not much happened, there are some things that need to be discussed. While a loss to one of the best teams in the league shouldn’t be cause for concern, there are a few notable developments from last night’s contest that stick out among the rest. It was not the Flames’ best effort, but this game played out like a playoff contest. Defense was a priority and both teams were extremely prepared for one another.

Let’s start with the positives shall we? Smith was absolute perfection last night. Both goaltenders were sharp, but Smith was in a league of his own. He deserved to come out with the win, but you can’t fault him for being left out to dry by Brodie’s boneheaded turnover. We talk a lot about Smith’s impact on this team, but not nearly as much as we should. If you look back to the 18 games that he has played this season, I can think of a handful in which he stole points. This is exactly what kind of goaltending the Flames need – or any team for that matter. Last night was a prime example of a game that in the last few seasons easily would have gone the other way. With Smith in net, the team was able to salvage a point in a game where they didn’t deserve any at all.

Brodie is not playing like himself. Yes, his advanced stats look fine, and people like to place some of the blame on Travis Hamonic‘s arrival and his poor possession stats, but something is not right. His overtime blunder is another example of a goal off a turnover. He had two turnovers against Detroit and another last night. I am by no means placing the blame on Brodie for these few mistakes as he plays critical minutes in all situations, but it’s unfortunate to see that he is costing his team. I like to speculate on what has caused some of the players misfortunes: injury? Off-ice issues? I don’t think anything applies to Brodie at the moment, it’s unfortunately just bad luck right now that is being witnessed more often than not.

Finally, it’s time to talk about Bennett. Last night he played on the fourth line for a decent portion of the game, after making the switch with Kris Versteeg halfway through the second period. So far this season he has played as the third line C, third line LW, and now the fourth line LW. While some would like to say that he hasn’t been played in key situations with good linemates, last night’s demotion goes against that notion. He had been playing with Jankowski and Jaromir Jagr, supposedly building chemistry, and yet was still unable to generate anything the past few games. It has been a fall from grace lately for the former fourth overall pick, who has become the fan base’s whipping boy this season.  He is on a show-me contract, and right now hasn’t been able to justify even his small raise. I love him as a player, and really hope he can turn it around, but if he doesn’t start scoring soon, his trade value could diminish. Of course, the Flames still earned a point last night and are still in a playoff position. Maybe I shouldn’t panic as much.

Karim: It’s a sad reality but you can’t win them all. Sometimes, games like the ones we saw last night will happen and the Flames will get shut down in the offensive zone and dominated in the defensive zone. The difference in comparison to years previous, as has been mentioned several times already, was the ability for this group to escape with a point. The Blue Jackets fully deserved to win the game last night, edging the Flames in nearly every important statistical category. The fact that the Flames still increased their season point total is a huge accomplishment, and just another reason why Smith has been an absolutely terrific addition to the team. They have gone 1-2-1 in the first four games of their season long six game road trip. If the Flames can split the next two games in Dallas and Colorado, I’d still chalk this up as a successful trip. Last night was junk, it happens, and the best thing to do is move on.

Like John, I’ll also talk a little bit about Bennett. Look, the team said they were committed to him at center and it didn’t work. They moved him to the wing in favour of a significantly less experienced Jankowski who has performed better than Bennett ever did. He looked good for a few home games on the wing, but Bennett just looks lost right now. It’s time to throw him to the wolves and try and salvage the highest drafted player in Calgary Flames history. Brad Treliving, at this point, should be doing his absolute best to package him in a deal with Eddie Lack for a new backup goalie (sorry to Lack who deserves better treatment), or with Michael Stone for picks/prospects. Bennett’s trade value is plummeting faster than the Oilers; it’s time to ship him out.

Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? Secondary Scoring.

A problem that looked like it had disappeared has resurfaced. Overshadowed by the top line’s brilliant play the past few games, the rest of the forward group (mainly the bottom six) are still producing at a dismal level. The 3M line is included here because, despite their defensive role, they still are a second line that is relied upon for offense. On an off night where the top unit is shut down, the Flames need more from their supporting cast.

What needs to continue? Mike Smith. 

No explanation needed. He’s the backbone and heart of this team right now.

Next Game

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The Flames travel to Dallas on Friday to face the Stars. Both teams will enter the bout coming off a shutout loss; both teams will have their fingers crossed that this game won’t end in a 1-0 shootout.

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