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The Arizona Coyotes may be the current tenants of the NHL’s basement, but that shouldn’t take away from what was a dominant Flames win at home last night. Out-shooting the Coyotes 44-28, the Flames were the better team in all three zones the entire game and truly deserved the win. Mike Smith earned a shutout against his former club and was clearly fired up in the crease. He made bold plays with the puck every chance he got and showboated on almost every glove save. Mark Jankowski exploded for his second two-goal game of the year with Sam Bennett assisting on both. The top line was held off the scoreboard but, as usual, looked dangerous on every shift. This was the bounce back effort the Flames were looking for after their loss to Toronto two nights prior.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF  55.1%  57.4%  58.5%
SCF  59.6%  63.0%  62.5%
HDCF  65.6%  67.9%  66.4%

5v5 Player Stats

  • Jaromir Jagr led the Flames with 70.4% CF with 60% OZS.
  • TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic had a redeeming effort with 65.8% CF and 68.4% CF respectively. They also had just 44.4% OZS in the contest.
  • Just five Flames posted under 50% CF. Michael Stone was the team’s worst with 40.6% CF.
  • Only six Coyotes posted above 50% CF. Christain Fischer was the team leader at 56.3% with 33.3% OZS.
  • The Coyotes had six players who had greater than 50% OZS.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Player of the Game

Sportsnet may have given the first star to Smith, but the real award, the TWC POTG, goes to Jankowski. Don’t look at his individual possession stats from this season because there’s a lot left to be desired, but Jankowski definitely looks to carving his name into the full time roster. He plays with energy, uses his extremely long limbs to fly around the ice, and has displayed a soft set of hands. Hopefully his two-goal performance last night will open the floodgates for Jankowski and his snakebitten linemates.

Thoughts on the Game

John: Apologies for being unable to watch the game last night due to moving back to Calgary from Ontario. I did manage to see Kris Russell’s own goal though.

Karim: I was fortunate to be in live attendance for the game last night in celebration of @mikeFAIL‘s birthday. You probably already follow him but if not, give him some love. Beyond being a great guy, he does some excellent work analyzing the Flames’ penalty kill which is definitely worth checking out.

It was a great game. The first period was fairly even with the Coyotes firing 16 shots at Smith, but the Flames took over in the second and third and didn’t really look back. They completely dominated the game and played the way they should have against a bad Arizona team. It’s easy to get carried away with the win. It looked great on the ice, great on paper, and the narratives are strong with Jankowski and Smith. But let’s not forget that this is a Flames team that should be expected to qualify for the playoffs and they were facing the lowest ranked team in the NHL. These are games you should win.

That being said, this is the NHL, and it’s no joke that any team can win on any night. We should celebrate the Flames taking care of business, as long as we keep it in perspective.

Because it’s so much fun, let’s talk about Smith a little bit more. I absolutely love the raw emotion he displays on a nightly basis. It is a true treat to watch him tend the Flames net. Whether it’s his weird wing thing he does before faceoffs, the ridiculous stickhandling and passing he makes from behind – and sometimes directly in front of – his net, or the massive celebrations after a win, I just can’t get enough of this beautiful wildling. He was clearly excited to play his former team and show off a bit; it’s nice when players have personalities too.

Last note, Matthew Tkachuk had a fantastic game. He likely knows a fair chunk of the Coyotes’ roster personally with his time in junior and with USA Hockey, and it was a chippy night for Tkachuk as lots of Coyotes players were giving him a shove as he skated by. His assist on the third goal was incredible, though. He was getting double teamed behind the Arizona net and took a couple questionable crosschecks before finessing the puck out front for an easy one timer by Mikael Backlund. Tkachuk is special and we should never stop talking about it.

Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? Troy Brouwer.

With their solid, all-around outing, I get to pick on the one thing that truly infuriated me last night. Troy Brouwer, on his way to the bench after a defensive shift, decided to crosscheck a Coyotes player sitting on the bench. It was one of most boneheaded decisions I’ve seen since (dare I say it) Dennis Wideman. There was absolutely no reason to retaliate to something in that manner, and the worst part about this whole incident is that you could see it coming! Not impressed.

What needs to continue? Third Line Scoring. 

Maybe it’s not realisitic to ask for the third line to contribute to the scoreboard every night. At the same time though, it would be nice to see them chip in a bit more frequently than they have been. Last night was huge as two of the Flames’ three goals came courtesy of their third line. They accounted for five points between the three of them and had several nice offensive shifts throughout the game. Hopefully they can keep up their good play against the Oilers on Saturday.

Next Game

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It’s the night we’ve all been waiting for: the BOA rematch. In case you forgot – or erased this night from memory – the Oilers demolished the Flames 3-0 in the season opener off a brilliant performance by Connor McDavid. The two Alberta clubs have gone in completely different directions since that dreadful night and both teams will be fully invested in this tilt. Time will tell if this BOA will be as significant a turning point as the last.

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