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About Last Night #26: Flames Show Little Fight in the Battle of Alberta


A late game comeback overshadowed a dreadful effort from the Calgary Flames as they fell 7-5 to the Edmonton Oilers. This was the sixth straight loss in the Battle of Alberta for the Flames, and they never really stood a chance in this contest. Falling behind early – and substantially – the Flames ended up in a 6-1 hole early in the third period. They were able to score four quick goals to make things interesting, but an a deflected shot off TJ Brodie put the Oilers up by two with 1:01 left and killed the momentum. Mike Smith stopped 22 of 27 shots before being replaced by David Rittich after two periods. The Flames were a step behind all game, probably admiring or fearing Connor McDavid on the ice. A win over their provincial rivals was just what the Flames needed, but unfortunately, they gave momentum to the struggling Oilers. The BoA rematch is set for January 25th in Calgary, in which the Flames will look to get the Oilers out of their head.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF  53.2%  48.9%  40.9%
SCF  50.8%  40.0%  32.8%
HDCF  44.0%  44.4%  36.8%

5v5 Player Stats

Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Player of the Game

Sam Bennett gets the nod for his two goal effort last night. This extends his point streak to three games and has him trending in the right direction. His first goal started the failed comeback, and he did appear to play with some energy after the team essentially took a 40 minute nap. While his possession statistics weren’t as strong as others, it is encouraging to see his game turning a corner.

Thoughts on the Game

John: The Flames got caught with their tail between their legs last night. I truly ignore the comeback, as they didn’t deserve to have a chance based on the first two periods. Brodie had a tough night, it would be asinine to compare his own goal to Kris Russell‘s. With Oilers fans looking for a scapegoat, they found one in Brodie. Brodie didn’t cost his team two points, the rest of the players and coaching staff did.

The initial blame normally always go on the players, but the coaching staff did a terrible job of putting the players in a position to win last night. McDavid is going to cause this team problems for many years; when he hits the ice the entire team is either staring at him, forgetting about him, or scared of him. Last night should have been the 3M line vs. McDavid all night, especially with the home advantage in line matching, but it wasn’t. Each defensive pairing played against him, and almost every line did as well. McDavid didn’t generate all of the goals last night, but the opening period tallies set the tone for what was to come.

Glen Gulutzan has to do a better job deploying his lines. I have spoken at length of his player usage in the past, but last night was inexcusable. The majority of teams that play the Flames seem to always play their best defensive lines against Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. If the Flames were to play the same team, GG normally would deploy the Gaudreau-Monhan line against the other teams best line, for reasons unknown. The 3M line has become the go-to defensive line over the past year, so it was confusing to see McDavid deployed without the 3M line out there as well.

Gulutzan also seems to operate under a “everyone gets to play” mindset. After special teams have been deployed, or 4 on 4 time, he more often than not deploys jumbled lines. Some players have been sitting for a while and need to play, but why mix up chemistry just to do that? Honestly, you sometimes get the impression that he’s still searching for some random combinations to work with the way he deploys lines.

Last night was an over-exaggerated version of this issue, but it’s a glaring issue the team needs to solve. Dave Cameron and Paul Gerrard operate the special teams groups, but Gulutzan runs the show. He should have the final say in these choices, and needs to try something different if he doesn’t want a repeat of last night.

Karim: Nothing grinds my gears more than the Oilers. It’s no secret that I support the Flames, but I truly became a diehard fan after spending five years in Edmonton for university. Despite owning the BoA for almost a decade, the Oilers are now undefeated in the past two seasons. It’s a deflating feeling knowing that regardless of where the Oilers are in the standings or how much money they throw at mediocre players, they still managed to demolish the Flames last night. I’m upset and it’ll take a day to reset.

But enough about them, let’s talk about the Flames. This win-one-lose-one trend that they’ve been showing the past few weeks has to end. The Flames are supposed to be in the upper echelon of the NHL and the fact that they are totally unable to establish any kind of consistency is concerning. I truly hope that last night’s debacle serves as a wake up call to this group. They’re almost 30 games into the season and it’s time they took things seriously. They aren’t in a playoff spot, sport a .500 record in their last 10 games, have a minus-five goal differential, and still employ Brouwer. Writing game recaps feels like a roller coaster with how well the Flames play one game, and then how they forget how to skate in the next. If they don’t find some consistency soon, they could find themselves in real trouble.

Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? The Power Play.

With the loss of Kris Versteeg for months, there is a massive question mark hovering over the special teams unit. While Mark Jankowski looked to be taking reps in practice, Glen Gulutzan went back to his old tricks and opted for Brouwer. On two occasions, Gaudreau looked to Brouwer for a pass, rather than shooting himself. Not only is he taking up a spot for someone more productive, but causing the wrong opportunities. Last night was disastrous on the PP, going 1/6, but they also gave up a SHG and two breakaways in the same period. Some of the blame is on Brouwer, but as John mentioned above, the majority needs to go towards the coach.

What needs to continue? The Penalty Kill. 

If there are some positives to take out of last nights game, the Flames were perfect on the PK. While one of the goals came shortly after the kill expired, the team has been doing spectacular of late on the PK. In the last two weeks, the Flames have the best PK in the league operating at a 90.5% success rate. Plus it doesn’t hurt that they threw in a SHG last night too.

Next Game


The Flames desperately need to bunk this win-one-lose-one dance they’ve been doing the past few weeks. The dreadful Philadelphia Flyers are in town on Monday and this is the perfect opportunity to get back on track. Losing the way they did last night is always tough, especially when it comes at the hands of the Oilers. Hopefully the Flames can show that they can bounce back with a strong showing against the Flyers.

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