ALN_27_Boxscore

The Calgary Flames finished their home-stand with a whimper against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers losing 5-2. It was a tough one to take as Calgary dominated possession for the majority of the game. Out-shooting the Flyers 45-21, it is safe to say that former Flame, Brian Elliott, was a key factor in stymieing the Flames. Mike Smith did not have a strong game, stopping only 16 of the 21 shots he faced. Travis Hamonic was assessed a match penalty for a hit to the head, and may be expecting a call from George Parros and the DOPS sometime today. The Flames found yet another way to lose a game this year, and now sit only two games above .500 and still out of a playoff spot.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF  67.2%  68.4%  64.3%
SCF  68.2%  66.7%  62.8%
HDCF  50.0%  50.0%  45.0%

5v5 Player Stats

  • Every single Flames player posted a +60% CF at 5v5, with Curtis Lazar having the lowest at an even 60.0%.
  • Every single Flyers player posted a sub 50% CF at 5v5, with Scott Laughton leading the way with 47.1%.
  • The 3M line started 100% of their shifts in the offensive zone, a rare feat for the trio, and all posted +70% CF%.
  • Mark Jankowski had the best CF% at 5v5 with 78.3%, while his line-mate Sam Bennett wasn’t far behind at 73.9%.
  • Nolan Patrick posted a dreadful 10% CF%, albeit in only 8:22 of ice time.
  • Two other players, Dale Weise and Travis Konecny, also posted CF%’s below 20%.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Player of the Game

Such a strange game makes it particularly difficult to pick out one star performance. That’s why it makes perfect sense to award the honour to our boy, Troy Brouwer. The fourth line actually looked decent last night and Brouwer managed to bang home a Lazar wrist shot for his first of the season., finally scored his first goal of the season. Let’s hope this is the start of somethi — okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Brouwer was rewarded with a large bag of candy for his efforts.

Thoughts on the Game

John: The Flames look completely vulnerable at the moment. Last night showed perfectly how the Flames not only look extremely beatable, but also a team with no identity. They completely dominated the possession game, and I mean dominate, but found themselves crumbling during all parts of the game. They take the lead, they ease up. They give up a fluke goal, they cave. A call doesn’t go their way, they spend more time worrying about it then getting back into the play.

This team carried very high expectations going into the season, and deservedly so. They made quality moves in the off-season and acquired a number one goaltender. I am not sure if these expectations are weighing them down or not, but so far they clearly are falling under the pressure.

You can compare this home-stand to the road trip last year to Toronto and Montreal. The same issues are propagating themselves into this years squad. The team has lost its confidence, and need another Glen Gulutzan post game slashing to put them in the right direction.

That is my main issue with this team, they shouldn’t need a lashing from their coach or the media to realize things need to change. The team was in this exact same position last season and was able to rebound well. Learning experiences are key in this league, and right now they seem to be flying right over the Flames core player’s heads.

Let’s jump back to Gulutzan for a quick second. I have spent the last few ALN’s pinpointing his player deployment and lineup issues, with last night being no exception. Halfway through the second period, he jumbled the lines once again. With the Flames playing somewhat respectable, it was odd to see him go to this so early. Demoting Micheal Ferland to the fourth line was questionable and not deserved by the player. There are just too many questions surrounding his player usage that it has become an enigma. It’s just impossible to justify.

There was a tweet making its rounds last night, in regards to Gulutzan coaching his last game with the Flames. He may be frustrating at the moment, but Brad Treliving is a smart enough man not to fire his coach after a 14-12-1 start. I don’t question the validity of the reporter’s source, but how easy is it for someone to say anything on Twitter? I don’t know what the future holds for Gulutzan, but don’t expect a coaching change. The team needs some personnel change, but for the players rather than the head coach.

Karim: There’s an ominous feeling around this team right now. Losing to the Oilers wasn’t fun, but it was a game that I could live with. Now, after failing to get it done against the Flyers to go 1-3 on their homestand, I’m feeling nervous. Defensive struggles that were being masked by Smith’s brilliant play were never fixed, and now that Smith is struggling, these struggles are costing the Flames points in the standings. There’s no doubting that Smith was among the best goalies in the league to start the season but he has visibly regressed over the past few weeks. He’s a streaky goalie and I would be comfortable betting that a hot stretch is in the cards again at some point in the year, but the Flames need to figure their stuff out well before that happens.

It’s amazing how quickly the fanbase has turned on Gulutzan. I understand that the Flames aren’t in a prime position right now and they’ve fallen out of a playoff spot but how can you blame the coach for a lot of the struggles this team has shown? Even if we run down the list, I find it hard to believe that Gulutzan is the reason for all, if any of these issues.

Third line scoring was a hot topic for a long time. Gulutzan played that line almost exclusively in the offensive zone against the opposition’s bottom-six, kept them together to give them some consistency, and after being truly unlucky for a few weeks, they finally appear to have broken out a little bit.

TJ Brodie and Hamonic have been dreadful. Gulutzan doesn’t play them against the opposition’s first line, instead opting to use the Mark GiordanoDougie Hamilton pairing and Brodie receives plenty of powerplay time.

Special teams, especially the penalty kill, was nothing short of awful but Gulutzan isn’t responsible for that aspect of the game anyway.

The only thing I can say that I really dislike about Gulutzan’s coaching is his insistence on rolling four lines every game. At a certain point, I think it’s necessary to give more ice time to your top offensive lines, especially when you’re losing in a tight game. And for the Flames, this just means sitting the fourth line. But other than that, I think Gulutzan has done a fine job behind the bench and I hope that the players can sort through their issues and make a run back into the playoffs for their coach.

Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? The Mentality.

The Flames are back to their crumbling ways of last year, with just the slightest adversity sinking any momentum during games. They lost a huge member of their leadership team in Kris Versteeg, but still boast a strong veteran presence. These players are needed now more than ever, and appear to maybe be the cause of this according to Gulutzan. If the Flames want to get back into the playoff picture, and be able to sustain a long playoff run, they need a complete change of their mentality. They boast one of the best defense corps in the league, own that. Their top line is outscoring the majority of other top units, continue to dominate the offensive side of the game. The 3M line is one of the best shutdown lines in the league, deploy them when you need to. The Flames have the talent to achieve lots, they just need to believe that they do.

What needs to continue? Sam Bennett. 

If there was one bright spot on this home stand, it was Bennett. Scoring points in all four home games, with two goals and four assists, he appears to have righted the ship. Of course, we know Bennett to be an extremely streaky player. Time will tell if the real Bennett has appeared, or if this is just another hot streak, but this team needs an additional offensive weapon at the moment.

Next Game

ALN_27_NextGame

After losing a winnable game against the Maple Leafs last week, the Flames head to Toronto tomorrow for the second of two meetings between the two teams. The Flames desperately need to get back into the win column or risk falling too far outside the playoff picture. Dropping two games this week to the Oilers and Flyers that they probably should have won makes this contest that much more important.

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