The Calgary Flames couldn’t get out of town fast enough after a bleak home stand, and faced the Maple Leafs in Toronto last night. In the first game of a quick road trip, the Flames once again put forth a valiant effort against a well rested Leafs team, but fell 2-1 in a shootout. Toronto didn’t have their best night and the Flames took advantage of that fact. Peppering Frederik Andersen with 48 shots on net, Calgary only managed to sneak one puck by the Leafs’ netminder who had a Vezina quality performance. The Leafs may have squeaked through with the extra point, but the Flames deserved to win this game. Matthew Tkachuk was once again at the center of controversy. Spearing Matt Martin while standing on the bench during a scrum, the Flames could be without their young agitator against Montreal tonight, and even longer. He’ll have a hearing for the apparent spear today, and with his track record, don’t expect this to end well.
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5v5 Player Stats
- The dynamic duo of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan led the team in CF% with 65.5% and 62.5% respectively.
- The second defensive pairing of TJ Brodie (44.9%) and Travis Hamonic (42.9%) found themselves last on the team in CF%.
- The fourth line had a solid game, statistically speaking, all posting CF%s around 55.0%, with only 25% OZS.
- Only seven Leafs players had +50% CF% and two with a +50% OZS.
- Auston Matthews was shut down again, posting a 46.2% CF% with 15.4% OZS.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Player of the Game
Andersen probably deserves the honours for singlehandedly stealing that game for the Leafs, but last night’s POTG goes to Brodie. His stats may not appear like he had an outstanding game, but it was clear to see the old Brodie had come out to play last night. He was making strong passes, solid on the back-check, and was consistently flying around the ice. There has been so much negativity aimed at Brodie this season, but last night was one of his more sound performances. Hopefully he can build on last night’s game.
Thoughts on the Game
John: I was fortunate enough to be at the game last night in Toronto, and safe to say it didn’t disappoint. The outcome of the game is what it is; the Flames still earned a point in a hard fought game. Everyone in the building wearing a Leafs jersey knew well enough that their team didn’t deserve to win, rather Andersen stole an extra point or two away from the Flames.
That was the second straight game where the Flames have vastly out-performed their opponents. After the Philadelphia game we were all screaming in panic, but after last night’s effort I believe patience is the key. If the Flames can continue to perform like they have the last two games, the wins will eventually come.
Karim will be able to provide you with more of an analytical analysis of the game, but for me I was a fan last night. I haven’t been able to attend a Flames game in over a year now, so it was nice to once again be in an NHL arena and watch the team play. What is interesting to note is that while Maple Leafs fans are the most outspoken in the league, they are completely incapable of starting a “Go Leafs Go” chant. For the life of me I could not figure out how none of their attempts came to fruition. Flames fans were louder, but not even by much. It was a very interesting NHL experience.
On Tkachuk, at no point during the game or after the play did anyone in the crowd see the spear. He has already gotten word he will have a hearing, which is to be expected, but he needs to stop with these kinds of plays. The league, and league fans, know him very well now and this cannot continue if it is going to cost the team in the long run.
As mentioned in the POTG section, Brodie was the best looking Flame on the ice last night. He was back to his dynamic self in my opinion. The smart play was always made, and he almost looked as if he was a one man show, as Hamonic was often left behind. The Brett Kulak and Micheal Stone pairing also was extremely effective as a third pairing option. Nothing flashy like Brodie, but they did the little things right last night.
I apologize if my analysis seems strained this time around, but this also happened after the game:
My heart rate reached dangerous levels last night during and after the game. pic.twitter.com/exh9n7wp3X
— John MacKinnon (@johnmackinnon24) December 7, 2017
I was a true fan of the Flames last night.
Karim: It’s truly enjoyable covering the Flames. Calgary is an amazing sports town that cares so deeply for their clubs. They expect nothing less than greatness from their hometown teams and when the job doesn’t get done, the pitchforks often come out. I think last night’s game proved that the Flames are not in need of any knee-jerk reactions. They are a good team, capable of going head to head with the best in the league. Sometimes they’ll dominate and win, and sometimes they’ll get dominated and lose. That’s just how the NHL works and John was absolutely correct in saying that patience is the key.
Paraphrasing from Mark Giordano post game, he said that on most nights the Flames would have come away with two points after their effort. They know they’ve been playing well and they know that things probably should have ended differently last night. If they realize that their play doesn’t need any drastic changes and continue to dominate games like they have lately, they’ll be just fine.
Jaromir Jagr was out last night due to a lingering LBI. Garnet Hathaway took his place on the third line with Sam Bennett and former AHL linemate Mark Jankowski. Before the contest, I was hopeful that Hathaway would be able to deal with the increased offensive role on the third line and I wasn’t disappointed by his game. He didn’t make any amazing plays or create any grade-A scoring chances, but he looked comfortable on that line and seemed to gel nicely with two guys who have played significantly better as of late. That being said, I really hope he doesn’t become a fixture in the middle-six.
A product of his age and conditioning, Jagr will likely be in and out of the lineup all year. It’s not ideal, but it is what it is. Kris Versteeg will probably be out for the entire regular season and I would love to see Andrew Mangiapane get a look on that third line. It appears that the Flames brass doesn’t feel he’s ready for the NHL. They likely want to see improvement in his two-way play, but that third line receives sheltered minutes in prime offensive opportunities. Mangiapane has been written off his whole career; I think it’s time to see what he can do. (Aside: I also like Marek Hrivik a lot, but there isn’t really a spot at centre right now.)
Hopefully the Flames can play the same way they did last night in every game to come this season. If that happens, they’ll win far more games than they’ll lose.
What needs to be fixed? Johnny Gaudreau’s only imperfection.
The only thing that Gaudreau can’t do seems to be score on breakaways. Whether it’s in-game or in the shootout, this guy is completley useless. It’s mind boggling that a player with such incredible skill and such soft hands can be so terrible in a one-on-one battle with a goalie. He needs to add a few moves to his repertoire; you can’t just shoot it five hole every time.
What needs to continue? Fourth Line Play.
It may be an aberration, but the last two games the fourth line has looked dangerous. Spearheaded by Troy Brouwer‘s re-emergence, the jumbled group of fourth liners have been able to provide solid possession ratings, energy, and even some offensive chances. Obviously this trend may regress back to the norm, but for the time being it is a pleasant surprise to get such strong play from the cast of replacement level players.
The Flames play again tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. Since Carey Price returned to the crease, the Canadiens have looked immeasurably better. They rely on goaltending more than any team in the league, but are a great team when Price is on his game. It’s always tough to play in Montreal and the Flames will need to bring their A-game tonight if they want to get back into the win column.