It was more of the same last night. The Flames, at home to face the San Jose Sharks, played a game that perfectly embodied their recent stretch of games. Throwing more pucks at Sharks goalie Aaron Dell, controlling play for the majority of the contest, a late go-ahead goal by the Sharks that just sneaked past Mike Smith was the difference maker. Smith wasn’t great in this one; he let in a few softies that ultimately ended up costing the Flames. They were down 2-1 entering the third and tied the game off a goal by Johnny Gaudreau, but it just wasn’t in the cards this time. This was a key divisional matchup and with five teams tied at 35 points entering the night, these were valuable points that the Flames needed to earn. It was more than just luck, something that has eluded this team for several weeks, that extinguished another strong effort. The Flames’ special teams has returned to the forefront of fan frustration, and their powerplay was truly abysmal in this game. Shots were 32-29, Michael Frolik leading the way with six.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
- The Sharks failed to generate a high danger scoring chance at 5on5 in both the second and third periods.
- The Flames generated just two CF events on the powerplay.
5v5 Player Stats
- A nice surprise: Travis Hamonic was the Flames’ Corsi leader, finishing the game at 67.7% CF
- Just Michael Stone and the fourth line of Troy Brouwer, Matt Stajan, and Curtis Lazar had less than 50% OZS.
- The 3M line was heavily deployed in the offensive zone; Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk leading with 66.7% OZS.
- The Shark’ Corsi leaders were Marcus Sorensen and Jannik Hansen, both at 57.1% CF.
- Just three Sharks players had above 50% CF in the game.
- The Sharks’ top line of Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, and Melker Karlsson had just 25% OZS.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Player of the Game
POTG honours to go Gaudreau. Despite a tough loss, the Flames were at least given a chance to win the game off Gaudreau’s game tying marker in the third period. He continues to be an absolute joy to watch, constantly making the most skilled plays look easy. He has been on a bit of a cold streak lately so it’s nice to see him light the lamp at a time where the Flames are struggling to win games.
Thoughts on the Game
Karim: I know that you can’t look at the record of a small stretch of games and derive conclusions on the team. I know that there’s more to the story than what shows up on the scoreboard. But at the same time, it’s getting a bit annoying to see the Flames play solid hockey and not get rewarded for it. Over, and over again.
They’re one of the best possession teams in the league, largely due to system changes implemented by Glen Gulutzan, but they haven’t been able to put together a stretch of wins yet through 32 games this season. The West is tight; the Pacific is tighter. Just because you announce to the league that you’re a playoff team doesn’t mean you actually are. I can’t recall a year when this many teams have been this close as we approach the halfway mark of the season and that makes every intra-conference game that much more important. It’s nice that the Flames were able to earn some points out East, but the games that will really matter are those against their friends in the West.
It’s really fascinating how much a bad powerplay can negatively affect a team. Digging into the raw numbers though, is interesting. The Flames have received the 10th most powerplay opportunities in the league, and have scored the 10th most powerplay goals. They’re actually converting at just ~1% below league average. But again, there’s more to this story than what the raw numbers show.
It’s been well documented that the Flames’ struggles on the man advantage have come as a result of losing Kris Versteeg. Since Versteeg hit the IR, the Flames have received the sixth most powerplay opportunities in the league at 29, but have scored the third fewest amount of goals at three. Their powerplay kills momentum, gives their opponents’ top players a two minute rest, must frustrate the players as well. They need to fix their powerplay and they need to do it fast.
What needs to be fixed? The Powerplay. Yet Again.
The powerplay needs to be fixed yesterday. Not much more to really say about this.
What needs to continue? Stick with it.
The Flames are a good team. On any given night, it’s likely that they’ll have more chances to score than their opponent. Right now, more than ever, it’s important for them to continue their strong play and the rewards will come. As soon as they fix their powerplay, the’ll be a dangerous team in all situations and could go on great run. But for now, despite the difficulty winning games, the Flames need to keep doing what they’re doing.
The Flames are at home to the Nashville Predators on Saturday night. The Predators have been rolling lately, recently beating the Canucks 7-1 and the Oilers 4-0. Ryan Johansen is back and scoring, Kyle Turris has fit in seamlessly, and PK Subban is just one piece of a fantastic defense corps. This will be a difficult game for the Flames, and with another game against a Western Conference foe, they need to get back into the win column.