The Calgary Flames returned home after a short trip to Vancouver to take on a tough St. Louis Blues squad. In what was one of their strongest defensive efforts of the season, the Flames were able to ride those defensive coattails to a 2-1 victory. Both teams looked to be playing a chess match of sorts as each shift was a calculated move, waiting for their opponent to bend. Michael Frolik opened the scoring on a play that needed to be blown dead by the men in Toronto. Dougie Hamilton secured the victory with a chop to the net that found its way through Blues backup Carter Hutton, who stopped 31 of 33 shots he faced. Mike Smith had a quiet evening, turning aside 21 of 22 shots. Travis Hamonic left midway through the first period and did not return. This was solely for precautionary reasons, but look to see if any rosters moves are made in the coming days.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Hamonic only played 4:55 of the first period, but posted a dreadful 0% CF with a 15 CA.
- Sam Bennett sported the best CF% at 5v5 on the team with a 77.3%.
- Excluding Hamonic, the fourth line had the most dreadful possession ratings inthe game as the trio of Troy Brouwer, Curtis Lazar, and Matt Stajan had CF%’s of 16.7%, 11.1% and 9.1% respectively.
- The top pairing of Mark Giordano and Hamilton had another strong outing posting CF%’s of 73.9% and 72.7%.
- The Blues didn’t fair that poorly possession wise, as half the team was above a 50% CF%.
- Alexander Steen was the best of the bunch with a 72.4%.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Player of the Game
There were a handful of outstanding performances last night in what was a strong effort by the home team. Frolik was easily the Flames best two-way player last night, contributing significantly on both ends of the ice. In addition to his first period goal, he easily could have potted a few more. He also put forth an outstanding penalty kill performance. Had he been on the ice instead of the Brouwer-Stajan duo, the lone goal may not have occurred. Honorable mentions go to Garnet Hathaway, Bennett, and Hamilton who also could have been in this same position.
Thoughts on the Game
John: After nearly five years I was finally able to attend a Flames game at the Dome, being a full time Calgarian. I missed the last few games due to my move out of Leafs Nation, so I can’t attest to their play against San Jose, Nashville, or Vancouver. What I can say was that I was very impressed to see the effort their put forth last night. Comparing it to the other game I saw live in Toronto, the Flames played almost identically. The big difference was that they appeared to do the little things right all game and got the favorable bounce they needed. The top three lines looked to be operating seamlessly with each other, and the defensive corps adapted marvelously to the loss of Hamonic. To be completely honest, we didn’t even notice that Hamonic had left the game until the ride home. That is just a testament to how well Gulutzan deployed his defensive pairings, finally.
The powerplay was yet again completely ineffective. The refs even appeared to understand that trend as they refused to let the Flames go to the man advantage on some non-calls. The new units will obviously need some time to adapt to each other, but for the time being they didn’t mesh that well. I love having Giordano as the lone defenseman has he is much more of a threat from the blueline than TJ Brodie. Matthew Tkachuk and Mark Jankowski seemed to operate well together, at the expense of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. The second unit looked to initially mesh better than the first, so time will tell to see if Dave Cameron continues to tinker with his deployments
A cause for concern was how irrelevant Lazar was last night. I feel for him because he hasn’t been in the lineup enough to develop his game, and when he does play he is often benched by Gulutzan. I forgot he was even replacing Jaromir Jagr last night, until around the halfway point of the third period. The only reason I noticed he was playing was because Hathaway had taken his spot on the fourth line. It’s terrible that his only recognizable contribution to last night’s game was his benching. I hope he is able to find his game sometime, and it may have to be in Stockton. Is it finally time to risk the waiver wire and attempt to send him down? It’s a risky move when a second round pick was given up for him, but it would be interesting to see any teams bite on him (looking at you Ottawa).
Finally, we have to talk about Brouwer again. I mean, just look at this. With the four penalty killers lined up in a straight you would think they could at least slow down the Blues zone entry. On the contrary, Brouwer did whatever you want to classify that as. It was not nearly as detrimental as it could have been, but this is just another tick on the liability chart for Brouwer.
What needs to be fixed? You know what it is.
The new combinations didn’t work yet. 0/4.
What needs to continue? The Penalty Kill Line Combos
One of the most pleasant surprises from last nights game, was the effectiveness of the Flames PK. Yes they gave up a PPG, but that one falls on Brouwer as mentioned above. When the Backlund-Frolik and Monahan-Bennett pairings were on the ice, there was very little offensive zone time for the Blues. Zone entries were down and the overall structure of the kill looked unpenetrable. Moving forward, the Stajan-Brouwer pairing should be used as a third option if the PK extends into extra time.
The Flames return to action on Friday night as they play host to the Montreal Canadiens. Having won the first meeting 3-2 in overtime just a few weeks ago, the Flames will look to sweep the season series. The Canadiens will be without Shea Weber, as he is out indefinitely with a foot injury sustained in the first game of the season. Montreal has gone 2-2-0 since their OT loss to the Flames, and are coming off a 7-5 win against Vancouver.