The Calgary Flames started off slowly, and were poised to play their trademarked “half-asleep until ten minutes left in the third” brand of hockey, but instead they woke up well before the first period was half over. Being down 2-0 after 20 was not indicative of how quickly they turned the game around. They thoroughly reigned over the Los Angeles Kings, who were caught flat-footed and played an uncharacteristically poor overall game. In the second period, they broke through Jonathan Quick, scoring four even strength goals. This was one of the strongest outings for the Flames this season, especially their second period which can only be described as dominant. The Kings have become an interesting rivalry for the Flames ever since the famous incident between Matthew Tkachuk and Drew Doughty and the Flames have owned the Kings since.
Since Matthew Tkachuk elbowed Drew Doughty in the face, the Flames are 3-1 against the Kings.
— The Win Column (@wincolumnblog) January 5, 2018
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Travis Hamonic posted a 44.4 CF% and was the only Flame with a CF under 50%
- In the second period, the Flames held a 9-0 edge in HDCF.
- Brett Kulak led the Flames with 79.2% CF.
- Every Flames player had at least 50% individual HDCF, with seven players at 100%.
- Anze Kopitar led the Kings with 50% CF; no King was above the 50% mark.
- Doughty had an individual HDCF of 50% with five chances going each way.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Player of the Game
POTG honours are awarded to Michael Stone. He might not have been the flashiest player on the ice last night, but he had a strong overall game throughout. In 13:44 of 5v5 ice time, he posted 74.24% CF, 73.3% iSCF, and 83.3% iHDCF. Stone and Kulak were a model third pairing.
Thoughts on the Game
Bill: Maybe it was the fact that the Canada vs Czech Republic World Junior game was still on by the time the Flames game started, but the flashiness of Team Canada in their 7-2 routing of the Czechs made the Flames look doggone bad to start the first. The Kings had control early on and scored a goal to go with it. The Flames started to turn the pace around but had their efforts spoiled by a dreaded late period goal.
Usually a first period like that is a twisted dagger in the Flames’ spirit, but last night was different. The pressed on, barely gave the Kings any room in the second, and ultimately gained a lead they wouldn’t lose by the time forty minutes were over. Sean Monahan scored a late period goal of himself, which might have deflated the Kings.
A second period showing like that against on of the best teams in the league really showed how well the Flames can be when things click, and it’s been abundantly clear things haven’t clicked for a lot of the season. The whole team was tenacious on the puck, and made very little errors. It was a game that they could have won with a blowout if not for some stellar saves by Quick and a few pings off the post.
The season is almost half over for the Flames, and they have as good a chance as any team to go on a hot streak. This team is definitely capable of stringing along wins for the remainder of the season. There’s a lot on the line and they have their work cut out for them. With the way the Western Conference has panned out, the wild card race is as enticing as ever with a group of strong teams fighting for two spots.
Karim: Now that was a fun game! To be completely honest, I was flipping back and forth between the Flames and the World Juniors and really wasn’t banking on seeing anything favourable come out of that Flames team after a less than desirable first period. Thankfully I was proved to be absolutely wrong.
A lot has been made of the Flames being a much better team than their record indicated and that all they needed to do was “play to their potential” and “it will come”. I do tend to trust the underlyings more than the results but at a certain point, you have to just accept the fact that some teams just won’t get the results that their under-the-hood numbers suggest they deserve.
Every year there are teams that critics look at as great bounce back candidates for the next season simply because they never brought it all together. The Flames find themselves in a similar situation, desperately trying to get the results to match their numbers. Last night’s effort was a huge step in the right direction as they, aside from the first period, walked all over what has been a very good Kings team.
I’m a huge proponent of Jaromir Jagr and a huge opponent of Troy Brouwer, but you have to love what Brouwer did last night alongside Mikael Backlund and Tkachuk, especially in comparison to Jagr in that spot. Brouwer actually looked serviceable on the second line and didn’t completely tank their usually excellent numbers.
With Jagr likely out long term, Brouwer could find himself in the top-six much more often. His efforst last night went a long way in calming my nerves about him. That being said, it is Brouwer and I totally expect him to fall off a cliff and any point. Hopefully it isn’t for a while, though.
The injection of Stockton players into the Flames’ lineup has been nothing short of fantastic. Mark Jankowski scored his seventh goal last night, Garnet Hathaway continued to defy the odds and looked like a real NHL player, and Andrew Mangiapane played almost 10 minutes and looked good on each shift.
With Jankowski and Hathaway locking down the third line with Sam Bennett, Mangiapane is the most interesting guy for me right now. He unfortunately shoots left, otherwise he would instantly be the perfect option to replace Michael Frolik on the 3M line while Frolik is out. When Frolik is back though, I’d suggest these lines:
Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Hathaway
Mangiapane – Hrivik – Brouwer
Keep an eye on Marek Hrivik; he’s been terrific in the AHL and has 21 NHL games on his resume as well.
What needs to be fixed? Consistency.
The Flames team we saw last night needs to be the Flames team we see on most nights. They have proven that when they play to their potential, they can hang with and beat the top dogs in the league. January is a critical month for this club with a schedule full of intra-division matchups and the Flames need to bring their A-game much more often than they have to date.
What needs to continue? The goals.
Finally the Flames are being rewarded for their possession. Putting up four last night, they hit three posts as well and could have doubled their output. The defense has stabilized remarkably in the last few weeks and now the goals need to continue to come.
The Flames host the Anaheim Ducks, a team that’s ahead of the Flames by virtue of points but not by points percentage. With two games in hand, the Flames find themselves on the cusp of catching the Ducks, a team also hoping to snag a wild card playoff spot.