The Calgary Flames started the game off with a first period to remember. After Glen Gulutzan’s hammer throw trials for the 2020 Olympics, the Flames put together one of their most dominant first periods this season. The Anaheim Ducks barely mustered any measurable momentum, going long stretches without shot attempts. The Flames earned an early two goal lead on goals from Micheal Ferland and Mark Giordano.
Complete domination by the Flames in the first. pic.twitter.com/L4YtgcyeY6
— Kent Wilson (@Kent_Wilson) January 7, 2018
Whatever public criticisms of Gulutzan’s stick toss there are, the message was received among the players. They knew they had to play better, especially against a Pacific division rival who’s also in the wild card race.
The Flames spent the majority of the game controlling possession, and played a clean transitional game through the second period that made it hard for the Ducks to get any sustained pressure. That’s not to say the Ducks weren’t given chances.
The officiating last night gratuitously gave Anaheim plenty of undeserved powerplay time, as well as did everything they could to keep the Ducks out of the box. The Flames should have had a few more calls going their way, but they persevered nonetheless.
At the end of the second, things got heated as two fights simultaneously ensued after Derek Grant tripped Mike Smith. Garnet Hathaway and Sam Bennett dropped the gloves to take on Grant and Josh Manson. A highly emotional way to end the period, the Flames needed to regroup and shut the Ducks down.
Unfortunately, the Ducks tied up the game early on in the third with a shorthanded goal from Jakob Silfverberg and a slapshot that handily beat Smith from Ryan Getzlaf. They could have had the lead if not for a shot off the post courtesy of Silfverberg. As the clock dwindled down and it looked like the game was destined to head to overtime, the Flames pushed with under a minute left. A good carry-in from Sean Monahan and a no-look pass from Ferland to Dougie Hamilton led to the game winner with 16 seconds left.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- The Flames scored all three goals at 5v5
- TJ Brodie and Andrew Mangiapane had team-worst 50 CF%, Monahan was a team-best 79.0 CF%
- All Flames found themselves starting in the offensive zone more often than not, Brodie was a team-low 50 OZS%
- The only positive Ducks player for corsi was Hampus Lindholm at 55.2 CF%
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Player of the Game
Ferland stood out last night as a difference maker. He scored to start the game off and setup Hamilton to end the game, and had two individual HDCF at 5v5. An overall solid performance from the Ferland, he gets the nod for his play last night.
Thoughts on the Game
Bill: The Flames have gone through a lot of player shuffling as of late, with Michael Frolik’s jaw injury, Jaromir Jagr in talks of an exit, a deserved Mangiapane call up, and losing Freddie Hamilton to the Arizona Coyotes.
This much movement could have led to some disjointed play, but luckily the Flames have played through this without so much a hiccup. The worst move that seemingly came from necessity was Troy Brouwer’s promotion to the second line. He’s not doing Mikael Backlund or Matthew Tkachuk any favours, but at least his head was above the water.
The first line has seemed to find their spark again, and the third line is the best its been all season. Mangiapane on the fourth line has even made that unit enjoyable to watch. In an ideal world, Mangiapane would trade spots with Brouwer and Gulutzan would rely on the top three lines to wreak havoc every game.
Given the importance of the next string of games for the Flames, they closed out their homestand demonstrating the type of play many expected from this team earlier in the season. They looked like legitimate contenders against the Ducks.
With the Flames’ season officially half way over, they seem to have figured out what they are capable of, and the expectations are high for this club to make a push into the playoffs.
What needs to be fixed? The powerplay.
The Flames need to convert more on the powerplay. It seems obvious enough but if they can find their scoring touch on the man-advantage, they’ll be a threat against any team they play. That being said, last night saw the deployment of Brouwer and Matt Stajan on the powerplay thanks to the extended penalties to Bennett and a roughing call on Mark Jankowski, so it’s fair to say there were some inefficiencies in that regard. If the recently formed units can find a way to boost their shooting percentages, the Flames would likely escape from their one-goal games and start to win by larger margins.
What needs to continue? The penalty kill.
Far too often the Flames have been on the short end of the stick with being sent to the penalty box. Surely something the team is aware of, they are forced to play a cleaner game than other teams. However, they’re faring much better when down a player and can use this as a good way to kill opposing momentum.
The Flames start a four game road trip starting against the Minnesota Wild. They’ve already lost twice to the Wild this year, and now with wild card implications even bigger, they’ll have to be desperate right from the get go and hope to pick up the two points.