The Calgary Flames began a four game road trip in Minnesota last night against the Wild. Mike Smith tended the Calgary net, while Alex Stalock, who had beat the Flames in two consecutive matches, tended Minnesota’s. The Flames were the better team in the first 40 minutes, taking a 2-0 lead into the third. Both goals came courtesy of the rejuvenated top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Micheal Ferland. Smith made several key saves to maintain the Flames’ lead, and their penalty kill was perfect. They outshot the Wild 22-18 in the first 40 and posted a 60% 5v5 CF. The third period was another story, however. The Wild pushed hard in the final frame to even the game at two. Goals from Jared Spurgeon and Mikael Granlund, both scored on a screened Smith from the same spot on the ice, erased the Flames’ hard earned lead. It could have been worse, though; Smith was forced to make a few more high danger saves in the third. The Wild clawed their way back to earn themselves a point, a result that wasn’t ideal for the Flames who are still trying to catch up to Minnesota in the standings. In overtime, TJ Brodie and Matt Dumba were sent off for coincidental minors which allowed Dougie Hamilton to finally get some OT action. He scored seconds into his shift for his second consecutive game winning goal to extend the Flames’ winning streak to four.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Michael Stone led the Flames with 68.2% CF.
- Troy Brouwer didn’t seem to be as heavy an anchor on the 3M line as all three players posted above 63% CF.
- Despite filling the scoresheet, Ferland posted a 39.1% CF as the worst on the team.
- The third line of Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski, and Garnet Hathaway all had 0% OZS.
- Mikko Koivu led the Wild with a whopping 88.9% CF.
- Eric Staal had the worst at 26.9% CF.
- Only two Wild players had below 50% OZS.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Player of the Game
The Flames did have a great start to the game and were clutch in overtime, but POTG honours go to Smith. They were forced to kill off five Wild powerplays, in each of which Smith had to be sharp to preserve the Flames’ lead. The Wild also threw 11 high danger chances on net to the Flames’ five; if Smith wasn’t at his best last night, the Flames would not have walked away with either of the points they desperately needed. Smith is the best road goaltender in the league with a .944 SV%.
Thoughts on the Game
Karim: I can’t be the only one who thought last night’s game was almost exactly the same as the one in Anaheim just a few days ago. I hope this doesn’t become a trend: the Flames get out to a lead through two periods, and then hang on for dear life as the opposition throws 15+ shots at Smith to try and tie it up. A win is a win, though, and with four straight victories, the Flames look to be playing closer to their potential than they have all season.
I didn’t hate Brouwer on the second line last night, but I do generally hate Brouwer on the second line so just because he wasn’t as horrendous as usual doesn’t mean he stay there. Andrew Mangiapane has been playing a couple games on his off wing now and I would really like to see him in the top-six. He is a gifted offensive guy with a lot to prove. Sure, maybe he wasn’t drafted sixth overall and didn’t just win the Memorial Cup and World Junior Championship, but there are a few parallels between him and Matthew Tkachuk. I’d be very interested to see if he could add to the 3M line and give it another offensive gear.
Along the same lines, it’s time to send Hathaway down to the fourth line. He did well on the third alongside longtime linemate Jankowski, but he’s run out of PDO rope and he should shuffle down to where he belongs. Because Brouwer probably isn’t going anywhere, how about a second option: move Mangiapane up to the third line with longtime linemate Jankowski! Mangiapane is five times the offensive threat that Hathaway is and actually has a shot to be an impactful offensive player at the NHL level. Let’s see what he can do.
I’m also eagerly awaiting the insertion of Marek Hrivik into the lineup, but that likely won’t happen until the Flames lose a game… so hopefully we don’t see him until next season. Here are my ideal lines:
Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Mangiapane
Bennett – Jankowski – Hathaway
Lazar – Hrivik – Brouwer
What needs to be fixed? Powerplay.
Score. A. Goal. PLEASE.
What needs to continue? Penalty Kill.
While the Flames’ powerplay has been comically bad, their penalty kill has been surprisingly good. Let’s see them continue to improve in at least one area of special teams.
The Flames continue their road trip in Florida to face the Lightning tomorrow night. The Lightning are the best team in the league and will be seriously tough matchup. If the Flames can continue their winning streak against the league’s best, that would bode very well for their confidence and their playoff hopes.
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