The Flames lost their second consecutive game in extra time last night falling 2-1 to the Buffalo Sabres on home ice. They did not play a very strong game and couldn’t seem to get much going at even strength. The Flames did open the scoring in the first period off a beautiful tip-in by Matthew Tkachuk on the powerplay, but that’s all they could muster against former Flame Chad Johnson. The Sabres would tie the game shortly after, and won in overtime off a Jack Eichel one timer just as a penalty to Mikael Backlund expired. Glen Gulutzan’s decision to play Mark Giordano, Michael Stone, and Troy Brouwer for the entire penalty kill is under scrutiny, but a change in personnel likely would not have changed the outcome. The Flames were not great and didn’t deserve to win. Mike Smith was sharp, however, and made several key saves throughout the game to keep the Flames alive and eventually earn a point. You’d hope for a better showing against the league’s worst team, especially heading into a crucial back-to-back against the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers later this week.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF 49.6% 51.6% 50.0%
SCF 44.0% 50.9% 49.5%
HDCF 52.9% 46.2% 42.8%

5v5 Player Stats

  • The Flames’ Corsi leader was Giordano at 65.6% CF.
  • Marek Hrivik had a tough outing in his first game as a Flame, posting a team low 28.6% CF.
  • The Sabres’ Corsi leader was Nathan Beaulieu, albeit with just three Corsi events for.
  • Jason Pominville was the lowest at 30.8%.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Player of the Game

Because nobody else really played a full game last night, Smith earns POTG honours. He is the only reason the Flames were able to escape with a point last night, and truly bailed out his teammates. He’s been fantastic in 2018 so far and hopefully he can continue this trend into the all star break.

 

Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? Identity.

Are the Flames a playoff team? The answer should be yes, especially considering their play as a whole this year. They’ve trended upwards and have the ability to put up dominant performances. Yet, they seem to play down to their competition as evidenced by last night’s lacklustre performance. Who are the Flames? Are they truly a playoff team? These aren’t questions you want to be asking after game 47 of the season.

What needs to continue? Powerplay? 

For some reason, the Flames’ powerplay seems to have been reborn. It still isn’t great, but at least they’re finding the back of the net every now and then. Keep up the good work on the PP and more wins will come.

Next Game

The Flames play host to the Kings tomorrow night in an important divisional tilt. Just one point back of the Flames, the Kings have been slumping lately; perhaps the injury to Jeff Carter is finally catching up to them. This will be a tough game and one that will dramatically impact the standings and the Flames’ playoff hopes. They will need to be better than they were against the Sabres, the same effort won’t be enough to beat the Kings.

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