Calgary FlamesFlames Game Recaps

About Last Night #55: Missed opportunities cost the Flames in a night of firsts

It was a night to forget in Madison Square Garden as the Calgary Flames put forth a disappointing effort against the New York Rangers on the second night of a back-to-back.

The ideal situation presented itself for the Flames as they were facing a team that had just announced it was going into rebuild mode, a third pairing comprised of two rookies making their NHL debut, and a backup goaltender in Ondrej Pavelec. This of course was lost to the Flames, as they squandered an excellent opportunity to gain ground in the Pacific, falling 4-3 in regulation.

There were a lot of moments to digest during this game that would have stood out even more, had they not come during such a deflating loss. Those include Brett Kulak scoring his first NHL goal, Ryan Lomberg earning his first NHL point, and Curtis Lazar finally netting his first goal of the season.

Calgary got off to a dreadful start, allowing 20 shots in the first period, taking three minor penalties in the first 15 minutes, and letting the Rangers to take the lead. Kulak’s first NHL goal would eventually tie things up late in the first, allowing the Flames to somehow escape unscathed. Pavelec needed to be replaced by Henrik Lundqvist due to injury after the opening 20 minutes, which ended up working against the Flames. The second period was all Calgary, with shots favoring them 21-8. After swapping goals, the Flames retook the lead entering the third period with goals from Matthew Tkachuk, on the PP nonetheless, and Lazar.

Cue the third period collapse.

Just like previous contests, the Flames fell asleep at the wheel and coughed up their lead in the final frame. A penalty soon after to Sam Bennett would be the difference maker, as the Rangers took advantage of their 5th PP and never looked back. The Flames had their chances, but yet again squandered them in comedic fashion.

With the loss, and a LA Kings win, the Flames now find themselves out of a playoff spot 24 hours after being 2nd in their division.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF 56.3% 51.2% 52.3%
SCF 55.9% 47.5% 49.6%
HDCF 47.5% 40.0% 42.5%

5v5 Player Stats

  • Kulak had his best game of the season by far posting a CF% of 72.7%, which led both teams.
  • Bennett may have played one of his poorest games of the season, but was second on the team in CF% with 61.1%.
  • Only two Flames players posted a CF% below 50%: Garnet Hathaway and Mark Giordano
  • Kevin Hayes had a very strong outing for the Rangers, posting a CF% of 68.2% as well as 1G and 1A.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Player of the Game

With so many players finally breaking through in last night’s game it feels unfair to have to single out just one. Kudos to Lazar and Kulak for their goals, but we are choosing Lomberg for his outstanding effort. His lightning bolt energy not only made the 4th line extremely dangerous, but his amazing pass gifted the goal to Lazar. He also was able to draw the penalty in which the Flames scored their sole PPG. His Tkachuk like agitator style lends itself well to a team that is lacking in that department, and he should have earned himself an few more games in the NHL after last night.

Thoughts on the Game

John: As I alluded to yesterday, the Flames seem to be wary and unstable now when they have the lead in the third period. Against New Jersey they were lucky to escape, but they could not seal the same fate last night. I think the Rangers played a very strong game against a Flames team that did not appear to match their energy or effort. Yes the second period was very strong, but as is the issue 99% of the time with this team, you need 60 minutes of strong hockey to “deserve” the victory.

Tkachuk summarized his team’s effort perfectly after the game, saying that they didn’t deserve to win the game. He couldn’t be more correct. They ruined another MVP effort from Mike Smith, they ruined outstanding performances from unlikely players, and they were unable to capitalize on their PP.

The third line was an absolute trainwreck last night. Not having Troy Brouwer seemed to really sink Bennett and Mark Jankowski. As previously mentioned, Bennett’s penalty cost the Flames dearly, while Jankowski and Hathaway were virtually “invisible” as per GG. Bennett was able to escape the Chicago game after taking three minors, but even the coach took notice of the situation last night.

It’s trade season, so having Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergervin in attendance last night will always spark rumors, but I wonder if there is any validity to the rumors after his appearance. The Flames need a scoring winger, it’s well documented, and the Habs have been rumored to trying to move Max Pacioretty. In my mind, does a Bennett + Jon Gillies + “x” get the job done? Brad Treliving was also in attendance last night, and after the performance of his third line, you would expect him to try to get something materialized soon.

I think that Bennett’s time as a Flame has to be coming to an end soon. With Montreal looking for a young C, I wonder if he is the type of player Bergervin would like to acquire.

A final note on the Flames special teams, it’s interesting to see how people perceive the PP and PK. The past few games it’s been noted that the Flames PP is improving and their PK has been very strong. Yet, the Flames have only scored a handful of times on the PP in the past month and have allowed a PPG in six straight games. In my mind both units are struggling at the moment and have been the difference in their last three losses.

Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? The Good Old Powerplay.

1/6 on the night. Nothing has changed.

What needs to continue? Increasing Dougie Hamilton’s Playing Time. 

For some reason, Dougie Hamilton has found himself in the dog house with Glen Gulutzan and the coaching staff. When he is utilized on special teams, and other situations, he seems to capitalize on them immediately. Unfortunately, he still finds himself trying to justify his playing time to the coaching staff. Last night he was rewarded with an extra shift with Kulak and PP1 time, this should be occurring more often. Eventually he will be the Flames #1 defenceman, and he’s already shown this season he can be – so play him as such.

Next Game

The Flames will remain in New York for their game Sunday against the New York Islanders. Coming off of an outstanding 7-6 overtime victory last night, in which they scored four times on a five minute major penalty, the Islanders will be an interesting test for the Flames. Goaltending has been an issue for New York this season, as Thomas Griess and Jaroslav Halak have both posted poor GAA and SV%. Calgary could use this to their advantage to get their PP and offence rejuvenated.

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