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About Last Night #57: Flames can’t keep up with powerhouse Bruins

The Boston Bruins have been the league’s best and hottest team since the flip of the calendar. They’ve amassed 30 of a possible 36 points in that span for a whopping .833 points percentage. They are a fantastic team, and were the easy favourites heading into last night’s contest. The Flames played the fifth of a six game road trip in which they had just one loss. David Rittich tended the Flames net and was backed up by Jon Gillies.

The Bruins capitalized on a terrible first shift by the Flames and opened the scoring just 28 seconds into the game. Fortunately, Sam Bennett would score his eighth of the season just past the two minute mark to even things up. Johnny Gaudreau gave the Flames the lead halfway through the first, and the Flames entered the first intermission up by a goal.

Disaster struck in the second period, however. The Flames were able to keep pace with the Bruins in the first but essentially broke down in the second. The Bruins owned the middle frame and though they only scored a single goal to tie things up, the writing was on the wall.

An early powerplay goal in the third from Patrice Bergeron sealed the deal for the Bruins; they would pile on a couple more goals later in the period. The Flames were unable to convert on any of their five powerplay opportunities which was costly. With one game left on their road trip, the Flames currently sit at 3-2.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF 43.6% 41.5% 42.8%
SCF 37.8% 40.5% 43.3%
HDCF 38.1% 43.8% 48.5%

5v5 Player Stats

  • Just three Flames players posted above 50% CF, Bennett leading the way at 57.1% CF, albeit in 7:48 ice time 5v5.
  • Ryan Lomberg was the team’s worst at 22.2% CF.
  • Only three Bruins players posted below 50% CF, surprisingly their entire top line of Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak. Good work, 3M.
  • The Bruins’ best Corsi player was Sean Kuraly at 79.0% CF.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Player of the Game

POTG honours could go to Bennett for putting in his once-in-a-while decent game, but we’ll give it to Rittich. Standing tall in the Flames net against one of the best and hottest teams in the league last night, he held the fort and gave his team a chance to win a difficult game. Mostly though, he earns maximum brownie points for his excellent positioning at the end of the second period. Bruins forward Tim Schaller was called for tripping Rittich in his crease, but it sure looked like Rittich ever so slightly glided into the way and drew the call. It looks like Matthew Tkachuk might be teaching a class? If so, I want a spot.

Thoughts on the Game

It’s important that we don’t overreact to last night’s game (like they did on today’s morning show). Boston is a really good team and, above that, have been on an absolute tear recently. It was going to be a tough game from the beginning. Factor in being on the road, facing one of the best goalies in the world and one of the best lines in hockey, not having MVP Mike Smith in the net, and missing Troy Brouwer, and the Flames were in tough to win this one.

Instead of focussing on the terrible parts of the game like their putrid powerplay which could have saved them, and a rough night for Michael Frolik, let’s look at a couple of the positives.

Rittich looked good. I don’t immediately start sweating at the thought of Rittich being the starting goalie for the foreseeable future, and definitely feel more comfortable with him than Eddie Lack. The team played decently well in front of him and I think he gives them a chance to win. They also displayed a level of mental toughness climbing back from a one goal deficit out of the gate, and that was a nice change of scenery.

This team has all the elements to be a very, very good team in the NHL. I hope they can manage to get into the playoffs and put it all together. With all their cylinders firing, I like the Flames as much as any other team in the league. But that’s been the constant battle this year. They need to figure things out, especially special teams, soon.

Fortunately, the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks lost yesterday, not to mention the Los Angeles Kings losing twice! Silver lining.

Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? Frolik?

He’s clearly still not 100%. It’s been a tough stretch for the usually consistent Frolik, and hopefully he can find his groove sooner rather than later.

What needs to continue? Some form of resilience.

This is not the same team that would crumble after going down one goal just a few weeks ago. I honestly thought the Flames would shut down after allowing the first goal in the first minute, but they worked their way back to actually go ahead by a goal by the end of the period. Maybe they’ve hurdled that mental obstacle. Hopefully they can continue to build on that strength.

Next Game

The Flames finish their road trip in Nashville to face the Predators tomorrow night. Another elite team, it will be a tough test for the Flames. Let’s see if Rittich can bounce back.

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