What happens in Vegas definitely should stay in Vegas. The Calgary Flames made their first ever trip to the strip Wednesday evening to take on the Pacific Division leading Vegas Golden Knights. The Flames were looking for some revenge after their first meeting of the season ended in spectacular fashion.

There was a bit of twist to this quick road trip, as all of the Flames mothers made the trip to the desert to watch their sons play in the first ever “Mothers Trip”. Unfortunately, their sons put forth a dismal road effort, eventually being embarrassed 7-3.

The entire game was a case of poor responses by the Flames. They never held the lead, as they haven’t in their past three games either, and were unable to keep the game tied for very long. After each Flames goal, the Knights responded quickly to regain the lead. Just when you thought Sean Monahan tied the game, yet again, at four early in the third period, an offside challenge would negate the goal. This was surely the turning point for the Flames, as they never came close again.

TJ Brodie, Dougie Hamilton, and Matthew Tkachuk were the goal scorers for Calgary, with the latter two continuing their offensive prowess. David Rittich put forth one of the worst goaltender performances in recent Flames memory, allowing seven goals on only twenty six shots.

Calgary has now dropped three straight games, and only have three points in their previous five games. They now find themselves outside the playoff picture, with more GP than teams they are chasing.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF 59.5% 61.5% 59.0%
SCF 54.6% 55.6% 54.5%
HDCF 70.6% 68.8% 68.7%

5v5 Player Stats

Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Player of the Game

A bit of a different choice this time around, but Travis Hamonic quietly had a very strong game. Assisting on Brodie’s goal, he was only a tally away from the Gordie Howe Hat Trickm after his fight with Tuch. He also posted the third highest CF% at 5v5 on the team, in addition to logging almost 22 minutes of ice time. Hamonic will never be the flashiest player, in fact his tip pass to Brodie may end up being his best of the season, but his shutdown defensive style lends itself well to the Flames. Plus, it never hurts to have him play with his heart on his sleeve and stick up for his teammates.

Thoughts on the Game

John: I can’t imagine the bus ride back from the game being too fun for the moms.

What another dismal effort from the Flames, which has become too common of a phrase these last few weeks. The Flames simply do not look like a playoff team, and have been nowhere near the compete level expected from a team battling for a playoff spot.

Let’s make one thing clear first. Yes the Flames look to have a long ways from getting back into the Pacific Division conversation, but all of the Californian teams are on three game win streaks or more. Two Flames wins and two losses by any one of those teams completely shifts the landscape. That being said, the Flames do not look like a team that could string together two wins at this point in the season.

I hate jumping on the #FireGulutzan bandwagon, as frankly the season isn’t over yet and we can save all that judgement for the summer. That being said once again, he is making it much harder to justify his decisions. In a game in which Ferland was once again invisible, Gulutan’s decision to put Garnet Hathaway on the top line is unfathomable.  No disrespect to Hathaway, he just simply is not the best option for that top line. The top line may not have been able to generate any shots, but the third line had far more issues during last night’s contest. This may have been a move to bolster his third line, but at the expense of your best line this season? Inexcusable.

After the fourth Vegas goal it was also clear it wasn’t going to go Rittich’s way. This would have been another prime time to input Jon Gillies at the start of the third period. Was it the most obvious decision? No, not necessarily, but Rittich went on to allow three goals on only seven third period shots. It isn’t a guarantee that Gillies would have been lights out, but the bar wasn’t set very high in the end and could have provided a spark to the team.

The Flames have two games remaining before Monday’s trade deadline, and they are easily considered to be “must wins”. This is the final period for which Brad Treliving must decide if this team is playoff caliber or not. Based on the last few games, this teams needs a shakeup, and frankly I would be open to anything. This team has gotten stale.

Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? Responses.

More of a generalized term here, but the Flames are unable to respond as well as they could be after a multitude of situations. Whether they score a goal or allow one, they seem to take a step back. This more often than not leads to an opponents goal, as it did last night on multiple occasions. After the offside challenge, the Flames were unable to generate that same kind of momentum again in the game. They had the Knights right where they wanted them, and then completely lost faith. Responding to adversity has always been this teams’ Achilles heel, and will be interesting to see how they respond to such a blowout.

What needs to continue? The Power Play. 

Never thought this would show up under this category multiple times. It seems as if since the PP has improved drastically, the Flames overall play has declined. Of course there is nothing wrong with the first PP unit being as deadly as it has been since the Nashville game, with Hamilton leading the charge. Last night the same unit played the entirety of the sole PP opportunity, eventually scoring a goal. If the Flames want to rebound, PPGs will sure be an important part of that.

Next Game

The Flames, and their moms, take a quick trip south to visit the Arizona Coyotes tonight. The Coyotes have been playing well as of late, with Antti Raanta leading the charge, but they are still easily one of the weaker teams in the NHL. The Flames cannot afford to lose to the Coyotes at this stage of the season, and will most likely look to Gillies to make his 2nd career NHL start.

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