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About Last Night #65: Flames keep digging themselves a bigger hole after losing their composure to Colorado

Well, that wasn’t very fun. The Calgary Flames finished their quick back-to-back road trip in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche. Coming off of being shutout by the Stars, the Flames were in dire need of a victory to keep their playoff chase alive in the west. What we got was just another bizarre and disappointing performance by the team, eventually losing 5-2.

The Flames got off to the much better start, controlling play through the first 30 minutes of this contest. Building towards a 2-0 lead, with goals from Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik, the Flames appeared to be cruising to another road victory.

Of course if you have watched at least one game this season, you knew the Flames would find some reason to mess this one up. Which they did.

Over the course of the final 30 minutes, the Flames would allow five unanswered goals.  In combination with extremely questionable officiating, yet again, the quick succession of goals in the second period completely sunk this team. The Flames crumbled after allowing only the first goal and frankly never found their drive again.

The best way to sum up the game is in bite sized pieces. Johnny Gaudreau doubled his penalty minutes on the season after being ejected from the game for contesting an embellishment call. Glen Gulutzan received a bench minor penalty for a second straight game. Tanner Glass somehow found his way back into the line-up, his first game since October 27th, and earned a quick 7 PIMs. Finally, of course, somehow the Flames won the majority of statistical categories but found another way to lose spectacularly.

With the loss, Calgary drops to 11th in the Western Conference, right behind the Avalanche, and hold no games in hand over the opponents above them. Unless something changes fast, this may have been the final nail in the coffin on the season.

Player of the Game: Mikael Backlund. 1G (SH) 1A.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF 60.4% 60.3% 61.3%
SCF 51.8% 55.6% 57.6%
HDCF 70.0% 66.7% 70.1%

5v5 Player Stats

  • Glass led the team in CF% at 80.0%, albeit in only 6:22 of 5v5 ice time.
  • The fellow fourth liners, Chris Stewart and Matt Stajan also posted the third and fourth highest CF%’s on the team with 77.8% and 75.0% respectively.
  • Outside of the fourth line, Dougie Hamilton posted the next highest CF% at a very strong 79.3%.
  • Only three Flames players lost the possession battle: Travis Hamonic, TJ Brodie, and Micheal Stone. All three defencemen posted CF%’s below 50%.
  • They earned the two points, but the Avalanche fared poorly from a possession standpoint. Only four players posted a CF% above 50%.
  • Dominic Toninato lost all of his shifts, as shown in his 0% CF%. J.T. Compher wasn’t far behind with an 8.33% at 5v5.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Thoughts on the Game

John: The limit on how much one person can take of this teams ignorance does exist. Last night I reached that limit. After Gaudreau’s ejection, I turned off the TV. This is something that I almost never do. I usually have faith, but for this team? The faith has completely run out.

The Flames, plain and simple, did not look like a playoff team last night. With their inconsistencies this season, do they even deserve to be one? Forget the abhorrent refereeing, this team may not win a game even if the officiating goes their way. They collapsed after giving up just one goal against on the PP. They still held the lead, but simply looked as if they were waiting for the tying goal to come. The Flames appear to be a team that would purposely play bad, and then look to the fans and proclaim “feel bad for us, we did what we could”. Last night was just a culmination of this teams issues over the past 64 games, and frankly the fact they haven’t learned from any of their past experiences just shows how stubborn they have been.

I would love to spend this entire post talking about how incomprehensible the coaching staff’s decisions have been, but I have already spent too much time on that topic in the past. This team won’t win the Stanley Cup, let alone make the playoffs, which means a new group behind the bench would be by far the best conclusion to this season.

It has frankly become extremely difficult to remain optimistic, especially when they continue to perform like they have been. A Mike Smith and Kris Versteeg comeback would be exactly what this team needs to turn the corner, but who knows if even they will be able to right the ship. The Flames are sinking, and sinking fast, who is going to bail them out?

Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? Collapses.

Things always seem to go from bad to worse for the Flames. One small setback seems to push the team towards complete collapse, rather than having them refocus and retake control. How many teams in the NHL take 2-0 leads and have their entire fan base bracing for the worst? Even if those leads are squandered by other NHL clubs, there still exists some push back. The second this game became 2-2, you knew it was over. Not a great quality to have in an NHL team.

What also needs to be fixed? Composure. 

Let us be perfectly clear, how Gaudreau is ejected we will never understand. One of the most boneheaded calls in Flames history. That being said, with the way the penalties have been called the last few games you just have to check your emotions mid game. That includes you Glen! You can’t allow the ref to bait you into a call (which he did apologize for after the game). The number of inexcusable penalties the Flames have taken falls back on their discipline, but penalties after the fact come down to a broken team with no composure.

Next Game

The New York Rangers come to town Friday, in an absolute must win for the Flames. Last time these two teams met, the Rangers had just announced they were going into rebuild mode, yet the Flames still coughed up a lead and lost in regulation. This time around, the key pieces from the Rangers have been sold off and we are now left with a completely different lineup. Should the Flames lose to the Rangers, the towel may as well be thrown in already.

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