The Calgary Flames returned home to face the rebuilding New York Rangers on a cold and snowy Alberta evening. After losing their previous two games in regulation, Friday night’s contest was undoubtedly viewed as a must win for the team. Unfortunately what can only be described as pathetic fallacy, the team suffered another puzzling defeat, as the Flames fell 3-1 for their third consecutive loss.

This wasn’t for a lack for of trying on the Flames behalf, as they were able to generate 51 shots on net and control the possession battle the majority of the evening. Same as when they last faced the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist made all the difference. He posted his 2nd consecutive win of 50+ saves, and completely hindered the Flames at all stages in the game.

One Flames player that does enjoy playing the Rangers? Brett Kulak. The rookie defenceman scored his second career NHL goal last night, with his first also coming against the Rangers earlier this season. Not much scoring variance between other teams, but if the Flames could somehow find a way to play the Rangers for 82 games then Kulak could be a breakout star.

Chris Stewart and Curtis Lazar were scratched from the lineup in favor of the newest Flame: Nick Shore. Making his debut, Shore was 7/10 in the faceoff circle and was easily the best part of the game last night. He seems to have already proved his value, especially for a 7th round pick.

All in all, last night was simply another prime sample of the issues this team faces. They got mediocre backup goaltending, ran into a hot goaltender, dominated the game statistically, and yet found another strange way to lose a game. With every other team in the West winning, the Flames now find themselves three points out of the final wild card position with an additional game played. The towel has been thrown in.

Player of the Game: Nick Shore

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF 64.4% 59.4% 53.7%
SCF 64.7% 59.2% 52.9%
HDCF 53.9% 43.8% 37.4%

5v5 Player Stats

  • The Flames dominated the possession stats, with only three players posting a sub 50% CF%: Travis Hamonic, Matthew Tkachuk and TJ Brodie.
  • The third pairing of Kulak and Micheal Stone put forth their best outing of the season, finishing with CF%’s of 87.5% and 80.0% respectively.
  • In his Flames debut, Shore made an amazing first impression, posting a CF% of 66.7%.
  • Playing the least amount of 5v5 ice time, Troy Brouwer posted a strong 69.2%.
  • New York had only five players post a positive possession rating, with Pavel Buchnevich leading the way at 62.5%.
  • The Rangers fourth line was embarrassed on the ice, with Cody McLeod, Paul Carey, and Peter Holland posting CF%’s of 7.7%, 5.3%, and 5.3% respectively.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Thoughts on the Game

At this point, its completely inexplicable to describe the feeling of being a Flames fan this season. Statistically they have improved across all major categories and realistically should be a bonafide playoff team. Yet through some sick twist of fate, they will most likely find themselves playing golf much too early this summer.

I was able to attend last night game, and witness the game in seats that truly blew my mind thanks to a generous friend. I was even featured on TV! Enough of that though, as honestly the Flames looked just as mad as the fans have been over the past few games. You could genuinely see the anger in every players face when they took to the ice. Can’t imagine that being an overtly positive locker room at the moment.

I was impressed with what I saw from Shore’s debut. He was phenomenal in the faceoff circle, with Gulutzan even putting him on to take a key offensive draw over Mikael Backlund. I would easily say that the one game from Shore has outperformed any of Lazar’s performances, which is saying a lot. It’s unfathomable that Lazar cost a 2nd round pick, while Shore only went for a 7th. It’s one game mind you, but you simply cannot take him out of the lineup.

It also wouldn’t be a post game thoughts piece without talking about questionable lineup decisions. The Flames are 0-3-0 since inputting Stewart or Glass into the lineup. Yes it appears that Glass had a better game, but the Flames need offence. Make the call to Stockton and literally bring anyone else up. The Flames are undefeated with Andrew Mangiapane in the lineup, Morgan Klimchuk would provide you with a better two-way option, and frankly any of the other prospects would be more favorable at this point in the season. The Flames need to win games, not test out roster choices. Give Stewart another chance, but my goodness Glass is just not working for this team and the staff is too ignorant to go back on their choices.

Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? Shot Selection.

Over the past three games, the Flames have generated 121 shots on net and have only scored three times. Yes part of that can be viewed as running into a standout goaltender, but in reality the Flames are not making the best of their shooting opportunities. They are consistently getting pucks towards the net, with some not evening finding the goaltender along the way, but the shots are simply not as dangerous as they could be. The previous two games, the Flames were generating almost 70% of the games HDCF, but last night the Flames only produced 43.8% of the high danger chances in the game. Lundqvist made some miraculous saves, but the majority of shots were pedestrian saves that really shouldn’t have found their way in. The Flames need to find a way to capitalize on their chances, and that starts with a better shot selection.

What also needs to be fixed? Odd Man Rushes. 

The Flames got burned during their transition game. The second goal that the Flames gave up, they spent so much time wondering how their chance didn’t covert that they refused to retreat back on defense. The third Ranger goal came off of what was one of many odd man rushes given up during the game. The Flames appeared to be confused during shift changes and lost on the ice, leading to the odd man rushes. Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton didn’t even realize Ryan Spooner was behind them until the puck went into the net. The majority of the time, these rushes come during mental lapses, ones that seem to be costing the Flames more often than not.

Next Game

Calgary heads back on the road, with their first stop coming in Steel Town to face the Pittsburgh Penguins. No word on whether the injured brigade will make the trip with the team, but if they don’t soon the season could be over much quicker than expected.

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