Calgary FlamesFlames Game Recaps

About Last Night #73: The Hangover Part 4 – same story, different title

Well, the Calgary Flames were at it again on Sunday afternoon. Visiting the Pacific Division leading Vegas Golden Knights, who have been struggling as of late, the Flames were in desperate need of a win in any fashion. What they produced was another putrid outing, ending in a 4-0 shutout.

We love our readers here at The Win Column, so we don’t like to repeat content. Unfortunately, the Flames keep producing the same inconsistent narrative night in and night out that we can’t help but notice the similarities between games. Simply look at some excerpts from previous About Last Night’s and see if the same applies to yesterday’s contest:

Game #64: The Flames were, without a doubt, the better team … they drove play … Unfortunately, nothing could get by Bishop last night…. Bishop made 38 saves in his shutout performance.

Game #65…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…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.

Game #66This 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. … Henrik Lundqvist made all the difference….and completely hindered the Flames at all stages in the game…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.

Game #70Stopping 50 of 52 shots he faced, Gibson was simply unbeatable and was the sole factor for the Islanders earning the road victory…Smith was shaky in his first start in exactly one month, allowing four goals on 26 shots…It was simply more of the same from the Flames last night. They dominated their opponents for the majority of game time, had countless scoring chances and shots… If you wanted to sum up the Flames season into one game, look no further than this game.

If you look at those four games and can’t see the parallels, then you must be watching a different team. The Flames dominated play for the opening frame, allowed one single goal to crumble their momentum and open the goal floodgates, and lost the goaltender match-up yet again.

It is becoming very stale covering the 2017/18 Flames, as the exact same narrative seems to be propagating itself into every game they play. The off-season looks to be coming quicker and quicker for Calgary with each passing game.

Player of the Game: Mark Giordano

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF 57.3% 57.5% 55.1%
SCF 57.5% 57.8% 54.4%
HDCF 57.1% 46.7% 46.8%

5v5 Player Stats

Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Thoughts on the Game

Just more of the same from the Calgary Flames. You wonder how a team with such strong underlying numbers is able to perform so pathetically night in and night out. I have fully accepted that the Flames will not make the playoffs, and honestly I am ok with that. Here’s why:

First of all, even if the Flames were to somehow miraculously make the playoffs at this point, it would be in a WC position. If that is the case, do you truly believe they would be able to beat Vegas or Nashville in a seven game series? I highly doubt it, even if Vegas is an expansion team.

You could look to the LA Kings in 2012 and say that they were better than their position in the standings, but are the Flames really that team? The Kings went into every game with the mindset that they would win, and they pretty much did. Calgary seems to be thinking the complete opposite, entering games knowing one small mistake will cost them. Its become wildly consistent that this team is wildly inconsistent.

Secondly, the Flames have so many issues propagated throughout their system that making the playoffs would simply have them be ignored. Trading away their 2018 1st rounder is a price that I have fully accepted. The cost for acquiring Hamonic was extremely valid and I have no issue with the trade (don’t @ me). If they make the playoffs then the 1st rounder doesn’t mean much in retrospect, but having the pick be entered in the lottery would put this seasons disaster in perspective for management. Not having the consolation prize of a strong prospect, should help the organization make the correct changes moving forward.

Additionally, making the playoffs would make it appear that all is “well” with the coaching staff and certain players. In reality, the coaches have been unable to perform their jobs effectively this season with the group of players they currently have. Some players have lacked the ability to finish, while others have been given NHL jobs that should belong to others (I see you Garnet Hathaway). With this current player and coaching staff composition, a Stanley Cup is unobtainable and only missing the playoffs will help make that conclusion much clearer for the organization.

On a final note, those trying to swing the blame towards Brad Treliving need to really consider the arguments they are bringing up. Yes, you can pin the Troy Brouwer contract on him, but the majority of free agent frenzy deals are terrible to begin with. You can also criticize him for trading away picks, but look what David Poile has done with the trades he has made. You cant improve certain aspects of your team without giving up some assets. Everyone viewed this team as a playoff team at the start of the season, some even labeling them as contenders, so mortgaging the future wasn’t an issue with such a deep prospect system. You can also blame him for the coaching staff hire, but time will tell if he makes quick work of their tenure.

What I take issue with is people pointing to the Brandon Bollig trade, the Mason Raymond signing, and other transactions that occurred within his first year. He has even admitted those were mistakes, but frankly he has done much more for this team that many choose to omit from their arguments. He got Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Dougie Hamilton, Mark Giordano, and Mikael Backlund on long term contracts with cap hits that were all lower than what the market would have suggested. He has drafted spectacularly, giving the Flames some of the best prospects the organization has seen in years. Frankly little of the blame should be put on Treliving at the moment.

Unless he remains reluctant to change the team after this season, then you can blame him all you want.

Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? Power Play.

The Flames have scored one PPG in the month of March. ONE. They have had ample opportunities to change that, but simply cannot score on the man advantage at the right time. They also have reverted back to the early season formations, which wasn’t necessarily dynamite a the time. Confusion and lack of execution makes the PP simply just like the team: fragile.

What also needs to be fixed? Goaltending Starts. 

Mike Smith is without a doubt the reason we are still in the “hunt” due to his early season dominance, but he just isn’t himself after the injury that sidelined him for a month. He was embarrassed at home against San Jose, and frankly should have gotten the start today against Arizona, but here we are talking about him getting let out to dry again. David Rittich has struggled lately, but so has Smith. Sometimes you just have to give him a night off to refocus and re-energize.

Next Game

The Flames are right back at it tonight as they take on the Arizona Coyotes. Must win? Without a doubt. Calgary simply needs to win out at this point, and a loss to the Coyotes would be beyond catastrophic.

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