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About Last Night #75: Anaheim Ducks up the Flames’ playoff hopes

It isn’t even accurate to describe last night’s game as a “must win”. The Calgary Flames not only needed to beat the Anaheim Ducks, but also probably also bribe the NHL to award them more than two points for the victory. Sadly for the Flames, they fell to the Ducks in unspectacular fashion, 4-0.

A thousand stick taps to Matt Stajan for skating in his 1000th NHL game last night. In the next home game he will be awarded the prestigious silver stick in honour of his accomplishment, and we thank him for his untiring efforts throughout his years in Calgary.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Flames played well and dominated possession and scoring chances in each period, but couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities and lost momentum. They came out of the gates with solid pressure in the Ducks’ zone and fired everything they could at John Gibson. On their first powerplay of the game however, Andrew Cogliano pressured the Flames’ defense and scored shorthanded.

The Ducks would score twice more before the end of the second period, chasing Mike Smith from his net. Smith had a rough game, but David Rittich wasn’t too much better in relief.

The Flames are done. We know it, they know it, and other teams know it. Calgary is an easy out right now and it’s brutal to watch this season implode. Expect seven more games like this one.

Player of the Game: Rasmus Andersson’s hair

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF 62.2% 62.9% 56.5%
SCF 52.9% 53.3% 45.9%
HDCF 47.7% 50.0% 42.4%

5v5 Player Stats

Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Thoughts on the Game

Sure, the Flames have realistically been done for a while now, but I was still hoping they could do some damage to the Ducks in their pursuit of a playoff berth. After what they did to the Flames last spring, you’d think the Flames would want revenge and try their hardest to prevent the Ducks from making the playoffs. I lay a lot of last night’s result at the feet of Smith who was simply not good enough, but it’s the ducking Ducks. If there’s one team that you should be amped about beating outside of the Oilers, it’s them.

My main takeaway from last night was that I saw the Flames in the Ducks’ zone much more than the Ducks in the Flames’. It’s been a trend that has genuinely bothered me because you look at how good the Flames are in terms of pace of play and Corsi and it doesn’t make sense that they aren’t winning. There’s a lot of luck involved in hockey, and that’s not the only reason for this season going poorly, but it can’t be ignored. This is one of my main arguments for keeping Glen Gulutzan past this season. He has his issues, don’t get me wrong, but I think he understands the game at a level that older coaches simply don’t. Pace is important. Corsi is important. Possession and zone time are important. For whatever reason, that hasn’t translated into wins for this team this year, but I want to see how Gulutzan’s possession based system does next year. Give the team a chance to regress and see what happens in the first half. If by Christmastime it’s more of the same, then bye.

It sure seems like the Flames will be giving ice time to some young guys in the next seven games. I’m expecting Rasmus Andersson to play in all seven, and I’m interested to see just how NHL-ready he is. He looked good last night, both aesthetically with that amazing flow, but also as an ice hockey player. I didn’t see him make any stupid plays, I liked some of his breakout passes, and he jumped into the rush a couple times as well. He’s an offensively gifted player; hopefully he finds the scoreboard a few times over this last stretch of games. For what it’s worth, Andersson finished with 57.1% CF in just over 11 minutes of ice time. I also expect Nick Shore to play in all seven games and replace Stajan. Shore is just a better player and now that Stajan has hit 1000 games, it’s time to hand the coveted fourth line center torch to a kid.


Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? I don’t know.

Everything? A goal or two in front of the home crowd would be nice.

What needs to continue? Playing the kids. 

Let’s see not just Andersson and Shore, bring up Morgan Klimchuk and let’s have fun with it. Several top prospects will join the Stockton Heat after they’re eliminated from their league’s playoffs, and I want to see them play some meaningful minutes.

Next Game

The Flames visit the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

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