Yes the Calgary Flames‘ season is still going! If you had checked out early, like some people have, then you probably missed one of the most exciting meaningless games of the season last night. The Flames played host to their provincial rivals in the final Battle of Alberta this season. Both teams are limping towards the summer, embroiled in a season full of unfulfilled potential.

The Flames were wildly outplayed all night, but took advantage of a disastrous Cam Talbot performance to hold on to the 3-2 victory. Talbot allowed three goals on only seven shots before getting the hook from the coach. This was the Flames first victory since shutting out the same Oilers back on March 13th. It was an extremely feisty affair, as it truly felt like an old school Battle that had been lacking in previous match-ups.

Dougie Hamilton, Garnet Hathaway, and Mikael Backlund potted the three tallies for the Flames, while Mike Smith stopped 34 of 36 shots that he faced. Johnny Gaudreau returned to the lineup after his father’s recovery, but wasn’t able to capitalize on his patriarchs advice to “shoot more”.

Spencer Foo, who was recently recalled from Stockton, made his NHL debut last night. Although he was held off the scoresheet, he did make a positive impact in his first game in the league.

Three games remain now for the Flames, who with the win are guaranteed to finish ahead of Edmonton in the standings.

Player of the Game: Spencer Foo

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF 38.6% 44.1% 46.5%
SCF 39.5% 46.7% 47.2%
HDCF 35.3% 60.0% 59.6%

5v5 Player Stats

  • Nick Shore led the team in terms of CF%, posting a 60.9% at 5v5.
  • Only three players posted CF%’s above 50%: Shore, Gaudreau, and Michael Frolik.
  • The majority of the Flames lost the possession battle, with six players below 40.0%
  • The third line of Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski, and Micheal Ferland had a disastrous evening, posting CF%’s of 18.2%, 12.5%, and 10.0% respectively.
  • Andrej Sekera posted a game high CF% of 78.6%, with three additional Oilers having a possession rating greater than 70.0%.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Thoughts on the Game

 

It was a good moral victory for the Flames last night. Calgary has never recorded eight straight regulation losses in the history of the franchise, so last night probably was labelled as a must win.

Even though the Flames earned the victory, there was a lot to dislike about the Flames performance last night. If not for Smith, it easily would have been a different outcome. It was almost a complete 180 from the season narrative, as we saw the Flames wildly outplayed, out-chanced, and trailing in the majority of statistical categories. Yet somehow, the Flames were able to come out with the two points. Sure this could have been beneficial earlier in the season, but it’s almost ironic at this point so we just have to laugh at it now.

Lots of hate last night towards Tanner Glass and Matt Bartkowski playing, but let me offer an alternative viewpoint. Yes both players visually and statistically are no longer a fit for the NHL. Both are simply playing due to injuries, not because they are the organization’s first choice. In the past 24 hours both players have been lauded by their teammates over their character and what they bring to the team on and off the ice. I think it’s somewhat foolish and disrespectful to criticize both players character, regardless of how they perform during the game. Glass stood up for Smith, after Milan Lucic tried to be Milan Lucic, and got beat easily when no one else answered the call. Bartkowski hasn’t played since February 3rd, but has been a professional about his situation ever since. I am by no means saying they should be on a NHL roster next season, espectially the Flames’, but simply that in games that don’t mean anything to us fans, they still show a ton of passion for their teammates.

To add to my controversial takes, I wonder more and more if Glen Gulutzan should retained for next season. I’ll be the first to acknowledge he has made a handful of questionable coaching decisions, but the team itself simply had an inexplicable season. Yes changes need to be made, such as a competent bottom six and a new PP coach, but unless someone astronomically better is available, I say the team sticks with Gulutzan. Throw your Joe Quenville dreams out the window too, as ownership will most definitely not pay him what he wants.

I am a big Brad Treliving fan, but you wonder how much the coach could actually do with the roster he was given. I don’t know if Bennett, Ferland, Hathaway, Curtis Lazar, Troy Brouwer, and even Jankowski are players that help you win a championship. Preseason predictions noted the Flames as a team that would struggle to produce offence, and that was absolutely true. You look at some teams third lines who have doubled, or even tripled, the Flames’ third line production. I think it is time for Treliving to realize that the players listed above aren’t really helping the team anymore and should be used as trade bait. Players performing well in Stockton should be given ample of opportunity next season to make the team, especially over some of the current roster players.

Moving Forward

What needs to be fixed? The Power Play.

If the team makes a serious change this off season, it should primarily be focused around a new PP coach, as mentioned above. It just isn’t working.

What needs to continue? Dougie Hamilton. 

In the NHL, among defensemen with more than 40 GP, Hamilton now sits 1st in goals, 2nd in shots, 25th in P/GP, and 60th in TOI/GP. He is this team’s best defender, and yet isn’t being played enough. Maybe I take back the “retain Guluzan point?”. I can use April Fools as my fall back excuse.

Next Game

The Flames play host to the surging Arizona Coyotes, in what can only be described as must watch April hockey.

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