In game two of an important tone setting road trip, the Calgary Flames were looking to win three straight games after starting the season with a loss. Coming off the strong shutout victory over the Predators, the Flames were facing a St. Louis Blues squad that were still looking for their first win to wrap up their three game home-stand. With a shaky start to the season, the Blues were not to be taken lightly, as a wealth of offseason additions make this team a contender in the Western Conference.
The Flames did not make any roster changes, and they turned to Mike Smith again in net after his record-tying performance in Nashville.
Despite being outplayed by the Blues early, Calgary struck first. James Neal tallied his first as a Flame early in the first period. With one milestone came another, as Dillon Dube earned an assist on Neal’s goal, officially earning his first NHL point.
Unfortunately, this was where the good news ended, as the Blues went on to net five straight goals, three of which came from David Perron, and they never looked back. The Flames were often caught flat-footed and simply could not capitalize on their key opportunities. Sean Monahan rang a bullet off the goalpost on a penalty shot, a 1:35 5-on-3 powerplay was fruitless, not to mention a couple of goalposts hit along the way.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the Flames. Even though no points were earned, the team put together a strong pushback effort in the third period. This included goals from Derek Ryan and Mikael Backlund, in addition to some strong play by Sam Bennett and David Rittich who replaced Smith after two periods.
The loss sends the Flames back to .500 (2-2-0) on the season, with their final game of the road trip coming Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- The top pairing of Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie led the team, and game, in CF% with 76.0% and 71.4% respectively.
- Bennett finished fourth on the team with a 66.7% CF%, while his original line-mates finished at an even 50.0%. Bennett also accounted for 3 HDCF, in addition to winning the HDCF battle 7-2 when he was on the ice.
- Johnny Gaudreau and Monahan, both held pointless, finished tied for last on the team with a 41.2 CF%.
St. Louis Blues
- The Blues only had five players with a positive corsi %: Joel Edmundson, Vladimir Tarasenko, Pat Maroon, Ryan O’Reilly, and Tyler Bozak.
- Robert Thomas posted a game worst 23.1% CF% at 5v5.
- Edmundson dominated the HDCF category, winning his battle 6-1.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Starting Line Combinations
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Czarnik
Bennett – Dube – Neal
Peluso – Ryan – Frolik
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Stone
Valimaki – Andersson
Maroon – O’Reilly – Tarasenko
Schwartz – Schenn – Perron
Steen – Bozak – Kyrou
Barbashev – Thomas – Blais
Edmunsson – Pietrangelo
Bouwmeester – Parayko
Jerabek – Bortuzzo
Stats courtesy: Left Wing Lock
Thoughts on the Game
It is what it is. Coming off such a high against Nashville, I obviously expected a little more out of the club, but it also doesn’t surprise me that the Flames were a bit sloppy.
Asides from the terrible giveaway, the majority of goals against Smith were not entirely his fault. I truly believe the Juuso Valimaki/Rasmus Andersson pairing struggled in front of their number one goaltender tonight. Because of their brief defensive lapses, the momentum was able to completely swing in favour of St. Louis.
It is obviously easy to over-analyze in games like these, but there were some solid takeaways. I thought that Rittich readily jumped into his first NHL action this year, and hopefully build some confidence entering Colorado where is is likely to start. If he plays the same way he did during the third period, there should be fewer concerns about playing the backup more. At least for now.
Bennett seems to have become the scapegoat in Calgary now, but I thought he did an excellent job last night. He took some unnecessary penalties, but he also was a key contributor in the Flames bounce-back third period. It seems unfair that Bennett hasn’t been rewarded for his hard work, but the potential chemistry between Dube and himself did not go unnoticed.
I’m going to end with a question: based on what you have seen so far, has Dube earned a spot on the roster? Earning his first NHL point was a huge step for him, but has his play guaranteed him permanent work for the big club? I’m still undecided. As crazy as it may seem, there is still a lot to his game that he needs to refine. I just wonder if maybe the AHL may be a solid place to hone those skills. My only caveat? There is simply no one that would be able to replace the same role he provides at the moment. I’m all for him staying around forever, but I just wonder what the team thinks.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Ugly
Gaud: Dube netting his first NHL point, in addition to Neal and Ryan getting their first goals as Flames.
Bad: The Valimaki-Andersson pairing being on the ice for three straight goals in the first period.
Ugly: Smith stopping only 19 of 24 shots, for a .792 SV% and 7.50 GAA, and being pulled after two periods.
Opponent: Colorado Avalanche
Standings: 1st in the Central
Season Series: 0-0-0
Photo by Joe Puetz/NHLI via Getty Images