The Calgary Flames wrapped up a short road trip Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens, a consensus pick among pundits to be among the worst teams in the NHL, had started the season with an impressive 4-1-2 record and a chance to rise to first in the Atlantic with a win over the Flames
In a somewhat controversial move, the Flames’ net was tended by backup David Rittich who was coming off a brilliant performance against the New York Rangers two nights earlier. Carey Price was in goal for Montreal.
The only reason Rittich was in goal over Mike Smith is because of how well he masked what was really a terrible game for the Flames in New York. Rittich stood on his head and willed the team to a win on a night where they didn’t deserve it at all. Well, it was more of the same in Montreal. The Canadiens came out flying and the Flames looked to be more than a step behind right from the opening draw. Rittich was on his game again stopping 12 shots in the first frame, and was rewarded with his efforts by a Michael Frolik goal that gave the Flames a one goal lead entering the second period.
The Flames needed to be much better in the second if they wanted to win the game; Montreal was pushing and the writing was on the wall. Unfortunately, they did the exact opposite. The second period was worse than the second, and despite Rittich’s best efforts, the Canadiens scored three goals (one in the final minute of the period) from Jeff Petry, Brendan Gallagher, and Jonathan Drouin to go ahead 3-1 after 40.
The third period was the only one where the Flames actually played ice hockey. They did manage to score one goal courtesy of Elias Lindholm to draw within one, but the score doesn’t tell the full story in this one. The Flames were outplayed, outshot, outworked, and were simply not good enough to win. Perhaps it was poor quality Montreal hotel pillows that resulted in them having a slow start, but whatever the reason, you can’t show up two hours late to work and expect things to go well. The Flames drop to 5-4-0 and sit third in the Pacific Division.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- TJ Brodie led the Flames with a whopping 73.9% CF%.
- Rasmus Andersson posted the worst Corsi at 31.3% CF%.
- Mikael Backlund led the team with 6 HDCF, and 0 HDCA, for 100% HDCF%.
- Xavier Ouellet led the Canadiens with 70.8% CF%.
- Ouellet and Victor Mete led the team with 75.0% HDCF%.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Ryan – Neal
Dube – Jankowski – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Andersson
Valimaki – Stone
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Drouin – Domi – Lehkonen
Byron – Kotkaniemi – Armia
Deslauriers – Peca – Shaw
Benn – Petry
Reilly – Juulsen
Mete – Ouellet
Thoughts on the Game
There isn’t much to say after last night’s game. If you watched the game, you probably had a feeling five minutes in that the Flames were in tough to come out with a W. Price was good, but the Flames didn’t generate nearly enough offense to really test him. It was an easy night for him, save for a few rushes in the third when the Flames were desperately trying to claw their way back into the game.
What has been a bit of a concern in this early season was on display again last night. The Flames’ defense has done a terrible job of containing other teams on the rush, and seem to struggle to clear the puck when they do force turnovers in the defensive zone. All six defenders need to be more responsible in their own end and work to break up rushes. The Flames sit ninth in the NHL for goals scored, an area that was a big problem the last couple seasons, but scoring goals is only half of the equation. To win games, you also need to prevent scoring chances and not rely so heavily on your goaltender (cough*Anaheim*cough).
The Flames really need to pull it together here. They have two tough matches ahead of them against the last two Stanley Cup Champions. They started the season off well, but need to rebound in a big way.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Ugly
Gaud: Rittich played an excellent game and gave the Flames a chance to win. They didn’t return the favour, however.
Bad: Being hopelessly outplayed for the second game in a row. Something needs to change because if the Flames keep playing the way they did on this road trip, they won’t beat a single team.
Ugly: Johnny Gaudreau took a bad hit from Jordie Benn, a clear boarding infraction that sent him flying head first into the corner boards. He was pulled from the game by concussion spotters again, but fortunately returned to the ice shortly after. Officiating wasn’t great last night, and despite Johnny’s softness, calls need to be made to protect player safety.
Opponent: Pittsburgh Penguins
Standings: Second in Metropolitan Division
Season Series: 0-0
Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images