The Calgary Flames were in need of a major revitalization after Thursday’s embarrassingly pathetic outing against the Penguins. Unfortunately, they weren’t getting a break in as easy opponent, as the reigning Stanley Cup winners, the Washington Capitals, were in town for a Saturday matinee. With tensions high in Calgary, the Flames needed a solid performance to not only right the ship, but make up for what happened two nights prior.
The team didn’t get off to that desired start, as they fell behind 2-0 in the first period off of goals from Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie. Luckily, the Flames would respond almost immediately with Travis Hamonic scoring 15 seconds after Oshie’s marker. The Flames would leave the first period knotted at two, with Elias Lindholm netting the tying goal on the power-play late in the first.
After nearly eighteen and a half nerve-wracking minutes, the Flames were able to even up the game off a beautiful tip from Matthew Tkachuk off a point shot from Rasmus Andersson, who earned his first career NHL point in the process. The Flames entered overtime with momentum and confidence.
With overtime solving nothing, a shootout was needed; the Achilles heel of this team. A weak effort from Johnny Gaudreau combined with a sharpshooter move by Nicklas Backstrom in the fourth round would seal the win for the Capitals.
The final score being 4-3, the Flames were able to salvage a single point and really produce a much stronger effort than they have in their previous two games. A huge building block for the immediate future.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- James Neal led the Flames in CF% at 5v5 with a 66.7%
- The Flames only had six skaters who posted a positive possession rating, with the Dillon Dube, Lindholm, and Neal line being among them.
- That same line was on the ice for 5 HDCF at 5v5.
- The other positive Flames players were the reunited Noah Hanifin and Travis Hamonic pairing
- Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie were absolutely hemmed in their own zone, posting 30.8% and 33.3% respectively
- Garnet Hathaway was the worst Flame in terms of CF% at 30.0%
- Oshie absolutely controlled play last night, earning a game high CF% of 80.0%
- Completely opposite of the Flames, the Capitals only had six players who lost the possession battle last night, with three posting an even 50%
- The Dmitry Orlov – Niskanen pairing was on the ice for 7 and 5 HDCA respectively.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Bennett
Tkachuk – Backlund – Czarnik
Dube – Lindholm – Neal
Hathaway – Ryan – Frolik
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Valimaki – Andersson
Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Vrana
Burakovsky – Backstrom – Oshie
Stephenson – Eller – Connolly
Jaskin – Dowd – Smith-Pelley
Kempny – Carlson
Orlov – Niskanen
Orpik – Bowey
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
That could have gone much better, but also could have gone much worse.
Not only will the single point help out in the long run, but it also provides a small victory for a team that was simply on the ropes. The Pittsburgh game, while in the past, was easily still on every player’s mind. To earn a “comeback” point last night must have been a welcomed relief for all involved.
The most controversial part of yesterday’s shootout loss was obviously the decision to go with Mike Smith in net. I am on the fence with this move for a few reasons. On one side, you almost have to go with your starter again to give him some confidence after being pulled. If you don’t play him, you clearly have zero confidence in him moving forward. That being said, Smith played so terribly in that game, and frankly during most of his starts, that he hasn’t really earned himself the chance. How many games before his shutout against Nashville becomes irrelevant? He wasn’t sharp in the matinee, and frankly looked erratic in OT and the shootout. I think the team has to go with David Rittich next game, as he has played the most consistent so far this season.
The other thing I can’t wrap my head around is why Hathaway continues to be put back into the lineup. Yes he scored twice in New York, we get it. He simply is just not good enough to keep in the lineup. He was hemmed in his own zone far too much, and with others in Stockton and press box providing much more upside, I wonder why he remains in on a nightly basis.
All in all, this was a stepping stone towards consistency. It wasn’t a perfect outing, but the team showed an immense amount of resolve after falling behind again. I still believe in this team, but it’s still early.
First things first, Bill Peters needs to settle on a lineup that he can use for more than two games.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Ugly
Gaud: The newly formed Dube-Lindholm-Neal line looked extremely solid, generating the highest amount of SCF among forwards. Combined with the Hanifin – Hamonic pairing, it was a lethal lineup
Bad: The normally strong Giordano – Brodie pairing was absolutely shelled yesterday in terms of CF%, SCF%, and HDCF%
Ugly: Smith posted another sub .900 SV% game, going 24/27 for a .889%
Opponent: Toronto Maple Leafs
Standings: 1st in Atlantic Division
Season Series: 0-0-0
Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images