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After suffering a streak-ending loss to the Anaheim Ducks a few nights ago, the Calgary Flames continued their California road trip in the Staples Center last night against the Los Angeles Kings.

With David Rittich tending the net, the Flames looked to get back into the win column against a Kings team that has struggled to get going early in the season. The Flames came out hard to start the game, earning the first goal just over two minutes into the contest off the stick of Travis Hamonic. The Flames would milk that one goal lead until the final buzzer, earning a 1-0 win off the first career shutout from Rittich.

In terms of possession, the Flames controlled play for most of the game, save for the latter half of the first period when the Kings were able to get a few solid cycle shifts in. Jack Campbell, tending the Kings’ goal in favour of injured Jonathan Quick, was excellent in the game, stopping 35 of 36 shots.

Hamonic had a fantastic game for the Flames, with several big shots, hits, and blocks to lead the team to victory. With the shutout, Rittich moved into fourth place in GAA, fifth in SV%, and 15th in wins league wide. Because the Flames play back-to-back, Mike Smith will return to the crease tonight against the Sharks.

Statistical Breakdown

Team Stats

All Situations 5v5 SVA 5v5
CF 52.1% 53.5% 58.9%
SCF 53.9% 54.6% 60.4%
HDCF 54.6% 62.5% 68.5%

5v5 Player Stats

Calgary Flames

  • Derek Ryan led the Flames with 76.7% CF% on the night.
  • Ryan also led with 92.9% SCF% (13-1) and 100% HDCF% (7-0).
  • The Mikael Backlund line was uncharacteristically the worst Corsi line for the Flames, James Neal the worst at 33.3% CF%.

Los Angeles Kings

  • Just six Kings finished the game above 50% CF%, Trevor Lewis leading the way at 63.2%.
  • Nate Thompson was last for the Kings with 33.3% CF%.
  • Tanner Pearson led in scoring chances with 83.3% SCF%.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Line Combinations

Calgary Flames

Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Neal
Bennett – Ryan – Frolik
Hathaway – Jankowski – Czarnik

Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Valimaki – Andersson

Rittich
Smith

Los Angeles Kings

Iafallo – Kopitar – Brown
Kovalchuk – Carter – Toffoli
Pearson – Kempe – Luff
Clifford – Thompson – Lewis

Phaneuf – Doughty
Muzzin – Martinez
Forbort – Fantenberg

Campbell
Budaj

Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff

Thoughts on the Game

I have to say, after seeing the Flames outplay the Kings for the whole game but only have a one goal lead for ~58 minutes, there was definitely some worry that the Kings would tie it up. It happened too many times last year but once again we were all reminded that this is not the same team. They did a great job controlling play with the lead and kept pushing until the final buzzer.

Not enough can be said about Hamonic’s game last night. It truly was one of his best games as a Flame, and it was great to see him jump up on the rush, make some key blocks on odd man rushes, and be an all-around warrior on the ice. He deserved first star honours last night.

Once again, Rittich played a fantastic game. His first career shutout included saving 20 scoring chances, six of which were high danger, and inspiring confidence the entire game. He was positionally strong, managed his rebounds well, and didn’t flop around on the ice like the fish in the Spongebob intro. There is no doubt that he is the better goalie on this team and, while I’m not saying that he made saves that Smith definitely would have let in, I am not confident saying the Flames would have won that game scoring one goal if Smith was between the pipes. It seems like this back-to-back in California will be extremely important in deciding the future of the Flames’ goaltending. If Smith falters tonight in San Jose, it’s very hard to justify not starting Rittich against Montreal on Thursday. He’s one of the best goalies in the NHL right now and Smith just… isn’t.

It’s a major bummer that Dillon Dube hasn’t been playing lately because he’s going through the concussion protocol, but in his absence, Garnet Hathaway had a very strong game last night (Austin Czarnik should be playing regardless of Dube’s health). I’m not a huge Hathaway fan in general, but he had a good night on the penalty kill, and posted a 62.5% CF% in just over 10 minutes of 5v5 action. He’s a serviceable fourth liner. The best iteration of this Flames roster has Dube ahead of Hathaway, but in the meantime, I’m okay with Hathaway playing his game for 10 minutes a night.

The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful

Gaud: Hamonic’s monster game. If he can play at even 80% of what he was doing last night, the Flames’ second pairing will be an absolute force.

Bad: The Flames continue to struggle on the powerplay. The top line was caught overpassing a few times and they just could’t extend their lead. It didn’t matter last night, but it would have on most.

Beautiful: Rittich earning his first career shutout, and continuing to be worth of the nickname Big Save Dave.

Next Game

Opponent: San Jose Sharks
Record: 8-6-3
Standings: 3rd in the Pacific
Season Series: 0-0-0


 

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