Welcome to 2019 Flames Fans!
The Calgary Flames looked to start off the new year on the right foot, as they were in Detroit to take on the Red Wings Wednesday evening. The Flames were struck with bad news earlier in the day, as David Rittich would be listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury. This meant that Mike Smith would get the call, his first start since December 22 against the Blues, with Jon Gillies filling the backup roll.
Calgary was clearly still feeling the effects of December 31st, as they got off to an extremely sluggish start. Their best players did not look like their best players, and Detroit took advantage of that fact. With goals from Darren Helm and Jacob de la Rose, the Wings would take the 2-0 through the opening twenty minutes.
Luckily, the Flames would not allow their hangover to persist any longer. Sean Monahan’s 22nd of the season would bring the Flames within one midway through the second period. Calgary had picked up the tempo since the break and looked to be turning a corner. Ten minutes later, a TJ Brodie point shot would squeak past Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard, to tie the game at two.
Unfortunately, that tie would only last 24 seconds, as Oliver Kylington would commit a questionable infraction on an Andreas Anthanasiou breakaway. This infraction would lead to a penalty shot, for which Anthanasiou would not be denied. Luckily for the Flames, the 3-2 Detroit lead would only last an additional 38 seconds. Elias Lindholm would net a quick powerplay goal with less than a minute left in the period. The score would be netted at three entering the final period.
It was all Flames from there. After three or four unsuccessful breakaway chances, Johnny Gaudreau would finally pot a goal on the powerplay in the third period. This would bring his point total up to four (1G 3A) on the night, in back-to-back four point games. Smith would be steady for the remainder of the contest, and Micheal Frolik would add the insurance marker into the empty net. The Flames start 2019 on the right foot, taking this one 5-3.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Monahan would lead his team in CF% with 68.0%, with linemates Gaudreau and Lindholm following close behind with 66.7% and 65.4% respectively
- Swapped in the middle of the game to the second line, James Neal did not have a good night in terms of possession. In 11:43 of 5v5 ice time, he posted a 26.1% CF%.
- Garnet Hathaway and Dillon Dube were benched in the third period, as both players had the two lowest CF%’s in the game at 22.2% and 0.0% respectively.
Detroit Red Wings
- Micheal Rasmussen was the game leader in CF% at 77.8%, albeit in only 6:48 of 5v5 ice time
- Nick Jensen was on the ice for 6 HDCF and only 1 HDCA
- Justin Abdelkader was the worst on his team in terms of possession, posting a 26.3%
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Neal
Dube – Ryan – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
Kylington – Andersson
Detroit Red Wings
Nyquist – Larkin – Abdelkader
Bertuzzi – Nielsen – Vanek
Rasmussen – Glendening – Athanasiou
Frk – de la Rose – Ehn
Kronwall – Hronek
Ericsson – Jensen
Cholowski – Witkowski
Stats courtesy: DailyFaceoff
Thoughts on the Game
That is the proper way to ring in the 2019 calendar year, although it didn’t look like it was originally going to go the Flames’ way. Smith in net, very poor start from the top players, and Detroit didn’t look half bad. They had a huge boost with Helm returning to the lineup after a long absence, but even so; the Red Wings shouldn’t have been taken lightly.
The Flames as we know are not a team that gives up easily (a la 2017-18), and last night was just another perfect example of this. Stick the course, continue to press, and good things will happen. Of course it helps to have a player like Gaudreau in your lineup to assist you in that goal. What more can we say except for the fact that he is unstoppable at the moment. Even as teams appear to be closing the gap defensively on him, he finds a new way to break through and make teams pay. With another four point effort last night, he now sits T-3 in the NHL in scoring. He has been the team’s MVP, and looks to set new career highs across every statistical category this year.
Smith was just as solid as he needed to be. All three goals against shouldn’t be faulted on him. The first was the weakest, but a defensive breakdown allowed Helm to basically skate right through into the crease and finish. The second was an unlucky bounce, and the final goal was a penalty shot that could have gone either way. He may not be playing his best hockey this season by any means, but Smith does have a ton of support from his teammates. If there is one guy the team loves to rally behind, I would put my money on it being Smith. If he can produce performances like last night consistently, then the Flames should be able to turn to him more often.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Gaud: Smith put forth a phenomenal game last night. 29 saves on 32 shots, in what was one of his best performances in a while.
Bad: Sam Bennett, who has been playing some amazing hockey lately, was not on the ice at all during the third period. He finished as a -2, but along with Hathaway and Dube, the third period appeared to be bench time for the young forward.
Beautiful: Johnny. Hockey.
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Standings: 3rd in Atlantic
Season Series: 0-0-0