About Last Night #11: Bad bounces doom Flames in loss to Capitals

The Calgary Flames looked to be carrying the game for large stretches, but couldn’t overcome a series of gaffes that ultimately wound up in the back of their net. After a good showing against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, it was tough to see them go down like this.

5v5 SVACF%SCF%HDCF%xGF%
49.646.944.649.1
50.453.155.450.9

5V5 PLAYER STATS

CALGARY FLAMES
  • Austin Czarnik had the highest CF% on the team of 63.2%. 
  • Michael Stone had the lowest CF% with 38.4%. 
  • Noah Hanifin played a high event game, posting the highest number of HDCF (four), but also the highest number of HDCA (three)
Washington Capitals
STATS COURTESY: NATURAL STAT TRICK

THOUGHTS ON THE GAME

The Flames deserved better in this game. They were ultimately let down by their goaltending, and a series of bizarre bounces that wound up in their net. It was a disappointing way to squander a relatively strong effort against an excellent team, but there were positives for the Flames.

One of those positives was that the Flames actually got out to a decent start in this one, playing with energy early, resulting in a 59.4 CF% as a team in the first period.

Unfortunately the second period started disastrously. The first blunder was a bizarre goal let in by Cam Talbot, where John Carlson scored on a harmless shot from the boards. Talbot reacted oddly to the goal, seeming to indicate that something was in his eye that made him lose focus. Following the game he told reporters he had been snowed and didn’t react well to it.

Soon after, Talbot added to his nightmare start when he was indecisive playing the puck, leading to a turnover which ended with Chandler Stephenson banking the puck into the net off of Rasmus Andersson. Talbot was actually solid for large parts of the game, but two huge mistakes put the Flames behind the eight ball early in the second period.

The Flames did respond admirably to the setbacks though, with back to back “powerplay” goals (Austin Czarnik’s goal was technically scored after the penalty expired). The powerplay looked sharp all night, and it was great to see the second unit focusing on getting more pucks to the net, resulting ultimately to Czarnik’s rebound goal.

Having little luck on this night, the Flames gave up goals to Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson which were the results of bad bounces. The first was a bad play at the opposition blue line by Andrew Mangiapane, and the second came off a bouncing puck that Travis Hamonic couldn’t handle.

A Carlson empty netter and then a garbage time Tobias Rieder goal capped off an exciting but certainly odd night of hockey in the Saddledome.

Overall, Czarnik lead the team in CF% and looked solid next to Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk. The problem with Czarnik is converting chances into goals and strong analytics into production. He obviously scored tonight, but he also missed a wide open net when he couldn’t get his stick on a beautiful feed from Tkachuk. Yes, the pass was not perfect, but Flames fans want to see Czarnik bear down and finish his chances.

Andersson continued his strong play of late, posting the second best CF% on the team (62.2%) while playing alongside Giordano. I love the poise that Andersson has been showing on the ice, looking to make plays with the puck instead of chipping the puck off the glass.

Milan Lucic was another solid performer analytically in this game, with a CF% of 60.9%. He has done some good work on the forecheck, but the next step for Lucic is to turn zone time into chances, and he frequently takes shots from way out, which inflate his Corsi stats, but don’t lead often to goals. I would like to see Lucic carry the puck to the net more, and try to create more havoc around the night, rather than simply shooting or passing it to the point.

On the negative side, nobody for the Flames was really awful last night, and every forward line posted a CF% of more than 50%. The problem, as mentioned were the bad bounces that doomed the Flames in this game. It’s not an excuse the team can use very often, and the way they bounce back against the Panthers tomorrow will be indicative of whether they were robbed in this one or just weren’t good enough to overcome the obstacles they faced.

THE GAUD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

Good: The powerplay had a good bounce back game, going essentially two for four. I liked specifically how they were moving the puck through the middle of the ice, and getting pucks to the net quickly. Also, while in garbage time, Rieder finally scored after at least 75 goals between this year and last without a tally.

Bad: Talbot was solid early in this one, and was okay for the whole night, but two huge mistakes cost the Flames two points. The team just cannot afford to give up free goals.

Ugly: There were a bunch of ugly bounces in this one. The first Capitals goal, Talbot’s misplay and the bank off Andersson for the second goal, a missed dump in by Mangiapane for the third goal, and finally a bouncing puck for the last one. Yikes.

NEXT GAME

Opponent: Florida Panthers
Record: 4-3-2
Standings: 4th in the Atlantic
Season Series: 0-0-0

Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

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