The Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets faced off in the 2019 Heritage Classic, outdoors in Regina, Saskatchewan. The snow was falling, both teams were wearing gorgeous retro jerseys, and it was a tight game throughout. Unfortunately, the Flames lost 2-1 in overtime, despite leading 1-0 with under five minutes to play in the third period.
5v5 Player Stats
- Joining Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik on the second/third line tonight, Milan Lucic finished third on the team with 58.3% CF.
- Derek Ryan was a team low 25.0% CF.
- Every single Flames skater finished above 65% xGF% at 5v5.
- Andrew Copp led the Jets with 64.5% CF
- Anthony Bitetto was a team low 44.0% CF.
- All but four Jets skaters finished with at least 50% CF.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
The feeling surrounding outdoor games isn’t consistent between hockey fans. Some love them and some think they’re unnecessary. Admittedly, I haven’t followed the outdoor schedule for quite a few years now, mostly because the coverage is very catered towards the fan bases of the participating teams and the Flames haven’t been in one of these since 2011. This time though, I thought the league did a great job.
The rink was great, the ice was apparently the best it’s ever been for an outdoor game, and the stadium was packed. Both teams were wearing stunningly beautiful jerseys, and both teams played very well in the game. It’s really too bad the Flames weren’t able to snag that second point in extra time.
It was a scrambly game right from the opening faceoff. Johnny Gaudreau had a breakaway almost immediately after the game started (he tried to go five-hole and it got saved), there were lots of rushes both ways, and both goalies were sharp for 60+. It really looked like goals were going to be hard to come by. Everyone looked a bit slower out there, no thanks due to the constant snow falling from the sky, and it was a chippy game. It felt like it would be a tight, low scoring right from the beginning, and that’s exactly what it was.
The Flames played a generally solid game. They had the vast majority of grade-A scoring chances at 5v5, David Rittich was excellent all night long, and the Flames’ powerplay was again dangerous almost every time they were out there. As has been the story all year long though, untimely penalties and lack of defensive awareness were two glaring holes for the Flames in the game and ultimately the reasons why they lost.
It’s annoying to see the blow a lead in the third period, AGAIN. It’s especially annoying when they let the Jets tie it up with under five minutes left in regulation. This Flames team is still nowhere near where they need to be if they want to be in the playoffs for the second consecutive year, and they need to start with their discipline.
It’s almost a guarantee that at some point, Sam Bennett will take a dumb penalty and shatter the Flames’ momentum in the process. Whether his call should have been a two-minute infraction is besides the point. Bottom line, Bennett has been a liability to the team so far and he’s harmed them much more than he’s helped. It might be time to seriously start shopping Bennett; as hard as that may be, his value just continues to drop and there are better players who can easily fill his role for much less money.
Bill Peters really had the line blender out for this game and early results show that the new lines are pretty good. The new top line of Gaudreau with Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk was consistently dangerous, the second (?) line with Sean Monahan and Andrew Mangiapane was pretty good, not including Bennett who was less than fine, and even Milan Lucic looked decent alongside Backlund and Frolik. It wouldn’t be surprising if Peters kept these lines going at least for a little while longer. The team needs to get going here, and juggling forward combinations offers the ability to experiment with chemistry.
At the end of the day, this game was super fun to watch and follow along to. It’s not ideal that the Flames lost game and blew a lead along the way, but they did get a point. They now have points in two straight and five of their last seven games. Maybe things are starting to come together after losing four of their first six games of the year.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the UGLy
Good: Rittich stopping over 40 shots and being generally excellent at hockey.
Bad: The hit Oliver Kylington took at the end of the second period. It was a completely unnecessary play and even though he came back and played in the third, hopefully he still felt okay when he woke up this morning.
Ugly: The Flames’ faceoff winning percentage. This team was among the league’s best in the dot last season and now they can’t seem to win any draws. It’s hurting their possession and making it harder to win games.
Opponent: Carolina Hurricanes
Standings: 2nd in the Metropolitan
Season Series: 0-0-0
Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images