The Flames have won two games in a row for the first time since November 7th, and three out of their last four. Dillon Dube scored right before the end of the first frame on an opportunistic backhand shot off a face-off. The game was then goalless for almost two periods until Jean-Gabriel Pageau snuck one by Flames goalie late in the third period. Not to be deterred, Elias Lindholm answered right back, chasing down a bouncing puck and lifting it under the crossbar to return the one goal lead. Lindholm finished the game off with an empty netter a few minutes later to seal it for the home side.
5v5 Player Stats
- Tobias Rieder had the highest CF% on the team with 68% in 9:25 of ice time.
- Matthew Tkachuk had the lowest CF% with 37.50 in 14:01 of ice time.
- Johnny Gaudreau was tied for the team lead in iSCF with 4, and iHDCF with 2.
- Colin White had the highest CF% with 73.91% in 12:06 of ice time.
- Mark Borowiecki had the lowest CF% with 32.35 in 15:15 of ice time.
- Borowiecki and Nikita Zaitsev tied for the team lead with 8 HDCA.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
Just win baby. Those were the famous words of late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, and they apply to the Flames right now. After a period that featured some of the worst hockey in recent memory, followed up by massive off ice issues, this team has finally regained some stability, and most importantly some traction in the standings. Against Ottawa, the team was not dominant and it was not overly pretty, but they showed some resiliency, got some depth scoring, and their top players made some plays at the end of the game when needed most. Just win baby.
Flames fans everywhere have enjoyed the recent play of Dube. The club’s top prospect has been really solid recently and his line (with Milan Lucic and Derek Ryan) has been consistent over the recent weeks. Most importantly for the Flames, their efforts have actually led to goals. For the majority of the season, the Flames bottom lines have posted positive Corsi numbers but have created very few goals. Actually finding some production from the third line has been a huge boost to the team. Dube’s goal in this one was slightly lucky as it came on a bouncing puck off the face off, but he buried it smoothly, and he doesn’t have to apologize to anyone for scoring a greasy goal.
Speaking of depth, the fourth line (Rieder – Mark Jankowski – Michael Frolik) had an excellent night from a possession perspective. They still have not found a way to translate possession into goals, but the fact that this line is at least producing some positive play for the Flames is a good thing. In almost nine minutes of even strength time, the line posted a CF% of 63.64% easily the best on the team. They are in the midst of a remarkable scoring drought, especially Jankowski, but luck has to turn eventually, and here’s hoping this line gets a bounce soon.
Beyond those positive signs, the Flames have been waiting for their top players to make the plays expected of them. It was not how he probably drew it up, but the skill shown by Lindholm to score the go ahead goal is the reason he has been an elite player for Calgary. After a really hot start to the year, Lindholm has been in a bit of a slump recently alongside his line mates. Scoring two goals tonight (albeit one was an empty netter) is a sign that Lindholm is really starting to get going. Good sign for Calgary.
That brings me to Gaudreau. To me it just feels like Johnny is close to really breaking out. He is just too skilled to keep missing breakaways and other chances, and I feel that whenever he finally buries one, the proverbial flood gates will open. I loved seeing him drive the zone with speed, and do his curl closer to the corner. He has gotten in trouble trying to pull up close to the blue line where turnovers are more costly. Seeing him drive deeper in the zone was a positive sign for Calgary. Yes, he continued to turn the puck over, but he was hustling to get back and created some chances as well. Its coming for Johnny, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Lastly, it is easy to focus on the play of Gaudreau and the other forwards, but David Rittich has been fantastic recently. He would have wanted the tying goal back, but only allowing one goal and saving several odd man rushes kept Calgary in drivers seat. Unsurprisingly, Rittich’s play has been a catalyst for the strong results over the last few games, and Calgary will hope this trend continues.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: Back-to-back wins, and points in four straight. Finally some positive momentum.
Bad: Gaudreau is getting chances but remains snake bitten. Ditto for the fourth line.
Beautiful: Dube scores, continuing to provide a needed spark to this team.
Opponent: Buffalo Sabres
Standings: 4th in the Atlantic
Season Series: 1-0-0