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About Last Night #42: Puck watching costs Flames on New Year’s Eve

As has become emblematic of the Flames of late, they started the game slowly, and spent too much time watching the Blackhawks. In the first five minutes, the Flames were down 2-0 and did not look good. Patrick Kane added another goal, and just as against Vancouver, the Flames were down 3-0 after one. Chicago added another in the second, but Sam Bennett put the Flames on the board after being scratched in the previous game.

In the third, the Flames finally found their feet. Michael Frolik capitalized on an error in front of the Blackhawks net while the Flames were shorthanded, then Sean Monahan put them within one, but that was as close as they would get. Chicago added an empty net to seal this one.

Statistical Breakdown


Team Stats

5v5 Player Stats

Calgary Flames
  • Dylan Sikura posted a team high 55.2% CF
  • Only four Blackhawks skaters posted CF%’s above 50%.
  • Dennis Gilbert posted a team low 38.9% CF
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick

Thoughts on the Game

Once again, this was a game in which the Flames did not start on time. It does not matter that they pushed hard in the third and came close to tying the game, the fact of the matter is when you are down by three goals after 12 minutes of hockey, it is incredibly difficult for the team to come back. The whole team looked incredibly slow to start the game, and it took right until the third period for any of the four lines to establish any quality offensive zone time.

That being said, you have to give credit where it is due: Bennett played himself a quality game. Not only did he score the Flames first goal, he was a human wrecking ball, leading the team with six hits. He was a force to be reckoned with, and definitely showed why his energy is needed.

Bennett is a depth player. He adds energy to the bottom six, and shows his skill when he is matched up against other teams’ bottom six. In this game, he started with Monahan and Mikael Backlund, and together the line posted a 35.7% CF and allowed five scoring chances against. Geoff Ward shuffled his lines midway through the game, and put Bennett with Derek Ryan and Milan Lucic, and together that line posted a 58.3% CF and created two high danger chances. They also scored the Flames first goal. If Bennett becomes a regular in the lineup again, the Flames should look to keep him in the bottom six, but if he can be as effective as he was in this one, he will be a welcome piece in the lineup.

The loss puts the Flames at 20-17-5 through 42 games, and as the calendar flips over to 2020, the grind gets even more challenging. Currently sitting outside of the playoff picture and in an incredibly tight race for a spot, not doing the little things right just won’t cut it. It looked like Coach Ward gave the team a strong pep talk during the second intermission, as the team came out more energized and structured. They started to play better and look like the team that we all know that they can be. If they can carry that energy into the back half of the season, it will hopefully bode for a bright playoff run.

The Gaud, the Bad, and the UGLY

Good: It is nice to see players who have not scored as much this season get on the board. Between Frolik and Bennett, it was good for both of them to add to their confidence as players

Bad: Consistency. Both within the game (with a slow start and a wild ending) but also within the last five games. The Flames need to get into a rhythm that does not keep them around that .500 mark.

Ugly: The Flames did not really establish quality offensive zone looks right until the third period. Although they did have a number of rush chances, they could not string their chances together enough to put the heat on Chicago

Next Game

Opponent: New York Rangers
Record: 19-16-4
Standings: 7th in the Metropolitan
Season Series: 0-0-0

Photo by: Gerry Thomas/ Getty Images

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