To say the Flames started this one slowly would be an understatement. Out-shot 17-7 and out-chanced 13-4, the Flames were lucky to end the first down by only one goal. In the second, the Flames were a little better but could not get one past Carey Price. Ryan Poehling got his first goal of the season midway through the third to double the Canadiens’ lead, and that is how the game ended. The Flames dropped this one 2-0.
5v5 Player Stats
- Sean Monahan led the way for the Flames with a 68% CF. Only him and T.J. Brodie were over 60% CF
- Travis Hamonic posted a team low 23.9% CF. He was on the ice for 15 scoring chances against and zero high danger chances for. Not good
- Sam Bennett had two individual high danger chances for
- Phillip Danault posted a game high 69.4% CF
- Only three Habs were under 50% CF; Max Domi had a brutal 23.5% CF
- After struggling to crack the lineup in Los Angeles, Ilya Kovalchuk posted a 67.5% CF and created five individual corsi events
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
“You have to be good to be lucky” as the old saying goes. In this game, the Flames were neither. They did not start the game on time, and could not get anything going in the first half of the game. Breakout passes were going into skates, passes just were not connecting, they did not seem to be in any hurry to do, well, anything.
When the Flames did get a chance on net, Price was right there to stop it. It is not realistic to expect to beat Price (who even with his struggles this season remains one of the best goalies in the league) when you only really show up for the third period. The Flames did not get any luck in that department, and were not good enough to earn it.
The only (really only) big bright spot for the Flames was David Rittich. He was the difference maker for the Flames, and was the reason that the Flames only lost this one by two goals. He stopped every low and medium danger shot he faced, and the two goals he allowed against were ones you could not expect him to save.
After three games out of the crease, in which there was talk of Cam Talbot jumping in to steal the starting job, Rittich game back to remind the Flames just how important he is to this club. Unfortunately, the team in front of him completely hung him out to dry, and could not give him a win in a game in which he gave them so much. The Flames did him dirty.
While the entire team struggled, a few minor bright spots were evident. The first was Bennett, who quietly had himself a good night. Leading the way in high danger chances, he was buzzing around the front of the net. When paired with Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, their line posted an 85.7% CF in 3:37 of ice time.
To put that in perspective, when Backlund was on that line, they had a 28.6% CF in nearly the same amount of ice time. While a small sample, it is something to keep an eye on going forward.
Oliver Kylington also looked quite good in this one. Selected just a few spots after fellow Swede Rasmus Andersson, Kylington took a little longer to season in the AHL, but is quietly turning into a reliable player in big leagues. He is a strong skater and has a good set of hands that he is finally starting to show off. If this continues, it will make it harder for the Flames to rotate Michael Stone into the lineup.
This game was the first of a three game swing through Eastern Canada for the Flames, and the effort quite simply was not there. Hopefully the Flames are able to find some motivation in the next two games against the Leafs and Senators, in order to keep pace in a very tight Pacific Division.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the UGLY
Good: Rittich was truly excellent in this one. Reminded us all why he is the number one option this season
Ugly: Simply not good enough from the Flames in this one
Opponent: Toronto Maple Leafs
Standings: 3rd in the Atlantic
Season Series: 1-0-0
Photo by: Francois Lacasse/ NHLI via Getty Images