The Flames actually started this one well. Sam Bennett tipped in a Travis Hamonic shot from the point to give the Flames a lead just 33 seconds into the game. The Predators got one back quickly, then got a second one midway through the first. That being said, the Flames had their chances, but Juuse Saros was up to the task.
From there the Predators picked up another one on the power play to extend their lead to two. The Flames pulled back to within one just moments later, but were unable to find the equalizer in third period and ultimately fell to the Predators 3-2.
5v5 Player Stats
- Mikael Backlund led the way for the Flames with a 64.3% CF. He also had eight individual shot attempts, five scoring chances, and three high-danger chances. He led the Flames in all three categories
- Sean Monahan posted a team-low 34.5% CF. Only six Flames were below 50% CF
- Backlund and Dillon Dube were on the ice for five high-danger chances for and zero against
- Former Ottawa Senator Kyle Turris posted a game-high 72.4% CF
- Rocco Grimaldi and Nick Bonino finished the game with game-low 21.9% and 23.5% CF, respectively. At the end of the second, they were both around an abysmal 10.0% CF
- The Flames walked all over the defense pairing of Jarred Tinordi and Mattias Ekholm. They were on the ice for seven and eight high-danger chances against, respectively
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
Another game where the Flames started out strong and got a ton of chances on net, yet were unable to power through any adversity. The Predatorss did two things well, which led to them winning this game.
The first was they got excellent goaltending from Saros, who stood on his head for his team. Stopping seven of eight high-danger chances and all twelve medium-danger chances he faced, he was a difference maker in this game for the Predators. He finished the game stopping 37 of 39 shots he faced, earning a 0.949 save percentage.
The other difference is that the Predators played excellent team defence. Not only were they able to stop the Flames’ transition game, the Predators also stopped the Flames at the blue line, forcing guys like Johnny Gaudreau to try to dump-and-chase. Nashville shut down Calgary’s top guys this way, and were able to pick up a convincing win in a very tight Western Conference.
What did the Flames struggle with in this one? For one thing, the team defence was not good enough. The Predators got more than their fair share of odd man rushes, and because the Flames forwards did not back check effectively, Nashville was often able to get the puck to their trailing man and get a high quality scoring chance. The Flames were not playing as a full five man unit, and it absolutely showed.
On top of that, as seen in the last game against San Jose, it felt like the Flames gave up as the game wore on. They got good chances in the first, and a handful as well in the second, but as the Predators’ defence pushed them to the outside and Saros stopped them when they were able to get in close, the Flames slowly stopped pushing.
This culminated in a horrendous start to the third period, in which they did not get a single shot until there was 7:53 left in the period. That’s over twelve minutes of game action in which the Flames were down by a single goal, but could not get even a single shot on net. Just a terrible way to go out in this one.
Still, credit must be given to a few Flames players who looked quite good. Backlund tried to put the team on his back throughout the game, but just could not finish. Cam Talbot was strong all game, but as has been the trend, was hung out to dry by his forwards.
Defencemen like Hamonic and T.J. Brodie both managed well given the circumstances. But the Flames key players, the guys you need to be your best down the stretch, quite simply were not good enough.
The other bit of good news is it feels like nobody is interested in winning the Pacific Division. Of the seven teams in action today, San Jose picked up a win over the Oilers and the Vegas Golden Knights picked up a big win over the Florida Panthers. Every other team in the division lost. Does this give the Flames an excuse? Absolutely not, but it does make the loss sting a little less in the playoff hunt.
Coach Geoff Ward put it best when he said that the team needs to unite around hating to lose, and it seems as though they have not hit that point yet. Hopefully a four game roadtrip will yield better results than going zero-for-three this past home stand.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful(win)/UGLY(Loss)
Good: Backlund was the biggest positive standout for the Flames in this one.
Bad: Hamonic went to the room with an injury midway through the game, but thankfully was able to return to action. The team cannot afford to lose another defenceman to illness or injury.
Ugly: The team’s attitude in this one just felt disinterested, disengaged, and completely shell-shocked. There was no fight, no compete and just a general desire to be over with it. Something needs to change and fast if the Flames have a hope of making the post-season.
Opponent: Vancouver Canucks
Standings: 1st in the Pacific
Season Series: 2-1-1
Photo by: Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images