Hockey is finally back! The Flames took a few minutes to get settled into this one, and in that time, they fell behind early on a goal from Kailer Yamamoto. They then took an early penalty against the league’s best power play team, and Connor McDavid made them pay, putting them down 2-0.
In the second, the Flames finally found their feet. They pushed hard and were rewarded on the powerplay with just seconds left in the period. Elias Lindholm, who has had at least one goal in each of the Flames four games against the Oilers this season, put them within one.
In the third, the Flames kept pushing, but a funny bounce tested David Rittich, who bobbled the puck, and Patrick Russell put it into the back of the net. McDavid sealed it for the Oilers with a beautiful five-hole shot that beat Rittich point blank.
5v5 Player Stats
- Matthew Tkachuk was absolutely buzzing, posting a mammoth 77.8% CF in just over 17 minutes of ice time.
- Mark Jankowski struggled mightily in this one, with a disappointing 22.2% CF. He also managed to turn a beautiful opportunity on net into a giveaway which led to a three on one going the other way. He did not see the ice in the third period, and registered just over three minutes TOI at even strength in the game.
- Andrew Mangiapane and Sam Bennett each had five individual Corsi attempts, three individual scoring chances, and two individual high danger chances.
- Josh Archibald led the way for the Oilers with a 69.2% CF.
- Defenceman Philip Broberg struggled in this one, posting a 16.6% CF in over 10 minutes of ice time.
- Matt Benning led the Oilers by creating five individual Corsi events.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
Although hockey is back, it is hard to really assess as to how the Flames will do against the Jets. One thing is for sure, they do have a little bit of work to do to shake off some of the rust that has built up being away from the rink.
There were a number of Flames that really stood out. First and foremost was Johnny Gaudreau. He was dynamic in this one. Not only did he create a number of quality chances and finish with an assist, he had a swagger about him which has really been missing of late. He looked like he was back to his usual confident self. If the Flames can get that side of him against the Jets, they stand a really good chance of going through.
The second line of Mangiapane, Tkachuk, and Mikael Backlund was really good at (mostly) limiting the Oilers’ top players. While McDavid did end up with two goals, one was a tap-in on a powerplay and the other was a defensive breakdown right after a game breaking goal. The Flames limited him to two individual scoring chances and zero high danger chances at 5v5. They also limited Leon Draisaitl to zero shots on net and only one individual high danger shot at 5v5. For primarily this line to be able to shut down two of the top players in the league will definitely give them confidence in being able to shut down the top line of the Jets this weekend.
Finally, Dillon Dube, who stood out positively at training camp, continued his excellent work. He was buzzing up and down the ice, and made an incredible pass to Bennett which was stopped by Mike Smith. Coach Ward moved Bennett up to the third line with Dube and Milan Lucic, and it seemed to work. As a line, they finished with a 75% CF.
The bottom line was the biggest liability for the Flames. On the ice for two of the three goals against, whatever combination Coach Ward played with simply was not working. The line of Bennett with Jankowski and Tobias Rieder, they had a zero percent (this is not a typo) CF. When they moved Derek Ryan down to play with Jankowski and Rieder, they finished with a 33.3% CF. It may be Rieder, it may be Jankowski, it may just be chemistry, but the Flames simply cannot afford to have a line that is that much of a liability for them going into the playoffs. You best believe the Jets will exploit this heavily.
While this was an exhibition game, the Flames do have a bit of work to do to ensure they are ready for Saturday night against the Jets. The good news was that three of their lines seemed to be rolling. They were getting some good performances from their defenders, especially captain Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie. While both goalies looked shaky, if the Flames can start the game on time and generate quality scoring chances, they can give their net minders a chance to settle in and get comfortable. If the Flames are able to improve on their performance against the Oilers, they should be able to give Winnipeg a run for their money in the playoffs.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the UGLY
Good: The Flames had some great chances and some fight to them, even after going down by a couple of goals early in the game.
Bad: All the Flames’ defencemen were over 50% CF except Noah Hanifin who really struggled, posting a 35.7% CF. He was noticeably not great tonight. Hopefully he can pick it up against the Jets.
Ugly: Not to flog a dead horse, but Jankowski was really not very good in this one. A shame to see him have such a poor game.
Opponent: Winnipeg Jets
Standings: 4th in the Central
Season Series: 0-0-1
Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images