Rss

It’s very juxtaposing that the Calgary Flames have so many predictable traits but can manage to make their games interesting. A slow start, penalty trouble, a multi-goal deficit in the third period, and a dramatic comeback all made appearances in last night’s game. The result? This time, penalty trouble made them pay and the Flames only walk away with a single point in an overtime loss.

Feel of the game 

It took some time for the Flames to find their legs against the St. Louis Blues, and then once they did it was in two different waves: able to keep paces with the Blues and able to gain an edge on one of the superior teams in the league. This was a game where David Rittich was the reason they were able to have a shot in the third period, not necessarily having to face the same volume he’s accustomed to but definitely was able to calm the team when St. Louis looks to swing momentum back in their favour. He was a little shaky to start, but definitely rebounded nicely.

Overall, it was a fairly even game, particularly at even strength. The special teams were an obvious sore spot for Calgary, but they learned they can’t rely on getting six power play opportunities per game as well as the dangers if taking so many penalties against a top-five power play.

It’s a real split feeling on the game. On one hand, the Flames are able to keep pace with the defending Stanley Cup champions and the cream of the Western crop, but on the other, they failed to take advantage of a team at the end of a long-ish road trip and keep building off of the somewhat successful week they had. At least they have an actual break coming up to think about things!

The good news 

The second line was the sharpest line for the Flames, as Andrew Mangiapane seems to have really settled on that line (until Bill Peters brings out the blender again). Especially as the team found their footing in the latter half, they were a step above the other lines. It’s not just Matthew Tkachuk’s goal (although that is also nice), but the confident zone entries and the fact that they were the only line with more scoring chances for than against at 5v5 (8-4). Speaking of their 5v5 play, they had all but one of the high-danger chances for among Flames forward lines. They can feel good about the game they played.

Travis Hamonic scored a nice goal off an impressive effort, and it was nice to see him rewarded. This time, it was him and Mark Giordano to look renewed after the big defense pairing shuffle, and he got first goal since March of last season. There was no way that Hamonic was the player that his brutally bad luck made him look like to start the season, and the player the Flames were able to depend on so much last season seems to have arrived.

Speaking of defense, I thought that the TJ Brodie-Mike Stone pairing was very serviceable. Stone had a bunch of lowlights (the first goal against, blowing a great scoring chance, clipping his own players by accident) and Brodie was in the box during the final goal, but their whole game was better than not. Not great, but not the major problem tonight.

David Rittich is still a blessing and I appreciate him every day, as we all should.

The bad news

Boy howdy do I feel foolish for praising the third line so much for their last game, because they were the exact opposite of what I wanted them to be tonight. Sam Bennett was engaged physically, sure, but he also regained the team lead for the most minor penalties and got worked (along with Alan Quine and Derek Ryan) by the Blues. Obviously, one bad game does not break a line, but St. Louis had their way with them.

It didn’t look much better when Quine, Mark Jankowski, and Milan Lucic all got benched in the third, as Rieder didn’t fare much better with the temporary promotion. With the Flames looking to push back in the third, they couldn’t sustain play from line-to-line, and it’s surprising to me that the Flames were able to tie it up. I’m not complaining, but I’m also not impressed.

Hanifin and Andersson got worked in their second game together, which can easily be chalked up to growing pains with each other. Still way to early to make any definitive calls on them, but this one wasn’t pretty.

Johnny Gaudreau looked off last night? Nothing absolute, and he didn’t have an egregious game by any stretch of the imagination, but he was just slightly off in every regard. That was true up until the last moment when it was his giveaway that led to the Brodie penalty in overtime. It might be time for another look at another top line, even just temporarily.

Already mentioned, but the sheer amount of penalties the Flames take finally and truly cost them a game.

Numbers of note 

0 – Points for Lindholm tonight, bringing the streak to an end. Hopefully a new one starts very, very soon.

6:24 -Quine’s ice-time. It seems unlikely to me that the Flames are going to let Quine’s waiver-eligibility lapse, so there’s a good chance we are seeing the last few games of Quine for the time being.

8-13 – While the hits were even aside (19-19), there were eight Flames credited with a hit and 13 for the Blues. While trying to extrapolate data from hits is a fool’s errand, it did seem as though more Blues were committing to puck battles and there was a more general scrum sense among the defending champs.

41.18% – Sean Monahan’s face-off percentage. Besides the one draw that Mangiapane took and lost, he was the only player to lose the majority of their draws last night.

Final thought

I have legitimately nothing to back this up, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Flames made a major shakeup in the next few days? They finally have a few days off, and remain at home the entire time. It’s no surprise that the Flames management aren’t happy with how the season has started, and so this to me is the ideal time for them to make a change if they’re planning to.