On several occasions this season, the Calgary Flames’ best players haven’t been their best players. Against St. Louis on Tuesday night, they had several starring performances from their best and brightest but some strong performances from role players helped them capture a crucial point against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Playing his first NHL game in over three years, Buddy Robinson was simply superb. He played all over the place; he started with Sam Bennett and Mikael Backlund, then played a good chunk of the rest of the game with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
Flames interim head coach Geoff Ward liked Robinson’s performance.
“I thought he was playing with a lot of energy, he was using his size well, he was in on the fore-check, he sent Johnny [Gaudreau] in on a breakaway, he played well.”
What did Buddy think of the Buddy chants? "High school I used to be a skilled guy so there wasn’t much hitting and then Johnny’s dad beat that out of me when I turned 6’6” so I’ll keep forechecking and if they want to keep chanting that would be great." #Flames
— Jermain Franklin (@TSNJFranklin) January 29, 2020
Robinson finished the evening with 15:31 in ice time and two shots on goal.
A balanced attack
While Ward did shuffle the lines a decent amount during the game – he was hoping to get Derek Ryan back at center after starting him on the wing with Monahan and Gaudreau – one thing that was weirdly consistent was the team rolling four lines.
Here’s how ice time was divvied out:
15:55 TOI (15:55 ES)
19:50 OI (16:50 ES)
20:00 TOI (16:48 ES)
19:10 TOI (15:41 ES)
18:21 TOI (16:30 ES)
15:31 TOI (14:09 ES)
13:22 TOI (12:54 ES)
14:52 TOI (13:30 ES)
11:42 TOI (11:42 ES)
14:39 TOI (14:39 ES)
12:37 TOI (11:51 ES)
14:38 TOI (14:00 ES)
While the game didn’t feature a ton of special teams situations, which allowed the Flames to roll their lines and get everyone involved, the balanced deployments were a conscious decision made by the coaching staff.
Here’s what Ward had to say:
That’s absolutely intentional. You come off and we’re playing again tomorrow night, you’ve been off on the break, so I think it’s important to keep everybody in the hockey game, get the rust off of everybody, try to play to the depth in your lineup. We’ve talked about it before, we like where our depth is. We feel it’s a strength and a tool we can use to our advantage so we felt it was important to keep everybody going in the hockey game.
If the Flames have some gas in the tank late in Wednesday’s game against Edmonton, give the coach some credit for rolling the lines against the Blues.
We’re less than a month away from the NHL’s trade deadline and, shocker, there were many, many scouts in attendance for this game. (Many.)
#ScoutsScouting CGY/STL: Wild, Sens, Vegas, Pens, Habs, Bruins, Rangers, Wings, Preds, Hawks, Lightning, Jets, Devils, Isles, Stars, Flyers.
— Ryan Pike (@RyanNPike) January 29, 2020
Teams with multiple scouts in attendance included Vegas, Pittsburgh, Montreal, the NY Rangers and Nashville.