Heading into Thursday night’s date with the New Jersey Devils, Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters often used his post-game media address to express reservations about different aspects of his club’s play. On Tuesday night, he blasted his team’s reliance on comebacks. On Thursday, he had so such reservations following a complete – if somewhat imperfect – victory over the Devils.
“I thought they had a little momentum when they had their power play,” said Peters. “But the second period was very good and I thought we managed the puck real well in the third…. A lot of good things in the game tonight.”
It’s hard to argue with the coach’s assessment. Sure, if you want to nitpick – like me – you could argue that the Flames were merely “fine” in the first period and left the period trailing.
But they weren’t out-shot or out-chanced in any frame. Their power play scored twice. Their penalty kill had a clean sheet. They out-shot the Devils 28-17 at even strength. 16 of their 18 skaters had a shot on goal. David Rittich made many big saves, as his nickname suggests would be his tendency. Heck, Cam Talbot opened the gate efficiently enough that the Flames took zero too many men penalties.
“I liked everybody tonight, to be honest with you,” shared Peters, sharing a moment that illustrated the level of contribution within the club. “There was a play early where Toby Rieder tracks and creates a turnover. Stoney gets it over to Brodes, Brodes no-looks into the middle for Doc and then back to Toby. A chance that didn’t go in. Outstanding. High level. So, those are the types of plays that we see as coaches when we watch the game and re-watch it the next day, and that’s winning hockey.”
Late in his media address, Peters added an interesting note: “Tonight’s the first time where I felt all four centers drove their line. All four centers were real good tonight.”
Looking at the stat line, three of four Flames pivots had pretty impressive evenings:
- Sean Monahan – 18:49 time on ice (13:01 even strength), 1 shot, 1 goal, 1 assist, plus-1, 8-for-20 in face-offs
- Mikael Backlund – 17:56 TOI (13:33 ES), 1 G, 1 A, even, 4 penalty minutes, 3 shots, 8-for-17 n face-offs
- Derek Ryan – 15:12 TOI (12:20 ES), 1 G, plus-1, 4 shots, 5-for-13 face-offs
- Mark Jankowski – 8:22 TOI (7:21 ES), minus-1, 2 penalty minutes, 0 shots, 5-for-8 face-offs
Three of four centers had goals, while the fourth (Jankowski) was the least-used but the only one who won more than half of his draws. It was probably the best, most complete outing of the season for the Flames up the middle and overall.