The Calgary Flames played poorly on Saturday night when they hosted the hated Edmonton Oilers. They never led in the game. Heck, they only were tied for 31 seconds. But the Flames had chances to claw their way back in – they just found ways to not do so. That was the difference in an 8-3 loss.
The Flames fighting the puck
Interim head coach Geoff Ward had a pretty blunt assessment of his team’s performance.
Well, everybody saw the same thing. They were good and we weren’t. What can we control? That’s how we prepared to play. And lessons we can take out of this? We’ve got to be way more competitive. I thought some of our guys were. I thought as a team overall we could’ve been more competitive.
Flames captain Mark Giordano described his team’s defensive game as “loose” and was similarly downbeat regarding their overall performance.
“It’s 2-0 before the flood’s even dry out there, so you’re chasing the game all night,” said Giordano. “I actually thought when it was 4-3 we had a good chance of getting back in this one and making it a game and then a couple breakdowns later it’s 6-3. We allowed a team that thrives on offense and putting pucks in the net, we allowed their best players to really feel it tonight and that was the difference.”
The Flames goalies allowed eight goals. But Ward didn’t think his team did enough defensively to make their lives easy against the Oilers.
“No. Not at all,” said Ward. “We had some breakdowns in our own end. I didn’t think we were very good early at the front of our net. There was a lot of goals where we didn’t execute what we needed to execute on the defensive side of the puck and they took advantage of it. The first two goals were directly us. You’re two shifts into the hockey game, you’re down 2-0, and you’re chasing the game. Right from that, we needed to be way more cognizant of what was happening on that side of the puck. This time of year, defense gives you a chance to win. Tonight, our defensive game was exposed a little bit and it put us behind the eight-ball early.”
#Flames interim coach Geoff Ward: “I want the feeling to stick with us, for sure. For a while. If you’re not a little bit angry in your stomach about what happened tonight and it’s not bothering you, then we probably have an issue.”
— Wes Gilbertson (@WesGilbertson) February 2, 2020
The Flames fighting the Oilers
So, uh, this game got wild after it got out of hand. After an undercard bout featuring Buddy Robinson and Jujhar Khaira, the second period ended with a giant scrum and two fights – including a goalie fight! – that resulted in the officials ending the period 24 seconds early so they could have time to sort out the penalties properly.
So what set Cam Talbot off so much that he took 21 minutes in penalties and got tossed from the proceedings?
“The score, didn’t like the fact that he comes in and spears me when I’m on my back after the whistle,” said Talbot. “So in a game like that, things just kind of set you off and I reacted accordingly. Probably not the smartest reaction on my part, but it was a highly emotional game and my emotions got the best of me.”
Ward described Talbot’s reaction as “almost like throwing a spark on dry tinder.” Then he skated to center ice and fought Mike Smith.
Mike Smith vs Cam Talbot from the Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames game on Feb 1, 2020 https://t.co/pDDG8wM1pR
— hockeyfights (@hockeyfights) February 2, 2020
“Old fashioned hockey right there,” assessed Smith after the game. “Obviously Talbot gets in there, mixed up a little bit. Throws some blocker, didn’t like that too much so I just kinda see what was happening there. He obliged.”
“It was an emotional reaction,” said Talbot. “I was already kind of in a couple scrums and then I saw him standing there. It was just one of those things, just react to it. Didn’t expect to get thrown out of the game for it, just more of a five minute major kind of thing. But unfortunately Ritter had to go back in there and I feel bad that I made that decision, put him in that spot.”
Smith acknowledging that he has a relationship with Rittich, but admits sometimes he takes things too far. “What goes around comes around”.
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) February 2, 2020
It was the first career fight for Talbot, though he recollected that he had a fight in junior. It was the first goalie fight for Smith, who previously fought Aaron Voros back in 2008.