December 16th, 2016 | Posted in Game Takes
By: D'Arcy McGrath
There’s a tendency in hockey markets to look too closely at the local team and not enough at the opposition when it comes to wins, losses and results on a game to game basis.
When the home team wins they are great, and when they lose they are terrible, often not looking across the ledger to what is happening from the opposition. The Flames dropped their second straight on Friday night, a 4-1 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets in games where the Flames made a lot of mistakes, didn’t get the goaltending, and were victimized every time they made a mistake.
So is it a slip in play by the Flames or a set of games against a team that is good annually in Tampa Bay and the 2nd hottest team in the league this year in Columbus? That’s for Glen Gulutzan and the coaching staff to determine as the team travels to Arizona to start a two game road trip.
Chances are it’s a bit of both; a kick up in opposition meets a Flames team that has lost their edge and are turning over too many pucks. Time will tell.
Not a good start for the Flames. They had the shot advantage early, but too many lanes left open, too many checks missed, too many turnovers as the Jackets pushed the play for the majority of the first period and left the stanza with a 2-1 lead. The Jackets get on the board when Boon Jenner pounces on a rebound and blasts one by Chad Johnson; 1-0 Jackets. The Jackets go up 2-0 when Brandon Saad used Mark Giordano as a screen and snapped the puck top corner to make it 2-0. The play started when Derryk Engelland’s stick disintegrated on a pass putting the team on their heels. They recover but Monahan turns it over and it’s in the net. The Flames get two late powerplays creating a lengthy 5 on 3 and capitalize when Kris Versteeg finds Sean Monahan in the slot who wires it and makes it 2-1 Columbus.
The Jackets score early with Derryk Engelland still off for a late first period penalty when Zach Werenski gets a shot through traffic and caroms the puck off of both Sam Gagner and Dennis Wideman and past Chad Johnson. The Flames still without a shot on goal in the second, are given a powerplay chance and an opportunity to climb back into things. The opposite happens however, as Johnny Gaudreau turns the puck over creating a breakaway goal to Calvert and the Jackets lead 4-1. The Flames finally get their first official shot 12 minutes in (I wonder about this however as Dougie Hamilton had a shot early) and then start to take the play away from the Jackets the rest of the way. They come up empty though and head to the third period down three goals, a similar fate to Wednesday night where they gave up an early third period goal to go down three.
The third period tonight is why they invented the term “score adjusted”, as the Flames, trailing by three, pretty much took it to the Jackets from buzzer to buzzer as the visitors were more than ready to just keep it simple and move on to their next game. The Flames spend most of the period in the Jacket’s zone, but fire a lot of pucks into shin pads and stick shafts, and when they did get through were stoned by Bobrovsky. The period’s best chance came when Sean Monahan one timed one from the slot but in the end the period is scoreless as the Jackets win 4-1.
First Period – Think the first period went poorly? You’d be right! Shot attempts were 20-8 for the Jackets, scoring chances also in their favour 9-4.
Second Period – Much closer second period despite the Jackets adding to their lead as the shot attempts five on five were 14-13 Columbus, but the scoring chances 5-4 Calgary.
Third Period – All Flames in the third as the team puts up a 19-9 shot attempts and scoring chances 7-3.
The Players – The Flames had four players above the 60% mark including Micheal Ferland, Matthew Tkachuk who were both well above, and Lance Bouma and Matt Stajan who were at 60% even. The Flames had 5 players under 40% including the entire Monahan line and TJ Brodie and Dennis Wideman.
1. Zach Werenski:Picked up two assists to lead his team on the night, great young defenseman.
2. Sergei Bobrovsky:Wasn’t tested a lot in terms of quantity, but was solid on the night when called upon.
3. Seth Jones:No points but very noticeable all night. What was Nashville thinking?
Alex Wennberg trucks the puck out of the corner deep in the Flame’s zone then goes for a skate, looping his way into the slot and finding Ryan Murray ready for a one timer who is denied by Chad Johnson who was square to the puck.
Two big giveaways hurt, both the Monahan and Gaudreau turnovers led directly to goals. The goat goes to Monahan though as that was a tough point in the game to make a mistake on the wall with a broken stick in play.
Matt Calvert. Teams with impact bottom six players win. You want your best players to be your best players, but if you’re bottom half players can make an impact you move up the standings. Calvert has scored big goals in both games in Alberta giving the Jackets two more wins to pad their streak to eight.
Odds and Ends
Despite the loss on Wednesday night the Flames didn’t make any lineup changes in any of goal, the blueline or the forward group. That left Freddie Hamilton, Garnet Hathaway and Tyler Wotherspoon as popcorn munchers on press row. … Didn’t take long for both Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan to add to their points streaks as both factored into the Flame’s first period goal. Monahan now has a 9 game stretch, and Gaudreau is up to 7. … The Flames have now scored powerplay goals in 8 straight games tying a record for most consecutive since 2005, as per a graphic from Sportsnet. Would have to wonder what the franchise record would be given the great Calgary powerplay groups in the late 1980’s. Guessing 12-15 would be the answer. … When the Flames drafted Matthew Tkachuk fans salivated at the thought of having two top six forwards with jam in Tkachuk and Bennett going forward. Fun to see the two of them fight in back to back games; Bennett against the Lightning and Tkachuk off the hop tonight when he answered the push back from lighting up Brandan Saad on his first shift. Bennett got into a pretty good crease scrum with Calvert later in the first period as well. Great to have skill, even better to have annoying skill. … Was interesting to see Gaudreau’s reaction to the rest of the powerplay after his turnover leads to the Jackets 4th goal. Right back to that “I’ll do it all on my own” stuff that contributed to his slow start after missing training camp. Would think the Flames coaching staff would jump on that, as when he returned from his injury his zone entries were just that, to enter the zone. You have to use your teammates. … So do back to back losses and 4 goals surrendered by Chad Johnson change the narrative on a contract extension? It certainly points to why GMs have to be grounded when streaks hot or cold happen to their hockey clubs. He’s not getting the bounces now, as I see it, when he was getting all of them for a month. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, but the bottom line is the Flames should take their time in making a decision in the New Year. … Is it me or does it seem like Mark Giordano hits the net maybe 10% of the time this season? Painful. … Another night where the TJ Brodie/Dennis Wideman combo was a boat anchor in terms of shot attempts. Is this the continuation of a TJ Brodie terrible season or is Dennis Wideman killing the guy? Or is it both? Either way, I think it’s time to see Tyler Wotherspoon in the lineup with Wideman moving down to a third pairing. It’s worth a shot isn’t it? … Guessing the Flames will go with Brian Elliott in Phoenix on Monday night, you could hardly blame Johnson on any of the goals, but the bottom line is back to back games getting beat with four goals against.
The Flames go back on the road to take on the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night, a quick 2 game jaunt. Game time 7pm on Sportsnet.
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Versteeg – Monahan – Brouwer
Gaudreau – Bennett – Chiasson
Bouma – Stajan – Ferland
Giordano – Hamilton
Brodie – Hamilton
Jokipakka – Engelland