Game Takes: Sabres 4 Flames 3 (OT)

January 16th, 2019 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

If you play with fire, you sometimes get burned.

A great play on words for a franchise named after fire, but true nonetheless. The Flames have been toying with teams of late and they finally paid a penalty; dropping a 4-3 overtime decision to the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night.

The Flames had stretches of game where they dominated, but also stretches where they appeared to fall asleep.

A five game win streak comes to an end, but a point streak is continued and hopefully a lesson learned.

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Game Takes: Flames 7 Coyotes 1

January 14th, 2019 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

I’m sure Mark Giordano understands the thinking.

Going to an all star game is certainly an honour but with the game hosted in San Jose and the NHL wanting to sell tickets it makes some degree of sense to pencil both Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson into the lineup, essentially making it impossible to do much more on the blueline.

Rest is great, especially at 35, but that doesn’t mean the player can’t have a bit of a grin as he scores one day after the snub in a Friday night game, and then puts up two goals and an assist in a 7-1 drubbing of the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday night.

It’s a team game, and he’d tell you his stats are team driven, but at his age, after the suggestions that he was carried by Dougie Hamilton, being a point per game snub has to have a bit of delicious fun to it for the player, humanitarian or not.

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Stat Hack: Mike Smith the Backup

January 13th, 2019 | Posted in Commentary | By: D'Arcy McGrath

NHL backup goaltenders are some of the most beloved players on hockey teams when it comes to hockey fans in hockey markets.

The starter plays often, he never leaves the ice, fans tend to get tired of them and find themselves rooting for the unheralded backup.

In Calgary this season, starter Mike Smith has become this season’s biggest lightning rod of discontent due to his poor play, weak goals, and big contract.

A change of expectations for Mike Smith to a backup goaltender would likely alleviate some of the anger, but where does he line up when it comes to backups across the league? Is the move from #1 to #2 enough of an expectation change to save his image?

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Game Takes: Flames 4 Panthers 3

January 12th, 2019 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

The Flames just keep on winning.

In the past two weeks they haven’t iced a single classic, sixty minute, coast to coast, work of art type game that would leave a city or hockey culture talking. They win, but they do so in a madly inconsistent fashion.

Tonight at the Saddledome the struggling Florida Panthers were spotted a two goal lead 21 minutes into the game before the Flames got serious about their craft and took the game back, scoring four straight goals including an empty netter before the Panthers made it close with a wrap around goal in the final minute.

It’s coming … last night’s effort was closer to 45 minutes, but they still have some work to do.

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Stat Hack: Jame Neal

January 11th, 2019 | Posted in Commentary | By: D'Arcy McGrath

James Neal isn’t scoring in Calgary, this isn’t news to anyone.

But why?

Some obvious reasons come to mind;

*he’s playing on the third line and not the second
*he’s somewhat snake bit
*the quality of his linemates are likely down a notch from the past two seasons in Nashville and Vegas
*or he’s in a quick decline due to too much playoff activity.

But what do the stats say?

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