Game Takes: Flames 5 Devils 4 (SO)

November 5th, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

So are the New Jersey Devils tonic for the struggling offence of Alberta teams?

They gave up six goals (empty net goal included) in Edmonton and then five in Calgary to two of the league’s bottom four offensive output clubs on an Western Canadian three game swing that resulted in a 5-4 entertaining shoot out loss in Calgary tonight.

But not so fast Calgary, the Oilers were shut out against the Detroit Red Wings this afternoon, so don’t let it go to your heads. Bear down!

The Flow

The early returns in this one had the Flames in some deep trouble as the super quick Devils took it to the Flames from the opening faceoff. The Devils score just 90 seconds in when Mark Giordano turns the puck over at center creating a two on one, the rebound off Smith hammered home by Taylor Hall, 1-0 Devils. The Flames get a powerlay soon after but fail to generate much despite some pretty decent time in the Devils zone. The Flames start to right things a little bit, but then Kulak is sent off for an interference penalty giving the Devils a great chance to add to their lead. Mikael Backlund pushed the puck deep on the PK, and creates enough havoc to have the puck spill out out to Michael Frolik show scores short handed and the game is tied at one. The Flames kill off the penalty and then Micheal Ferland is sent in all alone and is hauled down, and yes they call a penalty shot. Ferland though, doesn’t do much with it as his attempt goes meekly off the right pad of Kincaid. Sam Bennett comes out of the penalty box on a breakaway and gets not one but two chances but fails to remove his season long goose egg. In the last minute Bennett wins a puck battle behind the net and feeds Giordano who finds Mark Jankowski who gets foiled by Kincaid ending a pretty crazy period.

The Devils score quickly in the second to retake their lead when Mike Smith get hit high on the shoulder and gives up a bad rebound to the left side with Ben Lovejoy pouncing on the rebound past a startled Matt Bartkowski, 2-1 Devils. The Flames get to work and have many chances to tie it up including a two on one with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau down low on a powerplay, a Bennett shot that sails the net. The Flames tie it up towards the middle of the period when Frolik makes a good play to get the puck back to Michael Stone who wires one through a Matt Stajan screen to make it 2-2. The Flames get their first lead of the night when the top line all figuere in, Sean Monahan beating Kincaid glove side from the slot and it’s 32 Flames. That lead lasted just 10 seconds however, as Mike Smith gives up his first puck handling whoops of the season when he wrists up the boards to the Devil’s Gibson who hits the cage while Smith scrambles back to his net, 3-3 game. Both teams get a chance or two the rest of the way but the period and the score stays tied at three through two periods.

The Devils are the team most ready to go in the third as they enjoy zone pressure and finally a huge scoring chance when Hischer gets a rebound in front of Smith but is stoned by the inside of the blocker on a great save. The Flames regroup and get the go ahead goal when Sean Monahan puts the puck in the middle to Johnny Gaudreau who finds Micheal Ferland, Ferland beating Kinkaid blocker side to make it 4-3 Flames. That lead didn’t last either, as the Devils tie things up when captain Andy Green beats Mike Smith shortside on a shot that he’d likely like to have back and the game heads to over time.

The overtime period was as much a chess game as it was an overtime period as the teams spent a lot of time playing keep away without generating a lot chance wise. Micheal Frolik did get in on a breakaway but shot the puck wide and the game goes to a shoot out.

The Flames win the shoot out on the backs of Smith stopping two of three shots and the Flames getting goals from Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuck in an eerily similar fashion to the game in Nashville; 5-4 Flames in a shoot out.

Possession Stats

1st Period – The Devils simply owned the first half of the period, and while the Flames got back on their feet in the second half they played them even at best the rest of the way in a period where New Jersey deserved more. Shot attempts were 18-9 for the Devils int the first period, scoring chances were 8-4 New Jersey.
2nd Period – The Flames pretty much took over in the second period running up a 28-13 shot attempt advantage though the scoring chances were listed at 3-1 Devils, and odd stat given the Flames scored two goals in the period and had other good chances.
3rd Period – Whatever the Flames figured out midway through the first period carried through the second and into the third period as the Flames had a 19-15 edge in five on five shot attempts in the third period to finish the game with a 53-46 edge, including a 44-28 finish to the game in the second and third periods. In terms of scoring chances the Flames had a 3-1 edge in the third and a 2-1 edge in the overtime period to finish the game down 10-13.

Players – Another solid 3M night as the trio of forwards all finished in the low 60% range overall. Matthew Tkachuk was number one at 64%, coming off his 70% night against the Penguins. Other notables were Michael Stone playing with TJ Brodie also at 60%, Matt Stajan at 58%, TJ Brodie at 56% and Sam Bennett at 55%. The bottom of the club featured Matt Bartkowski at 45%, Sean Monahan at 47%, Brett Kulak at 47% and Gaudreau at 48%.

Three Stars
1. Sean Monahan Scores a goal and an assist to pace the Flames and keep his 40+ goal pace on track.
2. Micheal Ferland : Matches Monahan’s night with a goal and an assist of his own, not to mention a failed penalty shot attempt.
3. Nico Hischier: Was noticeable all night, picked up two assists for the Devils.

Big Save

Has to be the Smith save on Hischer in the third period with the game on the line. Rebound bounces out in a juicy fashion and Smith robs him with the inside of his blocker reaching across.

The Heel

Man this won’t be popular but I didn’t like Mark Giordano’s night tonight. He coughs up the puck on the Devil’s first goal, was out of position a few times on passes back to the point, had a few tough chances trying to get pucks through. Was tempted to go with Mike Smith however, as he had a bit of an off night as well. Two big rebound goals, a puckhandling mishap and then a whiff. But he was due!

Mr. Clutch

Was tough to keep him out of the stars, but Johnny Gaudreau was in on the play all night and a difference maker. He finishes with two assists, pushing his season total to 18 points in 14 games.

Odds and Ends

With the injury to Travis Hamonic the Flames recalled Rasmus Andersson from Stockton to fill in as an emergency; Matt Bartkowski getting the call in Hamonic’s place. The Flames elevated Michael Stone to the second pairing with TJ Brodie, leaving Hamonic on the third pairing with Brett Kulak.

I was a little surprised that Andersson didn’t go straight into the lineup instead of Bartkowski given the fact that Andersson is a right shot and the fact that Glen Gulutzan has an affinity to match up defensemen on their natural sides. Experience trumps skill? Or maybe a concern over travel and the fact that Andersson played Friday night. Only Gulutzan will know. Either way with Hamonic placed on IR he will be out for a week (retroactive to Thursday) so Andersson could still get his chance.

Back to Stone, is he a little overpaid for a 5th defenseman sure? But I’ve always thought there was value in having a 4B on the roster that can jump up and help out if either of the two right handed defensemen in front of him got hurt. The timing is a shame though with the chemistry that he and Brett Kulak seem to have discovered in recent games.

A lot of talk about team speed in the NHL these days. Edmonton was in the news a week ago about lacking team speed, the Devils on the other hand did re-tool by adding speed regardless of size and have seen a big leap, though it’s early. From a Calgary standpoint it certainly points to the lifted chances of Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Phillips both undersized players with some serious wheels. If that’s the way the NHL is going the Flames have some horses coming along as well.

Have to hand it to Glen Gulutzan for making some on the bench adjustments to the Devils speed in the first period. The Flames looked to be in for a long night at one point but then they bottled up the defensive zone, and closed the gap between the forwards and the defense allowing the defense to jump on the Devil’s quick forwards in the neutral zone without issue. You’d hope the Flames aren’t a slow team, and they showed that with their push back.

Rich Sutter between periods pointed out the third line and how their chemistry is building. Sam Bennett had one if his most notable games this season as he was lethal on the forecheck, very physical and had numerous chances. Sutter suggested they should be kept together which poses an interesting question. Curtis Lazar is certainly playing his best hockey as a Flames in the last three games, do you demote him when Jagr comes back? Would be tough to remove Micheal Ferland from the top line with the way he’s played this week. Clearly a good problem to have.

Loved Matthew Tkachuk on his shoot out goal. He scores two game winners with the same move but says in an interview that he has three moves in his head and picks the one he likes based on what he sees in the previous shots. BS? Possibly, but not a bad idea to get people off his move.

I like Gulutzan but I do hear the deployment angle from fans that aren’t big backers of the Flames coach. Too many times tonight he had the fourth line out with the depleted third defense pairing, which I honestly don’t get. His putting Bennet straight back out after his penalty is a check, but it didn’t offset the other issues. I wonder if Bartkowski getting burned on the Devil’s third goal and then getting walked on the penalty shot will be enough to see Rasmus Andersson on Tuesday.

This seven game home stand was such a huge early season pivot point for the Flames. They managed their way though roughly a .500 record leading up, but a face plant in seven games would really put them behind the eight ball. The win tonight gives them a 3-1-0 record through four games, and the chance to have a huge record in the seven games, giving them separation form the Oilers among others. Even a 1-1-1 record from here is decent, but more is of course better.

Next Up

Game four of the seven game home stand goes on Tuesday night when the Vancouver Canucks are in Calgary; game time 7pm on Sportsnet.


Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Lazar
Versteeg – Stajan – Brouwer

Giordano – Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Bartkowski


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