Game Takes: Flames 6 Wings 3

November 10th, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

When the schedule came out and one noticed a seven game homestand in the first two weeks of November you could be forgiven for circling a few teams as easy wins, and a few others as tough games.

But for the the third straight time in three home dates a team that was supposed to be a doormat has given the Flames all they could handle, as the Red Wings followed up the battle by the Devils and Canucks in dropping a 6-3 game at the Dome tonight.

Rebuilds aren’t what they used to be I guess, as the Wings and Devils have loaded up with inexperienced speed. Once again, glad to have the likes of Dillan Dube, Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Phillips on the way for the Flames.

The Flow

Another very slow start for the Flames as the Red Wings hem them in and generate the game’s first four shots. The Flames escape the malaise though and slowly get their game back on track, essentially taking over the rest of the way. A pretty tepid Calgary powerplay doesn’t seem to quell their momentum as the third line, yes I said third line, gets the team on the board when Jaromir Jagr takes a Sam Bennett pass (yes Sam Bennett) and puts the puck on net. Mark Jankowski has the rebound bounce off his pants and into the net for his first NHL goal; clearly not the way he envisioned it. He’ll take it. The Flames double their lead when Sean Monahan wins the face off back to Johnny Gaudreau who wires one top corner with Micheal Ferland cruising through the slot as a screen and it’s 2-0 Flames after one.

The second period is a wild one, and I mean wild to the tune of six goals between the two teams, split at three apiece. The Flames extend their lead when Mikael Backlund keeps a puck in towards the end of his shift and flips it to Ferland who walks between the Red Wing defenders and beats Mrazek, 3-0 Calgary. Then the teams continue to trade goals through the period. The Wings make it 3-1, then Matthew Tkachuk tips home a shot and it’s 4-1. The Wings get back to 4-2, then Jaromir Jagr converts a Johnny Gaudreau pass and it’s 5-2. Finally with just three seconds left Mantha makes it 5-3 setting up an interesting third period.

A much quieter third period, something one would enjoy when up two goals. The only goal of the third period came by way of an empty netter when Johnny Gaudreau took a pass from Sean Monahan in his own zone on a stick lift and fired the puck the length of the ice for his second of the game. The Wings threw everything at the net all period, and out shot the Flames but the game was never in doubt; 6-3 Calgary final.

Possession Stats

1st Period – The Flames started slowly but then took over the period, something that was also reflected in the shot attempts as the Flames had a 22-15 first period edge. Scoring chances were 3-2 Flames.
2nd Period – There is something to score effects and with the Flames up two the Wings put as many pucks as possible on net running up a 25-19 edge in shot attempts though the scoring chances were 7-6 Calgary.
3rd Period – Still down the Wings edged Calgary 21-14 in the third for a three period total of 61-55, but once again the Flames had the edge in scoring chances 4-3.

Players – The third line may have scored two goals tonight, something badly needed as the top heavy club continued to sputter along near .500, but they got owned in shot attempts. Jankowski, Bennett and Jagr were all 40% or worse on the night, joined by Stone and Brodie. Kris Versteeg led the way with a 64% rating, followed by the mainstays of Tkachuk and Backlund but also fourth line center Lazar and third defense pairing members Andersson and Kulak. Bottom half wins!

Three Stars
1. Johnny Gaudreau Was expecting this guy last season after his lit up World Cup appearance, but here he is now. Two goals and an assist as well as several additional forays into the Wing’s zone. Dangerous all night. Star.
2. Jaromir Jagr : Can’t keep his name off the board with his first goal and a two point night.
3. Anthony Mantha: Hard to believe the Wings almost gave up on this kid, three point night to continue his red hot start to the 2017-18 season.

Big Save

Both goaltenders made a few, but Mike Smith’s glove save on Dylan Larkin in the second period was absolute larceny.

The Heel

Ericsson gave the puck away twice but it’s hard not to notice Dylan Larkin’s -4 on the night, that’s a rough night at the office.

Mr. Clutch

Micheal Ferland again. The guy has been on fire with seven points in his last eight games and four goals in his last five. With six on the season in 16 games he’s well on his way to shatter his goals, assists and point totals this season. Is this kid for real as a top six player? Sure looks like he is at the moment.

Odds and Ends

Clearly a healthy Travis Hamonic is the ideal, but if he’s going to be out with an injury the Flames dressed the most fan friendly lineup of the season. Mark Jankowski still up from the farm, Jaromir Jagr back from injury, Curtis Lazar centering the fourth line and Rasmus Andersson making his NHL home debut (2nd game overall) on a pairing with buddy Brett Kulak. Sigh …

I’m pretty supportive of Glen Gulutzan’s systems and the style of play the Flames play and have played since he was hired last summer. However utilization and choices with the bench is one area that I tend to differ with the Flame’s head coach. Tonight? Why would he make Kulak and Andersson’s first shift line up with the fourth line? I don’t get that at all. Send them out there with the 3M line to get their feet under them, don’t stack the deck against them. As it turns out the shift went fine and they moved on from there, but I wouldn’t have risked it.

It’s ironic that my biggest reason for expecting Sam Bennett to find it is the very sight of things going wrong in his game. The guy picked up an assist tonight but he is utterly void of confidence and you can see it with every touch of the puck. Bobbled passes, bouncing pucks, missed passes, shooting wide. It’s just not the Sam Bennett we saw when he first joined the Flames. He’ll get there, and that Sportsnet article suggesting it’s time to move him pretty much clinches it.

Also ironic that Jagr has his first two point game as a Flame tonight given how badly he managed the puck all night; it was literally a time bomb on his stick, which is the complete opposite of how the guy has played through his career. I doubt he suffers from a confidence like Bennett so he’ll find it again but it’s a shame he got hurt when he was rounding into form.

Thought Curtis Lazar looked good again on the fourth line, and the line itself certainly enjoyed perhaps their best offensive zone performance of the season. Lazar’s speed helps a lot on the forecheck which is giving the trio a lot more zone time to make things happen. If only the dude could finish because he was set up three more times tonight.

Speaking of the fourth line, I just loved Brouwer dropping the gloves with Abdelkader in the second period. I don’t think the Wing meant to put his stick on Smith’s injured paw, but it was good to see the Flame’s assistant captain jump in and settle things. Only two assists this season but Brouwer has played some of his best hockey in Calgary colours of late.

A lot of talk in Calgary in the last few days about changing up the lines so it was interesting that two of the Calgary goals tonight came either on partial changes or mish mash lines after penalty kills. Ferland and Jagr’s goals featured set ups from players from other lines instead of their usual linemates. Maybe a change of scenery would help the goal production. Of course I say this when the Flames have put up four plus on average in three straight games.

Lets talk a bit about that third defense pairing tonight. Brett Kulak picks up two assists, both players are +2 on the night in 14 to 15 minutes of work. But the big thing was deployment. That was Glen Gultuzan’s most even disbursement of ice time all season suggesting he felt more than comfortable throwing the pair out there every three shifts. In my mind Kulak is moving from fading prospect back into a guy very much in the mix to have a long and prosperous NHL career. His ability to skate the puck out of danger is perhaps second only to TJ Brodie on this team. And that’s not to take anything away from Rasmus Andersson who was solid in his first game, very much beyond his experience.

Next Up

The Flames wrap up their seven game homestand on Monday night when the St. Louis Blues come to town. Game time 7pm on Sportsnet.


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

Giordano – Hamilton
Brodie – Hamonic
Kulak – Andersson


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