Game Takes: Flyers 5 Flames 2

December 4th, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

This game story wrote itself a few times.

You have a theory, a thought on what the game represented and you start it but then back away as a more dominant thought takes it’s place.

My first inkling was fragility, a team that just can’t trust itself to roll out their best game and let the chips fall where they may. But I dropped that.

They did roll out their best game, or at least a reasonable facsimile. They had 2/3 of the shot attempts, and 2/3 of the shots on goal, but all too often they found a way to give up that huge scoring chance through a blunder or a bad bounce in dropping a 4-1 contest to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night.

The loss pushes the Flames home stand to an unacceptable 1-3-0 as they head out on the road to play the Leafs and Habs.

Nervous Nellie’s

What to make of a team that, as head coach Glen Gulutzan has mentioned, seems to have trouble with nervous energy in starting off games.

The good news if you’re a Flames fan is no gauntlet has been thrown by the coaching staff, the unacceptable effort quotes are usually a sign that the room is off, or the team has tuned out the head coach. The club, from a distance, seems to be on the same page, and appear to have a healthy level of giving a rip.

They’re a young team, a statement that is hard to quantify when you have a 35 year old goaltender and a 45 year old third liner, but still true when you think of the nucleus of players trusted with the most ice time. So are they lacking leadership or do they care too much?

I’ve often felt hockey mad markets have a duality to the energy from a city. When things are good they are so good, something you hear often in Montreal and Toronto and has certainly been seen here with the Red Mile and playoff drives. Perhaps players want it so bad because the fans want it so bad, that it almost stops them in their tracks. Think of all the choking Canadian clubs in the last few years, and maybe there’s something to it?

Is Sam Bennett back?

Sure Sam Bennett has an assist off a face off, and a goal through the legs of a Division 5 Atom goaltender, but five points in the last three games coming in is somewhat of an explosion for a player that put up sweet buttkiss in his first 15 games.

Confidence is king with this kid, as I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more skilled Calgary player/prospect with so much riding on the grey matter between his ears. The fork in the road, then of course, is a route where he struggles with confidence for his whole career, becoming a third liner with decent hands that can ship in. Or he gets more mature, has it effect him less while also converting some good nights into more confidence that eventually feeds into his lofty draft projections. I can honestly see either scenario taking hold.

Tonight he picked up an assist to keep it rolling but was lethal in the Flyer’s zone with at least four high quality scoring chances in leading the team with eight! shots on goal.  Clearly he’s feeling it again, and this time I think it’s key that he avoids a silly penalty and a benching that could derail what he’s built.

Coaching Stuff

The only change on the night was Curtis Lazar in for Matt Stajan and I thought Lazar did a heck of a job of adding some speed to that fourth line. His assist on the Brouwer goal was the first 4th line goal of the season for the Flames.

When the Flames got themselves down, Gulutzan pushed Micheal Ferland down to the fourth line again, this time elevating Hathaway to the first line which actually paid off with the Flame’s second goal of the game (Monahan).

Backup Time?

Mike Smith isn’t getting a lot of bounces, but he also isn’t getting the job done of late, as pucks have been leaking by him at a pretty alarming rate. His save percentage is plummeting now down to a middling .916. Yes the Flames are giving up too many five alarm scoring chances, but in Colorado ten days ago they played a more solid game in front of David Rittich. Maybe it’s time to test that theory again.


I truly believe they even out over a season. Or at least that’s what keeps me going when a hockey club goes through stretches like this.

They had no business beating either Toronto or Edmonton in the past week, but two own goals against the Leafs, and a miraculous puck through a skate blade play on Saturday against Edmonton was getting a little silly. Tonight the Flyers scored twice on plays that hit skates and went straight to open Philly players, and another that was deflected off a goal post then Smith and in. If that’s not enough you have the phantom call on Michael Frolik resulting in a powerplay goal, and then a bizarre match penalty given to Travis Hamonic in the third  period.

I think Calgary had some luck to start the season, maybe the bank account is even up now, if not over-drafted.

Goat Horns

Seems like the the same three players keep finding themselves as linchpins in the turnover derby these days, though some of the errors seem to be as much about bounces as poor decision making.

Travis Hamonic lets a player get behind him for a first period breakaway but gets away with it. TJ Brodie gets caught flat footed at the Flyer blueline on the Philly second goal. Dougie Hamilton loses one off his skate to set up the Flyer’s second goal.

Hamonic had a great night overall, until he was tossed for a poor match penalty call, but these three guys seem to be the crux of the mistakes of late, just killing the team.

Of the three I think the one most lost in the upside down world is TJ Brodie, a shadow of himself for the last three to four weeks. He needs to do less, not more. Less.

Fancy Stats

Pretty much all Calgary tonight and not due to score effects. The Flames led the five on five shot attempts by a 65-30 margin (66%), and overall had a 80-39 edge for 67%. Scoring chances were even in all situations however as the Flames certainly broke down when they broke down.

Individually the third line led the way with Mark Jankowski 78%, and Sam Bennett 74% posting the most impressive numbers. Travis Hamonic, Frolik, Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, Jaromir Jagr and Mark Giordano were all +70%. In an odd statistic, the worst player on the Flames was Curtis Lazar with a 60% shot attempt share five on five.

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