Game Takes: Leafs 2 Flames 1 (SO)

December 6th, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Nobody said hockey games will always end fairly.

The maligned Flames, coming off a terrible homestand that had them leaking goals, collapsing under the weight of bad bounces and losing their composure were forced to look inside themselves between the loss on Monday night to Philly and the game tonight in Toronto.

Already fingered for being unable to get up for the big games, the team was skated and educated before a flight, a shocker in today’s protect the energy National Hockey League, with the hopes of getting the club focused and back to playing the type of hockey they are capable of.

Mission accomplished in terms of process, but lady luck once again wasn’t on their side as the Flames out shot the Leafs 48-19 through overtime, but dropped a 2-1 decision in a shoot out on the first game of a quick two game road trip.

The Message

The Flames came out ready, something we haven’t seen of late, exiting the first period with a lead for only the fourth time this season (they were in last place in the NHL with only three first period leads coming in).

Beyond that they played their most dominant, stable hockey game of the season, as they completely outplayed the Leafs from coast to coast including a third period that featured a shot advantage to the tune of 17-7.

So the Flames are actually good, they proved that tonight. But can the put a string of games together of consistency? That’s the question going forward.

The Shoot Out

The Flames were lucky to get to the fourth shooters tonight as things didn’t roll out all that well in the skills competition.

To start they didn’t have Kris Versteeg, a player that is almost always in the top three shooters for the Flames forcing Glen Gulutzan to mix things up. Sean Monahan shot wide, a rarity. Matthew Tkachuk went high glove side once again, something I didn’t expect to see given the comments by Matthews from a far when he had two of them in November in the same fashion. Johnny Gaudreau, a player that always seems to struggle on breakaways and the shoot out, lost control of the puck with a chance to win, and then Mikael Backlund shot wide with a chance to tie.

Not pretty.

Matthew Tk-pest

Love this kid.

His ability to go to the net all night and push Fredrik Andersson’s buttons was a game in itself, as the two battled on a half a dozen occasions, the Leaf goaltender clearly rattled.

I’d like to see Tkachuk play a more prominent role in the team’s offence with more looks on the powerlay and in shoot outs to take advantage of his hands. Either way having a guy that wants to win that badly on the ice more often can never be a bad thing.


I hate complaining about calls, but I thought the Leafs got away with a lot of holds, picks, and stick infractions tonight. Things almost evened up in a hurry when a missed call with 15 seconds left almost gave the Flames that golden chance to put things away in regulation time.

But usually when one team has the puck all night they don’t end up with half the powerplay opportunities.


Thought Travis Hamonic had a really solid game again tonight. He was on the underside of the corsi battle but I thought he was influential in breaking up plays, containing Leafs on the wall in his own zone, and just eating the puck when an outlet wasn’t available. He’s really coming on, and will be a big variable in the second half when TJ Brodie settles his game down.

Fancy Stats

The Flames were great at blocking shots tonight, so the shot attempt differential wasn’t as lopsided as you’d imagine with the Flames having such a huge edge in shots on goal. The visitors won the battle (or tied it) in each of the three periods but finished the night with 52% of the attempts. Scoring chances were 56% for the Flames however, with a 10-8 margin.

At the player level, Gaudreau and Monhan were dominant five on five, both sitting between 63 and 66%, as was the third defense pairing who averaged 59% on the night. Other positive notables included Hamilton, Ferland, Brouwer, Lazar, Stajan and Giordano, as the club’s fourth line had a very safe night. Hamonic and Brodie were at the bottom at 43%, though from the eye test I thought they had a pretty solid game.

Montreal Game

Gulutzan likes to shake things up a bit on back to backs, but they may not have the healthy bodies to move any players around. Given the way Brett Kulak played tonight I’d be shocked to see Matt Bartkowski slip in on the blueline, and with the fourth line having a solid night I can’t see Freddie Hamilton either.

The big question is in goal. Does he come back with Mike Smith given the fact that Smith faced under 30 shots? Or does he factor in the overtime and shoot out as a long night and come back with David Rittich. They need the win. As much as they played a great game tonight, a loss in Montreal will be heralded as a four game losing streak and a huge stress point on the season.

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