Game Takes: Flames 4 Kings 3

January 5th, 2018 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Nobody ever knows the when during a signature game, that moment in a season where the team figures things out, turns the corner and defines a season.

Last year it was a big loss in Montreal followed by a train ride with beers.

Tonight may lack a train, it may be absent of beers, but a Calgary Flames team that has played well for the most part for a month, but found a way not to get on a run, may have found their inner Chi in turning back the L.A. Kings 4-3 by erasing a 2-0 first period deficit and almost running one of the best teams in the Western Conference out of their building.

So yeah I’m calling it; the Chi moment.

Brodie Just Not Himself Or Is He?

Still can’t figure out the riddle to what is TJ Brodie.

He had a rough first period of leaving pucks behind to be picked up by Kings, by tipping pucks with his mitt towards his goaltender, and then in the second getting the puck in the high slot and not shooting and instead making a quick pass to a teammate in no position to take possession.

It continues a tough 18 months for #7 who just may not be the top two defenseman that it looked very much like he was becoming. Was he a product of his partner Mark Giordano? And if that’s the case what do we make of Dougie Hamilton at the moment?

Too many riddles.

The Hamilton Issue

Speaking of Dougie Hamilton, I don’t agree with telecast panellist  Eric Francis who opined that the younger Hamilton’s comment of only wanting to talk about the game in the wake of his brother moving on to Arizona was a lingering distraction.

There are only three ways to go.

Talk about it as if it’s the end of the world, talk about it and put it away, or just focus on hockey, and I don’t see an issue with a core player just talking about the game at hand.

Either way the distraction is over, and the brother has moved on so lets get to better things.

Improved Bottom Roster

The biggest impact of the Hamilton waive and loss is an improvement to the 13th forward position and the Flames and the flexibility that that brings.

Think of how much this roster has changed in the last few months when you consider a third line of Versteeg – Bennett – Brouwer with a fourth line of Glass – Stajan – Lazar has now been converted to Bennett – Jankowski – Hathaway and Mangiapane – Stajan – Lazar with Hrivik sitting in the wings.

The Flames are now deeper, faster and a lot more dangerous throughout the lineup.

Add in the added beef to the PK unit with Jankowski and Hathway now making an appearance and the trickle effect should continue.

Don’t Blame Smith

That King’s first goal was  ugly, but don’t blame Mike Smith for it as he was under siege for a good chunk of the game’s opening ten minutes.

Without Smith’s big start the score could have been three or four nothing for the Kings early.

Sometimes the stats sheet doesn’t really support the story, and in terms of Calgary goaltending that was certainly the case tonight.

Quick Holding Court

Was pretty odd to see the Jankowski goal review decided but then almost reopened by Johnathan Quick skating to center and demanding an explanation form the referees personally. He certainly has the resume to collect such a meeting, but it isn’t something I’ve seen in the past.

Adjustment Should Be Bottled


Not sure what happened on the Calgary bench eight minutes into a key game against a key division rival, but the turning point that sent them on a 29-7 shot run was pretty epic.

Maybe it was the fact that the Kings were used to the Oilers just wilting a few nights earlier, but the way the game changed on the dime has to be a good sign for a team looking to get back into the playoff race.

Kulak A Comin’

The Flame’s 6th defenseman still hasn’t found the back of the net, but man did the kid have a great third period. Three huge shots on net, and two big Johnathan Quick saves has me thinking his goalless run is about to come to an end.

One of my biggest “keys to the season” was Brett Kulak wrestling away the 6th spot from Matt Bartkowski, which he’s done in spades, but I do wonder if there’s another gear to come by way of offence.

Top Line Back?

The top line went into exile just as the team was turning the corner and playing some really solid hockey in the last 30 days. You can’t blame them as they and Mike Smith were key factors in getting the team through the first six weeks of the season.

But two goals against Chicago and another two again tonight certainly suggests they’ve found the range again and may be ready to push the Flames up the standings. Especially key to see Sean Monahan score, be right there on the Ferland goal, and then get denied two more times himself including a cross bar.

It’s coming.

Brouwer Fills Some Shoes

There won’t be a huge line to toss flowers Troy Brouwer’s way, but you have to give the guy credit for stepping up to play third fiddle on the 3M line with both Michael Frolik and Jaromir Jagr out tonight.

His work on the wall was noticeable on many occasions and his bang in rebound to get the Flames even after a monster shift was game changing.

He isn’t likely to ever pay off his lofty contract, but nights like tonight are certainly a step in the right direction.

Fancy Stats

The Flames were 62% in five on five shot attempts on the night with period splits of 56% / 76% and 50% with score effects; not a bad night at all. In all situations they were also 62%. In terms of scoring chances the Flames were much more dominant with a 14-5 edge (74%) five on five, a metric that very much matched the eye test in the game.

The only Flame’s player to finish under water in five on five shot attempts was Travis Hamonic at 44%, the rest of the team was 50% or better. At the top of the ledger was Brett Kulak at 79%, followed by other guys in the 70s that included; Matt Stajan, Michael Stone, and Sam Bennett. A huge chunk of players finished in the 60s as well.

In terms of scoring chances TJ Brodie was on the ice for the most Calgary chances with seven, but was offset by three against as well. The best overall record was Sam Bennett with a 6-0 split.

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