Game Takes: Flames 4 Panthers 2

January 12th, 2018 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

For the past several seasons the Flames have been in search of a goaltender that could steal them some games; post a tonne of saves and drag them to two points on the nights where they weren’t at their best.

So imagine their surprise this season to find two of them.

The exploits of Mike Smith in the Flame’s cage this season have been well documented; the fiery former Coyote goatlender has been everything Brad Treliving imagined and more in consistently giving the Flames a chance to win night in and night out.

Since promoting David Rittich however, the Flames found they had a backup they good count on to spell Mike Smith in back to back games; tonight however he went beyond the regular call for a backup and stole on in Florida turning aside 41 shots to run his record to 4-0-1 in games he’s started.

Perhaps they should stop taking their goaltenders for granted however.

Sean Monahan in the Zone

We’ve all played sports and know that feeling. Take golf, you find your swing and on a Saturday afternoon you just can’t wait to get to the next tee box as you’re boiling over with confidence and want to attack that next par four.

Sean Monahan is in one of those zones.

Through December he went quiet, as scorers are apt to a few times a season, but he’s back and really firing on all cylinders. His goal tonight featured two very different elements of Sean Monahan’s game. First he takes a pass on the half wall and manages to muscle past two Panthers in order to find Mark Giordano way across the blueline. Then he gets into a shooting position and takes a Dougie Hamilton pass and one times it perfectly in one motion past Reimer to tie the game.

He’s always had the shot, but now he has the size and body box out ability to help create the play that eventually leads to said shot.

Tkachuk Will Be Scary When He Fills Out

The second Calgary goal was all Matthew Tkachuk, as he muscled the puck away from two Panthers, found Hamonic and then got the rebound for his 12th of the season.

To seal the game he did the same to three Panthers before flipping the puck into the slot for Mikael Backlund who put home the empty netter to put things away.

This is from a kid that just turned 20, still has zits and is no way a completed physical specimen to what he will be when he’s 23 or 24. That will be a fun version of Matthew Tkachuk to watch.

Out of Town Scoreboard is Changing For Me

The Flames win and extend their win streak to six games, that’s the big news on the night in terms of the scoreboard.

However unlike earlier in the season, with the Flames now rolling I’m no longer cheering for losses to rivals as I’m no longer concerned about Calgary being caught and a lot more concerned about Western Canadian teams securing top end draft picks.

So the Canucks win over the Jackets and the Oilers win over the Coyotes is just fine by me thanks. Can never cheer for these teams but I can certainly cheer against their draft positions.

Standings Tightening Up

The win moves the Flames eight games over .500 and within a point of the L.A. Kings, and four points up on the San Jose Sharks. Super important to point out that the Kings have two games in hand and the Sharks have four.

The Flames are winning, and now projecting to 97 points which should be good for a wild card position at worst, but they’ll need to keep plugging away if they want to secure a Pacific Division spot.

It will be interesting on Sunday after Calgary plays their final game before the CBA break to watch what happens with these games in hand and the Flames idle. They don’t mean much if you don’t win them.

Streaks Can Create Habits

When Steve Smith was captain of the Flames he pointed out that losing streaks stop well before their final loss and winning streaks start before the team picks up their first win, the Flames would be smart to remember that.

I was annoying in pointing out the fact that the Flames were playing quite well but not winning through most of December, but the key now is to keep me from flipping on everyone and predict losses based on getting out played and relying far too much on their goaltender.

The Flames have been leading a lot lately, something very foreign to them this season, and that creates some score effects in game play, but it doesn’t take a Mac Book to see the Wild in the third period, the Bolts in the first two, and the Panthers in the last half of the game tonight have been putting the boots to the Flames in terms of carrying the play.

Yes the Flames are doing a better job of handling pressure, and keeping pucks to the outside, but they can’t be a team that “Talbots” their way to a playoff spot; they made gains becoming a high possession team, and they best continue that way.


Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau kept their New Year’s Eve streaks going with points tonight, Monahan with two, but Micheal Ferland had his four game goal and assist streak snapped as he failed to pick up a point.

Great to see the altered 3M line have a big night with Backlund picking up a goal (empty netter) and two assists and Matthew Tkachuk a goal and a helper.

With the fourth line playing better, and Troy Brouwer fitting in pretty well on the second line, the Flames seem to have their best balance of the season.

Fancy Stats

Kind of an odd night when it comes to some of the key underlying metrics. The Flames were out corsied all night with the Panthers having a narrow first period edge (51%) and big second (67%) and third period gaps (59%) to win the night in shot attempts. The scoring chances were much closer with a 13-10 edge for the Panthers including a third period that had Calgary up 4-1 despite leading and getting out shot.

Individually only five players got past the 50% point with the third defense pairing making up for a rough night in Tampa, and the top line having a good night. The rest of the team got worked including the third line and the top defense pairing at the bottom in the low to mid 30s.

The Flames are still ranked 7th in CF% and 6th in venue and score adjusted CF% through tonight’s game.

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