Game Takes: Flames 5 Bolts 1

January 11th, 2018 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

When you head into the third period with a two goal lead for the third straight game, things are going well.

This time however, they had a different plan to take the win home. Rather than sit on the lead and muck your way to a late win or an overtime victory the Flames completely altered their tact; they doubled their lead!


With the lead doubled Mike Smith and the Flames were able to cruise to a 5-1 win in Tampa Bay tonight, pushing their win streak to five games and climbing into a Pacific Division playoff spot though the Sharks do have games in hand.

Finally Getting Just Rewards

The Flames have had the edge in shot attempts in 2/3 of the games they’ve played this season. They’ve also had the edge in scoring chances in 2/3 of their games this season. They haven’t won 2/3 of their games this season.

That was the rub.

The Flames are finally getting some bounces, and with it perhaps a result or two they don’t deserve, but that’s how things balance out. The benefit though is confidence, as success breeds looser grips on sticks and more finish in front of the net, which can only lead to better things.

This appears to be the break, as I said last week the Flames seemed to have found their Chi against the Kings. That seems to be playing out.

Troy Brouwer is Clutch

I’m not going to even start this with blah blah blah about his contributions and his salary, the guy flat out played a great game tonight.

His first minute hit on Sergachev and then responding fight and TKO on Killorn were the stuff of veterans leading their team in a tough building on the road. His pass to Matthew Tkachuk late for the 5th goal was also pretty to watch.

Perhaps the guy lost his confidence as he’s been a different player in the last six weeks.

Does 3M Miss Michael Frolik?

Mikael Backlund has had six games to play since Michael Frolik took a Brent Burns puck to the mouth, sending the Czech winger to the IR for 5-6 weeks.

In those games Backlund has had three games in his normal range for possession, and three where he and his linemates got worked. Have to wonder if Frolik is more than a guy with misshapen hair coming through his helmet on a line with Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk; maybe he’s the jam?

Burke Would Hate the Bolts

The Lightning are a mess of jersey numbers, with 11 of their current roster members having numbers that exceed 39.

Brian Burke was adamant that the Flames were to keep their numbers under 31 I believe when he first came to Calgary, something that fell apart when Michael Frolik was signed by the Flames a few summers ago. The Lightning have a 55, 59, 62, 70, 77, 86, 88, 89, 90, 91 and 98 with 88 being a goaltender!

Was That a Penalty Shot?

Mark Giordano got his back hand in on Paquette, no doubt at all, but was that a penalty shot?

It was a third/fourth line player not moving all that fast, not clearly all on his own, and not in the process of shooting. Ironically it looked a lot like the Mark Giordano’s partial break in Minnesota two nights earlier when he was pulled down by Zach Parise. I didn’t think that was a penalty shot, and I don’t think this one was either.

However it was a blessing in disguise, as with the game tied I’d rather have a guy with cement hands with a breakaway over that insane Tampa powerplay for two minutes.

Changes to the PK Unit

The Flames have changed the personnel on the PK units with the addition of Mark Jankowski and Garnet Hathaway, along with more Sam Bennett but their setup has also changed.

Rather than playing a traditional box, they’ve swapped out to a diamond with a modification when the puck is at the point. With the puck at the top of the 1-3-1 they have a single player high with what looks like a 5 on 3 triangle deeper down in front of the net. The set up allows them to put pressure on the quarterback at the blueline while keeping danger out of the scoring zone in front of the cage.

Very good alteration.

Flames Win Special Teams Battle

The Flames score an ugly powerplay goal from Sam Bennett on their only chance. The ugliness was ironic since a pass from Bennett to TJ Brodie earlier should have resulted in a one timer goal, but Brodie chose not to shoot and took the puck out of harm’s way. Either way that was 1/1 on the powerplay combined with a 3/3 night killing penalties giving the Flames a perfect night on special teams.

Haven’t said that in a while.

Goal Differential

Ladies and gentlemen the Flames are a positive goal differential team.

With a four goal win in Tampa the team is now +1 on the season, joining the clubs with pretty green numbers in that column to the right side of the standings.

Something interesting in the fancy stat era however is the focus on overall goals for and against when five on five play seems to be the main driver of determining the good from the bad teams. The Flames have been a positive goal team five on five for some time as they are -8 in special teams this season.

Micheal Ferland Goes 1+1 Again

Talk about a run!

Micheal Ferland has put his up fourth straight game with a goal and assist as he continues to add to his career best numbers midway through the season.

Ferland now has 19 goals and 9 assists for 28 points in 42 games, suggesting 36 goals and mid 50’s in points when the season comes to a close.

He just may be a top line winger, right?

Lazar’s Best Game as a Flame?

Another stellar night from the fourth line as the trio continues to prove that speed trumps experience in almost every way in 2018 NHL play.

Matt Stajan is a smart hockey player and a wily veteran so he has done well to anchor the youth of Andrew Mangiapane and Curtis Lazar, as the trio has enjoyed four straight games of not getting hemmed in, generating chances of their own, and adding to the bottom line of wins.

Curtis Lazar stood out for me especially, as the struggling winger seemed to calm down a bit and have less hand grenade moments, he was good on the forecheck, physical, and found his linemates for a few golden chances.

Goal Scorer Age

Had to notice the age of Calgary goal scorers tonight.

Scoring was opened by Ferland who is 25.
Johnny Gaudreau put them ahead, he’s 24.
The insurance goal was popped by Sam Benntt who’s 21.
In the third the Flames added another from Mark Jankowski, who’s 23.
Then they rounded it out when Matthew Tkachuk scored, he’s 20.

Five forwards with goals, average age 22.6.

Good sign.

Fancy Stats

The Lightning are good, real good. A Calgary 5-1 win is nice, but lets not kid ourselves, Mike Smith was good early, the Flames were fortuitous and then score effects took it the rest of the way in what turned out to be a pretty lofty edge for the Lightning in shot attempts. The Bolts had period splits of 61% / 63% and 54% and held a five on five scoring chance edge of 7-3 over the course of the evening.

Individually only one player was above the 50% mark on the night and that was recent game winner master Dougie Hamilton at 55%. TJ Brodie was right at the 50% mark, but the rest of the team was under water. The third defense pairing was at the bottom of the pile, joined by members of the first and third line.


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