Game Takes: Flames 3 Devils 2

February 8th, 2018 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

The Flames have an elite top line.

I guess they’ve had an elite top line for the better part of three seasons, but the trio with Micheal Ferland seems to have hit another level providing the Flames with an option that seems to take over games more often than not when they’re hot.

Tonight the Flames were happy to see two goals from Sean Monahan and a goal and an assist from Johnny Gaudreau as they were able to outlast the New Jersey Devils by a 3-2 score running their win streak to three games.

So seven straight wins, six straight losses (four in extra time) and now three straight wins, but the bottom line is points in points in 14 of 16 and 21 of 27 as the Flames continue to remain relevant in the standings in the West.

The six game road trip sits at 2-0-0 through two games, meaning a single win in the final four games gets them a .500 trip. Not a bad spot.

Brian Burke Comments

The Burke interview in Toronto on Wednesday night was a good confirmation to the assumed logic that should be going through Calgary’s management group.

They need a winger, but they don’t want to carve out any more picks.

Good.

He also keyed on Kris Versteeg’s return, which I can certain see as a boost. Versteeg struggled five on five to start the season but he was an important piece of the powerplay before it’s implosion with his injury. Versteeg takes the puck down the center for shots, something the rest of the crew do not.

Also in there was a vote of confidence for Glen Gultuzan as he stated that he liked the group, they work hard, and that he likes the coach. I think that’s telling.

Deadline Prediction

With that I can’t see them standing pat.

Burke mentioned that teams have interest in some of their young players in Stockton and I think that could be a hint at what could happen.

Both the blueline and the crease are heading for some log jams, so I could see a second tier guy exiting from either position. Jon Gillies has been bandied around, and the club may make a call on Adam Fox’s intentions as well and make a move there. If the team is high on Rasmus Andersson and unsure about Fox signing they may make a move.

Would hope that wouldn’t be for a rental however.

Lomberg In / Lazar Out

The bottom six got filled in pretty good in Chicago, so I certainly wasn’t surprised to see Curtis Lazar come out for Ryan Lomberg tonight.

I’ve been a big Lazar defender of late as he’s had 10 of his last 15 games in positive possession territory, which is somewhat unheard of with the tire fire of a fourth line that started the season. But he certainly doesn’t have a lock on a spot each and every night.

The line on Lomberg was pretty quiet, though he did have a great scoring chance in the first period. Two shots on goal in nine minutes of ice time with a corsi rating of 45%.

Hamilton Gaff

Tough to be mad at Dougie Hamilton for his brutal second period giveaway leading to the Taylor Hall goal when you look at his body of work.

First off the Flames won the game, so no harm no foul. Additionally he set up the Flames first goal by calling for the pass and getting off a high shot that rebounded to Sean Monahan for his first of the night.

Then of course you have a player with a monster goals for / against split and a season of being on the ice for good things more often than not.

No worries.

Flames Can Skate

I used to be anxious when the Flames were slated to take on teams with all kinds of leg speed, that’s not the case anymore.

Game in and game out against the circuits quicker teams you notice the Flames do just fine. They have fast players of their own and players like Monahan and Tkachuk who may not have the burners, do have the brains to manage the game and keep themselves out of trouble.

Rittich Again

Another quality start for the Flames back up goaltender.

David Rittich is a quality NHL goaltender. The sample size is growing but his goals against average just isn’t. His official line is nine game appearances with seven starts and five wins and two overtime losses. His only loss came in a relief performance with some odd bounces. A 2.20 goals against average and a .927 save percentage.

The guy is money.

Is he a future starter? That remains to be seen, but he’s in that race which is a great turn of events for the FlamesĀ  in a league where starting goaltending is unpredictable and impossible to source. I’m the first to admit I had the future race in the hands of two draft picks but the free agent signing has made it a three horse race and he’s clearly leading.

Powerplay Solved!

Have to give it Dave Cameron and the Flames powerplay for finding a way to achieve success with the man advantage; don’t ice it!

The game featured only two powerplays, both going to the Devils where they went 1/2, so the Flames never had a chance to walk out their putrid man advantage group.

Well played!

3rd Line Jam

The third line didn’t have a particularly good night again, at least when it comes to possession. They did, however, generate a few good scoring chances and a lot of jam on the forecheck. Sam Bennett in particular was like a dog on a bone tonight, winning most of his battles and making a difference.

Not sure they’re going to take off with Troy Brouwer in the mix, but it’s good to see them generate in the offensive zone again. The third line is so key to the success of this team going forward, as the group’s top six match up well against literally any team in the league.

Standings Watch

The win leapfrogs the Flames over the Kings and back into third spot in the Pacific. At press time the Sharks were leading the Knights in San Jose. If they go on to win they’ll be two up on Calgary, but that remains to be seen.

The Flames also moved to even with Wild at 64 points in 54 games for the final wild card spot as well, including a tie in ROW so even a King’s win would have the Flames tied for the final spot, not a bad fall back.

Fancy Stats

The Flames were having a great road game until the third period where they completely sat on a two goal lead and were somewhat lucky to escape with the win. Calgary finished at 47% with score effects playing a huge role, splits were 68 / 50 / 14!. Yikes!

Scoring chances five on five 12-9 for the Devils five on five, including 4-0 in the third period.

Individually most of the team was under water. The 3M line and the third pairing were very good however with Michael Frolik playing his 700th NHL game and leading the team with a 61% rating. Michael Stone with 60%, Mikael Backlund and Matt Tkachuk with 59% were followed by Brett Kulak and Garnet Hathaway at 50%. Mark Jankowski, Troy Brouwer and Sam Bennett were at the bottom with roughly 33%.

 



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