Game Takes: Flames 1 Oilers 0

March 13th, 2018 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Its not every night where you get to slay two demons with just one goal.

But that’s exactly what happened at the Saddledome on Tuesday night when the Flames ended a run of futility on home ice, and ended a losing streak to their provincial rivals with a 1-0 victory on home ice.

The goal came in the second period off the stick of Johnny Gaudreau, a deft back hander over the shoulder of a surprised Cam Talbot who was expecting the diminutive winger to take the puck across the crease and tuck it in. Full marks however go to Mike Smith, who in his second game back after a month long injury, owned the cage in recording his third shut out of the season; shutting down the Oilers.

You Thought They Had Depth Issues Before!?

The Flames have struggled when it comes to secondary scoring, and bottom roster depth this season, something that isn’t news to anyone.

When the season began it took almost 20 games for any bottom roster forward (forwards 7 through 14) to hit the scoresheet in five on five play when you took out appearances of Troy Brouwer or Kris Versteeg making cameos up the roster.

Things get more grave when you toss in an injury.

With Matthew Tkachuk sitting this one out with what I would guess is a concussion, the Flames depth gets more challenged again. Sam Bennett moves up to take Tkachuk’s place while Chris Stewart dresses to replace Bennett.

Additionally with Mark Jankowski continuing to sputter Nick Shore entered line up to take his place.

Must Win Getting More Real

With 12 games and needing to win nine (rough estimate), tonight’s game became about as close to a must win as you can imagine. The team basically needs to go a win, three losses and then repeat that pace three times to conclude their schedule.

An Islander misstep followed by an Oiler toe stub would pretty much mean the season wouldn’t it?

Instead they can look at the win tonight as a stepping point in the next four game segment and hope to find the six points. With two tonight they focus on a home game against San Jose, and then a quick two game road trip to Vegas and Phoenix.

The betting man would pick the Arizona game for the easiest two points, so split the other two.

Versteeg Return Held

Kris Versteeg was practicing in a contact jersey with the club yesterday so he’s close, but didn’t dress tonight for the Flames.

His return will greatly add to the third line, especially if Matthew Tkachuk is due to miss an extended period of time. The key will be what version of Versteeg we see as the forward has been out since mid November and is unlikely to be at full speed for some time.

He could be key.

Containing McDavid

I thought the Flames did a really good job of containing Connor McDavid tonight.

The forward made an impact, don’t get me wrong, as he had five shots on goal and a CF% rating at 61% in almost 25 minutes of ice time, but unlike other Calgary Edmonton encounters in the past two seasons he didn’t have a break away and didn’t hit the score sheet.

One memorable play was when he looked primed to split the D for a break away only to be caught and steered aside by TJ Brodie and more specifically Travis Hamonic who were quick to respond.

For the most part he tried his down the wall and cut in move on numerous occasions that Smith et al had no time for.

Smith Really Back Now

Mixed reviews on his first period against the Islanders, made more surprising by his blasting of teammates for not doing the little things to win after the game.

Tonight however, Smith was a guy pretty happy to post the game needed to back his words.

The Flames had the share of shots, shot attempts and scoring chances, but Smith was electric when the Oilers did get through stopping four or five huge opportunities in the last half of the game.

Over Passing

Thought the Flames played very much the role of the pressing team that can’t score goals in the first period especially when they literally “passed up” opportunities by goal scorers by forcing the play to a teammate instead of taking the opportunity.

Alex Tanguay made a career of over passing the puck; you expected it. Sean Monahan shouldn’t be that guy. If Sean Monahan gets the puck below the hash marks and on the edge of the home plate he should fire away, not toss the puck back into traffic hoping for an empty net goal.

Really talks to the pressure these guys are under to score however.

Sam Bennett Shut Down Role

Sam Bennett, elevated to the 3M line which I guess is now the SMM line from left to right, drew a tough task on night one in having to play shut down to the Connor McDavid line.

As a result they had a rough night in terms of metrics posting mid 30s in corsi events, but were ultimately successful in keeping McDavid off the scoreboard with a Flames win.

Aside from the stats I thought Sam Bennett was noticeable, he led the Flames in hits and was a difficult player to play against with big hits to McDavid, Nugent Hopkins and Benning on the night.

Still think this kid is going to be a player.

Standings Impact

Not a bad night on the out of town scoreboards as the Stars lose in regulation, though not perfect as the Avalanche trucked the Wild and the Kings came from behind to force overtime after trailing by two goals.

Bottom line is the two points by the Flames moving them to 80 on the season and within 15 points of the magical 95 point range with 11 games to go. A 7-3-1 record will do it, which is a little bit better than the 8-3-1 record facing the team four hours ago.

Fancy Stats

The Flames had their normal home ice slow start, but this time they got away with it, avoiding the opening goal by the visitors and carrying the tie score into the second. On the night the Flames had a 54% edge in five on five shot attempts with splits of 47 / 63 / and 53%. The high danger scoring chances were 64% for the Flames with a 14-8 edge. In all situations the Flames had 54% shot attempts and 58% of the scoring chances.

Individually, the Flames were led by the fourth line with Matt Stajan at the top of the heap with 89% shot attempts. Curtis Lazar with 77% and Chris Stewart with 75% rounded out the leaders, though the top line and the defense pairing were also in the sixties. The 3M line was at the bottom of the heap in the mid 30s with the job of chasing Connor McDavid around.

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