Game Takes: Flames 2 Senators 1

March 9th, 2018 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

They Flames have kept it interesting.

The 51 shot loss to the New York Rangers a week ago jacked up the pressure on this road trip. Tossing away two points against a non playoff team pretty much meant five or six points on an Eastern road trip featuring two additional bridesmaids was a must.

So a tight ending with a 2-1 margin for the Flames tonight in a game that likely should have been put away earlier was exactly what the Flames needed, as they secured five points on the trip (should have been six with the Gaudreau missed net in Pittsburgh) and kept pace in what looks to be a pretty intense battle into early April in the Western Conference.

A misstep on this trip would have been a death sentence, instead they return serve and have kept the season interesting.

Depth Scoring!

Depth scoring; have to love it.

The Flames got two goals tonight, much less than then those with heart conditions in their living rooms in Calgary would have appreciated, but enough to secure the win.  The source of the two goals though was all bottom roster as Sam Bennett and Matt Stajan did the honours.

The Bennett goal was his second in two games, a run that features three points, and the Stajan goal was assisted by former Senator Curtis Lazar in a great return to sender moment.

Hungry Off the Hop

For the second straight road game against poopy teams the Flames went after it after the hop; a good sign.

The Flames out shot the Senators 15-9 in the first period, and without their season long inability to finish plays they’d likely would have been in cruise mode the rest of the game.

Sadly instead, they came out up 1-0 and had a gripper into the third.

Hamonic Continues

Another monster game for Travis Hamonic down the stretch where every game means so much.

Tonight he had 25 minutes of ice time and was 69% in terms of possession. He had four shots on goal and was even up on the night.

He’s becoming a horse down the stretch. There’s a lot of focus on the Flames draft pick being non lottery protected, but one has to remember Hamonic isn’t a rental and is becoming a pretty important building block going forward.

Rittich Stands Tall

The Flames were the better team and had the better of the chances.

But that doesn’t take away from David Rittich’s ability to get it done when his name was called. The Sens had 12 shots in the third period as they were energized after halfing the lead with a penalty shot goal.

The David Rittich we saw in Vegas or Colorado wasn’t present in either Buffalo or Ottawa. Sure the Flames were the better team in both games, but without a timely save here or there things could have gone differently.

Have to think we are back to the Jon Gillies back to Stockton announcement when Mike Smith is deemed ready, though I would have said the opposite a week ago.

Gaudreau Decision Making

Didn’t love the decision making by Johnny Gaudreau late in the game.

With the team up two goals and less than seven minutes to play a skill play doesn’t need to be made near the blueline creating a turnover and a situation that results in a breakaway and a penalty shot.

I get it, skilled players make skill plays and rely on the edge between pushing a play and doing the third line thing and chipping it deep, but Gaudreau has to be smarter here.

This should have been a cruise win, instead it was a nail biter.

Standings Impact

The good news? The Flames are now just a point back of the final playoff spot though the teams they are chasing have games in hand.

Additional good news featured the Dallas/Anahaeim game ending in regulation with a two point game, a 2-1 Dallas win. The bad news I guess is the wrong team winning as the Flames may have had a better path to taking the Stars then catching the Ducks, but I guess these things will pan out over the next six weeks if the Flames keep winning.

Fancy Stats

The Flames had 58% of the shot attempts on the night five on five with splits of 60 / 50 / 61%. Scoring chances five on five were 73% in the Flames favour at 16-6. In all situations the Flames had 53% of the shot attempts and 62% of the scoring chances.

Individually, only four player finished under the 50% mark with two pretty surprising leaders in Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton at 41% and 44% respectively leading the way. Curtis Lazar and Mikael Backlund were the other two under the mark. At the top was Brett Kulak with 73%, the only player in the 70s. The next closest were TJ Brodie and Travis Hamonic at 69%.

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