Game Takes: Flames 5 Sabres 1

March 7th, 2018 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

The Flames needed it, and they acted like they need it, running the Sabres out of their own rink on Wednesday night to turn a four game losing streak into a road trip that features three out of a possible four points through two stops in three cities.

All four lines were rolling, but it was the third line of Mark Jankowski (former Sabres season ticket holder), Sam Bennett and Garnet Hathaway that got things going with a huge first period setting the tone.

The key now is to keep on rolling, another must win in Ottawa could secure a great road trip and give the team some momentum coming home.

The schedule is consistent to the finish, if they can get in a rhythm you just never know.

Making Hay

The Flames have dug themselves a hole, they may not get out of it.

If they are to dig themselves out they had better start a streak in this run of four games against teams currently not in the playoffs. This isn’t to suggest these games will be easy; the Flames aren’t a playoff team. But if they want a playoff spot, if they want to take it to the wire they need 6-8 points in the next four games.

It all starts with two!

Smith Return

Was great to see Mike Smith at practice on a road trip that he wasn’t expected to be on. Clearly that means his return is somewhat imminent. Comments today certainly suggested the ball is in his court as to a return, a good sign, as you don’t want a 36 year old pushed to come back early when he’s not ready.

The season has been a disappointment of late, but Mike Smith is an important cog in next season’s fortunes as well, and they had better not destroy their only goaltending option.

Depth Scoring!

Would have been nice to have had it all season, that was certainly the plan for Sam Bennett before and after the Jaromir Jagr signing in October.

However the production just hasn’t been there.

So it was a pleasant surprise in the team’s most recent must win, to have the third line simply dominate in the first period and score both of the club’s goals. With Jankowski and Bennett both having two point periods to kick the game off it allowed the slumping first line to settle into the game without the weight of the world on them with the result …

Top Line Finds Form

The came off the snide on a face off win and a freak bounce, but their real moment was the Monahan goal later in the second period when two broken plays had the Buffalo defense chasing and Calgary skill dishing pass after pass after pass until Monahan hit the open net.

For Monahan it was goal number 30 on the season, and a very good sign as the center has always been streaky. Hitting the score sheet with 14 1/2 games to go could lead to a finish close to 40 if we see a typical Monahan run.

4 Game Skid Stats

Pretty crazy that the Flames found a way to lose four games in a row in the season’s final twenty games.

They had a 213-146 edge in shot attempts, a 107-87 edge in shots on net, and a 47-36 edge in scoring chances through the four games but only found their way to one point in Pittsburgh.

A bounce or a save or two and the Flames are in a completely different situation.

Draft Pick Thoughts

I ran the old draft simulator a few times today.

After seeing various results I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t care less if the Islanders win the draft lottery with the Flames pick.

a) They’re out of conference
b) It would take a spot away from the Canucks and Oilers
c) Captain Picard told me that it doesn’t take much to muck with the space time continuum. A Flames team without Travis Hamonic likely doesn’t finish in the same spot and with that wouldn’t have been the lottery result winner themselves.

So don’t worry. Trust me.

Crappy for Rittich

He wasn’t tested all that much, but to have a shut out rolling to the 59:43 point would suck for any goaltender, even more so when it could have been the stopper’s first career doughnut.

Doesn’t take away from a great bounce back performance for the Calgary backup.

All day Gulutzan was talking about the work he was putting in in practice and re-finding his form after a rough couple of games marked with some pretty questionable goals.

Great bounce back.

Standings Impact

The win moves the Flames back to within one point of a playoff spot; the good.

The Kings and Avalanche both have to games in hand; the bad.

No matter how you slice it it’s going to be a war. If the Flames had only one target it would be one thing but they’re two points back of L.A. and Colorado, three points back of San Jose, and four points back of both Dallas and Anaheim.

The Flames can get hot, or two of the aforementioned five can struggle and the picture can change over night.

Fancy Stats

This one wasn’t close.

The Flames had a 64% edge in shot attempts with splits of 72 / 64 / and 52% as they thoroughly dominated the game from start to finish. The scoring chance split five on five was pretty demonstrative with the Flames holding a 14-1 edge on the night for 93%.

In all situations the Flames had 58% of the shot attempts and 76% of the scoring chances.

Individually, only three players finished under the 50% mark on the night as the fourth line average 45% on the night (Lazar, Stajan, Brouwer). The team was led by Sean Monahan with 90% of the shot attempts when he was on the ice as the center put up a goal and an assist. Six players were were in the 70s including; Dougie Hamilton, Johnny Gaudreau, Micheal Ferland, Mark Giordano, Mark Jankowski and Garnet Hathaway. TJ Brodie and Sam Bennett were just back of the 70% mark.

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