Game Takes: Islanders 5 Flames 2

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

Forgive me if you’ve seen this script before.

The Flames come out on home ice and run up a huge shot advantage but somehow drop the game anyway, and often by a lopsided score.

FunĀ  huh?

Yeah me too.

Tonight it was a case of shaky coverage in the Calgary zone early, a shaky start by returning goaltender Mike Smith, and then some seriously shaky inability to convert chances the rest of the way as the Flames tossed everything but the kitchen sink at the New York Islander’s Chris Gibson but the rookie goaltender stood on his head for the win.
The Return of Smith

Not the way Mike Smith would have had his return seeing the yielding of three pucks on just seven shots, but that’s exactly what the veteran saw in the first period against the Islanders.

The first goal was on a floater from the point with Garnet Hathaway pushed down and creating a distraction.

The second goal a shot tipped by Troy Brouwer deep way out near the outer edges of the face off circle but missed by Smith glove side.

The third a greasy rebound to Jordan Eberle who wasn’t about to make a mistake.

None all his fault, but still not the goaltending that a team needs if they’re to mount a push towards the playoffs.

Dome Play

What is it about this building?

Every turnover, or missed play ends up in their net, and it doesn’t matter if they get 100 shots on goal they’re only going to score a handful of times.

More than a little frustrating.

Sure the Flames were down all game so there’s score effects in play but it’s pretty hard to ignore huge advantages in shots, shot attempts and scoring chances yet again on home ice with the team coming up empty.

If there’s a balance to the world the Flames may go 25-5-6 next season at the Dome.

Tkachuk Injury

That didn’t look good.

A harmless play with Matthew Barzal going down, Matthew Tkachuk getting spun around and falling over the Islander speedster. It looked like Tkachuk had whiplash for the way he landed and likely hit his head on the boards when he landed. He was clearly woozy when he was leaving the ice and not in good shape.

My guess is concussion and an in-detriment amount of time on the sidelines, but I guess we will see.

The Flames were double shifting Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau for spells in the last half the game, gearing in on how important the second year player has become.

The loss tonight hurts their playoff chances, but the loss of Tkachuk if that’s the case pretty much puts a spike in them.

Assuming Tkachuk is Out

If the sophomore is out you’d have to assume a few things.

One, the Flames would elevate Sam Bennett to his spot on the second line with Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik,

Two, the Flames are likely to insert Nick Shore in the lineup to take up his spot. The question is where? Do they play Shore with Jankowski and Hathaway? Or do they move Brouwer up to take Bennett’s side on his off wing? Curtis Lazar?

Either way it was clear towards the end of the game that Sam Bennett had an increasing role even before Tkachuk went down as the young winger (center) seems to be finding it, as he lined up back with Monahan and Gaudreau towards the end of the game.

Playoff Implications

If there’s any good news tonight its another loss by the Dallas Stars, this time to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Regulation losses by the California teams, Colorado and Dallas keep the Flames hopes alive, so at least the Flames miss tonight didn’t go down unmatched.

The three game road trip was key for points and they secured five of six. The last two games of the trip were against non playoff teams, and those two coupled with home games against the Islanders and Oilers featured four games where the Flames simply had to have three wins.

The misstep tonight means an end to the Oiler losing streaking is oh so important on Tuesday night.

Fancy Stats

The Flames pretty much ran the table in this one with 63% of the shot attempts five on five featuring period splits of 51 / 62 and an astounding 85%. In all situations the Flames had 66% of the shot attempts including a 29-8 edge in the third period.

In terms of scoring chances the Flames were only up 12-9 in five on five play which is telling given their mastery of the night. They gave up a lot, and a lot of their shot attempts were clearly from non dangerous situations, something the heat map backs up. In all situations they had a 18-11 edge, a gap that should have been more than enough to find two points on the night.

Individually, the Flames had only Garnet Hathaway under water at 47%, the rest of the team was 50% or better on the night. The Flames were led by Michael Stone with 74% of shot attempts, closely followed by Matthew Tkachuk at 72%, Mikael Backlund at 70%, Sam Bennett, Brett Kulak and Curtis Lazar at 68%.

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