Game Takes: Bruins 6 Flames 4

January 4th, 2019 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

On the second night of back to backs, playing a goaltender that was struggling the Flames did all they could to find points in Boston on Thursday night never quitting and making it interesting in the third period before falling 6-4 to the Bruins on an empty net goal.

The Flames iced about as complete game as we’ve seen from the crew this year, out shooting, out chancing but not out scoring their talented hosts as they tried to continue their points streak after the Xmas break.

The loss moves their road trip to 1-1-0 with games coming up Saturday and Sunday in Philadelphia and Chicago to finish the trip.

Line Up Changes

Bill Peters generally makes a forward switch in back to back games, and the game in Boston was no different with Austin Czarnik getting inserted in place of Dillon Dube on the fourth line. There was talk about activating Andrew Mangiapane and putting him in the lineup but that never came to pass.

No changes on the bluesline, and Mike Smith started his second straight game with David Rittich nursing a lower body injury.

Czarnik Back Home

He wasn’t handed the most glowing of circumstances; patrolling the left side of the fourth line along with Derek Ryan and Garnet Hathaway, but nevertheless it was a homecoming for Austin Czarnik in his return to Boston to play the Bruins.

Not a bad outing overall with 11 minutes of ice time, three shots on goal, but he did register a -1. I will say at least he was noticeable in attempting to generate offence, something I honestly can’t say has been the case in most of his outings this season.

Some clamour for more rope for the player, but I haven’t seen enough to force his way on to the team permanently.

Back to Back Smith

This won’t be a game to suggest Mike Smith has turned the corner, not in a season where he’s given up too many softies and cost the Flames points.

The Flames out shot, out chanced and generally out played their hosts in Boston, but Smith gave up five goals on 26 shots  for a .808 save percentage on the night. This will not go down as a “quality” start.

The first goal to John Moore he was too far in his net. I didn’t fault him for the first Debrusk goal (tip), nor the Marchand goal, but the fourth goal to Pastrnak off the boards with limited room was too easy, and the backhander by Debrusk on goal five was a back breaker.

What is that 2.5/5.0 goals that were questionable? He was good in Detroit the night before but was the difference against Boston who seemed to have a struggling goaltender of their own and were prone to be picked off.

Another Shortie

Yet another short handed goal for the Calgary Flames, this time Mark Jankowski getting the assist as Michael Frolik finished his good work to lug the puck up the ice.

The game’s opening goal came with the Flames just finishing a five on three kill, making it even more unlikely, and gives the Flames 13 on the season. Of the 13 goals the Flames have 11 four on five, and two four on six and lead the Coyotes by two overall. What’s interesting is the next closest team has six.

Another Challenge

Hey I finally got a challenge right!

When Johnny Gaudreau failed to covert his second breakaway of the game (after three failed attempts in Detroit) the puck was pinned under the skate of Halak before Lindholm swooped in and banged the puck in the net. The Bruins challenged with goalie interference, which seemed odd to me as the goalie was never really touched. You’re not allowed to push a goalie into the net, but with no whistle blown and the puck visible it seemed like a no brainer to me that the play would stand.

It did.

I’m now 1/111.

Lindholm With 20

When the Flames acquired Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin in the Hamilton traded, I was hoping for that Treliving “pop” from both players, and set my sights on a 20 goal / 50 point season for Lindholm. A 20/50 season would represent career highs for the player and move him into an undeniable top six players on the Flames roster giving them good balance and making the trade a pretty solid one overall if Hanifin was able to be a top four.

The Lindholm goal tonight was his 20th of the season, and the point gives him 48, just two shy of the 50 target and it’s January 4th.

Simply amazing.

No Nine Cut

Another wrinkle to the back to back game plan for Peters was the omission of the “big nine” cut in the third period. Generally when down or tied, Peters will cut three forwards out of the mix in the third period in order to seize the game for the guys in Red, Gold and Black.

With back to back games, that wasn’t the case in the game against the Bruins as he continued to roll all four lines up front, while benching Oliver Kylington in the last half of the third period due to a turn over that resulted in the Bruins’ 5th goal.

Standings Implications

The Flames lose, which is never good for a standings update, but other than the overall position battle with the Leafs (Toronto lost to Minnesota) there really were’t any big games in terms of Calgary standings going on out of town.

The Flames hold the conference title by two points, but the Jets now have three games in hand and clearly get the mark in terms of win percentage.

Vegas is even with the Flames in the standings, but Calgary has a game in hand on the Knights.

Fancy Stats

Ironic to find a loss in one of Calgary’s most complete games of the season, and against a good opponent to boot. In terms of five on five shot attempts the Flames had 66% of the attempts. They also had 67% of the scoring chances and 67% of the high danger chances (10-5).

In all situations the Flames enjoyed 61% of the shot attempts, 63% of the scoring chances and 65% of the high danger chances on the night (15-8). To only give up eight high danger chances in all situations over 60 minutes is exactly the kind of road game you want to walk out in Boston. The difference was goaltending.

Individually, as you’d expect, most of the team had solid nights. Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie led the way with 74% for each defender. Jankowski, Hanifin, Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk also registered 70% games for the Flames. Sean Monahan, Lindholm, James Neal, Frolik, Travis Hamonic and Sam Bennett were in the 60s. Only one player was under water, Oliver Kylington with 48%.

The Bruins played their top line against the Flames top line, and the Calgary top line feasted, a good sign when you look at the outlook for the Flame top line going forward. Brad Marchand had over 10 minutes against the Flames top trio and finished with just 34% in shot attempts, and a scoring chance ratio of 3-10.

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