Game Takes: Flames 4 Hawks 3

January 7th, 2019 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

A road trip full of sketchy efforts with good results, the Flames were sleep walking their way through what looked to be a disappointing loss to an inferior opponent when a late Sean Monahan powerplay goal in the second, set the stage for a dominant third period from Calgary.

In the end the Flames out last Chicago with a 4-3 victory taking six of a possible eight points on their four game road trip and likely causing head coach Bill Peters a boat load of stress and anxiety.

Time to clean it up boys.

Line Up Changes

Not a one.

Same goaltender in David Rittich. Same defense pairings for the millionth game in a row. Same forward lines with Sam Bennett starting on the second line with Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk, and Michael Frolik on a line with Mark Jankowski and James Neal, and then finally, Derek Ryan between Austin Czarnik and Garnet Hathaway.

Czarnik Gaining Traction?

Speaking of Austin Czarnik, noticeable to see him play three straight games. In fact tonight’s game was the first time that Czarnik has dressed for three straight games since November 30th, and over that span he’s only had the current string and one other back to back appearance; the rest have been one and done.

On this road trip he appears to have found some chemistry with Derek Ryan, something that could help provide a little zest to the bottom six of the roster and make the Flames a tough team to check.

Tonight he gets promoted for the third and has a few decent shifts with the second line, which allowed a trickle down of Sam Bennett with the third line and created some James Neal chances.

May be a look they should go with (though it moved Frolik to the fourth line and probably had Alan Walsh doing his best Donald Trump on Twitter impersonation).

Hathaway On The Kill

Another clash of contemporary vs old school stats.

Garnet Hathaway is a on a run where he has one of the best minutes between goals records of any forward (or player for that matter) on the Flames when killing a penalty. That’s a old stat, it says nothing bad happens but it doesn’t describe how it happens, whether it is deserved or not or is he getting bailed out by a goaltender?

Dig a little deeper and you see he’s middling in scoring chances allowed when killing a penalty, suggesting that maybe he’s more fortunate than stellar at killing penalties.

Either way it’s a debate … is he adding with grit and PK, or is he hurting the team from icing four lines that can play the game end to end. Tonight two what looked like good chances died quickly on his stick.

Good Trip vs Bad Trip

The Flames teetered between Jekyll and Hyde in this one again, similar to their games in Detroit and Philadelphia.  It’s fun that they have the skill to score themselves out of trouble; seemingly at will sometimes, but they are starting to develop some bad habits that could and likely will bite them in the collective ass.

Tonight the last five minutes of the first period, and the first 15 minutes of the second was some of the ugliest hockey they’ve played since that ugly loss to the Penguins. The most disturbing part is the team looking like last year’s edition where they were forcing things too often when down and not letting the game open up to them.

Tonight heading into the third in a game that certainly wasn’t a masterpiece it was a good or bad trip scenario. Win the game and you come home 3-1 and feeling good. Lose the game and you’re 2-2 on a trip against three teams out of the playoffs and likely to stay that way.

So yeah sloppy road trip overall, but if you want a take away it’s certainly the third period in the Chicago game and the way the Flames poured it on. Guessing the team and their coach were pretty upset with the effort from the second period.

Gaudreau Keeps On Rolling

It just never stops …

Four points in the game against San Jose before the trip, four more points in Detroit to start the trip, two points in Boston, a goal in Philly and then two more goals tonight to give him five goals and four assists on the road trip, and thirteen points in his last five games.

He moved past the generational player tonight with a two point lead, McDavid has two Oiler games in hand.

Rittich Leaking?

Every goalie gives up bad goals from time to time, but yikes did David Rittich have trouble on two short side goals tonight.

Patrick Kane’s goal was at the goal line, and Brandan Saad’s only a few feet from the goal line.

Has always driven me nuts when goaltenders get beat short side missing a seal, it’s certainly something that Mike Smith has struggled with in his two years in Calgary … hoping it’s not a book on David Rittich emerging.

Sean Monahan Shot Machine

Lots of praise at the feet of Johnny Gaudreau these days and for good reason, but Sean Monahan continues to roll along quietly beside the diminutive star. Tonight a goal and an assist and a whopping ten shots on goal. He was stoned on several occasions by Delia and could have had a hat-trick under normal circumstances.

His road trip wrapped up with two goals and four assists.

Standings Implications

The Flames win moves their record to 27-13-4 good for 58 points in 44 games. With 92 points the current wild card target in the West they only need 34 points in their final 38 games to lock a playoff spot down; suggesting they can play four games under .500 the rest of the way.

They shouldn’t though.

Out of town the Predators beat the Leafs which is bittersweet … love it when Toronto loses, but the Predators are rolling and keeping pace with Calgary, now three points back in even games. For both the division and the conference the Flames have a two point lead on the Knights with a game in hand.

San Jose is playing tonight and currently beating the Kings.

Fancy Stats

With a great third period the Flames pulled ahead in five on five shot attempts, finishing with 51% on period splits of 51% / 39% and 60%. The Flames had 51% of the scoring chances and 65% of the high danger chances, giving up only nine five on five after the Hawks generated five in the first period.

In all situations the Flames had 50% of the shot attempts, 50% of the scoring chances and 63% of the high danger chances.

The Flames were led individually by the top line who all hit the 70% mark, followed closely by TJ Brodie (71%) and Mark Giordano (62%), as the Flames best players played like their best players. At the other end Derek Ryan had a 22% night joined by Oliver Kylington who was benched in the third period, Garnet Hathaway and James Neal in the 20s.

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