Game Takes: Capitals 4 Flames 3

February 2nd, 2019 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

That’s a tough way to lose a hockey game.

Come from behind twice in the game, including a two goal deficit early in the second period, only to take a late penalty and surrender a powerplay goal with a minute left on the clock.

Tough luck? Tough circumstance? Sure in a way, but none of that will lead the debriefing from Bill Peters when he looks at game tape in a sloppy game that didn’t feature the best of defensive zone work, and protection for backup goaltender Mike Smith.

Like before the break the Flames could have and maybe should have found a point anyway in a sketchy effort game, but they need to clean this stuff up going forward.

Line Up Changes

Not sure you can call anything a change when the team hasn’t played for nine plus days, but there were some changes from the last time the Flames were on the ice; home to the Hurricanes. The same 18 skaters were employed, but a change in net, with Mike Smith getting the start, and then a change to the middle six where the 3M line was reunited gave the forward group a more familiar look than the Tkachuk on the third line view we had before the all star game.

Hamonic Injury

Have to hope Travis Hamonic is ok going forward, as he’s become a pretty vital part of the team’s ability to roll two defense pairings and keep other club’s top two lines at bay.

He went down in the first, came back in the second and looked ok, then left and didn’t return for the rest of the game. The injury looked to be leg/knee related when he went down with a Capital off to Smith’s left in the first period.

Even in last night’s game Hamonic was 61% CF and was on the ice for seven high danger chances to three before going down. His departure would create a large hole.

Jankowski Release

As is usually the case, Mark Jankowski had a somewhat miserable night in his own zone, as the center struggles five on five in most lineup configurations; simply spending too much time in his own zone. But one thing you can’t question is the player’s release, and what that could mean going forward.

When Mark Jankowski gets a chance to shoot the puck it’s an absolute missile, almost like clockwork. He had two attempts in the game, one that went wide and another that forced Brayden Holtby to make a good stop, both dangerous as hell.

Have to wonder if there’s a future 20-25 goal man in this guy, though many would tell you at his age you are what you are. Time will tell.

Neal Chances

Another noticeable night for James Neal, as the frustrated sniper continues to get looks and chances but continues to find a way to not hit the scoresheet.

Last night with the Flames pushing he had a great chance on Holtby set up by Jankowski but was denied by a ten bell save by the stopper. Later in the same period he put a puck through Holtby from a tough angle that clanged off the join between the crossbar and far post. Both easily could have gone in, one should have.

On the telecast Cassie Campbell was saying his favourite Easton sticks have been discontinued this year, adding to the problem or even perhaps creating it. His Bauer sticks haven’t been right all season in experimentation, but a new batch has arrived and he’s pretty pumped about it.

Have to think it’s just a matter of time until the guy scores 6-7 goals in 10 games and gets his season if not back to average, at least something approaching those numbers.

And yes I’ve said this before.


Pretty odd game call from the referees last night.

In the first they let everything go and almost to the point where it effected the game; specifically Matthew Tkachuk was knocked off his skates without the puck with the play going back up the ice and almost into the Calgary cage.

When they did start calling things it was all Calgary with Washington getting three straight second period powerplays giving them a chance to put things away.

Not sure how smart the Mikael Backlund play was late that cost Calgary the game, but there was some pretty good sell in the play as well from Backstrom.

Smith Low Blocker

If I have the quality start calculation figured out, last night will go down as neither a good nor a bad start in the rankings, which is pretty much the tale from watching the game as well.

He faced 40 shots, which is too much to give up to a team with fire power like Washington, a team that feasted on the powerplay despite not having Alex Ovechkin in the lineup, running up ten shots on four man advantage opportunities.

But he gave four up .. the 90% save percentage just not enough to beat a goaltender at the other end that had the same success rate (90%) with much less work. Less work, same rate, loss.

The bigger issue going forward could be Smith’s alarming low blocker side weakness, that teams are starting to attack on a nightly basis; the Capitals beat him there for goals one and three last night. He lunges as he’s low and doesn’t make himself big, exposing that far blocker side to shooters that are clearly going after it. I’m certainly not a goalie coach, but I wonder if that can be fixed, or if it’s a huge issue for his starts going forward.

Standings Implications

The night could have been worse.

The Flames burned a game in hand on San Jose with no success, but the Knights lost to Carolina meaning they still have a game in hand on Vegas. The division lead is six points even games with San Jose, and nine points with a game in hand on the Knights.

The Jets have sputtered a bit of late, so the lost opportunity last night over Winnipeg is also not that pronounced as they can’t pass the Flames on the game they have hand, sitting three points back with just one fewer game.

Counting Stats

Flames Leaders:
Points – TJ Brodie two assists
Goals – Backlund, Hathaway, Lindholm
Shots – Mark Giordano 5
+/- – Giordano/Brodie +2
Face Offs – Jankowski 67%

Fancy Stats

Five on five the Flames were in pretty good shape last night with 57% of the shot attempts with period splits of 62% / 50% and 58%. Scoring chances five on five were 28-21 Calgary (57%) and high danger chances were 13-12 Calgary, that double digit number against a clear problem in the game.

In all situations the Flames had 46% of the shot attempts, 43% of the scoring chances and 48% of the high danger chances, as the Capitals had twice the powerplays and lived off the man advantage.

Individually, the Flames were led by their top pairing with Giordano and Brodie both just under 70% on the night. The top line and most of the 3M line were in the 60s as well. Calgary’s rookie defense pairing bent and somewhat broke with Hamonic going down, posting 32% (Andersson) and 40% to bring up the rear.

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