Game Takes: Flames 9 Devils 4

March 12th, 2019 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Well that was fun.

Not always. The game was more than frustrating through forty minutes as the team continued to cough up odd man chances and deficits, as they trailed 3-1 early in the second and then 4-3 through forty before exploding for six third period goals to bury the New Jersey Devils.

On Sunday the second line carried the mail with 11 points in a 6-3 night, this evening it was the top line with 14 scoring points, six to Johnny Gaudreau with a three goal / three assist split to carry the Flames to a 9-4 come from behind victory. Said comeback is the 8th of the season when trailing going into the third period.

Line Up Changes

Not a single change to the lineup, by way of new players coming into the lineup, the other goalie starting, or players moving around between pairings and lines.

David Rittich gets his second straight start after beating Vegas on Sunday night. He gave up three goals in the game, but I wouldn’t characterize any of them as his fault; all bang bang plays or odd man rushes.

I thought with Michael Stone recovering we’d get a look at a TJ Brodie – Michael Stone third pairing tonight, but it certainly makes sense to get him into some practices first.

Up front it will be interesting to watch the top six tonight, each line for different reasons. The top line is still sputtering, but Johnny Gaudreau putting up nine shots against the Knights could be a sign that he and his line is ready to pop. The 3M line carried the Flames against Vegas, and you hope a big game like that is the start of a hot streak and not just a one off.

Circle Winnipeg

Interesting to see the Flames break away from the on and off rotation of their goaltenders of late, as Bill Peters seems to be leaning towards David Rittich over Mike Smith of late. Both goaltenders have been good as of late, but I would have guessed that they’d come back with Smith for tonight’s game.

The big game to circle on the calendar is Saturday night in Winnipeg, as the team has back to back games this weekend, a situation that is sure to a start apiece from both goaltenders. I’d imagine the guy that starts Friday’s game is the “backup” for now, with the “starter” going Saturday against the Jets.

Tonight I’m not so sure. David Rittich was fine, I didn’t like the second goal, but he was left out to dry for the other three.

You’d like him to make a few of those, but he had other acrobatic stops as well.

Strength of Schedule

Will be interesting to watch the Flames/Sharks strength of schedule data as they burn off games down the stretch.

The Flames have had five straight games against decent to solid NHL teams; two against Vegas, a Leaf game, the Wild and Coyotes, and with that have moved into a wider gap atop the list of easiest schedules going forward.

Tonight the Flames burned off an easy encounter while the Sharks use up a tough one against Winnipeg.

Going into the game Calgary’s average opponent to finish was 21.69 (22nd), while the Sharks were 18.38 (18th), a four team gap.

The Six Point Night

Johnny Gaudreau’s six point night was the first such productive night since Al MacInnis did the trick way back in 1994.

Calgary Flames players have only put up six points in a game on six occasions coming into tonight’s game, Gaudreau becoming the 7th. The previous six are Sergei Makarov with seven, Joe Mullen, Robert Reichel, Hakan Look, MacInnis and Theo Fleury with six.

Gaudreau’s three/three split is the third such time that’s happened in Calgary history, with Reichel and Loob having the same evening many years before.

It’s been quite a season, as Sean Monahan put up five points in New Year’s Eve, with no other player having five or more points in a game prior to that back to 2009 (Olli Jokinen).

Gaudreau now has 33 goals (career high) and 90 points (career high) on the season, with 12 games left on the schedule to move his way towards 100. Only 10 players in Flames history, and eight players in Calgary Flames history have had 100 point seasons. The last coming in the 1992-93 season by Theo Fleury. With 90 points in 80 games he’s on pace for 105 points which would put him 6th all time in Flames history, and 4th in Calgary history, a point behind Hakan Loob.

Rough Night for TJ Brodie

And to a lesser extent … Mark Giordano.

TJ Brodie was picked off in the first period creating a penalty when he had to pull down the attacking Devil. Later in the period he lost a battle at the blueline creating a breakaway and the Devils first goal.

In the second he and Giordano got walked through as the Devils scored their third goal of the game.

Other mistakes didn’t end up in the net but could have.

Both players finished -2 on a night when their team won by five goals. Additionally they were the pairing on the ice that got worked for two quick Knight goals on Sunday night in the second period.

Maybe it’s time to get Stone in and Andersson up to the top pairing.

Monahan Overshadowed

You can’t take anything away from Gaudreau’s night, as it’s literally one for the ages. But another player that has been in a funk, and taking a lot of heat for either being disinterested or hurt was Sean Monahan.

He was a different player tonight.

He won the puck battle behind the net to be the driving force on Elias Lindholm’s 3-3 goal in the second period, and then put three pucks on Johnny Gaudreau’s stick in the third that were off the charts elite for vision and and hands, before scoring one of his own late to finish off his night.

Monahan tied his career best with 31 goals tonight, and is now 12 points beyond his career best 64.

Standings Implications

With Calgary and San Jose coming into tonight, and the Sharks having the tougher contest; back to back nights with travel to Manitoba to play a good hockey team, things lined up for the Flames to retake the division and conference lead while also moving back ahead in win percentage.

Bottom line, neither team can afford to muck up any of the free space on their bingo cards if they want to avoid that first round matchup with the Vegas Knights in the first round.

So Calgary gets by with their late comeback and wins, but so too do the Sharks with a big win in Winnipeg. So that gives the Jets a loss, as a consolation prize (regulation), plus the Predators are losing to the Ducks of all teams.

Calgary has 93 points and trail the Sharks by a point with even games played. The Flames are nine points up on the Jets with even games played, and ten points up on the Predators with a game in hand.

Looking more and more like a two team race.

Counting Stats

Team Stats:
Shots – Calgary 39 Devils 26
Face Offs – Calgary 58%
Special Teams – Devils 0/2 Calgary 0/1

Player Stats:
Points – Gaudreau 6
Plus/Minus – Travis Hamonic +5
Shots – Gaudreau 8

Fancy Stats

The Flames were the better team, the score makes it the game look easy, but at one point it was looking like another out shoot out chance game with a bad outcome. Five on five the Flames had 63% of the shot attempts with period splits of 57%/56% and 77%. Scoring chances were 67% Flames (34-17), and high danger chances were 56% Calgary (14-11).

In all situations the Flames had 63% of the shot attempts, 66% of the scoring chances and 58% of the high danger chances (15-11).

Individually things went well as well as you’d expect. Derek Ryan led the way with 75%, followed by Austin Czarnik and Sam Bennett at 70%, Noah Hanifin at 68%, Gaudreau at 67% and Travis Hamonic and Elias Lindholm at 66%. Only Garnet Hathaway at 50% flat didn’t have a positive number.

All content is property of and cannot be used without expressed, written consent from this site.