Game Takes: Kings 3 Flames 0

March 25th, 2019 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Well that was ugly.

You couldn’t play the L.A. Kings worse than the Calgary Flames managed on Monday night. Give them a lead just a minute into the proceedings, and then waste three first period powerplays that were ample opportunity to erase that early lead and get on to thumping a weaker opponent.

Instead time goes on, tension starts to mount on the home side, sticks get squeezed tight and suddenly the clock is running down and the comeback isn’t coming.

Two late third period goals give the Kings a 3-0 win in Calgary, as they continue to play spoiler this week.

Line Up Changes

Not a one.

All four lines, all three defense pairings and Mike Smith back in goal, the exact same roster that took the ice on Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks.

Sam Bennett is being held out again, I guess for precautionary and recuperating reasons. “He would play today if he had to, but he doesn’t have to. That’s Lou Lamoriello’s line, right? ‘If you have time, use it.’ We’re going to use Lou’s philosophy on this one.” Still honestly don’t know what’s wrong with the guy.

In goal it turns out that David Rittich is fighting his way through that bug that took down both Mike Smith and Sean Monahan this month, so there isn’t a lot of conclusions that can be drawn from Mike Smith getting three straight games this week.

On the blueline the team continues with the same six once again. I was almost sure they’d experiment with Brodie on both sides and the first and third pairing to work Michael Stone into the mix. Instead Oscar Fantenberg seems to have laid claim to the sixth defenseman spot as the team marches towards the playoffs.

Doughty Tkachuk

“No respect for him, none. I respect everyone else. I’ll never talk to him off the ice. … He’s not respected by most of the people in the league, it’s not just me – that’s just a fact.”

Does this strike anyone else as a little over the top?

First off I love it, my kid and I going to the game tonight suddenly had a lot more to talk about than “Gee, I hope the Flames don’t come out flat!”. Really there isn’t enough of this kind of thing in the National Hockey League these days, so for that I tip my hat.

Some poor word choices though. I don’t think many opposing players in this league “like” Matthew Tkachuk, of that there is no debate. But I’d also wager that pretty much every player respects the hell out of him. How can you not? Highly productive at the age of 21, and deeply involved in the greasy parts of every game, and a future captain in Calgary?

It’s pretty clear Drew Doughty has never gotten over that elbow.

The game itself didn’t feature any fireworks, but Doughty did take a silly penalty slashing and then punching Tkachuk in the third, sending the Flames to a powerplay that could have tied the game.

Solid Smith Start

The guy is really feeling it; not the same goalie from October through December. Usually tonight’s type of game is kryptonite for Smith; that is little activity and hen scoring chance. But he was able to do is part in an odd game that features all kinds of pressure from his skaters and very little puck time in his zone.

It will be interesting to see how they handle the goaltenders in the final six games but it’s certainly not a bad thing to have both going.

Trap Game

The flames had that classic trap game start tonight; playing well but just off. Pucks on the power play arrived on the backhand or in their feet. Cohesion and chemistry just missing.

In the second period things got much better as the flames stopped shooting muffins to Campbell’s glove hand and had better scoring chances.

The third they frittered away too much of the first half, and then the sticks really started getting squeezed as you could see they could feel things were getting away from them.

Puck over a Gaudreau stick and it’s 2-0 on a two on one and it’s lights out.

Kings Get Away With A Lot

They’re just one of those teams, I’ve never been a fan.

The Flames got four powerplays and their own inept play was the reason for the loss, so I’m certainly not looking to hang the game on the officials. But the number of hooks, holds, slashes and grabs that go uncalled in a game against L.A. has always been astounding to me.

I just don’t get Toffoli slashing Fantenberg’s stick in half and then grabbing him with no penalty.

I just don’t get how Derek Forbort is allowed to grab Mikael Backlund and Austin Czarnik and toss them to the ice in the third period with the Flames pressing for the equalizer.

Kings hockey I guess.

Top Line Intervention

The top line needs help; stat.

Terrible game for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm’s game not as noticeably putrid.

Gaudreau had six giveaways and the line itself had 11, that’s just not going to get things done. I’ll never be mad at a player for bad luck or bad bounces; like the puck that bounced over Gaudreau’s stick for the Kings two on one that made the score 2-0, but it’s pretty hard to explain his soft play on the empty netter in the neutral zone.

They continue to dangle around the perimeter looking for the cross seam pass through traffic or for a break down from the opposing check and it’s not coming. So as a result they give the puck away, or turn it over causing odd man rushes.

Teams have figured them out so they need to adapt. Simplify, pucks to the net, and pucks to the line for shots on net through traffic. They need to make opposing coaches afraid of both styles or they’ll continue to play into the trap that is killing them.

I’m sure they’re being told this, but they need to execute.

Standings Implications

Possibly nothing.

As the Flames squander what should have been an “easy” on the schedule the Sharks were doing the same at home to the Detroit Red Wings; Detroit leading 2-0 through two periods.

If that’s the case it will be pass night where all three Pacific teams take a knee and give up the opportunity to gain points against their counterparts.

Fingers crossed.

Counting Stats

Team Stats:
Shots – Calgary 42 Kings 20
Face Offs – Flames 54%
Special Teams – Flames 0/4 Kings 0/3

Player Stats:
Points – None!
Plus/Minus – Some guys had zero!
Shots – Mikael Backlund with seven.

Fancy Stats

A very good night when it comes to underlying numbers, though when you give up a goal a minute in … score effects are defintely in play. Five on five the Flames had 72% of the shot attempts with period splits of 54%/74% and 85%. Scoring chances finished 64% for the Flames (25-14), while high danger chances were 8-3 Calgary (73%). That’s only seven high danger chances against five on five in two games for Calgary. Shame they split the results.

In all situations the Flames had 67% of the shot attempts, 61% of the scoring chances and 63% of the high danger chances (10-6),

Individually, the Flames had every player at 59% or better. Yeah they lost this game. TJ Brodie had a 20-2 mark for 91% to pace his buddies, while partner Mark Giordano, Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk all had 80+ nights as well. The only players under the 65% mark were Andrew Mangiapane, Noah Hanifin, Garnet Hathaway and Austin Czarnik.

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