Game Takes: Flames 7 Kings 2

April 1st, 2019 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

It’s only the L.A. Kings.

One has to remember that as you rub your hands together in glee as the Calgary Flames missing 1/3 of their skater contingent disembowels an NHL team on back to back nights after clinching both the division and the conference with a big win over San Jose last night.

Any time you show up to play wind down games with a playoff position deterimined you hope to keep sharp, develop or find chemistry and avoid injury.

The Flames were happy to find two of the three as James Neal and Derek Ryan led the way offensively, but the big one, the injury was for nought as Sam Bennett left the game with what looked like a head injury on a heavy hit by Curtis MacDermid in a 7-2 Calgary victory.

Line Up Changes

Name it and it changed!

With the division and conference all sewn up it was time to rest some key players, and the Flames took that chance to sit down the elite members of the second line, and the top four defensemen (by minutes this year) on the blueline.

Up front Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk took a seat, a shrewd move by Bill Peters in my estimation with the Drew Doughty/Tkachuk feud and avoiding any injuries/chaos before the playoffs. Stepping in was Sam Bennett who missed five games and Alan Quine.

On the blueline they sat the Giordano/Brodie pairing as well as the Noah Hanifin / Travis Hamonic pairing, dressing defensemen five through ten on the roster. Into the lineup came Oscar Fantenberg, Oliver Kylington, Juuso Valimaki and Michael Stone to join Dalton Prout and Rasmus Andersson who played the night before.

In net a change as well as David Rittich was in net with Mike Smith getting the night off.

Sam Bennett Return and Injury

Sure have to hope Sam Bennett is ok after the second period clean hit he took from MacDermid.

A goal post, a goal, a few good hits, and a penalty of course, marked his return to the lineup, but so to do the return of his Lanny McDonald moustache and playoff beard. Talk about using some time off the ice wisely.

Great to hear after the game that Bennett is decent shape as the clubs expects him to play again before the regular season winds down. He adds to the roster and is a player that should only get better in the emotion of the playoffs (based on what we’ve seen in big games this year and what he’s done in previous playoff games).

David Rittich Start

Solid game for Big Save Dave, as I wouldn’t fault him on either first period Kings goals. The first one squeezed through him which happens, and the second one was a bang bang play to which he had little chance.

Eric Francis was on the show after the first period suggesting he thinks Mike Smith gets the not in game one of the playoffs, but I’m not sure that has been determined.

Dalton Prout Use

Shame MacDermid didn’t come back for the third period as Francis pointed out, as it was the classic chance for Dalton Prout to add his “element” by avenging what was in my view a clean hit on Sam Bennett.

However even without this opportunity I think Prout has to be more aggressive.

In the second period he took down a King and was essentially challenged by Kyle Clifford, but instead ignored a shove, a cross check and a whack to just skate away.

Wasn’t that a golden opportunity to flex your biggest skill?

James Neal Timing

Great to see James Neal playing his best hockey of the season.

Last night he had five hits and was noticeable physically in the third period of a big game, while picking up an assist. Tonight he gets six of the team’s 30 shots on goal and scores a goal and adds a helper and posts a +4 on the night.

A late surge won’t remove the barnacles on a rough season for the high priced free agent signing. But given the Flame’s ability to score this season it’s a late bonus if the playoff guy they brought in finds it in time for the playoffs, and at least changes the final chapter of his first season in Calgary.

The Flames have depth, and James Neal is part of that.

Third Period Goals

With four more third period goals tonight the Calgary Flames have now scored 118 third period goals this season, while giving up only 63.

That’s simply incredible.

They are up on all three periods, with a first period margin of +3 and a second period margin of +9. Nothing even close to that third period mark of +51 though.

Overall the team is +66 which is incredibly far behind the Tampa mark of +100, but incredibly way ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs at +41.

300 Look

Speaking of goal scoring, could the Flames reach 300?

It’s been almost untenable in the last two decades, but shattered this season with the Lightning already at 314. But could the Flames be another team past the three century mark?

With seven tonight its possible.

The Flames need 13 goals in two games against two pretty weak opponents in the Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers.

Can they put up 6 or 7 both nights? Doubtful but possible.

50 Wins

There’s a lot of asterisks with this kind of thing, but clearly stated the 2018-19 Flames are now the second team in club history to post 50 wins on a season behind the 1988-89 Stanley Cup Winners that posted 54.

Now the first third of their time in Calgary had no conclusion to games beyond 60 minutes, so it’s pretty easy to assume the 1987-88 team would have turned at least two of their nine overtime games into wins with an overtime and shoot out format, but a mark is a mark as this Cinderella season continues to chug along.

They can’t get to 54, but 51 or 52 is a heck of a season.

Derek Ryan Again

Just can’t say enough about this guy this season.

A relatively slow start to his new team, but once he found his game in December he’s been nothing but consistent ever since.

Tonight two more goals giving him 12 goals and 25 assists for 37 points on the season. He was signed based on his breakout bottom roster production of 38 points last season.

He’s unlikely to be a healthy scratch I would think in the final two games, so he has a real chance at a 40 point season and money for the team in year one of a three year deal.

Great depth signing.

First Round Matchup

No point in updating standings implications for the Flames but we will continue to look at the most likely first round matchup as the week plays out.

Tonight the Avalanche score a late goal to tie it up and force over time with the St. Louis Blues before bowing out in a shoot out. The point gives the Avalanche a two point lead on the Arizona Coyotes with even games played.

Both teams play weak teams next as the Coyotes have L.A., and the Avalanche have the Oilers.

“The Flames Are Easy to Defend”

Little ironic to see the voluntarily depleted Flame’s roster put up seven goals on the Kings given Drew Doughty’s comments of the Flames being easy to defend before their game in Calgary last week.

Sure Doughty looked brilliant that day as his Kings rode the hot goaltending of backup Jack Campbell to a shut out victory, but tonight the seven spot has to let a lot of air out of those mouthy tires.

Counting Stats

Team Stats:
Shots – Calgary 30 Kings 25
Face Offs – Flames 54%
Special Teams – Flames 0/1 Kings 0/3

Player Stats:
Points – Mark Jankowski with three; goal and an assist
Plus/Minus – James Neal +4
Shots – James Neal 6

Fancy Stats

The Flames pretty much had their way with the Kings tonight, posting five on five shot attempt marks of 46%/63% and 59% to build a 60 minute total of 57% on the night. Scoring chances five on five were 60% Calgary, and the high danger chances fell 65% to the Flames (13-7).

In all situations the Flames had 52% of the shot attempts, 54% of the scoring chances and 60% of the high danger chances despite having only one of the game’s four powerplays.

Individually, every Calgary Flame finished at 50% or better on the night in terms of five on five shot attempt splits. At the top of the heap was Michael Frolik at 69%, joined in the 60s by Andrew Mangiapane, James Neal, Rasmus Anderson and Juuso Valimaki with a whale of a first game back in the show. Sam Bennett and Elias Lindholm finished at 50% on the mark.


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