Game Takes: Predators 3 Flames 1

March 23rd, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Being able to carry the play and out chance the opposition is a great step towards becoming a perennial playoff team and a potential contender, but hockey teams that don’t execute just can’t win, and that was the case for the Calgary Flames tonight.

Tonight the Flames bobbled, whiffed, stumbled, bumbled and stumbled their way to a 3-1 loss in Nashville in a game that featured enough scoring chances and bad bounces to win three games in the first two periods.

Some nights are just not your night, better to shake it off and move on, this was one of those for the Calgary Flames.

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Banking on Bennett

March 22nd, 2017 | Posted in Commentary | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Sometimes it’s easier to not have a choice.

The Edmonton Oilers have had to wonder when gazing back on draft history if they selected the right player time and time again. The book is in on Nail Yakupov, but additional questions swarmed the choices of Taylor Hall (Tyler Seguin) and Ryan Nugent Hopkins (Gabe Landeskog). That first overall choice gives you the field, but with that comes a lot of post draft analysis and navel gazing.

When The Hockey News went to select their cover for the 2014 NHL Draft they couldn’t decide on just one player, instead they put four on the cover, and as it turns out that’s exactly the four that went as expected in the top four picks.

The Flames, with the fourth pick, took the last guy standing, that being the somewhat controversial Sam Bennett, a player who has struggled in his sophomore season after a pretty good rookie season, and a playoff showing before that that looked very promising.

The Oilers, who sat third in the draft had the choice between Leon Draisaitl and Sam Bennett, and at this moment in time only a fool would call that a bad choice, as the German center has become a huge part of their core and has passed the previous core players like Nugent Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, in terms of importance.

The results are still early though, not as early as any proclamations from Calgary that Matthew Tkachuk is the better player over Jesse Puljujärvi, but early nonetheless.

But why with the Flames only 9 games and 3 weeks from returning to the playoffs would I be writing a draft article?

Naturally, the suspension to Matthew Tkachuk.
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Game Takes: Capitals 4 Flames 2

March 21st, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

Beating top teams on the road is a tough task, a task that comes with a pretty firm game plan.

Paramount on that bullet list is to stay out of the box when you’re playing the Capitals as their 8th ranked powerplay is ultra dangerous with the soft passing Niklas Backstrom, the rocket launcher in Alex Ovechkin and a myriad of options to fill out their top unit both up front and on the blueline.

Take penalties and put yourself behind the eight ball, something the Flames certainly did by taking three minor to the one taken by the Capitals in losing the special teams battle and the hockey game by a 4-2 score.

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Games Takes: Flames 5 Kings 2

March 19th, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

When all eyes were on the final few weeks of the season a month and a half ago the fact that the Flames had to play the Kings three times in their final 16 games loomed large. So to did the final six games taking place in or against the three California teams. For a Flames club hoping to be in the mix though, as a fan you just had to be excited that they had a chance, they’d be in that last ditch push to the wire; the city would be electric.

Nobody saw a ten game win streak, or 20 games that featured a 16-3-1 record making these games still important of course, but so much less crucial than they would have been had the team moved along at a similar .550 pace that had them through their first 55 games of the season.

However you also want to see that killer instinct, to step on the throats of the chasing team. A L.A. win and it’s a 7 point gap, but instead the Flames beat the Kings 5-2 on the backs of Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, stretching their playoff lead to 11 points, and their magic number stripped down to 6.

It’s happening!
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Game Takes: Flames 3 Stars 1

March 17th, 2017 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

In the 80s the Russians had the green unit, a group of five players that played together always. They were all household names, one of them, Sergei Makarov, actually played in Calgary.

What made it unique was the fact that the Russians under coach Viktor Tikhonov attempted to play three forwards with two defenseman at all times, a depart from the North American model that essentially lives on today; that forward lines and defense pairings.

The Flames this year have taken a huge step forwards in the standings and the possession analytics that show the team generating more shots than they give up on most nights. That takes systems, but it also takes utilization decisions and more often than not Glen Gulutzan has his big five play drivers on the ice together in Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, Mikael Backlund, Micheal Frolik and rookie Matthew Tkachuk.

The big five were one ice together for all three Flames goals tonight, and all five going +3 in a solid 3-1 victory over the very green Dallas Stars on St. Patrick’s Day.

The Russians had KLM, so why not build a five around 3M?
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