Flames 3 – Lightning 2

It was close in the end, but when the final buzzer sounded the Flames strung together another road win in their SE US trip that continues tomorrow night in Florida.

Some post game thoughts:

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Flames Squander a Point in Torrid Affair: Calgary 6 – Nashville 5 (OT)

It was an utter disaster.

Up 3 goals late in the second, Calgary found themselves trailing by 1, 5-4 to start the final frame because of a monumental collapse.

And there wasn’t Dennis Wideman to blame either

Let me repeat myself. NO DENNIS WIDEMAN on the ice. The recent trade for Mike Stone (and the signing of Matt Bartkowski who probably played himself into the pressbox next game) meant Wideman was sitting, finally, nearly sixty games into the season.

No, this wasn’t Dennis’ fault, it was a Calgary Flames club that can’t be bothered to play a genuine 60 minutes of hockey, and because of that they gave up a point, and almost squandered two.

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Referee Bias Evident: Flames 3 – Flyers 1 #widemaneffect

After putting up one of the worst efforts of the entire season Monday against the Phoenix Coyotes, the Calgary Flames had a chance to right the ship tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. Three thoughts from tonight’s game.

1) Everyone is talking about how the Calgary Flames on Another one targets for NHL officials. It’s not something that can be hidden anymore. All the sportscasters and journalists joke about it without referencing it directly. It may be unsaid but it can’t be ignored anymore because it’s gone on so long. Alex Chiasson was injected from the game for a ‘spear’ in the first period. That’s not a penalty, even with Cousins embellishing the love tap HARD. If the officials were idiots they’d give two minutes, but no, it was a five minute game misconduct. Why? #Widemaneffect that’s the only explanation possible. Frolik’s partial break late in the third and NO call? Can’t believe my eyes….

2) It took nearly 3/4 of the season for Glen Gulutzan to figure out Wideman has to play bottom pair minutes. 58 games (that’s FIFTY EIGHT) until we saw Wideman play as the 6th Dman. Even with his new assignment he didn’t waste time screwing everything up with a horrid game on his first shift putting the Flames down by 1. Wideman can’t even be traded, so why not just demote him to the minors.

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Road Swing Wins

The Flames take their mandatory 5 day break that will let other teams pick up some games in hand. We’ll see where the Flames sit come Monday when they face the Coyotes again.

The recent trip to the Metro Division was an opportunity to play some consistent hockey, or get blown out of the water. Overall, the team put up some points, surprising everybody.

Two points versus Pittsburgh, a good team, was deserved. But there are still some questions, or rather the same issues, that will plague the team until the end. It all surrounds coaching.

Wideman continues, inexplicably, to play top 4 D man minutes. Brodie was sheltered from him for a bit in the NJ game and promptly put up 4 points. Wideman for his part was the cause of 3 goals against. Gulutzan’s insistence to play him makes no sense and is hurting the team.

Although special teams have been good, it’s a head scratcher why not even the top PP unit would play in OT against Pittburgh. The Gio-Hamilton pair on the backend stunk out the OT frame with their performance on the PP. Again, coaching problems.

If the goaltending tandem can put together a significant run the Flames have a chance to keep their wild card position, that they’re sure to lose over the weekend. They’ll have to play about .600 hockey the rest of the way though. Can they do it?

Brian Burke on Hockey Analytics – Agree or Disagree?

I found this clip interesting.

Part of my agrees, analytics is the poster child of arm chair enthusiasts and anybody who took a stats class in college. It’s a tool in the toolbox.

But part of my disagrees simply because, ironically, the stats on scouting shows that finding bonafide picks is a bit of a crapshoot. Take for instance Detroit and their run over the past 10-15 years of quality, late round picks. How did that happen? Did Detroit just draft better than everybody else? Well turns out not really, the work of a single scout could be attributed to their success. By in large the work of scouting is also a crapshoot, and you need that edge to find the picks that will make an impact.

Your thoughts?

Flames 5 – Wild 1

For some reason the Calgary Flames can beat the Minnesota Wild. They aren’t particularly good against teams with a better record, but the Wild, they swept the season series. Here’s the post-game.

Coming off the All-Star break the Flames have a light schedule for the first half of February. They’ll have to win the few games they have, and watch the standings as teams like LA and St Louis pick up steam and games in hand.

Tonight the Flames from November showed up, the team that kept their forecheck and feet moving, won puck battles, good goaltending, special teams making a difference, all the things you need to win consistently.

Some thoughts:
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Much Needed Win: Calgary 3 – Ottawa 2 (OT)

The Flames are back in the win column but that doesn’t mean they’ve solved their problems, which are significant, particularly on 5v5 play. The inability to generate offence 5v5 is killing the team. It’s only tonight that the lines finally got a major shakeup, save for the defence, where Dennis Wideman continues to play a regular shift. Why he was on the ice with one minute left is anybody but the coach’s guess.

Keys to the victory: great forecheck, good goaltending, and timely scoring lead by Gaudreau, who’s been gawd awful, but managed to redeem himself with some key plays late.

First a sweet goal by boring Monahan:

Then the OT winner where Gaudreau got lucky, out of position, knocking the puck away that lead to a pretty tic-tac-toe OT winner.

The Flames will head in the All-Star break and play 5 games in the next 3 weeks. By the time it’s all over, we’ll get an idea how this team stacks up in the standings as teams catch up with their games in hand. it’s not going to look pretty.

Flames Bashed in Battle of Alberta Sweep

Calgary 3 – Edmonton 7

For the first time since the 80s, the Edmonton Oilers swept the season series of the Battle of Alberta.

In perhaps the most important game of the season, the Flames put up their worst effort of the season. We know Edmonton is an improved team, ten years of draft wins will do that, what we didn’t know was how BAD the Flames are and how many missing pieces they have, some of which could be solved in house, and others just plain head scratchers.

As the season creeps past the mid-way point here are some observations as to WHY the Flames are in the place they are now, a downward trend with a Wild Card playoff spot slipping away.

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Back on Track With Win Over Florida

Flames 7 5 – Panthers 2

The first period looked a little shaky. Florida seem to control most of the play and got on board first. in fact, both goals by Trochek were spitting images of each other going top glove side on Chad Johnson. Calgary has had significant problems generating offence even strength, relying too heavily on their power-play unit. That didn’t seem to be changing through one period; the only lineup change was on the fourth with Hathaway out for Hamilton.

But then the second period came and special teams stood tall

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Worst Effort of the Season: Flames 1 – Devils 2

No wonder the ‘Dome is 1/3 empty for home games, pathetic efforts like tonight.

The Flames have been relying on stalwart goaltending and their third line to get wins (special teams have been special as of late too).

But that’s it. After that, the system and coaching decisions are killing the team.

When they play teams struggling to enter the playoff picture they crap the bed. Zero effort, hardly any offensive zone production.

This team will be hammered tomorrow against Edmonton. They are a step behind, won’t go into the dirty areas to win, and have relied for months on poor Chiasson to play with an All-Star. No wonder lines 1, 2, 4, put up zero points, it’s an effort in futility. Without the Backlund line this team is probably 10 points behind where they are now. That’s a lot of points.