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.

Flames 3 – SJ 2 and how we notice officiating every single game

That was a hard fought game and mostly fun to watch. Back and forth where at times when you wondered if the Flames could hold back the relentless SJ forecheck. Give the first star to Chad Johnson, who repeatedly bailed the team out, twice on breakaways, one with seconds left in the game. Defensively the team is giving up chances like it’s October, offensively CHiasson continues to rack up more minutes. Yes, there are still huge problems for this team, particularly scoring outside of the Backlund’s line (Monahan is absolutely and completely non-existent on the ice, full stop).

But I have to wonder, how many games do we have to watch where inevitable we notice and scream at the officials? There are far too many Flames games where NHL officiating is inconsistent at best. IT borderlines dangerous when player safety is involved. Non-calls, blown calls, chintzy calls, all around head scratchers describe this year’s instalment of the quality of NHL officials. Eric Francis had a nice segment in the second intermission decrying the complete lack of interest the NHL about the vicious and intentional cross-check to the throat on Monday vs. Winnipeg (on Hathaway) that went uncalled.

Right now the NHL deosn’t care about certain player safety calls and fans are going to have to get used to balancing fun hockey with incredulous officiating.

Officials missed, from my count, 3 hit from behinds, automatic empty net goal, and a really cheap penalty shot in the third. At this point, let’s expect the Flames will continuously get poor officiating both because of the quality of officials, and the Wideman effect.

Hashtag, conspiracy theory.

The much needed points against a Western rival helps in a big way. Calgary will now start playing the East with more frequency. Including back to backs this weekend.

Calgary Flames 4 – Colorado Avalanche 1

The Avs aren’t very good, and Calgary’s special teams are. Put those two together and it’s an easy two points for the good guys. Here are a few highlights from tonight’s game.

  • Shut out for Brian Elliott, oh just kidding, Colorado scores with 1.30 left in the game.
  • Kris Versteeg seems to enjoy hitting players with the puck, ringing one off an Avs player late in the third. He was the one who shot the puck of the end of the period that broke Troy Brouwer’s hand.
  • Actually a good thing to say about the officiating, the linesmen broke up a potential Giordano vs. Iginla fight. Nobody wanted to see that.
  • Coming into the month December, Calgary have the worst penalty kill and power play in the league. Fast forward 30 days and they now sit top 10 for the Power play. The team is #1 for both over the past 30 days.
  • Mikael Backlund continues his hot hand scoring has 12th of the year. Surprisingly, he leaves the team in scoring.

Calgary will play a home at home series versus the Vancouver Canucks over the weekend. More games against a team struggling to enter the playoff picture.

Christmas Cheer: Calgary 4 – Vancouver 1

It’s always a wonderful gift to receive when the Flames bounce the now lowly Canucks. Vancouver is SO bad that you have to wonder….

Special Teams Are Special in Flames Win

Calgary 4 – Arizona 2

You are supposed to beat Arizona. I may not be easy but you’re supposed to take those two points on the worst team in the league (maybe the worst franchise?). Calgary squeak out two points thanks largely to the play of their special teams. At the beginning of the season the power-play and the penalty kill were less than stellar. In fact, they were at the bottom of the week. With the winning ways of December upon the team, they’re now about the middle of the pack. Special teams are actually winning games….

It’s a good thing too, the referees were out to lunch particularly when the game was on the line in the third period. (You know officiating is bad when you notice the refs and obvious make-up calls are being made left, right, and centre).

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Flames Dropped at Home vs Lightning

The Calgary Flames came into tonight’s game vs. their nemesis Tampa Bay Lightning (why does Florida have two teams? Anybody?) riding a six game winning streak. Two things were lost, the Flames winning streak, and their chances of every getting a day off in the future. With some breathing room in the schedule the team got a full extra day off, and rewarded home town faithful with a flat pathetic effort.

The Flames were coasting after the first five, got no help from the one-sided officials who took Ben BIshop’s song and dance hook, line, n sinker, and generated zero offence.

HEre’s the Ben Bishop sell job for those wondering.

The usual suspects were non-existent for most of the game–Mark Giordano, Troy Brouwer, and Sean Monahan. The latter leads the Flames’ in goals, but that doesn’t matter when half of them come in blowout games and he’s absent for most of the game. He doesn’t throw checks, doesn’t win board battles, and has trouble generating offence on his own. Really poor efforts from players who command top dollars. Monahan had maybe 4 shifts in the third period and wasn’t on the ice in the dying minutes or the PP.

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Calgary Flames Finally Serve Anaheim Ducks Massive Loss 8-3

This was actually a 7-1 blowout until the final 2 minutes.

You knew the Flames’ were due. A result years in the making, Calgary has spent seasons trying to get over the ‘Duck Demons’, consistently losing, and sometimes badly, to the bigger, tougher, talented Ducks. The storyline was perfect for a Sunday evening game too. The return of Johnny Hockey.

Gaudreau, originally slated to miss 4-6 weeks, has been practicing as of late, and made a surprise return to the line up complete with oven mitt sized gloves to protect his hands. His return gave the lines a bit of a juggle, but more importantly, gave the team as a whole extra life. Without their star Calgary has found ways to win, riding stalwart goaltending.

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Calgary 3 – Toronto 0

With this THIRD shut-out of the season, Chad Johnson back stopped the Flames to a convincing home victory against the refresh Toronto Maple Leafs. Coming off their longest road-swing of the season, the Flames took the lead early scoring twice in the first minute of the opening period. From then on it was more Calgary as the team comfortably road the lead to a victory.

A couple of insight on tonight’s game.

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Flames 3 – Detroit 2

In one of those rare days when both the Calgary Stampeders and Calgary Flames play, and win, the Flames did their part by sticking to their gameplan and pulling out a late game win thanks to the emerging second line lead by Mikael Backlund.

Chad Johnson started his 4th game in a row, leading the Flames to their 3rd victory in a row. With the likes of the top line mostly non-existent, the big money players injured or invisible (Monahan is hurt or is just coasting, Giordano is a step behind) the rest of the team is picking up the slack.

Mikael Backlund, surprisingly with only 2 goals on the season despite his play, with Matthew Tkachuk and Frolik, are a dominant line that constantly shuts down the best opponent line and generates offence. Tonight they had a beauty passing play off transition to score the eventual game-winner late in the third period.

Other emerging heroes, tonight at least, was Dougie Hamilton and Garnet Hathaway. The latter scored his first NHL goal and has provided the team with a spark with his crash and bang stlye of play. Hamilton, who’s been subject of trade rumors as of late, had 3 assists on the night, factoring in on all of Calgary’s goals.

The Flames look to continue their winning ways, piling up points when they can since they lead the league in games played, tomorrow against Buffalo. We’ll have to see who goes in net for the team since it’s been a while Brian Elliot’s put on the pads.

Flames 1 – Wild 0

A photo posted by Calgary Flames (@nhlflames) on

We’ve always known that the Minnesota Wild please boring hockey, that means a low scoring game, which maybe, just maybe, gives the Flames a chance, and all you need is a chance for 29th best team in a league of 30 teams.

Coach Gulutzan has taken the first month of the season to experiment with line combinations trying everything in the bag of tricks except for what works. The dismantling of the defense is one of the major issues with the team thus far, tonight featuring yet more line juggling. Scoring being another problem. Special teams being another. Goaltending being another. Well you get the picture.

Finally, Chiasson is off the top line and Brouwer moves into the spot. Somehow, the former is still on the top PP unit. Senseless.

With the Flames have lacked, apart from consistent play, is grit. The addition of call-up Hathaway and the return of Tkachuk, providing a much needed booster lineup.

Although the key players are starting to emerge particularly on defense, let’s give credit where credit is due, not 10 seconds in, all the way until the final buzzer, Chad Johnson was significant in goal, shutting down Minnesota For his first shutout of the season. Johnny Gaudreau, who left the game midway in the third period with a hand injury after taking repeated slashes, scored the only goal off transition on PP the boot.

No rest, but chance to keep the winning streak alive, tomorrow at home against Chicago.