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.
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.
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.
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.
No, the Flames aren’t going to fire the coach. No, the team won’t turn it around in time. No, the elite players aren’t finding their game in time (lead by Gio).
How about that for identity?! A few losses here and there, and two games where a team ‘strengthening’ their identity had little to show.
You know that feeling when you have a kid who’s clearly crappy at anything sports related, and even though they have shameless enthusiasm, when they start playing you can only keep your fingers crossed they don’t horribly embarrass themselves? That’s the Calgary Flames.
There’s little to show with an ‘improved’ lineup and 14 games under their belt. Here are the performances over the California swing.
The only saving grace for the inconsistent Flames’ play is the fact most other Western Conference teams are struggling too. Identity is the key to this team, something they’re still trying to find amidst a brand new system deployed by a brand new coaching staff. Slowly the team is picking up the pieces and assembling a competent on-ice product–slowly. Some games things look good for a while, other games things don’t look good. The Flames have been relying on the production of a balanced offensive attack to get by, as the top-line with Gaudreau-Monahan-4th line plugger struggle to find any 5v5 pressure.
The Backlund line with Frolik and Tkachuk are leading the team and are a 3rd line surprise. FOr his part, rookie Tkachuk got the thumbs up for his play, rewarded before the game with news he’d be sticking with the big club and learning on the fly. Good thing too, he scored two goals including the GWG.
Other notes: Dennis Wideman moved from #2 D man, which still remains one of the most inexplicable things, to the pressbox. How one makes that kind of jump is beyond me. Chad Johnson was solid in net, showing how we have a worthy tandem in goal this year. Deryk Engelland was the offensive defenceman tonight, leading the rush on both Tkachuk goals, ya, that Engelland.
LA and Anaheim are next, the latter a rink where the Flames can’t even buy a win, but something just feels right about the weekend for this team….
Dropped again, 5-1 against Chicago, everyone single person is wondering where the Flames are, particularly the ‘top line’ that can’t get going without a bonafide RW. What we know for sure, they aren’t a playoff team. What we’re curious about, is whether they can string together a win or two. ANd by the way, not a SINGLE PERSON other than Glen Gulutzan thinks Dennis Wideman is a #2 D man.
The post game review in three bullet points.
- Dennis Wideman badly out of position on first goal. Fail Wideman. Fail coach for putting Wideman on top D line.
- No offensive 5v5 production from top line. Fail coach, albeit who are you going to put as a RW on that line?
- Giordano. Maybe it’s being saddle with Wideman, but he’s off his game.
- Honorable mention to Backlund who had an incredible game.
Flames played a top team in the East and looked badly out of place at times, and average at best. Still a LONG ways to go boys.
Fancy that, a string of games thrown together and a couple wins. The wins are good ,but there are 3 glaring errors that have absolutely no conceivable answer:
1) Why is GRossman playing?
2) Why is Wideman on the top defensive unit? This is incredibly stupid. He’s a 6th D man who plays PP, not a shutdown man. I’m gonna call him ‘one hand on the stick’ Wideman from now on.
3) Chiasson on the top line is dumb. The top line has no 5 v 5 power because 1/3 of the line is a 4th line plug.
Apart from that, great win, I guess the team is coming on board with ‘the system’.