Calgary was never going to be a good team this year, but they were going to be a hardworking one. And they were, until recent efforts.
Not much has gone right for the Flames since a thrilling win against the St. Louis Blues just a little over a week ago. Since returning from the Christmas break, they've put up poor games against rivals Edmonton and Vancouver. But each game is a new game, and the Flames hadn't seen the Flyers since February 25, 2012.
The Flyers got off to a quick start, as Mark Streit scored just 3:15 in. Brayden Schenn scored later in the first period, but the goal was immediately waved off as it was determined Scott Hartnell had interfered with Reto Berra. The Flames left the period down only 1-0.
Over halfway into the second period, magic happened: the Flames actually scored a goal! Paul Byron spotted Sean Monahan coming on for a line change, and passed the puck up to him. Monahan sniped the puck past Ray Emery to tie the game at one, scoring his 11th of the year and breaking the Flames' shutout streak at 159 minutes and 35 seconds.
But before the period ended, the Flyers took the lead once again. Brayden Schenn made up for his earlier denied goal as he scored to put the Flyers up 2-1 at the end of the second.
The third period continued a familiar story as the Flames were unable to score. Scott Hartnell extended the lead with about 10 minutes remaining in the game. The Flames got a powerplay with 2:01 left, and Hartley chose to pull Berra so they could go 6 on 4. This proved the final dagger, as the Flyers won the faceoff and sent the puck into the Flames' net for an empty net shorthanded goal to win 4-1.
- Brian McGrattan played 7:32. He had no points, no special teams time, and one shot. He was on the ice for three shot attempts for and nine against. Newcomer Kevin Westgarth played 10:42 in his Flames debut. He had no points, one hit, and was a part of the Flames' failed game ending powerplay. He was on the ice for eight shot attempts for and ten against. It's only been one game, but are the Flames tougher to play against yet?
- Here's how tough it is to play against the Flames when McGrattan and Westgarth are on the ice: they were two of the worst four possession players for the Flames. The other two were Joe Colborne and David Jones. Via ExtraSkater, their corsi percentages for, from worst to best, were:
25.0% for McGrattan
33.3% for Colborne
39.1% for Jones
44.4% for Westgarth
The next worst? Lance Bouma at 55.6%. This means that when any of the aforementioned four were on ice, the Flames were essentially bleeding and the Flyers were firmly in control of the play. It's only been one game, but there isn't much reason to think their numbers are going to improve... So it would seem it's actually easier to play against the Flames with the tough guys on the ice.
- Monahan played the most minutes he has since returning from injury at 15:46. That's 26 more seconds than his return in Buffalo, after which his minutes sharply fell. He was seventh in ice time for all Flames forwards, and played only 10 fewer seconds than Colborne. With his increased ice time and goal it would be great to see if the rookie is finally turning the corner after coming back from injury, although it should be noted he started all his shifts exclusively in the offensive zone.
- After playing the past two games rather well, Berra fell back to earth. His past six starts saw him with a save percentage above .900%. This game, Berra finished his night at .850%. It would not be surprising to see Karri Ramo start the next game, as Berra looked noticeably weaker.
- As noted above, most of the Flames actually had pretty good possession numbers this game. No Flyer had a corsi percentage for above 55%, whereas 14 Flames skaters did - including Mikael Backlund at an impressive 80% (on the ice for 20 shot attempts for, five against), and while mostly seeing the Flyers' top line - including Claude Giroux, who had his nine game point streak ended. The Flames may have deserved to win this game, but a lack of goal scoring, a lack of bounces, and poor goaltending really did them in.
The Flames will be back in the Saddledome in 2014 to face the Tampa Bay Lightning.