The Calgary Flames in Anaheim has not, in recent history, been a fun time. Disneyland is great, but the Anaheim Ducks suck the joy out of everything. Could Calgary break the streak tonight? Well, they'd sure as heck try, because that's our Flames.
Well, it was certainly a good start for Matt Beleskey. Guy-who-has-never-been-a-prolific-scorer-but-is-on-Ryan Getzlaf-and-Corey Perry's-line-for-some-reason got things started with a centring pass from behind the Flames net, which bounced right off Kris Russell's skate and in to put the Ducks up 1-0. He rang a shot off the post shortly after.
The Honda Center responded by jeering Jonas Hiller, which was rude.
The Flames worked to generate a few chances of their own. There was a sequence which got kicked off by a couple of Ladislav Smid point shots, and mostly Johnny Gaudreau just being flat out amazing, but the Flames either weren't hitting the net, or Frederik Andersen was right there to stop them. Gaudreau needs his teammates to get on his level!
Of course, when the Flames were having a decent breakout, truculence had to happen. Just as Dennis Wideman was taking a shot, the whistle went. While everyone else on the ice had been working their way into the Ducks' zone, Russell and Ryan Kesler had stayed behind, jabbing at each other until the gloves went off. It was a pretty good tilt, though. Russell is 5'10 - who needs size?
Ultimately, though, the period was going Anaheim's way. Except when Mark Giordano dumped Perry twice, which was awesome. And things were clearly starting to go the Flames' way as the period neared its end. Gaudreau was unable to cleanly receive a bouncy cross-ice pass from Jiri Hudler, but he worked his way behind the net and tried for the wraparound. While it was unsuccessful, it was still a net positive for the Flames, as during the play, Devante Smith-Pelly interfered with Giordano, sending the Flames to the powerplay.
The powerplay didn't get much done in the period's remaining 46 seconds, but started to come together towards the end, particularly when Gaudreau had a nice move to get the puck onside and to Sean Monahan, who had a last-second missed shot.
The first ended with the Flames outshooting the Ducks 12-9, but the Ducks out-corsiing the Flames 19-17.
The second, meanwhile, was a tale of poor powerplays exclusively for the Flames. The Flames' first powerplay was finally killed. They soon got a second one when Mat Clark tripped up Markus Granlund, who was trying to swing in to the net.
The Ducks had no problem not only killing the penalty, but not even half a minute later, adding to their lead. With Monahan half-assedly covering Perry in front of the net, Perry received the puck and quickly tapped it in on a play Hiller was slow to read, putting Anaheim up 2-0.
It's okay, though! For the Flames would get another chance, when Gaudreau was going in alone, and Josh Manson took him into the boards. He was called for roughing, and the Flames were off to their next terrible powerplay, in which they passed the puck a lot but didn't shoot it very much at all, which is an interesting strategy for a team down by two. Ineffective, but interesting.
That's not to say the Flames weren't trying, it just wasn't coming through in the powerplay. Granlund went for it, Gaudreau went for it, and to complete the trifecta of Flames forwards selected in the 2011 draft, Sven Baertschi went for it. Baertschi carried the puck in alone, and got it on net. With nobody else there, however, it slid harmlessly through the crease.
The Ducks were clearly the better team, though, and continued to prove themselves just that. With the period winding down, Deryk Engelland and Kyle Palmieri were in the corner together. Palmieri completely out-powered Engelland, leaving him behind as he made his way to the net and slid the puck fivehole on yet another poor goal by Hiller to make it a 3-0 game with just 15 seconds left in the period.
The Flames were outshooting the Ducks 14-12 after two, and out-corsiing them 20-17; although at even strength, the Ducks were outshooting the Flames 11-10, and out-corsiing them 16-14.
The third was the period of four on four action! First, it was TJ Brodie and Jakob Silfverberg sent off for mutual slashing calls. Then, it was Perry and Baertschi sitting: Baertschi for slashing, and Perry, of course, for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The second four on four proved extremely beneficial, as with the open ice, Monahan found an open Brodie coming up the slot. Brodie did as Brodie now does, scoring his first goal since Halloween and breaking Andersen's shutout. 3-1.
Giordano shot just wide after Brodie's goal, as the Flames were significantly more energized, and it showed. Granlund drew his second powerplay of the game when Patrick Maroon tripped him. The Flames had a much better time with the man advantage, nearly getting a powerplay goal... from Baertschi.
Despite the flurry of Flames activity around the Ducks' net, they still were unable to score on the powerplay. Flashing back to the game against the Devils, Bob Hartley shrugged his shoulders, said, "Fuck it," and pulled Hiller with about 3:30 to go.
And not even 20 seconds later, the puck was in the back of the Ducks' net, courtesy of a Gaudreau... kick. Giordano's hard pass to the front of the net resulted in the puck going in off Gaudreau's foot, in what was (correctly) ruled a distinct kicking motion.
And then Beleskey nearly scored an empty netter, but Brodie was there to save the day, as Brodie does.
The Ducks iced the puck with just over a minute left, yet again giving the Flames hope. Curtis Glencross got the puck and shot it into the traffic in front of the net, but nobody got it. Josh Jooris was off to the side, but unable to receive passes cleanly. Giordano took a shot on net, and it went in.
Wait, what? Seriously? This again?
Yup - with about 25 seconds left in the game, Giordano blasted it, and Hudler tipped the puck in past Andersen, drawing the Flames within one, 3-2. How unfortunate is it now that Gaudreau's goal was ruled a kick? How terrible is it that Engelland couldn't hold off Palmieri, and Hiller couldn't keep his legs closed?
Because that was it. The Flames took their timeout, and tried, but were unable to get another shot on net. The Ducks nearly added insult to never-gonna-win-in-Anaheim-ever-again-injury by almost empty netting it, but fortunately time ran out, and the Flames fell 3-2. They outshot the Ducks 34-29, and out-corsied them 60-49.
Flame of the game
I loved Gaudreau tonight. I loved Baertschi, too, even though he didn't get to play much. Both players were creating things, and honestly, I'd give it to Baertschi if he had gotten more ice time. Since he didn't, though, let's roll with TJ Brodie. Once again a leader in ice time and possession stats, it was Brodie's goal that really got things going for the team. He also tied Monahan for a team-leading four shots on net, as a defenceman. Yeesh. Five goals is a new career high for him! TJ forever, let's send him to the all-star game. He's tied for third in defenceman scoring with Sami Vatanen, and just one point back of Brent Burns. And I think we all know who leads defencemen in scoring.
- The Flames have lost in regulation eight times now. They've lost by more than one goal five times. More than two goals three times. So more often than not, they're in every game, and that's a positive, but they SERIOUSLY need to stop relying on these last minute comebacks, because they're fun and all but come on, guys!
- Make it 32 goals in the third period. That's the most in the NHL; Montreal is second with 28. The Flames have 73 goals in total, which is good for second in the league, which is absolutely insane. For context, the Canucks are second in Pacific division scoring, with just 67 in one fewer game. This is all Giordano's fault.
- Russell had a fight. 5'10", 173 lb. Russell had a fight. Not Brandon Bollig. Not Engelland. Russell.
- Continuing on that, the game winning goal was largely on Engelland for not being able to keep his man. You know the physical stats on the two? Engelland is 6'2", 215 lbs. Palmieri is 5'11", 195 lbs. And Palmieri out-muscled Engelland for the game winner, pretty similar to how Cedric Paquette easily handled Bollig for his first NHL goal despite being smaller.
- Look, I don't have a problem with toughness, but it has to not suck. It has to be functional. Like Russell. Or Giordano. Or Glencross. The biggest credit we can give to Bollig and Engelland is their size, and both were out-muscled by smaller players in goals against. This really isn't that hard to figure out.
- Hiller had a pretty bad game. I don't think it necessarily had anything to do with him being back in Anaheim. Sometimes goalies are just gonna have bad games. Every goal against was pretty terrible, though, but especially that third one.
- Baertschi! Had! Third! Period! Ice! Time! He was trailing everyone else going into the third, including Bollig, but a lengthy third period shift with Monahan and Gaudreau (!!) and some really late time with Granlund and Jooris saw him play way more, and play pretty well at that.
- Prior to this game, Baertschi had a PDO of 911. For those of you not familiar with the concept, an average PDO is 1000. Translation: Baertschi has been EXTREMELY unlucky. Let's say Baertschi had Granlund's luck and vice versa. At this point we're not worried for Granlund, and Baertschi's looking like a legitimate NHLer. But Baertschi's the one with the bad luck, so he's the prospect looking bad. In reality, he's doing a lot of good, even if he isn't getting the scoreboard. He's driving the net and putting pucks on it. That's what we want, right?
- While I'm talking about luck: remember everyone freaking out about Monahan getting nine points in his first nine NHL games? You know who had the biggest impact? Baertschi. Three assists, and Monahan assisted on one of his goals. Four of Monahan's first nine points were in part thanks to Baertschi. You think they may have had something there...?
- (Pssstttt. I love him, but stop playing Lance Bouma on the first line. He actually didn't get any ice time past the 45th minute.)
- David Jones is expected to play tomorrow, so someone's going to have to be sent down. That someone might have been Baertschi, but with his third period effort in particular, I don't think you can do that to him. I'd advocate for one of the useless tough guys, but Devin Setoguchi is a pretty likely candidate.
- Corban Knight only received 6:15 in ice time, the least of everyone on the team. He got two shots on net during that time, though. He shouldn't be a candidate to be sent down because, well, he just got here.
... the Flames stop playing Baertschi on the fourth line? He's more talented than that, and had a great game. It's hard to create offence from down there, but he was trying anyway.
... the Flames scratch Engelland? His play on Palmieri's goal was seriously unforgivable. If you're there to be tough and a smaller player makes a fool out of you, what are you really doing there?
... the Flames realize Bouma was not a first liner for the entire game? The occasional shift, fine, cool, whatever. But there are better options to play up with Monahan and Glencross. With Jones coming back, it could very well be him, but you know. Byron. Or. ... You know ...
/leans in real close
Quick turnaround! The Flames are headed up a bit north to play the San Jose Sharks tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. MT. Get some sleep! See you then!