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Calgary Flames at Winnipeg Jets recap: AHL-quality defence provides AHL-quality results

The entire point of preseason games this close to the regular season is to figure out the final spots on your roster. Some Flames showed up; others did not.

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

When it's preseason, you almost never see an optimal lineup. After all, you're still trying to figure out just who, exactly, is going to be on your team, and that means taking spots from superior players and giving them to those still fighting to make the team.

When it's an away preseason game, that's amplified. You have no duty whatsoever to the fans to give them a team and players they'll want to watch. Not when it's not your home crowd.

As the game was in Winnipeg, the Flames looked thoroughly outmatched by the Jets - as one could reasonably expect would happen. Still, that's not good news for those still fighting to make the team.

Joe Colborne is someone in that position, despite the fact he's set to make $1.275 million this upcoming season. He didn't get off to a great start, though: not only did he totally miss a pass, resulting in Deryk Engelland being the beneficiary of a goal (seriously - nice shot to rifle it past Michael Hutchinson), but he injured himself on two different blocked shots, including one early in the second period that kept him off the ice for the rest of the game with an "upper body injury".

Joni Ortio went the distance with an AHL-caliber defence in front of him, and surrendered three: two at even strength, and one on the powerplay. As the last line of defence, you would have hoped for a better showing for him; still, considering what was in front of him, it's hard to put him at fault.

Just as Engelland was on the ice for the Flames' goal, what with scoring it and all, he was on the ice for all three goals against. The first came on the powerplay, as Nic Petan dished off to Mark Scheifele right in front of the Flames net, twisting Ryan Wilson inside out and completely opening the net up.

The Jets' second goal came at the end of the first period, and it was brutal. Basically, everybody was caught staring at Nikolaj Ehlers, Ortio included, and the Jets prospect had no problems tucking it in. Nobody on the ice even reacted to Ehlers until the puck was in the net.

The third goal was a bad look, as well. Engelland tried to maintain position on the Jets' attackers, but fell victim to Ben Chiarot's pass from behind the net to Scheifele, and Scheifele sniped it short side to give the Jets the 3-1 lead. The pass should never have gotten through - but Ortio should have been able to stop the resulting goal.

Physicality was evident throughout this matchup, mostly evidenced by Garnet Hathaway, who went in on Jacob Trouba after the Jets defenceman was called for goalie interference, and Brandon Bollig, who got in a fight (as well as engaging in a mutual roughing penalty with former Flame Adam Pardy). Mikael Backlund found himself mixed up in a few scrums and skirmishes as well.

The last dustup occurred when Micheal Ferland and Dustin Byfuglien fought towards the end and were sent off with 10-minute game misconducts. That's aiming rather high in choice of opponent, Micheal.

The Flames outshot the Jets 16-5 in the third in an attempt to come back, but ultimately fell 3-1. They outshot the Jets 33-26 in total, but were still out-corsied 53-42. (They blocked a lot of shots - 19, to be exact - and out-fenwicked the Jets 37-34, though.)

3 on 3 OT

Because the NHL is switching to three-on-three overtime, teams throughout the league have mandated overtime to play in order to get used to the new format. So even though the Flames had already lost 3-1, off to overtime they went!

The Flames sent out Mason Raymond, Sam Bennett, and Brett Kulak, and immediately gave up a prime scoring chance when Bryan Little just missed a wide open net, hitting the post. Ortio played the passer, and had no chance of moving back over in time to to take away the shot.

But Little did indeed miss, so overtime went on - albeit, just for another few seconds. Kulak flopped down to try to block Little's cross-crease pass and failed, leaving Tyler Myers to neatly tuck it in just 35 seconds into overtime.

So, that was short, and the Jets kind of won 4-1 in overtime.

Flame of the game

I'm going to give this one to Mason Raymond. He didn't put up any points, but he had to come out tonight, and he did. He led the Flames with six shots, led all forwards with 24:50 of ice time (and a team-high 6:43 on the powerplay), and had a number of scoring chances right out of the gate. He kept that up throughout the game, and was fighting hard at the end of the game to try to decrease the two-goal deficit.

Raymond's contract is going to make it difficult to move him, whether via trade or justifying waiving him, so it's nice he showed up. It's crunch time for him. He responded. He'll have to keep responding, but this was a good game for him.

Stray observations

  • Mikael Backlund, David Jones, and Deryk Engelland wore letters for the Flames tonight. You probably don't give letters to guys who aren't going to make the team.
  • It's delaying the inevitable, but if Colborne is badly hurt enough to be put on the injured reserve, then that's one fewer cut the Flames have to make. We don't know the extent of his injury, though.
  • But it's really not good news if you're still fighting to make the team, and only get 6:52 minutes of ice time in. That's not a reflection on his abilities as a player - it's just unfortunate, because he didn't get the chance to further prove himself, like Raymond did.
  • Jones looks to be in good form. He was active on the ice. I particularly liked the hooking call he drew against Byfuglien: Byfuglien tried to impede Jones in the neutral zone, and Jones skated through it, springing Raymond on a break instead.
  • Bennett reminds me of a little energizer bunny. He was everywhere. The highlight of his night was probably a give-and-go he had with Backlund in the third, where he nearly backhanded the puck in, and forced Hutchinson to provide what was probably the best save of the game.
  • Drew Shore posted much better possession numbers this time around - 55.56% ES CF, third on the Flames - but he started in the offensive zone 85.71% of the time (to be fair, every Flame had high offensive zone starts, but Shore's were up there). He also only played 10:11 - just four seconds more than Hathaway, who had the lowest ice time for all non-injured Flames. Someone waiver-eligible is going to have to be cut, and right now, it looks like it's going to be Shore.
  • I like Markus Granlund, but I'm not sure if he's doing enough to unseat anybody.
  • Weird thing about Bollig's fight: he initially dropped the gloves with Thomas Raffl, and as they were circling each other, Anthony Peluso dropped his gloves and jumped in on Bollig, leaving Raffl to watch the from the sides, gloveless. Peluso received a 10-minute misconduct for his troubles. I have no idea what he was thinking.
  • I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Bollig's scoring chance. He got in really tight on Hutchinson, forcing the Jets' goalie to react rather quick.
  • Wilson had a rough night. He wasn't playing on a great defence, but he was a part of that not-great defence - and he posted the worst possession numbers of them all, 19.35% ES CF. It's a shame, because he's had a pretty great preseason to date, but tonight was bad for him.
  • He only played 16:17 - more than Patrick Sieloff, who was likely there solely for insurance - and that's it. He can still stay with the team, and at bare minimum he should be offered a contract with the Stockton Heat, but this was a bad performance.
  • Jakub Nakladal, meanwhile, led in ice time with 25:43, including 6:06 on the powerplay. He had a ES CF of 52.78%, and is looking good to be out there on opening night.
  • I have no idea what this game means for Ortio's chances. He let in four goals, but it's really difficult to blame him on any of them; whenever he was at fault, he had teammates equally, or moreso, at fault as well. But he's the last line of defence, and you need to see him make stops, period.
  • Still, he had quite a few good, on-point, reactionary saves throughout the game, and he has the most potential out of all Flames goalies still at camp. It remains a tough call to figure out who, exactly, to go with in net.
  • For the entire first period, TSN3 was calling Tyler Wotherspoon Jeremy Wotherspoon. Jeremy Wotherspoon is an Olympic medalist for speed skating. Tyler Wotherspoon is... not. They corrected themselves at the start of the second.

Up next

The Flames' final preseason game! One more, and then we're done! Finally! And the real hockey can begin!! Oh, thank god. It'll be the Jets' turn to be the away team, as they'll be in Calgary on Saturday, Oct. 3, and will likely face a much better - and much more established - Flames lineup. Puck drop will be at 7 p.m. at the 'Dome.

After that, it'll be the final cuts, and establishing an opening day roster. And then: the season opener. We're almost there, guys.