Wearing the snazzy retro jerseys, the Flames hosted the Philadelphia Flyers and their dismal 9-19-9 road record. A rough 4-0 loss to the Blues combined with some untimely victories from Western opponents saw Calgary slip out of playoff position. It feels like all games during the last few weeks have been "must win", but this one was especially a "must win." Interestingly enough, the Flyers had not lost to the Flames in the Saddledome in 14 years. Granted, they've only visited the place five times, but it was due time for that record to fall.
The game looked to begin in an eventful way, as both teams sent out their fourth lines to begin. Fitting to start off retro night with some good old time rock ‘em, sock ‘em hockey! However, no fisticuffs this time, and both teams changed twenty seconds later.
Maybe a line brawl for "energy" would’ve been a good idea. Aside from the opening few moments, there was little happening in the first period. The game was even for the first few minutes, with each team spending a little time in each other’s zone, but accomplishing next to nothing. This probably had to do with each team sending out the grinders for a lot of the period. The Bollig-Stajan-Ferland line received as many shifts as the Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler line did for the first half of the period. This was probably why the Flames got hemmed into their zone for about 90 seconds.
The Flames, tired of the deadlock, began to push forward after the halfway mark, but Philadelphia wasn't making it easy. The Flyers took a page out of the Flames’ playbook and began to block everything, recording 11 blocks at the end of the period. Regardless, the Flames continued the offensive pressure, and kept generating those scoring chances. One particularly good one came after Johnny Gaudreau completely made a fool of Mark Streit one on one, but was stopped by Steve Mason.
And that was pretty much the first period. One of those five-minutes-with-no-whistles types of periods. The Flames led 9-6 in shots, and 23-17 in corsi.
The second period also began with the fourth lines out, but no fisticuffs. They really could’ve used the energy, because the second period was also a bit of a dud. Both teams were faster out of the gate, but the result was the same.
The Flames continued to get that good offensive pressure in the Philly zone, but were stymied by a couple of uncalled stick slashing penalties. Despite this, the Flames were still vulnerable. A particularly scary two-on-one with Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds was sent wide of the net. Kris Russell’s shoddy defence did not help at all. David Schlemko also turned the puck over in front of the net to Jakub Voracek, but Karri Ramo bailed him out. Is it really all that surprising Calgary signed a defenceman today?
The Flyers eventually turned the tide against Calgary, and the surmounting pressure resulted in a Schlemko slashing penalty; the game’s first actual event! The Flames faced off against the Flyers’ third ranked powerplay, but shut it down successfully, clearing the zone four times.
Not only was it a good penalty kill, but it also shut down the Flyers' momentum. A few minutes after the powerplay ended, Brayden Schenn tried breaking out of his zone to start a new rush. Dennis Wideman disagreed, forcing a turnover. A quick give-and-go with Jiri Hudler, and Wideman was set up for a prime shot in the slot, going five-hole for a 1-0 Calgary lead.
Mere seconds after Wideman’s goal, we finally got the fight that we expected from the puck drop. Once again Bob Hartley deployed the fourth line, who unsurprisingly wound up back in the defensive zone. A bit of pushing and shoving turned into fighting and slashing. Brandon Bollig squared off with Zac Rinaldo, winning the facepunch battle very quickly. Deryk Engelland tussled with Ryan White, and got a few good shots in at him. Brian Burke fainted in the pressbox due to an overdose on grit.
Despite Rinaldo and Bollig clearly fighting each other, they both got off with roughing minors. Four-on-four time! Despite the Flames being the best in this scenario, things began pretty shaky. The Flyers passed all around them, making the defence look silly. Karri Ramo had to save the day by using his stick knob to break up a cross crease pass from Voracek to Claude Giroux. He swears it was intentional.
After the scariness faded away, the Flames grabbed the puck and headed down to the Flyers zone. After Jiri Hudler won the draw, Johnny Gaudreau collected the puck and shipped it back to TJ Brodie. He passed it to Deryk Engelland, who sent it right back to Brodie for a wicked wrister that went through traffic and Steve Mason. 2-0 Calgary.
Two goals is all Mason was allowed tonight, as the Flyers pulled him for Ray Emery.
With the final seconds ticking away in the period, the Flyers headed down for one last rush before the break. Nicklas Grossmann brought the puck in, and passed it to Voracek. The entire Flames team preferred to look at him, rather than Claude Giroux sneaking in behind them. A quick pass resulted in a quick goal for the Flyers with 8.8 seconds left. 2-1 Flames.
The final five minutes of the second provided all the entertainment for the previous 35, and we suddenly had a game on our hands. The Flyers led shots 12-10 and corsi 18-14 in the second. However, Calgary led in shots 19-18, and corsi was tied at 39 apiece.
To the third we go, where the fourth lines are once again starting. Good grief.
The Flames got things going pretty quickly, immediately generating offence after the puck dropped. Once again, Philly panicked, and Ryan White was sent off for cross checking Papa Hudler. Don’t do that.
The ensuing powerplay was much ado about nothing. The Flames couldn’t keep the puck in the zone for long, and the Flyers cleared it out. As the Flames were regrouping back in the defensive zone, Johnny Hockey decided to put on a one man show for the fans in the stands. He started at the Flames’ goal line, and started speeding down the left wing. The Flyers thought they had him contained, but they completely forgot about Sean Monahan coming down the centre. A quick pass and a one timer led to the 20-year-old’s 50th NHL goal, and a 3-1 Flames lead.
He’s something special, isn’t he? This assist also tied Johnny G. up with Filip Forsberg for the lead in rookie scoring. Awesome.
The Flyers just couldn’t stay out of the box. Nicklas Grossmann decided to trip Michael Ferland behind the net for no reason, and when that wasn’t enough, Chris VandeVelde held up Dennis Wideman at the blue line 76 seconds later. Philadelphia clearly decided to also participate in retro night, throwing it back to the days of the Broad Street Bullies.
Calgary had a 44 second window of opportunity to put this game away for good. It was too much time for these Flames. The penalty kill was just not enough for the Gaudreau-Monahan-Hudler line, who carved them up. Hudler forced a pass into a tight area, and right onto the stick of Johnny Gaudreau, allowing him to retake the rookie scoring lead. 4-1 Calgary. The Flyers were trying to find someone else to put in the net.
Two powerplay goals in the span of four minutes and the Flames still had another 86 seconds on the man advantage. The Flames kept buzzing in the Flyers zone, keeping the puck in for the remainder of the VandeVelde penalty. Mason Raymond came across the crease and hit Ray Emery (he was pushed by Michael Del Zotto), who slashed Joe Colborne for revenge. A goalie looking out for his teammates? That’s a level of truculence the Flames have yet to achieve. Two more minutes of powerplay time for the Flames.
This final powerplay was not as impressive. The Flyers were able to get the puck out of the zone more, and killed it off pretty efficiently. Being up 4-1, the Flames went into relax mode for the rest of the game. Kris Russell got a late penalty for hooking, but Philly did nothing on the powerplay. Score effects are fun.
After a lethargic first period and a half, the Flames proved to be the stronger side, winning 4-1 mostly due to the Flyers' inability to stay out of the penalty box. The Flyers won both the shots and corsi battle, 9-7 and 20-18 respectively. In total, they won the possession game by narrow margins: 27-26 in shots, and 59-57 in corsi.
- Despite giving the fourth line tons of crap, they actually didn’t play too badly this game. Michael Ferland was everywhere on the ice tonight, in maybe his best game so far during his young NHL career.
- When the first line is turned up to eleven, they are arguably one of the best in hockey. It’s hard to say when the Flames last had a line of that calibre.
- It was a night for milestones: Sean Monahan recorded his 50th goal, Johnny Gaudreau took the rookie scoring lead, Dennis Wideman tied a career high for goals with 13, and Kris Russell set a career high in points with 30. Good night all around.
- I don’t care if he didn’t play well against the Blues, Jonas Hiller deserved to play just so we could see his glorious pads/mask combo. The one time he adds some colour, you shut him down?
- Despite their somewhat good performance tonight, why did Bob Hartley send the fourth line out at the beginning of every period?
San Jose beat the Toronto Tire Fire 4-1, and moves just a teensy bit closer to playoff contention. Old friend Curtis Glencross is still trying to help the Flames make the playoffs, as his Washington Capitals beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2 in regulation. St. Louis didn’t do us any favours after stomping us, allowing the Winnipeg Jets to comeback in the third and win 2-1. Columbus scored six unanswered goals against the Canucks, winning 6-2.
The Flames are playing in a matinee game on Saturday, hosting the Blue Jackets at 2 PM. Make sure you join us in the gamethread for snacks and refreshments!