Entering tonight, both the Flames and the Flyers found themselves in very similar scenarios. After trade deadline, both teams had lost their best defencemen. The Flyers traded away Braydon Coburn yesterday, and the Flames announced that Mark Giordano was out for the remainder of the season. Tonight’s game would be a resiliency test for both teams.
After the puck was dropped, play was fast and even. Calgary slowly began to gain control of the game, turning the screws against Philadelphia early on, and forcing turnovers. Michael Del Zotto was an early victim, losing the puck at centre ice to Jiri Hudler. After getting tied up in the offensive zone, he dropped it for Mason Raymond, who then slid it to Sean Monahan. A nice shot into the top corner gave the Flames the lead.
It was Sean Monahan’s first first period goal this season. 1-0 Flames.
The Flames kept the fast tempo going after their first goal, keeping the pressure on the Flyers. The first line of Raymond-Monahan-Hudler was the most effective, racking up the takeaways and setting up chances. They also had unexpected support from Deryk Engelland, who initially did not look bad as a first pair defenceman. For the first period, he was holding his own against the Flyers’ top players.
However, this sustained success was not to stay for long. The Flyers soon took over play, and began bringing the ruckus to the Flames and their hollowed out defensive corps. They nearly tied the game about halfway through the period, as a puck nearly trickled past Karri Ramo. A whiffed shot by Jakub Voracek and fast movement from Ramo kept the game 1-0.
The first period ended very unremarkably, but the momentum was turning towards Philly ever so slightly. The Flames lead in shots 12-10, and goals 1-0, but Philly lead in corsi 25-24.
The second began with another injury scare for the Flames. Sean Monahan was bloodied by an errant Sean Couturier elbow, and was on the bench for a few minutes dealing with it. There was no penalty call, and play continued on.
Once again, heavy Flames pressure lead to another deadly Flyers turnover. Fresh off the bench, a streaking Emile Poirier intercepted a Wayne Simmonds pass. Setting up behind the net, he then passed it to Lance Bouma for a wraparound attempt. Steve Mason saved Bouma’s shot, but the puck bounced off of Mark Streit’s skates and on to Mikael Backlund’s stick, who tapped it in for a 2-0 Flames lead.
Continuing the theme of firsts, Emile Poirier picked up his first NHL point on this play. It’s a good future.
Not even a minute after the goal, the Flames found themselves with another chance. Dennis Wideman drew an interference call from Michael Raffl, and the Flames set up for a powerplay opportunity against the third worst penalty killing unit in the league.
It was absolutely horrible. Mark Giordano’s absence was very obvious. There was almost no pressure on this powerplay, and the Flyers cleared the puck four times. The Flyers had a scary 3-on-2 in the final few seconds, which was broken up by a hustling Drew Shore. If only we played all our kids.
The Flyers continued to control the puck, and the Flames looked absolutely helpless. With 7:46 left on the clock, the Flames had their last shot attempt for the period. The situation would get even worse, as Joe Colborne took a desperate holding penalty against Wayne Simmonds. The Flames, renowned for their elite penalty killing, pretty much did none of that. The Flyers had intense pressure on the Flames, and almost never left the zone. However, they didn’t allow a goal, and that’s what really matters (kinda).
Barely after Colborne left the box, Mason Raymond took another silly penalty, covering the puck with his hand on an errant clearing attempt. This penalty kill was more hectic. The Flyers were getting plenty of chances, but not converting thanks to the impeccable play of Karri Ramo. Twice, he saved the puck despite four people standing in front of him and not being able to see anything.
The period fortunately ended for the Flames, who probably deserved to get scored on at least once. Shots and corsi were dominated by the Flyers, who led 12-5 and 27-13 in both categories respectively. They were also leading the total numbers, 22-17 in shots, and 52-37 in corsi. Miraculously, the Flames still lead 2-0.
The third period began with the final seconds ticking off of Mason Raymond’s penalty. The Flames had yet another injury scare to an important player, as Lance Bouma got hurt after blocking a shot. Being the warrior he is, he finished his shift and later returned to the game.
The Flames finally cracked on the ensuing faceoff. Defensive confusion and absentmindedness saw Ryan White thread a cross-crease pass to toothless Sean Couturier, who put it in to halve the Flames lead. Karri Ramo had no idea what hit him. 2-1 Flames.
The Flames got a chance to instantly redeem themselves, thanks to a Del Zotto high sticking penalty a few seconds after the Flyers goal. This powerplay was slightly better than the first one. The puck was actually in the Philadelphia zone for most of the two minutes, but the Flames never really had a chance on the man advantage. Perhaps it’s time to draw up another play besides the old fashioned "set up a Wideman one-timer" play. No goals scored on this powerplay either.
The Flyers, at full strength, got back to dragging the Flames around. They thought they had tied the game when Nick Schultz scored after being pushed into the net by Johnny Gaudreau, but the refs disagreed. Despite the play being non-reviewable, they changed their opinion on the goal after a small conference.
It was probably a goal, but we’re happy it wasn’t. Frustrated and motivated, the Flyers refused to go away. They came dangerously close to scoring seconds later after a Del Zotto slapshot rang off the iron. It’s less fun when the other team has good third periods.
Undeterred, Philadelphia kept pressing. Once again, a Flames team struggling with the defensive part of the game suffered another mindfart and left Mark Streit completely alone in front of the net. He whacked down a rebound for a tie game. The only attempt at defence on the play was Joe Colborne pushing Streit into Ramo after the play was over. It probably did more harm than good.
The Flyers were not satisfied with the comeback, and looked to Flames the Flames. Calgary looked like a team completely out of ideas after the second goal. Anytime they broke out of their own zone, they had to dump and change because the current line had been out for 90 or more seconds. In the final two minutes, the same line iced the puck three times.
Despite getting whipped in the final period, the Flames escaped the game with at least one point. The Flyers were the winners of the third period, leading 15-7 in shots and 34-14 in corsi. It was that bad.
Off to overtime we went; a period where the Flames are very successful, winning eight times out of eleven. The little break between regulation and OT appeared to be just what the Flames needed, as they came out looking in control. After one back-and-forth play from each team, the Flames decided that it was time to end it. Brodie streaked into the offensive zone and set up Hudler in front for the winning goal on a very simple play.
Calgary left the building with another ugly victory, beating the Flyers 3-2, but losing the shots and corsi battle 37-26 and 86-53.
- Deryk Engelland was somehow not bad. While he is clearly a downgrade on the first pairing, it wasn’t the disaster most of us were expecting. There was one play where he chased down Jakub Voracek and took the puck away from him. It is worth noting that Engelland was the guy who gave the puck to Voracek in the first place, but he still did a good thing.
- However, I'm not going to give him the lofty praise that Kelly Hrudey gave him. He is certainly not a "tremendous depth player" and was probably not signed to fill the shoes of Giordano should he be injured.
- The kids line of Ferland-Shore-Poirier did not do too bad at all today. Poirier collected an assist on Backlund’s goal, and they all did okay despite getting a lot of defensive starts. However, Bob Hartley still elected to give them under ten minutes of ice time.
- Drew Shore was the exception to that, as he was bumped up to the third line, replacing Josh Jooris. He had the one hustle play in the second period, and won 71% of his faceoffs. He could stick around.
- Karri Ramo was excellent again despite his defence being the least bit concerned for his welfare.
- The powerplay is comical without Giordano. Hartley’s strategy was completely thrown out the window, except for the Wideman slapshot play. On the second PP, there was one sequence where a Wideman slapshot went wide, and the Flames cycled the puck around so they could set up him for another slapshot, which also went wide.
It’s not looking good. Minnesota beat Ottawa 3-2 in the shootout, placing them a little bit further away from Calgary. Dallas beat the Islanders 3-2 in overtime as well, and move slightly closer to the Flames. Everyone else close to Calgary in the standings also won. San Jose beat Vancouver 6-2, and Los Angeles beat Edmonton 5-2. That puts the Flames in a three way tie for the final seed, with Calgary, L.A, and San Jose dead even at 72 points. The Flames hold the tie breaker with regulation and overtime wins.
The Flames are back in action on Thursday versus the Bruins. Puck drops at 5:00. See you all then!