The Flames hit the road for 4 games this week and they finished 1-3 for the week. The lone win came in game one of their 3 game trek through California. The Flames found themselves outscored 16-5 and were shut out by the LA Kings 5-0. It wasn’t a pretty week, but here’s 3 Things from week 3 of the NHL season.
-Anaheim. Let’s get this out of the way. The Flames dropped their 24th straight game at Honda Center Sunday night by the score of 4-1. The Flames hung around for a bit, but a few bad penalties lead to PP opportunities for the Ducks and Anaheim capitalized on 1 of the 3 man up scenarios. While the Flames said all the right things leading into the game, it doesn’t matter who is wearing the Flamming C, Anaheim is a black hole. Calgary last won in Anaheim in 2004. Oh, if the streak wasn’t enough, it also set a record. The Flames futility broke the Penguins 23 game losing streak in Philly from 1980-1987. What was the exact date of the Flames last win against the Ducks in Anaheim (they were still the Might Ducks)? January 20th 2004. And that win snapped a 9 game losing streak in Anaheim that dated back to 1999. Here’s the box score from the 5-1 win.
-Nicklas Grossmann. Good lord. Not a good week for the veteran defenceman and he only played in 1 game on Calgary’s 4 game road trip. With hind sight being 20/20, he probably shouldn’t have played in any of the 4. Grossmann was on the ice for the Flames 5-0 loss to the Kings Saturday night and he was brutal. He logged 13:48 minutes of ice time, took 1 penalty, had one shot on net and was a -3. He was directly responsible for one goal where he was out muscled and out skated and then decided to lay down and try and stop Nick Shore’s feed to no avail. If it sounds ridiculous, then just watch it:
Grossmann was also “involved” in another goal that was set up by poor defence on Dougie Hamilton’s part and Grossmann was standing in the crease as the puck was going in the net. Look, it’s no fun to pile on, but the decision to put Grossmann back in the lineup was/is a head scratcher. The Flames have plenty of young defenceman that could use his minutes. He’s played in 3 games, been a healthy scratch for 11 and he’s a -4. -4 in 3 games! He was directly responsible for 2 goals in Calgary’s 7-4 opening night loss to Edmonton. All his defenders say “he’s a great guy” and I don’t doubt that, but the goal in the NHL is to win games, it’s not a popularity contest. Grossmann came to camp on a PTO, so it’s not like he’s a high priced free agent who the Flames have to play. Cut the chord and give Kulak his minutes.
-Matthew Tkachuk. Young Matthew Tkachuk is making a name for himself so far this season. Tkachuk finished his 9 game “tryout” earlier this week and got his tenth start, meaning he’s here for good. He rewarded the Flames with 2 goals, including the game winner, against the San Jose Sharks in Calgary’s 3-2 win. Tkachuk appeared to be one of the only players gutting it out in the disaster in LA as he spent the entire night getting under the Kings players collective skin. He then followed up that performance by getting in his first NHL fight against the Ducks by doing the same thing. Tkachuk has shown he has the offence (6 points in 12 games) to make it in the NHL and he’s not changing his style of play for anyone. Calgary needs a spark like him on the ice and he’s doing what the Flames had hoped Micheal Ferland was going to do. During Calgary’s 4 game road trip he had 2 points (2 goals), 9 PIM and fired 10 shots on net. While Calgary didn’t have the best week on the ice, Matthew Tkachuk is clearly showing he belongs on the ice at the NHL level.