Calgary Flames 2, Philadephia Flyers 1 (OT)

06 Nov

And may all your wins be in overtime…

So after the win last night, Calgary’s record in the extra frame is 3-0. That would look pretty good if it wasn’t for the fact that the Flames are 1-9-1 outside of overtime. And you will remember that one win was with 9 seconds to go in the game.

On the plus side, Mikael Backlund ended his scoring slump by scoring 35 seconds into overtime. Karri Ramo made saves, real ones, 26 in fact, to help his Calgary Flames defeat the also-horrible Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.


“The guys were pretty pumped after,” said Backlund, who had not scored in nine games. “It was a big relief to get this win. It would’ve been tough with the loss. We haven’t put ourselves in a great spot so getting this was huge.”

A shot from Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau was stopped by Philadelphia goaltender Michal Neuvirth, but the rebound ricocheted off Backlund and bounced over the line to give Calgary their second win in their past seven games and the second in seven games on home ice this season.

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Colorado Avalanche 6, Calgary Flames 3

04 Nov

Flames play a solid 53 minutes

I thought that Calgary played really well in Colorado, taking the play to the Avs for most of the game. Even though Calgary was behind 1-0 after one, and 3-2 after two, there wasn’t really any doubt that Calgary would come back in the third — which they did. But then with seven minutes remaining in the game, everything unravelled.

Nathan MacKinnon scored to put the Avs up 4-3, then Matt Duchene scored on the power play (4-3) and  Jarome Iginla scored an empty-net goal to further drive home the point. Iginla had two goals and three points on the night, the goals were his first and second against the Flames.

Although the shots heavily favoured the Avalanche (42-25), Colorado had 30 blocked shots. Which is crazy when you compare that Calgary’s six, and Calgary is one of the top teams in the league in that category.

Sam Bennett was once again strong, scoring once and having two other goals disallowed. Bennett has two goals and four assists in a four-game scoring streak. Karri Ramo wasn’t awful, his save percentage a better 0.878. Wideman was a very scary -4 on the night.

“That’s the story of the start of our season right now,” Bob Hartley said. “Breakdowns, we lost the battle on the wall, 3-3 game and the puck’s in our net. That’s where it is. We have to get dirtier in critical areas and critical times of the game. That’s why we lost.”


Calgary Flames 5, Edmonton Oilers 4

01 Nov

You want drama? I’ll give you drama

In the first Battle of Alberta in Edmonton this year, the Flames and the Oilers played one of the strangest games I’ve seen in quite a while.

First of all, Calgary had three two-goal leads in this game, they were leading 2-0 and 3-1 after the first period – which has been far-and-away their best period this season. They then led 4-2 after two periods, but Edmonton came on in the third to tie the game with just under 7 minutes to go. Then with 9 seconds left in the game Michael Frolik scored to complete his first NHL hat-trick.

If you’re keeping track of the goaltending Karri Ramo was sub-par, allowing 4 goals and had a .826 save percentage.

But the biggest story-line was this… the Flames needed a win; really, really badly. They needed a few lucky bounces, which they got. They needed to now allow the Oilers to come back and take the season-series lead 2-0, which they did. It was said that this could be the turning point of the season for Calgary, and it just might be.

What made this so strange?

Oh, lots of reasons:

  • There was a Oiler goal called back after a successful Bob Hartley coach’s challenge
  • There was a Flames goal disallowed on the ice which was again challenged, but this time it didn’t work
  • Michael Frolik had his first ever hat-trick, including the game winner with 9 seconds to go from behind the goal line
  • The hat-trick had to be the ugliest one in NHL history, as all three goals were gifts from Edmonton
  • The winning goal came off of a negated icing, which was discussed at length after the game
  • The game was on Halloween night, spooky!
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Montreal Canadiens 6, Calgary Flames 2

31 Oct

Calgary Flames goaltending continues to suck

This game was lost by Ortio in the second, he allowed 3 goals on 7 shots. His .806 save percentage for the game is even worse than the numbers Hiller was putting up before he was hurt.

The Flames had a really good 40 minutes, but their goaltender let them down. Once Paul Byron scored his short-handed goal you could see that the team was just deflated. They brought nothing in the third and 4-2 became 6-2 before the night was over.

Jiri Hudler and Josh Jooris scored for Calgary (2-8-1), which has lost four straight (0-3-1) and has one win in its past nine games.

Hiller week-to-week

Because Hiller is week-to-week, Karri Ramo has been called up. However I’d still stick with Ortio because he’s going to need to work through his issues and the coaching staff need to establish a constant in net.

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Ottawa Senators 5, Calgary Flames 4

29 Oct

Wild one in the Canadian Tire Centre

The Calgary Flames and the Ottawa Senators did everything they could on Wednesday night to try to hand that game to their opponent. Despite a good start by Calgary – they outshot the Sens 10-4 in the first – the game was tied at zeros through 20 minutes. In the second period, the Flames once again outplayed their opponent, but as has been the case in most second periods this year, they just couldn’t ‘win’ the frame. Calgary scored first but gave up two, so after 40 minutes Calgary was outshooting Ottawa 20-10, but down 2-1.

Then along came the third period. Calgary was behind at the beginning of the period thanks to a very late second-period goal. Which would have been a killer had it not been for part of the glass at the rink breaking which meant the end of the second period was played just before the start of the third, following the second intermission (make sense?). Calgary scored two quick goals (53 seconds apart) to regain the lead, but then the Senators scored two even-quicker goals (18 seconds apart) to take it back. Then at 12:32 of the third period Sam Bennett scored his first regular season NHL goal to tie the game and send it to overtime.

In the shootout Joe Colborne scored a beauty but Joni Ortio couldn’t stop Kyle Turris or Mika Zibanejad and the Senators won the game on two goals. The three stars of the game were obviously chosen by local media (really, Zibanejad is your number one star with no points and a -1 on the night?). Normally I don’t care too much for stars, but Craig Anderson should have been on the list somewhere. If for nothing other than the huge save on Johnny Gaudreau in overtime.

So did anything improve?

A couple things have improved since the horrible road trip through New York state. Since splitting up the top line Sam Bennett and Joe Colborne have both played better, giving the Flames two pretty good top lines. Dougie Hamilton was moved to the third pairing so he can do less damage. T. J. Brodie came back from a broken hand to play with Giordano and they looked much better, even though they finished -1.

Can we give up on Hiller now?

But the goaltending continues to be atrocious. Jonas Hiller had a 0.778 save percentage on a night where he started but left early because he was injured in this collision with Bobby Ryan:

The Flames are calling it a lower body injury and haven’t said how long he’ll be out. Now I want to say that I hope he’s okay, but I also hope Hiller takes his time in recovering from this one. I’m not sure that Ortio can carry the weight, maybe he splits duties with Ramo, but anything is better than what we’re getting from Hiller. There is no way we should have lost a game 5-4 in which you have 38 shots to your opponent’s 23.

Hiller’s .861 save percentage on the year puts him dead last in the league among starting goalies, even behind Sergei Bobrovsky who has admitted to his team he has lost his confidence and the Blue Jackets have already fired their coach. Hiller’s 3.67 goals against is third-worst, but that’s more of a team stat than a goalie stat.


New York Islanders 4, Calgary Flames 0

26 Oct

Things go from bad to worse

So Karri Ramo is sent down to the minors, Jonas Hiller is established as the starting goalie and stinks up the joint. All signs point to a Joni Ortio opportunity and what happens? Ortio lets in two soft goals against the Boys from Brooklyn and the Flames lose an embarrassing game by a score of 4-0.

That said, his 0.886 save percentage is still better than Hillers has been! How sad is that, to be able to let in four goals and still be the best goalie on the club? The game was actually pretty evenly-played, we simply just got out-goaltended.


Halak made 29 saves for his second shutout of the season to help the New York Islanders defeat the Calgary FlamesFrans Nielsen had two goals, and Mikhail Grabovski and Cal Clutterbuck each scored for the Islanders (6-2-1). Kyle Okposo and Nikolay Kulemin each had two assists.

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New York Rangers 4, Calgary Flames 1

26 Oct

Better start, lousy finish

The Calgary Flames got off to the start they wanted in New York on Monday, Jiri Hudler scored first and the rest of the crew was able to kill off the three penalties they took. The second period seemed to be going their way as well, as the Flames outshot the Rangers 10-5 in the frame, but two of those five shots found the back of the net. The third period was all Rangers, they outshot Calgary 13-5 and scored two more to erase any hope of a third-period comeback.

At the end of the day, Raanta made 22 saves and the Rangers got goals from forwards Oscar Lindberg and Derick Brassard, and defenceman Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein to defeat the Flames 4-1. Jonas Hiller has another abysmal performance (0.810 save percentage) and was pulled in favour of Ortio in the final half of the third period. Goaltending — once again — lost them the game.

The Islanders are up tonight, and tonight has to be the night we finally see Joni Ortio start this season.

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Calgary Flames 3, Detroit Red Wings 2 (OT)

24 Oct

Finally we win at home!

I’m going to spare everyone the cynicism that I’d typically express here. Usually I’d say something like the Flames’ two wins have both been in overtime, which means we are two shots away from being the Columbus Blue Jackets. But instead I’m going to be positive.

Positive me says that the team on Friday night looked a lot like the team of last season. Sure they started poorly and were down 2-1 after the first period, but Calgary had a dominant second period and a strong third. Like Rick Ball said, “you can almost feel that the Flames are going to tie this game.”

And they did, with 72 seconds left in the game. Forcing the game into overtime which resulted in this beauty of a winner from the captain, Mark Giordano. Gio stepped up when the Flames needed him, it was his second goal of the night.

Other notes from the game

Joe Colborne scored the tying goal, and he was strong on the puck all night. It was the Colborne of old! Giordano had an assist to go with his two goals, and Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler each had two assists. Actually the top line was reunited (and it feels so good) for the game and they finished with 5 points and a +3 rating.

Calgary outshot the Detroit Red Wings 29-13 in the final 40 minutes after being outshot 13-8 in the first period. The Wings were strong on the powerplay, finishing 2 for 4. Jimmy Howard played really well and it was something that the Flames were able to overcome. All in all, it was a fun game top watch.

In a move that left all Flames fans scratching their heads, Jonas Hiller started over Joni Ortio. Hiller was strong, with a much better .931 save percentage, which should earn him the start next game. The next two games for the Flames are back-to-back, so you will see Ortio Monday.

Jakub Nakladal was called up after Brett Kulak was sent down, but was a scratch. Why, you may ask? Well surprisingly Ladislav Smid made his season debut after missing nine months following neck surgery. I didn’t ever think we’d see Smid again.

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Washington Capitals 6, Calgary Flames 2

21 Oct

What is wrong with the Flames?

Typically here I’d start with what is right with the Flames, but I’m not going to do that. Honestly because outside of Michael Frolik and Johnny Gaudreau there isn’t much going right with the Flames. So here are the top things – in order – that the Calgary Flames must fix.

  1. Dougie HamiltonDougie Hamilton – Let’s recap the start of the season shall we? First, his $5.5M contract makes him the highest-paid player on the team. Offensively he has one point in six games, despite being on the ice for over 22 minutes a game and on the first powerplay unit. Defensively he is an abysmal -6 for the season. He also averages a minor penalty per game. He’s getting pushed around despite being 6’6” and 220 lbs. He’s standing and watching guys make passes through his feet and what is most frustrating is that he is letting guys have time in front of the net. There was an argument for lack of chemistry or time learning the system before, but these are fundamental mistakes no NHL defenceman should make.
    The solution? Move him to the bottom six or make him sit a game or two. He’s just hurting you now and can continue his ‘learning process’ from the press box.
  2. GoaltendingHiller is sporting a very bad .833 save percentage. Ramo an even more awful .778. You can say that it’s not the goaltenders fault when your defence can’t defend, but that’s not true. No matter how good the chances are that you give up, everything will average out over the course of a game – or in this case six. Save percentages this bad are unacceptable, and Bob Hartley’s plan of showcasing Hiller as trade bait has backfired. Now you’re lucky if you can trade him as a serviceable backup to someone.
    The solution? This one’s a no-brainer, mostly because you have no choice at this point. Joni Ortio starts the next game and Hartley is hoping like heck that he stands on his head.
  3. Joni Ortio

    Joni Ortio

    Defence – Outside of Hamilton we have another defensive problem, and it’s a big one. Wideman has 5 points already (yay!) but is a -5 (boo!) on the season. Russell has no points and is a -7. Mark Giordano is a -6. So it isn’t just Hamilton, it’s really the top four which was supposed to be among the best top four in the league. Interestingly enough, Deryk Engelland is -2 and Brett Kulak is -1, making them your best defensive pairing, although you could argue that with more ice-time comes more goals allowed.
    The solution? You have to break up the pairings. I understand the Russell / Wideman communication benefits, but breaking them all up will force them – and everyone else – to focus on fundamentals.

  4. The third line – First of all I don’t want to let the first two lines off the hook. Monahan and Gaudreau have scored, yes, but the top line’s 14 points this year are nullified by a combined +/- of -12. I think that Frolik has been a bright spot on the second line, but both Bennett and Backlund are off to slow starts. The fourth line has done everything you could ask of them, Stajan has been a really good fourth-liner, and Jooris, Bollig and Raymond have all been the fine when in the line-up. But the third line of David Jones, Micheal Ferland and until recently Mikael Backlund and Lance Bouma, have been invisible most nights. They are here to intimidate, to bring energy, to chip in offensively, to shut down lines, and none of that has happened so far this year.
    The solution? Well I actually think we’re in mid-solution right now. Backlund has moved up to the second line to get him going, and the absence of Bouma has already made a difference in Ferland, perhaps the added pressure of being the energy-guy helps? Also the return of Joe Colborne means you can juggle him and Stajan as your 3rd and 4th line centres.

Captain Mark Giordano says he doesn’t know why the Flames just can’t keep it together. “It’s everything. It’s not one thing. If we can put our finger on one thing we would stop this, but it’s all of us making bad plays, bad decisions and getting out-battled. Bottom line is this is as disappointing of a stretch as I can remember in a long time and we’ve got to turn it around.”

You’re welcome Gio, I’ve pinpointed the things you have to fix and even how to do it. I’ll expect an 8×10 of the Jack Adams sitting on Hartley’s shelf any day now.

I know the season is young, but that excuse can only last for two more games because at that point they are 10% of the way through the season. And even if they win both games they still started the year 3-5-0 – if. Yikes.

Oh yeah, the game

This has been the same story all year long. Mediocre start, brutal second, not enough third period to save the game.

The Flames came out okay, not too energetic but also not too lethargic. Calgary and Washington had seven shots apiece in the first period, but that’s with four minutes of Calgary powerplay time to Washington’s zero. The powerplay looked just awful. Karri Ramo looked shaky, but made a couple amazing stops to keep them in the game.

Then the second period happened. I’m not sure how the second has become the Achilles heel of the Flames, perhaps they are so focused on good starts and strong finishes that they’ve forgotten there is still a third of the game sandwiched between. On Tuesday the Capitals outshot the Flames 13 to 4 in the middle period, which is how it should be if you have four minutes of powerplay time to your opponents zero (as the Caps had). After letting in a couple real stinkers, Ramo was replaced by Hiller, who wasn’t much better.

The third period was a little more even, but by this point the Flames were down 4-1 and that was simply too much to overcome. Alex Ovechkin reached the 900-point mark with a second-period goal and also had an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 6-2 victory against the Calgary Flames. The home loss made it four-straight to start the season, which is the worst home start in franchise history.


Edmonton Oilers 5, Calgary Flames 2

18 Oct

McDavid scores twice in Battle of Alberta


The Calgary Flames had beaten the Edmonton Oilers seven times in a row prior to Saturday night and it was one of those games that you expect to win. And I think that we could have won that game, if more guys than just David Jones showed up.

In Connor McDavid‘s debut on Hockey Night in Canada and the Battle of Alberta, be scored twice and assisted on another to lead the Oilers to a 5-2 drubbing of the hapless Flames. Interestingly enough all four first-overall picks of the Oilers scored Saturday night, McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Yakupov.

I don’t think either team looked very impressive through 40 minutes, and of the seven goals that were scored they were all ugly. That could be the sour grapes talking. I guess the positive thing to take from the game is that I got to see McDavid’s first multi-point game. Hopefully the Flames can get revenge next time up in Edmonton.

Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton

Sam Bennett out with shoulder injury

Calgary announced just before the game that Bennett would be a late scratch, out day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Of course after the shoulder surgery last year Flames fans were all abuzz last night speculating that it might be related. Typically upper-body means either head or shoulder, and since he didn’t hit his head in the game against St. Louis I’m going to speculate it’s shoulder-related. Luckily day-to-day means it’s not serious.

Markus Granlund got into the lineup because of the Bennett injury, and he played an okay game on a night where the rest of the team was also okay.

What’s up with the first D pairing?

What is starting to become a trend, Dougie Hamilton had two penalties and finished a -1 on the night. If the Flames are going to turn this around him and Mark Giordano are going to have to starting playing like the defencemen they are paid to be.

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