Flames win in OT, but are the playoffs already out of reach?

14 Nov

Calgary Flames 3, Washington Capitals 2 (OT)

Ramo started his seventh game in a row, this one in the second half of a back-to-back, while Joni Ortio sits on the bench. Karri Ramo was great thought, making 34 saves on 36 shots for a respectable 0.944 save percentage. I’ve really been focused on save percentage this year, so it’s good that Ramo is finally working his way out of the NHL basement. By the way, did you know that Reto Berra is currently tops in the league in that stat?

Back to the stats that matter. Sean Monahan had two goals, including the overtime winner, and Michael Frolik scored on a fantastic setup from Sam Bennett. Calgary has won four of its past six games and is 4-0 in overtime.

Can Calgary still make the playoffs?

With 44 games remaining, it may be crazy to talk of being out of the playoffs. After all, the Calgary Flames are only 5 points out.

However… 5 points out usually means you have to win 2 games for every point you need to make up, so 10 games. Also the magic number for the playoff cutoffs seems to be about 10 games over 500, so that’s 15 games the Flames need to win – if they go 500 the rest of the way.

So that’s a record of 30-14 (to simplify I’ve removed the loser-point scenario aka 500 hockey) for a winning percentage of .667 the rest of the way. Only 8 teams in the NHL have sustained such a high winning percentage so far this year.

It’s not likely Calgary can be a top 8 team for the remaining 44 games.

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Karri Ramo shows up, rest of team does not

13 Nov

Tampa Bay Lightening 3, Calgary Flames 1

Karri Ramo showed up on Thursday and played really well for 54 minutes. He made 26 saves (SV%: .897) for Calgary before — similar to the Colorado game — the Flames just ran out of gas with about 7 minutes to go. Sam Bennett scored Calgary’s only goal.

The game puts them at 5-11-1, so 6 games under 500. To make the playoffs we typically see teams at about 10 games over 500. Being the mathamagician that I am, that means that we’re going to have to win 16 more games that we lose over the remaining 65 games. That’s a lot to make up, and I’m fairly certain it’s not going to happen.

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Ramo returns to his old ways, the 20% report card

12 Nov

Florida Panthers 4, Calgary Flames 3

Karri Ramo of this season returned to throw down 27 saves on 31 shots, for a 0.871 save percentage. Maybe that doesn’t sound all too terrible, but then you should check out the goals he let in.

The Flames had a lot of good chances, especially in the third, but Luongo was simply the better goalie. Maybe that’s why it was more noticeable on how poorly Ramo was playing?

David Jones scored twice for Calgary (5-10-1), which saw its two-game winning streak end. Sean Monahan scored late in the second period to tie the game at 3-3, but that was as far as they got.

16 games is 20% of the season

Since no one seems to do the 20% of the season writeup, I’ll take that upon myself.

Calgary’s 5-10-1 record is good for seventh in the Pacific division. There are only seven teams in the Pacific division. That also puts them 14th in the Western conference. There are only 14 teams in the Western conference. They are 28th in the League ahead of only Columbus and Toronto. Wow, how bad is Toronto this year? Maybe the coach wasn’t the answer?

MVP of the Flames:

JOHNNY GAUDREAU (5th in the league in scoring)

LVP for the Flames:

KARRI RAMO (last in the league in wins)

Rookie of the 20% of the year:

SAM BENNETT (9 points in 15 games)

Most improved:

JOE COLBORNE (who has finally found his ColBorne Identity)

Pleasant surprise:

DEREK GRANT (came out of nowhere to be a serviceable fourth-liner)

Unpleasant surprise:

DOUGIE HAMILTON (the Flames’ highest-paid player is playing as the 5th defenceman right now)

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Ferland returns, some stability in the lineup

10 Nov

We’ve won a couple games, which means something is working. And if it ain’t broke, don’t shuffle your lineup.

The current lineup page has been updated to reflect the line combinations that we’ve seen in the last couple games. Also this guy is back!! so he’ll take Raymond’s spot on the fourth line as Hartley tries to ease him back into the game.


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Calgary Flames 5, Pittsburgh Penguins 2

08 Nov

Welcome to the winning streak!

For the first time this year, the Flames have won two games in a row. Two games in a row counts as a streak, right?

Johnny Gaudreau scored twice and added an assist, Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan each had a goal and an assist and Mikael Backlund chipped in with three assists. For the first time this year, Calgary looked really good. Karri Ramo had 23 saves in the win, and also looked good for just the second time this year.

There are a couple goals worth re-watching from this game. The first is Monahan’s goal that he batted out of the air after Gaudreau batted a pass out of the air over to him. I’m not sure how intentional that all was, but it looked good. The other was Sam Bennett’s third of the year, which was a great individual effort – it does’t get much prettier than that. Check out both goal highlights here.

Gaudreau’s three points moves him into the top 5 in league scoring.

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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.