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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Winnipeg Jets 2, Calgary Flames 1

17 Oct

Ramo’s stellar 58 minutes

What a disappointing finish to this game.

Calgary came out flying and really took it to the Jets for the first 20 minutes. Then, as has become a trend this year, they just couldn’t get anything going in the middle frame and Winnipeg was all over Calgary. The third period had a lot of back and forth, and even though the Jets seemed to be carrying the play most of the night Karri Ramo played great. Well actually, Ramo played great for 58 minutes before letting in a real soft goal with 90 seconds to go in the game.

And that’s how one shot can erase everything good you’ve done.

The Flames tried to tie up the game with Ramo pulled, but Ferland gave up the puck in the offensive zone and that led to an empty-net and game-sealing goal. Ferland has a lot of potential as we’ve seen, but it’s plays like this that show how much growing he has left to do.

Lance Bouma out with broken leg

Bouma broke his leg against the Blues, and is now out for 6 weeks. This means that the lineup has shifted around a bit, including a new second line centred by Mikael Backlund.

For the new, readjusted Calgary Flames line combinations, please go check out my page on lineups.

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St. Louis Blues 4, Calgary Flames 3

14 Oct

The Flames didn’t really have an excuse for coming out as flat as they did. They were rested, they were at home. They have a full complement of players, with the exception of T.J. Brodie. Even though Brodie would have helped, I’m not sure if he would have been enough.

Calgary had four powerplays in the first 20 minutes, and although they scored on one of them, they only managed four shots in the period. Luckily their first shot went in. Hiller was great because they were outshot 14-4 by the Blues and still managed to lead after 20 minutes, 2-to-1.

The second was a different story. St. Louis continued to dominate Calgary but this time Hiller wasn’t as great, and the shooting percentage of the Blues started to average out. St. Louis scored three unanswered goals in the second period to lead by two.

The third period started out just as the Flames hoped, with an early goal. However the Blues were able to hold on after a final push by Calgary – who certainly had their chances to tie it – to prevent the Flames from collecting their first home win of the season.

Who stood out?

Johnny Gaudreau continues to look good to start the season, as does his linemates Hudler and Monahan. Jonas Hiller was pretty solid as well, despite giving up four goals. Dennis Wideman surprisingly has picked up exactly where he left off last season, which was a career year for him. With another two assists Wideman is just behind Hudler and Gaudreau in points in this young season.

Dennis Wideman

Dennis Wideman is my pick of the night (Why is this the first photo I found?)

A couple guys who stood out for me for not standing out were Lance Bouma and Michael Ferland. Both these guys need to have the sort of on-ice presence that opponents are aware of. Outside of a few half-hits, neither were really noticeable until Bouma left the game in the second with an apparent ankle injury.

McDavid Night in Canada

Next up are the provincial rivals on Saturday, which includes the first appearance in Calgary for Connor McDavid. The Oiler fans are going to come out in droves for this game, so we’re going to have to be a little louder than usual to drown them out. This is one of those games where the most important part is to get a quick start to keep the Flames fans in the game and the Oiler fans quiet.

Connor McDavid

Rookie Phenom Connor McDavid



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Calgary Flames 3, Vancouver Canucks 2 (OT)

11 Oct

Calgary gets its revenge in game two

The second game of the Calgary/Vancouver home-and-home series to start the season goes to the Flames. Although it was a much closer game than the first one was.

Johnny Gaudreau led Calgary with a goal and two assists, which included the game-winner in overtime. I know it’s early, but Johnny Hockey is off to a pretty quick start. Actually the whole top line is, as Sean MonahanJiri HudlerJohnny Gaudreau have already accumulated nine points in the first two games. Even Brad Treliving had doubt at the beginning of last year as to where the scoring was coming from, but that’s been eradicated by what’s quickly becoming one of the top lines in the NHL.

Jonas Hiller got the start after Ramo let in five goals in the previous game, and he was solid with the exception of the Bo Horvat goal (below). I think there is little doubt that he’ll be starting on Tuesday against a tough St. Louis Blues team.

The good and the bad of week one

First the good. Remember when it would take Jarome Iginla ten games at the beginning of each season to get going? Well already two games in, the top line has started strong. The second line has shown potential, especially the play of Michael Frolik. He’s been all over the place, from leading the power play to defending on the penalty kill. He has been exactly what the Flames were looking for in a second line winger, but again, it’s early.

The third and fourth lines have been okay, not giving you more than you’d expect but also not causing more grief than they could. If the Flames are going to match their record from last year however, these two lines will need to exceed our expectations.

I also want to give credit to Mason Raymond, who after being put on waivers earlier in the week had a strong bounce-back game against the Canucks.

Now the bad.

The defence. For what could arguably be the best defence in the league — for the top four anyway — Calgary has done nothing but give up odd-man rushes through the first two games. The Sedins are not the players you want to give that kind of room to. Hamilton is looking like he is settling in, but Giordano has yet to find his game. It’ll come.


Calgary Flames stink up the Dome in their season opener

08 Oct

Vancouver Canucks 5, Calgary Flames 1

The Flames came out a-flyin’ and a-fightin’ and the energy they were able to get from the home crowd lasted all of 5 minutes. After that it was all Vancouver.

Kris Russell put it bluntly. “They embarrassed us in our home opener.”

Karri Ramo was just okay. He was solid most of the night and made one phenomenal save on the Sedins, but 3 of the 5 goals he let it were stoppable. I could the puck off the skate and the puck Sutter batted out of the air as unstoppable. I don’t think he did enough to earn the start in Vancouver on Saturday though, and the team needs a shake up just one game into the season. Look for Hiller to start. Maybe Harley will rotate three until one can find a groove?

Just because I love lasers, check out the Flames Season Opener introduction video and laser show. Apologies for the poor quality.

Sad to see Paul Byron go

Paul Byron was one of those players that was easy to root for. He was small, but played big. He was fast, but his hand could never keep up with his feet. Byron was placed on waivers earlier in the week and was claimed by the Montreal Canadiens. I wish him the best.

Mason Raymond was also put on waivers, but he cleared and was a healthy scratch for the Flames first game.

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Ramo to start the season for the Flames

05 Oct

Bob Hartley Barak Obama Poster HOPERamo to start on Wednesday

The Calgary Flames have chosen Karri Ramo to start their opening game Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks. I guess I’m surprised, but not shocked. I figured it would be Hiller and Ortio with Ramo watching from the press box, but instead it’s Ramo and Hiller with Ortio watching. I’m going to have to defer to Harley on this decision, as he knows a little more about coaching than I do.

Ramo showed during the preseason that he’s ready for the season, and I think that Hiller is a little more tradeable than Ramo is which may have had an unmentioned effect on this decision. I think it’s safe to say we’ll see the Flames rotate starting goalies for the first few games until someone gets hot.

Place your bets

Now I usually don’t pay any attention to odds, but has your Calgary Flames at 28-to-1 favourites to win Lord Stanley’s mug. That’s pretty exciting, especially since we’ve been in the 50-to-100 range the past couple years. Furthermore, (based on their odds) here is where Bodog is ranking the 2015/16 Western Conference teams.

    1. Chicago Blackhawks
    2. Los Angeles Kings
    3. Anaheim Ducks
    4. St. Louis Blues
    5. Nashville Predators
    6. Minnesota Wild
    7. Winnipeg Jets
    8. Calgary Flames
    9. San Jose Sharks
    10. Edmonton Oilers
    11. Dallas Stars
    12. Colorado Avalanche
    13. Vancouver Canucks
    14. Arizona Coyotes


I think they have L.A. way too high, as well as Minnesota and Edmonton. I think San Jose and Dallas should be higher. I think 8th place would suit the Flames just fine.

Are you ready?

I certainly am, even though that was a shorter-than-usual summer it felt like a lifetime. Partly because I’ve finally updated my Jarome Iginla jersey. It took a few years to get over that but I’m welcoming a new style of hockey player to Cow Town.

The Johnny Hockey Jersey

The Johnny Hockey Jersey

Since we’re on random topics, I thought this quote from GM Brad Treliving was pretty cool… Did you have any idea of what to expect from the fans during the playoffs last year?

Brad Treliving: No. No. No I didn’t. I watched TV years ago and you’d see games here but to live it – not just at the arena but around the city – it was excellent. We’ve got the best fans in hockey and it showed. What a great environment to play in. That’s what makes it fun and that’s why we want to get back there. We want to get this city juiced up again. It was a lot of fun.

See the full interview on

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