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Calgary Flames vs. St. Louis Blues recap: Same old, same old

The Flames have not fared well against the Blues in recent history, with a nasty tendency of giving up at least four goals to them. Tonight, that did not change.



Well, things started off well. The Calgary Flames were looking for two things this game: to go above .500 for the first time in this young season, and to finally snap a four-game losing streak to the St. Louis Blues. A win would accomplish both of these things, but it would be hard to come by.

Things looked really good just over a minute in, though. Rushing up from their own end, the Flames exhibited a fast, exciting breakout. It ended up with Michael Frolik sending a beautiful cross-ice dish to Dennis Wideman, who had the perfect little chip up to Mason Raymond.

Raymond, whose spot in the lineup is still far from secure, was crashing the net – hard enough to score a goal, and hard enough to take him out of the game for a few minutes, at that.

But he was okay! And it was worth it for his first of the season:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Mason Raymond goal <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Stephanie (@myregularface) <a href="">October 14, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Things got even better for the Flames, as they had four powerplays with which to work in the first period. Well – you’d assume they’d get better, having the man advantage that often, but truth be told, the Flames were sluggish and non-threatening every step of the way. The Blues scored before Calgary did, actually: a Paul Stastny rebound right to Scottie Upshall, who Dougie Hamilton failed to cover in the crease, tied the game.

The Flames’ fourth powerplay finally did it for them, though. Wideman had another beautiful pass up the middle to Johnny Gaudreau. From there, Gaudreau had no problem sliding the puck over to Jiri Hudler, and the Flames once again had the lead.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Hudler goal <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Stephanie (@myregularface) <a href="">October 14, 2015</a></blockquote>

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After that, it was a collective Flames meltdown. The second period kicked off with Mikael Backlund giving the puck away to David Backes, who sprung Troy Brouwer for a breakaway goal. Matt Stajan took the Flames’ first – and only – penalty of the game, and Blues rookie Colton Parayko made them pay with his first NHL goal, a seeing-eye shot from the point. And then he scored again for good measure right at the end of the frame, another point shot, giving the Blues a 4-2 lead after two.

To add insult to injury, Lance Bouma’s night ended prematurely thanks to at least one, if not two, Ryan Reaves hits.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">here&#39;s where Bouma definitely got hurt <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Stephanie (@myregularface) <a href="">October 14, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">here&#39;s the rest of Bouma before he left the game <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Stephanie (@myregularface) <a href="">October 14, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Bouma did not return to the game, and finished his night with only 7:36 played.

The Flames, down a man, would have to rely on their third period magic to come back. Just under two minutes in, Frolik intercepted the puck from Backes and dished it to David Jones, coming in alone and uncovered from the side. Jones sniped his first of the season, and the Flames were within one.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">David Jones goal <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Stephanie (@myregularface) <a href="">October 14, 2015</a></blockquote>

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And… that was it. As much as the Flames pushed throughout the third – and they had a significantly more impressive game then – they couldn’t beat Brian Elliott a fourth time, and fell to the Blues, 4-3. They were outshot 28-18, and out-corsied 57-46 (55-34 at even strength).

The Blues' domination over the Flames continues, but the Flames didn't exactly do themselves any favours. They showed up for the start of the game, then left until the final frame.

Flame of the game

All that said, there were two really standout candidates this game who really, really would rather not have lost. It's tough to pick between the two, but I'm ultimately giving it to Johnny Gaudreau. He was a threat all night long, and you have to think opposing teams really don't like it when he comes dancing in through the offensive zone. He steals the puck, he singlehandedly generates chances – he's honestly incredible. There's a reason he played 23:09, after all, and had nearly four minutes of powerplay time: he earned it.

Michael Frolik is the runner-up, because dang, he wanted it, too. He wasn't as consistently terrifying as Gaudreau, but he's an incredibly smart player, especially as exhibited when he stole the puck from Backes early in the third to give the Flames hope. Why he wasn't out there as an extra attacker towards the end is beyond me.

Stray observations

  • Actually, let’s pick up on that a little more. Why wasn’t Frolik an extra attacker at the end of the game? Jones? Stajan? They’re fine depth players, but when the game is actually on the line and the clock is ticking, you aren’t going to go with one of your most intelligent players who exhibited more than most all night long? Seriously?
  • To go in further on questionable decisions: everything Bob Hartley is doing in regards to Backlund is wrong. Yes, his giveaway was terrible, and he was unable to catch Brouwer and stop him from scoring. That’s no reason to give him the least amount of ice time among non-injured players. Brandon Bollig should not, under any circumstances, be getting more ice time than Backlund.
  • (On that note, Bollig shouldn’t even be dressed when there’s a healthy forward around. How do you justify dressing him over Josh Jooris?)
  • Memo to Hartley: Backlund was recently signed to a pretty decent extension. You might want to try using him properly. Hint: the fourth line is not properly. We went over this two years ago, we seriously have to go over this again?
  • Raymond played relatively well, all things considered. He’s someone who, after nobody wanted to pick up him (and his contract) for free, really needs to get his act in gear to ensure himself a regular NHL spot. As long as he continues efforts like his past few games, all should be well, and his contract may not even be a burden.
  • Of course, it does help that Raymond is being given a legitimate chance, what with playing alongside Frolik and Sam Bennett and all.
  • When Raymond was briefly off the bench in the first period, who took his spot on the wing? Potential top six forward candidate (from the preseason, at least) Micheal Ferland! He had a few decent looks. He’s still developing, but that’s strong potential functional toughness.
  • Wideman was truly excellent on the Flames’ first two goals. Guess that earned him extra ice time tonight – he played 26:07, the most out of anybody.
  • I’m liking Brett Kulak more and more with each game. He doesn’t look out of place at all. He’s not getting a ton of ice time, and he’s not particularly noticeable, but for a bottom pairing defenceman, he’s doing everything you could ask of him. When T.J. Brodie comes back, does he still keep a spot in the lineup? It may be the best move.
  • This is going to get lost in the fact the Flames gave up four, but Hiller genuinely had a good game. He saved the Flames’ butts multiple times early on, including flurries of back-to-back saves when the Blues were really pressing. Vladimir Tarasenko really wanted a goal early on, and he did not get it thanks to Hiller’s efforts.
  • It’s hard to fault him on any of the goals, really. Hamilton didn’t tie up his man on the first one, the second was a breakaway, and the third and fourth goals were point shots that made their ways through a ton of bodies. There should be no goalie controversy; Hiller should remain the starter on this team, because he’s the only legitimate starting goalie the Flames have at this point in time.

Up next

The Flames will lick their wounds en route to Winnipeg, where they’re headed to take on the Jets. Their second away game of the season is this Friday, Oct. 16. Puck drop will be at 6:00 p.m. MT.

Hopefully that one goes much, much better, the Flames learn to play a full 60, and the coach understands what players he has available and uses them properly, because that was not even remotely on display tonight.

by Ari Yanover