Follow me on Twitter @ToddCordell
Five observations from Calgary vs Philadelphia:
1. The offense really struggled
I don't know if it was the early start on the East Coast, sound positional play from the Flyers, or a combination of the two, but the Flames simply didn't have it offensively in Philadelphia. Chances came few and far between from start to finish. The passes were consistently a couple feet off, there were bobbled pucks, and there was very little space to work with. Even with the top line on the ice, it rarely felt like the Flames were a serious threat to score. The numbers back that up. The 18 chances they generated tied the lowest output of the season. They simply couldn't break the Flyers down to get in tight and really test Carter Hart, as evidenced by the heatmap.
And yet the Flames still left the ice with two points. The volume may not have been there but they were opportunistic and did enough to scratch out a win even though they weren't at their best. That's what good teams do.
2. T.J. Brodie turned back the clock
Brodie was one of the few Flames who brought his 'A' game to the table Saturday afternoon. He was confident rushing the puck up ice, consistently jumped into the play, and turned into more of the rover-style player we saw earlier in his career. It certainly paid off as he tied Matthew Tkachuk for the team-lead with 10 shot contributions at 5v5 and was perhaps the team's biggest driver offensively. Fittingly enough, it was those two who connected when Brodie scored overtime winner.
3. David Rittich didn't miss a beat
New year, same Rittich. In his first start of the month, Rittich showed little sign of rust turning away 32 of the 34 shots he faced. He got into trouble trying to play the puck – that tends to happen with him – but when he was in his net and had time to set himself, he was nearly perfect. He continues to look the part of a capable NHL starter, which is what the Flames need him to be with Mike Smith incapable of stringing together quality performances (or periods).
4. The 2nd line drove the bus
I was impressed with the play of Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, and Tkachuk. They were the team's best line in terms of possession and the most consistent offensive threat. Tkachuk ranked 1st among Flames forwards in shot contributions, Bennett ranked 2nd, and Backlund tied the team-lead with five attempts at 5v5. They were all involved offensively. I liked their forechecking and relentlessness around the net as well. It was a pretty complete effort from that trio.
5. The power play struggled again
When the Flames took on the Bruins, who have been terrible on the PK this season, they failed to convert on any of their four opportunities and gave up as many high-danger chances as they created. It was ugly. Saturday was more of the same, although the Flames only had two opportunities to go to work. They really struggled to gain the line with possession. Whenever they managed to do so, they couldn't make anything happen mustering up only one shot on goal. I understand guys have off nights and it's not going to be rainbows and sunshine every night. In saying that, this is becoming a bit of a concerning trend.
Hotstove: midseason Norris Trophy picks
Hotstove: midseason Hart Trophy picks
Smith's struggles continue in loss to Bruins
Predicting the Pacific Division standings