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A few notes from Calgary vs Anaheim:
I thought last night was going to be a tough game for the Flames. It was a road back-to-back, their third game in four nights, and they were taking on a Ducks team that played one period of hockey between Sunday and Thursday. It was a very tough schedule spot and, with the injuries Calgary has, the talent gap between the two was drastically decreased. It didn’t matter.
The Flames came out ready to play. They were winning races and battles for loose pucks all over the ice and looked sharp with it on their stick. The Ducks put up little resistance – especially in their own zone – and John Gibson looked completely checked out. Prior to the season I would have made a convincing argument for him as the league’s No. 1 goaltender but he just hasn’t had it this season and last night was yet another example.
Whenever there were breakdowns in front of him, he didn’t seem to have much interest in getting up for the challenge. I’m not going to put the loss all on him, though, because there were multiple occasions – such as Oliver Kylington’s goal – where absolutely no defense was played and the Ducks gave Flames skaters all the time in the world to do whatever they wanted.
The schedule loss would have made it difficult for the Flames to play locked-in hockey for 60 minutes. Luckily, they put the game away in the opening period and that wasn’t necessary.
Mark Jankowski’s on-ice numbers still leave a lot to be desired – playing with Zac Rinaldo nightly likely has something to do with that – but he’s trending up in a big way offensively. Jankowski has five goals, six primary points, and 11 scoring chances (at 5v5) over the last seven games alone.
He’s also done a better job of creating opportunities for teammates, such as the Vancouver game where he set up Johnny Gaudreau for a Grade A and gave Noah Hanifin a wide open net he failed to convert on.
His impacts aren’t great, and probably never will be, but right now he’s providing some of that offensive pop he showed in past years. The Flames definitely need it.
I’ve talked a lot about Michael Stone’s struggles of late. He’s not the only Flames defender playing way over his head. I think Brandon Davidson used to be a decent depth piece but those days sure appear to be gone. He’s spending almost all of his time in the defensive zone these days and last night was no different.
With Davidson on the ice at 5v5, the Flames were out-attempted 17-6, out-chanced 8-1, and they controlled just 15.89% of the expected goals.
Travis Hamonic and/or Mark Giordano really need to get back soon, because Stone + Davidson playing is a recipe for disaster.
Johnny Gaudreau is an awesome player, especially in the offensive zone. He doesn’t really give much to complain about. There is an exception, though (there always is), and it is most certainly his breakaway tendencies. Sorry, that’s plural. His breakaway tendency*. Every single breakaway Gaudreau goes 5-hole, and every single breakaway he fails to score. This has been the case for years – I have tweets from two or three seasons ago complaining about the same thing – and he just won’t change. Do a deke. Shoot somewhere else. Do *anything* else. Hell, dumping the puck in the corner and going for a line change would be just as effective at this point. The guy has some of the best puck skills in the league and all he does is force shots into a closed 5-hole.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com
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