Merde en feux. Final Score: 4-3 Flames
The true test for any good team is seeing how they respond after a loss, especially after a game where they probably played well enough to get at least a point if not an outright win. That was the challenge facing the Oilers tonight in Calgary after dropping a close one in Vancouver on Saturday, mostly because of the fine work of Thatcher Demko. The good news is that the boys never seem to have issues getting fired up for a Battle of Alberta, but with Jacob Markstrom getting the start in net for the Flames, this would be the second straight game where the boys would have to figure out a goalie that can steal one if he’s rolling. Not only that, but they were also facing Calgary for the first time since they’ve had their new coach behind the bench which added another layer to the evening. Early on, the Oilers had some jump but it quickly became apparent that they were not going up against the same Flames team they beat just over a week ago and rather a Darryl Sutter led trap squad. To put it mildly, the start of this hockey was mostly boring and it wasn’t exactly surprising to see twenty minutes on the books with no score on the clock.
Unfortunately, things didn’t really get much better as the game progressed. As much as I hoped that an intermission would cause the Flames to forget everything Sutter has been telling them to do, they continued to be an NHL equivalent to watching paint dry with the extra unfortunate part being that it was working for them quite effectively. For the first half of the second period, the Oilers were completely stifled and unable to get anything done offensively whereas the Flames found different ways to manufacture chances for themselves and convert on them too. And while the Oilers were able to claw their way back into the mix, they still found themselves down by a goal against a team that has been pretty stingy in the defensive zone lately. Even so, the boys got straight to work and managed to tie the game early in the frame, pulling their way back into contention for the third time. Things were looking good, your boy was feeling positive. But then, just as we watched all night, the Oilers got caught with another avoidable mistake and gave the Flames a free chance on Smith that they would use to cash in the winner, erasing all of their hard work to come back.
As far as losses go, this one stings because many of the pucks that wound up in the net started with plays that never should have happened. The Oilers are better than that, but they weren’t tonight.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Only moments after the Flames extended their lead to two goals, Adam Larsson pulled the Oilers back to within a single goal (2-1) after he found a loose puck near the side of the net and hacked away until he got it over the line.
- Josh Archibald cut the Flames’ lead in half (3-2) near the end of the second period with a beautiful deflection on Devin Shore’s cross-ice pass. Archibald was driving to the net with speed and Shore found him with a rocket of a pass that the former was able to get a stick on, redirecting the puck up and over a moving Markstrom.
- Leon Draisaitl tied the game up early in the third period (3-3) with a beautiful snipe that made its way through traffic and into the net through a tiny little hole.
- It was another massive night for Darnell Nurse as he was required to play even more in the absence of Tyson Barrie. Bear played a mindboggling 30:15 to go along with three shots on goal, one hit, and two PIMs.
- I want to give Devin Shore a little bit of love because the guy has come up with a pair of beautiful primary assists lately and we haven’t talked about it much. Kudos to you, Devin Shore. We may not always have reasons to praise you but tonight we speak your name.
- I complain about the PK not being as good as they were last year a lot so I have to give the boys some love for killing off all three of Calgary’s chances with the man advantage.
- At least Lucic didn’t score. *sees he got an assist* Meh. I stand by this point.
- How could you not continue on with your week without knowing that the Oilers won 62% of the faceoffs.
THE FACE PALMERS
- Dillon Dube opened the scoring for the Flames (1-0) after McDavid was stripped of the puck in the neutral zone and turned around quickly by Elias Lindholm. In a matter of seconds, the puck went from North to South and Dube was in alone on Mike Smith who just couldn’t bail the boys out for the mistake.
- Elias Lindholm gave the Flames some insurance (2-0) after Kylington found him in the slot with a pass that he made no mistake of burying.
- Andrew Mangiapane restored Calgary’s two-goal lead (3-1) after Mike Smith got caught out of the net and the Flames were able to capitalize on what was effectively an open net. Most of the time, we love the way Smith moves the puck but there are times when his wandering backfires and this was definitely one of them.
- Only moments after Draisaitl tied the game, Noah Hanifin restored the lead (4-3) after the Flames made their way into the zone on an odd-man rush, passed the puck effectively, and the defenceman was able to beat Smith with a wrister from the high slot.
- I had honestly forgotten how boring a Darryl Sutter coached team can be and lessons were re-learned here in this one.
- Mike Smith was back between the pipes and looking for his 10th win of the season and 3rd against his former club, but it was not meant to be as he was tagged with a trio of second period goals that more or less sunk the ship. That said, I definitely wouldn’t blame Smith for all of those goals but the one that really hurt was the third when he was caught wandering out fo the net, leaving the Flames with what was basically an empty net. He hasn’t been caught out of position like that much this year but this was one of those nights where the mistake proved costly. Smith finished with 23 saves and a .852 save%.
- This was a tough night for Ethan Bear and I’m thinking specifically of the pinch he made on the Flames’ fourth of the night, allowing them to rush into the zone on an odd-man rush. Since he’s come back from his injury, he’s looked very unBear-like and it’s been rough to watch him struggle out there after being so good in his rookie season.
- This was a really tough night for Jujhar Khaira who will not only get a call from the league for a high hit he threw in the first period but he also got knocked out later in the frame in his fight with Nick Richie.
- Tyson Barrie didn’t come out with his teammates for the second period and we never really got an explanation for why. Obviously, he took a hit or something in the first period that didn’t agree with him somehow and all we can really do is wait and see whether we get an update in Tippett’s post-game. Barrie came back out to the bench in the third but he didn’t end up playing, finishing the night at just over seven minutes of TOI.
- After a 1/4 evening in Vancouver, the Oilers needed their powerplay to come through for them against the Flames, but they were unable to do so on the lone chance they got. Why or how the Oilers only got one powerplay while the Flames got three is beyond me.
- I don’t even care if you guys give me shit for it, but I’m going to take a minute to once again complain about how terrible NHL referees are on a nightly basis. Tonight’s example came in the first period after Connor McDavid was tripped away from the puck and got no call on it only to have the Flames get a powerplay for a phantom tripping penalty only seconds later. It’s garbage. This league is garbage.
- I miss you, Evan Bouchard, and I hope that we’ll be reunited again soon.
Drink every time you heard about Sutters farm…
— (Formerly known as) Matt the Framer (@fivestargc) March 16, 2021
I could listen to the Flames broadcast crew gush about Connor all night. I don’t mind it.
— TheTowelBoy (@TheTowelBoy) March 16, 2021
I honestly believe it belongs to George Canyon
— Ryan (@IAmByks) March 16, 2021
And then the Oilers get called a trip immediately after. Classic NHL. https://t.co/LuQCBhNLu3
— Tyler Yaremchuk (@tyleryaremchuk) March 16, 2021
a story in two parts pic.twitter.com/3DKQRfsXeY
— griffin? (@GPosynick) March 16, 2021
20 minutes goes by quick when you’re scrolling Twitter. #twooping
— Vladimir Netsoff (@dyckster10) March 16, 2021
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