Calgary Flames lose all battles vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs

CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 28: Johnny Gaudreau
CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 28: Johnny Gaudreau /

With two offensively strong teams going head-to-head tonight, the Calgary Flames were, unfortunately, lacking in almost everything vs. Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Calgary Flames were looking to begin their homestand on a high note. After being on a road trip for two weeks, they finally return to the ‘Dome to face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs. With an LA Kings loss in regulation and a Flames win, they could have moved up to second place in the Pacific Division. But that didn’t happen tonight.

Unfortunately, the Kings won their game, so the Flames wouldn’t be moving up tonight. Johnny Gaudreau was also looking to improve. Heading into this game, he was tied for second in points with Nikita Kucherov and only two points back from first place Steven Stamkos. Tonight, Kucherov got a point so Gaudreau was only one point back from second place and two back from first. Less than two weeks ago, he was four points back from second and six points back from first.

Mike Smith also has a good record against the Leafs. He’s 7-2-2 and 0.924 SV% against them heading into this game. He’s also 4-2-1 when facing over 40 shots, so it looked like things were going to go in favour of Smith against this strong offensive Leafs team. But we also have Frederik Andersen, who’s 5-0-1 against the Flames. So this is anyone’s battle.

The Flames were also going to be without Kris Versteeg and Jaromir Jagr due to undisclosed injuries.

First period

The first period started out with the Calgary Flames generating some chances early. But good blocks back and forth from both teams and both teams only managed one shot between the two of them in the first five minutes (from the Flames). It was slightly odd seeing how both teams are offensively strong, but both teams were also wary of that, so they upped their defensive game.

The Flames had a powerplay and without Versteeg, Mark Jankowski took his spot on that first PP unit. And the Flames first PP of the game was somewhat atrocious. They rarely had any clean entries and couldn’t generate many chances and thus, had no shots.

But Mike Smith came prepared that period. He was in the zone and made three huge saves in the first period. Two during a Leafs powerplay and one came from a pass from Tyler Bozak to Mitch Marner who got absolutely robbed by Mike Smith.

In the first period, the top two lines were generating a few chances, especially a few plays from the Gaudreau-Monahan-Ferland line. But to no avail. For the majority of the period, both teams didn’t generate a lot of offensive chances. Until about 15 minutes in when the Leafs got a powerplay, and while they didn’t score, both teams suddenly woke up.

Unfortunately, there was a weird shot that had weird bounces on Flames skaters, bounced off of Travis Hamonic, and into the net. There was nothing Mike Smith could do there and other than that, he had a fantastic first period. That was a goal by Roman Polak who got his first goal in 18 games, dating back to last season.

The score would remain 1-0 for the visiting team after 20 minutes of play.

Second period

Early on in the second period, the Calgary Flames had some early chances and some good chances and Freddy Andersen had to be sharp early on. There were a couple of good chances for the third line as well being paired with Troy Brouwer. And in the first period, Marner got robbed by Smith. But this time, Matthew Tkachuk would get robbed by Andersen in what was his save of the game.

Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames /

Calgary Flames

Later, the Leafs would end up making it 2-0 for the Leafs after the Flames failed to exit their zone. The puck went through Smith’s five-hole. In the second half of the period, it seemed like the Flames somewhat gave up. They weren’t winning a lot of puck battles and their powerplay as well was anything but good.

Their powerplays through the first two periods had no shots on net and they failed to even get many clean entries into the Leafs zone. The 3M line had a few chances in the second period, but with the Flames unable to clear their zone on multiple occasions, we’d be 2-0 after 40 minutes of play.

Third period

Early in the third period, Nazem Kadri made it 3-0 for the Leafs with a quick wrist shot. This happened because the Calgary Flames, again, failed to clear their zone. But the game isn’t over yet.

A few minutes later, Michael Stone got the Flames on the board with a rocket of a shot from the blue-line. This was his second goal of the season and now the Flames were within two goals with over 14 minutes left in the game.

But spoiler alert: They couldn’t come back. It seemed like they somewhat gave up and this wasn’t the best game played by the Flames. For most of the second half of the third period, they barely had any clean entries.

But give credit where credit’s due, the Leafs were on their defensive game tonight. Something they’ve been lacking. They limited the Flames to just 20 shots tonight which is an odd night for the Flames seeing how their offensive production has been quite good lately.

Add an empty net for the Leafs, and this game would end 4-1 for the visiting team. Johnny Gaudreau also failed to get a point tonight so he would remain third in points right behind Kucherov. And more bad news, but with a Dallas Stars win and a San Jose Sharks win, the Flames are now out of a playoff position. But the Western Conference is a very tight battle and they could be back in in a matter of days. It still isn’t something Flames fans would have wanted.

Next: Three stars of the week Nov. 20-26

All in all, this wasn’t the best game played by the Flames. Their defence yet again was lacking. Their powerplays were basically useless. And they didn’t have a lot of clean entries into the Leafs zone. They lost all battles against the Leafs tonight.

We’ve seen this Calgary Flames team have better games and they know themselves they can do better. It’s up to them to make sure this homestand goes better than how it’s started out.