Calgary Flames: Three takeaways from the 7-4 loss to the Sharks

CALGARY, AB - MARCH 16: Mike Smith
CALGARY, AB - MARCH 16: Mike Smith /

It was a disappointing loss in a pivotal Pacific Division game for the Calgary Flames last night. Let’s check out the three takeaways from the game.

If this wasn’t such an important game, the Calgary Flames probably would have won. Because that’s the way they work. But in a crucial Pacific Division game, the Flames lost 7-4 to the San Jose Sharks. While it was a good first half of the game, they completely crumbled and the Sharks scored three goals in 6:20 in the second period to take a 5-3 lead. They then scored just a minute into the third to now have a three-goal lead.

The Flames are now four points back from a playoff spot and their playoff chances are slipping right through their fingers.

So what went wrong? Here are three takeaways from the loss.

Mike Smith should have been pulled earlier

Mike Smith was finally pulled from the net after allowing his sixth goal in the third period. In retrospect, he should have been pulled after the third goal, in my opinion. Almost every goal he let in last night was a weak goal that he should have had.

After the second period when he allowed five goals on 17 shots, everyone knew he shouldn’t start the third period. But he did for some reason. Then finally after that sixth goal, he was pulled. David Rittich came in and stopped all seven shots he faced.

This isn’t the only time this has happened.

Just two games ago against the New York Islanders, Mike Smith wasn’t his typical Mike Smith as well. To be fair, that was his first game back since his injury and he needed a bit of time to get settled in. But allowing four goals on 12 shots should have given Glen Gulutzan what he needs to know that this isn’t Smith’s game and he needs to be pulled. The Flames put up 52 shots that night and lose 5-2. It’s somewhat frustrating from the coach’s perspective.

It’s also been confirmed from Gulutzan that Smith’s starting tomorrow’s game in Vegas. If he’s following this trend, that means he’s going to be incredible and steal the game for the Calgary Flames.

Useless 5on3

At one point, the Calgary Flames had a 5on3 powerplay for 44 seconds. They generated no chances for those 44 seconds even though he had possession for most of the time and were in the Sharks zone. They passed it around the entire time and you can even hear people in the stands yelling, “Shoot!” since nobody decided that was an effective way to score goals.

It was a useless powerplay and at that point, the game was tied 3-3. A goal on that PP could have completely changed the outcome of the game.

Opportunity lost

This isn’t necessarily about the game, but last night, the out-of-town scoreboard went mostly in favour of the Flames. The Dallas Stars lost in OT and the Colorado Avalanche lost in regulation. If the Detroit Red Wings weren’t in complete tank mode and didn’t lose to the Anaheim Ducks, that could have almost been a hat-trick of out-of-town scoreboard watching.

A win last night would have closed the gap between them and a playoff spot. It’s like, on a night where every team that the Flames need to lose will win, the Flames will also win. But when they lose and give the Flames an opportunity to play catch up, the Flames will also lose.

The Flames are four points back from the third place Pacific Division team the LA Kings and four points back from both the Avalanche and the Stars who are in the wildcard spots. While it’s still possible for the Calgary Flames to make the playoffs, people are starting to lose hope.

Next: Flames upcoming six games extremely crucial

What was your biggest takeaway from last night’s game?