Nick, Jess and Jess(ica) talk Jordan Staal, Milan Lucic, Nicklas Backstrom, Patrick Marleau, the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship and review the 2021 NHL trade deadline.
The Calgary Flames dropped 2 of 3 to the Ottawa Senators after a 5-1 loss Monday night. They have now lost 7 of their last 10. Something’s gotta give.
General Manager Brad Treliving made the trip to Ottawa this time around. This comes after Montreal fired their head coach Claude Julian, after losing to the Senators. His appearance raised plenty of eyebrows and gave fans a glimmer of hope that change is on its way.
It was mismanagement that once again cost the Flames two points. Geoff Ward’s fourth line was Simon-Nordstrom-Leivo. It often times feels like he pulls names out of a hat to complete his lineup. Nordstrom at center is an interesting choice I’m not entirely sure one could easily explain. In total, he spent just under 8 minutes on ice. As a whole, the bottom 3 were on the ice for under 5 minutes.
It was Milan Lucic who scored the lone goal of the game. This was his second goal of the three game tilt. His production has improved since Ward has taken over as head coach. In 62 games, Lucic had 8 goals. He has 6 goals in 23 games. There’s room to speculate that Ward is playing favorites with the veteran. Ward and Lucic were in Boston in 2011, the year the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. There is no real reason why Lucic should be on the ice for an average of 12 minutes a night.
The 32 year old offered up some comments postgame which could be interpreted in many different ways.
Secondary scoring showed up to win the game on Saturday but then disappeared in tonight’s performance. The Flames tallied 28 shots on goal, which is ten less from Saturday. One thing the team has struggled with is overpassing. The puck will die on players’ sticks and there is nothing to build off of.
The Flames’ biggest problem is falling behind early. They are 1-10 when entering the third period trailing. It’s almost a guaranteed loss when their opponent gets out in front. It’s as if they lose all the air in their tires. They may gain that momentum back on the off chance they score or it really is a disaster for the remainder of the game.
How much of this can you put on the players when you aren’t being given much to work with. Your top six cannot carry the team through a season whether it be shortened or not. Middle six seem to be wishy washy and then your forth line could be replaced by prospects or a beer league line.
Ward has mismanaged the team almost all season. He did not bench Lucic when he was taking multiple unnecessary penalties a night and costing the team goals. Brett Ritchie who hadn’t played in the NHL in over a year and the AHL in exactly a year, made an appearance with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan for nearly 9 minutes. Not sure what you can be expected to do when Nikita Nesterov is on the ice for multiple goals against in a single game. Ward’s refusal to move Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin to the first pairing is only hurting the team. Mark Giordano has not been much of a leader this season and you have seen Captain like comments coming from “locker room bad guy” Matthew Tkachuk.
Where does the team go from here? Do the Flames throw in the towel and miss the playoffs, sparing their fans of another disappointing first round exit? Should ownership fire Ward and actually pay a head coach like Gerard Gallant? Or do we stick to the narrative that it is in fact a group of lazy players and blow up the core? Only time will tell.
The 8-8-1 Flames have struggled through the first six weeks of a condensed season. The offseason optimism seems like a fleeting feeling at this point. Was Brad Treliving wrong to only interview Geoff Ward? Is the core a problem or is mismanagement to blame? How much time can pass before the Flames wash their hands of the season?
Mismanagement is the biggest cause for concern. Geoff Ward was officially named head coach on September 14th, 2020. In his time as head coach, the Flames have gone 24-15-3. That’s not too bad considering he was working on winning over a room, coaching in the bubble, and the lack of a starting goaltender.
The Jacob Markstrom acquisition is the single best thing that happened in the Flames’ offseason. You finally have a goaltender who can carry a workload and play at a starting goalie level. The issue isn’t Markstrom. It’s with Ward’s inability to manage his workload.
David Rittich has only appeared in 4 games, starting 3. All of which have resulted in losses. He’s an easy scapegoat when he’s riding the bench and not learning from the team in front of him. It isn’t entirely his fault. How are you going to argue that you deserve to start more when you lost your job to Cam Talbot last season and there’s a talented six million dollar goalie now.
It’s time for the coaches to implement a rotational system. Get creative. Obviously, you aren’t going to do every other game basis. The Flames are currently in the middle of a 3 games in 4 days tilt. That’s a lot of work for everyone involved. After the humiliating 5-1 loss to Vancouver, things need to be reassessed.
You have a taxi squad and AHL team for a reason. When players aren’t performing, you scratch them and slot someone in who is more than capable of doing the job. Everyone is replaceable. If Sean Monahan is out for any period of time, I believe calling Glenn Gawdwin up from Stockton would be the only reasonable option.
If there’s fresh blood you want to bring in, start there.
One of Ward’s biggest mistakes this season is playing Brett Ritchie with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. There is no reason for him to be deployed with the stars of the team. He has appeared in two Flames games this season after not playing in the NHL for over a year.
Ritchie is not the player you want to be sending out there on a 4v4. He is not effective and has given Ward no sign of life to be out there. Why is Sam Bennett playing on the fourth line with Milan Lucic and Bryan Frose?
Sam Bennett. Sam Bennett was blindsided with a scratch against the Winnipeg Jets. Ward didn’t tell him personally. He found out through a piece of paper in the locker room.
“I didn’t see it coming,” Bennett told reporters. “I walked in and I was on the taxi squad and not dressing with the team, not skating with the team.”
Ward said he was using this as an opportunity to get some fresh blood in the lineup. Where is this mentality now? You have players who are generating turnover after turnover and proving to be nothing besides a liability. You could use the argument that Bennett has 9 giveaways this season but at the same time, there are defensemen who are putting up double digits still seeing the ice every night.
Matthew Tkachuk has been in a slump since the Jake Muzzin incident. I guess getting a puck thrown at you can rattle you. He’s been chasing his 100th career goal for about two weeks now and the pressure is on. The instigator we knew has been nowhere to be found. He leads the team with ( 10 ) penalty minutes and has tallied 10 points. He may be considered a ghost or phantom right now but he is still generating shots on net. He’s averaging about 3 per night which shows his confidence isn’t completely gone.
Tkachuk spoke with the media Saturday morning and puts a lot of pressure on himself, “It starts tonight and I’m prepared to do whatever I can. For me personally, I’ve got to get going. All the pressure should be on me to perform. It shouldn’t be on anyone else. I haven’t been at my best and it’s time to get going and help this team get some wins. I haven’t performed the way I’d like personally, so all the pressure should be on me to try to provide emotion from the drop of the puck tonight.”
The issue isn’t the players not giving a damn or wanting to be elsewhere. It comes back to the leaders. Is Mark Giordano doing enough as a captain? Why aren’t we seeing him talk about accountability? Is Ward truly holding the room or has he already lost it? There are so many questions when it comes to the Flames and the best thing they can do is give us answers.
Fundamentals, accountability, and teamwork. Let’s bring it back.
For the first time in nearly a week, the Calgary Flames are back. Puck drop’s at the Saddledome at 4:00pm.
Dillon Dube likely will not play, ( day to day with LBI ) did not skate during Saturday’s practice and there is no morning skate tomorrow.
Geoff Ward did say that they’ll take a look at how things look in the morning and go from there.
If Dube is unavailable, the lines will likely look like this:
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Dominik Simon
Andrew Mangiapane – Elias Lindholm – Matthew Tkachuk
Sam Bennett – Mikael Backlund – Josh Leivo
Milan Lucic – Derek Ryan – Joakim Nordstrom
Mark Giordano – Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin – Christopher Tanev
Juuso Valimaki – Nikita Nesterov
Things to watch:
The Flames will reunite with TJ Brodie for the first time this season, after he signed with the Maple Leafs in free agency. Brodie has been heavy on the assists so far this season with three points in six games.
Chris Tanev has been an absolute beaut for the Flames. He took time to practice and shoot around with some of the younger guys yesterday.
Not only is he playing an intricate role on the penalty kill, he is showing his leadership abilities.
Goalie Frederik Andersen’s season has not been off to a hot start. With an .898 SV% and averaging nearly 3 goals against, he’s already in playoff form.
The Flames are going to have to play another full sixty minutes of hockey on both ends of the ice. Toronto is a scary team when they’re healthy and on the same wave length. The Flames have their work cut out for them.
Puck drops at 4:00pm EST. Make sure you check back for your postgame coverage!
Jess Belmosto joins the show to talk about Tuukka Rask, Game 6 between the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars, First Round eliminations and more.
The new format of the DTFR Podcast is introduced as Dustin Byfuglien is out for an extended period of time, Louis Domingue was traded, Scott Sabourin suffered a scary injury and the New York Islanders are on a nine-game winning streak.