By Derek Wills
Derek Wills is the Calgary Flames radio play-by-play announcer on Sportsnet 960 The FAN. He shares his views about the Flames’ latest game.
Despite a strong start, the Flames lost the special teams battle and Wednesday’s war with the Blues. Here are five takeaways from the Flames’ second game in as many days, a 5-2 loss in St. Louis.
1. FANTASTIC FIRST 10
Fresh off of a thrilling 3-2 shootout victory over the Predators at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Tuesday, the Flames came out flying at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Wednesday. The Flames dominated the first half of the first period, taking a 1-0 lead on Mikael Backlund’s third goal of the season.
2. MOMENTUM SWINGS
After a sluggish start, the Blues seemed to find their legs in the second half of the first period. After stealing momentum from the Flames, the Blues squared the score on an Alex Steen goal with less than three minutes left in the first. In the second, Jaden Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo scored two power play goals in a span of less than three minutes to give the Blues a 3-1 lead. To their credit, the Flames fought back and started to take the game over in the back-half of the middle stance, cutting their deficit in half with Backlund’s second goal of the game. With the Blues on their heels, the were awarded a late second period power play and a golden opportunity to tie the game early in the third period. But…
3. NOT-SO-SPECIAL TEAMS
For the second straight night, the Flames lost the special teams battle — by two. On Tuesday night, the Flames came from behind to beat the Predators despite going 0-for-4 on the power play and only 1-for-3 on the penalty kill. They weren’t so lucky on Wednesday.
The Flames had a hard time generating shots and scoring chances with the man advantage, finishing 0-for-2 on the PP. The bigger issue? Their PK. For the second consecutive game, the Flames were only able to kill off one of their opponent’s three power play opportunities. Prior to their two-game road trip to Nashville and St. Louis, the Flames’ penalty kill was 19-for-19 on the road. But after going 0-for-6 on the PP and 2-for-4 on the PK on the road, head coach Glen Gulutzan is not a happy camper when it comes to his team’s special teams play. The Flames will be forced to go back to the drawing board before starting a seven-game home stand against the Dallas Stars on Friday night.
4. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!
On Oct. 25, 2016, the "3M Line" was born at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Still together one year later, Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik fittingly celebrated their one-year anniversary with another outstanding performance on the same date and in the same building.
Despite being saddled with a high percentage of defensive zone starts and tough matchups every game, the 3M Line continues to be not only the team’s most consistent line, but one of the best two-way lines in the league. Tkachuk, Backlund and Frolik may not have celebrated their one-year anniversary with a win, but they were responsible for scoring the Flames only goals and combined for five points. Tkachuk, a St. Louis native, had a large contingent of family and friends cheering him on. That included his Mom, Chantal, who brought some cookies, which Matthew was kind enough to share with us on the team charter back to Calgary. Thanks, Mrs. Tkachuk!
5. HOME COOKIN’
After splitting a tough two-game road trip, the Flames are an impressive 4-2 on the road so far this season. Gulutzan’s group tends to play a simpler game outside of the Saddledome, a brand of hockey they’ll have to bring back to Calgary with them for a season-long seven-game home stand, which starts with another game against a Central Division opponent, the Dallas Stars on Friday night.