A View From the Press Box
A Rejuvenated T. J. Brodie!
The Calgary Flames defeated the LA Kings 4 to 1 in home game 13 and overall season game 26 on Friday night. It helped the Flames retain sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division. The Flames sitting with one point up on Anaheim with two games in hand and three up on San Jose and Vegas.
The Flames outshot the Kings 37 to 14. However, the game was much closer than the shots indicated.
The Kings really played a rope and dope style to try and slow down the play and put the Flames to sleep! At times it was a boring game with the Kings waiting for the Flames to make a mistake and pay for it.
Coach Bill Peters at the post game press conference said” You’re got to stay with it. We did a good job not getting frustrated.”
Yes, Calgary played a solid defensive game but the Kings sure lack offensive punch and speed! That’s why they are in last place in the league. The Flames held the Kings to just 5 high danger chances in the contest. Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund scored empty net goals at 19:28 & 19:52 respectively in the third to seal the win for the home team.
The first star of the game was Johnny Gaudreau who scored the game winner and his 10th of the season at 7:44 of the 3rd period on the power play. Johnny hit 3 posts on the night as well! He said “…It was nice to finally put one in there…” It was surely a frustrating night for the Flames star player.
The second star was T.J. Brodie who has experienced a rebirth with his play this season. Brodie made a nice pass to set up Backlund for the first goal of the game. Backlund took a low and very accurate shot stick side on King’s goalie Calvin Peterson to give the Flames the lead after only 36 seconds of play. Brodie has surely elevated his play this season under new Coach Bill Peters. Being paired again with Mark Giordano has really been the difference. Brodie played a solid two way game. +2 on the night with 28 shifts and 23:14 minutes of ice time with an average shift of 49 seconds. In the second period Brodie made a mistake in the Flames defensive zone and turned over the puck, however his steady partner Giordano covered up for him. Brodie looks more relaxed and confident playing again with Giordano, his big brother. Giordano is arguably one of the top 3 or 4 defenseman in the game this season and is a serious contender for the Norris trophy with 24 points in 26 games. Brodie being a left shot, same as Giordano but doesn’t mine and prefers playing on the right side of the ice. The two skaters have great chemistry and flow playing together. Technically Brodie is a great skater with strong edges, a smooth skating style with great mobility and paired with Giordano his tactical play has a defenseman is definitely more sound. In each of the last two seasons, Brodie’s plus / minus had been -16. This year he leads the team with a plus 18 and his tied for tops in the NHL with Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog! Quite a turn around indeed so far this season and awesome to see the Flames defender having great success again!
Finally, although facing only 1 shot in the first 10 minutes of the game and only 14 shots overall, Mike Smith played a solid game. With a couple key saves in the third period including a big save that lead to the game winning goal the other way. Otherwise, the game may have gone into overtime play. He said “I thought our guys did a really good job of just sticking with it”. Smith earned third star of the game.
The Flames next home game is scheduled for Saturday December 8th against the Nashville Predators.