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Five observations from Calgary vs Boston:
1. Mike Smith bounced back
The Flames gave up a lot more quality than quantity last night. Though Smith only faced 26 shots, it was hardly an easy night at the office. Boston generated plenty of good looks from in tight. Part of that was Smith's own doing – he left quite a few rebounds out there – but credit to him for fighting through traffic and making numerous 2nd and 3rd effort stops.
Only conceding twice is impressive considering the Bruins opened a shooting gallery from the slot.
2. Michael Frolik answered the bell
Bill Peters recently talked about how impressed he has been with Michael Frolik's performance + work ethic in practice and that he wants to see it translate into the games. He got his wish vs Boston.
3M as a whole was terrific – as usual – but Frolik might have been the best of the bunch. He netted a pair of goals, one of which came off a beautiful passing play, led the team with four scoring chances, was dangerous on the penalty kill (I speculated that could be the case in the preview), and also set up a couple Grade A chances for his linemates. The Flames made a lot happen offensively when Frolik was on the ice and he was directly involved in the majority of it. He was outstanding.
3. The top line was quiet
I thought Calgary's top line was in a pretty good spot last night. The Flames had last change so Bill Peters could keep L1 almost entirely away from Patrice Bergeron (they went head-to-head for ~2 minutes at 5v5) and stick them out against Boston's depth. That is what happened; the big line just didn't take advantage of it. At all.
The Flames were out-chanced 9-3 in the ~10 minutes Calgary's top offensive trio was on the ice. They were caved in possession-wise, too, controlling less than 40% of the shot attempts.
Even including special teams, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Elias Lindholm combined for just four scoring chances (two high-danger). That is not good enough.
4. Special teams were a mixed bag
On one hand, the penalty kill was excellent. The Flames pressured the Bruins into some questionable decisions and it led to a pair of quality chances – including a clear-cut breakaway for Frolik. That's really good given the Flames only gave up three scoring opportunities themselves.
On the other hand, the power play looked 2017-18-esque. It was downright horrible. The Flames struggled to set up shop in the offensive zone. Whenever they managed to do so, nothing good happened. The Flames did not muster up much in terms of shots (five attempts) or chances (one) while failing to convert on all four opportunities.
5. Juuso Valimaki continues to impress
Another game, another solid performance by Valimaki. He held his head above water in possession vs a solid Bruins team, he recorded a couple scoring chances, and he scored his 1st NHL goal. It was somewhat fluky but it's not how, it's how many.
I absolutely love the confidence he shows on a nightly basis. A lot of young guys come into the league and play scared. They don't want to take chances because they feel a mistake or two could cost them their spot. Valimaki doesn't play that way at all and it is refreshing. He is constantly jumping into the play to add another layer of offense and he's creating a lot of opportunities as a result. He already has nine chances at 5v5. For perspective, only six defenders in the NHL have recorded more and each of them has seen more ice. He's a keeper.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com and Corsica.Hockey.
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