The Calgary Flames continued their rough streak on Saturday night, as their 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers marked their 12th straight opening night loss. Fans knew it would be a tough game given that the Oilers possess two of the greatest forwards in the game in Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. That turned out to be the case, as McDavid in particular was a force all night long while netting his 10th career hattrick.
Related: Flames Won’t Get By on Defense Alone
Teams across the league know not to give this Oilers team power-play opportunities, as they have had the best success of any team over the past two seasons on the man advantage. Unfortunately, the Flames were unable to stay out of the box on Saturday, and the Oilers made them pay, capitalizing on two of four opportunities. Of course, penalties are bound to happen, and some are easy to forgive. However, that wasn’t the case with a double minor defenceman Rasmus Andersson took during the first period.
Selfish Play from Andersson
Near the end of the first period, while already down a goal, Andersson chose to go after Kailer Yamamoto after Jacob Markstrom covered up a shot from the Oilers forward. The Swedish defenceman appeared ready to fight, dropping his gloves and throwing several punches despite the fact Yamamoto didn’t seem to be willing to fight back. By the time the refs broke the two apart, Andersson was assessed a double minor for roughing while Yamamoto wasn’t given a penalty on the play.
As Andersson admitted to media on Sunday, it was a dumb penalty and a costly one, as the Oilers were able to capitalize and go up 2-0 after McDavid fired a shot past Markstrom. It was the type of play that can really kill teams, and while it wasn’t the only reason, it was a contributing factor as to why the Flames continued their ugly season opening streak.
Speaking with media on Sunday, head coach Darryl Sutter said that he didn’t see the incident that resulted in the double minor. When asked if the 24-year-old needs to dial down his intensity, Sutter seemed to have no issue with the matter, and said that he believed Andersson was the teams best defenceman on Saturday night.
Despite being happy with Andersson’s game as a whole, however, Sutter did go on to say that while his team worked hard last night, they need to play smarter. That certainly could be directed partially towards Andersson, as his penalty was both selfish and unnecessary, especially against a team with as many offensive weapons as the Oilers possess.
Suspension Avoided for Andersson
This situation could have turned out even worse for the Flames, as it was suggested by the Hockey Night in Canada panel last night that Andersson could face a suspension after he appeared to headbutt Yamamoto before throwing punches. While certain replays made it look as though he did in fact headbutt the Oilers forward, other angles made it look like he instead hit him with his glove.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety didn’t appear to think it was a headbutt, as they chose to only fine Andersson rather than suspend him, and called the incident “roughing”. Andersson seemed to agree with that sentiment when speaking to the media.
“There was no headbutt,” Andersson said. “I got a $5,000 fine for roughing and not a headbutt. In my opinion, I did not try to or I didn’t headbutt him.”
As mentioned earlier, Andersson admitted that the penalty was “dumb”, and also said he needs to do a better job at controlling his emotions going forward so that this situation doesn’t happen again.
“I think I was a little to hot off the start (Saturday),” he told reporters. “Obviously I got that four-minute minor. I just have to try to keep my emotions in check.”
Flames, Andersson Must Learn From Mistakes
Many questioned the Flames character in 2020-21, as they often appeared disinterested and made many mental and judgmental errors throughout the entire season. Situations like Andersson’s on Saturday won’t go over well for some who questioned the teams maturity at times last season. However, as Sutter mentioned, Andersson played a very good game last night and is without a doubt one of the teams best defenceman. Hopefully this was just a one off and he is able to stay out of the box for unnecessary reasons like this moving forward, as the Flames are a much better team with him on the ice.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.