September 25 2014 10:20PM
The Vancouver Canucks visited Calgary to face the Flames on Thursday evening. They had no Sedins. They were out-shot and out-played by the locals for the lion's share of the contest. But the Canucks weathered the storm, the Flames were unable to capitalize on their advantages and scoring chances, and the Canucks skated away with a 3-1 loss.
On the other hand, Sam Bennett appears to be quite the hockey player, and that's probably what people are more interested in.
The Flames carried the play quite a bit during the scoreless first period. They had several instances of sustained offensive pressure, and the Stajan line (with Bollig and Hathaway) were able to retain possession and execute a full line change. That's skill. Unfortunately, their 20-3 shot advantage did not translate into goals. They also held a 27-12 shot attempt edge.
In the second, Devin Setoguchi took a penalty that negated a power-play. The Canucks didn't score on that power-play, but they did score soon after on a sustained possession from that advantage. With the Flames running around in their own zone a bit, Nick Bonino found Chris Higgins at the far post and set up a simple tap-in to make it 1-0. Sam Bennett undressed Canucks defender Kent Huskins but couldn't score. Late in the period, Nicklas Jensen tapped in a chance following a flurry around the Flames net to make it 2-0. But the Flames drew a penalty late and some nice passing led to Sean Monahan tapping in a rebound off a Sam Bennett scoring chance, making it 2-1. The Flames held a 26-12 shot edge after the second, as well as a 50-27 shot attempt advantage. But on the scoreboard? 2-1.
The Flames seemed to tire in the third, with Brad Thiessen in net for Jonas Hiller. The Canucks pressed the play a lot more, and the Flames made some gaffes. One, involving blown coverage by rookie Ryan Culkin, left Hunter Shinkaruk all alone to put a rebound of a Huskins shot behind Thiessen for a 3-1 lead. And with the Flames' inability to bury their chances, 3-1 was insurmountable. Despite some nice opportunities, including Bennett taking the puck up ice on a penalty kill and generating a nice scoring chance, the locals went down by a 3-1 score. Overall shots were 31-23. Shot attempts were 67-42. Both favoured Calgary.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
The Flames wildly out-chanced the Canucks early-on, but a combination of bad luck and Eddie Lack being in mid-season form meant that the locals couldn't press the advantage. The Canucks, on the other hand, were opportunistic and really took advantage of their chances.
Sam Bennett led the entire hockey game with 7 shots. He also had a shot that got blocked and a pair of missed shots. And he created tons of chances via fighting through traffic, dangling the puck and all-together being good at the ice hockey.
Michael Ferland, Sven Baertschi and Bill Arnold (10 for 11 at the face-off dot) were also pretty good this evening. Heck, Dennis Wideman may have had his best game as a Flame. Yes, in the pre-season.
Devin Setoguchi, Ryan Culkin and Raphael Diaz were not that good. Diaz was -3 and Culkin was -2 with a penalty and was caught wildly out of position on Hunter Shinkaruk's goal.
SUM IT UP
The Flames drop to .500 in the pre-season via this loss. But they cannot stew about it for long, as they hop on a plane and head to Vancouver for a return engagement at Rogers Arena tomorrow evening. The puck drops at 8pm MT and the game airs on Sportsnet One (with the Canucks crew) and on radio via Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
Bennett WILL be making the trip to Vancouver, we're told.