Flames braved the cold and jumped into 6th in the Western Conference this evening by defeating the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. The conditions weren’t ideal, with chippy, fragile ice and bitter winds, but Calgary kept things exceedingly simple and rode a dominant first period to a relatively easy victory.
Calgary hopped on the visitors right away, exploiting a couple of early PP’s to record the games first six scoring chances, culminating in Bourque’s first of the evening during a 5-on-3. Montreal had trouble regaining their footing in the first frame and were ultimately outchanced 12-2 by my count and probably lucky to be down by just one heading into the first intermission.
The Habs managed to push back a bit to start the second and were actually handily outshooting and outchancing Calgary for the first 10 minutes or so before twin strikes by Bourque (ES) and Babchuk (SHG) swung things back into Calgary’s favor for the rest of the frame. Chances ended up 8-8 despite Montreal’s initial push back, which reflects how well the Flames held off the chasing visitors. Bouncing pucks, bad ice and a near total lack of hitting limited the contest to a very simplistic formula of dump-in, dump-out and take advantage of a bouce or two when you can. Calgary got the lion’s share of odd-man rushes via this method, thus their superior chance numbers in the end.
The game was mostly a formailty by the third. The Canadiens started running up the shot totals, but they were mostly shunted to the outside in the offensive zone and only marginally outchanced the Flames as a result. Calgary put things away with another PP marker, this time with Iginla feeding Tanguay for a tap-in.
One Good Reason…
…Why the Flames won? They were by far the better team when the score was in doubt and were highly successful at limiting the Habs to just a handful of quality scoring chances for the rest of the game. Flames depth was again the difference in this one, particularly with the Bourque, Stajan and Kostopolous mostly beating up on Pouliot, Desharnais and Cammalleri. The Flames big guns from Iginla to Bouwmeester ended up well under water in terms of possession, but again were never really in trouble at any point in this one.
This one’s easy. Rene Bourque, who has had a tough season this year after signing his big, fat contract extension last year was something of his old self this evening. The previously ineffectual winger scored two goals, was in the black in terms of possession and fired a game-high 11 shots on net. That’s the same amount of shots h’ed managed in the previous four games combined.
I don’t know if this is a one-off or if Bourque is finallty ready to awaken from his four and half month slumber, but either way he stole the show this evening.
Calgary was the better team top-to-bottom this evening. They overcame some of the isses afflicting the venue and kept their game simple enough to limit the gaffes and chances against. Calgary’s depth and special teams were superior this eve