Postgame: I Only Saw One

I’ll leave our FlamesNation commenters to fill in the blanks on Calgary’s second game of preseason opening night, as I was able to watch the Flames take a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks in split squad action at the Saddledome.  In the second half, Calgary took on the Canucks at the Rogers Arena.  In both instances, Vancouver iced a very pedestrian lineup against a more veteran team; the game at the ‘Dome saw that veteran squad carry the play as expected.

What Happened

It took just 47 seconds for the Flames to open this thing up, as Calgary’s Jordan Henry forced a turnover in the neutral zone leading to an offensive rush the other way.  Eventually, Tom Kostopoulos would feed Greg Nemisz who would sneak a puck through on Manny Legace to begin the shooting gallery.  The Flames went up 2-0 killing a penalty, as Miikka Kiprusoff flipped a long pass down the ice, catching Alex Tanguay on an odd man rush; he’d feed Rene Bourque who directed it in at 8:50.  A Tanguay rip shot at 17:53 beat Legace to make it 3-0 from Paul Byron and Tim Jackman as the Flames outshot Vancouver 11-7 in the first period, and had the vast edge in , play throughout.

Things settled down from the relative shooting gallery that was the first period, as Vancouver scored the only second period goal.  Mark Mancari was able to beat Miikka Kiprusoff on a weird play 21 seconds in as the Canucks fired 13 shots on goal in the period.  Even still, we weren’t talking about a blitz, it was still a frame controlled by the home side.

Calgary’s lead swelled 2:12 into the third period, with Kostopoulos tipping home a Brendan Mikkelson powerplay point shot for the Flames first goal on the man advantage.  Lee Stempniak would score a man up at 14:37, taking a feed in the slot from Matt Stajan to get us to our final score.  Calgary went 2 for 11 on the powerplay, which took away from the five-on-five things the team wanted to do, but that said, this one really wasn’t a contest.

One Good Reason…

…why the Flames won?  Fairly cut and dried.  They iced a vastly, vastly, vastly better lineup and ran the show of the Vancouver D squad.  There were three NHLers on the Canucks, and they aren’t what we’d call high end NHLers at this point.  That said, it was Calgary’s job to go out and dictate the play, something they did right from the get go, as the veterans and bubble players alike impressing.

Red Warrior

I’ll go Paul Byron, as he was fairly impressive on an even strength line with Alex Tanguay and Rene Bourque.  Byron showed some nice vision offensively, some creativity and some skating; on the powerplay, he was especially noticeable, setting up a few quality scoring chances.  I was also very impressed with Jordan Henry and Lance Bouma, two other players hoping to bull their way into an opening day roster spot.  Henry was poised with the puck on the blueline and showed his nice puck moving ability while Bouma did what we expect from him.

The Story

I know there’s a lot of excitement around a guy like Byron from the game in Calgary, and Sven Baertschi from the game in Vancouver, but I’m going to hold off on the pronouncements until we see them play against real NHLers.  I’m not saying they won’t continue to impress, but it’s a little skewed in these two games, as neither Vancouver squad was worth much.  That said, it was fun to watch some Flames strut their stuff, and it was good to have hockey back on ‘Dome ice.  Calgary’s back at it in Edmonton on Saturday night.