It was a game we weren’t even sure was going to take place given that at 2:00 pm MST, the Canucks hadn’t even left the Vancouver tarmac yet. A sever snow storm was threatening whether the team could land in Calgary, wich to a lot of Flames fans, was probably a mixed blessing.
It hasn’t been a good time to be a Flames fan, what with the whole losing out on Ryan O’Reilly, and then it being nothing short of divine intervention that Colorado matched the offer; not to mention the whole thing about Calgary not being able to win a game if their lives depended on it! Which is odd, because that’s just it. Their playoff lives do depend on it.
For those that were disappointed the game might not happen tonight, most were upset cause it was a missed chance to move that much closer to getting the likes of McKinnon, Jones, Drouin or say Barkov.
Some believed that this was actually a chance for the Flames to sneak in a win. Given that the Canucks played last night and with the delay getting into town tonight, it was a chance to catch Vancouver flat-footed.
With all that being said, were Flames fans going to be thankful that the Canucks showed up in the first place? That the fans braved the snow to show up for the game? Or that their team showed up for a critical match against a beatable team?
Let’s find out…
Your Calgary Flames have yet to win a game this year when they haven’t scored the first goal of th game. So needless to say it didn’t bode well for the hometown boys when Chris Higgins got Vancouver on the board at the 7:49 mark.
It seemed like we were all going to settle in for the same old Soap Opera to unfold, thanking God we didn’t brave the elements to go see this gong show live. The 4th line was getting their heads kicked in, being out-chanced 4-0 by the Canucks, yet as Kent pointed out, they still managed to get more ice time than Baertschi and Cammalleri??
Speaking of Squid, he would get the Flames on the board and tie it up with a totally
flukey, wobbler great, well placed wrist shot that clipped off the end of Luongo’s glove and dribbled into the net. It may not have been pretty, but you know what they say, goal scorers find a way to score…
And when that doesn’t fly, thank God, Luongo was in net! Sometimes you’re good to be lucky and that’s what Calgary was. They got out-shot 11-6 and out-chanced 9-5, but they were tied.
Early in the second, Calgary missed on a couple of glorious chances by both Glencross and then Baertschi to take the lead. When that happens we all know what follows. The Canucks would come back down the ice and capitalize on a garbage opportunity. Taylor would stop the point shot from Cam Barker only to have the rebound get picked out of mid air by Jannick Hansen as he was being knocked to the ice. Not Taylor’s fault, but that’s the way the puck bounces against the Flames these days.
Determined not to let the Canucks goal stem the momentum Calgary was trying to build, the Flames would again start to press. Their persistance would pay off at 6:15 when Lee Stempniak takes a pass from Matt Stajan, wide open in the slot. With Luongo flopping like a fish out of water, Stempniak made no mistake and once again we were all tied up.
Moments later, it was the one event that everyone could have predicted tonight, when newly re-acquired Brian McGratten faced off with the Canucks newly acquired Tom Sestito. A pretty good tilt with Grats getting the upper hand and doing quite the number on Sestito. He’d also get a 10 min misconduct for his salutations to the Flames faithful.
Calgary held their own for the rest of the period, and picked up the tempo of their play. They were still out-shot 12-10 but they drew even on the scoring chances 6-6, and they were still tied.
In the third, Calgary came out continuing to press the Canucks. For the first 5 mins, they kept Vancouver out of their zone and off the shot clock, which is important if they wanted to avoid their typical late game melt down. However both team played it pretty tight as neither side saw a scoring chance for almost the first half of the period.
Around the mid-way point it appeared that the Canucks were starting to lose their legs a bit. In frustration, the Canucks Tanev would take a penalty, giving your Flames a chance to take their first lead of the game with Vancouver back on their heels. Calgary would make hay on the PP with the captain leading the charge. Iginla would get a step on the Vancouver D and then thread the needle through the mass in front of the net. Originally it was thought that Hudler had tipped home the puck, but later the goal would be credited to Jarome; his 1089th point, moving him passed Theo Fleury. The Flames had their first lead of the game.
That frustration would continue with the Canucks trailing late in the game, Jannik Hansen would take a penalty for slashing the stick of Curtis Glencross. With the net empty and the Flames on the PP, Mike Cammalleri would get his second goal of the game to ice it for Calgary… Go figure.
Why The Flames Won…
The Flames may have started slowly but tonight they built momentum in this game. That in conjunction with the Canucks faltering as the game went on, allowed Calgary to slowly take over and controll the pace of the game.
Because when the Canucks were skating tonight, Calgary was able to skate with them. The Flames were able to control the play of the Sedins by putting the body to them and actually getting away with it. Both Hank and Dank, were hit all night and for the most part, were largely ineffective.
Because like the Flames, Danny Taylor started shakey but was able to build off some big saves. As I said before, the Flames have yet to win a game this year when they don’t score first. Taylor was able to compose himself after the Higgins goal and once he settled in, he made some huge saves.
Finally, because it was the Flames that got production from their special teams late in the game. When I heard that the Canucks were 0 for 8 on the PP in their last three games, the one thing that came to mind was, "Slumpbuster" Instead it was Calgary that got the late timely production from their special teams; all while continuing Vancouver’s streak of "0-fers"!
I have to go with Bouwmeester tonight.
JBo didn’t have a goal or an assist, and he ended up even on the +/- scale; so why is he deserving of the nod tonight?
Simply put, he was everywhere tonight. He was jumping up in the play all night, making key plays and key first passes out of the defensive zone. He logged over 21 mins of ice-time tonight and he still managed to play a more physical game than we are accustomed to seeing from Jay.
Most importantly, when the game was on the line and the Flames were clinging to a one goal lead, it was Bouwmeester that stepped into the line of fire… literally! With Calgary on the PP late in the game, the Canucks pulled Luongo and threw everything they had at Taylor. With seconds remaining in the game, there was room on the short side when the puck came out of nowhere. It was JBo that got his stick in the path of the puck and was able to deflect it to the corner. As a result the Flames were allowed to throw it around the boards, muscle the puck out to Cammy, who ended any chance of tying the game.
Sometimes it’s not a spark, but a slow burn that gets the fire going; that was Bouwmeester tonight.
Honorable mention to Sven Baertschi who worked his tail off early and actually got promoted up the depth chart as the game wore on. Sven has been impressive since coming back from injury, hopefully he keeps it up. Imagine when Backlund returns to the line-up??
Sum it Up
Look at the look on Begin’s face as he looks over at McGratten. The dude plays on the same team as Brian, and he looks scared. Why? Because McGratten came out tonight with something to prove and with intensity and determination. That’s probably something Begin isn’t used to seeing on a nightly basis.
That intensity and determination might be skewed for the rest of the team, given the circumstances the Canucks played tonight, but nonetheless… it was there; and it wa for almost the entire 60 minutes. When it was lacking it was at teh beginning of the game, not in the form of a collapse at the end of it.
I said at the start of this, that this could be a chance to catch the Canucks flat-footed. It was and your Calgary Flames were able to jump on it for once. Not only that, but as the game wore one, Calgary was able to stifle the Sedin sisters and get under the skins of others. Basically they played the Canucks game a little more effectively than Vancouver could.
Things don’t get any easier, if anything it will get tougher over the next four to five games. Next up is San Jose and it will serve the Flames well to remember what Patrick Marleau did to them in their last meeting.
Game time is 7:30 on SNET-W and the Fan960.