As we all know, the Flames have nothing to play for right now but pride. The kids are getting their chance to prove themselves and give 110% on every shift, so there’s effort there. On the other hand, the Canucks no doubt entered the evening assuming they were going to win.
Although I talked to none of the players about their state of mind, this obviously completely explains why Vancouver came out flat and the Flames outchanced them through the first half of the game. In the first period the Flames kept their feet moving and got pucks and bodies to the net. Also, the kids enthusiasm was contagious. The big body of recent call-up Blair Jones cleared space for everyone, including guys who weren’t even on his line. Glencross opened the scoring when his strong effort found the back of the net. Alex Burrows tied things up when he fell in the crease, kneed the puck past the line and then conspired with the NHL to allow the goal to stand for some reason.
The Canucks pushed back in the second. They started keeping it really simple, and managed to get both pucks AND bodies to the Flames net a lot more often. Alex Tanguay spent the entire period not moving his feet and constantly not keeping it simple, resulting in more than one quality chance for Vancouver on the penalty kill. Kipper was reinvgorated by the prospects enthusiasm, though, so was able to keep Vancouver at bay. The second ended as it started, tied 1-1.
Flames somehow reignited the momentum from the first period in the third, outshooting and outchancing the Canucks 14-3 and 8-1 respectively to start the third. However, the Canucks experience and veteran savvy eventually took over and the Vancouver scored three straight goals on five straight chances to close things out. I was assured by the rich, steady voice of reason during the broadcast that it was the canucks consistency that delivered the victory. So much for youthful exuberance.
Why the Flames Lost…
Because, in the end, the Canucks simply wanted it more and know how to win games like this. Although they spent most of the being outplayed, they knew when to turn it on and put their heel on the throat of their foe.
We’ll get serious for a bit and give this one to TJ Brodie. Some of the kids had strong performances, including Max Reinhart and Roman Horak, but Brodie is killing things right now. He led all Flames skaters with 26 minutes of ice, a +8 chance differential (+10-2) and an incredible +15 corsi, which included a 20-3 shot on net advantage at even strength (!). Holy crap.
Brodie started the season out as a healthy scratch and is now playing first pairing type minutes and tearing the cover off the ball.
Flames in Red:
Sum it Up
One last cliche: it was the best of both worlds for the Flames tonight – they played well, pushed the Canucks most of the evening, but still lost, furthering the short-term goal of finishing in range of a top-3 pick for the draft. The kids are acquitting themselves well in their audition and really it’s the vets looking out of sync with things out there (jeers to Chris Butler and Alex Tanguay tonight in particular).
Like the previous lost to Vancouver, Calgary really has nothing to be ashamed of after this defeat given the circumstances and their overall performance.