Post-Game: That Escalated Quickly

The Anaheim Ducks came into Calgary hoping to get two much-needed points as they try to fend off the San Jose Sharks and retain their Pacific Division lead. They left Calgary bruised, battered and wondering how it all went wrong.

The Calgary Flames set a season-high for offensive output with a 7-2 shellacking of the Ducks in perhaps the most complete team game we’ve seen from this group all season long.


The first period was all Calgary, in the sense that they (a) drove play and (b) got the bounces. They opened the scoring via a Mark Giordano point shot that was slightly re-directed off an Anaheim stick. Then the Flames got a penalty, as Kevin Westgarth went off for hooking. Bad news, right? Nope! The Flames generated two odd-man rushes, on their PK: Jonas Hiller stoned Mikael Backlund on the first one (with Lance Bouma), but Paul Byron found TJ Galiardi and set him up with an easy tap-in past Hiller to make it 2-0 for the home side.

Anaheim’s Hampus Lindholm then went off for hooking Paul Byron. The Flames celebrated with a quick power-play goal, their third goal on five shots, chasing Jonas Hiller from the game. Mike Cammalleri got the marker on a rebound. Back at even-strength, Mikael Backlund’s shot bonked in off of some combination of a Ducks defender, Paul Byron and Frederik Andersen to give Calgary a 4-0 lead. Backlund got credit, anyway. And to cap off the period, Brian McGrattan beat Bryan Allen in a fight. Calgary lead the period in shots (8-7), attempts (16-13) and face-off wins (12-11).

Chris Butler took a late-period holding-the-stick penalty. The Ducks generated a little bit, but they also allowed Calgary to go in on a 3-on-2. Mikael Backlund opted to shoot instead of pass and scored his second of the game to make it 5-0 (on Calgary’s second shortie of the game). The Flames went into the lovely “shell” – basically protecting the lead rather than actively fore-checking – and the shutout was broken at 12:30 of the second. Jakob Silfverberg fed Andrew Cogliano with a beautiful pass for a quick tap-tap goal to make it 5-1. That seemed to shake up the Flames, as they began skating harder and fore-checking again. Brian McGrattan had a partial breakaway that was barely broken up by a Ducks defender. On a broken play in the neutral zone, Paul Byron turned on the jets. He got the loose puck and drove the net. A shot attempt didn’t materialize, so he went wide and fed, of all people, Ladislav Smid for a slapper. Smid scored his first as a Flame and just his second of the season. After 40 minutes, the Flames lead 6-1. Calgary lead in shots 10-8, but attempts were even in the second at 17-17 and the Ducks dominated the face-off dot 13-6, for all the good it did ’em.

The third period unfolded in very similar manner to the second. The Flames were full of confidence. The Ducks were full of desperation. The Flames seemed to ease up a bit. The Ducks scored a goal. The Flames pushed back a bit. The fans did the wave.

Both Mikael Backlund (shot block) and Tyler Wotherspoon (puck in face) went off for a bit, but both returned to the game and finished it off.

About 8 minutes into the period, Nick Bonino went top corner on Ortio to trim the lead to 6-2. Again, the Flames were going into the shell a bit. After that, once again, the Flames woke up and pushed back. Their resolve paid off, with a flurry of chances leading to young Ben Hanowski feeding his roommate Corban Knight for the High River boy’s first NHL goal. That cemented the 7-2 lead. Both teams were tied in shots 7-7, shot attempts were 15-15, while the Flames had a narrow 10-9 edge in face-off wins.


Well, there have been many, many games where the Calgary Flames played “their game” and nothing went right. Heck, look at basically the month of December. Tonight, they got the bounces and they just kept kicking at the can. When life gives you lemons, you don’t ask “Hey, where did these lemons come from?” You grab those lemons and you score many goals with them.

The Calgary Flames didn’t ask where their lemons came from tonight.


So, so many contenders. But let’s go with our old buddy, Mikael Backlund. Backlund led the team with two goals, three points, four shots on goal, 61% in the face-off circle and only Mike Cammalleri played more amongst Calgary forwards.

And in general, the club’s Killer Bs (Backlund, Bouma, Byron, Brodie, Butler) combined for two goals, nine points and a plus-13 rating.


With this brief homestand in the books, the Flames (26-33-7) hit the road for a quick pair of games in the American Southwest – Friday in Dallas and Saturday night in Glendale against the Phoenix Coyotes.

They’re no closer to a playoff berth, nor to a lottery pick, but I’m sure the team’s feeling pretty good about themselves as they hit the road once more.

There are 16 games left in the season – 7 home and 9 on the road.

  • Nighteyes

    Man, I must admit I love it when Backlund lights it up, he brings so many intangibles to the team that don’t necessarily result in points, so when he does get them it makes it that much better. Ortio is also quietly making his mark. He might not light it up and be a star every game, but he has really been quite steady making all these consecutive starts. Considering goalies tend to mature and peak much later than skaters because of the mental burden the position requires, I think we are seeing a good snapshot of what he will be capable of in a couple of years.

  • beloch

    Re: Backlund
    Corban Knight got his first NHL goal tonight and the dumbass ref threw that puck over the boards after the final whistle. It was a nice thing for the lucky little girl who caught it, but losing that puck would have been a life-long regret for Knight if Backlund hadn’t gone and traded his stick for it. That was quick thinking and a classy move by Backlund, especially since he had reason enough to hang onto that stick! He’s earning his ‘A’ in many ways and I have a feeling he might well be the Flames’ future captain.

    Re: Ortio

    The official line is that he faced just 22 shots and was 0.909 on the evening, which is below NHL average in terms of sv%. After watching Berra/Ramo all season and now Ortio, I firmly believe the stats aren’t capturing reality here. At least, sv% isn’t. Ortio really must be Finnish for “vacuum cleaner”. He is adept at sucking the puck into his glove or, failing that, directing the puck into the deadest possible portion of the ice. Ortio really does not give up juicy rebounds very often at all! If Berra or Ramo had played this game the Ducks would have had 10 more shots and 10 more quality scoring chances. By the time Ramo is healthy Ortio might well be the Flames’ starter. He’s playing that well. He’s been consistent too, and has yet to experience a royal melt-down despite being played back-to-back. So far, Ortio has been more than Flames fans had reason to hope for.

    Smid scored. Yes, that actually happened. If it had been a goal that actually mattered I suspect the Earth might have imploded.

    • Lordmork

      I came to comment on the same things re: Backlund getting that puck for Knight. He doesn’t just do good puck possession things; also he’s a classy player. I’d love to see him as Captain someday.

    • The official line is that he faced just 22 shots and was 0.909 on the evening, which is below NHL average in terms of sv%. After watching Berra/Ramo all season and now Ortio, I firmly believe the stats aren’t capturing reality here.

      The “quality start” is a good stat to keep in mind for goalies. It is a start that results in at least league average net minding or a game where he manages at least replacement level tending while allowing 2 goals or less. Ortio has 4 quality starts so far.

      • seve927

        Berra was actually very good by that metric as well (post November, but even before, not bad). I think his good work got buried in the series of games where they couldn’t score. But he was putting up about 70% quality starts once he got it together.

        All that said, I think Ortio will be better. Love the calm, solid look. Berra was just too edge of your seat for me, or at least would be when wins actually mean something.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Lost in all the hullabaloo about unexpected wins, players buying into Hartley’s system, and the hard-working culture on the ice… is the fact that Mark Giordano is freakin amazing, looks (from an outside perspective) to be a fantastic captain, and should get some kind of freakin medal or something.

    He’s the best captain this team has had since Iginla.

    Seriously, Hartley’s been getting a lot of love lately, but I think Gio deserves just as much.

    Flames MVP by a country mile.

  • RedMan

    Our little Mikey is all grown up now and making us all so proud!

    Will he ever be able to grow a real mustache though?

    All I was left wanting more was for Monahan to get a goal or two… I just was sure he was going to but it was a fun night anyway.

    • MattyFranchise

      I was confused for a minute last night as the Official Flames twitter said “Hat trick Backlund” I was thinking I missed something, but I guess I had not.

      I really wanted a Backs Hat Trick… but oh well, next time.

      Really need to get me a Backlund Jersey!!!!!!

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    I think Burke should add Backlund to his list of “nearly” untouchables. Gio, Monahan, Backlund are the beginnings of a good core to go forward with.

      • McRib

        Agree, any pick in the Top. 10 will be fine if we move down a couple places in the draft order because our current players showed character and didn’t pull the chute that’s more than acceptable by me. Virtanen leads all CHL Prospects in Goals Scored or Haydn Fleury the second best defender in the draft would be available. We will get a good player nice to see our players doing more than collecting a paycheck and developing bad habits. Not to mention rookies pushing for a job in the next coming years. Competition brings out the best in people which means that we will get the most of Granlund, Reinhart, Knight, Baertschi, etc as they all compete for a couple big club jobs next season.

  • ALSO: I saw someone else post in here that Ortio has been like a vacuum. After watching Berra bounce pucks out of his glove and kick out rebounds like Andrew Raycroft, this play from Ortio has been great to watch. .909 doesn’t do him justice.

    Not bad for a 6th rounder.

  • RedMan

    Well if this is year 1 of a rebuild & things start to get even more exciting as promising young players start fighting for roster spots, we should of done this a long time ago. It’s like planting seeds & finally starting to see the little green shoots start to pop up.

    Next year I am really looking forward to seeing Johnny, Sven & Seiloff fight for roster spots & Ortio playing 35 games backing up Ramo. It will be a win win. If we don’t do as well, we are going to get excited about the MacDavid/Eichel sweepsstakes & if we take another step forward, it means our 1st wave of kids is doing that much better & our 2nd wave of kids are looking great as well.

    I hope Burke is liking what he sees in Hartley & keeps him behind the bench for next year.