The Flames and Oilers crossed paths in the first installment of this year’s Battle of Alberta, pitting their top prospects against each other. The unfortunate result for the boys in red was a 4-3 setback.
And it was entirely preventable, with the culprit being the many, many power-plays their undisciplined play gave the Edmonton Oilers.
The Flames carried the play for much of the first period, with Oilers netminder Ty Rimmer earning full marks for keeping his team in it as his defensemen stood around and admired the Flames’ passes. However, the Oilers opened the scoring on the power-play, with Kyle Platzer leaning into a shot that beat Mason McDonald. The Flames tied it up as a nice bit of hustle and back-checking from Garnet Hathaway, Sam Bennett and Johnny Gaudreau ended up with a nifty goal for Johnny Hockey. The Oilers, however, scored another power-play goal on a late 5-on-3 – C.J. Ludwig beat McDonald to put them up 2-1.
The second period was the period of many, many Flames penalties. The Flames took five minors (the Oilers took three) and the majority of the period was transitioning from 5-on-5, to 5-on-4, to 4-on-4, and the period generally had no flow. The Flames PK was pretty decent, but a late (even-strength) goal off a wonky bounce with just 1:09 left in the period (credited to CJ Ludwig) put the Flames down two goals headed to the third.
The third featured more special teams play, but for once things went the Flames way as the Bennett & Gaudreau Show continued, with Gaudreau setting up a Sam Bennett wrap-around on the power-play to bring Calgary within one. And then? A string of penalties for both teams, and another series of transitions from even-strength to various PP and PK combinations. Hunter Smith got called for charging, then came out of the box and tried to attack hug Kale Kessy, which lead to a brief fight. That led to yet another Keegan Kanzig trip to the penalty box – he had 13 minutes in penalties on the night – via a fight with Travis Ewanyk. Ryan Culkin took his second trip to the box of the game, and the Oilers capitalized on power-play #11 with their third PP marker, this one a nice cross-ice pass by Josh Winquist to a wide open Bogdan Yakimov (who had time to read a newspaper and then have some coffee before taking his shot) to make it 5-3.
Game over? Not quite, as the Flames pulled McDonald and tried to make it interesting. Austin Carroll scored off a feed from birthday boy Turner Elson (made possible by a nice back-check by Garnet Hathaway) but that was as close as they got.
The Flames out-shot the Oilers 26-17 overall.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
The Calgary Flames gave the Edmonton Oilers 11 power-play opportunities.
Out of the 60 minutes of this hockey game, the Flames took 39 minutes in penalties (though that includes 15 minutes in fighting majors). That’s way too much, and it didn’t give them much of a chance to implement a game-plan or even regulate ice-time during neutral zone play with regular shifts.
A particularly big dissatisfied shrug to Keegan Kanzig, who was personally responsible for 4 Oilers PPs on his own (Ryan Culkin gave them 2 also). And his penalties were ones of aggression, which probably isn’t a good sign – if you can’t reign the emotion in during a dang pre-season tournament against Edmonton, how can you be trusted to be responsible during a playoff series against them? (Hypothetically.)
I thought Bill Arnold was good playing the Mikael Backlund role of shutdown center on a line with Kenny Agostino and Austin Carroll. I’ll give it to him, but let’s also recognize AHL signee Garnet Hathaway, who worked his ass off all game to set up chances for his linemates.
Sam Bennett and Johnny Gaudreau were also good, but Hathaway was really impressive.
SUM IT UP
You can’t win ’em all, but it especially sucks to lose to the Edmonton Oilers when the Flames seemed to play really well against them five-on-five. Alas, the Oilers are now undefeated and will try to sweep the tournament on Monday.
The Flames are also off until Monday, when they close out the tournament at 6:30pm MT against the Vancouver Canucks.