Post-Game: Bennett Is Good, Flames Lose Anyway

The Vancouver Canucks visited Calgary to face the Flames on Thursday evening. They had no Sedins. They were out-shot and out-played by the locals for the lion’s share of the contest. But the Canucks weathered the storm, the Flames were unable to capitalize on their advantages and scoring chances, and the Canucks skated away with a 3-1 loss.

On the other hand, Sam Bennett appears to be quite the hockey player, and that’s probably what people are more interested in.

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The Flames carried the play quite a bit during the scoreless first period. They had several instances of sustained offensive pressure, and the Stajan line (with Bollig and Hathaway) were able to retain possession and execute a full line change. That’s skill. Unfortunately, their 20-3 shot advantage did not translate into goals. They also held a 27-12 shot attempt edge.

In the second, Devin Setoguchi took a penalty that negated a power-play. The Canucks didn’t score on that power-play, but they did score soon after on a sustained possession from that advantage. With the Flames running around in their own zone a bit, Nick Bonino found Chris Higgins at the far post and set up a simple tap-in to make it 1-0. Sam Bennett undressed Canucks defender Kent Huskins but couldn’t score. Late in the period, Nicklas Jensen tapped in a chance following a flurry around the Flames net to make it 2-0. But the Flames drew a penalty late and some nice passing led to Sean Monahan tapping in a rebound off a Sam Bennett scoring chance, making it 2-1. The Flames held a 26-12 shot edge after the second, as well as a 50-27 shot attempt advantage. But on the scoreboard? 2-1.

The Flames seemed to tire in the third, with Brad Thiessen in net for Jonas Hiller. The Canucks pressed the play a lot more, and the Flames made some gaffes. One, involving blown coverage by rookie Ryan Culkin, left Hunter Shinkaruk all alone to put a rebound of a Huskins shot behind Thiessen for a 3-1 lead. And with the Flames’ inability to bury their chances, 3-1 was insurmountable. Despite some nice opportunities, including Bennett taking the puck up ice on a penalty kill and generating a nice scoring chance, the locals went down by a 3-1 score. Overall shots were 31-23. Shot attempts were 67-42. Both favoured Calgary.


The Flames wildly out-chanced the Canucks early-on, but a combination of bad luck and Eddie Lack being in mid-season form meant that the locals couldn’t press the advantage. The Canucks, on the other hand, were opportunistic and really took advantage of their chances.

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Sam Bennett led the entire hockey game with 7 shots. He also had a shot that got blocked and a pair of missed shots. And he created tons of chances via fighting through traffic, dangling the puck and all-together being good at the ice hockey.

Michael Ferland, Sven Baertschi and Bill Arnold (10 for 11 at the face-off dot) were also pretty good this evening. Heck, Dennis Wideman may have had his best game as a Flame. Yes, in the pre-season.

Devin Setoguchi, Ryan Culkin and Raphael Diaz were not that good. Diaz was -3 and Culkin was -2 with a penalty and was caught wildly out of position on Hunter Shinkaruk’s goal.


The Flames drop to .500 in the pre-season via this loss. But they cannot stew about it for long, as they hop on a plane and head to Vancouver for a return engagement at Rogers Arena tomorrow evening. The puck drops at 8pm MT and the game airs on Sportsnet One (with the Canucks crew) and on radio via Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

Bennett WILL be making the trip to Vancouver, we’re told.

  • BurningSensation

    As it stands, I could not be happier that Edmonton preferred Draisaitl.

    Not to knock the big German (who is going to be a beauty for sure), but Bennett has looked much more ready to play at the NHL level than Draisaitl has, and the biggest difference between them in Bennett’s favour (Dr Dre will always be bigger) is in skating. Draisaitl has been ok overall, and very good in the O-zone, but Bennett has legit high-end gearing and has looked eager to test a defenders ability to contain him wide.

    Speed kills.

    But more than that, Bennett has that whiff of Filthy McNasty about him that Draisaitl doesn’t. The kid is an assassin. He may even be, dare I hope, Evil.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      In the end the Oilers got their guy and probably what they need. At this point, I could not be happier that Calgary got Bennett. So far, he comes as advertised.

      Determined and skilled.

    • EugeneV

      Oiler fan here, and I’m not here to compare one prospect to another, because I haven’t seen Bennett play…and I was kind of rooting for the Oilers to take him. But in defence of the german – he does have good hands, and while he’s not fast, he’s certainly fast enough, and he’s very strong on the puck, with good vision & passing skills. I’m very happy with how he’s been playing early – and his summer commitment to fitness seems to be paying off.

      In 5 years, I think Bennett will likely have risen to a higher level of play than Draisatl in terms of overall offensive play. That’s not to say Draisatl will be bad – I’ll project him to be in the 60 – 70 pt range by that time – but I think we all knew Bennett was a potential #1 overall for a reason – he was going to kill it in the NHL at some point.

      We in Oiler land happen to be further along in our rebuild than you guys, yet we had a bit of an issue: drafting solely for skill for years without thinking about size had left us with an improper mix. Plus Gagner was frustrated. So we drafted for need…and a 105 pt campaign by a sizeable German, whereby he showed plenty of good 5X5 play, backchecking, and strength on the puck, even though not dirty or rough in the corners, couldn’t be overlooked. He doesn’t quite have the skill that Bennett does, but we’ve already got Nuge who impresses more every season.

      The battle of Alberta is getting good. It may not be this year, and chances are it’s not next either, but we will see you $%^#ers in the playoffs soon enough.

      • Matty Franchise Jr

        Edmonton needed a big center.. but I will point out that Bennett is not small. They just play different styles. Both teams got what they wanted. I think also Bennett really wanted to play for Calgary, and Draisaitl really wanted to play for Edmonton, so there’s that too…

        • Spiel

          What? Where do you get that from? It could be that management from either team, while interviewing each prospect, made them feel pretty welcome because they were their top choice…so maybe the players felt good about being drafted there because of that…but I don’t believe that either man would have felt bad about getting drafted by the other team in the reverse order – they both want to get to the NHL.

          • Burnward

            While I agree, the Flames did an in depth draft day piece on Bennett. It was clear that he truly wanted to be a Flame.

            I think the quote when his mom saw him after he went up was something like, “You got what you wanted.”

          • McRib

            Well I know Bennett for sure said that he really wanted to be drafted by Calgary…

            and I guess I can’t really speak for Draisaitl, but in a pre draft interview he said was excited about possibly being drafted by the Oilers because of all the Oil fans in Prince Albert.

      • MonsterPod

        This is nothing we don’t already know Oiler Fan and your projection of where Bennett and Draisaitl will be in 5 years is as worthless as everyone’s.

      • McRib

        One more positive about Leon Draisaitl is he has an exceptional Hockey IQ. Sam Bennett is always going to be the better skater getting in on the forecheck quicker, but Draisaitl’s Big Frame/Hockey IQ combination is definitely what the doctor ordered for Edmonton. Whatching Draisaitl’s passing ability when PA came to Calgary last season was completely mesmerizing.

        On the High End of his upside I think he could truly become an elite distributor of the puck in the NHL (ala Joe Thorton). Sam Bennett is the guy that is going to score more goals, but point totals could end up being similar if Draisaitl reaches potential as a passer with lofty assist numbers, not to mention smart players like Leon always have great puck possession figures. Edmonton already has quick players like Taylor Hall to get in on the forecheck to force turnovers, then Draisaitl should be allowed to go to work once the offensive zone is gained, where he can extend plays by hemming teams in with his IQ.

        • EugeneV

          Haha, thanks. That being said, as soon as the regular season starts I’m sure we’ll all be going back and forth with ugly vulgarities, then after the season is over we’ll look at each other and say “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that, Monahan/Hall isn’t a douche. Since neither team is in the playoffs, let’s go golfing”.

          And a week later we’ll be going “just because you got 1st overall in 2015 doesn’t mean your team is going anywhere, you suck!”

          or “Connor McDavid is going to be a bust” – and then we’ll cry ourselves to sleep.

    • EugeneV

      It was nice the Oilers finally drafted with a bit of team need in mind over BPA. It seems that Drai is a bit more of an unknown. The kid really only has some good years in the German league, and one incredible season in the Dub. Bennet is clearly the better skater right now, and likely always will be, but I was a bit surprised at Draisaitl’s straight line speed. I don’t think he’s ever needed to be a shifty lateral guy because his size allows him to just bar down through some situations.

      I do agree that Bennet has a meaner streak, which combined with Monahan and the style of coaching should serve the Flames well.

      But, even though preseason means absolutely nothing, beating the Oilers B squad by one goal, and losing to the Nucks because, “Eddie Lack was in mid season form,” does not inspire hope in the Flames’ goal scoring ability. Monahan is going to have to really build on his first season of 33 points if the Flames are planning on scoring any points this year.

      The defence, Hiller, and the coaching should help Calgary maybe become the new Nashville, i.e. low scoring defensive affairs, but as I see it scoring goals will be Calgary’s biggest problem this year, and actually for a few years to come.

      I would hazzard that they could be in for the McDavid Eichle sweepstakes, and indeed every team out of the playoffs technically is, but with some significant injuries during preseason, I really feel like there are significantly worse teams out there. Carolina comes to mind.

      Anyway, nice to just be watching hockey again, looking forward to the Alberta home opener and seeing who is the real deal, Draisaitl, or Bennet.

      • Avalain

        Well, no, the Flames aren’t actually planning on scoring any points this year. This year is only about development. In a perfect world Calgary would end up in last place as a result of some very unfortunately timed injuries (of the “non-lingering” variety). We all know that we are missing a superstar. We know our scoring is going to be lacking this year. We know we’re missing some defensive depth.

        • playastation

          I actually see your defence as a strong point. Sure the Engelland contract is brutal, and he has not looked great, but in terms of overall defence, it’s a better than average core.

          Someone else made a good point that Calgary had the 3rd worst SV% in the league last year, so with Hiller healthy, it will be a tough stretch to finish in the bottom 2.

          Not trying to be a dick or harp on the flames or anything, just talking hackey.

    • MattyFranchise

      In training camp lower numbers tend to be given to players that are rated higher. No empirical evidence that I am aware of but that seems to be the trend.

      I looked it up on google the other day and was led to wikipedia (I know) and that suspicion seemed to be confirmed.

    • Nick24

      The organization gives out “training numbers”. Once a player has “earned his wings” so to speak, they are probably asked what number they want to wear. Which would be why Sven just earned his 27 this season.

      It would also explain whey Johnny is 53 instead of 13. Its probably the same with Reinhart, Klimchuk, Ferland… The list goes on.

      • McRib

        I agree about training numbers being handed out, one thing of interest is I think Brain Burke has stated that no player is allowed to wear higher than 31 on the Flames this season…. So for all intensive purposes he has banned any high numbers, which would mean Bennett would not be allowed to wear 93 (Gilmours Toronto Number) if he sticks with the big club. So DON’T go buying his jersey just yet, as he will likely end up choosing another number.

  • cunning_linguist

    IMO Bennett’s performance tonight made more of an impact than any game Monahan played last year. If the two of them were played side by side as rookies, I would have called Bennett more NHL ready. That being said, Bennett just doesn’t have the same lucky timing that Monahan did last year as far as there being a place for him on the roster as it’s been structured. Regardless, really excited for this kid whenever he gets in the lineup!

    • Burnward

      Monahan was also bigger and stronger. Bennett may appear NHL ready skill wise but he needs to get bigger stronger. The kid is only 18 so lets be patient back to junior, the worlds then he joins the Flames at the end of his season!

    • everton fc

      He might, with Backlund injured, though I know Hartley unofficially says Colborne will fill that slot. And I do agree, Bennett needs to add some muscle. But…

      Good to see Ferland getting so much positive feedback here. Finally. I believe he’ll prove he’s as skilled as he is physical. He’s still a very raw talent – took up the game later in life than most. And he’s still going to add muscle. He’ll be a 2nd line power-forward at some point. My prediction. He may be the next Lucic. Again, WHL #s were similar.

      I listened to an interview w/Sven on FlamesTV. I was impressed with his maturity and humble confidence. He, like Ferland, appears to have matured He worked hard over the summer watching tons of film to help him w/his decision-making. I didn’t see the game, but from what some of you have posted thus far, he seems to be making better decisions.

      Also – seems Bouma’s stepped up as a guy the younger players look up to. Ferland was asked who he looks up to on the big team. “Lance Bouma,” was the answer.

      It is an exciting time to be a Flames fan.

  • yomamen11

    Interesting game tonight. I like Bill Arnold more and more. Seems that everything he do on ice is good and his decisions are always right. Looking forward to see his further development. Iam also pleased with Hathaway. This guy had only good games this preseason. I hope Wideman will play like he plays today for most part of the season. Another really good Dman in roster may help this team a lot.

    On the other hand Setoguchi better start to keep pushing in his “I am player of NHL caliber and I will prove this” season. Mediocre performance of Baertschi (still very far from what I expected from him couple years ago). Sub par performance by Culkin and Diaz.

    And of course “Most Useless Worm” award goes to Mr. David Jones and his classic performance.

    Iam looking forward to payback game! Lets go Flames! Hockey is back!!! 🙂

  • yomamen11

    Bennett looked great and is going to be a beast!!!!

    Not at centre though, kid can’t win a face off for the life of him, he will look great on Monahan’s wing….


    • FlamesRule

      Really… because up until now all you have done is posted negative things about Bennett. You even went so far as to suggest we should have picked someone else.

    • Burnward

      Monahan wasn’t much better in the draws last night than Bennett was.

      Fact is, faceoffs are almost irrelevant. Evgeni Malkin took about seven years to become merely “below average” at faceoffs. He had at least two 100 point seasons with a faceoff% in the vicinity of 33%.

      It was one game. Relax. Faceoff prowess will come with time. In the mean time, Bennett controlled the game from center ice. In spite of his lack of draw wins.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      I thought he was quite good, he reminds me a lot of Lance Bouma. I’m sure he would be just as effective if not more on anther line, but very exciting to watch this guy play. I also heard his interview with Steinberg and he sounds very mature and composed.

      Sidebar… Bennett was definitively in beast mode last night, I hope they put him on a line with Gaudreau tonight.. why not!

      I hope they bring in Kulak tonight instead of Culkin.

  • Burnward

    I listened to the game last night and so my views are tinted by that experience and will defer to those who watched the game. Up front who played well: the kids! Bennett, Monahan, Bouma, Ferland,Hathaay, Arnold and Sven. Who did not play well; the vets. Gouchi, Jones and Bollig. ON the back end who played well: TJB,Gio, Wides and Cundari as adequate. Who as bad? Diaz and Culkin.

    • EugeneV

      Watched the game on TV. Agree with who played well. Disagree on vets, thought Bollig played decent, and Setoguchi had a few moments. Monahan overall good but did have two terrible DZ passes. Diaz with Culkin definitely the weakest D, mostly overmatched…

    • yomamen11

      Hunter Smith was involved in a 5-2 win last night in the OHL for Oshawa. 0 points and an even plus/minus were the only stats I could find.

      That’s good, right?

  • Spiel

    I tracked Baertschi all night (after getting used to him wearing #27) and came away impressed – he had a good game.

    Baertschi had a couple nifty subtle passes, one each on his forehand and backhand, both ending in quality scoring chances. He was distributing the puck really well, had good decision-making to take a couple excellent shots when he was in the best position to do so, and made decent contact/hits along the boards a few times.

    While he didn’t stand out like Bennett, he was quietly efficient.

    Per others comments…if Baertschi continues on this path he should be added to the young core being talked about …Monahan, Bennett, Gaudreau, Granlund, Brodie…AND Baertschi.

    Add in a dose of Poirier and Klimchuk, a dash of Ferland and some size in Smith/Carroll/Bollig and this team has some real potential in 2-3 years.

      • MonsterPod

        Yeah I agree.

        He’s been meat ‘n potatoes solid with some skill and hockey sense.

        Loved him last night in a scrum. Canucks defenceman (Sbisa or Stanton?) trying to give him the business in the crease after the whistle…Ferland taking none of it and pushes back real solid to take it to the Dman…solid determination and confidence.

        Second best part of that…Bennett getting right in there and grabbing the other 6’3″ Dman from behind in the scrum so he couldn’t tag team on Ferland!

  • Spiel

    Bennett looked very good. Could be the steal of that draft at number 4 and this is coming from a Canucks fan.
    Bennett and Johnny Hockey could be a very dynamic pair.

  • playastation

    Let’s not overhype Bennett as of yet. Sure he is playing good with, 2 or 3 pre-season games under his belt.

    Sven Baertschi looked pretty good when he was called up to Calgary in that emergency call up from junior a few years back.

    He is going to be a good player but he isn’t even on the same scale as they players Edmonton has drafted recently but still good nonetheless.

    • McRib

      Sam Bennett had a NHLE of 39.3 his draft year, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a NHLE of 37.8 his draft year. Taylor Hall had a NHLE of 35.1 his second year in the OHL.

      Offensively speaking as a second year Major Junior player Sam Bennett outperformed both RNH and Hall, therefore in no regards can we say with certainty at this point that Sam Bennett is NOT going to be as good as those Edmonton players.

  • EugeneV

    Regarding Hartley and his “Centre Dilemma”.

    Original Plan: 1C Backlund, 2C Monahan, 3C Stajan, 4C Bouma

    Recap: Backlund hurt and out 3-5 weeks(?).
    Action Plan Option #1: 1C Stajan, 2C Monahan, 3C Colborne, 4C Bouma.

    New Issue: Granlund and Bennett looking great. What to do?? Bring in Granlund, likely for the season, and Bennett for 9 games while Backs heals
    Option #2: move Colborne back to wing, bring in Granlund. 1C Stajan, 2C Monahan, 3C Granlund, 4C Bouma
    Option #3: 1C Stajan, 2C Monahan, 3C Bennett, 4C Granlund

    Interesting dilemma, interesting options.

  • EugeneV

    If Bennett starts the season with the Flames, the 9th game of the season would be played on Thurs Oct 23rd against Carolina.

    If Bennett skips a couple games during the first couple weeks (which is quite possible, especially for back-to-back games), he could play at home against the Ovechkin and the Caps on Oct 25th and against Montreal on Tues Oct 28th.

    Depending on Backlund’s prognosis, Bennett’s 9 games would nicely fit with covering Backlund and giving him 4-5 weeks healing time.