When tonight’s rosters came out over the Twitter Machine, two common thoughts pervaded the Calgary hockey world.
- “Hey, that Canucks roster looks pretty close to an NHL roster.”
- “Hey, isn’t that basically the Adirondack Flames roster dressing for our side?”
Well, on Friday night in Vancouver…that’s exactly what happened. The Flames lost 3-0. They barely dressed any regulars. No Monahan. No Gaudreau. No Giordano. No Brodie. Karri Ramo just played a period as he comes back from a hip injury.
In short: they are what we thought they were – a largely AHL roster going into Vancouver and losing fairly soundly to the Vancouver Canucks’ NHL roster.
The Flames, despite facing a strong Canucks line-up, played pretty damn well by all standards in the first period. They were about even in terms of shots and chances, and one could argue that the play of young Sam Bennett may’ve tipped the balance of play in Calgary’s favour. Nobody scored in the first, and Karri Ramo packed it in after testing out his hip throughout the first and stopping all 8 shots he faced.
Doug Carr came into the game in the second period, and the wheels fell off. The Flames began to sing a familiar song called “Penalty Trouble,” in the form of three straight minors that gave the Canucks three power-plays in succession. Vancouver scored on two of them – via goals from Linden Vey and Jannik Hansen, coincidentally both set up by the Sedins. The Flames were out-shot by a 19-6 margin, particularly on the power-play. Oh, and Markus Granlund left the game with an upper-body injury. All-in-all, not a good period for the Flames.
The third period was more even, as the Canucks stood back a bit more and pressed a bit less, and only held a 6-5 shot advantage (and a 33-18 shot advantage and 58-40 overall shot attempt edge). Radim Vrbata scored on another power-play attempt (one of seven Canucks PPs on the night) via another Sedin set-up to make it 3-0.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
If you give the Sedins time and space to wheel and deal, you’re not going to be happy with the results. If you give Vancouver seven power-plays, you’re giving the Sedins 14 minutes to wheel and deal. They won’t need all 14, and they didn’t tonight. At even-strength, shots were close to even, but the Canucks converted on 3 of their 9 shots with the extra-man. Game, set, match.
And let’s face it, the Flames dressed an AHL roster (plus Kris Russell, Brian McGrattan, Brandon Bollig, Jiri Hudler, Paul Byron and Karri Ramo) and the team performed like an AHL club: lots of energy, but generally out-matched by the Canucks, particularly after the first period.
I’ll go with Sam Bennett, again, with a 53% performance in the face-off circle, nearly 19 minutes of ice time and a lot of pucks chucked at the next.
Kris Russell was also good, but that was to be expected, since Russell is a pretty good blueliner. Paul Byron was also all over the ice and provided some energy for the Flames. It was helpful that the spark-plug was paired on the same line as Bennett.
Honourable mention to Doug Carr – he did get lit up for all three
Canucks goals and his rebound control is wacky, but the poor guy faced 25 shots and was basically thrown
to the wolves by his AHL defense. Have fun in Glens Falls, Doug.
SUM IT UP
We’re just a smidge past the half-way point of the pre-season and the Flames boast a 2-3-0 record. With the Adirondack Flames opening their first training camp after the weekend, I would expect a significant amount of cuts as (a) the Flames’ injured bodies are mostly recovered and (b) the Flames still have 57 guys in camp and just 4 pre-season games left to decide a few battles for spots.
In short: expect a much different, more veteran-laden group to hit the ice in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night. The puck drops at 6pm MT and it’s not televised, but Sportsnet 960 The Fan has the radio call.