Post-Game: Mission Accomplished

The Kings are dead. Long live the Kings.

After a fever-pitched 60 minute battle with the Los Angeles Kings, the Calgary Flames skated away with a 3-1 victory for their 45th win of the season. The victory clinched a playoff berth for the Flames, and represented Classic Flames Hockey Version B – get a lead and hold on for dear life. (Version A is the comeback recipe.)

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames played what I would term a mature, poised first 20 minutes. They largely avoided getting hemmed into their own zone. They used their defenders effectively in the rush. They frustrated the Kings at various points. They scored twice off very similar plays. First, Johnny Gaudreau entered the zone, circled inside the point and waited for Jiri Hudler to leap into the zone, accept a pass, and shoot. Hudler’s first shot was blocked by the Kings, but Gaudreau followed up and put in the rebound after a scramble. (And a video review after the play was blown down.) That made it 1-0. The Flames made it 2-0 off a similar play, this time with Mason Raymond circling just inside the blueline and finding Hudler, who beat Jonathan Quick top-corner. Shots were 15-8 in the first for the Flames, and the Kings generally looked bewildered by the Flames team speed.

Nobody scored in the second period, but both sides had their chances. Granted, the Kings – trailing after 20 – really started to press. They out-shot Calgary 12-4 in the middle period but couldn’t solve Hiller. Johnny Gaudreau had a nice chance midway through the second when the Kings foolishly gave him three feet of room to maneuver in their zone. Michael Ferland also had a nice shot on a one-time set-up by Matt Stajan late in the period.

The Kings came out guns-a-blazin’ again, carrying play throughout the bulk of the third period. Jordan Nolan put the Kings on the scoreboard five minutes into the third; Alec Martinez put a puck on Jonas Hiller from the red line, and it bounced out to Nolan, who beat Hiller to make it 2-1. The Flames continued to hold on as the Kings pressed. Jiri Hudler scored into an empty net to make it 3-1, ending the Los Angeles Kings’ reign as Stanley Cup champions and sending the Flames to the dance. Shots were 14-6 for Los Angeles in the final period.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

They didn’t get rattled when the Kings pressed…for basically the entire last 40 minutes of the game. They played a mature, measured game for the majority of it, and managed to once again be opportunistic when scoring chances presented themselves.

RED WARRIOR

Let’s go with Michael Ferland, who was promoted from the Kid Line to replace Lance Bouma on the shutdown line with Matt Stajan and David Jones. Ferland was a wrecking ball for his 15:28, including six hits.

Also gotta give a shout-out to Stajan (63% in the face-off circle), Jiri Hudler (three point night) and Jonas Hiller (33 saves).

SCORING CHANCES

Coming soon!

ZONE ENTRIES

Coming soon!

SUM IT UP

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The Flames improve their record to a PLAYOFF BOUND 45-29-7 on the year. They can still leap-frog Vancouver on Saturday with a Flames win of any kind over Winnipeg and a Canucks regulation loss.

But book it – Calgary will face the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the playoffs.

What a weird and fun season this has been.

  • Lober

    5:30 am and I still can’t sleep! I’m just thinking about Gio’s miracle come back when we get to the 2nd round and he zip lines down onto the ice for his 1st game back.

    • piscera.infada

      The Flames would have to win (**edit: doesn’t have to be in regulation) and the Canucks would have to lose in regulation. If that happens:

      The Flames and Canucks will be tied with 99 points.

      First tiebreaker is regulation and overtime wins (ROW). Currently, it’s tied 41 to 41. A regulation Flames win and Canucks loss, makes it 42 to 41. Or, a regulation Canucks loss and a Flames win in extra-time keeps it tied.

      Second tiebreaker is head-to-head. The flames went 2-1-1 against Vancouver this season. Although I’m not sure, that seems to me to be a season series win.

      Third tiebreaker is goal differential. The Flames are currently +29, whereas the Canucks are at +19.

      Thus, the Flames own the tiebreakers. So as I understand it, there’s still a chance!

    • piscera.infada

      First tie breaker is ROW and second tie breaker is head to head games against the Nucks.

      If Canucks lose and Flames win in regulation, Flames win on ROW.

      If Canucks lose and Flames win in a shootout, ROW is equal…..but head to head Flames were 2-1-1 against the Nucks this year.

  • aye

    The Kings now have a 2% chance of winning the McDavid lottery, which is about the same odds that they would miss the playoffs this season, but it happened. So, maybe they can console themselves with that.;-)

  • aye

    Flames should play Ortio, Wotherspoon and Bennett against the Jets. Need some game experience before the playoffs in case of injury.

    Jets have clinched a playoff spot so they won’t be going full-tilt either.

    • RedMan

      hope you’re right – experience and ice time for those sitting, a rest for those critical pieces that are banged up

      Wonder about Ortio though – is he really 100%? if not – he should stay on the bench and keep healing.

  • Brownblazer

    I’m in BC – I have NHL center ice (with Telus) – I was at a meeting so had to pvr the game. So you can imagine my devastation when I came home to find that NHL center ice didn’t show the game!!! The game was titled correctly in the pvr recording settings, but no game! Anyone have the same experience? Of course this had to happen on the most important game of the year!

    • Mullen Mania

      I had the same experience. Somewhat lucky that I made it home halfway through the game to discover it was not being shown on Centre Ice. A call to Telus to express my dissatisfaction informed me that Rogers decided last minute to not blackout the non-local markets on Sportsnet West and blackout the Centre Ice feed. As I do not get Sportnet West, due to the constant blackouts this did not work for me. Telus gave me access to Sportsnet West, so I caught the final period (great game by the way) and said they would credit me $5. Still, I am very disappointed with the Centre Ice decision as I pay a lot of money to ensure I see every Flames game. No longer sure what I am getting.

  • MonsterPod

    Listening to Vancouver radio they are so excited to play the Flames. The announcers are giddy. They think Calgary Flames are inferior.

    Beat the Canucks.

  • everton fc

    So according to TSN Sean Monahan is +29 in Give-aways/take-aways. That ranks 7th in the league for centers (1 behind Datsyuk at +30). Datsyuk is the only center in the top 20 scoring that is higher than him.

    He gets a lot of credit but still not enough for what he brings to this team.

      • piscera.infada

        I feel like if Wotherspoon comes out tomorrow and plays well early, Hartley will move him up the rotation. If he continues to play a strong game tomorrow, we may see him on the third pairing in the playoffs. You can’t go anywhere in the playoffs with those kind of minutes.

  • mk

    I was thinking of breaking out my Flames car flag, but living in Vancouver makes me think twice. The city does have a history of flipping cars & setting them on fire when they lose, so…

  • MJM17

    1. Playoff bound, C of red and red mile are back
    2. Avoided the all too familiar lengthy rebuild (Oilers, Leafs…)
    3. Regicide, knocked off the defending champs
    4. Stellar first line: Career season for Hudler, Moneyhands is a stud, and a Calder-worthy season for Johnny Hockey. Exciting every time that kid touches the puck.
    5. Depth: players stepping up at the right time, everyone is buying into their role, and good progression from everyone throughout the line-up this season

    Did all this with the lowest cap hit in the league, roughly $16 million less than the kings (http://www.hockeybuzz.com/cap-central/).

    Overall a very happy Flames fan.

  • Sobueno

    Man I just love this team’s speed. So many turnovers from the aggressive forecheck, and seemed like the Kings could barely get it out of the zone in the first. Overall it makes for some damn exciting hockey to watch! Ironic that Van is so happy to be playing us, I had the same thought. Out of all the Western playoff teams they’d probably be my first pick for who we could beat

    • everton fc

      The Canucks have similar issues as the Kings, meaning they have some aging players who may find it hard to keep up with us. Plus, I think we are more physical/aggressive than Vancouver, and a bit more aggressive than we get credit for. We will out-muscle Vancouver, with speed and efficiency, as well as discipline, staying out of the penalty box. If a guy like Burrows gets cute, Engelland and Ferland are free there to balance things. Maybe even Bollig.

  • Burnward

    I know I was talking about this yesterday, but I came away pretty damn impressed by Jankowski yesterday. Did anyone else catch that Providence game?

    I realize it was only one game, but he was much better than I was expecting given the reviews.

    • mk

      Agree completely, as I posted during the game on the Jankowski thread. I think he was the best skater on the ice, with speed, hands, offence and defence and very good hockey IQ. If he keeps playing like that and can add some more size and muscle(still seems like a beanpole) he’ll definitely be a player within the next couple of years.