Playoff Post-Game: Flames Grit Out 2-1 Victory

If the notion that the Calgary Flames made the playoffs is enough to give you a heart murmur, I suggest you relegate yourself to a quiet room for the next few weeks, because life is going to get a whole lot weirder.

The first example of that trend? The Calgary Flames have a lead in a playoff series following a very tight-checking, entertaining 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

THE RUNDOWN

Nobody scored goals in the first period, but the Canucks generated quite a few scoring chances. Responding early for Calgary? Sam Bennett, whose line with Mikael Backlund and Joe Colborne had a bunch of nice chances. However, after one chance Bennett took a high-sticking penalty (which was killed off). Michael Ferland took a dumb late-period penalty, trying to fight Derek Dorsett after Dorsett hit Kris Russell. Shots were 10-7 Vancouver.

The Flames killed off two penalties and looked like the better of the two teams throughout, but gave up a weird goal mid-way through the period. Basically, the Bo Horvat line took a shot and Wideman and Russell boxed the attackers out of the slot. Horvat collected the puck at the face-off dot and chucked it on net, where it bonked off both defenders’ feet and past Hiller. The Flames out-shot Vancouver 10-4 in the second period.

The third period was tight-checking, but once again – like many times before this season – the Flames continued to get more and more effective as the game wore on. They generated a bunch of chances. They tied up the game mid-way through the period on an unforced turnover by Yannick Weber – who had been hit every time the Flames could do so. Weber coughed up the puck at the blueline, Michael Ferland collected it and fed David Jones, who rifled a shot past Eddie Lack to tie the game. The game got even tighter and back-and-forth from there. However, with the game looking like it’d go into overtime, the Flames began spending more and more time in the Canucks end. Finally, they broke through with an amazing shift.

  • Mikael Backlund dumped the puck down the right-wing side at 1:29. The Canucks collected the puck after it rimmed around and prepared to exit, but the Flames converged at the boards by the Canucks bench and prevented the zone exit.
  • Kris Russell bumped the puck up the boards to Joe Colborne, who went behind the net, waited as Bennett and Backlund buzzed around the side of the net and the slot, then rotated around for a shot. He collected the puck and passed it to Bennett, who attempted to pass it to Russell but missed, and Russell saved the puck from leaving the zone again.
  • Russell passed to Backlund, who passed to Bennett, who passed to Wideman, who teed it up for Russell, who beat Eddie Lack through a bunch of traffic to give Calgary a 2-1 lead with 30 seconds left.

It was 59 seconds of continuous possession in the offensive zone. The defenders were exhausted. Calgary won. Shots were 13-10 Vancouver in the final period, but Calgary scored twice and won.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

Well, they didn’t let a weird goal in the second period rattle them. They didn’t let getting out-shot for much of the game rattle them. They didn’t let Vancouver neutralizing their first line rattle them. They didn’t let three weird (and dumb) penalties by rookies rattle them.

They just did what they’ve done all season. They just kept chugging along, played their game, and managed to eke out a win. I’d be a bit more befuddled if I hadn’t seen them do this exact kind of thing 30+ times this season.

RED WARRIOR

Kris Russell got the game-winner and played 29 minutes, so let’s go with him.

But hey, the Ferland/Jones/Stajan line were all good, as were the Backlund/Bennett/Colborne line, so a bunch of players were good. Colborne’s puck protection on the shift leading to the goal was excellent, and Bennett himself drove the net well and didn’t look at all like a rookie.

Sean Monahan has had better games. He didn’t really engage in the corners the way he typically does and he finished the game at 25% at the face-off dot. Granted, I know the Canucks really targeted the top line, but he’s got to be better – hurt or not.

SCORING CHANCES

Via our pals at War-On-Ice!

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 11.07.06 PM

THE GAME, IN TWEETS

SUM IT UP

The Flames have taken a 1-0 lead over the Vancouver Canucks. They’re back in action on Friday night back at Rogers Arena at 8pm MT.

And, for the millionth time, this year’s Calgary Flames will be playing their biggest game of the season. Again.

  • beloch

    Apparently Jones knocked a puck down off the glass with a high stick a full half minute before scoring, and this is now causing “controversy” amongst ‘nucks fans.

    Hey, flukes happen. e.g. The ‘nucks only goal. It’s not like you guys lost the Stanley cup finals because of a fluke bad call.

  • That last shift of Backlund and Colborne… wow. Backs was a man possessed and when he didn’t have the puck, he was tapping the ice looking for it. I haven’t seen him so engaged!

    Just as ChinookArch wrote, I didn’t like Colburne’s game till that point either but great tenacity in keeping possession.

    Just a fantastic finish. You could just feel it was coming. Loved it.

  • Colin.S

    Before we rolled in the 3rd period, Hiller made a bunch of key saves and looked as active in his crease as I have seen all year. He gave them a chance …. I thought he deserved the fire helmet more than Jones.

    I was so pleased for Ferland! Played a superb game and got noticeably better as the game wound down. His combination of size, speed and hands is maturing daily it seems.

    And Bennett?? Heck, he might be centring Johnny and Hudler if Monny’s injury gets worse. I was surprised at how effective he was … so many smart decisions when he had limited options.

    Regardless of whether he was hurt (shoulder?), Monahan made some real good plays in the 3rd … both Hudler and JG had great opportunities before the dominating shifts that led to the winning goal. Finally, though Russell is getting the kudos for the winning goal, Brodie skated miles last night and made that pairing with Engelland look good. By essentially using 5 “D”, how important is the Schlemko waiver transaction turning out to be? Diaz’s return would really help and is Wotherspoon or Ramage that much worse than Potter.

    Second finally: I thought Hartley’s post-game comments were so good … no wonder these guys play so well for him. Calling Bennett and Ferland warriors will be well received and the whole truth! Well done all!!

    • Burnward

      Engellend played a heck of a game.

      Got beat a couple times due to his foot speed, but he was a force in front of the net.

      Schlemko was good as well, but let’s give the big man his due.

      • Craig

        Engelland wasn’t terrible last night because Brodie had an incredible game! Brodie was all over the ice, joining the rush, defending well skating like a beast. Schlemko was driving play whenever he was on the ice, he deserves a shot with Brodie, we need two competent lines again.

        Potter needs to go, we cant be playing a defender for 3 minutes in a playoff game.

  • Colin.S

    This Flames team has shown all season their character, grit and talent which only gets better! WOW! Fantastic job by the entire coaching staff. Gelinas has been a huge factor in my opinion. Who on the team is not going to listen to what the only player in history to score 4 series winning goals in the playoffs. The moronic NHL only counted 3 but we know the truth, but it still hurts. Gelinas knows what it takes big time. Bennett and Ferland and Brodie-also WOW! This is so much fun, let’s all enjoy the ride folks!

  • I think we also have to give some props to another Flames star from last night, Willie Desjardins. The Canucks have three really good defensemen and two pretty terrible ones, and the terrible ones were on the ice with the game on the line. And the Sedins getting 17 and 16 minutes in a playoff game that never had more than a one-goal margin? I think the Flames might have a big edge behind the bench.

  • RedMan

    the “canucks army” already whining that the game was given away because of a bad “missed call” on a high-sticking – the refs missed a call.. boo-hooo but i didn’t see them complaining that Gaudreau took a high stick with no call…

    Flames did what they have done all year… start a game looking “OK”, then get better as the game progresses, bending without breaking.

    Flames pushed the pace and kept things moving and, with a couple key saves, earned the win, nothing given.

    I’ve only been following the flames for 14-15 years, but in my short tenure as a flames fan, I have never seen so much raw ability and skill throughout the lineup. I actually find myself chuckling at the passing, the tic-tac-toe plays that I used to watch other “skilled” teams use against us, buy now it is us doing it!

    What stands out to me – (and to me this is where they are like the 03/04 team); these guys all play their roles and system – there is no confusion or deviation.

    everyone is buying in, everyone is doing their assigned part. this is, by my eye, what is allowing the Flames to win. Think back to when we had Iggy, tangs and Jokinen – the team played well in spurts back then but always seemed to get befuddled and everyone tried to do everything – they were thrown off their game plan often. not so with this years team – they stick with it and never veer off, and this, I think, is the secret to this years magic.

  • Craig

    I personally liked ferlands penalty, especially in game 1. He set the tone that if you’re going to play that way you’re going to have to get roughed up.

    I thought Ferland was awesome

    • Parallex

      I was fine with him wanting to rough up Dorsett, but he didn’t do it very smartly… he’d have been fine had he not dropped his gloves (or at least waited on Dorsett to drop his). Had he done that it’d have either been coincidential penalties or something the refs just ignore and chaulked up to playoff officiating.

      I’ll give him a mulligan since of everything Ferland did yesterday that was the lone blemish as he had a great game overall.

    • Colin.S

      I loved Ferland’s game last night outside of that play. He got so VERY fortunate there. He only got a cross checking penalty but the refs could have given him more. He got baited so hard and dropped his gloves, imagine if he even tried to throw one punch? Flames could have been on the wrong side of a 5 minute major they would have had to kill.

      There’s no problem with him taking a roughing call or something there, but keep the gloves on, be smarter about it. If someone needs to be fighting it’s Bollig. Ferland was flying out there, hitting everything and just playing hard, he should be one of the last guys sitting in the box for 5 or more when the Flames need guys like that out there on the ice.

  • Colin.S

    I love how everyone in the comments section who is saying negative things about Colbourne is getting trashes. Would those people who are giving out those trashes please take the time to post exactly why Colbourne wasn’t trash for 14:45 out of his 15:24 minutes he played last night?

    Here’s the box score from last night: http://www.nhl.com/gamecenter/en/boxscore?id=2014030181

    HE DID NOTHING, he didn’t even get a single shot during his 30 seconds of good play. He didn’t block a shot, didn’t make a hit, didn’t have a single giveaway(though he probably should have a few from what I saw last night) or takeaway. So please people trashing everyone for calling Colbourne bad last night, please explain why he wasn’t.

    • Colin.S

      First off, I don’t go to box scores to figure out who did what, I watch the games. Secondly, you kind of contradict yourself saying for most of the game he did nothing, then for one massive shift was a beast, totally dominating and setting up THE play that led to the game winner. Hmmm… If every player had only 1 fantastic shift that led to a score, while playing even the rest of the game we’d win every game scoring 15+ goals every game. I can live with that.

      • Colin.S

        I watched the entire game very well, Colborne was terrible and did nothing all game, missed passes, no hits, lost puck battles, pushed off pucks, etc… I put the box score up there to emphasize it, he did NOTHING outside of 30 seconds of holding onto the puck in the Canucks zone.

        And lets go over your statement of him “setting up THE play”. You give WAY to much credit to Colborne while Backlund, Bennett and Russell don’t get near enough.

        Backlund takes the puck with about 1:32 left to play, skates around 3 Vancouver defenders, gains the blue line and dumps the puck to the corner, beats Sbisa to the puck, however in the puck battle bieksa comes in, gets it and shoots it around the boards. Russell steps up and holds the puck in and then Backlund and Bennett both come in to win a puck battle to retain possession. Colborne now gets the puck, which he promptly dishes to Russell who moves it to Bennett who tries to move it back to Colborne, it deflects, Colborne makes a nice play to bat it out of the air.

        From there he takes it into the corner where he almost loses it in the feet of the ref. Then he takes it behind the net with Horvat harassing him a bit. He then makes a nice power move out of that corner and drives for the net, only tomiss the net and hit the side of the net instead from 2 feet out. From there the he chases the puck into the corner, Bennett immediately comes in to help him and from there Colborne takes the puck behind the net and just stick handles there a bit before dishing to Bennett in the corner again. Bennett dishes it to Russell at the point who bobbles the puck, while Russell is trying to stop the puck from leaving the zone Colborne skates that direction and when Russell retrieves it, Colbourne just skates right by while Russell fires it back into the corner where Backlund retrieves it and from there it gets passed around a bit more before the eventual goal.

        So how exactly did Colborne set that play up, I’d say that Backlund, Bennett and Russell were much more instrumental to setting up that play than Colborne. Colborne made some nice plays on that shift, but he was hardly “Totally Dominating” and it wasn’t some giant solo effort on his part that set up the play. I’d say Backlund(great zone entry) and Russell (couple of times kept the puck in the zone) were the guys to set THE play up.

    • T&A4Flames

      No hits? Dude laid out Bieksa in the 1st I believe. Big enough to have the play by play guys say they were surprised he got up that quick. I thought he turned his play up a notch last night. I’ve said it before, he’s a big, gangly kid. He’ll take more time than most to develop. How long did it take Wheeler? Last night was a good step.

      • Colin.S

        Thanks to Rogers for giving me free NHL Gamecenter I could quickly go through the first period and watch Colborne’s entire first period over again in a few minutes. He never hit anyone, he TRIED to hit Weber with 10:22 left in the first, whiffs completely and goes face first into the boards. I think the hit your thinking of was Jones hitting Weber (massive hit).

        As well while going through the footage, I got to see more of Bennett and what he does puts Colborne to shame. Colborne gets a all the praise for one 10 second play in the third that eventually leads to a goal, but watch Bennett at 10:00 left in the first. That is a power move to the net, the only thing better, he does it again with 8:00 left to go in the first. THAT is how you drive the net, go right to the slot, beat people to the net. Compare that to Colborne who peeled off, didn’t want to go into people.

        Also, since when the hell is Colborne still a prospect that needs to ‘develop’. It’s been 7 years since he’s been drafted. He’s had 5 years of pro between the NHL and AHL. A good step? Backlund and Bennett took steps, they showed up huge, big plays, big shots and big hearts. Colborne makes one nice play and that’s a good step?

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Question is how injured is Monahan and how effective is he going to be?

    At what point do we look at moving him down the roster and putting Bennett in to center the top line. Drop Monahan down and play him with Granlund and Jooris. Give him some help on faceoffs.

    I would rather see Raymond with his speed and skill out there than Boling. Regardless of his calming experience.

    • Colin.S

      Monohan won’t (and Shouldn’t) be moved down anywhere. He’s injured, that much is obvious (to what degree is anyones bet), but after his dominating March he shouldn’t be moved down after a single bad game or two. He just had almost a full week or so off, sometimes with injuries that can be detrimental as when he was playing through it, he maybe wasn’t thinking about it or the pain, but when you stop playing, now you think about it. Give him some more time to get into playoff hockey, or heck maybe he was just super nervous because he’s the number 1 center for his very first playoff game. Give him some time, more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.