Well! That was an interesting finish. Canucks win 4-1 and even the series.
The Flames essentially no-showed for the first period and were unable to mount any susbstantial comeback. Then the Flames decided that they were going to try to drag the Canucks into the mud with them. Come see how it all went down after the jump!
WHAT WENT DOWN
The Flames started off really, really badly. The home team was able to skate well and had a lot of good looks in the first two minutes. The Canucks started off with a goal because well, Deryk Engelland decided to go for a swim. After a solid first few shifts, Engelland fell down and Henrik found Daniel and the Canucks went up 1-0. Not Engelland’s finest moment:
Dennis Wideman took a delay of game penalty and sent the Canucks to the power play. Higgins swatted home a puck that launched off of the net camera and the Canucks were up 2-0.
The Flames got their first shot on net seven minutes into the first period. Things were going poorly. By the first TV timeout, the Flames were being outshot 11-1. Hudreaunahan looked a bit tentative again in the first. If the Flames are going to have success this series, they will need that line to show up.
The first ended with the Flames down 2-0 and looking contented with earning the split. Also, in that horrid first stanza, Kris Russell cross-checked Nick Bonino in a play reminiscent of the Byfuglien hit on JT Miller. Nasty stuff really.
The best thing about the period was that it wasn’t three or four nothing. After one, the Flames were being outshot 13-3 which. according to my calculations, is not good. I think Tom summed this up pretty well:
Flames who haven’t looked like absolute garbage so far:
— Tom (@atominable) April 18, 2015
The second period started with a borderline penalty to Bieksa which the Flames did absolutely nothing with. About six minutes in, Bollig missed a goal line tap-in that could have brought the Flames back into the game but instead whiffed and sat on Eddie Lack and caused a scrum.
The Flames were able to get some chances in the second, taking back some of the territorial play. The second ended with the Flames still trailing 2-0 but outshot the Canucks 11-8 in the period. During the second, Sam Bennett was injured and was not on the bench for the start of the third period. That is some super bad news.
The start of the third wasn’t great either. Corey Potter, unfamiliar with what the ice looked like, lost Kenins in the slot and the Canucks made it 3-0 and that was pretty-much all she wrote. The Flames were unable to generate any sustained pressure in the third period and were outmatched throughout the game.
Late in the third, Karri Ramo entered the game in relief of Jonas Hiller, a fairly curious move. I wonder where Hartley’s head is at regarding the game three starter. I’m not sure I would be opposed to seeing Ramo.
Late in the third, the Flames top-line got involved in a pseudo-scrum that involved the the visual of Jiri Hudler holding a Canuck in a headlock, which was nice. After the melee the Flames ended up with a powerplay. On that power-play, playoff goal-machine Kris Russell scored to make it 3-1, spoiling Lack’s shutout bid.
The Canucks added an empty netter and then some craziness began. Essentially a line brawl broke out in the final minute of the game, started by the line of Ferland, Bollig, and Stajan. Interestingly, Dan Hamhuis was quite clearly the third-man into an altercation with Derek Dorsett. Things got a little nuts and there final score was 4-1. I enjoyed this interpretation of the events between Dorsett and Engelland:
Engelland: “Your contract is almost as bad as mine.” Dorsett: “I’LL KILL YOU”
— Pass it to Bulis (@passittobulis) April 18, 2015
This could be a very fun series.
THE RED WARRIOR
I thought that Backlund played well again tonight, though not as well as game one. The vast majority of the Flames forwards were essentially non-existent tonight. Struggling to get pucks to the net and being far too hesitant. Obviously that will have to change that if they want to hold serve at home.
This might not be the most popular choice but I thought at least Ferland attempted to make the game uncomfortable for the Canucks. Ferland skates well and showed some net-front drive The penalties need to end to be sure, though I thought that charging call was bunk. Michael Ferland became public enemy number one in Vancouver and that has to be worth something for the sophomore. Call me old-fashioned but I like the nastiness come playoff time.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, BASIL?
Well, I think that it goes without saying that the Flames are pleased with the split but are disappointed with tonight’s effort. They essentially no-showed for the first 15 minutes of this game and paid for it dearly. What’s more concerning than the loss is the absence of the top-line again tonight. I don’t know what is up with Monahan but it doesn’t look right.
Flames have to flush this game out of their minds and focus on the result: a road split. This is a good position for this team to be in.
As for the end melee? It immediately changes the conversation following the game and the Flames can act as though they have something to build on for the remainder of the series. This kind of stuff plays into what the Canucks are most self-conscious about, their perceived lack of toughness. Perhaps this will be important moving forward, we shall see.
Either way, the playoffs are fun. See you at the dome.