Post-Game: 3-1 Win Gives Flames 3-1 Stranglehold

Tonight’s Game 4 between the Calgary Flames was supposed to be the ultimate challenge for the Flames: a home game against a desperate Vancouver Canucks team that really, really didn’t want to go down 3-1 in the series.

However, Vancouver was equal parts undisciplined and sloppy in their play early-on, Calgary got out to an early lead and held on for deal life to skate away with a 3-1 win and a 3-1 series lead on the Canucks.

The Flames can win a playoff round on Thursday. In a season where the hockey world expected them to be in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes.

THE RUNDOWN

The game was dominated by special teams early. With Ronalds Kenins in the box for boarding Sam Bennett, Johnny Gaudreau converted on a gorgeous passing series from Dennis Wideman and Jiri Hudler to make it 1-0. However, that lead didn’t last long: with David Schlemko in the box, a Henrik Sedin shot careened past Jonas Hiller off the body of a sliding/blocking Kris Russell to tie it up. However, soon after, with Nick Bonino in the box, a Jiri Hudler tip of a Dennis Wideman shot gave Calgary the lead with a slapper from the point off a nice cycling play from Gaudreau and Russell to make it 2-1. And late in the period, a Joe Colborne rush led to a T.J. Brodie shot that was tipped in by Sam Bennett, who was tied up with a Canucks defender to make it 3-1. Shots were 11-7 Vancouver after 20 minutes, but they were down 3-1 and yanked Eddie Lack from the net.

Nobody scored in the second period, which Calgary succeeded in maing as low-event as humanly possible. Heck, there were nine shots in the entire frame. Calgary out-shot Vancouver 6-3, but good chances were fairly even – and fairly rare.

The Canucks came out like they were shot out of a cannon in the third. They were all over Calgary, but the Flames – and Jonas Hiller – remained calm. The Flames found their legs after a few minutes and the game became much like the second, with Calgary generating chances and executing well. Vancouver pulled Ryan Miller late for an extra attacker and had a few good chances, but they could not beat Jonas Hiller. The game ended the way the first period did – with a 3-1 Calgary lead. Shots were 15-9 for Vancouver in the third.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

They were better than Vancouver, slightly, in the first. They were better than Vancouver by a fair margin in the second. And they were good enough to keep Vancouver at bay in the third. They probably played a more complete 60 minutes in Game 3, but the Flames played smart, played physical and didn’t give the Canucks too many free passes.

RED WARRIOR

Let’s go with Dennis Wideman, who had two key assissts and was all over the ice.

And let’s give some stick-taps to the top line, who finally made their mark on this series after three games looking bewildered, confused, and a little sleepy. But they were quite good tonight.

SCORING CHANCES

Coming soon!

THE GAME IN TWEETS

SUM IT UP

The Flames played a pretty strong game and now have a commanding 3-1 lead in this series. I expected it to be more of a trench war. I honestly expected some overtime games by now. But hey, the Flames are performing better than expected – as they basically have all year, it seems.

The Flames can finish the Canucks off on Thursday night in Vancouver.

  • Ferland is getting a lot of attention of course but my favourite player in this series so far is TJ Brodie. He’s a defenceman with 1 goal and 2 assists (same as Johnny Gaudreau), 0 penalty minutes, and a +2 in the +/- column. He’s just going about his business, helping out Hiller, making few mistakes and helping fill the gap left after Giordano was lost to injury.

  • Dr. Burgess Thorneycroft

    I’ve seen a lot of talk on here (and elsewhere) about how Hughson has been pumping Eddie Lack’s tires for the whole series and I wanted to mention something about how differently this has played on the US broadcasts.

    I grew up a Flames fan in Calgary but I now live in Baltimore and get the games on NHL GCL during the season and cable during the playoffs. In previous years, the NBC affiliates (e.g., USA Network, CNBC, overflow on NHL network) aired the playoff game feeds from TSN or CBC unless it was for games they were actually covering (i.e., big-market US games where they send the unholy trinity of Emrick, Olczyk, and McGuire).

    BUT! This year is different for some reason (Rogers monopoly?) and NBC is sending a skeleton broadcast crew to cover SOME of the non-highlighted match-ups. Interestingly, they have hired a lot of old school TSN talent to do this: they have Gord Miller in Nashville and for 3/4 Flames/Canucks games we have some-crazy-how had Chris Cuthbert doing play-by-play with (I KID YOU NOT) Bret Hedican doing colour. And… they’re pretty good, you guys! For a number of reasons (CFL games, Vancouver 2010 Olympics, general competence, appropriate histrionics, etc.), I have a major soft spot for Cuthbert and Hedican’s commentary has been exactly how I like it: spare but incisive.

    Anyways, to get back to the point of my post, I think they have both been a bit more measured in their assessment of Lack than Hughson (we had the CBC feed for Game 3). I think they have definitely recognized (along with me and anyone else who’s watched the series) that he’s an above-average goalie playing behind a defense that has hung him out to dry a few times. But from the very first minutes of Game 1, they have constantly gone back to the fact that Miller is right there sitting on the bench. Last night in the third, they even went so far as to say “Vancouver has found their starter for Game 5 and it’s Ryan Miller”. I’m not sure about that, but it certainly has to be a conversation the Canucks coaches are having!

    So, there you go – ¢2 from a devoted Flames fan living south of the border. And uh… yeah, it does kind of suck when every game starts at 10 pm local time, but we’re fighting through the daytime fatigue 🙂

    Go Flames Go!

  • Dr. Burgess Thorneycroft

    Great game last night.

    Interesting thought pertaining to the Flames…after brawl’s with Van they have upped their performance and played noticeably better. Started last year with the opening game line brawl and again in this playoffs…these guys have responded and used it as a way to draw momentum and put W’s in the win column. On the flip side Van has absolutely crumbled both last year and now this playoffs post-brawl. Very interesting with a direct correlation there, if strategic you have to give props to Hartley as he’s found another wait to motivate his guys and up their game

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Prediction: the Canucks trade for Milan Lucic this off season to try and compete with the physicality of the West.

    It will likely cost them one of their good young players….Horvat? Virtanen?

    WW

    • Toofun

      Why would they need to do that, they already have plenty of world class truculence with Zack “The Mongloid” Kassian, Alex “Tough Guy” Burrows and and Kevin “Pick Your Spots” Bieksa. Haha…sad times ahead in Van!

      • RandomScrub

        I absolutely disagree with this comment. Zack Kassian is not a mongoloid, calling him so is an insult. To mongoloids. He looks more like a retarted Llama.

          • RedMan

            thanks for that –

            and please let me add my 2 cents…

            I have been in a position too many times to have to explain to frustrated and hurt children why the other kids, especially in school, are easily doing so much better, and what “FASD” means… and it is a very emotionally painful and disturbing experience.

            had to explain to our adopted children why they struggle developmentally, and will their entire life, because mom drank… try to explain that they can achieve anything they want to, only to hear people laugh about “retards” and “the short bus”. when you have to explain to someone you love why they are on the “short bus” you will never laugh at this again.

            have had to spend countless hours at the children’s hospitable sitting at the bedside of the most precious little girl in the world as she endured multiple surgeries, and will face a lifetime of not only developmental disabilities, but medical issues as well, because her mom drank.

            it really is extremely insensitive and hugely inappropriate to use these terms as pejoratives, which ultimately (even if unintentionally) mock and ridicule people with developmental disabilities and minimizes the struggles they go through in a world that is very unfriendly to those with invisible disabilities.

            there is nothing funny about the word “retarded”, which, while not used anymore professionally, means that one has an IQ that falls below 70. I mean, seriously, this is picking on the the most vulnerable in society to be sure.

            I know most people don’t think this thru, don’t mean to hurt the kids, and others would say, “lighten up, it was just a joke, didn’t mean anything by it except that the other guy is an idiot” But for the child who struggle an entire life, only to hear people in public use the word “retarded” as a slur, and for the parent who has cried many tears over the life-long loss of opportunity – this isn’t funny, and it really is nice for people to just stop using this term and pick another way to insult someone that doesn’t inadvertently insult and double-victimize these wonderful people.

            /end rant

            peace out!

          • Captain Ron

            Wow Jeff thanks for putting this in such a crystal clear perspective for some of us who maybe didn’t get it.

            For someone like me who grew up in a not so politically correct world with only one old dial telephone I can tell you that word was used a lot. We never gave it much thought back then to be honest. I can only assume that it was as hurtful to some folks then as it is now. I will certainly be sure to curb the use of that word going forward in life and will encourage others around me to do the same.

            Congratulations on setting an example of being such a wonderful human being. Thanks for being such a great champion of the underdog and caring so much for someone in need.

            I know a couple of other people who have done what you are doing and know how much of a challenge it can be.

          • The GREAT Walter White

            Well Jeff; this is the first post you have ever made that I agree with…..

            I MAY have to start picking on someone else now.

            Can you recommend someone? (Preferably someone from Lethbridge…).

            WW

          • RandomScrub

            Hi Jeff,

            Read what you wrote and wanted to sincerely apologize for my comment. Obviously I never intended to insult people with learning or developmental disabilities, nor would I ever, but I understand how I did use the word in the context of a pejorative that therefore makes that inherent implication.

            I agree, everyone including myself should be more careful the language we use, especially in a public forum and generally be sensitive to the realities others face that one might not anticipate. I’ll certainly not do that again.

            I’m truly and deeply sorry.

            I hope you and the other readers can accept my apology, and enjoy the rest of the playoffs.

            Cheers.

    • everton fc

      According to Rhett they’re classified as “Team Fines” and the team ends up paying them. He mentioned that he was fined a couple of times but his paycheque never changed or showed anything on the stubs.

  • Toofun

    The book on Vancouver has been written for a a while (Since Chicago beat them with Byfuglein). It’s not a new breakthrough on how to get under their skin. Credit to the Flames and Hartley for not trying to reinvent the wheel. He has done his homework and is executing perfectly.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Curtis Glencross a healthy scratch for the Caps in game four after only registering 1 assist in his last 14 games and having the worst possession on the team in game 3 (38% per Scott Cullen).

    I’m wondering if he has started pouting now in Washington too?

    • everton fc

      He’s probably pulling for our boys, though. Too bad it didn’t work out for him here. He was a warrior here, for many years…

      That said – always hated the Caps! Go Isles!!

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        Yah. Glenny was a warrior for us. Loved his jam, but he definitely needed to be traded as his attitude did not mesh with the current group or the direction of the team

        • everton fc

          Yep.

          Sad thing is he’s Albertan through and through. Like the Sutter’s. I always hope these type of “fits” work for both sides. Like Colborne. Raymond.

          And why Cam Ward may be a good addition for the Oilers.

          • DoubleDIon

            I don’t think Raymond has been a good fit for our team really. He hasn’t been terrible, just slightly underwhelming. Colbourne’s last 3 games in the regular season changed my view of him a lot. He was absolutely excellent. He’s been strong along the boards in this series too.

          • everton fc

            Raymond won’t be back. Agreed. He simply hasn’t done much overall in his time here.

            Colborne continues to be a project. But one who seems to be going in the correct direction.

          • Scary Gary

            I have no problem with Colbourne in the bottom six in a checking role but he shouldn’t be playing on the second line with Backlund and Bennett; he simply doesn’t have the offensive chops.

  • Big Ell

    For an old guy like me Hrudey comparing Ferland to Clark Gillies is incredible. I loved those old Islander teams and Jethro was a tough tough customer who could score a ton. God, it would be great if Ferland ended up like him.

    • everton fc

      Gillies was a lot of Islander fans favorite player. He is the type of forward we need. All teams need.

      Tochett’s another one Ferland remind me of. Dare I add Cam Neely? If he finally finds his scoring touch…

      I think the latter happens. Especially if he stays with Jones, who I assume will patrol RW/3rd line next season, something I can live with.

      • Big Ell

        Oh I know. I loved the Gillies-Trottier-Bossy line. Calgary is laughing if he reaches those heights. The funny thing is that Gillies never had 100 PIMs in any year but beat guys down and scored goals.

        • Captain Ron

          About a year or so ago after a dinner speaking engagement I met Brian Trottier. He came around to each table to introduce himself and show us one of his cup rings. Just a super good guy if you ask me. he spoke highly of all his teammates. One of them was Mikko Makela who runs the girls hockey school down in the little town of Warner AB. My folks know Mikko quite well as they drove the hockey school team bus for him all over the place for a few years while they were retired.

  • everton fc

    Can anyone who watched the game assess Wotherspoon?

    Ferland is now part of the core, hey?! Can there be any doubt?? He’s great with Jones….

    I’ve not seen anyone post this, but I remember Hartley saying prior to the playoffs, during the homestretch, that he divided the season into seven game series, and the Flames won all but the one planted in the middle of that 8 game losing skid. Brilliant strategy, as the team knows how to pay seven game series, and have been, in practice, all season long.

    This is why we are where we are – more so than players… It’s Hartley. He gets buy in because he and the staff articulate things clearly and maturely to this group. What a steal when we signed Hartley. I’d but Feaster a pint if I could for this one. Hartley’s godparent to one of Feaster’s kids.

    Too bad the org didn’t have a spot of some sort for Jay, as he deserves a lot of credit, regardless of gaffs and “almost” bad moves.

    What I like about Treliving thus far is his business acumen. Looks at his roots, his lineage, his “bloodline”. A hockey player from a strong business background. Superior, in this sense, to Feaster, as we saw during the deadline, standing pat, not making any rash signings for the playoff push. We may be able to stay under the cap in a somewhat significant way for at least a year or two longer, which is excellent business, as all owners want to make a buck. This is what you need, in 21st Century sports, during uncertain economic times. (Everton tries to do the same! But it’s all about the coach/manager. You can win with “less” if everyone buys in).

    I am really enjoying this run, and cannot see how the Canucks can bounce back in Game 4. They appear dead. They appear to know their time has come for a rebuild. Tough stuff. But goof for the Flames!

    • RedMan

      Tough to assess Wotherspoon. He turned the puck over once when the Flames were trying to clear the zone, but later in that shift intercepted a Canuck pass so that the Flames could get it out. If memory serves me correct, he also had a big one-timer from the point, but missed the net on it unfortunately.

      Only played for 4:19, so I can’t remember it that well.

      Btw, Brodie was godly tonight. This kid is amazing. And Engelland was also excellent, apart from a couple of failed clearing attempts.

      • everton fc

        I hope Ramage gets a look. He should. Why not?? I don’t know if he plays that side of the defence, though.

        We are essentially winning this series with 5 defencemen. Brodie is a leader. Ditto Backlund in this series. And Engelland. All three have been warriors.

        Which Flame hasn’t?!

        • DoubleDIon

          I hope Ramage doesn’t touch the ice. He’s a bottom pairing defenseman in the AHL, he has no business in a playoff series we’re trying to win. He wouldn’t crack the Oilers blueline…

        • Avalain

          What, are you crazy? Just because we’re up 3-1 in the series doesn’t mean we can start rotating in our AHL players. The time to give them a look is in the regular season.

      • Wotherspoon looked nervous. He gave a couple suicide passes up the middle in each game and after each one he was pretty much done as far as ice time.

        It is just not a good time to introduce a rookie. He needs a few “big game” regular season games to be able to handle some of the pressure and get comfortable. That is a lot to handle for most kids. For defense that is a lot of responsibility.

  • everton fc

    I cheer like crazy for the Flames, but I temper my excitement with the knowledge that the Nucks are the worst team in this year’s Western playoffs and it only gets tougher!

    Being one of the Final 4 in the West will be quite an accomplishment for the Flames with the positive vibes coming from the young guns and veterans alike, with more top prospects being developed on the farm.

    Next up – Anaheim? Arrrgh

    Go FLAMES GO!

    • RedMan

      to recap this years understanding and expectation of the Flames and their chances:

      There’s no way they can finish above 27th in league. ooops.

      OK, they have had a good start, lucky for sure, but there’s no way they can keep winning… ooops

      there’s no way they can avoid regression… ooops

      there’s no way to keep winning without Giordano… ooops

      There’s no way they make the playoffs, with the stanley cup champs, the Kings, fighting for the same spot. beat the mighty, monstrous kings in a win-you’re-in game? never… oooops

      OK, making the playoffs is nice, great experience for the youngster, with these defenders, all these rookies, a small team, but there’s no way they can win a series… Oh!?!? don’t look now!!!

      There’s no way they can compete against the Ducks in round 2….

      well now, maybe the best thing that can happen is that everyone says this a lot… seems to be the recipe for success…

      • RedMan

        I can also add Lambert’s other predictions….

        There is no 4 on 4 or Shootouts in the playoffs..so they win it with less than one minute to go in Game 1!…..ooops!

        The Nucks will beat the Flames in 6 or even 5 games…ooops!

        And TV commentators…

        Hartley has shortened his bench on D drastically, they will tire out as the series goes on….ooops!

  • RandomScrub

    Was only able to watch the first couple of periods, but it would appear that whatever strategy the Canucks had to set the tone for game 4, was an epic fail.

    Good job Flames (and fans), and good luck in game 5.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      I had the exact same thought watching that game. It seemed Desjardins wanted to set a physical tone similar to what the Flames did the prior game. Problem is they don’t have a Ferland on their roster that can catch up with his speed and hit you properly. Dorsett boards Bennett and Flames go on the powerplay and score. More bad penalties and the Flames put this one away.

      I think Hartley has been out-coaching Willie. I have a sneaking suspicion that Hartley knew the Canucks were going to try and goon it up and he told the boys something like “you might have to take a nasty hit, but don’t retaliate and we’ll get them on the powerplay”. It’s almost like Hartley saw the whole thing coming. Is that a reach?

  • House

    @ Sean Bennett

    Also a Flames’ fan in Vancouver. What you said about the Sedins is more than true, and I did not realize that until last night. I had to rewind the PVR just to see Engelland’s stick returned back to him.

    As for Bieksa and Burrows, are they relevant?

    • mk

      It sounds like there are a few of us Flames fans in exile in Vancouver. Not a bad feeling today eh?

      I’m with you on this point – I dislike the Sedins on the ice because of how they make other teams pay (by scoring lots), but respect their skill & class. They seem like truly classy guys though and you can’t fault them for that. Now let’s go end their postseason in game 5!


      RE: Flames expectations (esp. Jeff in Lethbridge)

      I’m one of many here who thought the Flames were not the worst team, but were fated to finish 24-26th. This team has been kicking the predictions in the butt all season and I hope it continues.

  • This game was rather pedestrian compared to game 3. My local section spent most of the second period speculating on Colbourne being Bipolar and the far more entertaining Bieksa origin stories.

    I didn’t wear red either but i did rep Flames Nation!!

    And more importantly… I did not win the 50/50…but I made a nice contribution to the pot. :))

  • RedMan

    I want to thank everyone that took the time to comment or add a thumbs up on my rant – i must say I am more than a little humbled by all the responses, and truly appreciate the amazing feedback from you all.

    I sure didn’t intend to incriminate or point fingers at anyone individually, but so many of you stepped up in such an awesome way – thank you!

    Flames fans once again showing their class!