Pre-Season Post-Game: The Stajan Supremacy

Sometimes, we as hockey observers let players settle into their roles and stop seeing their potential. Tonight was a good example of a player showing that he’s more than the ice-time he’s been allotted.

In short: man, Matt Stajan is a good passer.

Brandon Bollig scored a pair of goals, but the real star of the show tonight was Matty Franchise. Stajan set up both of Bollig’s goals and Josh Jooris’ overtime game-winner as the Flames completed a three-games-in-three-nights (in three cities) sweep with a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

THE RUNDOWN

The first period was fairly even, though the Canucks generally carried play. They opened the scoring midway through the frame off a defensive miscue by Oliver Kylington that allowed Brendan Gaunce to get a shot past Karri Ramo. The Flames responded late in the period, as a really nifty pass from Stajan found Bollig, who tied it up. Shots were 11-10 Vancouver in the opener.

The second? Not close. Vancouver out-shot the Flames 16-4 and that accurately reflected who carried play. In other words: woof. Despite this, the Flames managed to score 25 seconds in – Bollig converting another nice Stajan feed – and then clung on for dear life. Unfortunately, they gave the Canucks one power-play too many in the second, and Bo Horvat scored with Markus Granlund in the box late in the period to send it to the second intermission all tied up 2-2.

The Flames were more life-like in the third period – it’s as if they realized that they had a chance to win the game in the locker room and came out with a bit more jump. Despite that jump, Vancouver out-shot ’em again in the third. Alex Friesen scored mid-way through the period to give Vancouver their second lead of the game – the puck eluded Ramo’s glove-hand just slightly. Just when visions of wins slipping away were beginning to appear, a great individual effort by Morgan Klimchuk did two things: it drew a delayed penalty…and created a chance that Markus Granlund bonked home to tie it up at 3.

And after a few back-and-forths in overtime, Brett Kulak took the puck in on a rush and began a mini-cycle with Matt Stajan, who carried the puck down low and found Josh Jooris in the slot for the game-winner.

Per the Sun’s Wes Gilbertson: Mason Raymond blocked a shot late in the second period. Based on the NHL’s ice time tracker, he left the game for a bit, returned and then left again after a short shift in the third period. (He didn’t see the ice after the 4:45 mark of the third.) Reports from the rink are that Bob Hartley said he’ll be fine, so it sounds like it was just a precaution.

RED WARRIOR

Matt Stajan had a hat-trick…of really nice assists. He may be relied upon more for his leadership, veteran presence and two-way play, but the guy can still play offensive hockey pretty well when given the chance.

Honourable mentions: Brandon Bollig had 2 goals on 4 shots, while Tyler Wotherspoon was +3.

THE BLUELINE

Calgary trotted out six non-established defenders. Here’s how they did.

  • Ryan Wilson: 32 shifts, 22:59 TOI total, -1, 2 shots on goal
  • Tyler Wotherspoon: 28 shifts, 22:05 TOI total, +3, 1 shot on goal
  • Kenney Morrison: 27 shifts, 21:50 TOI total, even, 1 assist
  • Brett Kulak: 29 shifts, 21:22 TOI total, even, 1 assist
  • Rasmus Andersson: 28 shifts, 20:58 TOI total, +1, 1 penalty, 1 shot on goal
  • Oliver Kylington: 18 shifts, 13:17 TOI total, even

For those wondering, Kylington played about 4 minutes and change in each of the three periods. Remember: he’s only 18. Of the six guys, I’d say Kulak probably had the best game – though Wilson was pretty good, as well.

    UP NEXT

    The Flames are off tomorrow and then probably cut a few more guys as AHL camp opens on Monday. After that, the trimmed-down Flames roster welcomes the Colorado Avalanche to town on Tuesday night.

    • MattyFranchise

      Poor Bollig, scores two goals and still can’t even get the nod as Ryan Pike’s “Red Warrior”. What does this guy gotta do. In the words of the immortal Rodney Dangerfield “I just can’t get no respect”.

      Great game though, Ramo also makes 40 saves and doesn’t even get mentioned in the post game writing for keeping this one close. Solid last few games for the guys all-in-all, some tough decisions ahead with respect to cuts.

    • al rain

      I wasn’t anywhere near the game, but here’s my report:

      I tuned in late to hear “Bollig has a couple tries at it, going for the hat trick.” Beer came out my nose.

      In what universe do you give a ref a pass on a penalty call like the Bollig roughing because he’s young? I thought this was the friggin’ NHL.

      Good night for Matty, but over on TSN they were going on about how Connor McDavid already has 3 assists this pre-season! My predictions for 2015/16: 1) McDavid will be a good player. 2) The “McDavid Watch” is going to get old very quickly.

      That’s all.

      • al rain

        This is Flames Nation, not Oilers Nation. We don’t care about Connor McCoiler here!!!

        Back to discussing the Flames. After Ramo’s performance tonight where do the goalies rank and who is the odd man out?

        Ramo makes 40 saves tonight and keeps the Flames in the game, IMO Hiller is on the outs.

        • al rain

          I agree that Hiller is out. I think they want Ramo and Ortio to work out over Hiller for 2 reasons: 1. Hiller is easier to trade (established starting goalie) 2. I think Hiller made a fuss about being sat in the playoffs last year and wasn’t a very “good soldier”. I figure Brad T has already told him he’ll try to move him if they aren’t going to make him the starter….

        • al rain

          It’s a real conundrum. All three have played very well. Of the last three games I don’t recall ANY bad goals. Ortio had a tough shutout, and Ramo had the toughest game of all, though he probably has the worst stats of the three.

          I think this comes down to the waiver wire (Ortio will not pass with his skill/upside/low salary/age) which means a trade or waivers for one of Ramo/Hiller. In the end they’d probably do fine with either, I’d go with Ramo as he’s younger I always felt slightly better.

          The other advantage of sending Hiller down (with the promise that you are trying to trade him), is that he’s the most likely to clear and you can bring him back up if there’s an injury prone of the others falter.

          One of many tough decisions…

    • al rain

      Didn’t catch the game last night, just the highlights (Hitmen home opener!) but I’m starting to get impressed with Ryan Wilson. It is pre-season, so he’s not going to be thrust into our top 2 any time soon but you have to believe he’s done enough to justify a contract. Let Smiddy get his neck healthy, let Wotherspoon develop one more year in the minors and put Wilson on the bottom pair to start the year.

      Kylington is having flashes of brilliance mixed in with some bad decision making. The debate of WHL vs. AHL is starting to lean towards WHL for me. So much potential in him, I think he just needs his confidence back.

      • piscera.infada

        Personally, I thought Wotherspoon was better than Wilson last night. There wasn’t as much flash, but he was very steady.

        Morrison is one who has disappointed me a bit. There were a number of times last night his positioning would let him down (it lead directly to the second, or third, goal, I can’t remember). That said, he’s a much better skater than I thought he’d be, and he clearly has some tools in the offensive zone. Come to think of it, he has a bit of Wideman in him–which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    • KACaribou

      I think it was John Garrett who said “Bollig was easily the star of the game for Calgary.”

      He scored two nice goals, that could have been missed. Good buries.

      I hate to agree with a writer who doesn’t know enough about hockey to put Lanny McDonald in among the Flames top 10 scorers but I had Stajan as the best Flame too.

      I have really liked Stajan’s play since about the middle of last season. He has been a great 4th line centre and he obviously still has some of his former top line centre skill-set remaining.

      BTW Flames Fans: The sickeningly sweet love for Gretzky-with-a-Z never ended in the 80s. It’s not going to end for this McDavid kid either. Might as well get used to it.

      Further, we have some really nice D developing. It isn’t going to be a problem when we have to start giving up big contract guys to meet cap.

    • My observations from the last two games(a least from the amount I watched) is the following. I’m very happy with our young defenceman and I would prefer to see them play in the 5/6 position ahead of Eng’s. Kulak’s game last night was very good, when he tipped that puck out of the passing lane in the 3rd period; saving I think what would have been a sure goal hi stock went up significantly.

      Bollig’s two goals keeps him in the conversation of being on the 4th line. That line last nigh looked awesome at times and this bodes well for the Flames. Granlund’s goal also shows his value; he will score the ugly goals.

      Based upon the last few games I would be quite happy with this as our opening day line up:

      Johnny/Monny/Hudler
      Ferlan/Bennett/Frolik

      (The above 6 can be bounced around depending on what is working)

      Bouma/Backs/Jooris
      Colborne/Stajan/Jones

      Byron/Bollig in the pressbox with Granlund eating up the AHL.

      On the back end:
      Gio/Hamilton
      Wides/Russell
      Kulak/Wilson

      Eng’s watching until TJ is back, then bye bye Eng’s.

      In net my preference is Ramo and Ortio but if it was Hiller life would be okay.

      • Crazy Flames

        Based on last nights game I would put Bollig ahead of Colborne. Only time I really noticed Colborne last night, as being good, was 3-on-3.

        Stajan has kept his momentum going from a strong 1st and 2nd round playoffs

        Raymond looks AHL bound

        Andersson should get a chance to dress for couple regular season games but I’d imagine he is back to the CHL

        Kylington is a tough call. Tempting to just put him in the AHL, but at times he looks as if he could really benefit from a season in the CHL

        Wilson looks like a lock for the 6 or 7 Dman this season (hopefully he has a healthy year)

        Kulak has been looking strong. Since he doesn’t need waivers I’d imagine he goes down and is an early injury call up

        Morrison is looking strong, and will be fighting Kulak as the man to called up when injuries happen

        Wotherspoon doesn’t look bad, but, much like Reinhart, is being passed on the depth chart. Could see him being traded at some point this year

    • smith

      I am believing Colborne has been passed by too many players. Bollig, Raymond and Colborne should not be on the team. Stajan and Jones were good last night.

      Gaudreau Monahan Ferland
      Hudler Bennet Frolik
      Jooris Backlund Granlund
      Bouma Stajan Jones
      Shore Byron

      Giodano Hamilton
      Wilson Wideman
      Russel Nakadl
      Wotherspoon

      Hiller
      Ortio

      Does not seem to likely but would be nice. Never been a Granlund fan but he has just been too impressive to not keep up. Engelland, Colborne and Raymond on the other hand have been so unimpressive that….

    • Franko J

      Impressed by Wilson, Kulak, and Wotherspoon in last night’s game from the D.
      From the forwards I liked the play of Stajan, Jones, Granlund, and Bollig. Honourable mention goes to Jooris for the OT goal.

      Raymond and Colbourne could be the surprise demotions come Monday. Both players I think didn’t do enough in the game last night to warrant a spot on the roster.

      Where is Backlund, didn’t play in either game? Is he injured?

    • piscera.infada

      After what I saw last night (the third period, specifically), I don’t get the lack of love for Klimchuk. Dude was straight beasting in the third period. He almost single handedly changed that game–him and Granlund were phenomenal together.

      If that’s what Kilmchuk’s game is going to be like, and he can find that consistently, there’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to be a championship quality middle-sixer. Kid has great hustle, good on the forecheck, excellent on the backcheck, some offensive tools, and he’s good a little mean in him.

      • FlamesRule

        Prior to last season, I had Kulak ahead of Culkin. But last season Kulak’s early season play warranted a demotion to the ECHL. When Culkin went down, Kulak’s game became a whole lot better. Again this year Culkin has gone down and Kulak impresses.

        Almost like Highlander – “There can be only one!”.

      • OKG

        Nothing surprising about it Kent. If you watched him play last year in the minors you’d know this. He never even deserved to get sent down to the ECHL, just a victim of the numbers game that lost the coin flip to Culkin.

        (Next year you’ll be talking about how surprised you are by Jankowski, though.)

    • MWflames

      Here are my thoughts:

      Flames win while being badly outshot,weird. Sorry had to say it.

      Kulak and Witherspoon look good. Witherspoon isn’t flashy, so he doesn’t get noticed as much, but very steady is a good way to describe him. Kulak acts like Brodie out there, its eery in fact.

      Anderson and Morrison were good as well, buts its clear they lack that pro experience polish. The fact that Anderson is 18 and just picked in the 2nd round is crazy.

      Poirier was fighting the puck all night, not a great night and not ready for the NHL at this point.

      Granlund was alright. I think he should be the first LW call up, and see how he does there. I think Arnold may be the better centerman very soon if not already.

      Klimchuck had a beastly 3rd period and showed us what he can be.

      Stajan and Jones had quite a game which was good for bollig.

      Raymond has lost his mojo me thinks, he’s just not the same confident player he used to be.

      I probably thought colbourn was better than what most people though, but he can be replaced a
      By a kid or 3 quite soon.

      Side note, I realize many names are spelled wrong because of auto correct…

    • MWflames

      I finally got a chance to watch a game yesterday with a decent picture. My biggest take always were, STAJAN WAS THE BEST PLAYER …and putting him on the fourth line may be a disservice. He strikes me as a player that has really worked on his game and can be slotted anywhere , maybe try him with good offensive players. Pourier is not showing enough to come close to making the team.

      It is hard to not keep Granlund up., but you can’t bury him on the fourth line. Bennett was better last year and believes he has the second line locked and based on preseason body of work, he has not earned a spot. He still has a big upside but needs to find his game.

      I don’t have a lot to say about the D that has not already been said. The composure of Rasmus impresses me the most. Wilson looks like a high risk high reward defender, made some good plays but had some bad give always…as a 6-7 defender he is not going to hurt you.

    • FlamesRule

      Let me guess, John Garrett picked the three stars – how Stajan was not one of the 3 is baffling. He was definitely the red warrior!

      Both of our 2015 Swede Dmen should go to the WHL for this season. Let them be dominant and build their confidence.

      BTW – Bollig for MVP this year!