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 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.
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.
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.
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.