Post-Game: Crushing The Canucks

By virtue of their geographical placement, the Calgary Flames have seen a ton of teams on the back end of back-to-backs this season. Sometimes, they don’t remember this fact and seem to give their tired opponents a lot of time, space and respect. Tonight, they respected the Vancouver Canucks for the first period and spotted them a 2-1 lead.

After that? They threw some hits, they scored some goals, and they got timely saves en route to an impressive 5-2 victory over their divisional rivals.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames were crisp early, making some nice plays and spending a fair amount of time in the Vancouver end. The opening goal was textbook Calgary Flames hockey (TM): a T.J. Brodie stretch pass found Mikael Backlund just outside the Canucks blueline. Backlund strode into the slot, made a nice pass to Joe Colborne and watched as Colborne went top-corner on Jacob Markstrom to make it 1-0. The Canucks made some adjustments, though, and battled back for the last 12-15 minutes of the first. Former Flames pick Adam Cracknell scored to even it up, as Mark Giordano failed to pick him up and he scored off a nice heads-up pass to the slot from Jannik Hansen. It became 2-1 Vancouver off a defensive zone turnover from the Flames and a Jake Virtanen wrister from just inside the blueline that eluded Hiller. Shots were 14-7 for Vancouver and attempts were 20-16 for Vancouver in the first.

After starting the period in a bit of a hole, the Flames battled back in the first part of the second period. Off a bit of a broken play, Jakub Nakladal fired the puck (intentionally) wide of the Canucks net. This drew the defenders away from the slot, allowing Michael Frolik and Mikael Backlund to shove away at the goal-mouth, with Backlund scoring the equalizer. The Flames took a lead a little while later. After retrieving a Colborne dump-in, Michael Frolik’s shot from the high slot careened in off a Canucks skate, giving them a 3-2 lead. The Canucks got in penalty trouble and handed the Flames a two-man advantage for 1:06, but the Flames just couldn’t get a really dangerous chance despite some great puck movement on their power-play. And the Flames expanded their lead late in the period. Sean Monahan won a face-off and some cycling later, Mark Giordano’s point shot went in to make it 4-2. Shots were 19-8 for the home side in the second, while attempts were 36-21 for them as well.

The third had the potential for some ugly score effects given the lead, but the Flames kept pressing and the Canucks didn’t show very much. Josh Jooris extended the lead to 5-2 off a nice set-up pass from Lance Bouma – and Jakub Nakladal got his first NHL point on the play, too. Shots were 7-6 for the Flames and attempts were 21-14 for the Canucks, but the Flames kept them largely to the outside. The biggest save was Jonas Hiller booting out a Sven Baertschi breakaway chance mid-way through the period.

THE NUMBERS

(All Situations) CorsiFor% OZStart%
Colborne 60.53% 62.5%
Bennett 43.33% 54.55%
Hamilton 55.1% 53.85%
Nakladal 44.74% 53.85%
Backlund 56.76% 50%
Jooris 42.31% 50%
Ferland 31.82% 50%
Stajan 44.83% 44.44%
Jones 36% 42.86%
Wotherspoon 44.74% 41.67%
Bouma 37.93% 40%
Engelland 33.33% 38.46%
Hudler 56.67% 35.71%
Giordano 70% 35.29%
Brodie 51.16% 33.33%
Gaudreau 63.16% 33.33%
Monahan 64.1% 33.33%
Frolik 58.54% 33.33%

WHY THE FLAMES WON

They were playing a team that played (and lost) last night. They weren’t hard on them in the first period, but they were physical, tactical and made smart decisions with the puck for the last 40 minutes and it made all the difference.

It also helps that they got some much-needed secondary scoring from Backlund’s line.

RED WARRIOR

I’m gonna go with Mikael Backlund, who was a terror out there and really helped ignite his line. Backlund historically loves playing against the Canucks, and he had two points and a lot of energy (despite going 0-for-8 in face-offs).

Also really good? Michael Frolik, Joe Colborne, basically every defender if you can categorically ignore the first period, and Johnny Gaudreau (as usual).

WHO SCOUTED THE FLAMES?

Disclaimer: Just because somebody’s on the scouting list
doesn’t mean they were there (travel plans often change), and often
teams scout other pro games to get background on future free agents.
Regardless, here’s who was slated to be at the ‘Dome for this evening’s
game.

Teams: Boston, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Winnipeg

Notables: Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic, Dallas Stars assistant general manager Les Jackson, Pittsburgh Penguins director of professional scouting Derek Clancey, St. Louis Blues vice-president of hockey operations Dave Taylor

RACE TO THE BOTTOM

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.04.11 PM

The Flames end the night six points up on the last-place Toronto Maple Leafs and nine points behind Colorado for the last Western Conference wild-card playoff spot.

UP NEXT

Hopefully the Flames can bottle up the confidence from this game and take it with them on the road, because they head to Orange County to face the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    If Willie Desjardines gets sacked in VCR this year, would anybody like to see him as the head coach in Calgary?

    I am not sure VCR has ever been the right fit for Willie, so unless they overhaul the talent, Willie might not be the right coach for the Canucks.

    My hope is that if VCR does can him, he will get another head coaching shot in the NHL. He has succeeded at every level he has coached at and there is no reason to think it won’t happen in the NHL.

    I think he would look excellent behind the Flames’ bench.

        • KiLLKiND

          Have you ever watched the Canucks or visited CanucksArmy? If you ever disagree with Hartley’s deployments than wait till you see Desjarden’s. He is awful. I would rather have Smid and Engelland as our top pairing than have Willie as coach of the Flames.
          Willie as coach of the Flames is probably the worst idea I’ve seen on this site so congrats. Can you show one thing he has done which has lead to the Canucks achieving more than their lineup suggests they are capable of?

          edit: that came off a little harsh but still quite a bad idea. Remember last playoffs when he was completely outcoached and outmatched by Hartley? I do and it was hilarious to watch as a Flames fan. I don’t think I could handle that bad of a coach and still remain a Canucks fan if I was one.

          • BlueMoonNigel

            First, I take offense at your cheap shot at Hartley. Hartley has coached a long time in the NHL and notched a lot of wins and is a Stanley Cup winning coach. Like Bob or not, to be outcoached by Hartley is hardly a shame.

            Second, Desjardines has enjoyed success at every level and in every league he has coached. He has spent the bulk of his coaching career working with young talent. As the Flames need to get younger before they go forward, why wouldn’t a teaching coach like Desjardines not make sense? Moreover, those who have played for him absolutely love him.

            Third, a coach is only as good as the talent he has to work with and what the talent is willing to put out night after night. Look at the Ducks. Earlier in the year, how many were calling for BB’s head? Now a glance at the standings makes us forget the Ducks ever struggled this year. Hartley walked on water here last season and was rewarded as COY and given an extension. Now with virtually the same talent as last year, Hartley is a bum. How did that happen?

            Finally, I’m not sure Toe Blake could find success with the Canucks. The team Willie took over last season was transitioning. It had become old and expensive and not that good. They have got younger this season, but they are still a work in progress with lots of work to go. My sense is that the impatience of Canucks’ ownership and fans plus Jim Benning not being a very adept GM will spell the end to Willie’s coaching career there. I maintain that the Canucks are not a good fit for Desjardines because the Canucks really need a full makeover before they can go forward, but the FO has yet to commit to that.

          • Avalain

            I really do not see what he wrote as a cheap shot at Hartley at all. Being out coached by Hartley may not be a shame, but that means that it is a downgrade from who we have now. Why would we ever want that?

            As for your other points, well, I’m hoping that we aren’t so far away that we need someone to come in as a teaching coach. I’d rather our next coach be the one that we become a contender under.

          • cberg

            Personally I’m not really sure about WD. He definitely seemed to get locked in to certain things and seemed to refuse to try match-ups freeing the twins in the playoffs until it was too late last year so probably that is the biggest thing I have against him. He did win the Calder Cup in the AHL, so…

            At this point I still like BH. Bob does seem to get locked in to certain things for spells, but it is hard to know how much of that is BT-guided or “developmental” and trade-showcasing, and of course I know nothing of behind the scenes.

            Last night BH looked like a genius, as all his moves paid off. Is that coaching, blind luck or circumstances (e.g. injuries)? In any case, I’m pretty sure BH will still be around for awhile so get used to it. I can’t see any changes before next year, and then only if everything falls off the tracks and craters….

  • smatic10

    You guys want to hear a funny joke?

    The Nucks have Derek Dorsett signed through 2018-2019 at 2.65 mil/yr.

    Man, that one kills me every time.

    Anyways, congrats to Nak City for his first point!

  • Truculence

    Here’s hoping the Flames lose every game from here on out by one goal due to lousy goaltending. This team is two top-six forwards, one top-4 d-man,a goaltender, and a competent coaching staff away from being a perennial playoff contender.

    The reality of our situation will set in during the next two road games, as the California teams are structured, talented, and tenacious -qualities we only show intermittently, if at all.

    I mean I love the Flames and all, but watching them on nights like this I can’t get excited because despite the offensive output, this was a match between two basement teams and the quality of play confirmed that.

    • cberg

      I agree overall that we are still a ways away from being a perennial playoff contender, however there was much to like in last night’s game.

      First off, the Backlund-Colborne-Frolik line was outstanding, and secondly the Nakladal-Wotherspoon pairing was equally impressive. I was also pleased with Bennett’s game at C and look forward to see how that develops.

      For sure VCR wasn’t too impressive. The upcoming road trip will tell a LOT about the new players/arrangements and I’m excited to see how they do. I’m not expecting much, but won’t be surprised if they do very well.

      Secondary thought… its becoming more than clear some of the guys that need to go, and hopefully that starts asap. We really, really, really need to get some more of our prospects up and integrated into the line-up. Call it addition by subtraction, increased urgency by all as competition increases or simply a talent upgrade, but the team, and the future (I believe) is much better doing so.

  • freethe flames

    The interesting thing about last night is that what is really our third line scored 3 goals last night. Wait until the team gets a young RW winger to go with both the Bennett and Monahan lines.

    Dougie Hamilton is beginning to frustrate me as it seems he does not want to get hit and makes the same mistake over and over again. I like so much of his game but that poor clearing attempt that lead to goal last night and the previous night needs to be addressed.

    Also very happy to see a solid effort from the Heat twins, they were their top pairing and looked like a sound third pairing last night. Next two games will be tougher tests but that is what the rest of the season should be.

    • cberg

      Wow, great comment, I’m frankly surprised by all the trashes. All three of your points are spot on.

      Re: Hamilton, he seems to love moving the puck and driving play, which he’s really good at (e.g. his end-to-end rush last night). However, his weak clearing attempt was all too common. At least he looked instead of throwing it up the boards blindly directly to the opposition. He’s been a good addition, but still has some weaknesses to focus on.