Photo Credit: Dom Gagne-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Flames drub Canucks, win season series

On Saturday night in Calgary, the Flames played a really good game against one of the National Hockey League’s top clubs. Unfortunately, the Flames got zero bounces and ended up losing a 2-0 heartbreaker to the Nashville Predators. On Sunday night in Vancouver, the Flames had a second chance as they played against a very depleted Vancouver Canucks team.

And they ended up bringing more or less the same level of effort, pretty much clobbering the Canucks in a wildly uncompetitive 6-1 victory to close out their season series with three wins in four games with Vancouver.

The Rundown

As they did against Nashville, the Flames came out of the gates strong. They had many scoring chances. Unlike against Nashville, they scored an early goal! A Garnet Hathaway dump-in was collected him him and Sam Bennett on the forecheck, and after a few board battles won, Bennett fed Mark Jankowski in the slot for a quick wrister and a 1-0 lead. This was the only goal the Flames got in the first, but it was as close as this sucker would get. Shots 9-7 were Flames, scoring chances were 9-8 Flames.

The dam burst for the Flames in the second period. On a four-on-four stretch, Johnny Gaudreau sprung Mark Giordano for a rush and he drove past Ben Hutton and shelved a puck over Jacob Markstrom to make it 2-0. The teams exchanged chances a bit for the rest of the period, but the Flames put things out of reach with a three goal outburst late in the period.

  • Bennett sprung Matthew Tkachuk into the Canucks zone with a pass and his wrister beat Markstrom to make it 3-0.
  • Following a successful penalty kill, Mark Giordano took a pass from the boards from Matt Stajan and tucked it past Markstrom for his second of the game to give the Flames a 4-0 lead.
  • An outlet pass from Travis Hamonic sprung Bennett onto another rush and he beat Markstrom with a snapshot to make it 5-0 – he was looking like he was going for a pass, but shot it instead.

Shots were 10-6 Flames, scoring chances were 9-5 Flames.

The two teams exchanged power play goals in the third, as Anders Nilsson came in and generally looked quite good but had to play behind an utterly defeated team. Markus Granlund snapped David Rittich’s shutout bid when he jammed in a rebound to make it 5-1. But Micheal Ferland got his own rebound late on a power play to make it 6-1 – he tried to slide the puck into the slot, but the puck bounced back to him and so he just jammed the puck in anyway. Shots were 19-4 Flames, scoring chances were 8-1 Flames.

Why The Flames Won

They outplayed Vancouver in basically every situation. Aside from allowing a power play goal – and admittedly, it was in garbage time so it’s hard to hold it against them – they played a very good 60 minutes of hockey. They got saves when they needed ’em, hits when they needed ’em and many, many goals.

It’s also worth noting that while the top six wasn’t amazing tonight, continuing a stretch where they’ve looked fairly ordinary, the third line looked thoroughly strong.

Red Warrior

Bennett had a goal and four primary points tonight. His line was superb and continued a stretch of strong play, but man, Bennett was next-level tonight.

The Turning Point

The three goals late in the second completely toppled the Canucks and they spent the remainder of the game looking terrified anytime the Flames had the puck.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)

Player Corsi
Hathaway 73.3 25.0 1.200
Jankowski 73.3 25.0 3.125
Hamilton 71.4 50.0 1.725
Bennett 68.8 20.0 3.920
Stajan 68.4 66.7 1.275
Gaudreau 63.6 40.0 1.225
Brouwer 63.2 66.7 1.075
Giordano 62.5 50.0 2.625
Jagr 61.1 100 0.200
Monahan 59.1 40.0 0.530
Ferland 58.8 40.0 0.815
Kulak 57.1 33.3 0.700
Stone 50.0 33.3 0.675
Brodie 50.0 37.5 0.450
Hamonic 50.0 37.5 1.200
Tkachuk 43.5 30.0 1.050
Backlund 40.9 37.5 -0.100
Frolik 35.0 37.5 -0.200
Rittich 0.700

This and That

Rittich has three NHL starts. All three were the second game of a back-to-back (with travel). He’s won all three of them.

Up Next

The Flames (17-14-3) head home and have an off day tomorrow. They’re back on the practice ice on Tuesday and prepare to begin their pre-holiday homestretch when they host the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.

  • RKD

    Bennett was in beast form! He’s going to have a much better latter half to the season now that he’s back on the wing. Janko looking better and better Gio comes up big and solid win by Rittich!

  • flames2015

    The powerplay units at the end of the game is exactly what should have been and what should be moving forward. A hell of a game by Gio, Benny, Janko and Rittich. If the powerplay clicked a few more times, this easily could have been a higher score. We only allowed 17 shots on net tonight! The guys seem to clean up better and back check harder when they have Rittch back there. He’s earn some more starts.

    • McRib

      If the Flames want to become a more explosive offensive team Jankowski and Bennett should both begin to get expanded roles, especially on special teams. To be honest GG has been underutilizing Bennett especially in those roles on the PP (Jankowski is a rookie so up until now it was kind of understandable).

  • BendingCorners

    That was fun. I was at the game – easy to get tickets since there were about 1,000 empty seats, including quite a few in the lower bowl where I was sitting. The shot count in the first period flattered Vancouver; Calgary was all over them. Hamonic and Stone had good nights in spite of a few gaffes. Brodie continues to worry me. At one point he was clutching his right hip so there could be a physical reason for some of his travails. In fairness he did make some good plays but he gets caught out a lot.
    The fourth line looked good even though Jagr was bit rusty. Benny and Janko look better every time I watch them.
    St.Louis will be a challenge since they are very good at intercepting passes. The Flames will need to carry the puck more and dump and chase more against that team. They will also need to line match properly instead of just rolling on a schedule. That didn’t matter against Vancouver but it does matter against good teams.
    There is hope for the power play now that the personnel are being changed up but they still need to send more players through the box (or triangle, depending).
    Love Rittich – or should we just call him Riddick and chronicle his games?
    Hoping to make it to their home games before I take off for Christmas, but if not I will watch on nhl dot com. Not as much fun but infinite replays with the rewind function. Go Flames!

  • Lucky 13

    Glad to see the dam finally burst open and Rittich playing solid again.

    I’m wondering if we will see the Bennett- Jankowski-Tkachuk line again soon? Not to take away anything from Hathaway, but Tkachuk really makes that line so much better than it already is.

    Great to see the new PP’s in the 3rd. Gio is definitely the best option for a D on that first unit. He shoots whenever there’s an opportunity. I’ve never seen him so hungry for offence as I witnessed this evening. Great game by him!

    The 2nd PP looks much better with 2 d men, and Brodie shooting once again. Having Hamilton there is also providing more looks from the back end. Why didn’t we try this weeks ago? Oh well, I hope we keep it going.

    Great game by Bennett and company, I think they’ve turned the corner and are going to get plenty of points together.

    Rittich should probably get the next start, at least I hope so. He’s showing us he’s capable of backup duties.

    Stick tap for the 4th line, who battled hard and had great puck support for each other. Jagr looks at home on this line.

  • John Wayne's Hat

    Finally, Gio on the first pp instead of Brodie! He shoots. He makes quick plays. He takes what is given but isn’t rushed.

    The Big Jankowski looks like a really good, classic centerman. And then Bennett looks really good on the wing. Nice duo.

  • Calgarycandle

    Finally, a good for what ails you game. Another very solid performance from the backup. Canuckleheads held to 17 shots while the Flames offence explodes. The previously maligned third line puts in a dominant performance. Stajan gets his first point of the season! With Jagr on the fourth line both Brouwer and Stajan look, well, almost dangerous. I know they’re slow, but I suspect most fourth line aren’t composed of speedsters either and Lazar could be inserted if the team we’re playing has a fast fourth. Admittedly, it was a meaningless goal, but the PP clicked too and it looked credible on its earlier opportunities. Are we going to see more of Bennett and Byng together. They seem to really click and as good as Byng is on the shut down line, he Bennett and Janko have the potential to create more offence and still contain other teams defensively. Hopefully, Calgary can carry this over against the Blues and other good teams, but it’s great to see a dominant performance for a change.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Bennett and Tkachuk have had good chemistry the few times they have played on the same line. I know Johnny plays well with most but he has worked well with Janko.

      The frustrating thing is that GG did not need to experiment for the first 35 games before getting the right player usage…. It was right there for everyone to see. Janko, Rittich, and Hathaway promoted to the big club…check. Move Bennett to wing…. Check. Take Brodie off PP1 as quarterback. Move Tkachuk to third line.

    • freethe flames

      Have you seen the top teams 4th lines; generally they are built around youth and speed. These types of teams have already given us fits, let’s not be too excited about the play of our fourth line against a depleted Canuck team; they are still Stajan and Brouwer.

  • everton fc


    Had to do it…

    I was at the performance of the Christmas Carol downtown at Theatre Calgarty w/the wife and kids. Missed the game, but caught the highlights and checked the boxscore. A few random thoughts;

    1. The Canucks are hurting.
    2. Rittich doesn’t give up rebounds. We could go w/Smith/Rittich as 1/2 for two years time. What to do w/Gillies? Trade bait?? Does Gillies even have value???
    3. Hathaway. Love him. Look at the highlights, where he placed himself, on Jankowski’s goal. Brilliant. He’s a “real”, full-time/every game NHL player. Still, he doesn’t get the ice time he deserves, and we need him to get.
    4. Ferland’s 13th goal. Could he get 25?
    5. Bennett. Never gave up on this kid. Love him. Bennett-Jankowski-Hathaway is becoming a real fantastic line.
    6. Love Jankowski. I humbly admit I wanted Girgensons. Mea Culpa!
    7. Good to see Gio getting some offence. We need him to score goals.
    8. Our 4th line is ancient!

    Good win against an injury-plagued team. We have our #2 goalie. Where would this team be, same roster, coached by someone other than GG and his staff?? Huge question, as we have the people, “on paper”, to score goals…

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    Guys, if you haven’t you should watch the post-game with Sam. He’s all monotone and “hockey” until Leslie asks about Rittich and he perks up so much! Smiles and everything!

    It’s worth a watch. I think Rittich is awesome for the locker room.

    Differences I have with people aside, I really think we’re going to pull it together this year.

  • Atomic Clown

    Did Sam Bennett eat some of the spinach that Popeye carries around? Unreal. He’s playing better every game, and it’s scary that he’s just 21. Imagine power forward 24 year old Sam Bennett.

  • Flint

    Benny now on pace for a career year. The includes a tough start (0,13ppg), but also a 1.09ppg pace w/12 in the last 11gp. Good thing players aren’t assessed by just 20games, right? He’s very surely neither a 0,13ppg nor a 1.09ppg player, but I’m certain he’s closer to the latter of the two. If he keeps a good groove going until year end he could approach 50pts. Sam is just 21. He’s a good one.

    And this David Rittich kid. Not bad eh.

    • oilcanboyd

      Flint, Benny wasn’t getting the points the first 20 but he had Tre and GG in his corner by the way he was playing. And before the season started, GG stated that Bennett will be the Flames player to have a breakout season!

  • Just.Visiting

    Miscellaneous observations….

    Nice to see the trade Bennett talk subside. Wonder why that is…..

    Janko and Bennett are for real. I’d look seriously at flipping Tkachuk to the line on the right side as at least an experiment. He played the right side in junior. This adds offence to what looks like it will be the second line and helps mitigate the RW problem at the same time. If it doesn’t work, GG could switch him back easily enough.

    Gio on the first unit and Brodie moved to the second unit. Yay! Wow-I wish someone on here had thought of that change 10-15 games ago. Having someone who had a shot that he was prepared to use changed the entire dynamic of the PP. My natural inclination would be to have Dougie on the other point, but Janko already looks good out there and he’s only going to get better because he plays such an intelligent, controlled game. I didn’t think GG and Cameron would give him that level of responsibility yet, so, in the spirit of Christmas, good on them.

    -Rittich plays a confident, positionally solid game. I’d probably start him again next game to give Smith a little extra rest and to understand more fully what we have.

    -Not crazy about Gio and Brodie putting in 25 minutes a night when we have six solid defencemen. To even things out a bit, I’d look at moving Hamonic with Kulak and balancing the minutes a bit more. Brodie might also elevate his 5 on 5 play with Stone because of the way they played together last year.

    -Stone should shoot the puck more.

    -The 4th line had a pretty decent game tonight, and Brouwer looks better on his off wing. But, not so good as ever to be put back on the PP!

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I also think the PK with Bennett and Janko has led to a massive turnaround. I am not positive but I don’t think they have been on for a goal on the PK. Nice to see Sammy smile.

  • freethe flames

    If Tkachuk was moved to the Janko/Bennett line who should replace him the Backs line; personally I think it should be one of Klimchuk or Mangiapane and it could still be the 3M line.

  • The GREAT WW

    Would you rather have Bennett for $2 M per year for the next 2 years, or Drysaddle “can only score with McDacid on the ice” for $8.5 M…..?!

    Nice one Oilers…..


  • Puckhead

    It would be nice to see Klimchuk get a shot sooner than later. He plays a solid two way game, has put in his time, and would bolster the 4th line. Enough already and give him a chance.

    Not downplaying the win here but thinking ahead to better teams and a possible playoff run.

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    I like the look of this 4th line with JJ on it. They seem to have a little extra jump which doesn’t really make sense to me, but whatever, we’ll take it. Sam B is a gamer, I never doubted him. I have of others but not this kid. He’s got fire in his eyes out on the ice and you can’t really coach that into anybody. And he’s noticeably NOT taking dumb penalties of late.

    As for our back up goalie, Vin Diesel, I think we need to work him into some more games other than back to back situations. He looks very confident in the net. No offense to Smith but we need more minutes for this kid to get a true grasp of what he’s about and to rest up our # 1 guy.

  • WillyWonka

    Kulak is looking REALLY good. Why Vegas didn’t snatch him is a head scratcher.
    Bartkowski should not see NHL ice time again without 2 or 3 injuries on the blue line

    • McRib

      It’s definitely just a one game anomaly they’ve had way too much success in a large sample size of the course of a year and a half to think differently. That said I wouldn’t be completely opposed to moving someone like Tkachuk to the Bennett-Jankowski line to see how that goes offensively for all parties.

      • Kevin R

        Well you maybe can get a couple spins on this. #1 Backlund hasn’t been making a strong case for a huge new contract, so his play may get his new deal down under 5.0 mill & a year shorter.
        #2 Put Tkachuk on a line that is the future of the team that isn’t being pigeon holed into being a shutdown line. A line of Janko, Bennett & Tkachuk is as much of the future for the Flames as Gaudreau, Monahan & Ferland in my opinion.
        3/ Frolik only has 2 more years after this & is unlikely he stays & will be resigned. Backlund thus will become more & more of a 3rd line that technically he is or should be now. We may as well start cutting the teeth of another young player we would like to see a career as a Flame with, i.e. Klimchuk or Magpie.