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Post-Game: Flames beat visiting Canucks

After an excursion to China, most of the Calgary Flames’ veterans jumped back into game action on Saturday at the Scotiabank Saddledome. While many of them looked merely fine, Austin Czarnik sparked his team with three goals en route to a 5-2 preseason victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

The Rundown

The locals drew first blood after Michael Stone’s hustle drew a penalty. The power play got to work, with a rapid-fire passing play that saw all five Flames players touch the puck. Mikael Backlund found Austin Czarnik at the side of the Canucks net for a slap-pass redirect and a 1-0 lead.

The Canucks answered back, though, on a five-on-three advantage with Backlund and Stone in the penalty box. Juuso Valimaki lost his stick, so he borrowed Michael Frolik’s. That left Frolik unable to clear a loose puck, and a few moments later Elias Pettersson’s centering pass from the side of the net deflect in off a Flames defender. That made it 1-1. But the Flames answered back before the period ended: Matthew Tkachuk made a nice drop-pass off a zone entry which was grabbed by Czarnik and rifled past Thatcher Demko from the top of the circles to make it 2-1.

Shots were 10-9 Flames in the period, but chances were even at 4-4.

The Flames scored to kick off the second period, but this time on the penalty kill. Michael Frolik’s clearing pass drifted into the Canucks zone. Demko considered going after the puck, then hesitated, giving Backlund an opportunity to grab the puck and deposit the puck behind him to make it 3-1.

Czarnik completed the hat trick by redirecting a Tkachuk slap-pass with his shinpad to make it 4-1.

Shots were 9-7 Flames, but chances were 5-3 Canucks.

The Canucks generated four third period power plays. The Flames’ penalty kill was up for the challenge, but eventually Brandon Sutter redirected a Petterssen pass past Rittich to make it 4-2. (That was on the third power play, the Flames did a strong job disrupting the other three.) Mark Jankowski added an empty net goal with 16 seconds remaining to make it 5-2. Shots were 13-3 Canucks and chances were 6-1 Canucks.

Why the Flames Won

They were a little bit better than the Canucks in every area. Their defensive zone play was a little bit better, their goaltending was a little bit better, and they out-scored them at even strength. When you don’t allow any five-on-five goals against, you’ll do well on most nights.

Red Warrior

It’s gotta be Czarnik, whose first game in the Saddledome resulted in a hat trick. But give credit to his linemates: Backlund and Tkachuk were also very good.

The Turning Point

Czarnik’s third goal made it a 4-1 game and put it things out of reach. The home team went into cruise control at that point.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Natural Stat Trick)

Player Corsi
For%
OZone
Start%
Game
Score
Mangiapane 80.0 25.0 0.300
Andersson 54.2 33.3 1.050
Frolik 50.0 80.0 0.685
Monahan 50.0 33.3 0.090
Neal 48.2 33.3 0.025
Prout 47.1 44.4 0.550
Gaudreau 46.7 33.3 0.025
Jankowski 44.4 20.0 0.720
Backlund 41.2 14.3 1.460
Kulak 40.0 28.6 -0.050
Kylington 39.1 44.4 0.015
Tkachuk 38.9 12.5 2.050
Czarnik 38.1 12.5 2.625
Lazar 33.3 20.0 -0.105
Dube 33.3 80.0 -0.320
Stone 33.3 22.2 -0.125
Valimaki 30.4 22.2 -0.450
Bennett 30.0 66.7 -0.125
Gillies 0.550
Rittich 0.650

This and That

With no Mark Giordano on this evening, alternate captains As were worn by Sean Monahan, Backlund and Tkachuk. By all accounts, the Flames are figuring out what to do with Troy Brouwer’s old A, though.

It was the fourth preseason game this fall for Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane and Juuso Valimaki – they lead the team in that category.

The numbers from the four blueliners auditioning for NHL work:

  • Andersson: 18:23, +1, 1 assist, 54.17 CF%
  • Valimaki: 21:03, +1, 2 penalty minutes, 30.43 CF%
  • Kylington: 15:45, +1, 2 penalty minutes, 39.13 CF%
  • Kulak: 23:48, +1, 40.0 CF%

Up Next

The Flames practice tomorrow at Winsport, then host the Winnipeg Jets on Monday at the Saddledome.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Feels so good to have that defensive depth. Ras looked real good, especially when he jumped up in the rush. He’ll be a game changer this year-inject some hutspa on a team that definitely could use some more!

  • RKD

    Czarnik with the hatty! He’s gonna give us some secondary scoring what difference having a RH shot makes. He maybe versatile enough to go up and down the line up if need be.

  • Brian McGrattan's Salute

    So some notes:

    Big one–where does Neal find chemistry? He’s not found it yet with Backlund or Mony’s line, but has looked good with Ryan. It’s only been 3 games, so hard to tell much this early, but cause for concern? If he ends up on the third line maybe that’s okay too.

    Anytime a line scores 8 points in one game, you gotta take note. It will be interesting to see how BP handles this. It’s only one great game, but still. Czar not going into the corners to do the digging may be offset by Chuck, and Backs smooth skating & passing game appears to work nicely too. Some early speculation:

    JG-SM-EL
    MT-MB-AC
    MF-Ryan-JN
    SB-MJ-prospect

    Good to see the backups have a good game, especially Ritty with a solid performance.

    I’m really glad we’re getting in so many reps and so much pre-season work done so much earlier than other years. There is a lot to figure out with so many new faces, coaches, systems. I assume Rebar is going to have to do something about all the lazy penalties, tho I expect he’s happy with our penalty killing.

    There were some absolute beautiful plays tonight. Wow.

    • It’s early and all, but dammit if that isn’t the most balanced lineup I’ve seen yet. I’ve been mulling over the possible combos for the last few months and, while everything hinges on chemistry, as long as AC keeps it up this could be solid.

      • Brian McGrattan's Salute

        I agree. Balanced, and ideally where the chemistry fits folks in. I like young players playing for the top spots, and the third line would be nice and veteran laden and could be used in many clutch spots, yet wouldn’t unduly take the spotlight.

        Also, yes, can’t wait to see which prospect gets the job!

  • Derzie

    Can’t help but think the whole waivers shenanigans Tre pulled with Kulak has hurt his confidence. Management 101: Support your team members. If you treat them poorly it starts the clock on them leaving the team.

      • Brian McGrattan's Salute

        Well, here’s to hoping we can up his trade value at least. He’s not likely to get much on his own, but with someone else one never knows. It is a shame tho, as I do really like Kulak, but we’ve defjitrly got the talent.

  • The GRAND WW

    Did not catch the game just watched the highlights. Tkachuk is a beast and hopefully will be around for many more years. That Backlund goal was sick. Goalie looked foolish on that one. Neal will find his rhythm in time and any comparisons to Brouwer are absolutely asinine. Love Dube but I think a start in the AHL will benefit his long term game.

    WW

  • The GREAT WW

    “After an excursion to China, most of the Calgary Flames’ veterans jumped back into game action on Saturday at the Scotiabank ”

    Except the top 4 D…..

    Kind of a big deal….

    WW

  • The GREAT WW

    Dube did nothing this game.
    That’s ok; send him to the AHL.

    Neal did nothing this game (or any of the previous) let’s hope it’s just pre season suckage, or we’ll be in a world of hurt…

    WW

    • LannyMac

      I think it’s time to leave this garbage site. Let me get this right if you don’t have anything positive to say it should not be posted. So democratic thought works only if it follows the majority. That’s special people. Love your comments The Great keep motoring. For The Grand F off. What kind of an absolute looser do you have to be to play this game. I can only imagine the responses I’m going to get for this.

      • cberg

        Your point is well taken. The comments on the team, positive or negative should be fine, as people do have differing views and should be free to express them. The attacks on other posters are another matter. There is no place for that and should be banned. If it continues and is allowed then many will be departing…..

    • HOCKEY83

      The whole line of Monny Johnny and Neal just basically mailed it in last night. They just came out took a skate around and back off. Backs Tkachuk and Czarnick looked like the number 1 line out there.

  • Avalain

    Um, I wasn’t able to watch the game today, but how did Mangiapane manage an 80% Corsi when no one else was even close? Did he get hurt or something and miss the 3rd period? No one else on the team is anywhere close to that.

    • Off the wall

      Good question. I was just looking at the stats and it appears Mangiapane had the least amount of TOI for the entire game. 9 minutes, 25 seconds. I only noticed him out for 2 shifts in the 3rd period, but I thought he played good.

      Even Lazar had more ice time. Over 10 minutes.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      Because we scored more than three goals, weren’t playing for the tie, got quality depth scoring, scored on the PP, forecheck, and have a coach that holds our players accountable for our bad penalties instead of talking about bad luck?

      • And the first line did sweet fack all! Lindholm up there fo sho. Neal could end up being an expensive third liner that Great WW could hate on all day(with Brouwer gone it feels like Backs has been having to shoulder all the hate of late)…but if the 2nd and 3rd lines play essentially the same minutes does it matter?

        • Brian McGrattan's Salute

          I think Lindy/Beast will work out great on that top line-potentially for years if everything goes well.

          Nothing necessarily wrong with Neal on the third–Phil down in Pennsylvania does great work there, and he’s a scorer.

          Again, it’s early, but we shall see where the chemistry takes the lads. Hopefully rebar will be more of a meritocracy kinda guy rather than just playing guys wherever because of their pedigree. Also hopefully Neal kicks it up a notch…we’re a pretty demanding bunch over here in FN, but I think Neal does indeed have great expectations.

          • LannyMac

            Let’s hope Neal is conscious or unconsciously floating through the preseason I’ve got a hair trigger just waiting for regular season if he wants to continue the same sh!t play. Nice part is I don’t think Peters has much patience for laziness.

          • cberg

            The top line did little last night, but it was not just Neal. Gaudreau was sleep-walking through the whole game. Considering the China trip and jet lag if someone told me they were napping between periods I’d probably believe them. I do believe Neal looked not bad on either of the top 2 lines in China and I also suspect he knows early preseason is more about getting to know systems and guys and will come around. Not too worried.

            In any case, with our much more balanced attack its likely a different “star” will emerge almost every game depending on who is on on the night and what the opposition is focusing on stopping. Its a great place to be in.

          • freethe flames

            Neal did not look good in China and people blamed the big ice; he did not look good last night and people blame jet lag and both of these may be true but he needs to look better sooner than later or he will be quickly become the fans whipping boy. He had better be up to speed and have found a role by the end of the preseason.

          • HOCKEY83

            To be fair it wasn’t just Neal not performing on that line last night it was the whole line. I was at the game and they had no interest in the game at all. The game seemed very slow going.

  • everton fc

    If Czarnik is for real… I think this lineup below can win a lot of games, with good defence and decent goaltending;

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm
    Tkachuk-Backlund-Czarnik
    Frolik-Ryan-Neal
    Bennett-Jankowski-Hathaway/Dube

    I get a sense Andersson and Kulak, or Kulak and Stone, will be the 6/7 d-men. Prout heads to Stockton. The extra forwards will probably include Lazar. Dube and Mangiapane will play in the “A”, though maybe they should be with the big club. Which leaves the final forward spot still open. Do guys like Foo and Klimchuk need ice time in Stockton?? Could a guy like Robinson surprise as the last man kept, out of camp? Peluso seems the other candidate for the final, extra forward, unless we pick up someone off waivers, or keep a PTO (the latter which I hope we avoid, as much as keeping Peluso here)

    • Chucky

      Foo has played excellent hockey this preseason. He reads the play well and reacts with enough intuition to play in the NHL. He also seems to be physical enough to take the puck away from a defenseman. Unfortunately I suspect that because they can send him to Stockton without exposing him, he will start the year in the “A”.

    • HOCKEY83

      It is hilarious that before the game yesterday Dube was a shoe in to make the team now that he didn’t get a point last night some are already sending him back. Only one line showed up to play that game last night. The D played very well. Prout and Andersson stuck out the most to me.

  • Chucky

    It is a little concerning that the two right wings brought in to complete the first line don’t seem to have any natural chemistry with Gaudreau and Monahan. Hopefully they find a way to work this out over the next few games. It will probably be Lindholm due to age and apparent foot speed.

    There is a problem with taking too much from a game against the Canucks because they look terrible and it might be great play by the Flames or it might be bad play by the Nucks. That said it was nice to see variety in defensive zone exits 5 on 5, this carried over to the few power play attempts they had. Last year the zone exits and PP breakout was very predictable, this year they have the Canucks guessing at least.

    Was last night’s Rittich the same guy as played the first preseason? If that is his learning curve pretty soon he will be the greatest tender in the world. Nice to see him getting into a groove after the end of last year I was afraid that confidence had departed the goaltending roster.

    I am not sure why some people on this site seem to think it is necessary to comment on the other contributors. Why not just keep it about hockey? Maybe the moderators could create a playground and if a conversation degenerates into insults both parties get sent to the playground until they resolve the issue. A little civility and maturity can go a long way and would save us all hours of scrolling past the nonsense over a season.

    • Brian McGrattan's Salute

      I think I’ve seen a very good start re chemistry between Lindy and JG/Mony. He seems to compliment them. Its a limited preseason thus far, but Lindy could have scored 2 or 3 in the first game against Boston. I think they have looked quite dangerous. I’ll be looking forward to his next game with them!

      Agree re zone breakouts. It’s nice to see a coaching staff with strategy.

      • Chucky

        I agree about the start of some chemistry, but it would have been nice to see it jell. Obviously Lindholm is a very talented player who will find a place for a long time. I am not sure what is going on with Neal but it would certainly be nice to see where his 25 goals fit in the lineup.

        • Kevin R

          Its only a few preseason games & many players are getting moved around. I know we all are impatient for meaningful hockey but patience. I think the pace of that top line with Lindholm on it looked amazing this early.

          • HOCKEY83

            Yes I agree lindholm looked great with the top line. With the great depth on the team this season it won’t matter where anyone plays from the first to the third line no matter how much money they make. Just like in pittsburg with kessel on the third line last season.

  • Getpucksdeep

    Gillies played just fine its worth noting. Actually after a week of pre season games all 3 prospect goalies have settled down and started finding the net. Can’t wait until the top 4 defense is actually playing in front of them and its great to have 4, 5, 6? centers who can handle the tough chores centers are called on to do in this league. So much depth this year.

  • freethe flames

    Despite winning last night that game was ugly. I am going to give the vets the benefit of the doubt for jet lag but other than the Tkachuk/Backs Czar line I was not overly impressed with the crew that played in China. Two good things came out of that game from the vets and the first was the Kulak/Andersson pairing they looked poised and confident together. But before we go trading Stone away let’s remember it was one game and we have little to no depth at RD on the farm. I also thought Gilles was pretty solid although I still think he plays far to deep in his net and stays on his knees far to long.

    Dube looked gassed last night and basically did nothing, Mangaipane was a little better and seemed to have more in the tank than Dube. Neither stood out like they have in past games.

    Hopefully with a good practice today the vets will get their legs back and get up to speed with the system. The system BP has introduced demands that guys work hard and skate much better than what we saw from most of the forwards last night.

  • Alberta Ice

    Lots of depth to this team and some tough decisions coming. I like the fact that the speed of this team is picking up as games go on. I was afraid that China trip might have caused the team to hit a wall. (A great wall.)

  • Sunshinecoastfan

    Reading some of the comments lately brought to mind a great poem i was taught at a very young age. Maybe some will remember it also.

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

    Rudyard Kipling
    Keep it together folks, GFG

    • supra steve

      I didn’t bother reading your poem, but you are absolutely correct in your assessment of the trend in the comments section. A lot of sniping back and forth with a small percentage of readers putting up a large percentage of the comments…often unrelated to hockey/the Flames.

      I’m spending a lot more time elsewhere recently, I just have very little time/respect for where things have been going.

      • Getpucksdeep

        Where would that be? Sportsnets so bad I took it off my Hockey favorites. This place is downright angelic compared to some mainstream media comment sections.

        • supra steve

          I’m enjoying theathletic.
          I am also sticking with FN for the articles, but most of the comments section I’m no longer reading…and I used to especially enjoy that part of FN, but not so much anymore.

        • supra steve

          My profile page says I joined in June 2011, and I was a reader for quite some time before that. The petty disputes are way up, and they can dominate the comments section just in the sheer volume of the sniping back and forth while multiple members get involved. Posters posing as other members, posters frequently changing their usernames to disguise their identity, groups of members shunning other posters…it’s a lot like junior high school.

  • thumz

    Comment on Neal and everyone quick to move home down the lineup with comparisons to Brower:
    The ten year vet who just came off a deep playoff run is probably easing into the season whereas the young guns (mangi, Dube, czar, etc.) are going balls out to make this team. Neal will definitely get a good look in the top six regardless of the preseason.

  • C Watson

    Not going to happen exactly this way but I like it, and that’s what’s important!
    Johnny – Mony – Lindy
    Byng – Backs – Czar
    Benny – Janko – Neal
    Mango – Dube – Ryan
    Fro – Robinson

    Gio – TJ
    Hanie – Hamie
    Kulak – Phat Ras
    Prout/Stone

    Smith – Rittich

    • Avalain

      I mean, there’s no chance that Frolik is in the press box instead of the ice, and it’s not legal to keep 4 players, but I understand the sentiment! Having too many players that deserve a spot is a good problem to have.

    • HOCKEY83

      Keeping in mind that the awesomeness that was Byng Backs Czar last night could be a one off against a crap Vancouver team. They will more than likely keep that line together for the next game but just because Czarnik did well there doesn’t mean Neal would have done just as well. It’s not like Johnny and Monny were setting Neal up Like Tkachuk was setting up Czarnik

  • With Respect

    James Neal on the third line would be a huge fail. He is a very good veteran coasting through training camp and will turn it on in the regular season when all the sexy newbies will fade away a little. The Flames are getting smaller not sure that will work for playoff hockey. As good as Tkachuk has been this will be a breakout season for him statistically.