Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Calgary Flames Post-Game: Flames set their standard and conquer the Canucks
By Ryan Pike3 months ago
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If you want an example of how the Calgary Flames need to play this season, Thursday night’s game with the Vancouver Canucks is Exhibit A. Playing one of the National Hockey League’s best clubs – albeit facing them on their second game in as many nights – the Flames gave up a first period power play goal and then locked it down, taking over the game for the balance of it.
The Flames put together as complete a 60 minutes as we’ve seen from them all season en route to a 5-2 victory over the Canucks.
The opening period was pretty even-keeled early on, with Vancouver carrying play slightly more than the home side for the first 10 minutes or so.
The Flames had a couple good shifts and Nazem Kadri drew a penalty off a nice sequence in the offensive zone, but on the ensuing power play Adam Ruzicka took a tripping minor that wiped out the rest of their power play and gave Vancouver a short advantage of their own. On their advantage, a lightning-fast passing sequence in the Calgary zone ended with Elias Pettersson uncorking a one-timer from Jacob Markstrom’s left that was in the net before Markstrom seemed to register that he had the puck. That made it 1-0 Canucks.
But the Flames battled back and tied things up before the end of the period. During a Flames line change, a turnover in the neutral zone led to A.J. Greer and Elias Lindholm entering the Vancouver zone on a two-on-two rush. Greer noticed MacKenzie Weegar joining the rush, passed it to the blueliner, and Weegar fired a shot that beat Casey DeSmith high to tie the game up at 1-1.
First period shots were 12-9 Flames (10-7 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 10-9 Flames (high-dangers were 2-2).
The Flames found their stride and gradually took control of the game in the second period. They managed the puck, they made smart decisions, and they started to get rewarded offensively as the period wore on.
Midway through the second the Flames grabbed the lead. Dillon Dube ate a check at the offensive blueline on a zone entry but kept the puck moving. The Flames kept cycling the puck and moving around the Canucks zone, with their movement causing a bit of chaos. Rasmus Andersson accepted a pass, pinched down to the edge of the face-off circle to DeSmith’s left, and fired a shot at the netminder. DeSmith stopped most of it, but the puck squirted through him and landed in the blue paint. Dube slid the loose puck into the net to give Calgary a 2-1 lead.
The Flames were playing four-on-four after a pair of roughing minors to Martin Pospisil and Filip Hronek. The Flames continued their smart play, cycling the puck in the offensive zone and moving around. Eventually, Noah Hanifin got the puck below the face-off dots, cut to the net and fired the puck off the far post and past DeSmith to give the Flames a 3-1 lead.
Second period shots were 17-5 Flames (16-5 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 12-5 Flames (high-dangers were 6-3 Flames).
The Flames kept at it in the third period and added to their lead. The Canucks had a bit of a casual line change, and a nice bit of forechecking by Blake Coleman and Mikael Backlund led to some turnovers in the Canucks’ end. Eventually, Backlund fed Jonathan Huberdau the puck around the blue paint, and he shelved it past DeSmith to give the Flames a 4-1 lead.
The Canucks got one back midway through the period, though. They cycled the puck themselves in the Calgary zone, and eventually Nils Hoglander redirected a Tyler Myers shot past Markstrom to cut Calgary’s lead to 4-2.
Lindholm added an empty-netter with just shy of two minutes to go in regulation – off a nice zone exist pass from Huberdeau – to cement a 5-2 Flames win.
Third period shots were 11-9 Flames (10-7 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 10-6 Flames (high-dangers were 3-1 Flames).
Why the Flames won
When the Flames play a consistent game, manage and support the puck, and roll their lines, they’re a difficult team to play against. When they do their thing, they can just wear their opponents down over the course of a game with sheer pace. The challenge this season has been the consistency part of it; often they cheat their system with home-run passes or by taking ill-timed penalties.
For the most part, the Flames avoided those self-inflicted wounds and just played their game against a very good Canucks team. Long story short: this is the type of effort that needs to be the template and set the standard going forward.
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Let’s give it to Lindholm, who had three points and was generally quite good.
But not too many gentlemen in black sweaters had bad outings. Up and down the lineup, there were quite a few individuals that played their roles well.
How about the entire second period? The Flames more or less ran Vancouver’s show in the middle frame, taking over the game and never looking back.
This and that
The Flames played 1:16 with Markstrom pulled for the extra attacker on a delayed penalty in the first period.
Elias Lindhom and Andrew Mangiapane played with Adam Ruzicka (in the first period), Yegor Sharangovich (late in the first period) and Dillon Dube (for the final two periods).
This was the first of 13 games this season where the Flames will wear their black alternate jerseys.
The Flames (6-8-2) are back at it on Saturday night. It’s an early game on Hockey Night in Canada, with a 5 p.m. MT start against the New York Islanders.
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