Back to back nights with a border crossing are tough on the Flames at the best of time, and almost suicidal when you take the team’s best forward and defenseman out of the mix.
Yet that’s exactly what the Flames faced when they moved their torn down road show into Vancouver on Saturday night to take on the deadline boosted Vancouver Canucks.
The results were as expected even if the play was anything but in a 5-2 setback to the team with many jerseys.
The Game Skinny
The Flames give up a two on one in the first minute and boom 1-0 Canucks and the very real feeling of a long night ahead. But wait! The Flames gain their legs and turn it on with chance after chance after chance. The Canucks get up two essentially putting this one away, but not without a lot of stellar work from Schneider as the Flames post 28 shots and deserve a better fate.
Games that mattered to the Flames;
Panthers score three late but fail to gain a point in a loss to the Capitals
Avalanche get blown out by the Coyotes
Tampa and Carolina both fail to pick up points to round out the league’s bottom five.
Flames still tied for second last, but have a game in hand meaning they currently hold the 3rd pick in the draft.
Young Player Barometer
The game featured the first NHL contest for Max Reinhart playing in front of friends and family in Vancouver; where he grew up. No goals, no assists, three shots and a -2 in 16 minutes of work (to throw the kid a bone he was providing a great forecheck in the first minute when Giordano got caught pinching). Other than the stats? The kid is bigger than I thought, and plays it. The Canucks had trouble containing him on the wall all night. He was part of that miserable shift against the Sedins when they got caught on a long line change and couldn’t get the puck out. All in all pretty composed, and a solid effort. Will be intrigued to see his game develop as he gets more comfortable at this level.
TJ Brodie continues to thrive after the trade deadline with more ice time. He’s slowly becoming the player that Hartely is either counting on, or being told to count on for development reasons. 22 minutes of ice time and even in a game that most of his teammates found a minus, and many many noticeable plays in both directions. He’s projecting much better defensively than I first would have predicted.
Mikael Backlund had another solid game with the puck. He was a -2 like his linemate Reinhart, but continues to be one of the most patient Flames’ players with the puck, something this team has always needed. Don’t understand why people keep suggesting he’s a third liner at best; I don’t see that at all. He won 59% of his draws.
Other mentions …. Roman Horak had both good and bad moments. He didn’t seem to find much chemistry when he was on and off of the Czech line, and had a few nasty turnovers. Brett Carson played a solid, but unflashy night on the blueline.
It will be interesting to see Baertschi on Monday to see if he’s calmed down at all since finding his game at the AHL level.
That certainly wasn’t a Flames love in on Hockey Night in Canada, but I have to say I enjoyed the “Oiler feel” of having a team that wasn’t supposed to win play pretty well and come up empty. Kelly Hrudy especially was tossing lots of positive comments to the Flames jump and players like Brodie and Reinhart. I may enjoy being the franchise that people almost root for to get better. Refreshing! … With the Blues moving up the standings and the Oilers losing two straight its getting a little more likely that the Oilers will miss the playoffs again this year. That’s a great thing in many ways for a Flames fan, but also a bit of a fear factor for me with this new draft lottery. If the season ended today the Flames would have the third pick and a 14.8% chance of drafting first overall. If I understand this correctly they would have a 43.8% of staying in the #3 spot, and therefore a 41.4% chance of drafting in the #4 spot. The Oilers are in the 12th spot, and would have a 1.1% chance of drafting first overall. With their first overall streak that makes me nervous!