April 1st, 2014 | Posted in Game Takes
By: D'Arcy McGrath
Draft position or spoiler of Canada’s nauseating hockey epicenter?
Such a tough call as a hockey fan tuned in to Sportsnet on Tuesday night when the Flames skated into the ACC to take on the Maple Leafs.
A rebuild year with a guaranteed no playoff spot can be tough to endure, but the utter collapse of the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks have helped a lot. Toss in an 8 game losing streak in Toronto and tolerable turns to enjoyable pretty quickly.
Sadly the Flames came up short in a tight contest, pushing back from down 3-1 in the third to make things interesting but dropping a 3-2 decision to the Leafs.
Kris Russell had a solid game for the Flames. Scored an amazing target shot goal in the third to make things close and lead the team with four shots on goal.
TJ Brodie was a difference maker in every single way. Great thread the needle pass to Matt Stajan for the Flames first goal of the night, but then also kicked the puck in his own net and completely over looked Jay McClement on the Leafs first goal of the game. Was also on the ice when Clarkson broke free for the Leafs third goal of the night. Tough night in front of friends and family.
Guessing Joe Colborne was somewhat unrecognizable to Leaf fans in this one. Used his frame to protect the puck on the wall, and made a great power move to create space for Kris Russell’s third period goal. Big guy is the real deal, not sure where his ceiling is, but he’s an NHL player little doubt.
Great bounce back game for Tyler Wotherspoon after a few bad bounces against the Rangers and Senators. Really noticed he activated the pinch way more in this one, adding to his game. Crazy that he’s now played 14 NHL games. Who thought he’d hit that tally this season?
Sean Monahan was a whopping 63% in the face off circle, as the youngster continues to build prowess in the face off dot to add to his stone cold wrister near the cage. Didn’t get a lot of scoring chances but played another solid game in his home province.
Bryce Van Brabant was as predicted. Decently mobile, big, looked to finish checks but green as all get up. He does add size and options to the system but will likely get a full year of AHL hockey into him next year. Moved pretty well though and if there was a push to sign him by many teams there has to be something there.
Draft Implications / Scoreboard
About as good as they come for the Flames. They lose their own game, the Islanders beat the Panthers, allowing the Isles to skip past the Flames and into the 5th spot and they still have a game in hand. Now they just need an Oiler win over San Jose to pull past the Panthers and the night is complete. Well … maybe a Canuck loss to Vigneault and the Rangers too.
Phil Kessell dodged a first period bullet when he swung his stick wildly at Wotherspoon after blocking the rookie’s shot from the point. Kessel had been beaned twice on the shift and was frustrated but if he made contact he likely would have been suspended. The puck was in the vicinity but talk about losing it. … Great to see Matt Stajan score in Toronto, especially on a quick offensive dart through the guts and a breakaway. He’s been a good Flame. Amazing how his standing has changed in two years. … Mark Giordano made a bad play on the Leafs first goal too, but the play took three gaffs. Brodie’s letting McClement go was the third, Giordano’s blind feed up the wall the first, but not to be overlooked was Glencross in the neutral zone when the puck was behind his net, and his check blazing in and intercepting the pass. Selfish play. Just don’t think the guy thinks the game very well. … I’m going to take solace in the draft pick implications tonight because I don’t think that win will get the Leafs into the playoffs. It’s a shame the Flames are unlikely to get a look at the top three in the draft, but clearly it would be better to sit in 4th and see if someone falls. If not better to have your choice out of the next group and not what falls to you after an Isles pick. Keep thinking the Flames will add Draisaitl when its all said and done. … Kari Ramo played well but another night with an iffy save percentage. He was all world against the Rangers but hasn’t been a difference maker in two straight. … Not a huge sample size but Monahan has been 50% or better in the face off dot in 8 of the last 9 games. His average in the nine games is 56.5%, and comes after three miserable games in a row where he averaged 33%, have to wonder if there was a change made (hands or head).
Van Brabant was interted into the lineup for his first NHL game, the Flames 10th player this season to do so. To make room the Flames scratched Galiardi.
Where Do They Go From Here?
Back to back games in Florida Thursday and Friday against the Lightning and Panthers.