Sometimes after a loss a coach can just walk in and tell his squad to let it go, ignore it, change nothing, leave your game as it is, bottle it up and bring it out again tomorrow night.
Hockey Gods can affect hockey scores, and tonight I’d say they caused about a 6 goal swing as a 4-2 for the Flames in Vancouver really should have been a 6-2 Calgary win if scoring chances, and edge in play had any thing to do with the result on the scoreboard.
The Canucks have been outplayed in many of their wins on this now 6 game streak, but none more than tonight where they really didn’t even show up. It was December 23rd again without logic.
Luckily these things even out over a season; tonight the Flames made a big deposit in that bank, I look forward to the withdrawals to come.
Not often can you say a team played a near perfect first road period, but came out down a goal, but that’s exactly what happened in the first period in Vancouver tonight. The Flames carried the play from the drop of the puck, out shot the Canucks 11-6 but ended up on the short end of a 2-1 first period score. The Flames opened the scoring when their top line continued their hot hand, the trio’s first shift of the night. Michael Frolik doing the honors on a tip in in front of the net, assists to Tkachuk and Backlund; keeping some streaks alive. The Flames looked to have gone up two goals when Lance Bouma picked up a Matt Stajan rebound on a penalty kill, but it was ruled no goal when Miller was bumped by Stajan after his shot. The Canucks tie things up when xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. A few minutes later they get a great bounce when Loui Eriksson shot the puck off of Tyler Wotherspoon’s hiney and it’s 2-1 Vancouver. Calgary keeps pushing and comes close twice, Mikael Backlund on a powerplay on a feed from Tkachuk, and then Chiasson hits a cross bar but it’s 2-1 Vancouver after one.
What can you say about that second period? The Flames down a goal despite carrying the play don’t sag, instead they hammer the Canucks from beginning to end. So great result right? Flames score three or four times and bury them? Not so fast. Despite two breakaways (Monahan and Engellend), and many many more chances to score the Flames come up empty and actually exit the period down another goal on a late powerplay marker by former Flame Markus Granlund. Not much more they can do, as they out shoot the Canucks 23-10 through two periods but trail 3-1 to the Canucks.
I’m going to sound repetitive here, but what can I do? Flames dominate the third period, out shoot the Canucks 23-3 but give up the only goal in the period’s first 18 minutes. Can this be right? Former Flame Marks Granlund scores his second on a “lets see what happens if I put my stick out” tip shot in the high slot and the score is 4-1 Canucks and the game is essentially over. Give the Flames credit though, they don’t go away, in fact they ramp it up and go for it pouring it on with shot after shot after shot. They finally get rewarded late on a powerplay when Michael Frolik scores his second of the night, but the Flames lose 4-2 despite a 46-13 edge in shots on goal.
First Period – Shot attempts 16-9 for the Flames, and scoring chances 8 to 4. Goals 2-1 Vancouver!
Second Period – Shot attempts 19-5 for the Flames, scoring chances 7 to 5. Goals 1-0 Vancouver!
Third Period – Shot attempts 26-4 for the Flames, scoring chances 17-3. Goals 1-1!
Players – As you would guess with a team dominating from coast to coast in almost every facet, the Flames have their share of corsi darlings in this one. Dennis Wideman and TJ Brodie were unreal with a 89% corsi rating largely on the back of Brodie who was again very very solid for the Flames. Other guys with eye popping numbers included; Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Michael Frolik and Alex Chiasson all over 80% and another 10 guys over 70%. Not a single player was under 50% but Tyler Wotherspoon was well the lowest on the totem pole at 56%.
1. Ryan Miller:Not much debate on this one, as Ryan Miller was the man for the Canucks as the home side were completely outplayed by saved by their goaltender who steals one.
2. Markus Granlund:Two goals and an assist against his former mates.
3. Michael Frolik:Two goals as his line and the 2nd powerplay unit just keeps on a rolling.
The second period was bookmarked by two breakaway saves by the red hot Ryan Miller. First he stops Sean Monahan early in the period on a play where it looked like the Flames center found a way to sneak the puck through his pads on a backhander. Then near the end of the period Miller dives to his right to stone Derryk Engellend who was set up by Micheal Frolik shorthanded to keep the game 2-1.
In a game where one goaltender is the story, Brian Elliott was the story as well, but for the opposite reason. I’ll be the first to admit that he had some tough bounces and when he did face shots they were some times blue chip, but you can’t give up 4 goals on 13 shots when you’re team is wearing out rubber at the other end.
I thought TJ Brodie was amazing tonight. He picked up an assist, giving him nine points in the last nine games, but it’s more than that; he seems to have his mojo back. Skating away from trouble, and having that confidence back that has made him elite in the past two seasons. Such a good sign.
Odds and Ends
No changes at all to the Flames lineup tonight from the other night against Colorado. Elliott remains in the cage, Wotherpoon stays in over Joikipakka and Freddie Hamilton gets the call over Garnet Hathaway. … Speaking of Tyler Wotherspoon, ouch what a tough first period. Two blatant giveaways, one leading to a huge scoring chance, and then the Canuck’s second goal going in off his ass. For a guy that’s trying hard to prove he belongs in this league that’s not the period you want. … In the first period intermission Flame’s TV’s Ryan Leslie mentioned that Brian Burke had told him that team after team are bringing Adam Fox into trade talk when discussions go down with the Flames. Fox picked up three assists versus Canada last night, and although he didn’t always play big minutes, appears to have a solid future and was a great draft pick. Speaking of picks, the Flames also have to be pretty happy with Tyler Parson’s play in the tournament as well. The Flames went from almost nothing in the pipeline in the cage, to a real depth situation with Gillies, McDonald and now Parsons giving them options. The 2016 draft may rival 2011 if things continue to progress as they have for Parsons, Fox, Tkachuk and Dillan Dube. … As I said in the opening you just have to ignore the result in this one as the Flames were very very strong. A really good sign is the play of the top line as Sean Monahan came back to life, and refound some chemistry with Johnny Gaudreau on what used to be the teams top line. If a lost two points tonight is the cost to get that line back, then it’s an investment Calgary would love to make towards the rest of their season.
Same teams hook up again tomorrow night in Calgary, game time 8pm on Sportsnet.
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Ferland – Bennett – Versteeg
Gaudreau – Monahan – Chiasson
Hamilton – Stajan – Bouma
Giordano – Engelland
Brodie – Wideman
Wotherspoon – Engellend