Lessons, you’d rather have a hockey team learn them in the preseason, or the regular season early. Heck if it’s really necessary push it to the middle of the season when the dog days appear in January. OK fine, a late season lesson with a playoff spot sewed up is fine, but get it done; learn your stuff and get ready for the real season when the puck drops in mid April.
This sadly wasn’t the case for the Flames, as they took a good hard lecture on beating oneself, discipline, and what it takes to win a playoff game tonight, self destructing in the second period and turning a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 loss in game one of the 2017 Stanley Cup first round playoff series.
Too many penalties and a terrible line change wiped out what should have been a very good road hockey performance by the Calgary Flames. At least they get another chance at the split on Saturday night.
Not the kind of start you’d have hoped for when you envisioned the hockey game for the past three days since the regular season ended. The Flames get hemmed in on the first shift, run around, get the puck out in a play that seems to lead to a too many men on the ice penalty for the Ducks. Calgary’s Dougie Hamilton thinks the same as he quits skating and then takes down a Duck as a defensive measure and just like that the Flames are shorthanded in the first minute. Ten seconds later it’s 1-0 Anaheim when Ryan Getzlaf shot hits Derryk Engelland and beats Brian Elliott high on the glove side. Tough start. The Flames dust off and get themselves back in the game, putting forth a series of solid five on five shifts with good chances. Calgary gets a powerplay of their own and scores when TJ Brodie keeps the puck in with a great hand/eye play and then Kris Versteeg finds Sean Monahan on a classic saucer pass. Calgary discipline was rough with three minor penalties in the first period.
The Flames simply owned the second period, well at least in spirit. The visitors on a mission pushed the play throughout the first five minutes of the middle frame, with all kinds of possession down low but they fail to beat Gibson. The Flames take their first lead of the night when the top line enjoys a great shift with zone time, and then set up the third line with a solid change in a neutral zone turnover. The Flames shoot the puck wide, but the puck is corralled by Kris Versteeg who spins and puts the puck to the slot where Sam Bennett tips it home and it’s 2-1 Calgary. The Flames continue to push really outplaying the Ducks until a terrible line change disrupts the flow of the game and changes the outcome. The third line and third defense pairing do a lazy change with the puck deep giving the Ducks a three on ouch with Getlzaf taking the shot and Rakell gets the rebound and it’s 2-2. From there Dougie Hamilton takes his second minor of the game, which the Flames kill off but then Lance Bouma takes a goalie interference penalty on the penalty expiring rush and the Flames are down a man again. This time the Ducks make no mistake as the PK gets stuck for 80 seconds killing, Silferberg finishes things by putting the puck through Michael Stone’s legs and it’s 3-2 Ducks.
The third period started with the Ducks perfectly content to sit back and let the Flames come at them. Calgary drives the play but find many a Duck lined up at the blueline keeping them at bay. The Ducks gets some momentum back when the Flames have a series of icing the puck, gloving it to a teammate and then icing the puck, killing valuable time on the clock. Two more minor penalties for the Flames including Dougie Hamilton’s third minor when he comes to the aid of Mark Giordano who is hit high by Ryan Getzlaf midway through the period. The Flames kill them off, but lose some valuable time on the clock in a tight playoff game. Calgary gets back to back powerplays late creating a two man advantage and all the chance you could ask for to tie things up but they mishandle the puck to often and gas their chance. With the goalie pulled they push inside the zone, Matthew Tkachuk centering the puck and Johnny Gaudreau getting the rebound and getting stoned by John Gibson’s extended pad and the Flames lose 3-2 in a nail biter.
1st Period – Old school stats said 17-9 on the shot clock and a dominant period for the Ducks, however when you dig a little deeper you see five on five shot attempts at 15-13 Ducks, and scoring chances five on five at 6-5 for the Flames. Overall the metrics were 23-18 Anaheim, scoring chances 9-8 for the hosts.
2nd Period – The second felt like a Calgary period despite the scoreboard, and the stats back that up with the Flames having a five on five shot attempt edge of 29-18, scoring chances 20-11.
3rd Period – Ducks have a solid third with a 13-10 edge in five on five shot attempts, scoring chances 9-5 for the Flames. Overall in the game all situations shot attempts were dead even at 70-70 despite the Ducks having a 7-4 advantage on powerplays, scoring chances were 45-39 Calgary.
Players – Calgary’s top line was dominant, putting up almost 80% corsi numbers against the Ducks in a match up against Ryan Kesler. Calgary’s second pairing of Brodie and Stone were almost as dominant posting high 60s themselves. Oddly at the bottom of the pile was the 3M line as they finished in the high 30s thoroughly outplayed by the Getzlaf line on the night.
1. Ryan Getzlaf: Just a horse for the Ducks tonight as the captain has a goal, an assist, dominates in possession and lights up Mark Giordano with a big open ice hit.
2. Kris Versteeg : Sets up both Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett with amazing vision passes to pace the Flames.
3. John Gibson : Stops 30 of 32 shots including a huge goal line stand in the last 30 seconds to preserve the win.
Thought Brian Elliott had this locked up on his save on Silferberg on a tip in the first period, but you have to tip our hat to the John Gibson extended left pad save on Johnny Gaudreau in the last minute of the game. Game saver, and a difference maker.
This is a hard one. All five guys on that line change? Dougie Hamilton for taking three minor penalties? You guys decide I’m too annoyed.
I know I gave the guy the first star but he gets more than that. Ryan Getzlaf was the best player on the ice in so many facets, faceoffs, offensive production, hits, he was the man; the kind of performance winning teams get in the playoffs from their key players.
Odds and Ends
As expected the Flames go with the crew that got them here, dressing pretty much the exact same roster that we saw from March 1st to when they clinched a playoff spot. Chad Johnson was still hobbled however, so Jon Gillies backed up Brian Elliott. … That non call on the too many men on the ice situation early was interesting. Elliott Friedman posted the rule which states it’s not a penalty is the contact was accidental or unintended. That’s interesting, but how many calls have we seen when a guy gets hit by the puck in the skate and those are never intended. The rule suggests not a call, but then it also suggests it should never be a call which is inconsistent. … The guys who laid an egg on that line change were in order of mistake from least to most; Sam Bennett, Kris Versteeg, Matt Bartkowski, Alex Chiasson and Derryk Engelland. Just a bizzarre call by those on the ice, and a huge mistake in a game that looked to be heading for a road win. .. The loss makes all five Canadian teams losers on the first night of the playoffs, that’s not good. Last year none of them made it, this year they all laid an egg on night one. … Time to talk upside. The Flames were the better team five on five, and had this game to rights before a bad line change and too many penalties. The thing that sucks is the team found a way to lose in a game they should have won, but the high side is the fact that the Ducks are not that scary five on five and the Flames seem to have the edge. I hope they get that and apply it to game two. It’s right there.
Game two goes on Saturday night at 830pm on CBC.
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland
Versteeg – Bennett – Chiasson
Bouma – Stajan – Brouwer
Giordano – Hamilton
Brodie – Stone
Bartkowski – Engelland