I’m not a superstitious person. I don’t worry about walking under ladders, black cats are just darker than brown ones. I’ve broken many mirrors without a lot of thought. I don’t see the number 13 as all that foreboding and I don’t think the fallen limb from a rabbit is my key to success and happiness.
But even I have to admit something is up when the Flames play in Anaheim.
For the second time in three nights the Flames played a very solid road game, outplayed the Ducks for great stretches, should have been up handily through two periods, but then weirded their way to a 3-2 loss in a barn that they just can’t win in.
If I’m Glen Gulutzan I’m simply gobsmacked after seeing my hockey team do almost everything in the game plan but still find a way to lose through stupid penalties, bad bounces, and some very inexperienced decision making.
Maybe I’ll keep an eye out for cats from now on.
Not the start you wanted from the Flames tonight, as just like a couple of nights ago the Flames surrender the lead early, when Jacob Silferberg scores short side on Brian Elliott, a goal the Calgary goaltender would love to have back. A few minutes later it’s 2-0 Anaheim when a puck hits the back of the Calgary net, leaving Elliott guessing at where the puck is and falling victim to a wrap around by Rickard Rakell and just like that the Flames are in trouble. The Flames settle things down and start to generate chances of their own, but the steady John Gibson is equal to the task as the period marches on. Matthew Tkachuk takes a four minute high sticking penalty with two minutes to play in the period, giving the Ducks a great chance to essentially put the game away, but it’s Mikael Backlund marching in short handed who beats Gibson making the score 2-1 with a minute to play in the period. Calgary back in it, 2-1 Anaheim through 20 minutes.
The Flames just keep plugging away in the second, a period that featured a lot of Calgary puck control and scoring chances, but a collapsing Duck’s defense and a strong John Gibson keeping the game 2-1 Ducks. Sean Monahan ties things up on a pretty passing play that finishes with Johnny Gaudreau dishing to the Calgary center who one times it from the slot and past Gibson; scored tied at 2-2. The Flames looked to have gone up 3-2 midway through the period when the puck slides across the goal line before the net comes off leaving the play to review. The league rules the net was off after the goal was scored, but the referees deem the play to be goalie interference and the play is disallowed. Won’t argue to much about it, but man it would sure be nice to have one of these things go Calgary’s way for once; tough season. The game stays tied at two through two periods.
A very careful third period with both teams almost waiting for opportunities instead of generating them or pushing the play. The game changes on a good rush by the Flames with Dougie Hamilton leading the way. The puck turns over and on his way to get back into the play he takes a foolish holding the stick penalty on Cory Perry sending the Ducks to the powerplay. On the man advantage Ryan Getzlaf tries to center the puck only to have it bounce off of Lance Bouma’s skate and past Brian Elliott and the Ducks’ have their game winner. Johnny Gaudreau gets a gift with three minutes to play but doesn’t shoot, and instead spins around and flips a blink back pass to an unsuspecting Kris Versteeg who gets off a harmless shot. TJ Brodie drives a stake into things by taking another dumb penalty on Ryan Kesler taking away a good chunk of the time Calgary has to force overtime. Another head scratching night for the Flames key players.
1st Period – Pretty close first period with the shot attempts 19-18 in favour of the Flames, scoring chances were 17-9 Anaheim in all situations and 12-7 five on five.
2nd Period – The Ducks had a 17-16 edge in shot attempts five on five in the second period though visually the Flames seemed to carry the play. Scoring chances were 18-10 in favour of the Flames.
3rd Period – Shot attempts were 18-17 for the Ducks in the third period as the close game continues, but the Ducks pull away with a 13-7 edge in scoring chances in the third.
Players – Calgary’s big three defensemen led the way in possession with Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton and TJ Brodie all topping 56%. Other guys over 50% included Lance Bouma, Micheal Frolik, Michael Stone, and the top line. Matt Bartkowski was at the bottom of the pile at 35%, joined by Alex Chiasson and Derry Engelland below 40%.
1. John Gibson: Was the difference maker. While Brian Elliott had a rough night, or at least a rough first period, John Gibson was cool as a cucumber all night turning aside 35 of 37 shots on goal.
2. Ryan Getlaf : The Duck’s captain continues to carry the mail, scores a goal and adds an assist for the second straight game.
3. Mikael Backlund : Scores Calgary’s first goal, a snipe on a breakaway that stabilized the Flames and gave them a chance to win. Much better second game for the 3M line than the first game of the series.
With the Flames back in it, Brian Elliott makes a great late save on Brandon Montour in the last minute of the first period, by sliding across the crease and getting the angle on the young Duck defenseman. A goal there takes all the momentum away gained on the Backlund goal.
Has to be Dougie Hamilton for his holding the stick call on Cory Perry. Tie game with 6 minutes to play in the third period and you choose to do something that a referee has no choice but to call? He has to be better than that. Three minor penalties in game one, and then a gut puncher in the second game.
I thought Mark Giordano was great tonight. Logs more than 25 minutes of ice time, is +1 and leads the team in corsi events. The captain was certainly doing his part to lead the team to a series split.
Odds and Ends
No line up changes for the Flames from the first game, which certainly wasn’t a surprise. They did get Chad Johnson back on the bench in place of Jon Gillies. … The Flames have the skill to win this series, but it certainly doesn’t look like they have the experience or maturity to get it done at this point. The line change in game one, stupid penalties in both games, has really been their undoing in finding a way to be down 2-0 in the series. They walk those two games out with better discipline and it could easily be 2-0 Flames at this point. The positive is they are right there, it won’t take a miracle to win some games in this series compared to two years ago when they were really over their heads. But missing on not one but two great chances to split the series has now put them in a hole where they need to win four out of five against a very good Duck team; a pretty tall order. All they can do is take it game by game and go from there. … I was hoping Glen Gultuzan would go with his horses in a playoff series and not roll the pairings and lines and that appears to be the case with Matt Bartkowski getting only 11 minutes of ice time tonight. With Giordano over 25, Brodie at 22 and Hamilton at 21 they are certainly upping the ice time of the big three. Up front the fourth line had 11 minutes which is down from the regular season but not to the same extent. … Had that feeling that Brian Elliott would put up a wall after getting beat in the first period two times, he was excellent the rest of the way. Shame to see him give up the game winner on such an unfortunate fluke goal. As much as I’m disappointed in the Flames silly decisions in the first two games, you need a bounce once in a while and the Flames just aren’t getting them. … I continue to like Sam Bennett’s playoff performance, he’s been a solid third liner for the team in the first two games. … Why doesn’t Gaudreau shoot on that gift in the third period. He’s pretty much all alone and can pick a corner, but instead spins and makes a back pass. He’s got to want that chance and take it. … They say a series is never in trouble until you lose a home game, so the Flames will have that with the series shifting back to Calgary for games three and four. Would be interesting to win both and make it a three games series starting back in Anaheim. … Hurts to see the other Canadian teams all win their second games and even their series, leaving the Flames as the only Canadian team down two games to nil. Only group feeling the sting worse? Fans in Chicago with their team dropping both games in Chicago, the second by a 5-0 score. Ouch!
Game three goes at the Saddledome on Monday night at 8pm on Hockey Night in Canada (CBC).
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland
Versteeg – Bennett – Chiasson
Bouma – Stajan – Brouwer
Giordano – Hamilton
Brodie – Stone
Bartkowski – Engelland