I’m just not a conspiracy guy.
I think I turned that corner when that Alien Autopsy show was on TV about 20 years ago, the foolishness of the whole thing had me seriously wondering about people that believe there is always a fiendish plot at work. Things got worse around 911 and the truthers, and from that point on I decided I wouldn’t join the masses and look for Machiavellian story lines where they didn’t exist.
That’s still the case in case you’re wondering if I’ve turned over an odd new leaf. I’m not sure I agree with the non goal call in Anaheim on Saturday, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen a replay that shows the Nate Thompson goal should have counted tonight, a death knell of a goal that helped bring the Ducks back from a 4-1 deficit in besting the Flames by a 5-4 overtime score on Monday night. But I still believe they’re independent events all of which seem to be going against one hockey club but will even out in time.
Perhaps if I go back and watch the 2004 playoffs I’ll see enough evidence of good bounces to explain why the Flames have to endure every bounce going against them in a playoff series, but I’ll let you know.
The Flames came out willing and able to feed off and electric crowd and took it to the Ducks from the opening face-off. The pressure eventually results in Anaheim penalty with Sean Monahan converting his third goal in three games in the first round on a great feed out the corner by Johnny Gaudreau. Calgary continues to push and generates two more power-play opportunities and score again on the second one when Troy Brouwer finds a seam and gets the puck back to TJ Brodie at the blue line who gets a shot through, the rebound going to Monahan. Chris Versteeg cleans up the dirty laundry and it’s 2-0. The flames fourth line gets caught with both Troy Brouwer and Lance Bouma stuck behind the net on the forecheck and the Ducks convert to cut the lead in half and put a downer on the first 20 minutes; 2-1 Flames after 20.
A very slow start to the second as both teams were happy to feel each other out for a few minutes, nothing really happening. The game changes on a dime though when Calgary a turnover at the Duck blueline leads to a Michael Stone clapper that beats John Gibson and it’s 3-1 Flames. The Flames go back to the powerplay again, soon after and score when the second unit is on the ice, a Mark Giordano point shot goes off of Sam Bennett and into the net and it’s 4-1 Flames; the game looked pretty much over. The Ducks call a timeout and pull John Gibson replacing him with Jonathan Bernier much to the delight of the Saddledome crowd and the finish seemed inevitable. The Flames continue to push but it’s the Ducks that score a late one that Elliott needs to have making the third more interesting than it should have been, a tension in the air as the clubs head to their respective rooms with the game 4-2 Calgary.
Give the Flames credit they play a textbook third period, at least to start, limiting the Ducks to just one shot on goal through the period’s first ten minutes. They didn’t act like a worried team, or a team hoping to sit on a lead, they went out and got it done. Then the late 2nd period goal was compounded by a Nate Thompson high stick with a lengthy review, surely the Flames were due for a call. Not so fast, the high stick wasn’t high enough in Toronto’s eyes and the goal stands, the Flames now firmly on the ropes. The tying goal comes with just over four minutes to play, a harmless point shot hits both Sam Bennett and Nate Thompson again and the game is tied going to overtime.
The overtime period doesn’t start like you’d wish it to if you’re a Flames fan, with Dougie Hamilton icing the puck off the opening draw, putting the face off in the Calgary zone. The Flames get the puck out and change it up, with the second pairing coming on to relieve the first group. Off the face off Michael Stone turns and puts the puck on his own net, Elliott turns it aside but the puck goes into the corner. Brodie gets beat to the puck and Corey Perry centers its creating a pinball effect that has the puck go off of Stone’s butt and past Elliott and it’s game over; Flames down 3-0 in games.
1st Period – Flames enjoy a 14-10 edge in five on five shot attempts in the first period, 22-12 overall. Scoring chances were 13-5 for the Flames.
2nd Period – Five on five shot attempts in the second period measured 20-16 for the Flames, and 28-15 overall for the home side. Scoring chances were 16-4 for the Flames in a laugher.
3rd Period – Third period five on five shot attempts were closer than you’d think with the Ducks pushing and scoring two goals, as the Ducks edged the Flames 20-16. Scoring chances were 10-8 for the Ducks in a close battle.
Overtime – In overtime the shot attempts were 3-1 Anaheim with neither team generating a scoring chance.
Players – The third line led the way for the Flames with Kris Versteeg and Sam Bennett both topping 60%. A host of Flames topped the 50% mark including Derryk Engelland, Alex Chiasson, Matt Bartkowski, Micheal Ferland, TJ Brodie, Sean Monahan and Michael Stone all eclipsing the half way mark. The fourth line and top defense pairing were the worst of the group all closer to the 40% mark.
1. Nate Thompson: Ducks’ fourth liner gets the best of the Flames with a goal and an assist in the third period and another assist in the overtime period to pull off a shocker.
2. Sean Monahan : Scores a goal and adds an assist in the first period to get the Flames off to a great start.
3. Shea Theodore : No Vatanen? No problem as Shea Theodore continues his strong play off the bench with two goals tonight. Truth be known neither were what I’d call classic goals but they all count.
Coming off the bench with his team in trouble, Johnathan Bernier didn’t have to make a 3 bell save but he did get some work and made the difference in keeping the game from getting out of reach.
I really didn’t like Dougie Hamilton’s game tonight but I have to go with Brian Elliott largely due to his gaff on that second Duck goal to end the second period. He’s a vet and has to keep things at bay, not let the other team into it. After that he was very unlucky on the third, fourth and fifth goals, but the second was ugly, and his rebound control on the first wasn’t great either.
If you want to pull a silver lining out of this game and this series, it continues to point at Sam Bennett. The Flames 2nd year player was all over the ice, getting sticks in lanes, turning over Duck rushes, taking the puck to the house himself and being noticeable on almost every shift. Good for Glen Gulutzan to recognize it and up his powerplay time.
Odds and Ends
No changes for the Flames again in the lineup, and given how they are playing I can certainly live with that. Any change at this point would be cosmetic as key players aren’t coming out, and the ones that you’d target won’t make much of a change anyway. … Looking at the metrics for the first two games certainly proves out that the Flames need discipline, some bounces, but other than that they shouldn’t change a thing. The Flames are … 6th in 5 on 5 corsi at 50.5% (Ducks 11th), 8th in 5 on 5 corsi score and venue adjusted 50.39% (Ducks 9th), 3rd in 5 on 5 scoring chances 57.1% (Ducks 14th), 2nd in 5 on 5 scoring chances score and venue adjusted 58.3% (Ducks 15th). It’s only two games so the sample sizes are weak, but the Flames were full money through two games when it comes to their five on five play; obviously the numbers even up when you bring in powerplays, but that goes back to taking too many. Tonight? All they do is add to those totals making the three game deficit a complete head scratcher at this point. It’s going to be a fun cup championship in Calgary some spring soon when all these bounces even out. … Great work by the Saddledome staff with the bud glasses. Clearly it’s a beer promotion but it was done very well to coordinate events including the crowd yelling red in the American national anthem with their cups lighting up. … The crowd was all over Kevin Bieksa all night and especially when Alex Chaisson blew him up in his own zone. Bieksa wanted to fight but Chaisson didn’t drop them mitts. … What in the world is wrong with Dougie Hamilton? I’m a big fan and the kid has had a great season, but he’s gone from undisciplined to out right scary in game three. Pucks rolling off his stick, passes that miss the mark, icing the puck in overtime, getting caught up the ice on an obvious turnover, not a good night at all. He stayed out of the box but that was all he had working for him. … Such an odd playoffs his year with the number of teams playing reasonably well finding themselves down 3-0 in their series. The top seven teams in terms of share of scoring chances are the Wild (down 3), the Habs, the Predators, the Flames (down 3), the Bruins (down 2-1), the Caps (down 2-1) and the Sharks (down 2-1). The only team down that seems to truly deserve it is the Chicago Blackhawks who have only had 41% of the scoring chances in their three losses. … Such an odd series for the Flames, makes me think they may almost have that bizarre come from down 3-0 to win a series fight in them. They’ve been at least as good if not better in all three games, and tonight wasn’t even close. I’ll be intrigued to see what happens if they can pull off a win on Wednesday night. Might be fun to watch the curse come apart at the same time the Flames put a pile of pressure on the Ducks with a game six in Calgary. Ok, I agree one game at a time. … I mentioned Sam Bennett up above, and good a sign it is to see him finding his game in this playoff series. Another guy that shouldn’t go unnoticed is Sean Monahan, who has upped his game both in terms of leg speed and battle in my mind. His drawing of that second period penalty really stood out as he was moving his feet and creating an infraction. His net front presence has been excellent, and he no longer just gets rid of the puck, he’s constantly adding to the playmaker side of his game. Good sign for next year. … On a less positive note the play of Elliott has to be a concern. Do you go with Chad Johnson in an elimination game coming off an injury? And beyond that has the play of Elliott in the last two games shed some doubt about the team’s needs to bring him back next year? With the expansion draft and a goalie glut do they save themselves a third round pick and look elsewhere? Man I’ve bounced around on goaltenders this season. At one point I thought Johnson was the starter of the future and a must sign, then it looked like Elliott was a no brainer. Now I’m thinking reboot. sigh ….
Game four goes at the Saddledome on Wednesday 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