Game Takes: Ducks 3 Flames 1

April 3rd, 2019 | Posted in Game Takes | By: D'Arcy McGrath

It’s still the Honda Center.

Seven of 18 skaters out of the lineup, nothing to play for for the Calgary Flames, and a season long lost for the Anaheim Ducks. But it’s still the Honda Center.

Take it from a guy that was in attendance when the Ducks won their 25th straight regular season game on Pond ice against the Flames with chants of “You can’t win here!” echoing through the largely empty cavern of upper deck seats; you can never have a meaningless game in Anaheim.

Tonight more of the same sadly, but with some excuses, as the Flames minus seven of their top 10 skaters were simply too disjointed to get things done against a Duck’s team playing out the string. Final score 3-1 Anaheim with all the scoring coming in the first two periods.

A bit of a yawner.

Lineup Changes

Once again lots and lots of change.

Lets start with what hasn’t changed from the 7-2 Calgary win in Los Angeles on Monday night; the defense core. The team’s top four defenders all sit once again, and once again the six guys playing are the go to third pair as the first (Oscar Fantenberg/Rasmus Andersson), as well as further depth pairs in Juuso Valimaki and Michael Stone, and Oliver Kylington with Dalton Prout.

In goal David Rittich is back in cage for his second straight game, likely leaving Mike Smith to mop up the season against the Oilers on Saturday.

Up front more change though. Sam Bennett took a wallop against Kurtis MacDermid of the Kings on Monday and is out with a sore quad (and possibly concussion issues). To replace Sam Bennett the Flames called up rookie Dillon Dube who’s been great for the Stockton Heat since getting sent down in November. Dube lines up with Bennett’s regular linemates of Mark Jankowski and James Neal. The second line is back together with Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk coming back in to play with Michael Frolik. The fourth line loses it’s center as Derek Ryan moves up to the top line to replace Sean Monahan who sits. Austin Czarnik replaces Elias Lindholm on the top line as well, leaving only Johnny Gaudreau as a mainstay.

Gaudreau Century Challenge

A first period strike from the mini line, with Gaudreau setting up Derek Ryan for Gaudreau’s 98th point of the season. At that point with five periods left in the season the century mark seemed somewhat of a given, but the Flames never really got untracked again the rest of the way.

The goal for Ryan gives him 38 points on the season, a new career high and money well spent for year one of his contract. Such a versatile player. Kills penalties, can play some powerplay, good on draws, and can move up the lineup in a pinch.

Dube Recall

Sadly not the best measuring stick game for Dillon Dube, as the Flames generally lacked zip and his line in particular had a bit of a rough game.

He was part of the second Duck’s goal as he turned the puck over in his own zone when he mishandled it, and was hit from behind into the boards by Larsson at the end of the second period on a play that could have resulted in a far worse outcome.

David Rittich Start

Didn’t love the second goal on Rittich tonight, as it was another short side goal over the shoulder, a weakness we’ve seen from David Rittich on a few occasions this season.

The Getlzal goal was unscreened and straight in, but a heck of a shot as well, so maybe you fault him maybe you don’t.

Loved his two second period poke checks breaking up what looked to be good scoring chances for the Ducks.

Bump Back

Not a bad thing to have the Ducks completely jam the Calgary zone entry plan prior to the playoffs. The Flames have oodles of practice time coming up in the next week and it’s a great time to develop a plan B for heading into the big season.

The Ducks had a jam player on the half wall all but killing the chance to bump the puck back to any of the trailing drive players. If a player is in that wall slot that means taking the line conventionally is an easier option and they have to read that and act accordingly.

Sam Bennett Injury

If you choose to believe it Sam Bennett is going to be fine and is nursing a quad injury.

Had input from three different Calgary media members today (Boomer, Hrudey, Francis) all saying a bit of a limp but that he looked and acted fine.

Certainly a concussed player can appear to be fine in small exchanges, but all three indicated he’s playing Saturday so maybe he is ok.

First Round Matchup

Lets face it. Calgary will host the Colordao Avalanche next week when the curtain rises on the NHL’s second season. The Avalanche have been charging on the backs of acquired goaltender Philipp Grubauer and a return to health for it’s top line.

A good matchup for the Flames as they should take the series away based on depth. Calgary has a way better bottom six, defensemen four through six, not to mention other blueliners waiting in the wings.

Counting Stats

Team Stats:
Shots – Ducks 32 Flames 26
Face Offs – Ducks 61%
Special Teams – Flames 0/5 Ducks 0/2

Player Stats:
Points – Derek Ryan, Austin Czarnik and Johnny Gaudreau all with a point each.
Plus/Minus – Derek Ryan, Juuso Valimaki and Michael Stone at +1
Shots – Oscar Fantenberg, Valimaki and Matthew Tkachuk at four

Fancy Stats

Not a great night for advanced stats as well, as the Flames got bested in terms of five on five shot attempts to the tune of 63% with period splits of 41%/33% and 35%. Ouch! Scoring chances were even worse as Calgary had only 31%, and high danger chances 30% with a 16-7 mark.

In all situations shot attempts were closer with all the Calgary powerplays, sitting at 44%. Scoring chances were 41% and high danger chances were 43%.

Individually not a single player finished over the 50% mark. Mikael Backlund led the way with 48%, and James Neal brought up the rear with only 12%.


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