The only player change for the 0-1 Calgary Flames is Dalton Prout subbing in for the injured Travis Hamonic. He will be paired with rookie Juuso Valamaki. That’s even scarier than just keeping Valimaki with Michael Stone. Still think Rasmus Anderson should have been inserted into the lineup instead of Prout (even if Prout wins the “anticipated” fight with Erik Gudranson). Very excited that Austin Czarnik got moved up to play with Matthew Tkachuk & Mikael Backlund. No disrespect to Michael Frolik but the small taste of “M-M-A” in the opening game 3rd period warranted a further look.

1st Period Highlights

1st Period Thoughts

12 freaking seconds! Elias Lindholm’s deft deflection of a TJ Brodie point shot started what was a beast of a night for him. Lindholm finished with 2 goals, 1 assist, +1 and 5 shots on goal. As someone who doubted the decision to put him instead of James Neal with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, I will shut my big mouth.

For just over the first 5 minutes of the opening frame you can honestly say absolutely everything went right for the Flames. When Elias Pettersson scored for the Canucks at the 6:45 mark it was after a full minute of offensive zone pressure. Flames fans could see that goal coming from a mile away as the Flames simply could not corral the puck.

The hockey gods smote the Calgary Flames on their first powerplay of the evening as a Derek Ryan shot got blocked and led to 2-on-1 the other way that gave the Canucks the lead. It was 3 seconds after the expiry of the only first period penalty that Giordano somehow tucked one behind Jacob Markstrom.

2nd Period Highlights

2nd Period Thoughts

The Flames penalty the evening went to Prout for interference. In my view of the play he had removed his man from the puck and then finished riding him into the boards. The referee obviously thought he could have disengaged from finishing his check. Hated this call and obviously hated the fact the Canucks were able to convert to take a 3-2 lead.

Even if Gaudreau does not score the 3-3 goal with 8 seconds remaining in the powerplay, every aspect the man advantage is looking better tonight for Calgary.

The line of Tkachuk-Backlund-Czarnik were downright dominant in this period. I’m even okay with the last minute penalty taken by Tkachuk for whacking Markstrom well after the play had been blown dead. When you play on the edge sometimes you take dumb obvious penalties. If you become afraid of playing on the edge that is when the descent down the lines begin. Never change Matthew, never change.

2-man advantage for 44 seconds with 3:23 to go in the 2nd period. Prout out on the penalty kill because Giordano and Stone are in the box. Goal scored 21 seconds into 2-man advantage in front of Prout. The temptation is to pick apart the penalty killers, it’s only game two.

Goaltender Mike Smith’s save percentage after two periods is .666. Which of the 4 goals can you blame him for? He almost had the Sutter 2-on-1, you shouldn’t blame a goalie on a odd man rush goal anyway. The first Petersson goal he was too deep in his net but was helpless on the two second period goals.

3rd Period Highlights

3rd Period Thoughts

Gaudreau has figured out how to penetrate the Canucks zone on the powerplay and no one will be complaining about this unit until the next game. Finishing 3 of 6 on the night, fans needed to see improvement in the Flames powerplay and we saw it. The penalty kill leaves much to be desired but three penalty kills in the 3rd period with the game hanging in the balance should hold off the haters. The empty net shorthanded goal is nice for the numbers. Empty net goals are not shown in highlights.

Old enough to remember Mike Vernon and 80’s hockey, many memories revolve around goaltenders looking like swiss cheese until the a point in the game when the team truly needed a big save. That is when that same goalie become a brick wall. 28 seconds after Monahan had tied the game, Smith made the transition with the early candidate for the save of the year of off Nikolay Goldobin.

I included the Mark Jankowski highlight because the team has the happy problem of limiting him to 4th line duty.

March To The Playoffs, Calgary Flames Game 2

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