As with every “March To The Stanley Cup” article we start with the lineup changes. Thankfully Johnny Gaudreau is still in his customary first line spot after being pulled out of the last game by NHL concussion spotters. The only change to report is the return of Dillon Dube being inserted into the fourth line. On the outs, not Mark Jankowski or Garnet Hathaway but Austin Czarnik. I was fully behind giving Michael Frolik the “healthy scratch” treatment a couple games ago but this one puzzles me.



Nice touch by Coach Peters letting the Bennett-Jankowski-Neal start the game. The former Pred James Neal rewards coach with a steal and a shot attempt.

A simple dump in by the Predators turns into a goal. Ryan Johansen scores with T.J. Brodie and Matthew Tkachuk watching. Brodie seemingly fought the puck the in the defensive all period as each time the announcers said his name it was either before or after the word “giveaway” or the words “puck bounces over his stick”. On the offensive side of the things, Brodie (all Calgary defencemen actually) showing no fear of bringing the puck deep.

Dube’s first shift back included an impressive crashing of Pekka Rinne’s crease. Good to see the kid seems fully recovered from the sore foot. This shot on goal stood as the only Flames shot on net for the next 16 minutes and 36 seconds.

Sean Monahan with the brutal turnover in the zone. That’s not something he has done often in his 400 career games (obviously). He just seems a little off so far as evidenced by putting himself offside on the last second zone entry.

On their 2nd shot of the period, the Flames tie the game. It’s a bit surprising to see that it was their only shot as all four lines have had pressure in the offensive zone. Johnny Dangles earning his reputation tonight, puck on a string!



The “3M” line gives us a promising start to the period with a shot on a goal. On the same shift, Tkachuk just has to tip it into the empty net but misses on the wide side.

Dube took a shift with Sam Bennett and James Neal. Next up, we have Ryan taking a shift with Benny and Neal. Ryan seems to have taken Jankowski’s spot. Still upset that Czarnik got benched, I do believe I can safely predict who is coming out of the lineup to allow him back in. Bennett-Ryan-Neal arguably the best line in this period.

In the first period there were minor complaints about Brodie and Monahan. They were the culprits on Nashville’s goal to make it 2-1 Preds.

I am sure when Giordano tells his grand-kids about this slashing penalty he drew that he will leave out the fact it was very generous call by the ref. Never complain when it benefits you right? Flames cash in on the powerplay as Tkachuk scores an ugly goal after having multiple pretty chances this period. Tie game on the scoreboard and on shot clock at this point at 7 apiece.

Neal trying to play defense gets his stick up on his man. The blood on the ice told the ref to make it a 4-minute minor. 30 seconds of pressure later the Predators score to make it 3-2. Remember the fortuitous bounces the Flames had on their powerplay, well the pendulum swung back on this penalty kill. Killing the final two minutes of the double-minor went much closer to the script we prefer.

Tkachuk with Mony and Johnny. Is it a line juggle or a rest for penalty killer Elias Lindholm? Backlund centers a line with Gaudreau and Lindholm. A rare shift where Johnny and Mony were not together.



The top line re-unites to start the 3rd period. A world where Gaudreau and Monahan play on different lines somewhat scares me. Somewhat like “Brodano” when they are apart. Speaking of Giordano, nice scoring chance as he came out from behind Rinne as he waited for this forwards to change.

Bennett-Ryan-Neal still together to start the final frame. Hopefully the beautiful goal by Bennett keeps this line together for the game on Sunday. This units next shift out produces two more shots on goal. With 8:35 remaining Bennett was setup beautifully at the top of the crease put the slid the puck through the blue ice instead of into the net. Okay, now I’m asking, please Coach Peters can we see more of this line on Sunday?

Interesting decision to follow the goal with Hathaway-Jankowski-Dube. Considering you saw that Rinne was inadvertently shaken up by his own defenceman on the goal one would have thought coming back with the first line would have been the top option. 26-year-old Hathaway finished with 6:52 of playing time, that’s fine for a 4th liner of his age. 20-year-old Dube played 6:27 which is not fine for someone so young. Yes the mantra is earn your minutes but with the team seemingly having three good lines, would a trip to the minors until the inevitable injury happens that opens up more minutes be that bad for Dube?

Rinne leaves at the 5:09 mark. At this point one doesn’t know if he pulled himself or if the NHL concussion spotter pulled him but the pats on the head by P.K. Subban as he left were probably not the smartest thing. Blame it on old habits. Lindholm with a point-blank shot mere seconds into Juuse Saros being in net to welcome him.

You cannot blame Noah Hanifin for pinching on that play that resulted in Zac Rinaldo’s goal. It’s Zac freaking Rinaldo. Coach Peters puts his top line on the ice to try to get the momentum back and Monahan is stopped from the bottom of the faceoff circle.

Pet peeve alert - Frolik with an interference penalty 200 feet away from his own net. Very good penalty kill! The sequence at the blue line where the Preds tried and failed multiple time to gain the blueline was priceless.

Neal draws a hooking penalty. Down one with four minutes to go with a man-advantage, the first thought that came to mind was pulling the goalie. Pet peeve alert - icing while on the powerplay. Neal with the best scoring chance. Moments after the penalty expired Smith skated off for the the empty net extra man advantage. If that was the plan the whole time, which one can safely presume, why not go for the 2-man advantage while on the powerplay.

March To The Stanley Cup, Calgary Flames Game 7

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