Woohoo a game not against the Vancouver Canucks!! Okay maybe on the progression of teams to play against the Nashville Predators might be skipping a few levels but one still feels confident. The Calgary Flames took 2 of 3 meetings last season from the Preds last season.

Lineup changes for tonight include Sam Bennett moving up to the 3rd which will now feature Dillon Dube at center with his early season right winger James Neal. In his 3 years as a Predator Neal scored 77 goals and collected 136 points. In 2015-16, Neal finished 23rd in the Frank J Selke Trophy running for top defensive forward (this surprised me). Mark Jankowski exits the lineup in lieu of Anthony Peluso. Maybe it is still leftover hard feelings from last season but Bennett and Jankowski have been playing about the same level of hockey this short season, I would have bumped up Janko and bumped out Benny. Familiarity with Garnet Hathaway suggests putting him in over Peluso but let’s be open-minded about Peluso. The only change on defense is a game late with Rasmus Andersson taking the spot of Dalton Prout. Although Prout played okay versus the Canucks, Andersson always should have been the d-man to replace the injured Travis Hamonic.

The interesting aspect of tonight’s game will be the powerplay. The game one 0-7 performance set the low bar and you have to figure the 3-6 game two performance set the high bar for this group, what will be the median? If Johnny Gaudreau and company get stuffed at the blue line a la game one, will the team keep beating the dead horse or adjust? We did not see much of an adjustment in game 2 because Johnny and co more often than not were able to break through.

1st Period Highlights

1st Period Thoughts

First penalty of the game goes to P. K. Subban all because of Austin Czarnik’s hustle. Scary failed zone entrance by Gaudreau slipping into Yannick Weber. Failed zone entries the theme of the powerplay.Andersson nice defense on a short 2-on-1 with Juusi Valimaki scrambling back. Later Andersson with a nice in-tight pass up to Michael Frolik for a good scoring chance. Preds 2nd penalty was after Andersson and Sean Monahan spent about 20 seconds chasing the puck in their own zone. Mony then carried the puck out and ended up in a good scoring chance by him.

After 58 seconds of powerplay zone entry frustration, Gaudreau with an “insert superlative adjective” move on Colton Sissons and a just as nice pass to Elias Lindholm for the goal. 1-0 Flames.

Aside from a nail chewing sequence when Mike Smith dropped his goalie stick behind the net, the Flames owned this period. Each Flames forward line had at least one extended shift of offensive zone pressure minus the fourth line. The Sportsnet commentators continually raved about Sam Bennett. I’m going to take this moment to dole out a pat on the back to Michael Stone. The much maligned defenceman played a solid period allowing partner Noah Hanifin to insert himself in a few rushes.

2nd Period Highlights

2nd Period Thoughts

It took 3 minutes for anything positive to happen and it was ignited by the 4th line. Peluso with a strip behind the net set off a minute of pressure.

If this was in Calgary the “bullshit” chant would have been heard world wide. Blowing the play dead on a Flames scoring chance because the Predators had too many men was a blatant mistake by the referees. No harm, no foul I suppose as on a textbook zone-to-zone powerplay sequence the Flames took a 2-0 lead.

The 2-on-1 save by Mike Smith after Mark Giordano was a classic Mike Vernon glove save. Over-dramatic sure but the windmill glovehand save is a personal favorite.

Stone and Matthew Tkachuk with simultaneous penalties (although TV shows it should have been Lindholm in the box not Tkachuk). PK Unit 1 was Hanifin-Giordano-Backlund. Pk Unit 2 was Brodie-Valimaki-Lindholm. 5 saves by Mike Smith. WOW.

How many times can Pekka Rinne knock the net off the moorings before getting a delay of game penalty? Subban has appeared slow and disinterested for the Predators tonight.

The Backlund hooking penalty with 2:44 remaining was after he and Czarnik had back-to-back scoring chances. One of the first times after the 5-on-3 the Flames had sustained offensive zone pressure. 20 shots against seems a weird time to rave about the new defenceman but I’m loving what I’m seeing from Hanifin, Andersson, and Valimaki. The future is in good hands. Wish I felt this confident about life after Mike Smith.

3rd Period Highlights

3rd Period Thoughts

Bennett draws the penalty. Later in the period he almost sets up Dube for his first goal with 9:17 to go.

When watching the game on a recording always make sure you add extra time. I didn’t and that’s the last thing I saw.

Smith ends with a 43 save shutout and a well earned first star and I’ll differ to some highlights and comments via Twitter.

March To The Stanley Cup, Calgary Flames Game 3

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