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Calgary Flames 7, Vancouver Canucks 4 – Flames win series 4-2

26 Apr

Good morning Flames fans! Or good afternoon, I should say, last night was probably a late night for you.

Well the Calgary Flames found a way again. Jonas Hiller, who’s been spectacular all series was pulled after letting in two goals on three shots. Karri Ramo came in net and then let in the first shot he faced. It was not looking good for the home team. After being down by three goals (in 9 minutes and on 4 shots), Michael Ferland scored with three minutes to go in the first period to pull the Flames within two goals after 20 minutes.

But Calgary would find a way. The top line (Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Juri Hudler finished the night with 10 points) scored the next two goals to tie the game at three. But Vancouver wasn’t going to let the game get away from them that easy. The Canucks scored the next goal to retake the lead, 4 to 3, heading into the third period.

Jiri Hudler – the only one on the top line who hadn’t already scored this game – tied the game at 4 which sent the Saddledome into a frenzy. Then, with just 4 minutes to go in the game, Matt Stajan picked the best possible time to score his first ever playoff goal. That goal was the biggest scored by the Flames in over a decade. I’ve been giving Matt crap all year, but you have to appreciate what he did for Calgary last night. Here is what that sounded like.

The Flames, who won the best-of-7 series 4-2, will face the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Second Round.

 

Vancouver Canucks 2, Calgary Flames 1 – Flames lead series 3-2

24 Apr

Calgary had a chance to win this series in five, but they knew that it was going to be tough in Vancouver against a team that is facing elimination. I thought that the game was pretty close, although Vancouver had a lot more shots than Calgary did, the Flames had a few really good scoring chances, hit a couple posts and jumped out to a 1-0 lead.

Miller and the Canucks held on through the first period to keep it within a goal, and eventually one of their 43 shots went in. Hiller was outstanding, just eventually one (or two I guess) of those shots are going to beat him. The crowd in Calgary should be ready to go on Saturday, and that could make a big difference in upping the energy of the Flames. If they can score first again, then the game on Saturday is as good as over.

“We know they are not just going to go away easy,” Hiller said. “They played their best game. We weren’t able to match that. But we’ve proven we always find a way to step it up to get better and hopefully with the home crowd we’ll be able to finish it off.”

However, if Vancouver is able to win one by scoring early and often in Calgary, then that’s going to set up a classic game seven matchup between these two rivals.

Daniel Sedin scored the go-ahead goal 1:47 into the third period to lead the Canucks to a 2-1 win against the Flames in Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round at Rogers Arena on Thursday.

 

Calgary Flames 3, Vancouver Canucks 1 – Flames lead series 3-1

22 Apr

The second playoff game in Calgary in 6 years was impressive for many reasons, and not the typical reasons why Calgary Flames wins are impressive.

First, Calgary came out flying. They were hitting everything, they possessed the puck, their power play scored on its first two attempts, and Hiller didn’t allow a bad goal. The Flames jumped out to a 3-1 first period lead, which turned out to be the final score, and that was probably the most impressive feat of all.

The fact that Calgary only allowed 3 shots in the second period was impressive. Now the Canucks did get 15 shots in the third, but at no point in the final 40 minutes did you ever think that Vancouver had all the momentum and if they could only get one then the game was back on.

Both Michael Ferland and Sam Bennett drew penalties, but didn’t take any. Calgary blocked 29 shots in the game and Hiller was still a very impressive .966 save percentage. Calgary chased Eddie Lack after 20 minutes, I guess the chanting got to him.

Kevin Bieksa‘s comments on Michael Ferland were pretty funny, that he was irrelevant. Especially when Bieksa has already been trying to beat up Ferland when he’s not expecting it. My favourite was Bieksa’s slow-motion face when he got hit in the first period.

Now Calgary goes back to Vancouver for a chance to clinch the series in five. Vancouver Canucks are a desperate team now and at home will give it everything they’ve got. If Calgary can score twice in the first period, and keep hitting hard with the aggressive forecheck, then they have a shot at winning in five. Although I really don’t think Vancouver will go quietly into the night. This series will be headed back to Calgary for game six.

On another note, Juri Hudler has been nominated for the Lady Byng, and you have to believe he’s the front-runner. Kopitar is deserving but couldn’t lead his team to the post season, and Pavel Datsuk wins it every year. So, isn’t this the year for the Flames to get some hardware?

 

Calgary Flames 4, Vancouver Canucks 2 – Flames lead series 2-1

20 Apr

Calgary wanted to make sure that they took advantage of the energy in the Saddledome last night and the home fans were not dissappointed. Calgary played well, Hiller made some huge saves, the top line started to look like a top line, Ferland and Jones were hitting everything that moved, Stajan didn’t screw anything up too badly and Sam Bennett scored his first NHL goal — a playoff game-winner.

With the game out of hand, Dan Hamhuis threw an Illegal Check To Head against Sam Bennett which started the melee. Then Alexandre Burrows ran Johnny Gaudreau headfirst into the boards. Burrows took a boarding and an insigating penalty (he then dropped the gloves against 5’6″ goon Kris Russell), so we’ll There were 10 penalties in the final two minutes of the game.

Bennett’s first NHL goal stood as the game-winner and Jonas Hiller made 23 saves to lead the Flames to a 4-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round on Sunday. This sets up things nicely for game four at the ‘Dome on Tuesday.

Russelmania!

Other things of note:

* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, at 18 years, 303 days old, Bennett became the second-youngest player in franchise history to score a playoff goal. Jarome Iginla holds the franchise record when he scored on April 23, 1996 vs. the Chicago Blackhawks (2-1 3OT L) at 18 years, 297 days old.

* Bennett’s goal stood as the game-winner, making him the youngest player in franchise history to score a game-winning goal in the postseason. In fact, Elias says Bennett is the youngest player in NHL history to score a playoff game-winning goal in regulation. However, three other players in NHL history have scored postseason overtime-winners at an age younger than Bennett. They include Don Gallinger of theBoston Bruins on March 21, 1943, vs. Montreal Canadiens (17 years, 339 days), Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche on April 26, 2014, vs. Minnesota Wild (18 years, 237 days) and Boston’s Patrice Bergeron on April 9, 2004, vs. Montreal (18 years, 260 days).

* T.J. Brodie (1-1—2) recorded his first career multiple-point game of the postseason. Brodie’s goal and assist were also his first playoff points in a Flames uniform.

* Sean Monahan scored his first career playoff goal on a power play. Brandon Bollig opened the scoring with his first playoff goal as a member of the Flames.

* Mason Raymond (0-1—1) had his first playoff point as a member of the Flames in his first game of this postseason. David Schlemko (0-1—1) recorded the first playoff assist of his career while Mikael Backlund(0-1—1) and Joe Colborne (0-1—1) registered the first playoff points of their careers.

* Jonas Hiller made 23 saves to win his second game of the series and improved to 14-13 in 29 career postseason appearances.

* Kris Russell (0-1—1) extended his playoff point streak to a career-high three games (2-1—3).

 

Vancouver Canucks 4, Calgary Flames 1

18 Apr

The Canucks even up the series at one, and we’re headed back to Calgary.

Vancouver came out flying as wel expected them to, and Calgary didn’t have an answer for it. The top line of Hudler, Monahan and Gaudreau has been uncharacteristically absent. Calgary’s 4th-6th defencemen have looked like AHLers. Hiller was not great, and left with about 5 minutes to go in the game. I didn’t see what happened.

Referees Dan O’Halloran and Brad Meier assessed 132 penalty minutes after all five skaters from each team squared off deep in the Canucks’ end with 1:17 left to play. The penalty total included three game misconducts for Calgary defenseman Deryk Engelland and one each for Vancouver’s Derek Dorsett, Dan Hamhuis and Brad Richardson.

All we could really hope for is that the series would be tied at one after two games. It would have been nice to be up by two, but that’s probably unrealistic. Now the callenge is winning the next game, and then the game after that, so they can clinch at home without going back to Vancouver for a game seven.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, the important thing is game three.

 

Calgary Flames 2, Vancouver Canucks 1

16 Apr

Down by one, heading into the third period, meant that we had Vancouver right where we wanted.

Calgary came on in the third, after holding on for much of the first and all of the second. David Jones scored with about 10 to tie the game and Kris Russell – who played another phenomenal game – scored with 30 seconds to go to take the first game of the series in Vancouver.

All you could have wanted was for the Flames to get one win in the first two games — mission accomplished. The next game is playing with house money. That said, the Canuckleheads will be desperate and will come out flying at home on Friday.

The best signs for the Flames is that Eddie Lack played well, but not as well as Hiller. And that the top line of Gaudreau, Hudler and Monahan was matched up against the Sedin line – which meant that neither line did any damage. That left the door open for the second lines to show their stuff and the Joe Colborne, Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett line was the best line in the game last night.

Also worth mentioning was that Calgary killed off three consecutive penalties, which was a huge momentum swing for Calgary. That can’t, and shouldn’t, happen again.

Flames take the first game of Round 1 and lead the series 1-0.

 

Round 1 – Calgary Flames vs. Vancouver Canucks

15 Apr

It’s been six long years since we’ve gone to the dance and who’s the first available lady we come across? Why… it’s an old ex girlfriend, the one that we used to love to hate, the one we can’t stand to be in the same room with. Well, since Edmonton has spun so sadly down into a shame spiral that is.

How do we match up now against the Canucks? Let’s have a look…

Goaltending. I’ve got to give this one to Vancouver. It’s a straight comparison between Eddie Lack and Jonas Hiller since both Miller and Ramo don’t seem to be coming back anytime soon. Lack has been better since Miller went down, and Hiller always seems to make one mistake per game that leads to a goal. That said, so did Mike Vernon.

Defence. Advantage Vancouver no question. Although Russel and Wideman have been outstanding and Brodie has been worked to death and still held his own, Calgary is just too injured to keep playing at an NHL-level of playoff defence. The loss of Gio will be felt as the round goes on, but so will the loss of guys like Smid and even Diaz. If Engelland is part of your top four, you’re in trouble.

Offence. Advantage here goes to Calgary. The Flames’ top line of Monahan, Hudler and Gaudreau has proabably been the top line in the NHL the past two months. The Sedins aren’t what they once were, although they still make mediocre linemates look better than they are.

Special teams. Vancouver takes this one as well as they have a better power play and better penalty kill. That said, Calgary takes fewer penalties so actually allowed fewer goals while shorthanded. Since penalties are harder to come by in the playoffs we’ll see if that makes any difference.

Coaching. I’m giving the advantage here to Hartley. Not just for the coaching decisions made in-game, but more for the culture that’s been built over the past two years. The Flames believe they can win, and they have, more often than anyone has expected.

Intangibles. As we all know this is what it comes down to in the playoffs. And I’m going to single out one thing that is going to make all the difference, and that’s momentum. If Lack is shakey and Vancouver loses confidence in him, then it’ll be over for the Canucks. Likewise with Hiller. If Calgary can win one of the first two games — and not get blown out in the other — then Calgary will win the series. If Vancouver can get under the skin of Calgary’s top line then the Flames don’t have a chance. The game plan for Vancouver is simple, punish the top line whenever you can. I wouldn’t be surprised to see early runs at Hudler and Gaudreau. the game plan for Calgary is also simple, don’t let Vancouver beat you.

 

Winnipeg Jets 5, Calgary Flames 1

12 Apr

The night where the Flames sat half their team, was the night they had their biggest beat-down of the year. I don’t think anyone cared too much though, the first round against Vancouver was what everyone is talking about.

Calgary sat Russel, Wideman, Brodie, Gaudreau, Hudler, Monahan and Hiller. On a positive note, Sam Bennett played his first NHL game, had an assist 30 seconds into the game.

 

Calgary Flames 3, Los Angeles Kings 1

10 Apr

Playoffs… yeah baby!

The Calgary Flames will compete for the Stanley Cup. The defending Stanley Cup champions won’t.

Calgary will once again face the Vancouver Canucks in the playoffs, restoring a rivalry that has gradually faded since 2004. Although it’s unfortunate two Canadian teams will face off against each other, how great is it to have meaningful hockey against the Canuckleheads again?

Juri Hudler scored his 30th and 31st of the season, Johnny Gaudreau scored his 24th, Monahan finishes with 31… how great has that line been? Only 15 players in the NHL hit 30 goals this year, and the Flames have two of them on the same line.

The Flames qualified for the playoffs and in the process, ensured there would be no repeat champion, eliminating the Los Angeles Kings from postseason contention with a 3-1 win at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday. The victory ensures Calgary (45-29-7), which finished 26th overall a year ago, a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Flames are third in the Pacific Division and will face the second-place Vancouver Canucks, who lead them by two points. Each team has one game remaining.

 

Calgary Flames 3, Arizona Coyotes 2

08 Apr

It doesn’t get much closer than that.

Calgary wins and L.A. loses, setting up the biggest game played at the Saddledome in a long, long time. The Calgary Flames are one step closer to making their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in six years.

Sean Monahan scored the game-winner midway through the third period and Jonas Hiller made 22 saves in a 3-2 victory against the Arizona Coyotes at Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday.

Johnny Gaudreau and David Jones also scored for the Flames (44-29-7), who moved two points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings in the race for third place in the Pacific Division. Los Angeles, which lost 4-2 at the Edmonton Oilers later Tuesday, plays at Calgary on Thursday

 
 
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