Saturday night went quite well for the Calgary Flames, bulldozing the Vancouver Canucks 6-2 in enemy territory. It’s no secret this season has been tough for the Flames, especially after such a wonderful year last season, that saw them hit first in the Western Conference. They were a team with a killer instinct, and that finally cam alive against their divisional rival. This game is a perfect example of what this team is actually capable of. It’s even more impressive when you understand that the Canucks aren’t exactly slouches anymore. This isn’t the team from two years ago, that finished poorly. No, they’ve started to rise back up to the top and the Flames put them away in good fashion.
However, Calgary started out poor, as the Canucks scored just 34 seconds into the game, but that lead wouldn’t last thanks to goals from both Ryan and Tkachuk. The flames were looking solid, and Rittich was looking quite good, but an unfortunate and incredibly odd bounce off the boards, would leave Gaudette all alone in front of a un suspecting Rittich, giving the Canucks the tie after one.
After the first period, this was starting to look all too familiar for the Flames. Letting up an early goal, getting the lead and then losing it a short time later. I’ve criticized this team’s mental fortitude and heart before, and for good reason. In situations like this that typically aren’t going their way, they tend to pack it in. They fall apart and crumble to the ground, and end up on the losing end of a game. It’s happened so often, that my default setting, is to assume they’re done after situations like this. Yet, this team surprised the hell out of me, and played how I would have expected them to play at the start of season, with the talent level they posses.
Dillon Dube, a kid who I think will eventually find his way into the top six for the Flames, scored his fifth goal of the season, to put the Flames up 3-2 early in the second period. After which, the Flames came alive. If it wasn’t for Jacob Markstrom, who knows what the score would have been in the second period. He stood on his head for the Canucks and made some outstanding stops against the Flames. After two periods the Flames look GOOD. Arguably, the best I’ve seen them in a while. They were controlling the play and the big guns, while not having scored much, were all over the Canucks. Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan were all around the net, and even Backlund had a hell of a chance. Sure, they hadn’t capitalized just yet, BUT they were playing with the skill and tenacity we all know those players possess. However, the big question was how they were going to be in the third. We know this team doesn’t put together a full sixty minutes very often, but luckily for myself and the skeptics, the third didn’t go how a lot of us were likely imagining it would.
Calgary was strong out of the gate, and were once again buzzing around the Vancouver net. Milan Lucic would eventually tip home a shot from Backlund to make it 4-2 in favor of the Flames. It wouldn’t stop there either, as the Gaudreau would intercept the puck, give it to Lindholm, back to Gaudreau and then to Monahan who would send it five hole on Markstrom. Oh, how I love when those three are together! Often there is magic and often there is a brilliant play of some sort. It’s a deadly combination to have those three together, so it was nice to see them getting some ice time together. Anyways, Tobias Rider would hit the empty net late in the period, and make it a 6-2 win for the Flames in Vancouver.
Calgary put together a damn good game and it was arguably their best outing of the season. They dominated the Canucks, and quite frankly, if not for Marksrom, this game would have been a hell of a lot worse for the Canucks.
My biggest pet peeve this season with Calgary has been a lack of production from the players that they need it from. Lindholm and Tkachuk have been solid this season, but Monahan, Gaudreau and Backlund have had some trouble. The offense hasn’t been there and often they look un-interested in the game. Luckily, that wasn’t the case tonight. Gaudreau and Monahan looked like their old selves and so did Backlund. They looked like the players who have been some of our top guys for the last 5 years now, and that was GREAT to see. Backlund (assists) and Gaudreau (assists) had 2 Points each, to go with Monahan (goal), Lindholm (assist) and Tkachuk (goal) getting a point a piece.
And you know what? Hats off to the secondary scoring. Dube put together a hell of a Game and acquired 3 points as a result. Lucic, who’s been mostly useless offensively, had 2 points himself including a goal. And as per usual Derek Ryan put together a solid game himself, getting 2 points in the process. It was nice to see not only the top six getting it done, but also the bottom six as well. And to top it off, Rittich looked liked himself again. He was calm, cool and collected and made some solid stops throughout the game. I can’t say either of the goals he allowed were even his fault. On the Pearson goal he was screened, and the Gaudette goal, he was all alone due a bad bounce off the boards.
This game shows just how good this team as the potential to be. It shows just how dangerous and how good they can be, when they don’t give up when things don’t go their way. They had a first period with ups and downs, but managed to come out and play their damn hearts out. Now, it remains to be seen if this team will continue that play, or if this was just a one off for them, but for once it was nice to see a complete effort by this team.
Thanks for Reading!