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Calgary Flames

Kings vs Flames – Burn their kingdom to the ground because we are playoffs bound.

The first time since 08-09 and quite prematurely, the Flames are heading to the post-season. The Flames managed to stave off a push from the reigning Stanley Cup champions. This unsustainable, but fun team takes on Vancouver now.



First Period –

The play of the Flames throughout this period is unlike anything we’ve seen against many high possession teams. Jiri Hudler nearly capitalized early on after a fantastic corner pass from Kris Russell. The Kings, unwillingly allowing this to happen went back up ice controlling play for a few moments before the Flames tried to send Johnny Gaudreau out all alone.

Everyone was doing their part to solve Quick early on. A great cycle play along the boards resulted in a superb shot from David Jones who was robbed. David Schlemko was sacrificing his body and healthy by blocking shots. Oh and he hit Dustin Brown which could have resulted in contracting some sort of disease. Jonas Hiller not to be outdone early on by his teammates was putting on a clinic of capable saves.

A strong zone entry and cycle play behind the net allowed Gaudreau to feed Sean Monahan a perfect pass but Jonathan Quick held firm. Unfortunately for Quick, Johnny Hockey showed up to play.

The play was reviewed but it stood as Gaudreau's 24th of the season. A mad scramble in front of Hiller auspiciously was cleared from harm's way keeping it 1-0. Hudler, not wanting to be outdone by his adopted son came on the ice during a perfect line change to fire home his 30th of the season.

The Flames just kept coming — It was constant for them. Calgary’s fourth line took advantage of a scoring chance in close drawing a call against Trevor Lewis sending the Flames to the power play. Overall it looked pretty solid despite a slight hiccup at the beginning. The Flames were able to control the zone and cycle the puck consistently though they couldn’t solve the Kings’ PK.

Shots: 15-8 for the Flames.

Some thoughts:

  • Matt Stajan won all seven of his faceoffs. Huge facet of the period and the success in the opening period.
  • Hudler had a goddamn bullseye on him all period. This continued in the second but let’s face it: nothing is going to stop him.
  • Calgary was able to suppress shot attempts in the first period. They prevented the Kings from entering key scoring areas with control.

Second Period –

Hudler was not on the bench to start the period. A notable byproduct of Regehr giving him a physical time during the first. Fortunately for the Flames he returned after some delay and still his regular old self. The Kings looked and played much more like themselves to start the period. Hungry to draw within one, despite Joe Colborne lining up Alec Martinez with a nice hit at centre ice.

The Flames continued to obstruct and limit as much of the Kings pressure near Hiller as possible. Though this wavered a little to start, small cracks in the defense did appear. A Drew Doughty zone entry that was all too easy allowed Los Angeles to create a series of chances. Given the known issues with suppression of shots and entries, it was very crucial that exiting the zone cleanly was a necessity.

Calgary's luck for avoiding a call came at the right time as Kings' captain Dustin Brown was clipped with a high-stick. Los Angeles with a game plan now established began chipping away and it looked to be successful. The Kings knack for finding seams in the Flames defense to create elaborate plays that drove them to the net.

The ever important and improved play of the Calgary fourth line never seemed to stop. Michael Ferland’s elevated play drove the Flames into the offensive zone more and more as the period went on. Even creating some scoring chances along the way. As usual, Gaudreau continued to dazzle the crowd by dekeing and maneuvering into the Kings’ zone. It was a symphony of talent on all levels, executing when needed.

The period closed out with the Flames' fourth line doing everything they can to make it 3-0.

Shots: 12-4 for the Kings. 20-19 for the Kings overall.

Some more thoughts:

Third Period –

Remember that key point I mentioned about the Kings heading hard to the net? It continued in the third. Los Angeles' remaining success they had tonight came from the cycle behind the net and going to the net. A score effects driven push that forced the Flames to essentially turtle to survive became apparent. When they did squeak out of their zone though, Calgary was able to create quality chances.

An unfortunate missed shot (but quality chance) by Mikael Backlund had the Kings head up the ice. An intelligent pass from Martinez allowed Jordan Nolan to put it past Hiller making it a 2-1 game.

Nolan's sixth of the season added even more fuel to the war machine level game plan. Within that moment though, the Flames did find their legs as Monahan's awkward angle shot looked to be of some difficulty to handle. It was one of the Flames weirdest chances of the evening.

Remember Michael Ferland? He introduced himself to Nolan quite nicely at centre ice leveling Nolan along the boards. Driven by more youth, Markus Granlund’s impressive zone entry near resulted in a Josh Jooris marker but Jonathan Quick’s toe prevented the young rookie from adding a dagger in the Kings’ backs.

As the Kings never stopped nor did Jonas Hiller whose 13 saves in the period all proved to be valuable difference makers. The back and forth pace finally opened up again allowed the Flames to break out a bit more. A late turnover by Deryk Engelland struck fear into the hearts of Flames fans across the country but once again it was salvaged by Hiller.

Finally, with just under a minute left and the goalie pulled Jiri Hudler did what every fan wanted: he ended the Kings’ reign as Stanley Cup champions by scoring the much needed empty net goal to seal the Flames fate. Hudler’s 31st of the season assisted by none other than his sons: Johnny and Sean.

Flames win 3-1 and are now heading to the playoffs. Final shots: 34-25 for the Kings. 14-6 in the period for LA as well.

Final thoughts:

  • I guess we’re playing Vancouver? Excellent. This should make for a series that is a near renaissance of rivalry. If you though the Tortorella fight-attempt last season would rekindle the hate, think again. This is gonna be a bloodbath.
  • Mikael Backlund had a HUGE game in terms of small things on the ice. A strong offensive zone faceoff win allowed the Flames to kill time on the clock and help their situation. Mikael Backlund is everything you need in a capable centre minus the elite level offense.
  • Jiri Hudler’s two goals tonight may be the biggest thing discussed but his perseverance of dealing with a variety of players hitting him all night is nothing short of amazing. Career year for the man who has helped every rookie on this team improve in so many ways. It’s hard to comprehend his cap hit being so cheap.
  • Sportsnet said Ramo will be available for the playoffs. It’s hard to believe at this point but if Ortio is healthy and able to support Hiller: don’t rush him
  • Why Corey Potter? 2:26 played and he was less than impressive. It’s just a waste of a roster spot when you can play Tyler Wotherspoon.
  • This game was not a possession game in favor of the Flames after the first period. Ari will recap you on that tomorrow. It looked pretty bad to be honest.

Flame of the Game: Michael Ferland

Michael Ferland's story is impressive. Overcoming alcohol and being sober for just over a year, being called up, and making an impact. Just a huge year for the young man. Like I've said, he is everything you want in a bottom six forward. Tonight he proved everyone who MAY have been doubting him that he can play in the NHL. He was rewarded justly by Bob Hartley: 15:28 TOI, three shots, and six hits.

The Flames close out the season against Winnipeg on Saturday at 1:00PM. We'll have all your remaining regular season coverage, stats recap tomorrow, AND PLAYOFF COVERAGE!

by Mike Pfeil