With a 2-1-2 home stand in the books, the Calgary Flames - now with four players on injured reserve, four AHL call ups, and eight players 25 and under dressed - embarked on their second road trip of the season. This five gamer out east kicked off with a rematch against the Montreal Canadiens, who, not even a week earlier, the Flames outplayed, but fell to in a shootout. This time around, well...
Probably the nicest way I can put it is: the Flames absolutely annihilated the Habs in the first period. Without a question.
The fun kicked off when early on, Travis Moen hooked down Lance Bouma in the Flames' corner. The powerplay didn't go particularly great for Calgary, what with guys like Dale Weise and Manny Malhotra getting shorthanded chances, but the Flames recovered soon after.
About 20 seconds after the powerplay finished, Calder candidate Johnny Gaudreau got control of the puck (of course he did, that's what he does). He passed it back to Dennis Wideman at the point, and an extremely hard shot got to the net and left Carey Price unable to control the rebound. That would be his undoing, as Josh Jooris darted in from the side to collect the puck and snap it past Price, putting the Flames up 1-0.
Things did not get much nicer for the Habs after that. Sure, PA Parenteau may have had a great scoring chance, but Jonas Hiller stayed right with him. And to counter Parenteau, there was not only Bouma with a wraparound try, but a nifty little pass from Paul Byron to Sven Baertschi, with Devin Setoguchi camped out in front of Price for another scoring chance.
And then Rene Bourque Rene Bourque'd and slashed Brandon Bollig, putting the already-dominant Flames back on the powerplay. Calgary created chance after chance over the two minutes, and a big part of it was Wideman's shot from the point. And maybe smelling salts.
Montreal managed to hold off Wideman and the rest of the Flames, but couldn't stop them from continuing to try. With the game back at even strength, Jooris nearly got his second of the game, and Price's rebound went right to Byron, who hit the post. One day. He will score again one day.
The Habs seemed to be done with the period before it was actually over, and that hurt them. Gaudreau singlehandedly carried the puck into the zone and got a shot. Price had it, but it just continued. Gaudreau may have been tripped up and given the puck away a little later, but Alex Galchenyuk was no match for TJ Brodie, who calmly poked it away from him, forcing the Habs to scramble back as he passed it up to Gaudreau.
The Canadiens didn't have a chance, though. Gaudreau gave it to Jiri Hudler in the slot, who threw it towards the net, right where Markus Granlund was. With nobody covering Granlund in the exact same spot nobody had covered Jooris about 15 minutes earlier, he deflected the puck in for his first of the year, putting the Flames up 2-0.
How dominant a frame was it? Calgary outshot Montreal 19-4, and out-corsied them 27-11. Both goals were the creation of Gaudreau, and finished off by his fellow rookies. As perfect a period you'll see from the Flames.
While it was the Flames who dominated the first period, it was... still the Flames mostly in control of the second. Part of that was powerplays, though, as Montreal gave the Flames a freebie by putting too many men on the ice. But the Flames' powerplay just wasn't getting it done, and Montreal not only killed it, but finally got their own powerplay when David Jones hooked down Andrei Markov.
The Habs squandered their chance, and Jones quickly redeemed himself by drawing an interference call from Alexei Emelin that actually left Emelin hurting a bit. Montreal wasn't really in any trouble as they didn't have any problems preventing the Flames from getting set up, and the closest Calgary got was a Curtis Glencross shot off the post, because he, like Byron, just cannot score.
PK Subban took a dumb little slashing call against Hudler for no apparent reason, and that gave the Flames an 11 second 5 on 3 powerplay, but they just weren't able to do anything with the man advantage. Sean Monahan almost had something going, but the Habs countered with a shorthanded 2 on 1 try with Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller that ultimately led nowhere, with Kris Russell and Hiller back to stop them.
Speaking of, at some point between all the powerplays Hiller had a rather poor attempt at playing the puck, but all was well and he was able to laugh about it after.
And no matter how much better a frame the Canadiens were having, it still wasn't enough. Glencross may not be able to score off his shots, but when Monahan got the puck up to Brodie at the point, and Brodie shot it, Glencross had no problems tipping it past Price to give the Flames a 3-0 lead at the end of the period.
And then he and Monahan nearly scored again.
By the end of the second, the Flames outshot the Habs 30-11, and out-corsied them 51-34, continuing to be, simply, the better team.
The Habs must have gotten a serious talking to, because 37 seconds into the third, they finally broke Hiller's shutout. Weise brought the puck in, and Pacioretty's quick shot got past a screened Hiller, finally putting Montreal on the board with a 3-1 score. They were right back at it second later, but Hiller was a bit more alert to make the save.
Things soon calmed back down, and the Flames were right back at getting chances of their own to add to their lead. Probably the next most threatening Montreal chance was a breakaway by Bourque, but Hiller, just like Calgary a couple years ago, had no time for him, and stopped him with ease.
The Flames got the puck back and all of a sudden Jooris was streaking up the middle on his own break, but he fired it wide. Calgary kept the puck, though, and for their efforts, got yet another powerplay. Bollig and Bouma were out in front of the net, and Bouma had the puck, but wasn't getting a shot off for whatever reason... Because Mike Weaver was holding his stick.
The Flames' powerplay looked much better than it did in the second. While the Habs killed the first five calls against them, they were clearly playing with fire, and were stopped at the sixth. A Brodie stretch pass up the middle to a once again streaking Jooris, and even though he stumbled, he got in behind everyone and snapped it past Price for the first multi-goal game of his career, reestablishing the three goal lead and making it 4-1.
But what good is a three goal lead? How about four? Mark Giordano got hurt earlier in the third, but returned, and resumed proving his awesome. He streaked up the wing with the puck. Subban fell. He dished it off to Bouma, who kept pace with him. 5-1.
Or... I guess three goal leads are still okay. Bouma giveth, and Bouma taketh away. The puck deflected off his stick with Bourque and Eller right in front of Hiller, and it was Bourque who made it a 5-2 game. With time running out, of course the Habs came back out with increased pressure, but Gaudreau was there to stop it. The rookie leads all NHLers in takeaways. Because he's great.
With frustrations boiling over, Monahan and Eller took matching roughing calls, and the ice opened up for some 4 on 4 play. With just over three minutes left, the Habs pulled Price. Price fell. Giordano immediately scored in the empty net. 6-2, as the game continued to do wonders for Calgary's goal differential.
Brendan Gallagher was trying to create havoc in front of the Flames' net, but the game was pretty much over, and his efforts fruitless as he got mauled for them. Gallagher and Wideman both went off for roughing, and the final few minutes played out with the Flames actually trying to add to their lead, with a great possible setup pass by Baertschi that both Setoguchi and Byron just fanned on.
And that was that. The Flames scored a season high six goals to win 6-2, and did it by outshooting the Habs 36-20, and out-corsiing them 65-57.
Flame of the game
It could be Gaudreau. It could be Jooris. But the Flames' top pairing is everything to them, and so, it's TJ Brodie. One of the best defenceman in the entire league, he played a team-high 24:21, scoring three assists and blocking three shots along the way. Over 13 games, he has 12 points, good for second out of all defencemen, behind just wait-wasn't-he-a-forward-what Brent Burns. And he's 24. And amazing defensively, completely thwarting a number of Habs chances and only getting caught on one. So yeah, he's actually one of the best players in the league, and everyone's starting to realize it.
- Baertschi is back! Baertschi didn't get a ton of ice time, playing more than just Bollig. Still, over his 10:49, he got two shots on net, and set up a couple of other chances his linemates just couldn't capitalize on. He couldn't make an immediate impact, but he didn't get many chances to, either. Hopefully that'll be around the corner, as with all the injuries to the Flames, he should have time yet to earn it.
- Granlund, meanwhile, is now the Flames' second line centre by default. His ice time went down a bit to 13:45, but hey, he got a goal. He's coming along great.
- Gaudreau is Gaudreau, which is to say, amazing. Two assists has him at eight points in 12 games, just one point behind Tanner Pearson for the rookie scoring lead. Hartley is rewarding him, too: 16:58 on the ice, third out of all Flames forwards, and 5:47 of that came on the powerplay, as he finally seems to be on the first unit. Two incredible assists, three shots. Great defensively. He's still so much fun to watch.
- Speaking of powerplay time and rookies... Okay, I'm someone who's actually not against Setoguchi in the lineup. This is my question: the Flames had six powerplays, and only scored on one of them. Seto got 4:58 of powerplay time. Baertschi had none. I'm not saying toss Sven out on the powerplay by default, but who has more potential: Seto or Sven? Who should be given more of a chance? And if you aren't scoring on your powerplay, why not toss out the dynamic kid as opposed to the frequent healthy scratch?
- I know there are a lot of people out there who love Brian McGrattan, and to them, I apologize. He's a great fighter and he sounds like an even better person, but quite frankly, the man does not belong anywhere near an NHL lineup. Notice how the fourth line improved by leaps and bounds the second Jooris took his place. Two goals, five shots, a number of breakaways. He's clearly significantly better, and he's still growing. It shouldn't even be a question.
- Gaudreau got scratched for a game, and came out all the better. I'm not saying Jooris is Gaudreau-Caliber, but looks like the same thing happened for him.
- Rafa Diaz drew in for Deryk Engelland this game, but Hartley took the time to stress he wasn't unhappy with Engelland's efforts, he ust wanted to reward Diaz. To which I say: well, there's still a reason Engelland was the one sat.
- Also, this was the first time ever an NHL team dressed three Swiss players for one game. I'm still waiting for a Baertschi goal assisted by Diaz and Hiller. ONE DAY.
- I have now watched the Montreal Canadiens play two games and I do not understand why they're at the top of the east.
Next game wishes
Unrealistic: Never dress another veteran again, bring up more kids, play them all the entire game and never have to send any of them down oh my gosh I love them all. Also if the powerplay isn't working try putting Sven on it. Just a thought.
Realistic: In the mean time, it's probably reasonable to expect this lineup to stick together as is. What fun.
SIX goals! That's better than five! And those five were against the Hurricanes! The Canadiens are supposed to be significantly better than the Hurricanes!! Can the Flames keep that up? Probably not, BUT YOU NEVER KNOW, APPARENTLY. Come back in two days for the Tuesday, Nov. 4 matchup against the Washington Capitals. It's the east, so it's early: puck drop is 5 p.m. MT. See you then!