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Game 16 Recap: Johnny Gaudreau is awesome

Johnny Hockey arrived in Sunrise. Mark Giordano is amazing and third in league scoring. Oh and Sven got benched again. It was a weird game this afternoon.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

After a barn burner in Tampa the other night, the Flames strolled into Sunrise, Florida looking to salvage their Florida portion of the roadtrip. After the crushing Calgary faced at the hands of Tampa's youth, you would have expected a different start in the first period of this game. You know what? They started the game a step or three behind but rebound nicely.

The Panthers are playing like a team looking to make a stride like Columbus did last season. Their youth is extremely talented with the likes of Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad, and first overall pick Aaron Ekblad. Ekblad is also the most recent winner of the Mike FAIL perfect hair forever award for draftees. Sean Monahan of course being the 2013 winner.

First period -

The Panthers opened the game immediately like I expected them to: entering the zone and making it difficult for the Flames. They did exactly that, with a shot on net seconds into the game. They controlled play generating a few more chances and making life complete hell right away in the defensive zone. Fortunately the Flames would get out of their zone for a brief moment only to lose it again. The Panthers buzzed back into their offensive zone and after a weird scoring chance on Karri Ramo, it would be Scottie Upshall who would from behind the net would bank it in off a slightly out of position Ramo to make it 1-0 early on.

The continued quick game lead by Florida driving into the Calgary zone continued with a limited ability to maintain control of the offensive zone. Fortunately after the Panthers iced the puck, Johnny Gaudreau would get one of the first quality chances in front. This would be one of the many moments this game where Johnny Hockey stood out. Couple that with a great Monahan shot on net as well but for the time being it would be short-lived. Florida looked incredibly dynamic as the period went on, but the game finally opened up a bit to allow a more back and forth pace. Curtis Glencross would take the first penalty interfering with Jussi Jokinen and soon the Flames would see a relentless PP from the Cats. It's remarkable seeing the Panthers play today on TV. Specifically in the sense of how Gerald Gallant uses the team's youth. The Flames would survive their first penalty kill.

The continued pace and opening up on the ice allowed for a zone entry and a bit more offensive zone pressure. David Jones would be hauled down by Upshall which lead to what was a very flat and disappointing power play. The Panthers also utiiized a very aggressive penalty kill which at one point had the Flames pushed deep into their own end. Jones continued to stand out throughout the period while the period ended with one last great scoring chance on Ramo; who stopped Vincent Trotchek to basically end the period.

Shots: 12-8 Florida

Second Period -

The second period which we all optimistically hoped would open with Calgary going hard into the offensive zone would have to wait a bit. The Panthers entered and established dominance. After a beautiful zone entry by Monahan and some sustained offensive zone pressure, TJ Brodie took a nasty spill after losing an edge. He would be okay and stayed in the game with no ill effects. A point shot would be redirected past Ramo by Nick Bjugstad making it a 2-0 game. Just over 30 seconds later, Johnny Hockey lead a fantastic entry and shot attempt on net. The puck bounced down and into possession of Jones who put it past Al Montoya.

With the Flames within one now and looking to draw even, a misplaced pass by Brodie lead to the Panthers' captain Willie Mitchell to blast a point shot which fell to Upshall in front who put it past Ramo easily to make it 3-1. Dennis Wideman would hold Bjugstad (not romantically) leading to another man-advantage. During the PK, an accidental collision between defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and Lance Bouma would lead to Bouma leading towards Montoya on a short-handed chance. After crashing into Montoya, Montoya stopping a trailing Paul Byron (HUNGRY AS HELL for a goal), our captain Mark Giordano put home the trash to make it 3-2. The shorthanded goal was Calgary's first of the year as the Flames lead the league last year with 12 SH goals. Kulikov would not return either for the Cats in the game.

The Flames wouldn't stop here. Jiri Hudler would put his 5th of the season past Montoya to draw the game even at 3-3. Less than a minute later, Aaron Ekblad would rip a fantastic shot on net which bounced around hitting the crossbar at one point falling to Upshall. Upshall would fire it on net with Jimmy Hayes tipping it in to make it 4-3. That would be the end of Ramo's afternoon as Jonas Hiller would draw in to finish the game. Ladislav Smid would take a high sticking call which sent the Flames back to the PK. They would kill it off as Monahan would blast a shot on net hitting the post as the second period ended.

Shots: 12-11 Calgary

Shots 23-20 at the end of the period.

Third Period -

Hungry to draw even again, the Flames faced the same exact start to the period. The Panthers forecheck off the draw and pushed wouldn't last as long as previous periods though. Calgary would battle back with Giordano dancing in and placing a fantastic shot on net. Later on, Smid would block a shot and would drop like a wet bag of shit. He would stay in the game showing no further effects from that or the Latta hit against Washington.

Then came the Johnny Gaudreau show again. After a great pass from Gio to Johnny, he would cautiously wait and play the puck out in front to Monahan to tie the game again. The Gretzkyesque pass was a beauty and it's exactly what Roger discussed the other day on Marek vs Wyshynski. Gaudreau's ability to slow down the situation, wait, and make sensible plays is remarkable to watch.

The pace of the period would be a bit more back and forth showing the Flames were hungry to win this game. Gaudreau was tripped up by Rocko Grimaldi (seriously who names their kid ROCKO?!) sending the Flames back to the man-advantage. Nothing really would happen on the PP but a scary moment in the Flames zone occurred. Our god-king captain took a nasty spill and ended up going to the dressing room. Thanks to our Matchsticks editor Ari Yanover on our Twitter account and her "prayer circle", he returned. Yes, we'll take credit for it because we love you Gio.

After the Panthers iced the puck, fought back, and then allowed Giordano to gracefully enter the zone; he would feed Hudler who then dropped a pristine pass to Lance Bouma. Bouma blasted the puck past Montoya who seemed to have forgotten how to use his glove. The Flames had their first lead of the game. Finally. The Panthers took an embellishment call as Jussi Jokinen dived late in the period. Fearing for the worst, they pulled their goalie hoping to strike even. Unfortunately for them, Johnny Hockey would seal it with an empty net goal from Monahan.

Flames win 6-4. Shots: 8-5 Florida in Period

Shots 31-25 Florida total.

Stray Observations:

  • Mark Giordano is exactly one point back from Sidney Crosby and Jacob Voracek for the league lead. Crosby and Vorachek are both at 19 while after today's game Gio is at 18!
  • Seriously, can the rest of the league fully accept Gio and Brodie as top defenders? Are we finally past their myth that only Shea Weber, Zdeno Chara, and an assortment of others are the "best". The evidence is there now that shows Gio as one, if not in the top five best now. Oh well, we'll sit back and watch as he leads the Flames in points, driving possession, and everything else.
  • Sven Baertschi was on ice for 3 goals against which warranted (I guess) his benching. Again. He had 7:10 TOI today. UGH.
  • Monahan is having one hell of a season, isn't he? Another 2 points tonight to give him 11 in 16GP. He is going to be fantastic in a few years when he gets older and has more sustainable numbers. He also has perfect hair forever.
  • Brodie's bad pass tonight was really the only bad thing to happen to him in a few games. It sucked but he's grown to the point where it won't effect him throughout the game. He was better later on in the game when the team woke up a bit.
  • Lance Bouma is sure as heck making a case to be one of the better bottom six guys in the league. That goal was beautiful.
  • We REALLY need to find a better option in our 3-4 pairing. Russell and Wideman aren't cutting it Smid and Engelland are just yeesh. Smid and Diaz aren't that great. Diaz and Engelland aren't that great either. I hope Treliving sees this and sees the Sven situation as a potential to clear up both areas with a trade (should it come to that).
  • Johnny Gaudreau now has 12 points in 15 games. He is behind Filip Forsberg who has 13 points in 13 games with Nashville for the lead in rookie scoring. Holy crap is he amazing or what?
Once more for good measure:

Next Game Wishes

Unrealistic: Jones on the third line with Jooris slotting up again on the top line for another chance. I think that Josh Jooris flourished in the Tampa game playing with Monahan and Glencross. It was great to see what he brought to that line and at times it worked nicely. Also I want Ramo to get another chance. It wasn't ALL his fault but he needs to be better at the same time. Especially since Hiller is stealing the crease.

Realistic: Hiller starts, Jones on top line, and Smid + Engelland pairing exists again.

The Flames take on the surging Hurricanes next on November 10th at 5:00PM MST on Sportsnet. With the Hurricanes looking to continue their strong player, the Flames are out to make it a two-game winning streak in Raleigh. Stay tuned tomorrow for Ari's fancy stats recap.