The Hitmen defeated earlier today to the Edmonton Oil Kings kicking off today's Battle of Alberta. So all of Edmonton can go back to their cold, desolate city, and weep over what could have been. Oh god, I live here.
Boum goes the dynamite and all that stuff.
First period -
The Flames spent a lot of the first couple minutes being hemmed in their own zone. The resurgent play of the Oilers under their 30th coach in five years has done wonders in keeping them persistent and aggressive in play. The Flames would eventually get out and Sean Monahan would have one the first quality chances for Calgary. Bob Hartley electing to try the stretch-pass methodology on ice. It worked a bit as Matt Stajan would feed a beautiful pass to David Wolf who would be stopped by Scrivens.
Then after a questionable icing call, Jordan Eberle would score to make it 1-0.
Then came the unnecessary truculence and GRIT. Brandon Bollig would fight Keith Aulie I guess to make him atone for his dumb hit on Stajan last month. Bollig would slam him to the ice in a potential nominee for most pointless fight of the year. Right after the faceoff, Deryk Engelland would for some reason contend for the most pointless fight in humanity as he fought Oilers pugilist Luke Gazdic.
Joe Colborne would eventually respond to the face-punching with a decent scoring chance but Ben Scrivens would hold firm. After a rush up the ice, Matt Hendricks would cross-check Mark Giordano in the numbers sending the Flames to their first PP. Not much would transpire besides a fantastic Johnny Gaudreau chance that Scrivens robbed him on.
The Oilers would continue to push for more, with zone entries, and plays around the back of the net. The Oilers would strike again as a smart play by Jeff Petry would allow Eberle to cycle behind the net and find Benoit Pouliotcompletely unguarded as Dennis Wideman was caught out of position.
The Oilers aggressive play would continue despite the Flames out-shooting them but overall the period would end with the Flames down 2-0 but leading in shots 15-9.
Second Period -
The necessity for a strong second period was probably on the whiteboard in the dressing room. I'm sure Bob Hartley wrote that there because that's what the Flames accomplished to start. Nearly for the first two minutes, the Flames set up shop in the Oilers zone generating shot attempts and trying to solve Scrivens. The Oilers would battle back but not with substantial pressure.
Unfortunately David Jones would cross-check Pouliot sending the Oilers to their first power play. Overall, the improving the penalty kill was pretty great. The Flames limited the Oilers from setting up strong plays and limited their shot attempts. Combined with that came some chances as the Flames did make sure to push the Oilers back into their own zone.
David Wolf would crank a beautiful shot off the post after the Oilers PP ended as he kept his first NHL game strong. Later on, behind the Oilers net; Gaudreau and Monahan would team up to force a turnover allowing to a scoring chance in close to the net. The Flames seemingly looked more alert as the period went on as Pouliott would hook TJ Brodie leading to another Flames PP.
The dampened PP looked stationary and unable to cycle the puck to optimal passing and shooting lanes. It's okay though because good things would happen later. Matt Stajan would get a quality shot off while the Oilers would count with face-punching hero of the first Luke Gazdic. The period would end with Flames down 2-0 but leading in shots 21-14.
Third Period -
The most unfortunate thing to happen could happen in this game. Right at the beginning of the third, David Wolf lost an edge and did something to his foot. He went to the dressing room under a lot of distress and didn't return. Mason Raymond took it upon himself to avenge a fallen comrade out-working Justin Schultz and roofing it past Scrivens to make it 2-1. Currently it's credited to Byron for his sixth of the season.
The Oilers would try to stop the momentum as Rob Klinkhammer would storm into the Calgary zone and fire off a great shot. Sadly, they would not contain the score effects driven push as Lance Bouma would miss an opportunity to tie it with a weird bounce towards the net.
He would make up for it because of this fantastic play:
Okay it wasn't super fantastic, it was an Oilers turnover and bad defensive zone coverage but hey, it's Lance's seventh of the season.
It wouldn't stop there.
Calgary would continue as the blood they drew would not stop pouring out. Byron would have a superb shot on net thanks to Josh Jooris while Mikael Backlund would have yet another strong game and shot on net streaking in. Derek Roy would take a dump hooking call on Bouma during Backlund's scoring chance sending the Flames back to the man advantage.
What followed was a quick sequence of this:
Thanks Keith Aulie, former Calgary Flame for the tip-in. We appreciate it. The goal was Monahan's 16th with assists to Mark Giordano (31) and Wideman (17). The entire sequence is crucial and fantastic thanks to a strong faceoff win allowing the power play to set up. Hartley wanted more offense from him and he's got it.
The Oilers would attempt to generate some chances in response to the Monahan goal. It wouldn't last as the play would open up a bit more and allow Joe Colborne and Johnny Gaudreau to collaborate and try to generate something. Eberle would get really close hitting a post and hoping to tie the game.
Calgary would get yet another man advantage as Mark Fraser would slash Raphael Diaz. Nothing happened worth noting. It wasn't the strongest of the four power plays tonight. At the end of it, Fraser tried to come in hard along the boards but Wideman played the body perfectly and prevented a potential play.
A disaster of a turnover in the neutral zone would send Backlund and Bouma in on a two on one as the Bouma would be fed the most perfect pass ever to send it past Scrivens to make it 4-2.
From there on out, it was too little too late for the Oilers. Pouliot would get a chance late and the Flames tried to make it 5-2 with the Oilers net empty but time expired. Flames win 4-2. Shots 33-19 in favor of Calgary.
Stray Observations -
- David Wolf. What a guy -- first game in the NHL and gets injured but he had two very strong periods. His signing in the off-season confused some. I saw him play his first NHL pre-season game in the split series in Edmonton and I liked him. He was visibly the best Flame on the ice in that game despite the loss. Tonight? 7:27 played, 50% in faceoffs, and a shot on net. He needs to stay up if he is okay.
- Paul Byron credited with a goal that probably is Mason Raymond's. Byron had a very strong game in the absence of Wolf and with depleted ice-time to Bollig (we'll discuss him shortly). He is snakebitten to say the least but he consistently does everything he can to drive play. Finished the night with 15:57 (0:24 on PP and 0:53 on the PK), three shots, and three hits.
- David Jones had one of his best games all season. I've warmed to his usage this season and I see value in what he can do. His contract sucks but what can we do? Optimally he is a bottom six guy who on occasion can move up to play on the second line. That said, he had two assists tonight, two shots, 2:31 on the PP, and a total of 17:09 on ice. Not bad, Davey.
- Mikael Backlund has 10 points in 10 games since returning. He drives possession, can play in difficult circumstances, and he makes players around him better (Bouma for example). He finished the night with two assists, two shots, 81% faceoffs, and 17:32 TOI (3:10 PP, 0:35 PK). GIVE HIM A CONTRACT EXTENSION NOW.
- Why was there two fights? One of which was staged? Let's start with Bollig. He had nine shifts all night for a total of 4:46. One of which was in the third period. Why was he playing when we could have used Sven Baertschi? Sit him. We have talent.
- Deryk Engelland fighting Luke Gazdic? What the fuck was the point of this? To create ENERGY? To create MOMENTUM? To FIRE UP the bench? For a guy who has issues playing hockey alone -- actually playing the game, what value does having him in the roster over Tyler Wotherspoon bring? How can Hartley justify this?
- I really loved TJ Brodie jumping up on the rush and making sure the forwards are aware of it. He doesn't do it often and he does it in a responsible way. Finished the night with 27:09 and played in every circumstance. He got some praise during the broadcast and he deserves more.
- Giordano had a quiet but effective night. Assist on the Monahan goal and drew a call. He, like his partner does everything the team asks of him. He is the heartbeat of this team and we depend on him so much.
- #FreeMattStajan - 8:23 on ice tonight? He needs to be utilized more.
- Stop the stretch pass. It's predictable. Do more zone entries because they lead to goals.