Despite both teams icing what might be their opening day lineups, tonight's final preseason game for both the Flames and the Jets was a snoozer of a game. The Jets won 3-2 in Calgary, handing the Flames a perfectly even 4-4-0 preseason record. We understand the lethargy, there's probably better things to look forward to.
The Flames came out flying to start the first period. Dennis Wideman was particularly impressive in the early-goings, keeping the puck in twice and then ripping off a nice shot attempt that went just over. Then he took a random interference penalty. The good news is that he's in midseason form.
So are the penalty killers, who shut down the Jets for the two minutes. They looked even better on a later Mikael Backlund penalty, where the Jets couldn't get into the offensive zone. The defensive pressure allowed the Flames to spring out on a break exactly as Backlund was let out of hockey prison. Andrew Copp couldn't control the breakout, and had to hold up Wideman for a Flames powerplay.
Though they didn't score, the Flames kept good pressure going, providing momentum for the rest of the period. Your new favourite Flames Brandon Bollig was carrying the load, generating five shot attempts, three of them on net. It'll be intriguing to see if this will continue into the regular season (hint: no).
At the end of the first, the Flames led in shots 15-5 and corsi 25-15, though no goals were scored.
The second period featured the return of the Calgary Flatliners. After Sam Bennett went to an extreme effort to get a shot off, the Flames didn't attempt another shot for nine minutes. Surely, nothing could go horribly awry during that time?
Well about a minute after Bennett's shot, the Jets scored. Blake Wheeler snuck behind three Flames players who had a new interpretation of the word "defence" and tipped in a Tobias Enstrom shot. 1-0 Jets:
While the Flames continued to not play hockey, the Jets did the opposite. Their job was made much easier by some curious Karri Ramo goaltending. 2-0 Jets:
The Flames woke up from their second period nap to try and get something going late in the period, but it was all too late. Jets predictably won the shooting and possession battles, going 9-5 in shots and 19-11 in corsi.
The third period was more or less even. The Flames showed up sans-Jiri Hudler, who was removed from the game for precautionary reasons with a lower body injury. Fingers crossed.
Thankfully, Top Six Forward and garbageman Lance Bouma was on hand to provide a goal. Despite the puck being inches from Ondrej Pavelec and Brian Little being in the way, Bouma wacked at it until it went in to the net. 2-1 Jets
(No .gifs or videos are available yet. Sorry to deny you a Lance Bouma goal)
Fast forward a bit. Flames down 2-1. Late in the game. Goalie pulled. What happens? Brandon Bollig as the extra attacker and a Jets empty netter. 3-1.
But hold your horses! The Calgary Third Periods don't stop playing until that clock reaches 0:00. In the dying seconds of the game, David Jones showed up out of nowhere (I literally forgot he was playing the game until this) and scored on a sweet snipe into the top corner. 3-2 Flames, with 16 seconds left.
One last shot of magic before the regular season starts? The team decided it would be better saved until it actually matters. 16 seconds ran off, and the Jets left 3-2 victors. The Flames won the game in shots 31-24, and corsi 51-49. Both are nice, but not when half of those totals come in the first period. Then again, preseason.
- Mark Giordano told Fan 960 that he was "disappointed" with his preseason. Gio looked very, very good tonight. That's scary.
- Gio and his new friend Dougie Hamilton were team corsi leaders, despite having a 35% OZS. It slightly eases the pain of Brodie being gone.
- This was mostly in the first period, but the Flames did best what they do best: be fast and forecheck. Sean Monahan stole the puck in Winnipeg's slot early in the game, and much of the penalty killing success came from players buzzing around the Jets and creating frustration. I did not like it when it died down in the later periods.
- Brett Kulak wasn't very noticeable tonight, but that's good for a 21 year old who played in the ECHL last year. He's looking like a lock for the opening day roster, which is good. Josh Jooris award winner 2015-16?
- He made some impressive saves, but Karri Ramo didn't justify his case enough to stick around as Calgary's goaltender. The Chariot goal was weak, and his numbers weren't particularly good either. He simply doesn't stop as many pucks as Jonas Hiller, and isn't as valuable an asset as Joni Ortio. It's time to move on.
- Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell should be broken up whenever TJ Brodie returns to the lineup. Individually, they hold their own merit, and could function well with different partners. Together, they're a skating calamity waiting to turn the puck over.
REAL HOCKEY! MEANINGFUL HOCKEY! Yes folks, the Flames will play a game with two points on the line versus the Vancouver Canucks this Wednesday in Calgary. It's going to be wonderful. I hope Micheal Ferland gets to play 30 minutes. See you then!