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Flames vs Canucks - Game 3: Smart Plays from Bennett, Jooris, Backlund, and Stajan

It's time to highlight a few special men and their contributions last night that led to the on ice success of a 2-1 series lead over the Canucks. Josh Jooris, Sam Bennett, and Mikael Backlund all made some fantastic decisions last night.

Lack's body language lolol
Lack's body language lolol
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Calgary really rebounded last night after a very disappointing loss on Friday. Nothing worked for much of game 2 in Vancouver and because of it the Flames paid dearly. There will be an examination piece on that game shortly but it will have to wait as we take a look at last night's 4-2 victory first.

Example One - Brandon Bollig's goal and the Josh Jooris forecheck

If you're a new reader to the site you might be a little overwhelmed about how much we love Josh Jooris. It is no secret that he has been a fantastic story this season, coming virtually out of nowhere. This entire sequence at this point is vintage Jooris. Everything about the decision making that inevitably leads to the Bollig goal is why Josh has had such a great season.

The initial sequence starts in the Flames zone as a shot along the half-boards from Ferland casualty Luca Sbisa heads towards Jonas Hiller. Fortunately for Hiller, he sends the puck towards the boards.

Michael Ferland, heading where the puck is heading, instinctively plays it off the boards and out, allowing TJ Brodie to start the initial pursuit.

With Brodie on chase for the puck and applying optimal pressure it gives the Flames the chance to change lines quickly and send out the Raymond/Jooris/Bollig line. They will pick up where Brodie left off.

You'll see Mason Raymond well ahead of Jooris with a safe distance to work in, and to circle around in if needed. Jooris is at the edge of the image and heading in for support.

Reading the play, he pursues Kevin Bieksa, who just received a pass and has to turn around or head behind Eddie Lack. This is perfect as Jooris has a real knack for working in these types of situations and forcing turnovers.

Bieksa rims the puck around the boards to Sbisa, who clearly mishandles the puck. Jooris has him right where he wants him and aggressively engages, causing a scrum along the boards. You can see Raymond circle back as predicted, and Bollig enter the frame to support as well.

Bollig actually gains possession of the puck and fires it from an awkward angle. Brodie comes in to clean it up and cycle the puck back to Mason Raymond. You can see players heading into position and to the front of Lack to start a screen.

Raymond's pass shot pass shot takes a weird bounce off Derek Dorsett and lands right on Bollig's stick, where he makes it 1-0 on his second career playoff goal.

Final thoughts:

  • Credit goes to Michael Ferland who initially starts the breakout. TJ Brodie's passive and safe pressure gives his teammates the right amount of time to change.
  • Josh Jooris deserves so much credit on this goal. None of it would have happened without him. This play alone shows off why he has found success at the NHL level already.
  • Raymond gets REALLY lucky with his shot going where it went. Everything about that part of the play was luck.
Here's the full sequence for your viewing pleasure:

Example Two - TJ Brodie's goal and Sam Bennett's opportune check

After escaping out of their own zone, the Flames, led by Mason Raymond, head up ice. Much to the dismay of Vancouver, Raymond is going to break in one on three. Not an ideal situation for many players, but it eats time, allowing another key line change.

Raymond loses the puck but he's at the end of a shift so he heads off. As you can see Mikael Backlund is heading in full of steam to create more forechecking pressure, hoping to force a turnover.

As Backlund is chasing down the puck, you can see Sam Bennett blow a tire... sorta and take out Radim Vrbata. Let's be real here, he's very lucky he didn't injure Vrbata and get a whistle. Fortunately he low-bridges him, disrupting the Canucks' strategy in their own end.

As the puck is thrown behind the net and into the corner, Bennett pursues, continuing the zone time and allowing Calgary to set up. Vrbata, well out of position and the play, struggles to get back into the situation at hand.

After some lengthy jostling along the boards for control, just as the puck could have been knocked out of the zone, Joe Colborne makes a very unColborne decision and keeps the play alive. Kudos to David Schlemko for using his body at the right time to distract Vrbata.

As it's thrown back around, Backlund is in continued pursuit of the puck. There is another brief scrum along the boards that sends the puck back down around the half boards, where Radim Vrbata attempts to clear.

New partner of Brodie, David Schlemko, capitalizes on this and keeps the play alive. He feeds Brodie, who makes it 2-1 for the Flames.

Final thoughts:

  • This is one of those moments where Colborne does something smart.
  • Schlemko + Brodie is a great pairing. If only Hartley had been inclined to use it before, maybe we would see more outcomes like this?
  • Mikael Backlund and rookie Sam Bennett as a duo has been quite impressive so far. Their ability to read the play and work together compensates for a weak linemate (Colborne). Bennett did a great job disrupting Vrbata, too.

Here's the full interval of play that lead to TJ Brodie's goal:

Example Three - Mikael Backlund draws a call on Kevin Bieksa

The Flames have had some well-discussed penalty issues in this series already. Even during stretches in the last couple weeks of the season, they had trouble with penalty differentials. Last night, they got back to their old ways of drawing calls.

An offensive zone faceoff loss by Joe Colborne allows the Canucks to head back up ice and tip in the puck. Brodie and Colborne are battling along the boards when Brad Richardson sends the puck around them.

Note the positioning and specifically where Bennett is. It's not the most optimal positioning with three deep and Backlund along the half-boards but it works in this situation.

As the puck heads around so does Bennett, who is able to chip it out of the zone, allowing Backlund to chase after it against Sbisa.

Backlund outworks Sbisa and manages to get possession of the puck. This is the last thing Vancouver wants as they initially broke out of their own zone on the aforementioned faceoff win.

As Backlund cuts to the net, resident bozo for the Canucks Kevin Bieksa hits him hard, taking a penalty and sending the Flames to the power play.

Quick thoughts:

  • Mikael Backlund might have a few rough games here and there but this is why he is a great player. Do we need another 3000+ word post about how he makes the team better?
  • Luca Sbisa mishandled the situation gravely and because of it, his team took a penalty.
Full video of the entire play:

Example Four - Matt Stajan draws a much needed penalty against Alex Edler

By this point in the game, the Flames had taken three penalties, including a call they were attempting to kill at the beginning of this sequence. The necessity to actually negate the PK and head to four on four was huge here. Thankfully Matty Franchise came through on this.

A faceoff win by Josh Jooris and clear by Kris Russell sends Jooris and Stajan up the ice on a standard PK approach: safe distance and decent pressure. As Edler gains possession of the puck behind the net, Stajan hits him and then is knocked down. To be fair, it's a bit of a flop but they'll take it.

Here's the full sequence:

Final thoughts overall:

  • We didn't highlight the Sam Bennett goal but we will in a separate post. The kid deserves some more love with how he played and how he dealt with some crap. I'm looking at you, Dan Hamhuis.
  • Michael Ferland definitely had some moments worth mentioning as well.
  • The efforts on the penalty kill during Josh Jooris' interference call will be looked at in another penalty kill post. It was one of the few PKs the Flames have been on in recent memory where they deployed a more aggressive style.
  • Once again it wasn't the top line doing it until later on; Hartley's necessity for matching Jiri Hudler, Sean Monahan, and Johnny Gaudreau against the Sedins is not working, though it allows other lines to flourish.
We'll take a look at the second game shortly, but in the mean time check out the first game here, as well as our recap from last night and our stats recap from this morning.