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Flames vs Canucks game 4 recap: Are we relevant yet? Michael Ferland is asking.

The youth movement that has been the Calgary Flames regular season continued its success in the post-season as father, son, rookie, and Ferland the Murdersaurus continued to chip away at the Vancouver Canucks. Now they have a commanding three to one lead in the series as it shifts back to Vancouver.

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

This sums up tonight nicely from our pal Chris Gorden at the Canucks Hockey Blog. Sing it to this song.

First period -

Right off the initial faceoff, Michael Ferland made his presence felt. He led the charge with the Flames' first shot attempt on Eddie Lack. Clearly proving he is irrelevant, right? Calgary was able to create some zone time right away, which is a stunning turnaround from previous starts. The undisciplined and unstructured play of the Canucks gave the Flames an opportunity early on as Ronalds Kenins hit Sam Bennett from behind, sending Calgary on their first power play.

Initially, Calgary didn't have the strongest control of the situation but they rebounded quickly as Johnny Gaudreau scored his first of the post-season and first playoff goal, ripping it past Lack. Finally, the potential Calder trophy winner (let's be real, it's probably his) showed his scoring prowess.

Vancouver's inability to find capable shooting lanes and shot locations hindered them at first, but they eventually found their way at creating chances. The Flames were able to limit the quality of their chances, though it wouldn't last. The Canucks got a break as David Schlemko took a regrettable slashing call, sending Vancouver to their first power play of the game.

The Canucks, despite some strong killing on the beginning of the PK by Calgary, struck as a deflect off Kris Russell from a Sedin made it 1-1.

The furious and hatred-filled series continue to show itself as a dumb penalty by Nick Bonino on TJ Brodie sent the Flames back on the man advantage. Calgary didn't need much time to solve Eddie Lack again as Dennis Wideman ripped a scorcher on net and Jiri Hudler deflected it in. The goal was Hudler's first of the series as he came alive this evening.

As the period progressed you saw more and more shades of what the top line could do reappearing. Strong entries by Monahan and co allowed a superb chance to land on Jiri Hudler's stick but it missed. You saw more and more capable defending from the team breaking up plays and zone entries, including a superb defensive play from Wideman.

And if that wasn't beautiful enough for you, Joe Colborne finally entered the zone up the middle of the ice and it resulted in TJ Brodie ripping a puck on net as a streaking Sam Bennett charged the net tipping the puck in making it 3-1 for the home team.

The continued theatrics of this series once again appeared near the end of the period as Bo Horvat's high-sticking call on Matt Stajan and Yannick Weber cross-checking Matt Stajan caused yet another huge scrum. The Flames ended the period on the man-advantage from Horvat's penalty heading into the second.

Shots: 11-7 for the Canucks

Some thoughts:

  • The anthem sung by George Canyon is audible chocolate to my ears. Can we not give it up for George and his magnificent crooning?
  • Thank the stars that the one time Joe Colborne enters a zone properly it leads to a goal. More of this Joe, please. When you do this, things happen that benefit the team.
  • Eddie Lack looked rough in the period. Pulled on three goals after seven shots. You can't help but expect Ryan Miller starting in Vancouver for game five.
  • Mikael Backlund with Sam Bennett is a scary duo. The fact that Backlund NEEDS to be re-signed in the off-season is all the more reason to keep them together next season if possible. Especially given the depth at centre.

Second Period -

Ryan Miller started the period in relief for the Canucks. What did Calgary do to greet the former Olympian? Not really much to start the period. The Flames PP that they started at the end of the first wasn't a strong one. The strengths of the Canucks' second best PK (in regular season) really showed. That said, the Flames, led by Ferland, created chances after the PP, aggressively attacking and forcing turnovers.

Ferland wasn't done yet as on the same play he drove to the net and was shoved into Miller drawing a call on Brandon McMillan. Who is Brandon McMillan? No idea. The capability of the Vancouver PK continued as they found themselves preventing the Flames from gaining the zone consistently. After the man-advantage ended, during a TV timeout Brandon Bollig received a 10 minute misconduct for skating by the Canucks bench and saying something.

It didn't phase the Flames that much as Sam Bennett continued his strong play by forcing another turnover on Kevin Bieksa and allowing him to feed Tyler Wotherspoon a perfect pass for a fantastic shot on net. Side note: it's great to see Wotherspoon up in the play and making himself visible.

As the period wore on, Matt Stajan took an unfortunate delay of game call which sent the Flames back on the PK. During the PK, the Flames played a nearly perfect kill preventing zero shots. The work of Backlund and Monahan on the kill might have been an example of why both of them are such special players moving forward. To close it out, the Flames ended the period on a high note with an insane sequence of offensive zone pressure lead by Bennett and Monahan.

Shots: A very low 6-3 in the period for Calgary, 14-13 for the Canucks through two periods of play.

Some more thoughts:

  • Bollig being dumb and getting the penalty benefited the team. Thanks Brandon.
  • Ferland's continued emergence is delightful for several reasons. First and foremost, he's caused the Canucks to be overly focused on him, allowing his teammates to work. Second, he can carry the puck in or chip it in followed by getting to the puck. These are things the Flames struggled with at times through the season.
  • The PK on Stajan's delay of game, folks. Just a symphony of delight on the ice.

Third Period -

For the first three or so minutes, the Canucks really dictated play and it looked like Calgary had forgotten their transition game. Overall as the period went on both teams didn't look super flashy. Calgary and Vancouver both had issues gaining control for adequate amounts of time and most of the play resulted in fractured, inconsistent entries, and bizarrely incoherent decision making.

Calgary didn't really get a great opportunity until Johnny Gaudreau's chance midway through the third. Finally late in the period, Josh Jooris got a bit more life into the Flames with an incredible shift forcing play down the ice. Ferland aka Mr. Irrelevant kept up with his consistent destruction of Vancouver players by crushing Bieksa allowing Matt Stajan to get a quality chance on Miller.

Late into the period, the Canucks continued to drive a score effects-driven rampage in the Flames zone. The Flames imposed a defensive shell of blocking as much as possible, and everything else was handled by Jonas Hiller, who pulled out the spectre of former Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, providing a vintage Kipper save for the ages. Calgary hung on with the Canucks' net empty to secure a 3-1 victory and take an incredible 3-1 lead in the series.

Shots: 15-9 in the period for Vancouver. 29-22 overall for the Canucks.

Final thoughts:

  • The top line finally started showing life again tonight. If only Sean Monahan would shoot the damn puck more. For a 30 goal scorer (wait, maybe that's a 31 goal scorer) he's spending a lot of time trying to find the perfect pass or shot. Be selfish, Sean. Shoot that puck!
  • Matt Stajan might be playing some of his best hockey right now. If only he was more utilized during the season; what could have been... Still, it's great to see Hartley finally giving him more ice time. We've been VERY vocal about his usage all year and we're finally happy.
  • The continued emphasis of targeting Bieksa and Sbisa is really paying off. It seems like every opportunity the Flames have on attacking aggressively against them ends up resulting in one of them on the ice. Wearing them down systematically is providing abundant success against that pairing. At some point Willie Desjardins needs to figure out what to do with that pairing.
  • Dianne Ferland, Michael's mother, is adorable.

Flame of the Game - Michael Ferland

He's been the most talked about forward in this series for a reason. The trust that Bob Hartley has in the young power-forward is unlike anything else we've seen this year in Hartley favouritism. 15:05 of ice time tonight with 0:38 of it on the second PP unit. Eight hits. Yes, you read that correctly. Along with two shots and so many situations where he made smart decisions to benefit the team.

The kid is alright.

Tomorrow we'll have your stats recap and hopefully a smart plays breakdown from tonight's victory. Game 5 is Thursday in Vancouver at 8:00 PM MST. The Flames are one win away from making this season even more unpredictable and confusing.