Icing a roster full of fringe players and NHL hopefuls, the Flames headed to Vancouver to finish off their preseason series against their rivals. Last night, the Canucks were not-so-nicely reminded about the existence of Micheal Ferland. Tonight, they were reminded about the presence of Matt Stajan and Brandon Bollig, two other wounds from last season's round one series. The dynamic (using that word loosely) duo took down the Canucks in tonight's 4-3 decision, with Bollig scoring two (!!) goals and Stajan providing three assists.
Josh Jooris got the party started with a tripping call early in the game. After an uneventful two minutes (the most notable thing that happened was Bollig getting PK time), Jooris redeemed himself. Thanks to fortunate timing and a Canucks turnover in the neutral zone, Jooris dashed out of the penalty box for a breakaway. Alex Biega had no choice but to hold him up, drawing a penalty. No word on why it wasn't a penalty shot despite Jooris having an unabated chance at the net.
The ensuing Flames powerplay was not that great. The team couldn't generate much offence, and the little they did create, they couldn't sustain. Maybe it had to do with having two 18 year olds (Kylington and Andersson) on the point, but everything the Flames did during these two minutes was impotent. It looked more like 5v5 play. The Canucks had more shot attempts (two) compared to the Flames (one).
When the Flames tried to get their offence going, it didn't really turn out that great. Radim Vrbata fooled Oliver Kylington at the Canucks blueline, chipping the puck past the rookie defenceman and setting up a fast break. Vrbata was forced by a sprawling Flames player to take a low percentage shot, but Karri Ramo couldn't control the rebound fast enough before Brendan Gaunce put it and himself into the net. 1-0 Canucks.
Just tap it in. Give it a little tappy. Tap Tap Taparoo. pic.twitter.com/aidVDATWKz— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) September 27, 2015
The Canucks are also terrible at Twitter.
What a loony goal that was. Of course, the Flames had to match. Matt Stajan forced a turnover from Christopher Tanev, and sent a desperation pass to Brandon Bollig, who actually scored a goal. Turns out that can happen if you shoot closer to the net and not from the left wing boards. 1-1.
To end the period, the Flames took another penalty after Rasmus Andersson put the puck over the glass, but nothing major occured. At the end of the first, the score was 1-1 with shots and corsi favouring Vancouver 11-10 and 17-12 respectively.
Remember that time Deryk Engelland scored two goals in one game? As you've probably figured out, Brandon Bollig scored again to begin the second period, this goal even more silly than the first one. Once again, Matt Stajan completed a difficult pass to a bad angle shot for Bollig, who scored. 2-1 Calgary, a few seconds into the second.
The Flames had a small trickle of momentum, playing level with their superior counterparts. Then they didn't get a shot attempt off for over ten minutes of gametime. I was waiting for a nurse to pronounce the team dead at about the halfway point of the second period.
How bad was it? On one sequence of play, Kenney Morrison shut down Biega, losing his stick. David Jones also broke his stick somehow, because that's how David Jones hockey works. Essentially playing 5-on-3, Matt Stajan had to mercifully ice the puck so that Morrison and Jones could get new sticks. Bob Hartley called timeout, and tried to bench Bollig after an icing call, proving he has some sense left in him. To sum it up, it was a mess.
With the Flames flatlining, something had to give, and eventually did. After a Markus Granlund offensive zone slashing penalty (I don't know how he got to the offensive zone in the first place, but it did happen), the Canucks' powerplay took advantage of sloppy Flames defence. Some nice passing, and a Jared McCann goal tied the game back up 2-2. If you look at the video, you'll notice that there is not a single Flame on the right side of the ice, allowing Bo Horvat to loaf around.
A goal so nice, why not watch it twice? https://t.co/sIlLDlQttY— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) September 27, 2015
Like the first period, the Flames took another penalty to close out the second period. This time, Brandon Bollig punched Alexander Edler in the back of the head for no actual reason, giving the Canucks a man advantage heading into the third period. Unsurprisingly, Canucks led in shots 16 to 4 and corsi 25-7.
While Bollig was sitting in his natural habitat, Josh Jooris got caught on a bad line change, and the Flames were given a too-many-men penalty. With 35 seconds of 5v3 time, the Flames showed a wee bit of defensive resiliency. They toughed it out until it was even strength, not allowing a single shot attempt during the 5-on-3.
Like the previous period, the Canucks held control of the game until something gave. In this instance, that something was Karri Ramo. While his defence didn't do much to contain the Canucks attack, Ramo let in a very bad goal from Alex Friesen. 3-2 Canucks.
Friesen, so hot right now. Friesen. https://t.co/KhgxnKXyCO— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) September 27, 2015
But what would Calgary hockey be without random third period nonsense happening? In one of those rare visits to the offensive zone, Morgan Klimchuk managed to squeak out a shot while falling. Ryan Miller went into full Ryan Miller mode, and lost track of the puck, allowing Markus Granlund to crash the net and finish the job. 3-3.
Though we were already guaranteed 3v3 overtime, Klimchuk and Granlund combined forces in the very dying seconds of the third to try and put the game away. Miller stopped both shots, preventing Canucks fans from facing late game humiliation for the hundredth time in their lives. Canucks led in shots and corsi again, 15-10 and 20-16. Off to overtime we go!
It's a pretty good idea to have teams play 3v3 regardless of regulation result, because Bob Hartley hasn't quite figured that concept out. Maybe it was the tools he had to work with, but to start the five minutes, he iced Ryan Wilson (decent), Tyler Wotherspoon (stay at home defender), and Joe Colborne (Joe Colborne). Hey Bob: you kind of want your most dynamic playmakers on the ice. You had Emile Poirier, Morgan Klimchuk, Matt Stajan, David Jones, et al. at your disposal.
Hartley soon learned his lesson, throwing Jooris, Stajan, and Brett Kulak on the ice. And whadya know, it worked!
JooJo is still wonderful, and the Flames are still masters of the Canucks. 4-3 was your final score, with the Canucks leading in shots 43-26 and corsi 64-38. The Flames have won their last three meaningless games, and now have a record of 3-2 in the warmup season.
- Brandon Bollig scored two goals and had to be physically restrained by a referee. That's a Bollig Hat-trick if I've ever seen one.
- But we must give love to the under-appreciated Matt Stajan, who made both of those goals and Jooris' game winner. I've got him on my shortlist for Babysitter of the Year 2015, an award he won unanimously last year.
- They were clearly affected by the talent gap, but the defensive corps made a lot of very good plays. Ryan Wilson should probably get a contract for his outstanding play during the preseason, and Rasmus Andersson is looking like he could potentially be a very late cut for the team, if they don't decide to give him his nine game cup of coffee while TJ Brodie is out. Oliver Kylington looked lost at times, but found himself at the right moments, such as when he shut down Henrik Sedin when the Canuck was primed to start a 2-on-1 break out.
- I'm glad the Canucks still have Ryan Miller for a while longer. Sure it's preseason, but allowing two Bollig goals and that Granlund goal is a terrible thing, regardless if it's pre, regular, or postseason.
- I'm not particularly glad that Karri Ramo is still around. His re-signing was perplexing, just like some of the decisions he made tonight. Losing Ramo would be less damaging for the future, unlike losing Joni Ortio. Please make the right decision, Bradley.
- It's an unimportant matter of the game, but Sportsnet Pacific gave the first star to Bo Horvat, and the third to Jared McCann. I think they're still somewhat upset about Matt Stajan's series winner. Why else would they ignore a guy with three great assists tonight?
The Flames aren't back in action until Tuesday, against the Avalanche in their third last preseason game. See you then!