The story of this game was: score early, score fast, be Jiri Hudler in order to do so. It contained a nifty subplot of "every single goalie remaining at Flames camp is doing nothing but making Brad Treliving and Bob Hartley's jobs significantly more difficult".
That's because all of the scoring in this game came as a result of two goals scored early in the first and second periods by Hudler, while Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo, who split the game in half, stopped absolutely everything that came their way to give the Flames a 2-0 victory.
Hudler's first goal took all of 24 seconds thanks to some very nifty passing between himself and Johnny Gaudreau while Sean Monahan tied up the front of the net. His second came a minute into the second period when Sam Bennett retrieved the puck via a hard hit, Michael Frolik shot it right on net, and Hudler was there to capitalize on it sitting at the corner.
And... that was it for all the scoring.
The game was like a reverse constructive criticism sandwich for the Flames. A concrit sandwich is when you give someone a compliment, then a critique, then wrap up with a compliment; for the Flames, this game had a not-great first period, a fantastic second, and a not-great third.
That fantastic second was aided by the Avalanche taking four penalties, including three back-to-back-to-back. Of course, it was the Flames doing the work to draw all those penalties, so full credit to them there. By that point, they had a 2-0 lead already, anyway - though it should be noted they did not face a particularly strong Avalanche lineup.
The Flames won 2-0, outshot the Avalanche 32-29, and out-corsied them 61-54 (but were out-corsied 45-41 at even strength).
Flame of the game
Let's give it to Michael Frolik. While he didn't score on Flames ice - as he has been want to do this preseason - Frolik was a very visible presence throughout. He led the way with six shots on net, as well as 68.42% even strength corsi for. He played 16:06 in total - 2:46 on the powerplay, 0:35 on the penalty kill. And oh, yeah, he did have that assist on Hudler's second goal, created from a very, very hard shot.
There's basically no chance Calgary regrets bringing him into the fold. Frolik was the perfect target for the Flames to go after in the offseason, and the team is all the better now that he's on it.
- I think we can all rest easy about Bennett now. He bounced all around the lineup - from on the wing with Frolik and Mikael Backlund, to centring Hudler and Frolik, to ending up with Hudler and Paul Byron - and never really looked out of place. He was especially fantastic with Backlund and Frolik, as the three put in some serious work to create offence - oh, and never once allowed a shot attempt against over the five and a half even strength minutes played together.
- Byron had a lacklustre first game back, but looked much more like his usual self this time around. His 51.85% ES CF made him one of just six Flames to come away with a positive possession game. To add on to that, he drew a penalty on Nathan MacKinnon at the end when the Avalanche had their goalie pulled. Let Byron have a bit more time to get back into it, and he should easily make this team.
- Micheal Ferland got extended time with Monahan and Gaudreau once again. If Bennett and Backlund do end up on separate lines, he's seriously making a case to take that final top six spot. At absolute worst, though, he looks like a top nine player. He played a hefty 17:49, saw 3:48 on the powerplay, and had some pretty decent scoring chances himself.
- Garnet Hathaway looks incredibly annoying to play against. He isn't going to make the Flames to start the season, of course, but man - there's a lot to love there. Just 10:36 on the ice for him, the lowest out of all Flames players.
- Markus Granlund had an excellent start, including ringing a hard shot right off of poor Calvin Pickard's head and stunning him momentarily. The Avs' goalie suffered the same indignity later with a Gaudreau shot as well.
- Things aren't looking good for Drew Shore's chances right now to make the team right now. He played just 10:49, and was easily the worst Flame with 17.65% ES CF - not even close to good enough. Shore is subject to waivers, but, well... I'm not in the heads of NHL general managers, but it's possible he could clear.
- Dougie Hamilton already looks like he's fitting in perfectly. He's gotten the memo that the defence has the green light to jump up into the play, and he really took advantage of that, particularly in the second period. He makes it look so effortless, as well, and didn't really take any risks while doing so. It can't be understated just how huge it was to acquire him - he's going to add so much to the Flames for years to come.
- Hamilton only played 18:12 for some reason, though - the least out of all Flames defencemen. He did, however, have three shots on net, and a 60% ES CF. (His partner, Mark Giordano, had an ES CF of 68%. Hello, top defence pairing!)
- Ryan Wilson is the depth defenceman this team needs. He had a quiet game, but considering you're only really asking him to be the number six guy, quiet is good. When's he getting his contract?
- Hiller stopped 15 shots; Ramo, 14. Both goalies looked composed, not to mention made some big saves. Hiller kept the Flames in it while the Avs had their lone powerplay of the game, but Ramo was on point early on when a shorthanded chance came against him. Nobody is making this easy.
- Pretty funny: when Ramo came on the ice halfway through the game, as planned, the Flames were about to start a powerplay. That start got delayed because Josh Jooris went to go take warm up shots on Ramo. With the other team still waiting on the ice. That was fantastic.
- We really should stress, though, that this was not an optimal Colorado Avalanche lineup. Remember Blake Comeau? He led the way with seven shots for his team. When Blake Comeau is your shot leader...
- To quote our very own saltysyd:
I feel like Iggy has got to be telling Colorado execs, "I've seen this team before, it's not gonna work" as they take all our former players.
The Flames wrap up their preseason with a home-and-away series with the Winnipeg Jets. The first game is in Winnipeg on Oct. 1. Puck drop will be at 6 p.m. MT.
It'll be October, but not quite the regular season - but that's okay. Just one week to go!