All joking aside, the Bruins entered last night’s contest as one of the league’s best teams. The Flames, coming off of a marvelous comeback win over the Avalanche, were well rested enough to face such stiff competition. With the top line in hockey consisting of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and the ever annoying Brad Marchand to deal with, the Flames faced a tall task.
Luckily, the Flames came to play. Getting off to what was easily their best start of the season, goals by Michael Frolik, Johnny Gaudreau, and Jusso Valimaki got the team out to an early 3-0 lead. This was an area where the Flames faltered in previous outings, and was a welcome sign to see a change of pace. Frolik’s goal came as a result of a phenomenal passing play, and of course was a strong response from the forward who was coming off his first healthy scratch since his rookie season at 19 years of age. Gaudreau and Valimaki both were able to hit career milestones, as the former notched his 100th career NHL goal and the latter potted his first ever.
The two teams would exchange goals down the stretch, but the Flames simply would not allow the Bruins to gain much breathing room. Timely saves by Mike Smith, and strong defensive and offensive prowess by the recently reunited 3M line, allowed to Flames to hold on to a dominant 5-2 home ice victory.
The Flames now sit a perfect 2-0 at the Saddledome, with another tough test against the Nashville Predators on Friday night.
|All Situations||5v5||SVA 5v5|
5v5 Player Stats
- Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett tied for the team lead in CF% at 5v5 with a 62.3%
- The rest of Benett’s line, Mark Jankowski and James Neal, followed close behind with 61.9% and 60.7% respectively.
- Dominant on the offensive side of the puck, Gaudreau posted a game low 30.4% CF% at 5v5, but accounted for two HDCF in the contest.
- Zdeno Chara led not only his team, but the game, with a strong 63.6% CF% at 5v5. His partner Charlie McAvoy was further down the list with a 53.3%.
- The Ryan Donato – David Backes – Anders Bjork line was hemmed in their own zone for the majority of the game, posting CF%’s of 33.3%, 38.9%, and 35.3% respectively.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Bennett – Jankowski – Neal
Czarnik – Ryan – Hathaway
Giordano – Brodie
Valimaki – Stone
Hanifin – Andersson
Marchan – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Nordstrom – Krejci – DeBrusk
Donato – Backes – Bjork
Wagner – Kuraly – Acciari
Chara – McAvoy
Moore – Carlo
Grzelcyk – Miller
Thoughts on the Game
Do you know what is good to watch? Flames hockey.
Do you know what is great to watch? Dominant Flames hockey.
Similar to the Nashville game, the Flames played with such poise and confidence tonight that it makes you dream about what this team’s ceiling could be. Even with Bill Peters fiddling with their lineup again, the forward depth was evident last night. Being able to play all twelve skaters across the board made for a difficult match-up for the Bruins.
Of course, as strong as the effort was by the Flames, the team was fortunate to have caught Tuukka Rask on an off night. Some of those goals, mainly Gaudreau’s and Valimaki’s, are normally routine saves for the perennially stellar goaltender. That being said, I am very happy the Flames were able to get some puck luck.
The one thing that does concern me still, albeit after six games, is the play of Neal. Still sitting at one goal, he hasn’t blown anybody away with his play. He has yet to earn himself a promotion from the “third” line, and that is concerning. Looking at his starts over the past few seasons, this ranks near the bottom. In addition to this, his foot-speed appears to be a notch below his linemates. It’s not panic mode yet, but I am surprised that he hasn’t been able to pitch in a bit more than he currently has. The goals inevitably will come, but perhaps they wont be as prominent as we thought on July 2.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Gaud: Gaudreau notched his 100th career NHL goal, while Valimaki potted his first ever.
Bad: Jankowski looked absolutely lost on the third line, in place of the injured Dillon Dube, often looking like he was always a step behind
Beautiful: The 3M line returned to action, and combined for six points and three goals, all while effectively containing the Bergeron line.
Opponent: Nashville Predators
Standings: 1st in the Central
Season Series: 1-0-0 Flames
Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images