As the leaves turn to yellow, Flames fans finally got their first look at their team this season. Most of the veterans stayed home in Calgary to face the mostly rookie Vancouver squad, while the generally younger Flames went to Victoria to face the more established Canucks.
In Calgary, the veterans got out to a strong start. Johnny Gaudreau got the Flames on the board off the draw, with assists from TJ Brodie and Elias Lindholm. Shots after one were 18-2. The boys in red doubled their lead in the second with Michael Frolik capitalizing on a turnover in the neutral zone caused by Sam Bennett.
Cam Talbot replaced David Rittich halfway through the second with the latter posting a perfect four save shutout. From there, things went downhill for the Flames. Mitch Eliot snuck a shot through the five hole of Talbot, assisted by Wacey Hamilton. Jake Virtanen tied things up on the Canucks 11th shot on net later in the period. In overtime, after a number of chances by the Flames, Virtanen got his second of the night, again unassisted.
Out on the island, things went a bit better for the boys in red. Dillor Dube opened the scoring early in the first- knocking his own rebound into the net after a great feed from former Victoria Royals Captain Matthew Phillips and Brandon Davidson. Austin Czarnik added another goal in the first to end the period up 2-0.
In the second, Czarnik potted his second on a 2-on-1. Electing to shoot rather than to pass, he beat Michael DiPietro upstairs to put the good guys up by three.
Heading into the third, Rasmus Andersson took a shot from the point that bounced off of a player in front and found its way to the back of the net. From there, Vancouver mounted a bit of a comeback. Loui Eriksson put the puck past Parsons on a rebound. Josh Teves and then Bo Horvat scored goals to bring the Canucks to within one, but that was as close as they would get as the Flames held on to win by a final score of 4-3.
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5v5 Player Stats
- TJ Brodie led the way in Calgary with a Corsi For of 84.21%. Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and Elias Lindholm all were above 80% in this category
- Backlund was the only flame below 50%, posting a 46.67% Corsi For.
- Travis Hamonic and Noah Hanafin were both underwater on high danger scoring chances, with a rough 28.57% HDCF
- Ethan Keppen was the only Canucks skater to hit the 50% Corsi For
- Tyler Motte and Sven Baertschi were both on the ice for 28 Flames chances against, posting team lows of 15.15% Corsi For
- Eliot was on the ice for 83.33% of the Canucks high danger chances tonight in Calgary
Natural Stat Trick had not posted their statistical breakdown of the Canucks game in Victoria at the time of writing.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Calgary Flames HOME
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Bennett – Backlund – Frolik
Lucic – Ryan – Pelletier
Rinaldo – Gawdin – Smith-Pelly
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
MacDonald – Hamilton
CALGARY FLAMES AWAY
LINES courtesy of NHL.COM/Flames
Thoughts on the Game
In Calgary, the Flames strongly outplayed the Canucks- out-shooting them by almost a 3-1 margin. It felt as though the Flames were very aware that they were playing a lesser opposition for good chunks of the game, and had little to play for tonight. While it is just a pre-season game, the boys in red did cycle the puck quite well, and hit a number of posts on route to the loss.
One Flames who looked particularly good tonight was Mark Giordano. Looking “young and fresh”, he managed to deke through a number of Canucks, made timely interceptions and through some excellent hits. He even managed to ring a puck off the post late in the third period.
While it is still the pre-season, Cam Talbot did not look dialed in tonight. Stopping only six of the nine shots he faced, Talbot was definitely a key reason the Flames did not win tonight. Again it is still the pre-season, but this is something to watch for in the regular season.
When the Flames swapped James Neal for Milan Lucic, Flames fans were very mixed in their concern. In his first game, Lucic was an imposing figure, throwing a number of key hits and refusing to let go of the puck even as he was on the receiving end of a few on him.
However, he was clearly a half step slower than most other players on the ice. While he did make some key plays and missed a wide open net on the power play, it will be interesting to see if he can keep up once the regular season starts
Out on the island, the Flames rookies had a lot more to prove. The line of Czarnik, Tobias Reider, and Mark Jankowski looked excellent. They absolutely dominated the Canucks all night long and showed with Czarniks 2 goals.
Matthew Phillips was another flame who stood out. While he stands a mere 5′ 7″, he was on the ice for three of the four Flames goals, and was the second star of the game. He will definitely be a Flame to watch this season, although will likely start the season in Stockton.
Dillon Dube truly stood out tonight. Not only did he open the scoring, he threw a number of huge hits and made plays to set up his linemates all night long. Hoping this is the year that he finally stays with the big club, Dube will definitely be pushing hard for a spot on the opening night roster.
Just as in Calgary, the Flames in Victoria switched goalies midway through the game with Artyom Zagidulin starting and Tyler Parsons closing the game off. The former looked very composed in the net tonight, continuing his strong run of form since coming over to North America.
Parsons is a much more active goalie in the net, coming out to challenge shooters, where Zagidulin would stay closer to the twine. Although it is only the pre-season, Parsons went 16/19 while his Russian counterpart went a perfect 15/15. Both goalies will almost certainly start in the minors, the question will be whether both will stay in Stockton or be sent to the ECHL to get playing time.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: The Calgary offense was strong in both games. Both outshot their opponents by wide margins.
Bad: It isn’t the regular season yet. Also the Flames losing (even when it doesn’t count) isn’t fun
Beautiful: Mark Giordano: Young and Fresh
Opponent: San Jose
Season Series: 0-0-0
Photo courtesy of Chad Hipolito of The Canadian Press