The rosters were not nearly as stacked as the one that demolished the Canucks, and the main storyline here was the head-to-head competition between Dan Vladar and Dustin Wolf for the backup job behind Jacob Markstrom.
Dan Vladar versus Dustin Wolf
Vladar started in Seattle while Wolf started in Calgary.
For context, here are the lineups for both games:
As this Twitter user aptly pointed out, both home sides had the better roster and should have come away with the victory. Wolf had, on paper, a better team in front of him while Vladar had the tougher matchup.
In Vladar’s game, the Kraken were the better team almost all night long.
At 5v5, the Kraken threw 52 pucks at Vladar, 19 of them scoring chances and 10 high-danger chances.
Adding in all other game states, it’s even worse. Vladar saw a total of 70 shot attempts, 32 scoring chances, and 13 high-danger chances. He finished 9 for 10 on high-danger shots, 10 for 10 on medium-danger, and 6 for 7 on low-danger.
It was all Kraken, all night long. Yet, Vladar stood tall in the net. He made 35 saves on 37 shots including four in overtime and two in the shootout to guide the Flames to a gutsy 3–2 victory (.946 SV%).
A very impressive showing for the defending backup who is clearly dialled in and aware of the banging on the door from Wolf.
Back at the Saddledome, Wolf did not fare as well. In just his fifth taste of NHL action, preseason and regular, Wolf struggled in the net. However, it is important to note that the Flames played the majority of the game short a man on forward and defence. Jakob Pelletier was injured early in the game and only played 7:16, and MacKenzie Weegar was given a game misconduct for abuse of officials after just 11:58 TOI.
This game was much more even. The Kraken led in overall shot attempts but the Flames had the higher quality of chances in the game. Wolf saw nine scoring chances and two high-danger chances at 5v5, allowing one goal from high-danger and one from medium-danger areas.
In all situations, the same story remains. Wolf finished saving 6 for 7 shots at high-danger, 6 for 9 at medium-danger, and did not see any low-danger shots in the game.
The box score will show Wolf’s final stats as 24 saves on 29 shots for an .828 SV%.
While Wolf didn’t have the game he wanted, his mentality shines through. A consummate pro, Wolf had this to say about his game:
“Obviously, these games suck. You don’t want to lose,” Wolf said. “But at the same time, they’re great games where you can learn a lot from them. You know, my motto is, ‘You either win or you learn.’Dustin Wolf via Wes Gilbertson of The Calgary Herald
Everything about Wolf screams future NHL goalie. Not just his insane numbers at every level he’s played at, but his incredible mentality to always learn from his shortcomings and continue to get better.
It’s not over yet
Vladar may have the upper hand after Round 1, but Wolf will be back with a vengeance in Round 2. This battle for the backup goalie spot is far from over. After all, split-squad games don’t make for a fair assessment and the sample size is far too small.
For the Flames, their goaltending battle is one where they’re suddenly stacked at the NHL level. Yes, Wolf is unproven but he has nothing left to prove in the AHL. It’s one of the most interesting storylines of the preseason so far and will continue to be right up to opening night.
Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire