With the season on the line, and in front of their hometown, the Canucks threw everything they had at the Flames and barely squeaked by with a victory. Although they controlled most of the play, Calgary still had a chance to tie it up in the third period. (Corsi stat lovers will eat this one up all night long.)
It was a elimination night for the Vancouver Canucks. Nobody had the Calgary Flames coming in to game five with a 3-1 series lead. Vancouver hasn’t played their best hockey, and truth be told they we’re projected higher than what the team actually plays. Of course didn’t stop them from throwing the entire kitchen sink at the Flames. Over 30 shots over two periods alone.
The Flames struck first off of a defensive giveaway. The gift left David Jones alone out front and he snapped home a goal low glove side. When the forecheck is rolling Calgary can’t be stopped. When they stop moving their feet the possession game, which is usually tipping in the opponents favour, really gets lopsided.
You have the sense that if the Flames were going to pull this off, the second or third lines would have to step up. Absent from the scoresheet, and struggling to sustain any pressure was the first line with Hudler-Monahan-Gaudreau. The physical play and their secret ailments are clearly affecting their game. Only Gaudreau and Bennett were taking additional shifts on the fourth line with Bollig sitting. Curious move given Hudler’s scoring in the regular season, but he’s ineffective in the playoffs.
Vancouver continued to roll four lines all game and manage to him Calgary in their own zone for much of the second. It didn’t help that they were phantom penalties being called, particularly out of scrums. This should raise the ire of Don Cherry, who I would agree with, give a misconduct after scrums if you want but don’t penalize the team for a weak call. Calgary spent time on the penalty kill twice in the second period and that helped Vancouver’s momentum.
With some iffy calls in the second period, I stated that the refs would even it up for Calgary in the third, and they did, twice. A late penalty with 5 minutes left in the game gave Calgary a chance, but they never threatened. The only saving grace of not throwing more pucks at Miller in this game is that they have a chance to light him up on Saturday. If there was a weak link in the Canuck lineup it was in goal.
With the win one has to wonder what kind of momentum the Canucks will bring into Calgary. One thing is for sure, the crowd will fire up the hometown team, and that advantage, along with last change, will be the difference. Goaltending too might factor in; Hiller is standing tall facing over 40 shots, but Miller was hardly tested. But do the Flames HAVE GAS LEFT in the tank to move on and close the series? They’ll have to up their game and match Vancouver’s do-or-die style. If they can figure out how to generate more shots on goal, and capitalize on their chances, then they should be fine for Game 6.
Flames now have a chance Saturday to close it out, and they need to do it in Game 6 or they’ll be in tough in Vancouver on Monday. Go Flames Go!