Eddie Lack was very good when he had to be, but let's face it, he had 18 shots to deal with, and only 8 through two periods.
It had the feel of possibly being "one of those games", however. The Flames had 2 shots in the first period, but the way it was bouncing around the net on those rare occasions when the home team gave their fans anything to cheer about, they could have snuck a goal, or even a win.
So, credit The Stork for his game tonight. He may have said "it was fun watching the show" in front of him in the first two periods, ( and the Canucks were pretty efficient in their own end tonight ), but his contributions definitely helped earn the two points tonight.
A few others that did the same, and some of the other highlights of how the job got done ;
- So, Henrik Sedin is a beast, eh? That almost 700 game Iron Man streak aside, he took a puck ( off a Weise shot at the net that went crossbar and Henrik ) off the ear that required stitches, took another puck in the face on a clear from his brother later, and made one of those perfect passes he is known for on the opening goal, while battling through the pain. That looks like it hurts , and while he only won 7 of 20 draws and had 3 giveaways ( a team high ) tonight, he was a warrior.
- I hope Andrew Alberts is OK. That was a brutally meathead play by McGrattan. He deserved to be ejected, and may even get a call from Brendan Shanahan. You simply cannot do that. The Flames were trying to hit high all night though, so perhaps it is something that Bob Hartley likes. ( I thought the two hands to the head method of hitting had left with the Dion Phaneuf trade, but I guess that is too much to ask. Meatheads! ) A pre-emptive "hush" to those that tried to spin it a "hockey play" on twitter. He hit him with the shaft of his stick with two hands on it, in the face, at a high rate of speed. Alberts is no "soft" player, and might have even been out on the ice briefly. Enough. If that is all players like Brian McGrattan have to contribute to the game, we're better off without 'em. Sometimes the head contact is just part of the hit. It was the only thing intended by this one. Exactly the kind of hit with no place in the NHL.
- Sorry for the brief "rant". I do realize the hypocrisy inherent in cheering Tom Sestito for fighting McGrattan ( and trying to pay back a head injury with another, league mandated as OK, one ! ), but for those of you on the "no fighting" side of the question, that was the "policing" that NHLers talk about as happening on the ice. Tom had a shitty game overall, but he gets respect for that.
- The 1st period for the Canucks, there might have been a touch of rust ( 6 giveaways to 2 for the Flames ), but you just didn't notice much, because of a 13-2 shot advantage, territorial mastery, and the visiting team clearly being the better one. One line that was particularly too much for the Flames ( well, there was more than one, and Henrik Sedin and Brad Richardson's lines both pushed the play well all night ) was the Kesler line. How dominant?
- Well, in the Corsi For % stat, a lot of players had a night over 50%. In fact, only a few ( Booth - 47.6% , Richardson - 47.6%, Sestito - 40.0 % , Weise - 44.4 %, and Hansen - 48.1%, but he had a goal ) were under that. Kassian was way better than his linemates at 55%. Yannick Weber was also 55%. Garrison led the blue liners with a 57.6%. But your eyes were not deceiving you when it came to the ACE Line tonight. Ryan Kesler's Corsi For was 60.9%, Chris Higgins tops at 66.7%, and Mike Santorelli was 63.6%, and he had a goal. The definitely had All the Corsi Events tonight.
- Another way of understanding Corsi is the Corsi Relative. Essentially, how the team did with the player on the ice as opposed to with them not. ( that and other things about advanced stats explained for dummies by our friends from PPP here last year. It helps you understand in plain language ). Anyhow, the Corsi Relative for those three tonight was Kesler - + 10% , Higgins - + 17.5 %, and Santorelli - + 13.6 %. That's pretty good.
- While the Corsi numbers showed only one of the 3rd line guys ( Kassian ) having a solid game by the math, I thought that entire line had a great many really good shifts. They controlled the zone, were physical, and pretty decent in their own end when they had to be. A hardworking night for them. Another one. It's nice to see them contribute, considering the wingers were at one time consigned to the dust bin by the media and some fans. Booth had 4 of his 6 shot attempts force a save, Kassian was only credited with 1 hit in 13:29 TOI, but played solid, and Richardson blocked 2 shots and won 6 of 13 draws. Torts plays the other two lines a lot, and it wasn't like the 3rd line dominated as they have in the past, but they are getting more consistent.
- It seems to be a theme that one of the wingers on each line has to have a decent amount of shots. Daniel Sedin had 5 of his 6 shot attempts force a save. The same for Mike Santorelli, who had 5 of his 6 shots trouble Berra. Even though it was the centre, even Zac Dalpe had 2 of 3 shots on net tonight!
- His may come with 1/8th the draws taken, but Zac Dalpe ( once again a good night, with a 6 of 9 won night ) is now 51.2% on draws, the same as Ryan Kesler ( who is much more impressive considering his comes from winning 327 of 639 draws , instead of Zac's 42 of 80 ). But after getting lit up when he was first called up to the NHL, Dalpe has been a reliable, quick, and decent fourth liner.
- Seriously though, the Flames are supposed to be this "hard working, blue collar" team, and they have 2 shots in one period of play? Don't tell me about the major, either. I know that team can point to youth, and they are a pretty honest team most nights, but they were clearly outmatched on home ice, against a geographical rival they are supposed to get up for. Reto Berra was a big reason they were still in it with a chance to steal the game in the third, and their defenders played OK, for all the time they spent in their own end, but it looks like Brian Burke is going to have a long road ahead of him.
- That said, we'll take Mike Cammelleri if you're giving him away Burkey. His 2 shots tied with a few others for the team lead, and his 3 blocks led the the Flames as well. A hard working 19:35 TOI from an honest player. I think he hit a post too !
- The Flames' best chance might have been at the start of the third, when a Sedin line shift that started out in the offensive end ended up with a lot of pressure, a couple great saves by Lack, and almost 2 minutes of zone time ( more like 1:45, but still ! ) It set the tone for that period, after the relative embarrassment of the first two, and could have been rewarded with a bounce. On the flip side, it was also good to see that the defenders could go that long without making a tired mistake that did cost a goal. They stayed in their lanes and prevented the big chance, while dead tired. Considering that is when the big mistake almost invariably happens, it was good to see. Maybe that is why Torts really focussed on fitness at the beginning of the year, and works hard to get the players days off whenever he can ?
So, while it was not as dominant on the scoreboard as it could have been, this was a game where the better team won. One where Eddie Lack continued to amaze at how calm his is ( honestly, rebounds are supposed to happen. With Eddie, he looks like whenever he is able to set up and see it, there is going to be no rebound. He absorbs pucks like a sponge! With only 18 shots, and only a third period where he was really worked, look for Torts to go back to Lack for the second of the back to back games tomorrow against the Flyers at home.
The schedule has them waiting in Vancouver already. While that could mean a cautious game, the Flyers are a bit more aggressive of a team, and this one is on home ice. Still, if the Canucks can work hard, and do their jobs like they did for most of this game, they could very well have the same result tomorrow. They are 10-1-1 for December, and could close out the month with a single loss in regulation ( to Dallas, to go with the shootout loss to the Wild on the road ).
That's pretty impressive. Let's hope they keep it going tomorrow...