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Flames @ Canucks: A "Tear Down The Walls" Game Recap ( 4-1L )

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At least the Canucks got a point from the Blue Jackets. They could put this one in the "heart breaking" category, but it was more a "heart wrenching" one. Either way, the team needs to "go on a run" to make it now . They needed something like 18-9-2 before this one began. Ouch.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Hockey, like all sports, has those times when no matter what, it just feels like it is not going to be your day.  You see it in the insane finishes in NFL games this year, innings like the 7th in Game 5 of the Rangers / Blue Jays, and you see it in the NHL, where parity and rule changes have made every game close, and usually decided by one goal.

Or at least it seems that way to Canuck fans this year, where it seems almost ever game is going to O/T, or being decided by one goal.

After the Jackets got their skills competition point ( and it was impressive how Joonas Korpisalo stopped both Vrbata and Burrows on their "A" moves ), they went to Calgary and took a point in regulation from the Flames, who have struggled for some time now, before and after Wideman lost his mind ( yeah, he did it, and no Brian Burke, you can't play both sides of the "concussion card" on that one.  Yes, he had one after, and it maybe even contributed to the act. But that argument dies on the fact that he repeatedly turned down medical attention at the bench, said he was fine, and continued to play.  And yes, that does mean the Flames play pretty fast and loose with the "protocol", obviously... ).  So yeah, they have problems too.

So a big two points was at stake on Hockey Day in Canada.  With Dan Hamhuis back, and the loss of a point to CBJ,  this home game was one the team needed to win.  Sometimes need does not equate to success, however.

1

With Virtanen back in the lineup ( with Dorsett and Sutter ), and the other lines all set, this looked to be a good matchup for the team, as they could roll their four lines.  Someone forgot to tell the Flames that they were supposed to be tired after a game last night and a flight to boot, as both teams got into a back and forth that was played at an insane pace.

The Flambes had some nice work early on, and so did the Canucks, as a Virtanen rush, and the first of many Sedin Cycle Shifts ( it was a precursor in several ways, as the Flames did an artful job of collapsing and blocking shots tonight, as they blocked a couple on this initial SCS )  was followed by a nice rush from Burrows that forced a solid save on the backhand.  A Sedin Cycle was stopped and as the teams went he other way, the refs called the first penalty of the night on Edler.

Niow, it was  a dive from David Jones, (obvious, he might even be $2000.00 lighter in the wallet, and on a certain list after that one ) but instead of mentioning the obviousness of it on the ONE replay they barely showed,  ( HNIC * we had  the B or C crew tonight, as Johnson and Romanuk were on the mics ), they ignored that and told us how great TJ and Johnny are.  I get it, you have to call the game for all markets, not just ours, but damn guys !  They were both good tonight, just not, THAT good, you know ? Screw it, the Canucks killed it off pretty efficiently anyhow.

The game went another long period without a whistle ( the first 5-8 minutes featured a period of 5:40 w/o a whistle ), as it blazed by at an insane early pace.  How insane ?  By the time the clock read about 4:40, the real clock read 7:35 pm.  And it is usually a 7:10-12 ish start on televised games !  That is quick.  That leads to a lot of hitting and skating, and after a shift where Ferland tried to run both Danny and Henrik Sedin ( he missed both, as the Twins slipped both ) Luca Sbisa said screw this, and a fight of some emotion ensued.  ( it seemed the Canucks were trying to hit him at every opportunity throughout the game after that too).  That is called a "good fight" as a result.

Bo had a chance off the rush, then Gaudreau shift where he twice held Hasen's stick without a call ( and where Mike Johnson looked right at the obvious rule infraction, one that is written as "don't grab the other guy's stick dude" and called it a "good non call" as he slobbered over the kid again.  OK, sorry,  I know, it doesn't help.  HNIC sucks and move on, right? ;-) was followed up by a Hamhuis spinaround shot that was saved ( and showed he is comfy with that mask he has to wear ), as the period ended at the breakneck pace it had started at.

######### 's  ( see here ) after 20 :


The Flames oushot the home team 7-5, and won the faceoff battle 7-6.  It was the Canucks that led the blocked shots 5-3 early, against a team that leads the NHL with blocked shots since 2014 with more than 2280.  And a smart point from Johnson about that too.  There are some dubious teams on that list, like the Sabres, and it is not really a good thing to have to block that many, as it means you are in your own end a long time with pressure against.  Good sacrificing though boys ! )

2

The Canucks had their best period ( OK, last bitch about MJ and the HNIC crew.  It is a short one.   How can you say a team "controlled the play this period" when they are outshot 18-9 in it ?  )  The Flames had some decent zone time in the second, but the Canucks, with any finish, should have opened the scoring at some point in the second.  It was the Flames that started the scoring though, as after a great Sedin Cycle Shift, Edler stayed in too long down low, and the Flames broke the other way.  TJ Brodie made a nice pass to Frolik, and he beat Miller down low for the opening goal.

Credit the Canucks coming right back at them, as Bo Horvat's line generated a good chance for Edler that he missed, and the Sedins almost got one on a nice Ben Hutton's nice pass / shot that was tipped by Daniel.  Jonas Hiller was up to the task on both, as he was all night, and the Flames kept their lead.

Perhaps MJ was fooled into thinking the Flames were the team in the second by the fact they were winning faceoffs  all over the ice in the first ten minutes of the middle stanza, as it went from 7-6 after one to 12-7 after 30 minutes.    The Canucks just kept coming, as good saves, blocks or sticks denied Henrik, then Etem, ( twice ) Tenev and Edler on the same shift.  Perhaps he should have passed on the initial rush, but it was still a great power move.

Bo Horvat drew a call with a nice steal at the blue line on Bennett, and while it looked really good, they did not get the shots through, or, if they did, they were saved ( 2 shots on the PP ).  Henrik had a chance from a very tight angle, but just missed an empty net as well.  Dan Hamhuis was robbed on the same PP by Hiller as well, and Bo Horvat had a chance as the PP ended.  The Canucks came on late as well, but the period ended with the Flames ahead, and teh Canucks facing a 2-16-1 record when they trail after two.

###'s at this point:

The Canucks still led the blocked shots 9-8 to this point,  Etem had no shots after one, and Hansen and Hamhuis had 1 each, but all three were tied for the team lead after two periods with 3.  The Flames still led the hits ( 14-11 ) and faceoffs ( 14-9 ) with Jooris leading the way at 5 for 7, and Monahan 4 for 6.

3

It was the third where this game was lost. I have no problem with anyone saying the Flames won this period, as they played well, and took advantage of all of their chances.  The Canucks were working hard and trying, of course.  The effort is almost always there.  Vey, Baertschi and Virtanen all had chances of varying degrees that were denied by blocks or sticks.  Ferland went the other way, and made a pretty move, but he also gloved a puck into the crease that Jones put in for an easy no goal call.

After Burrows and Hank were stopped, Vrbata was called for hooking Smid, but the PK was once again solid.  The Canucks pressed again, but their play in their own end failed them once again, as this time Hudler made a great play after beating Tanev on a puck in the corner.  His feed was nice to Sean Monahan, and his shot was even better, to make it a 2-0 lead.

Credit the Canucks for not giving up, at least.  After Willie pulled the goalie with over 3 minutes left, Backlund scored into the empty net, but they kept pushing, and Etem finally picked a corner from the slot to make it 3-1, before the Flames got another into the empty net in the last minute sealed it for good.

The Etem goal was a perfect example of the team's foibles tonight, and maybe going onwards.  Etem picked a top corner from the slot, but I lost count of the times guys were set up in that prime scoring area tonight.  Like I said, credit the opponent for the way they collapsed and all, but you have to do what Double E' did there more often guys.  NHL goalies are going to stop most of the lower stuff.

Final #'s :

While the Canucks outshot the Flames 35-30 tonight, they were badly beaten on the draws ( 32-17 ), with Jooris going 12 for 16, and Sutter only 3 for 10.  Ouch.  That is a lot of times to start without the puck, even with some good winger wins afterwards !    The Flames also ended up winning the blocks battle, with a 19-14 tally at the end.  That was an 11-5 win in that stat in the third.  Impressive.

So, the Flames wanted it more ?  No, the Canucks played hard.  The Flames made a couple nice plays on a couple goals, and took advantage of their edge on draws to control the play off of draws, but the Canucks were skating and generating chances at times too  The Canucks "could" have won this one, perhaps.  But they didn't.  After two losses and only one point against two bottom feeders, now the Canucks face the Avs and Coyotes on a road back to back this Tue / Wed that they need to sweep, before facing the Leafs in the Afternoon Delight game, where they will probably need to win that one too.

Otherwise, it might become a fairly easy decision for Jim Benning at the end of this month.  Oh well.  Dan Hamhuis looked great tonight in his first game back, and after he gets rented out, he can sign back here in the offseason !   ( Sorry, the positive took a beating in the last couple games, and it might be getting tough to see the forest for the trees. ) .  Maybe things will look brighter after the road trip....maybe ?

See you next week !  4 PM Pacific Time !  Get it out of the way early, right ?