After an off-day on Saturday, the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks got back to business in the lone game on the schedule for Sunday. The Flames coming off of a 4-2 loss vs. the Oilers on Friday looked to represent themselves more appropriately. The Canucks dispatched of the Winnipeg Jets with ease in the Friday night finale. It was also 4-2 (every game so far has had a team score 2 goals), although the Canucks looked head and shoulders ahead of the Jets for most of the night and the score could have been much higher if Berdin was not playing out of this world!
The Canucks gave Thatcher Demko the night off, allowing Michael Dipietro to start in net with Michael Garteig the back up. Flames countered with Nick Schneider as their starter and Mason McDonald in the wings.
Today’s affair was incredibly lopsided. The Flames came out of the gates with an aggressive gameplan and followed through on it all game. The Canucks also started the game with spirit but quickly seemed to fall into lull and were simply unprepared to fight against the puck and their own errors this afternoon.
Flames team defense: The Canucks managed to put 27 shots on net, but the number of quality shots was relatively low. The defensmen were boxing out well, the forwards were keeping players to the outside, and Nick Scheider was not allowing second chance opportunities.
Yan-Pavel Laplante: The Engergizer bunny, Laplante was everywhere. He went toe to toe with a much larger Hunter Smith and held his own (some may say he won the tussle, others will say it was a draw). Had a beautiful goal in the second period, and was aggressively trying to find more ways to get the Canucks back into the game.
Spencer Foo: Luckily for the Canucks, Foo only managed 2 goals tonight. He was on his game, demonstrating why he was so highly sought after as a NCAA signee looking offensively dangerous all game long.
Luck for Aaron Irving: Irving started the game paired with Olli Juolevi. He was moving the puck responsibly, and making up for Juolevi’s mental mistakes (more on this later). Irving pulled the Canucks to within one goal on a seeing eye shot to the mesh before being removed from the game after an awkward landing in the first period. Hopefully this is not the last we see of Irving given that he appeared to be one of the bright spots in the Canucks lineup today.
Olli Juolevi: Unfortunately for the talented Finn, every mistake he makes is magnified because of his selection in the upper first round. Tonight, those mistakes piled up! He did rush the puck on offense well, but his defensive game was error filled. Granted, he was running with different defensive partners all night but he still needs to play a more sound game while defending.
Michael Dipietro’s stats: I don’t really want to hang this all on the 2017 3rd round pick. He may not have had a great day giving up 5 goals on 34 shots, but the players in front of him did very little to give him a chance at winning today. He will have more opportunities to show more promise another day, but for now his numbers are ugly!
The Officials: We won’t blame the on-ice Officials for this loss in any way shape or form. We can however, suggest that an infraction has to occur for a penalty to be called... Guillaume Brisebois was called for holding, but what he was holding is still a mystery (even after watching the replay). Maybe it was his own stick? It was a strange call for sure. There was also the matter of weak calls. If you call slashing on one team for lightly tapping the opposing player’s stick, you have to reciprocate that call... or not. It didn’t change the outcome of the game, but the Refs and Linemen were not up to snuff today.
Interesting move by the Canucks coaching staff with 8:34 left in the 3rd period. With the team on the powerplay, they decided to pull the goalie with an offensive zone faceoff. The Canucks maintained solid pressure, but were unable to prevent the open net goal by Brett Pollock. If it would have resulted in a Canucks goal, it may have turned the tide. Kuddos for taking a path less traveled!
Brock Boeser once again looked like a player who is developmentally ahead of the rest of his team. He was generating attacks all afternoon. It’s hard to say if we will see him tomorrow for the final game of the tournament against Edmonton.
Alexis D’Aoust was once again grinding hard each and every shift. His forecheck was strong and created a few turnovers with his motivated play.
Jakob Stukel probably needs to put some fabric softener in his gloves. The youngster has the speed and hockey IQ to play at the next level, but his hands are in real need of some softening.
Mackenze Stewart has shown growth in his game. Not only has he shown more defensive awareness, but he is showing huge strides in his offensive game. He was getting pucks on net today which is a great sign that the 2014 7th round pick is gradually becoming the professional hockey player that the Canucks envisioned when they took a chance on him.
Tomorrow is a new day! The Flames and Jets take the ice at 10:30 am with the series ending Canucks vs. Oilers follows at 2:00 pm. Sounds like the Canucks may be turning the net over to Thatcher Demko tomorrow, can’t wait!