Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
Most everyone is all over Mikael Backlund for his post-Game 5 comments about how there’s no way the Flames will lose to the Vancouver Canucks back in Calgary Saturday night.
In Van they’re outraged because of the arrogance, and in Calgary they’d like to shut him up much the way Vancouverites would have loved to stuff a sock in the mouth of Kevin Bieksa when he was saying Michael Ferland was irrelevant.
Flames fans don’t want Backlund providing any extra motivation than should already exist. So he’s hearing it from everyone now, which is why quotes from hockey players at this time of year generally tend to be even more bland than usual.
But perhaps people are not giving Backlund the credit he deserves. It just might be that he is a hockey historian of some repute and is simply examining the facts, which is to say the road history of the Canucks of late. It is not a pretty picture, and if you take a very close look at it, you might conclude just what Backlund boldly proclaimed.
If history is any kind of guide, there would be no way for Backlund’s Flames to lose Game 6.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Maybe Corsi can win you a game, eventually, if you dominate the possession stats the way the Sedins have over the Flames’ top line for five games.
“I hope so,” Daniel said. “In a long series, if you can make them tired, it’s going to pay off. All you can do is create chances, and sooner or later they’re going to start to go in. That’s the way we look at it, and tonight it paid off.”
We’ve reached that point now, folks. It’s a long series, guaranteed for six games, with a genuine possibility of seven.
Calgary is quicker and heavier up front, and their game plan of pounding, pounding, pounding on the Canucks defencemen is surely paying off. Alex Edler is not the Canucks' best defenceman, which is a battle won for the Flames. He, Luca Sbisa and Kevin Bieksa have been turning pucks over in the face of the Michael Ferland-led Calgary forecheck with growing regularity.
Vancouver’s plan is more IKEA. Possess, possess, possess. Recalling that the Flames have succeeded all season in the face of the Corsi numbers, we are left to ask: Was Game 5 a product of erosion? Did four games of pretty good possession for Vancouver produce a Game 5 that they truly dominated?
Or, was that a one-off by a desperate team on the brink of elimination? Will Calgary’s way beat the Canucks way when we get back to Calgary for a Saturday night Game 6?
from Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald,
The mission is simple.
But getting it done, the outmuscling, outworking, and outscoring of the Vancouver Canucks in Thursday’s Game 5 of the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series, is not as easy as it looks.
“When you play with nothing to lose, it’s sort of a different style,” TJ Brodie was saying before the Calgary Flames jetted off to the west coast on Wednesday afternoon. “You take a few more risks in the game and if they get the bounces, a couple extra chances can be the difference between winning and losing.
“At the same time, it’s momentum … it’s such a big factor in playoffs.”
And with the Calgary Flames in the driver’s seat, ahead 3-1 in the best-of-seven series with two straight victories at home under their belts, you’d think they have the bulk of that momentum, right?
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
The Canucks, who came into Calgary four days ago with the series tied 1-1 and eager to capitalize on their veteran poise and savvy, demonstrated neither quality as the younger, hungrier, more physical, more talented, more — OK, you get the picture — Flames depantsed Willie Desjardins' team for the second straight game.
The final score was 3-1 which, in a neat bit of symmetry, is also where this series stands.
The Canucks, however, don't find anything neat about their situation.
"This isn't our hockey," said Kevin Bieksa. "We didn't play very good overall and that's disappointing. If you put your best game on the ice and you lose, that's fine. But we can't be very happy with where we are right now.
"It's overall. We're not generating a whole lot. We're not getting a lot of chances. We're not controlling the tempo of the game. We're a lot better team than what we're playing right now."
Game 5 on Thursday night, then, might be a good time to demonstrate that.
Game highlights are below...
from Valerie Fortney of the Calgary Herald,
They’re young, really young. Many of those shining bright in playoff action so far are way under the quarter-century mark: Sam Bennett (18), Sean Monahan (20) and Johnny Gaudreau (21), for example.
Contrast that to other notable Flames’ trips to the Stanley Cup altar, like the winning 1989 team — where not a single teenager could be found on the roster, and captain Lanny McDonald was a relatively ancient 36. Even in 2004, the biggest stars under 30, Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, were 26 and 27, respectively.
It’s a youthful crop we have for 2015, that’s for sure, a fact that was played up at Sunday’s home game against the Vancouver Canucks. From radio show pundits to arena announcers, the emphasis was on a young, inexperienced but fearless crew you would only underestimate at your peril. The Twitter hashtag #neverquit was a nod to the folly of those under-expectations, a sentiment that was clearly embraced by the insanely loud, cheering fans in the seats.
The slogan and corresponding philosophy is catching on across the city, prompting people like Laura Kachuck to employ it as a teaching and empowerment tool for budding young hockey fans at Our Lady of the Evergreens in the city’s southwest.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Following the Calgary Flames’ 4-2 victory in a physical, emotionally charged Game 3, Kevin Bieksa offered this assessment of the Vancouver Canucks.
“We’re a lot smarter team,” said the Canucks defenceman. “We’ve been through a lot of this before.
“It’s not about pushing the other team around. That doesn’t win the series. It’s about executing and making plays and controlling your emotions.”
This, it should be noted, is an excellent plan. It would be even better if the Canucks implemented it for Game 4.
Monday night, the Flames seized control, and the initiative in the opening-round series, by pounding the Canucks into submission with their physical forecheck.
The stratagem not only produced two first-period goals when the Calgarians hemmed in the Canucks for two prolonged stretches, it also seemed to drive the visiting team to distraction.
In the third period, the Canucks handed the Flames four power plays and gift-wrapped the insurance marker on a five-on-three. Willie Desjardins’ team was also lucky to escape a suspension to Alex Burrows, who drew an instigating minor in a late fight with Kris Russell.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Vancouver has all the experience, but in that case they ought to know that the team that wins the physical battles to the extent Calgary won them Sunday almost always wins at playoff hockey.
Bieksa is looking a tad old. Luca Sbisa looks more than a tad scared. And the Vancouver Canucks as a group, well, when the game was in the balance on Sunday night, they simply could not handle the fast, hard-hitting and emotional Flames.
“Combination,” said Bieksa. “They played well, they came hard on the forecheck, but we weren’t as clean. We were a little too spread out. They kept a lot of pucks in on us, we weren’t as clean as last time.”
That’s fair. We’ve seen, over the years, too many playoff series that look to be going one way, turn on a dime. A win here on Tuesday and the Canucks will have reclaimed the momentum heading home.
But that prospect seems a distant dream after Game 3, where the Calgary forecheck was simply too much for Vancouver’s defence to handle.
more including videos of some of the 'physical play'...
Video highlights are below...
from Jeff Patterson of TSN,
So this much is clear: the series is tied -- and the series is on. Oh, it’s on alright. Friday’s late-game fireworks at Rogers Arena signalled the return of the rivalry between the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames. How any of the five-on-five brawl carries over as the scene shifts to the Saddledome on Sunday remains to be seen, but there is no question that a healthy amount of dislike has been introduced into this Western Canadian showdown. And that’s exactly as it should be at this time of the year, especially between two long-time rivals.
Coming into the series, much was made of the high-end youth on the Calgary Flames – Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and 18-year-old Sam Bennett, but through the first two games of the series, it’s Canucks' prize rookie Bo Horvat who has set the bar for the first-time playoff participants. Horvat nearly blew the roof off Rogers Arena with an electrifying first period end-to-end dash that resulted in a Dennis Wideman delay of game penalty for knocking the puck out of play. The Canucks scored on the ensuing power play to take a 2-0 lead. Horvat later fed fellow freshman, Ronalds Kenins, for the 3-0 goal early in the third period to give the Canucks some breathing room. Horvat, who turned 20 earlier this month, has a point in each of his first two Stanley Cup playoff appearances and sits atop the Canucks post-season scoring derby at this early stage of the proceedings.
NEW YORK (April 18, 2015) – Calgary Flames Head Coach Bob Hartley has been fined $50,000 for his responsibility for the incident that took place with 1:17 remaining in regulation of the first-round playoff game in Vancouver on Friday, April 17, the National Hockey League announced today. The fine was issued in accordance with By-Law 17.3 (a) for conduct prejudicial to or against the welfare of the League.
In addition, the National Hockey League announced that the game misconduct assessed to Calgary Flames defenseman Deryk Engelland for instigating a fight in the last five minutes of regulation has been rescinded.
Hartley was fined $25,000 for a similar incident during the 2013-14 regular season.
The fine money goes to the NHL Foundation.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Bob Hartley, who has a knack of making the story about him even after his team has been drilled like a molar, tried to turn the after-conversation into what happened in the last minute of Game 2 instead of what happened in the first 59 minutes.
But after all the he-said, she-said this one was pretty simple. In a comprehensive beat down, the Vancouver Canucks evened their opening round series with the Calgary Flames 1-1, setting the stage for the long and fierce battle which was predicted all along.
Sure the other stuff is entertaining.
But, in the final analysis, it's mostly meaningless.
"Regardless of what people are talking about, we got a big win tonight," said Kevin Bieksa. "We got a win where we felt like we outplayed them for the whole game."
Below is an extended version of the line brawl between Calgary and Vancouver...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org