One of the great things about the playoffs every season is the NHL putting microphones on players to capture the audio from down on the ice. And every so often, they happen to mic up the perfect player in the perfect game. Case in point: Matt Stajan was mic’d up for Game 6 and scored the goal that clinched the series victory for the Calgary Flames late in the third period.
The goal itself is highlight enough — a perfectly placed wristshot that found the top corner behind Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller — but listening to the Flames crowd explode from ice level after Stajan’s shot hits the back of the net is outstanding. Check it out below: Read more
While they weren’t huge underdogs coming into the first round, the Calgary Flames six-game series victory over the Vancouver Canucks could be considered somewhat of an upset. But it wasn’t so much the Flames that beat the Canucks as it was the Vancouver offense that let their team down.
Through the first five games of the series, the Canucks registered just 10 goals and failed to take advantage of any defensive lapses the Flames had shown. For much of the season, Calgary was a subpar possession team, finishing in the bottom five of the league, while Vancouver fared much better, placing in the top 20. If there was anything the Canucks could have relied upon to take the series, it was that eventually the run of play would tilt hard enough in their favor that goals would come.
However, over the course of a seven game series, even favorable underlying numbers couldn’t do much to rectify a Canucks attack that failed to find holes in the Flames’ goaltending when it mattered most. When this series is looked back upon, it won’t be Vancouver’s choice to start Eddie Lack over Ryan Miller that changed their fate, but rather the Canucks’ inability to capitalize on their opportunities. Read more
As a member of the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association, I have the honor of casting a ballot for five of the NHL’s annual individual player awards (the Hart, Norris, Calder, Byng and Selke Trophies) as well as the league’s first-and-second-team All-Stars and Rookie Team. It’s something I never take lightly, and as such I canvass opinions on who I should vote for from as many NHL people – coaches, GMs, scouts, and players – before I submit my ballot. There’s usually not much consensus in any of the voting categories, but this year there was one thing everyone could agree on: the field of legitimate candidates for each award was so vast this year, voters are guaranteed to anger fan bases no matter which person they decide to support. Read more
If you’re a believer in advanced statistics, Game 5 was the first time in the first-round tilt between Vancouver and Calgary that the Canucks controlled play in the way many had expected them to all series long.
Entering the post-season, there were few teams considered as great an underdog as the Flames, as throughout the regular season Calgary managed to stay afloat regardless of some of the worst possession statistics in the entire league. Matter of fact, when the season came to a close, the only teams with more unfavorable possession numbers than Calgary were the Colorado Avalanche and Buffalo Sabres. However, as they had done all season, the Flames defied what underlying numbers had said through the first four games of their playoffs series. Until Game 5, that is. Read more
Calgary’s first-round series against the Vancouver Canucks has been the Jonas Hiller show as the Flames netminder has stopped just about everything that has come his way through four games. In order to beat Hiller, the Canucks shooters have had to be near perfect. That’s exactly what Nick Bonino‘s second period tally was.
First, the Canucks gained the zone and worked a strong cycle before Radim Vrbata put a perfect pass right in Bonino’s wheelhouse. Without hesitation, Bonino unloaded with a seeing-eye slapper that came out of the net faster than it went in. Hiller had absolutely no chance: Read more
Thursday evening the NHL continued its week of rolling out the finalists for the major awards, as Calgary Flames left winger Johnny Gaudreau, Florida Panthers blueliner Aaron Ekblad and Ottawa Senators right winger Mark Stone were named finalists for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.
Late-season pushes by Gaudreau and Stone to shoot up through the rookie scoring race were enough to get them nods for the end-of-season hardware, while Ekblad’s stellar and often times outstanding play on the blueline for the Panthers had him as close to a lock for a nomination as a player could get. Surprisingly absent from the finalists, however, is Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg, who for much of the season led the scoring race and appeared to have the trophy wrapped up by the all-star break. Read more
Canucks coach Willie Desjardins made the choice to go with goaltender Eddie Lack, not big free agent acquisition Ryan Miller, to start the first-round series against Calgary. And after allowing three goals on seven shots, Lack is going to take some heat, but it’s not he who let the Canucks down. Rather, it’s the stagnant offense hurting Vancouver in round one and it was apparent in the Canucks’ 3-1 loss Tuesday.
Through four games against Calgary, Vancouver has only mustered one big outing – a four-goal output in the second game of the series – but hasn’t shown much in the other the three contests. In Game 1, it was Bo Horvat scoring his first career post-season goal and nothing else. Game 3 was much the same, as the Canucks got on the board early thanks to Shawn Matthias but didn’t pot another until they were behind by three goals. And now, in Game 4, the Canucks offense again stumbled, registering a goal just before the midpoint of the first period and nothing else.
The Canucks are now among the lowest scoring teams in the NHL this post-season, averaging two goals per game, and if they can’t rectify their offensive woes soon, they’re going to be the victims of an upset. Read more
Jiri Hudler is coming off the best years of his career, as he was one of the catalysts that pushed the Calgary Flames into the playoffs with a 31-goal, 76-point campaign. No matter how many highlights he may have created during the regular season, none stack up against his incredible assist in Game 4 of Calgary’s first-round series with Vancouver.
Little more than three minutes into the opening frame, the puck around the boards to Hudler, who was stationed behind the net. With his back turned to the play and a Canucks defender draped all over him, Hudler swatted the puck between his legs without looking. The magic pass ended up right on the tape of Dennis Wideman, who found a wide-open Johnny Gaudreau for the game’s opening goal: Read more