The national media will try to tell that the injury to Auston Matthews is the big story heading into tonight’s game. Calgary Flames fans will tell you it’s not even a top two headline.

Heading into tonight this Flame fan wants to see “the real” Mike Smith show up. The Washington game was a step in the right direction, lets keep stepping. Also the on-again/off-again pairing of “Brodano” (Mark Giordano/T.J. Brodie) needs to see Brodie do a better job of keeping his name in that pairing. Rasmus Andersson has quickly become my favourite Flames newcomer and while it’s understood Coach Peters needs wins now, the kid has earned his ice-time with his play and not just the name on the back of his jersey.

1ST PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS

Mark Jankowski with a steal on a bad Freddy Andersen clearing attempt leads to a quick 2-on-1 with James Neal but Neal misses the net. Later on Sam Bennett hits the post. Are there two more snake-bitten players in the NHL right now?

4-on-4 play in the offensive zone and Johnny Gaudreau smartly drops to his knees when he felt a stick across his back drawing a penalty.  First faceoff ends up being Sean Monahan versus a Leafs defenseman which resulted in a good scoring chance by Giordano. Two more faceoff wins, two more shots before the Leafs are able to clear the puck for the first time.

Neal with the Flames first penalty of the game. We get reminded that Matthews is not playing. Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson giving us a wonderful example of east coast bias. May as well just turn on Leafs radio, their feed can’t be anymore bias that what we are being subjected to by the TV commentators.

They say the best defence is a good offence. Shots at the end of the period 12-4 in favour of the Flames. Worries about Smith in net stay in neutral as he has not been tested. Per Elliott Friedman, the Leafs went 9 minutes without a shot and 8 minutes without an offensive zone faceoff. We just gotta score boys!

2ND PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS

Not sure if the lines are mixed up because of the penalty kill to start the period and lack of a whistle afterward but the line of Garnet HathawayDerek RyanMichael Frolik got the Flames first two shots of the period at the 4:20 mark. The “3M” line took the offensive zone faceoff so it seems they are still together.

Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm lose an offensive zone draw which results in a shot against. Lines are back in order.

Lindholm draws a penalty but his body language suggested that he wasn’t sure if he was the one being tagged with the call. Gaudreau makes a bad pass then plays good defence to fix it. The knocks on Johnny Hockey are his giveaways and his defence. I’ll accept the giveaways if he keeps bailing himself out. Some zone time but no real good pressure. Gaudreau has done everything but score so far tonight.

Noah Hanifin loses an edge which allows the Leafs to make a cross zone pass. Smith makes his best save of the evening!

Period ends in the nick of time as the last couple shifts saw the momentum shift toward the Maple Leafs. With 2.6 seconds remaining, the Leafs come out of the corner and through the crease for a shot that Smith stops. The puck squirted away from Smith and sat perfectly still in the crease and thankfully that is when the horn went because a moment later it was knocked into the net. Collective exhale!

3RD PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS

After a great Neal scoring chance, Travis Hamonic with a brutal turnover that luckily did not result in even a shot against. On the same shift, Hamonic needed Smith to come play the puck because he was going to lose his man.

Andersson draws a penalty and the Flames cash in! Monahan with the rebound and a monkey thrown off his back with his first goal in 9 nine games and the powerplays first goal in 16 opportunities.

Monahan with the nice takeaway, Gaudreau with the nicer pass and Lindholm scores a beauty!

Goaltending on your stomach is hard to do. A goal post saves Mike Smith. Suppose it doesn’t always need to be your goalie that makes the big save after a goal. Game now has the pace of a New Jersey Devils game circa their 1995 Stanley Cup run (lots of whistles). Turnovers created some scoring opportunities, let’s hope the league never goes back to the dreaded trap.

Matthew Tkachuk takes a penalty against Nazem Kadri. At their best both these players make most top five disliked players. Glad we have Matthew not Nazem. The Leafs collect their 2nd and 3rd shots of the period. Giordano then takes a penalty for knocking John Tavares into the net and subsequently knocking the net off. One second after the 5-on-3 expired the Leafs break the shutout. Sure it sucks that they scored but now the game returns to even strength. Plus if Smith gets the shutout the temptation increases to play him again Tuesday in Buffalo. At this stage in the season, no goaltender should play both ends of a back-to-back.

The ensuing shift Coach Peters throws Neal (Lindholm was on the PK) onto the first line with Mony and Johnny. They spend the whole shift in the defensive zone. Mikael Backlund loses the defensive zone draw and Marner fires a quick shot versus a not set Smith. Quick line change and Monahan wins the defensive zone draw and eventually the puck finally gets out of the zone.

Weirdest moment of the season candidate as Leaf nation celebrates a goal that never went in the net. Understandable why the ref blew the play dead but if you don’t kill the play while the puck is in the net mesh then you should not kill the play was the puck is being moved up ice. At least the Flames got their empty net goal in the dying seconds.

March To The Stanley Cup, Calgary Flames Game 12

Leave a Reply