David Rittich getting his first start in net is far from the only change in the Flames lineup following a loss last Thursday. Spoiler alert: Mr. Rittich becomes apart of the best Calgary Flames pictures in recent history!
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After jumbling his top 3 lines in a frenetic 3rd period at St. Louis, Coach Peters returned them all back to their “regular” spots. The change is a completely new 4th line. Derek Ryan moves to the wing, Mark Jankowski moves back into the lineup and Garnet Hathaway makes his season debut. That leaves Anthony Peluso on the outside looking in along with a surprising teammate in Michael Frolik. It will be interesting to watch the penalty kill tonight with likely a healthy dose of youth in Sam Bennett, Dillon Dube, Jankowski and Austin Czarnik.

Defensively the only change is splitting up the youngsters presumably in an attempt to lessen the learning curve. Juuso Valimaki moves up to play with Michael Stone (again) and Noah Hanafin moves down to play with Rasmus Andersson.

1st Period Highlights

1st Period Thoughts

As someone who thought when Jon Gillies arrived last season he would have already taken over the reigns as starter, seeing Rittich scored on 11 seconds into the game makes me sad. Oh dear. Already in this game Rasmus Andersson has fumbled the puck in his own zone for a Colorado scoring chance but no harm resulted. Well, harm happened when TJ Brodie fumbled it. A timeout 2:40 into the game. Eep!

Monahan hits the cross bar. The puck goes down the ice and Rittich makes a nice save. The timeout seems to have hit the reset button. Rittich settled in nicely after fighting the puck for the first 5 minutes or so. 10 saves made after the second goal went in.

The Hathaway hit on Gabriel Landeskog is a staple on Peluso’s butt to the bench. The hit also resulted in Jankowski shot. This is a reminder the future looks bright folks.

We have our first penalty which means we have our first look at a Frolik-less PK. Derek Ryan & Dube to start. We have a goal post, sigh of relief. Elias Lindholm & Mikael Backlund next up. Shot on goal and a failed first attempt to clear. Jankowski & Bennett next. Bennett clears after a lot of Avs pressure. Penalty killed.

Johnny Gaudreau draws a penalty. Czarnik to Dube for a great chance. Top unit puts up 3 shots.

2nd Period Highlights

2nd Period Thoughts

This is how the lines rolled for the beginning of the period and throughout the rest of the game:

Gaudreau-Monahan-Tkachuk
Bennett-Backlund-Neal

Dube-Lindholm-Czarnik
Jankowski-Ryan-Hathaway

One wonders, why not go back to the lines that worked so well in St. Louis with Neal skating next to Mony & Johnny and also Ryan centering Tkachuk & Czarnik. After the game one wonders really wonders what Coach Peters is going to do for the next game on Wednesday with his lines.

The 4th line ended up going against Colorado’s first line and after much pressure Jankowski ends up inadvertently clearing the puck over the glass for a penalty. The next time the 4th line matched up against the Avalanche top line they swapped scoring chances with Ryan having the best one.

Penalty kill forward unit one – Backlund & Lindholm – 40 seconds of pressure but no shots. Unit two is Ryan & Bennett. Shot, failed clear, partial clear which strands Bennett into an extra long shift. Rittich with a big save to end the penalty kill in style.

Andersson cleanly beat then with the super nifty recovery. Another reminder the future is bright.

Bennett scores for reals!! 2-1 Avs still lead.

Jankowski draws a penalty. The 20-foot drop pass needs to be banned. Save of the year by Varlamov on a tic-tac-toe play to Tkachuk.

Landeskog with a hit to Andersson’s name plate. To make the refs job easier, name plates need to be replaced with the stop sign like in junior hockey. That was dirty Mr Landeskog. Per the commentator, the shot on goal on the play was the Avs first in 9 minutes!

Brodie draws a penalty. Slow start, strong finish with Tkachuk in Varlamov’s face.

We are not talking about the Flames goalie. That’s the best compliment a guy can hand out to a backup goaltender.

3rd Period Highlights

3rd Period Thoughts

Gaudreau dekes Varlamov almost bad enough to score on a wraparound. Tries to sell it as a goal to no avail. Great shift by Bennett-Backlund-Neal. Bennett playing bigger than his frame. Flames first line keep pouring on the pressure.

Zadorov with a blatant hit from behind. Bennett ends up with the extra minor. Referee you suck. Further proof of this was in watching Backlund try to breakaway on the PK while literally wearing an Avs defender. Shake my head. Penalty kill keeps momentum in Flames corner.

Lindholm draws a penalty. Somebody bring out the kitchen sink, the Flames have thrown everything else at Varlamov.

Lindholm finally scores! 35 hockey minutes of pressure have finally resulted in a tie game. Lindholm was the player who came onto the ice as the extra attacker for Rittich.

Overtime Highlights

Overtime Thoughts

Johnny & Mony to start. Johnny finishes it!! On the replay you can see Rittich threw his arms up once Johnny got the pass and crossed the blue line. AWESOME!

Shots on goal is typically not a reliable metric to describe a hockey game except maybe for this one.

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March To The Stanley Cup, Calgary Flames Game 5

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