Coach Bill Peters has been an early season master of switching his lines up during the game to maximize success. As we are learning, these mid-game changes have no bearing on his starting lineup entering the next game. For the sixth time this season Peters’ top line will be Johnny GaudreauSean MonahanElias Lindholm. He has never broken up Johnny and Mony but James Neal, and most recently Matthew Tkachuk, have had extended visits with them. Michael Frolik was demoted from the “3M” line after game one and was a healthy scratch last Saturday. He is back with Tkachuk and Mikael Backlund. Sam Bennett and Neal have a new centerman tonight in Mark Jankowski as Dillon Dube is out due to injury. Garnet Hathaway and Derek Ryan stay together on the fourth line but tonight Austin Czarnik joins them. Czarnik opened the season on the fourth line, this is his first trip back.

1ST PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS

1ST PERIOD THOUGHTS

Ryan wins the defensive zone draw too clean and it ends up as a shot on Mike Smith. Next shift, Jankowski and Neal can’t figure out how to clear the puck out and Smith has two saves. Add another two saves on the next Bruins rush into the zone. Starts just don’t seem to be our thing.

Frolik and Backlund on a partial 2-on-1 and Backlund is robbed. This game is 3 minutes old and has been pure energy. Frolik has been a man possessed and is rewarded with practically an empty net goal after Tkachuk picks up a loose puck and begins a beautiful tic-tac-toe play. Maybe the “healthy scratch” tactic that is overblown by the media actually works. Frolik finished the period with 5:48 of playing time which was minute more than any forward on the top line. Spoiler alert: Frolik stays playing a like a house of fire all night line and turns in one of his best all around games as a Flame.

On the faceoff Mark Giordano and Gaudreau both commit turnovers which nets one quality chance for the Bruins. Insert playing with fire pun here. Giordano had another misplay on a puck coming off the backboard headed toward the front of the net forcing another quality Smith save. On the goal that was taken away from the Bruins because Brad Marchand was offside (after review), David Pastrnak was Giordano’s man to cover. Methinks the Captain is buying the first round tonight.

Good things happen when you throw the puck at the net. Noah Hanifin reminds us of that lesson and gets an assist on Gaudreau’s 100th career goal.48 seconds later on another good zone entry by Jankowski and Bennett, Juuso Valimaki scores his first by simply throwing the puck at the net.

Rasmus Andersson draws the penalty driving toward the net.

2ND PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS

2ND PERIOD THOUGHTS

For 1:16 the Flames had a 5-on-3 powerplay after Giordano got highsticked by Patrice Bergeron. Zero shots. Pressure but no shots.

Michael Stone goes for the puck which gives Bergeron the split second to make it 3-1. Bergeron had just finished serving his penalty. 11:05 later Stone goes for the puck on the pass across instead of going to the man about to receive the puck. That would make 4-2. Sandwiched in the middle was a needless interference penalty by Stone. Lindholm with breakaway gets too deep for a good shot. Frolik with a clear cut breakaway fires it over the net. Jankowski and Giordano with a 2-on-1, Janko with the shot into Rask’s bread basket. Best. Penalty. Kill. Ever.

The Flames 4th goal came from the Bruins not once but twice turning the puck over in their own zone. Play with fire, get burned. Backlund to Frolik, it is 4-1 Flames. The pace of this game has been frenetic.

Gaudreau leading the rush gets bodied hard. They call it a trip but Andersson and Noah Hanifin call it bullshit and go after Ryan Donato. Desperately want to see more of this! Another shotless powerplay.

Hathaway penalty killed efficiently by the Flames. Coming out of the box, he joined the play and afterwards get accidentally, but obviously, highsticked by Charlie McAvoy. The 4th line’s next shift features Ryan setting up Czarnik for a great chance and Hathaway finding his way to McAvoy for a little post-whistle skirmish. Gotta like the moxy!

T.J. Brodie with a holding call. Bruins do not establish any pressure during the abbreviated powerplay leading into the intermission. Backlund charged with a hooking call at the 20 minute mark.

3RD PERIOD HIGHLIGHTS

3RD PERIOD THOUGHTS

58 seconds of 5-on-3 for the Flames penalty killing unit. Insert melodramatic “game in the balance” comment here. No shots allowed. Every one exhale.

McAvoy needs to get his ass kicked. Sorry, I mean McAvoy with a late hit on a falling Gaudreau gets a 2-minute minor. Monahan with a good point blank scoring chance but not much else happened. After the powerplay Bennett takes a shift with Mony and Lindholm. Oh oh, where’s Johnny? Seems it is Bennett’s spot for the rest of the night.

Smith bails himself out after misplaying the puck. Mr. Smith delivered a solid performance tonight. He weathered the storm the first three minutes of the game while the Flames found their legs which is not how the script has typically gone this young season.

Stone with a great defensive play to break up a Bruins scoring chance. My confidence in him needed that.

The Flames looked every bit as good as a team that had 112 points last season. Settling for long shots instead of trying to play the puck deep is a byproduct of protecting the lead. Now here’s hoping Gaudreau is ready to be back Friday versus Nashville.

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March To The Stanley Cup, Calgary Flames Game 6

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