The Calgary Flames have eliminated the Vancouver Canucks, putting the kibosh on the series with a 7-4 victory on Saturday night. The Game Six win for the Flames sets up a second round series against the Anaheim Ducks and marks the first time in 11 years that Calgary escaped the first round of the post-season.
Calgary had four goals in the third period, continuing a trend that carried the Flames throughout the series and the regular season. As noted in our playoff preview, Calgary took home 25 percent of their points when they were losing after two periods. They had nine third period goals in the series against Vancouver and it seemed there was simply no obstacle too significant for the Flames.
Despite being chased in the first period by an early salvo of Vancouver goals, Calgary goalie Jonas Hiller was solid. He put up a 2.20 goals against average to go with a .931 save percentage. Backup goalie Karri Ramo was good when called on, logging 57 minutes in the series and posting a save percentage of .905 with a goals against average of 2.11.
Calgary balanced their offensive output in the series, getting timely goals from various places. Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler had six points, while Michael Ferland, Matt Stajan and Sean Monahan also put up quality numbers. Hudler had a great Game Six, scoring two goals and adding two assists. He also had five shots on goal.
Defencemen Kris Russell and TJ Brodie were also factors for the Flames. They logged serious minutes and helped contend with and contain Vancouver’s top forwards. The Canucks may have been the better team on paper, but the Flames were the better team in terms of heart and that showed in the gritty, painstaking play of their defensive group.
The Canucks struggled to find a bead in the series. Goalie Ryan Miller played in three games and picked up just the one win, despite posting a solid 2.31 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. Eddie Lack saw more action than Miller, but he put up disappointing numbers with a .886 save percentage and a 3.03 goals against average.
Offensively, the usual suspects chimed in. Daniel and Henrik Sedin both had four points in the series, while Radim Vrbata and Jannik Hansen also had four. Unfortunately, the defenceman weren’t activated and only Luca Sbisa scored for the blueliners. His goal came in Game Six and put the Canucks ahead going into the final frame, but it was not to be.
Plainly put, this series came down to Vancouver’s inability to put away the Flames. They’re in good company and one has to imagine the Ducks could be in trouble against this club.
Calgary benefits significantly from the underdog position and they’re a very tough team to shut down. They ride a lot of momentum, but they’ve also been able to pick up the secondary scoring and goaltending to back it up.