The Flames can’t win in Anaheim. That’s what the radio experts were saying on the afternoon of the first game of the two teams’ second-round series. And it was true. The Flames have not won in the regular season in Anaheim since January of 2004. None of the current Flames players were with the team then. They haven’t won any game at all when being hosted by the Ducks, in fact, except one playoff game during that time.
Perhaps that’s more telling than it sounds. Say it the opposite way: nobody on the Calgary team remembers the futility of all those years of losing against the Ducks. On the other side of that, only three Ducks players—Beauchemin, Getzlaf, and Perry—were with the Anaheim team the last time they lost a playoff game to Calgary, which happened in 2006. Then again, the teams have met only then and now in the post-season.
Thursday, the Flames kept their streak of futility alive by dumping a 6-1 game in which they rarely got a sniff of Frederik Andersen’s cologne. They just didn’t find the net. The one goal they managed was a fluke. It came off the end boards on a weird bounce, and Beauchemin kicked a skate out at it. He made it go on an angle to the left faceoff dot (from Calgary’s POV), where Sam Bennett fired it home on a goalie who had no time even to know where it was.
The shots weren’t terribly one-sided, at 35-24 but for instance, late in the second period, with the SOG totals 22-14 in Anaheim’s favor, the score was 4-0 for them as well. This naturally ruined the homecoming of netminder Jonas Hiller, he of the black mask. He played for the Ducks from 2007 to last year, when he was let go as an unrestricted free agent. While with the Ducks, he notched a 162-110-32 record. He also got 21 shutouts during that time. But his magic was not apparent on this evening. He was chased early in period two after letting in his third goal on 14 shots.
It was the type of goal more than the goal itself, by the looks of things. Perry came out of the corner with the puck, from Hiller’s right, and went toward the close post. He fired across the crease and inside the far post, and Hiller didn’t even move. It was like he wasn’t watching. More likely, he was sure of his positioning, and Perry just managed to find the notch and put the puck in it. But it didn’t look good, and out he went. Actually, Hiller’s coach, Bob Hartley, wasn’t any too pleased with the performance of his starter: “There was a few goals that I’m sure he’d like to see it again.” That would thus be all of them. “But at the same time, we were trying to turn the game around, and so I went to Ramo,” the coach finished.
Hiller’s replacement, Karri Ramo, faced a bit of an onslaught late in the second, when Kesler made a check and put the puck to the waiting Silfverberg, who launched one. It was saved. Then on the same shift, Silfverberg did the favor back, and Kesler put it over the net. That happened once more on the shift as well. Ramo had by this point let in one goal, a tough shot from Emerson Etem after a wrister in from the point. Tim Jackman was at the edge of the crease making Ramo’s life unhappy, and Etem just jammed in late and got a stick on the puck.
Granted, it could have been different. Calgary had a breakaway in the first two minutes, clean and straight down the middle. Andersen stopped it cold. Give the Calgary team an early boost, and they might have been able to parlay that into something. As it was, before they could blink, they were down a pair, and they never ever came up for air. Hartley summed it up nicely: “They were by far the better team tonight.”
The two squads now have an extra day to think about things, as they don’t play until Sunday. That game is set for 7pm, so you east-coasters, get some nap time in on Sunday afternoon so you don’t miss it.
The four points of Corey Perry marked an effort that tied a club playoff record. This has been done four times now, with Perry holding one other of those this post-season. Linemate Patrick Maroon commented on him and on Getzlaf after the game, saying, “When they’re on their A-game, those two are unstoppable. I just feel like I’m just out there sometimes.” He laughed through what is already a scary-thick beard.
The arena was thinning in numbers by the 13-minute mark of P3. By halfway, it was down more. By five to go, the diehards were left, hanging on for the post-game ceremony of “lighting the lamp.”
The announcer said as fans were leaving that they ought to make it down to the box office for their tickets for game two, which were available. Josh Brewster on Duck Calls after the game also promo’d tickets. Probably a bit surprising to you folks in Calgary, eh?
Johnny Hockey didn’t play much in P3. The coach explained: “I just rested Johnny. They were taking way too many liberties on him, and uh, I felt that with the score, I just kept him on the bench.”