Vancouver - Dec. 24, 2011 - With Christmas right around the corner, maybe the Vancouver Canucks had their minds on last minute shopping rather than hockey? Who knows, but the Canucks missed a golden opportunity to exploit Flames rookie goaltender, Leland Irving early as the Calgary Flames post back to back wins against two superior teams in two nights. Merry Christmas Calgary!
The game started out looking like it was going to be a ball buster as Kevin Bieksa and Tom Kostopoulos dropped the gloves with the opening puck drop, but after that it was all pretty demur for the Canucks as the Flames pressed hard all game long and came away with the 3-1 win. In a nutshell, the Flames wanted this win, and they played like it. The Canucks on the other hand played the exact opposite, with the exception of Roberto Luongo who fought hard for 60 minutes, but in the end couldn’t hold off the charging Flames by himself.
The Canucks only managed a total of 13 shots on Leland for the first two periods, as opposed to Luongo stopping 24 in the same time frame. Really? The momentum was clearly behind the Flames to start the third period with that kind of shot differential as the Canucks couldn’t quite pull off the come from behind comeback they have done in the past, even though they outshot the Flames 17-7 in the third period alone. Where was that kind of pressure in the first 40 minutes?
The Flames win rests squarely on rookie Leland’s shoulders as he played phenomenally for a full three periods. Luongo as well played well for the full 60, and the loss can’t be put on his play alone. Actually, the loss can’t be put on him at all, as the team playing in front of him didn’t decide to show up until late in the third period when Dan Hamhuis scored to cut the Flames lead in half by scoring on a wicked wrist shot that beat Leland from the right face off circle.
The Canucks dropped their first game in three dominating wins against strong opponents, and stings it a little, especially to the lowly Flames. But hey, it’s the Christmas season after all, so we’ll let it slide for tonight. Leland played like he owned the win, and he deserved it. The Canucks could have and should have embarrassed the the Flames tonight, but it wasn’t meant to be.
The Oilers will be in town on Boxing day, and hopefully the Canucks will be a little more feisty and in the mood to make up for tonight’s leisurely skate in the park!