The Calgary Flames weren’t supposed to be a playoff team. They were too young. They lost their captain to a season ending injury. They shouldn’t be able to hold off the defending Stanley Cup champs.
But they just kept playing hockey and winning. Calgary made the playoffs as the Pacific Division’s third and final representative. They were matched up with the Vancouver Canucks, a veteran group with playoff savvy that had home ice advantage. Calgary should have been happy to make the postseason and get some experience for the future. Maybe they could challenge Vancouver, but they were likely to be a one and done.
Except Calgary has no time for conventional wisdom and the popular narrative. The Flames jumped out to a 2-1 series lead and then just handled their business in a professional and thorough 3-1 browbeating of Vancouver in Game 4. Calgary has taken a 3-1 series lead and has done while being the more composed and confident team. And they have been led by their young guns throughout.
- Johnny Gaudreau scored his first career postseason goal, opening the scoring on the power play for the Flames. He has three points through the first four games of the series.
- Sam Bennett scored the final goal of the game, putting an exclamation point on a dominant Calgary opening period in game four. He has two goals and three points in the opening four games of his playoff career.
- Sean Monahan didn’t add to the score sheet in Game 4. He just won 11 of 20 faceoffs (55%) and led all Calgary forwards in ice time with 20:27 and shots on goal with four. And he’s still only 20 years old.
- T.J. Brodie added the primary assist on the Bennett goal (it was originally credited to the blueliner), and blocked five shots all while playing a game high 28:32.
- Michael Ferland played over 15 heavy minutes. He added two shots on goal and provided a physical and clean edge to Calgary’s forecheck with a game high 8 hits.
Sure, there were veteran players who were important to the Calgary victory as well. Jonas Hiller was a rock between the pipes, Dennis Wideman continues to provide a calming influence on the backend while Kris Russell keeps doing his best imitation of the missing Mark Giordano. Jiri Hudler scored the game winning goal and added a crucial assist.
The story continues to be the fact that the Calgary Flames younger players just exert their influence more and more. They have been better in every game of this series and the Canucks have no answers for wave after wave of youthful enthusiasm. The Flames are for real, age and experience be damned.
Underestimate them at your own risk.