Vancouver Failed To Keep Momentum
After staving off elimination in game 5 while outshooting the Flames 43-21, the
Canucks momentum clearly carried over to game 6 at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Vancouver had a lot to cheer about early, chasing Jonas Hiller after only three shots (2 goals) and proceeding to score on their first shot on Karri Ramo.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 26, 2015
But Calgary went on to score seven of the next eight goals in this game, and for the second time in this series Vancouver gave up a late go-ahead goal and blew a third period lead. Carrying a 4-3 lead into the third period, Vancouver allowed four goals in the final frame (2 empty net goals), and found themselves trailing for the first time in this game with less than 5 minutes to play. Calgary made no mistake and held on for their first series victory since 2004.
Depth of Canucks Exposed by Flames
Vancouver didn’t lose this series because of a lack of depth on their roster, but because Calgary found ways to outmatch them during much of the series, in all game aspects.
The Canucks carried an edge all series in possession at 5-on-5, but don’t be fooled – apart from the Sedins line, possession was no advantage to Vancouver in this series. Heading into game 6, almost 80% of the Canucks scoring chances came only when the Sedin twins were on the ice. A lot can be credited to the Flames goalies combined .928 save percentage and 2.18 goals against average in this series to holding Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin to a combined 3 goals and 5 assists.
It should be no surprise that while the Canucks top line was held in check, and off the scoresheet when they needed production the most, the Flames checking line forwards had a hay day in exposing the depth of the rest of the Canucks on the ice. Forwards like David Jones, Matt Stajan and Michael Ferland (who combined for 13 points and a +15 rating in the series) didn’t play many minutes against the Sedin’s line, and as a result beat the Canucks at their own possession game and effectively took them out of their element.
Canucks Unable To Close Out Games
In their 2-1 loss in game 1 and 7-4 loss in the decisive game 6, Vancouver trailed for a total of only 4 minutes and 46 seconds. Kris Russell gave Calgary the lead in game 1 with 29 seconds left to play, while Matt Stajan’s first career playoff goal, the eventual series-clincher, came with 4:17 left to play in game 6. The epitome of this series may be the nine third period goals the Canucks’ surrendered to a Flames team that tied for the NHL lead with 99 in the regular season.
Assuming all other factors were the same, had the Canucks been able to close out even these two third period leads, the result of this series would’ve been reversed and it would be Vancouver winning this series in six games to play the Anaheim Ducks in round 2.
But of course there are more questions than answers and more “what ifs” for this Canucks squad, who instead will have their lockers cleaned out by the second round of the NHL playoffs for the fourth straight season.
Canucks contributor for The Hockey Writers. Maple Ridge, BC native. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or @ColtonnDavies on Twitter.