With the Calgary Flames holding a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven series, the Vancouver Canucks will be looking to even things up in a pivotal Game 4 matchup.
The war between the Canucks and Flames has been exactly what we should have expected it to be. After only three games, the hate is flowing and the fan bases in British Columbia and Alberta are ready to destroy each other:
Send & Habs fans fighting in stands. Canucks & Flames fans fighting in concourse. It's nice to see idiocy is alive and well in Canada!
— Hosea Cheung | 張梓豪 (@hoseacheung) April 20, 2015
I would expect the intensity to be ramped up to an even higher level as another Flames victory puts the Canucks on the brink of elimination. But if Vancouver can pull off a win and tie the series a two apiece, they will have put themselves into an excellent position to take the series lead in Vancouver.
Needless to say, Game 4 is going to be massive.
Game Time: 7:00 pm
What’s been most impressive about the Calgary Flames’ two victories in this series is that they have come despite their top line of Jiri Hudler, Sean Monahan, and Johnny Gaudreau being shutdown.
But, oh yeah, Monahan isn’t injured or anything. He’s just sick. Sick in his shoulder…
It’s been an interesting cast of characters that has propelled the Flames into the lead.
You have “Mr Irrelevant” Michael Ferland who, despite being irrelevant, seems to be causing quite a stir in the Canucks locker room.
You also have Kris Russell who, before these playoffs even began, may have been considered a depth defenceman on a lottery club but is now leading his team in scoring with two goals and one assist through three games.
The Canucks have done an excellent job negating the offensive threat posed by the Flames’ top line.
Now, the question that needs to be answered is how will Vancouver contain Calgary’s depth players?
1. Time for an Adjustment
Although Daniel and Henrik Sedin have been dominating the possession statistics and making the Flames defence look ridiculous in the process, actually putting the puck in the net has been a bit of an issue.
With the amount of time and space that Calgary is giving them, the Twins could use a true finisher to start racking up the points. Now if only the Canucks had a sniper just waiting for an opportunity…
Now is the time to reunite Radim Vrbata with the Twins and it looks like we may be getting our wish granted:
Vrbata with the twins and extended power play shifts for PP1 is small enough change to suit the coach's comfort zone
— Jason Botchford (@botchford) April 20, 2015
2. Keep Your Eye on Bo Horvat – Part Two
Remember when I said we should keep an eye on Bo Horvat before this series began?
I don’t know about this one. But I have a feeling…
It looks like Horvat may have been an excellent “sleeper” pick (get it?) and three games later, I’m looking kind of smart. But enough about me and the fact that I was actually right about something for the first time in my life.
However, and not to give Bo the David Booth backhanded compliment treatment, but if Horvat is your leading scorer, then something may be wrong.
But despite the Sedins needing to capitalize on their remarkable possession numbers, the secondary scoring that’s been provided by the Horvat-Kenins-Hansen line has been stellar for the Canucks and a major reason that Vancouver is still in this series.
It will be interesting to see if Horvat can continue his point-per-game pace. Maybe then CBC will recognize that there are actually two rookies in this series that are playing huge roles for their clubs.
3. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing
Living in Calgary has given me a unique opportunity to experience the playoffs behind enemy lines. And although there are many Flames fans that are well-educated and willing to have a rational conversation about the series, for the most part it’s been frustrating to hear how the Canucks are nothing but an out of control goon squad.
I think this tweet perfectly summarizes how this series is currently being viewed from both sides:
Vancouver/Calgary is definitely this year's first round "No, YOUR team's players are the goons" series. There's one every year.
— Crab rangoon, things of that nature. (@50_MissionCap) April 20, 2015
And it’s not just the fans that have created this mess. Calgary’s management has done their part in making themselves into the underdog victims while demonizing the Canucks and creating the perception that they are the aggressors in every confrontation (sounds so familiar…). I’m not even going to get into Calgary GM Brad Treliving’s astonishment that Bob Hartley received a $50,000 fine for orchestrating the Game 2 brawl.
What’s he measuring?
And on a side note, has anyone else noticed that Brad Treliving looks like Al Bundy?
I feel like I’m getting off topic here…
Anyways, the Flames have been playing the victim card and the fan base is eating it up like AAA Alberta Beef.
— Irfaan Gaffar (@sportsnetirf) April 20, 2015
I get that teams need to stand up to each other. But is it really so hard to admit it’s a tough series and BOTH teams are at fault for the extracurricular activities?
Apparently it is.
Perspective is really a beautiful thing.
Thanks to the National Hockey League Department of Player Safety making a correct decision (give credit where credit is due, they have been better lately), the Canucks will have both Alex Burrows and Dan Hamhuis in the lineup.
It remains to be seen whether Willie Desjardins will shake up his lines, but for now let’s assume the status quo. We should learn more after the morning skate.
Update: Canucks have called up Sven Baertschi
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) April 21, 2015
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Vrbata|
The term “must-win” is thrown around lot these days…
It’s not really a must-win as popular opinion tells us that, in order to win a best-of-seven series, you need to rack up four wins (MATH!).
But losing to the Flames means that the Canucks will be on the brink of elimination which is never a pleasant experience.
There is no way that the Canucks can play as badly as this did on Sunday and since they somehow managed to stay in the game, I’m betting they play much better and take Game 4 by a score of 3-2.