Vancouver Canucks Vs Calgary Flames Post Game Recap: The Alien Lands in Calgary

After three home games in three nights to kickoff the season, game four would be the first road game for the Canucks in Calgary. The Flames dressed plenty of veterans in their first game since returning from China, including the former Vegas Golden Knight, James Neal. Neal is penciled in on the right of Sean Monanhan, with Johnny Gaudreau manning the left wing on the Flames newly formed first line, yikes!

With the division rivals lineup equipped with regulars, the game would be an decent measuring stick for youngsters, including the prized goaltending prospect, Thatcher Demko. A road start in Calgary with an interesting mix of veteran and prospect defenders in front of him would provide some valuable experience for the young netminder.

Another thing the Canucks coaching staff and fans would keep an eye on tonight was how rookie centre and Hobey Baker award winner, Adam Gaudette would fair on a scoring line. Tonight, Gaudette started on a line flanked by Brock Boeser and Brandon Leipsic on what could potentially be a scoring line we see in the future.

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Travis Green decided to reunite the duo of Nikolay Goldobin and Elias Pettersson who shared instant chemistry while deployed together. The combo generated plenty of scoring opportunities versus the Edmonton Oilers earlier this week, as you can see on the chart below.

With all that being said, let’s check out how everyone performed in my first recap of the 2018-19 season, here we go!


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The Rundown

1st Period

It was a sluggish start for the Canucks, they couldn’t generate any shots and were hardly gaining the offensive zone in any fashion early on. With the the team on their heels, Alex Edler would take a penalty at the 5:58 of the first.

With Edler in the box, Flames forward, Austin Czarnik would score his first of three on the night, finishing a beautiful passing sequence to make 1-0 Flames at the 6:20 mark of the opening period.


The Flames would take two minor penalties at the 12:54 mark of the first period leading to a five on three power-play that the Canucks desperately needed to spark some offense.

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The Canucks caught a couple of breaks while up two men after a Flames defender broke his stick, Elias Pettersson picked up his first of the preseason, getting a lucky bounce to tie the game at one.

I’m not sure why Darren Achibald was so passive on the blueline here with both Canucks defenders back. The misread caused a collapse, creating a free shot from the top of the circle for Czarnik to snipe his second of the game, 2 – 1 Flames!


2nd Period

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Perhaps Demko could have played this puck to take away the breakaway opportunity, but the effort by the power-play to win the puck in the corner was atrocious. The puck would be flipped out of the zone by Calgary for Mikeal Backlund to pick up in the offensive zone and finish with this slick move, getting Demko to bite, 3-1, Flames.

Austin Czarnik would add another one to complete his hat-trick and make it 4-1 for the Flames just shy of the halfway point of the match. Not the prettiest of the bunch, but they all count.

After 40 minutes, shot attempts at all-strengths were 42-32 in favour of the Flames. Up by three going into the third, this is prime example of when score effects kick into gear. You may have heard John Shorthouse mention it during the Sportsnet broadcast. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it simply means that teams tend to sit on leads. Usually, the shots tend to even out in a situation like tonight, lets take a look and see what happened.

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3rd Period

The Flames gave the Canucks every opportunity to claw back into the hockey game in the third period, taking four consecutive minor penalties. At the 9:06 mark of the third period, Mikeal Backlund took the Flames third penalty, hooking Travis Green’s new whipping boy, Nikolay Goldobin. The penalty would be the third that Goldobin has drawn during the preseason.

During the power-play, Elias Pettersson would display his magical play-making skills, firing a pass to the ‘insert right-handed shooting player here spot’. Credit where it’s due, Brandon Sutter showed some decent hands tipping this puck to the back of the net to bring the Canucks within two, 4-2, Flames.

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That’s as close as the Canucks would get however, Mark Janakowski would add the fifth and final goal for the Flames, stepping out of the penalty box and hitting the back of the net from centre ice at 19:43 of the third period.

At the end of regulation, the Canucks ended up directing 59 shots at the net, compared to the Flames, 47. In the third period alone, Vancouver won the shot battle 27-5! Largely due to special teams, but still, the Flames took sitting on a lead to a new level.


I was surprised to see the amount of criticism towards Demko on social media and I just wanted to remind everyone, he’s 22 years old and it’s the preseason.

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Although it wasn’t the prettiest game by any measure, there were definitely some positives to take away from this game. Brock Boeser led the way with 19 primary shot contributions at all strengths, 19! Clearly his shot is his money maker, but if can continue to distribute the puck the way that he does, he’ll continue to stretch out the offensive zone, buying time and space for his teammates, especially on the PP!

Pettersson was magic tonight, there were multiple examples displaying his elite vision and how he processes the game. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a hockey player do this at any level, and not only that, he makes it look easy. I’m not only not worried about his weight in the slightest, I’m willing to say that I think he’s the best player in the organization right now. Stay hyped Vancouver, this kid is the real deal. Anyone remember Cody Glass?

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Quick Hits

  • Chris Tanev had another strong game, finishing with a 70.37 CF%.  Tonight I found not only his poise, but his assertiveness with the puck got the team out of many high danger situations. The defensive wizard seems to be finding his stride early this year.
  • After a bit of a shaky start, Derrick Pouliot finished with a strong game paired primarily with Tanev. He led the team with a controlled exit rate of 55%. Additionally, he was aggressive in the neutral zone, breaking up three plays, which helped him to a nearly 60% share of shots while on the ice.
  • Goldobin had a bit of quiet game during his 16:40 on the ice. I wouldn’t go as far to say he had a bad game, but fair or not, he’s going to have to contribute more offensively to stay in Travis Greens lineup. His five primary shot contributions while starting on a line with Pettersson just simply isn’t going to be enough.
  • A quick note, with Pettersson around, I am no longer worried about zone entries being a problem on the power-play.
  • Tyler Motte continues to impress and is making it incredibly difficult to do anything but keep him on the team to start the season. He’s been an effective three zone player during the preseason and is driving any line he’s been put on. He’s seemingly always in the right position in the neutral zone and is causing a ton of turnovers. His speed is generating controlled entries and he’s show an ability to distribute, creating scoring chances. At this point, I think he’s played himself onto the team.



    • Nuck16

      There is a chance Motte will still get sent down, then called up the next time we have a long term injury…with the only reason being if he plays one more NHL game he’ll have to clear waivers. the Canucks may want to use the extra spot on a dman instead and carry 8…so they don’t have to waive one of Sautner or Biega. It would be great to give Sautner a run of 10 games to see what he has…he impressed me the end of last season, and really he had a goal and 2 assists in 5 games, though that nice goal he scored was called back for an inconsequential offside that occurred a good 30 seconds before the goal…but I digress from my digression. And good chance we’ll have an injured D man within the first 5-10 games anyway, which will allow us to keep all 8.

    • Outside of Horvat, Baertschi, Pettersson, and Boeser, Motte is the only forward to bring it every shift and deserves a spot. It will suck if he is sent to Utica due to asset management issues. If Goldobin played with tenacity like Motte, he’d be a superstar.

  • Kanuckhotep

    Let no one disparage what you guys do posting articles on this site. If they do they are not students of the game nor true hockey fans. Kudos for informative coverage. Leipzig IMO will be impossible to keep off the Big Club.

  • TheRealPB

    Even with so much time on the PP, based on ice time you’ve got to think that Gaunce and Gaudette are destined for the AHL. At this point with Eriksson and Roussel on the shelf, you’ve got to think that Leipsic and Motte have played their way onto the team, with Goldobin staying up because of the injuries and the risk of losing him. I think those three rotate in and out as part of the bottom six and the Canucks carry 14 forwards. Sam Gagner with nearly 20 minutes in ice time and remains supremely underwhelming, like Eriksson. Frankly a bunch of these young guys have shown way more intensity, potential and actual production. I don’t remember the last time I saw two Canucks as young as Pettersson and Boeser look as good out of the gate. The Sedins did not (but then they had way more sheltering with WCE on the ice).

  • Captain Video

    Good recap. Love the addition of the charts. Pettersson appears to be the real deal. Advantage Leipsic in the audition to play on his line, as Goldobin has looked “meh” for the second game in a row. It would be nice to see Mottte’s hustle rewarded come the regular season.

  • wjohn1925

    I think when we start reducing the team down to the top players, we’ll be able to generate more opportunities to score and control play. There was still quite a bit of confusion at times, especially in D zone coverage, but also in figuring out who is going where after entering the zone. It’s hard not to be amazed by the wunderkind. The speed at which he can process what is happening around him, and being able to exploit seams is simply incredible. Remember, he’s barely played on NHL size rinks and against NHL caliber opponents (granted he hasn’t yet faced any elite defencemen or centres, but still…). That being said, it’s still going to be a tough season in terms of wins and losses, but we need at least one more lottery pick to eventually become a contender.

  • LTFan

    Good write up Darryl A fair comment on the game. Pettersson is the real deal and when the coaches and players find the right combination of wingers to play with him – I expect Canuck fans will be very happy. On the breakaway goal by Backlund, I thought Demko was going to go for it. Looking at the replay Backlund seemed to think so too as he wasn’t skating that hard to beat Demko to the puck. A lesson learned.

    Agree that Gagne has not looked like he belongs on the team and should be waived to Utica. Leipsic and Motte had strong games and should be on the team on opening night. I expect the decision on them will not be made until the end of the exhibition games. The final cuts are always the toughest to make.

  • canuckfan

    The offence looked pretty disjointed to many good offensive players with plugs. Gagne I think could sit in the stands during his ice time and the two guys out on the ice would be more effective. Gagne no way makes this team in my eyes.
    Gaudette wasn’t terrible but was a bit lost that line was not effective at all. Petersson really stands out but needs some players to read off him. I would like to see Dahlen get some time with him and try someone like Jake on the other wing. Dahlen has some chemistry and knows how EP thinks from playing with him. Let those two grow up together figuring out the NHL. Was a tough game to watch glad that wasn’t our opening night roster. Look forward to seeing more of the regulars playing together. There should be another cut coming out of last nights game – Sauntner and Pouliot for sure as far as Goldobin I thought he did fairly well, got into scrum and fought for the puck, fought hard on the boards maybe no real offense but he got involved. No one really looked good on the offense as Canucks were shutdown which would explain why the goals only came on the power play. Calgary’s goalies never made any real tough saves all the shots came from the outside.

  • Defenceman Factory

    Despite some positive signs and the continued display of talent by Pettersson the coaching staff can’t be happy with that game. It was wrought with errors and a lack of urgency through the first periods. There were too many poor passes and low percentage shot attempts in the offensive zone. Given Calgary’s top 4 Dmen didn’t play I expected much better puck control on the attack and especially on the powerplay.

    Regardless of what the stat sheet says there were a lot of errors on Dzone coverage. On Calgary’s 1st goal Tanev had an opportunity to clear the zone and his lack of urgency saw him checked from behind. He then lost his coverage. Poulliot never lost his coverage because he never had it. He was watching the puck and never saw the goal scorer skate in behind him.

    Errors are going to happen particularly in the preseason and with the mix of linemates/Dpartners the coaches are throwing out. There are however some significant concerns. Is anyone truly ready to play with Pettersson on a second line? I’ve been impressed with Motte and Leipsec but do they have the talent to optimize Pettersson’s. Goldobin has that skill but needs to play with more ungency.

    I also have concerns about the D overall. Hutton has made progress and I like the greater emphasis on stepping up into the rush but this is not a strong D core.

  • Killer Marmot

    Tyler Motte continues to impress and is making it incredibly difficult to do anything but keep him on the team to start the season.

    Benning took a lot of heat for trading Vanek for Motte at the deadline, even though it might well have been the best offer out there (some fans apparently think Benning should be able force teams to give up early draft picks). I would be thrilled if Motte was a steal.

    • Killer Marmot

      The season will begin with Pettersson in the lineup at least. As attrition takes its toll, we could see Gaudette, Juolevi, Demko, Motte, Dahlen, Palmu, McEneny, Sautner, and who knows else called up. By April the team could look very different.

      Even if the Canucks don’t make the playoffs, they’ll be some fun in seeing one of the best prospect pools in the NHL gradually get introduced to the big show.

  • Beer Can Boyd

    So, its unanimous then after last night? Gagner gets put on waivers? At this point, and after all he has said about open competition, I can’t see how Green possibly keeps him on the team. I also think he’ll get picked up by Columbus, which would get his contact off the Canucks books.

    • Defenceman Factory

      While I agree Gagner is mostly just in the way of evolving this team forward I’m less sure waiving him right now is the right move. I sure wouldn’t complain if they did as Gagner has certainly played himself out of any future with the Canucks but there are other viable approaches that suit a vision for the future. I hope Green and Benning are seeing eye to eye on who will be here long term. Playing and trading those on their way out may help trade returns and allows a slower roster turnover. It would however be an egregious error to keep Gagner and lose Goldobin, Leipsec or Motte to waivers.

    • speering major

      I don’t think anyone touches his contract at this point. If this was his final season there’s a chance but I don’t see any reason to believe a team would risk having him not pan out this season and then be stuck with him the next. Competitive teams are very cap conscious

        • Kanucked

          Grandlund has been stuck playing with defensive players. Green obviously doesn’t view him as an offensive player. It would be good to give him a decent shot to perform before writing him off.

    • Silverback

      If Columbus wants him, maybe they will trade for him with a late round pick while canucks retain 1/2 his salary. If waived, there are many teams able to pick him before Columbus. Maybe the deal could be done effective sometime in November when roster issues are solved and the inevitable opening season injuries occur.

  • PQW

    It really beggers belief that YOU armchair yappers do not see the bigger picture here.

    Me, I’m interested in one thing only – the STANLEY CUP. I’m not getting anywhere near it after watching this garbage pre-season play out and it’s UNACCEPTABLE.

    Guys, FIVE years ago Benning was gifted an elite experienced core, plus Horvat, Tanev, Hutton, Gaunce and Marky as core up-and-comers. He had a Calder Cup finalist in Utica to draw from AND he has had high draft picks to augment the team ever since.

    So here we are, our A-team readily beaten by the Alberta teams scrubs and ONE shootout fluke win against the Kings stick boys. EVERY player should be showing up like it’s a playoff game and they are coasting or scared to play with bozo Green behind the bench – well, there’s only one solution now boys and it starts with a new proven quality GM to stop this undeniable TRAINWRECK… that man is called STEVE YZERMAN. End of.

  • Ronning4ever

    While you can quibble with the players targeted (and term…my god), I feel this pre-season has vindicated management when it comes to not ‘playing the kids’. Pettersson is the only one who looks ready, IMHO.

  • wojohowitz

    I look at the TOI and wonder what Green is doing. Pouliot at 24 is understandable but Edler at 25 and Tanev at 23 makes no sense in a meaningless game. Why risk injury to two important players in an exhibition game?

    Then there`s the five players under 11 minutes. Sautner, Palmu, Gaunce, Chatfield and Beagle. It makes sense with Beagle but what about the other four? Isn`t this the game to play these young guys? Did Green shorten his bench trying to win?

  • speering major

    Motte – I haven’t been a Motte fan since day one. I just don’t think he has enough offensive upside to be a NHL regular. That said, I have been impressed with his checking and grit. I think he is a very good option to play along side someone like Beagle.

    Petterson – Looked like the best hockey player out there. I knew he had vision, skill, and a shot but he also skates very well. I think he will be the best canuck on this current roster

    Leipsic – Continues to impress. I wish they would give him some reps vs NHL caliber D though. I also think he should be playing with Petterson. He might have passed Goldobin in the depth chart last night. He should probably replace Gagner on that line though.

    Sautner – Old school D man that just doesn’t have it imo. He would need Gudbransons athleticism with his playing style and he’s just not going to get there

    Demko – sealed his fate. He will be fine though. I think we will see him at some point during the season

    Gaudette – Once again showed no offense. He needs to find it in the AHL imo. I don’t think its good for his development to be with the Canucks at this point anyways. He needs ice time and to build confidence. Burying his minutes, role, and confidence isn’t going to help him.

    • truthseeker

      I’m pretty disappointed in how both Gaudette and Demko have shown so far. I said prior that the only reason either should be sent down is if they bomb in camp, and unfortunately that appears to be pretty close to what is happening.

      Three games left in the preseason. Those two better crank it up.

      • Well, sending Demko back to Utica is part of the master plan so the fact that he needs more seasoning shouldn’t be a surprise. Same with Gaudette, he was still pretty raw last season but showed lots of awareness. If they don’t crank it up, I think it’s fine. But I expect them to be dominant in the AHL or else that would be the disappointment.

        • truthseeker

          You have no clue what the “master plan” is. You don’t know if they expected Demko to be more ready to take a spot. He should be. He’s already 22 years old going on 23. He’s already way older than some of the great goalies were when they started out. Roy, Brodeur, Lu, Price… He’s already been “dominant” in the AHL. His .922 is better than any of the above in their AHL stints.

          Demko was considered one of the two best goalies in his draft year. He should be on the team now already having established himself as at least a solid backup. I won’t put all of it on him. I think a lot of this has to do with the overly conservative mindset that has seemed to taken over that these guys need to be babied into the league. Cory Schneider’s career was half wasted because of such thinking. Even when he got to NJ, he still wasn’t given a full opportunity.

          In my opinion it’s absolutely ridiculous that these guys are being pushed into their mid twenties before they are allowed to start learning the league.

          Look at a guy like Price for a good counter example of what should be done…..in 10 games in the AHL he put up an .896 save %. But Montreal knew they needed to get him into NHL games regardless and LET him develop to the NHL game. If you’re expecting Demko to go to the AHL and post a .980% and have tons of shutouts and win every game…you’re going to be disappointed. Nobody will do that in the AHL. Not even the best goalies in the NHL right now would do that. And even doing that doesn’t mean you’ll step into the NHL and be good. What he does or doesn’t do in the AHL (at this point) will be largely irrelevant to his NHL success.

  • wshdrvvn

    I love seeing what Motte is doing. Not saying I had any foresight on the guy but the snarky-quotient from the media/fans has been so high with this guy his entire tenure with the team.

    the questions with him now is sustainability. is he going to burn out or is he a guy like Biega who really has that motor all season?

    • Cageyvet

      He’s showed that hustle in every game we’ve seen him. I agree with someone else’s comment, somewhere, that it would be great if he was the next Hansen. Good Swiss army knife player who gradually finds a way to turn that speed into pk breakaways etc. and at the same improve his finish. You don’t need a ton of offense from a player like that, but you don’t want it to be a black hole either.

  • janmoh

    Except for EP none of the kids have shown that they’re ready just yet and that’s ok because this year will be a difficult year. Let Juolevi , Chatfield , Gaudette , Dahlen , and Palmu go to Utica and play 20 minutes a night and on the PP with Lind , Gadjovich and McEwen.
    With Roussell and Eriksson out they can carry 13 forwards and 8 dmen.
    Bear – Bo – Boesser
    Goldy – Sutter – EP
    Virts – Granny – Gagner – Leipsic
    Schaller – Beagle – Motte
    Hutton – Tanev
    MDZ – Stetcher
    Edler – Guddy
    Sautner-Pouliot-Biega (1 is out)
    I know the d-core is the same as last year (lol) but hopefully this changes at the TDL.

  • East coast canuck

    Well this is looking even worse than expected, we have no regulation wins and the Oil, Vegas, Leafs and Bruins are all unbeaten. Pre season matters. When will this nightmare end?

      • B_Rad77

        I agree, the pre season means nothing. There is some entertainment value in seeing which kids bring it, and it’s interesting to speculate on who might be the surprise prospect to make the club

      • canuckfan

        I agree that preseason is meaningless as to have the team will do in the season. Green is putting a lot of the players in situations not suited to them something like a stress test to see how they work through it. Those who are able to adapt or at the very least play harder when put in a crappy situation will make the team Gaudette is going to be just fine but needs to get a goal off his butt, elbow or head so he can start to build on getting the puck in the net or starting in Utica to get playing time to find out what it takes to play with pros.
        We just may get first overall, but I am confident they will be much better than bottom five. Last night was one of the worst games I have seen in a long time.
        Get Demko another start with a better team out front.

  • argoleas

    If it wasn’t for Motte being one game away from being waiver-eligible, I would agree he has earned a spot. But right now, whose place does he take? And that is with Roussel and Eriksson injured. So even if they are long term, that still leaves Canucks with 12 forwards more likely to be on the team:


    • Cageyvet

      If Motte goes down due to roster management needs, that’s OK. Let him know he’s on the cusp and as soon as a bottom 6 guy is injured, any call him up. At least one forward, Gagner I’m looking in your direction, needs to be outright moved off the roster if we are going to give spots based on merit before the season is more than a couple of months old (unless an injury onslaught occurs).

    • Cageyvet

      He can definitely play Center, we know he will score his share, but he clearly can distribute the puck and wheels back defensively with consistency. He is more than I dared hope for, so far.