The Calgary Flames made the playoffs in the face of those who thought their non-fancy stats ways would eventually catch up to them (raises hand). They made the playoffs in spite of not having Mark Giordano since early March. And they beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, the team that seemed to make an exercise of dominating most teams and still figuring out ways to lose.
Calgary beat the Kings 3-1 in the Soctiabank Saddledome on Thursday night. Johnny Gaudreau put Calgary up 1-0 in the first period, and was quickly followed up by Jiri Hudler to give the Flames an insurmountable advantage.
Rodeo in Calgary! And … whatever they do in Winnipeg since, the Jets also clinched with the Kings’ loss. Party at Earl’s Main! Winnipeg lost 1-0 in a shootout to Colorado, but also made it for the first time since the team moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg. For the Flames, it’s their first playoff appearance since 2009.
And here’s a fun fact, two teams that relocated from Atlanta to Canada both clinched on the same night. Party in Buckhead?
The Jets and Flames each have 97 points, four clear of LA with one game remaining for all teams.
Of course, we can’t have a Flames post without discussing #fancystats. The Kings’ CF percentage 5-on-5 was 64.49 percent to Calgary’s 35.51 in the game per Natural Stat Trick. But in one game, it’s the final score that matters the most
From the Calgary Herald:
“I know, coming in, we had a special group,” Johnny Gaudreau said after the Scotiabank Saddledome exploded at 9:36 p.m. Mountain Time. “It showed (Thursday).
“We did a really good job. Throughout the season, we struggled in the first and second periods. We knew if we were going to win this game, we needed to come out flying in the first. It just shows how good we’ve been throughout the whole season.
“It’s great,” said Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman. “I think all the way through the year until probably right now, they said, ‘We aren’t going to make it. We aren’t going to make it. We aren’t going to make it.’ It was great to come through and do it (Thursday) against the defending Stanley Cup champions. And to do it the front-door way and not have to do it against Winnipeg on Saturday.”
As for the Kings. That’s it for the year. Their Stanley Cup defense won’t go past April 11, the regular season finale against San Jose.
Ultimately, it came down to this final roadtrip for LA, a three-game swing through Western Canada where the Kings got just one point. This included a regulation loss to Edmonton which set up their eventual doom Thursday
Below is Darryl Sutter quotes via LA Kings Insider:
On whether all the hockey over the last three seasons took a toll on the team:
I think it probably did. But you know what? We still have a game on Saturday that I want to make sure that we’re ready for and try and that we try and win for our fans at home. We’ve won two championships there. You always want to win your last game.
From Drew Doughty via the Los Angeles Times:
“As a defending Cup champions, I don't think there's any way you shouldn't make the playoffs the next year,” Doughty said. “We have so many good players and definitely have a great team and weren't able to show it consistently.
“I don't know what to say, it's just disappointing that we're done.”
Where did it go wrong for LA? A crummy road record and a poor shootout/overtime record crushed the Kings. Los Angeles went 15-18-8 away from Staples Center and 2-8 in shootouts and overtime. Also, they didn’t exactly do their late season run thing, going 5-4-1 in their last 10 games.
- - - - - - -
MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY