ANAHEIM – Don’t tell the Ducks they’ve dominated the Calgary Flames through two games of their second round of the playoffs. They'll try to convince you otherwise.
By all metrics, because we have to look at ALL of them when we write about Calgary, this series has been no contest. After a 3-0 Game 2 win, the Ducks have out-scored the Flames 9-1. They’re up 2-0 in this series. They’ve out-‘Corsi’d’ the Flames 131-117, per War On Ice. Shots on goal? That ‘dinosaur’ type number has been way in Anaheim’s favor at 69-54. But shhhhhhh. Don’t say that to Anaheim, who has yet to lose in the 2015 playoffs.
“Tonight was nip and tuck the whole game. I thought the first period we were good. But once you have that many shots and you have a 1-0 lead, I was a little afraid. In the second period they came at us really hard and we held our own but didn’t get scored on,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “They were coming really hard in the third period until we got that one goal, I don’t think by any chance or stretch of the imagination was this a dominant effort by us.”
If you look at the game from a full 60 minute perspective, sure. The Ducks were hot at the start, out-shooting the Flames 20-9 after on period, up 1-0 on a Matt Beleskey goal at the 7:27 mark of the first frame.
And then as is human nature, the Ducks slowed a bit, until Hampus Lindholm fired a rocket high to the glove side of Flames goaltender Karri Ramo at 11:15 of the third to make the game 2-0.
The Flames did stick around and were within a score in the final period. There was doubt, as there always is, when a clearly superior team hasn’t put away an inferior opponent as the game gets late. It didn’t matter though, not to this Ducks team, which showed it can make important saves when it needs and score big goals.
Lindholm’s shot was a prime example. All game Ramo was solid with his glove hand. But Lindholm, who has emerged as a solid two-way defender this playoff with six points in six games on the Ducks’ first pair, found a tiny opening in that strong spot and nailed it.
“I guess I was feeling it,” the 21-year-old Swede shrugged.
Ducks forward Corey Perry, who was on the ice with Lindholm at the time, saw it a little differently.
“That was a heck of a shot,” Perry said. “There’s not too many guys who can make that shot through two bodies and put it there. He put it right under the bar where he wanted to put it and it was a world class shot.”
Calgary’s first line wing was a revolving door that started with Sam Bennett, then went to David Wolf and finished with Johnny Gaudreau playing alongside his usual grouping with Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan.
Calgary coach Bob Hartley was his typically confident self when talking about his team, harping on how they survived the first 20 minutes and played well the last 40. They did, but when you strip away Hartley’s bravado, it’s plain to see the Flames coach is trying everything to get his team back in the series against a better opponent. Starting the (sort of) backup? Check. Shifting the first line? Check.
The Ducks are just that good, that deep and most importantly … that healthy.
Anaheim has mostly its full complement of players. For Calgary, Micheal Ferland missed his first game of the playoffs. Hudler seems to be battling some undisclosed issue.
“We’ve got to make some adjustments here and do whatever we can to find a way to win,” Monahan said.
In the past, offense was Anaheim’s money maker. The team went through Perry and captain Ryan Getzlaf as it tried to simply outgun its opponents. Now, Anaheim doesn’t seem to care about the nine goals it scored in these two games. These playoffs through six games, the Ducks have allowed just 1.67 goals per-contest.
“I think for us, we like the one (goal against),” forward Ryan Kesler said. “We like not letting them score and not letting them generate anything. If we can keep doing that we’ll be successful.”
The Flames have proved us wrong all year. And even after their Game 1 loss to the Ducks, they were still just one win away from getting back in this series. After two solid performances by Anaheim, patterns are starting to emerge. Even if the Ducks aren’t dominant, they’re clearly the better team.
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