A View From the Press Box
Two of the Very Best
at Evasive Skating & Puck Control
The Calgary Flames defeated the Chicago Black Hawks 5 to 3 in home game 7 and overall season game 15 on Saturday night. It was another exciting Flames comeback. For the record, the Flames have scored more goals this season than any other NHL club in the third period.
Throughout the game, it was a pleasure to observe two of the very best evasive skaters and puck control players in the game – Johnny Gaudreau and Patrick Kane. Probably these two along with Sidney Crosby are the top evasive skaters in the NHL. In today’s game, players are getting faster and stronger but the ice surface has not gotten any bigger. There’s less time and space available for players and the truly best are gifted in evasive skating and puck control. Both Kane and Gaudreau are exceptional at holding on to the puck and making great plays. Being evasive – to be shifty, being unpredictable, avoiding their opponents, creating time and space, changing speed and changing direction in a small area. Changing direction by stopping, turning, crossing over, pivots etc and dangles with the puck including fakes, reaches, toe drags and 360 spins etc.
Going into the game Kane lead the Hawks with 11 goals and 7 assists while Gaudreau was tops for the Flames with 6 goals and 11 assists. On this night, the Flames outplayed and outshot the Hawks 41 to 15 and Gaudreau was the better of the two for this contest. Johnny played 22:18 minutes, 26 shifts and had 2 assists. Patrick Kane played 19:53 minutes, 21 shifts with 1 assist but showed his frustrations after the game being a -2 on the night. He said “We were outplayed badly tonight”. Johnny Gaudreau assisted on both of Sean Monahan’s goals including the pivotal tying goal. It was a superb pass to Monahan. When asked about the tying goal and Gaudreau’s chemistry on the ice Monahan said. “I think it’s on display every night. He’s probably one of the best playmakers in the NHL…I don’t know how he got it to me but he did…That’s a big goal, it’s a big turning point during the game.”
Earlier in the game, the Flames were down 3 to 1 in the 2nd period when Matthew Tkachuk scored on a great rush and shot to begin the comeback at 18:26 minute mark. At the post game press conference when asked about playing from behind again Head Coach Bill Peters said. “ Nights when you are not playing well and you fall behind it’s a tough road…nights when you are playing well and you fall behind you feel pretty confidence…guys find ways to contribute…I thought we had multiple good looks, we were dangerous off the rush… had lots of O zone time…”
Coach Peters seems quite pleased with the team’s performance to – date. He said “Lots of valuable pieces, like our depth… still in situations… moving players around…key guys have been good here lately…resilient and we have depth at every position…Guys out…working hard to get back in the line-up…guys don’t want to come out…lines are starting to get chemistry….”
After the game the Flames sit at the top of the Pacific Division with 9 wins 5 losses and 1 overtime loss for 19 points. Sean Monahan received 1st star and Johnny Gaudreau 2nd star while Matthew Tkachuk picked up the 3rd star.
Final thoughts, it was a pleasure and honour to meet and shake the hand of fellow Newfoundlander and hockey broadcast legend Bob Cole in the media room post game. When growing up in rural Newfoundland I loved listening to him call play by play. An ironic hockey broadcast figure, Bob has spent an incredible 50 year career calling NHL games! He is retiring this year and will certainly be missed from our great game.