Even after looking like the deeper, stronger, more veteran team, Ducks forward Corey Perry spoke like the humble hockey player he is, and went easy on Calgary. “You can throw all the experience out the window. It’s hockey,” he said post-game. “You have to go out there and play the right way. They’re here for a reason, they’re a good team. They beat Vancouver to get here.”
The Flames are in their first playoffs since 2009, when they beat Vancouver, who was considered long in the beard at the time. But what Calgary is seeing that their youth is equivalent to inexperience, not raw power as they expected. There’s a big difference between being old like Vancouver team they defeated with the Sedins, Radim Vrbata and Ryan Miller compared to the mature team that’s Anaheim. They are proving to be a challenge because they are a group of seasoned players who want to keep the cup in California this year, just not going as south as it sent last year with the LA Kings.
It took the Flames 10:17 into the first period on a Matt Beleskey goal to realize Anaheim was a way better team than the Canucks were. Calgary had beaten themt in six games in Round 1. Then were reminded of it again when Patrick Maroon struck at the 13:11 mark. And then again when Perry notched his first of two goals (as part of a four-point night) early in the second period. And the reminders kept coming.
“Obviously they’re a little bit better of a team. They have a lot of skilled guys who can put the puck in the net and we have to find a way to shut them down,” said Flames forward Sean Monahan to media post-game. “We’ve been matching up against everybody all year, so we’re used to that, but tonight just wasn’t our game, we can’t have an excuse for that, but we know we have a lot more.”
“I think we got outworked.” – goaltender Jonas Hiller
The should have a lot more as this team has dug deep and no one expected them to make it even this fat this season, and they have youth and surprise on their side. Good teams do lose in the playoffs. It does happen in every round. And the postseason is always about making adjustments and coming back with more each time. Anaheim looked perfect Thursday night. If Calgary can pull off a win Sunday night at the Honda Center, the Flames can go home tied 1-1 and the series will definitely look very different as to what it feels like now.
“I think everybody knows that nobody was happy with their games,” said Flames goaltender Jonas Hiller, who got pulled in the second period after allowing three goals on 14 shots on goal. “So everybody has to step it up. Normally we are a team that outworks the opponent, but I think we got outworked.”
As the saying goes in hockey, ‘If you’re going to be bad, the first game is the best time for it to happen.’ If they don’t show up for Game Two, Calgary’s chances to win the series become slim.
“We expect them to be really good on Sunday,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau told media in the post-game scrum. “That’s not just because we won tonight, if you look at any team that loses fairly big, the next game they play they have a lot of pride and they play their best game.”
Can Calgary play their best game tonight against the Ducks? Probably not, but they will bring the fight. We expect this game to be close and going to overtime.