Joe Colborne’s first career Stanley Cup playoff goal was a beauty, but unfortunately for him, the Calgary Flames failed to generate any real momentum from it.
During a Ducks power play, Colborne picked up a loose puck at the Calgary blue line, went in alone, faked backhand and slid the puck by Frederik Andersen with a slick move to the forehand, tying the game at 2-2 in the second period.
Just 4:03 later, Matt Beleskey restored the Anaheim lead. Similar story in the first period. Brandon Bollig scored for Calgary just 2:07 into the game. However, what was a perfect start on home ice for the Flames evaporated almost as quickly, with Patrick Maroon and Corey Perry scoring to give the Ducks the lead.
It seemed like the Calgary Flames were going to bring Sam Bennett along slowly, at least until he became a quick study in the playoffs.
After only playing one regular season game, the 18-year-old has been impressive in eight postseason contests. In fact, he’s been impressive enough that the Flames say they’re OK with burning the first year off of his entry-level contract by playing him against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 on Tuesday
“Contracts don’t matter to us,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said Monday. “We’re a pro organization, a very classy organization, and never have I had a conversation with [general manager] Brad Treliving or [president of hockey operations] Brian Burke about the contract of Sam Bennett. They always allow me to play the players that we feel will help us win.
“Sam Bennett will be in the lineup [Tuesday].”
The fourth pick of the 2014 NHL Draft has already made an impact with the Flames. He has four points in this postseason, tying him for fourth in scoring among Calgary skaters. Bennett even spoiled Frederik Andersen’s shutout bid with the Flames’ only tally in Game 1.
One can see why the Flames want to keep him in the mix, especially to show other young players that there are incentives to run with opportunities (rather than contract-related glass ceilings).
That said, it should be an interesting situation to observe in hindsight. What happens if the Flames lose this series in four or five games? Will some question management for getting such little value out of a precious commodity like a cheap rookie contract?
It’s the kind of question that would keep some executives up at night, but credit the Flames for trying to live in the moment. It could very well be the best thing for his development, anyway. Maybe.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
The Bergen Record sat down for an exclusive (and lengthy) interview with new New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero (still kind of weird to see any name other than Lou Lamoriello, right?). The basic theme: he needs more time to really flesh out his plan. (Bergen Record)
Some might not realize just how long Lamoriello’s been in the driver’s seat for the Devils. This NHL.com timeline goes back to 1987, so the answer is “longer than some readers have been alive.” (NHL.com)
Would you pump up Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry for their leadership qualities? The Los Angeles Times is doing so. (Los Angeles Times)
Trading Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin is just crazy talk. (Sportsnet)
Braden Holtby: money goaltender. (TSN)
Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, and Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf have been selected as the finalists for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award.
The trophy, which seeks to award those “who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season,” is chosen by Mark Messier. All three of this year’s finalists led their respective clubs to the playoffs.
Toews has played a major part in Chicago’s rise to power since the start of the 2008-09 campaign. Going into this season, Chicago had reached the Western Conference Final in four of its last six years and won the Stanley Cup twice over that span.
Getzlaf, who also won the Cup back in 2007, played a key role in Anaheim winning its division for the third straight year. For Ladd and Winnipeg, making the playoffs was itself an accomplishment after the franchise’s struggles over its first three seasons in Winnipeg. Like the other nominees, Ladd has his name on the Stanley Cup, although he hasn’t accomplished that feat with his current team. He won it all with Carolina in 2006 and then Chicago in 2010.
Since the award was first presented in 2006–07, no player has won the annual version twice and that tradition is now guaranteed to continue this year.
5 — The number of power-play goals for the Anaheim Ducks in these playoffs. That’s been huge for them, especially after they struggled with the man advantage during the regular season (28th, 15.7%). On paper, the Ducks’ power play should be deadly. Corey Perry is one of the top snipers in hockey, Ryan Getzlaf is one of the top play-making forwards, and Sami Vatanen is the kind of creative blue-liner that can open lanes from up top. Those three have combined for 11 PP points in six games.
45.6% — Minnesota’s Corsi close, the lowest percentage of all 16 playoff teams. The Wild were one of the top possession teams during the regular season, but facing the Blues and Blackhawks in the postseason has been a challenge. The Wild, like the Ducks, have taken advantage of their power-play opportunities, scoring six times on just 17 opportunities. But they’ll likely need to control a bit more of the five-on-five play if they hope to get back in the series.
.922 — Montreal’s team save percentage, No. 8 out of 16. The Habs had the highest team save percentage (.926) out of 30 during the regular season. And while you can’t say Carey Price has been bad in the playoffs, because he definitely hasn’t been, the Canadiens simply don’t score enough for him to be anything but great.
6 — Times out of nine that the Washington Capitals have surrendered the first goal. They’re 2-4 in that situation and 3-0 when they score first. As a whole, the team that’s scored first in these playoffs has gone 35-20. So yeah, for the most part, it’s been pretty important to get that 1-0 lead.
6.3% — Five-on-five shooting percentage for the New York Rangers, 12th out of 16. The Blueshirts finished the regular season at 8.8 percent, fourth out of 30, with some arguing there was bound to be a regression. Rick Nash, in a related story, has just one goal on 25 shots.