Calgary Flames: Old habits die hard, lose ninth straight season opener

VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 3: Goalie Jacob Markstrom #25 of the Vancouver Canucks looks to cover up the loose puck while James Neal #18 of the Calgary Flames and Chris Tanev #8 of the Canucks battle in NHL action on October, 3, 2018 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 3: Goalie Jacob Markstrom #25 of the Vancouver Canucks looks to cover up the loose puck while James Neal #18 of the Calgary Flames and Chris Tanev #8 of the Canucks battle in NHL action on October, 3, 2018 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

It was the season opener and like always, it didn’t go in favour of the Calgary Flames. Let’s check out their opener against the Vancouver Canucks.

Old habits die hard, I guess. Trying to break an eight-game season-opening losing streak, the longest active one in the NHL, the Calgary Flames didn’t have luck (or powerplays) on their side. Speaking of powerplays and old habits dying hard… can we not talk about the powerplays tonight…

The Flames went 0/7 on the PP tonight and it looked quite bad until about their seventh powerplay. It was a stressful time for Flames fans everywhere.

Some silver linings: Dillon Dube and Juuso Valimaki made their NHL debuts tonight and both seemed quite excited this morning at practice. We’re all proud parents of these two.

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Let’s check out how the Flames got to their 5-2 loss against the Vancouver Canucks tonight.

First period

The Calgary Flames had an early powerplay with a hit from Erik Gudbranson on Dillon Dube. Welcome to the NHL, kid. The Flames couldn’t get much set up on the PP and at one point, the Canucks had a two-on-one shorthanded chance, which Mike Smith had to bail them out of. Near the end of the PP, the Flames were finally starting to try and set up but had no shots on goal due to some good penalty-killing by Chris Tanev and this powerplay went scoreless and shotless.

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Shortly after, Gudbranson and Travis Hamonic dropped the gloves, due to the hit on Dube earlier, so they would each get five for fighting. And who says these two teams have a rivalry? Hamonic left the Flames bench and didn’t return until the second period.

The Flames looked a little crumbled but started to look a little more comfortable around the midway mark of the period. The Flames got another powerplay, and although they looked a little better than their first, they didn’t have any real chances.

A little past the midway mark, the Canucks got a two on one and Elias Pettersson shot a laser-like shot and recorded his first NHL goal. It was a great shot and nothing Smith was able to do to stop that. 1-0 Canucks.

Late in the period, Juuso Valimaki had a great tape to tape pass to Dube who had somewhat of a breakaway chance but unfortunately couldn’t find the back of the net. I felt like a proud mother there though, you know?

This period ended 1-0 for the Canucks with them outshooting the Flames 11-9.

Second period

The Canucks got a couple chances early on before going on the powerplay about five minutes into the period. They had a few good chances but nothing that got past Smith. The Flames also had a couple of good chances on the PK, specifically from Dillon Dube, but again, nothing that got past Jacob Markstrom. Once the Canucks PP ended, both teams went back and forth with a couple of good chances, but this game remained 1-0.

Throughout this period, Austin Czarnik was playing alongside Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk over Michael Frolik and they were arguably the best line this period.

Later in the period, the Flames had back-to-back powerplays but their powerplay was anything but good tonight. Give credit to the Canucks aggressive penalty-killing, but the Flames could barely get anything going on the powerplay.

It seems like everyone on Twitter was also dreading any time the Flames went on the PP.

This period ended the same way it started because, since old habits die hard, the Flames could not capitalize with the man-advantage. Let’s head to the third period.

Third period

So the third period started out on a bit of a tirefire. The Canucks definitely had the edge, and less than two minutes in, Nikolay Goldobin made it 2-0 Canucks. It wouldn’t end there because less than 30 seconds later, Brendon Leipsic scored on the rebound. 3-0 Canucks.

A few seconds later, Elias Pettersson almost had a breakaway chance, but he couldn’t get to the puck quick enough.

A little bit past the third-minute mark, new Flame Austin Czarnik slid the puck across to Matthew Tkachuk who finally found the back of the net. Shortly after that goal, to kill the momentum, the Flames got a powerplay.

Czarnik had an incredible chance to record his first goal as a Flame, but alas, the score remained 3-1 at this point. While everyone was dreading yet another powerplay, this one actually didn’t look completely awful. In the dying seconds of the powerplay, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan had a great chance to make this a one-goal game, but they couldn’t score. As the powerplay ended, Jake Virtanen had somewhat of a breakaway chance and slid the puck five-hole on Mike Smith. 4-1 Canucks.

The Calgary Flames had a couple more chances, but credit to Markstrom for being on his A-game tonight.

A little past the 8-minute mark, Gaudreau found Monahan who made it a two-goal game. With an assist from James Neal, that’s his first point as a Flame! Shortly after that goal as the Flames have momentum, they get another powerplay. And of course, Twitter had jokes.

As you can imagine, this powerplay went scoreless. That’s 0/6 with the man-advantage tonight.

The Flames continued to add pressure and were quite aggressive, so of course, let’s get them ANOTHER powerplay to kill their momentum. Twitter was not happy…

Spoiler alert: They went 0/7 on the PP.

In the final two minutes, the Flames took out Mike Smith for the extra attacker and this old Flames Tweet was definitely the mood for tonight.

Add an empty-net for the Canucks and that’s a 5-2 game.

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That’s now nine straight season-opening losses for the Calgary Flames. They outshot the Canucks 35-23 and completely outplayed them at even strength, especially in the second and third period. Unfortunately, that’s not what matters at the end of the day. And although the Flames pushed quite hard in the third period, they were no match for their own powerplay.

Was that too harsh? Good.