Opening night of the 2008-2009 season against the Vancouver Canucks is now upon us. The puck has dropped, the game is in the books and the butterflies can stop their churning. The Flames have struggled every season in recent memory getting out of the gate, and expecting anything else out of tonight’s contest might have been a stretch. Yeah, actually you can bank on that..
With the Canucks honouring Luc Bourdon who passed away during last years playoffs you knew that the Canucks would be fired up, hoping to win one for their fallen teammate. And while the final score is nothing flattering in the slightest for the Flames, there are a FEW positives to take out of tonight’s contest if you’re a Flames fan. And hey, Robyn Regehr wasn’t in the line-up tonight having returned to Calgary where his wife was in labour.
On The Line
It’s the first game of the season, it’s against a division rival, it’s against the Canucks. Tonight’s game counts just as much as game 82, but the tone that a win sets right off the bat is big, especially for Calgary.
The Flames outright dominated the play in the first period, Flames captain Jarome Iginla leading the way using his size and strength down low to create a number of scoring chances. The Flames best opportunity to get on the board was on an early five on three advantage, but Canuck captain Roberto Luongo stood tall. The Canucks would take the lead late in the first on a broken play Sedin to Sedin.
The first five minutes of the second period can be summed up in a single word…DISASTER. The Flames gave up a scoring chance within the first thirty seconds of the second period and the Sedin’s once again made the Flames pay. Shortly after Alexandre Burrows would tally his first of two goals on the night and the Flames are suddenly down 3-0. As the period wore on the Flames would pick up their play somewhat, but not enough to get a puck past Luongo.
Burrows would get his second on a terrible give-away created by the combination of a sloppy pass from Craig Conroy that farm call-up Dustin Boyd mishandled and was promptly in the back of the net. The Canucks would add another, finally on the power-play, as Cory Sarich made a terrible decision to leave his mark and chase a covered man leaving Mattias Ohlund wide open. The bleeding just wouldn’t stop for the Flames either as Rick Rypien exploited Adam Pardy’s slow-footedness for a short handed goal completing the embarrassment of the Calgary Flames.
- Roberto Luongo: The captain stood tall in the Canucks net tonight stopped everything the Flames managed to throw at him.
- Alexandre Burrows: Scored two goals likely thinking of his good friend Bourdon.
- Henrik Sedin: Sedin had a goal and an assist tonight starting the blood flow.
Pick any of the saves that Luongo made in the first during the two man advantage that the Flames had in the first period. The Flames had several good chances to score, but Luongo stopped everything.
If only by the pure show that Dion Phaneuf displayed as he completely leveled Henrik Sedin late in the third period. It even led to a scoring “opportunity” had a fight not ensued to terminate the play.
Uh.. well.. pretty much the whole team deserves this tonight. They started out strong, and then a couple of quick goals and the wheels fell off the bus. While the shots against are pretty low, Miikka Kiprusoff is not the man to blame tonight. Missed assignments, giveaways and lack of foot speed are your big culprits. Too bad it reflects so poorly on Kipper.
By a country mile Luongo did what his team needed from him to win tonight. He helped the team survive the initial onslaught and the rest of the Canuck lineup took it from there.
Odds and Ends
Hrm.. well.. one can’t quite be surprised by tonight’s result, but most certainly one is disappointed with how poorly the Flames finished the game. This writer honestly cannot remember the last time the Flames won the season opener, so taken into perspective, this was almost expected, so get it out of the way. Heck, you can even look at it from the point of view that to lose so badly on the opening night, against the team that just destroyed you, is a good thing…if only because they’re you’re next opponent in YOUR building. Because it will condense this report, let’s focus on the positives shall we?
The Flames started the game off really well. Miikka Kiprusoff included. If not for a period of five minutes where the team had their collective heads stuck up their rear ends, this game could have had a much different outcome. Focusing a bit more on Kiprusoff, outside of the first Burrow’s goal, it’s hard to fault him for the goals he allowed. Take for example the power-play goal that Ohlund scores. One the things I’ve always heard for defencemen is to take away the pass. Cory Sarich goes chasing the puck and leaves the pass wide open: not a chance for Kiprusoff on that one. The second Burrows goal? Don’t give the puck away in your own zone.
The Flames let Roberto Luongo get into their head. They suffered a few bad bounces (pucks over sticks, passes just out of reach) and it killed their momentum. So look at where you have to go to make those bounces go your way, and remember stick with the basics of hockey, use your speed and be agressive when the play warrants it.
The Flames look for revenge in their home opener against these same Canucks on Saturday at 8PM MT. Catch all the action on CBCHD and the Fan 960.
Lines (To Start):
Bertuzzi – Conroy – Iginla
Cammalleri – Langkow – Bourque
Glencross – Lombardi – Moss
Roy – Primeau – Boyd
Phaneuf – Giordano
Pardy – Aucoin
Sarich – Vandermeer