December 9th, 2008 | Posted in Game Takes
By: Daniel Lemmon
After back to back wins in St. Louis and New York City, the Flames walked into the Bell Centre in Montreal hoping to continue their winning ways. Since being handed an absolute beat down by the Sharks a few weeks ago, the Flames have been lights out one of the best teams in the league, minus an inspired Dallas Stars team that took the trap to them. This road trip features some big time opponents in the Rangers, Canadiens and Red Wings, so now we’re in the meat of the tour. But all good things must come to and end they say, and tonight it did in less than stellar fashion. Despite being the better team at the beginning, the Flames let their game get away from them and fell hard at the feet of the Montreal Canadiens.
On The Line
At this point of the road trip, the points are gravy, but it’s a lesson about what type of team the Flames might be. Can they compete against teams like the Canadiens and Red Wings?
Calgary outright dominated the start of the first period. They swarmed the Montreal net, and had plenty of scoring opportunities, but Jaroslav Halak had an answer for every one of the Flames shots. It wasn’t until a lucky bounce off of Miikka Kiprusoff into Mark Giordano and into the back of the net that the Flames started to struggle. Back to back power plays for Montreal at the end of the period helped to even things up on the shot clock going into the first intermission.
As the second period started, it was as if the Flames had lost all of their mojo as the Habs started to take control of the game. On an unfortunate shooting attempt by Adam Pardy the Habs would go up by two as Pardy shot the puck directly into the shins of Matt D’Agostini who then sprung for a breakaway past the less than fleet footed pairing of Pardy and Sarich and got control of the puck just before Miikka Kiprusoff could poke it away and slid it into the open net. Calgary would come back within one as Dustin Boyd, making his return to the lineup after missing five games, took a beautiful feed from Jarome Iginla and roofed a shot past Halak. But the Canadiens would continue on the offensive as Robert Lang would net his second of the night before the end of the second.
Entering the third, the Flames heart just wasn’t in it for the rest of the game. Even when presented with power play opportunities, the Flames had a lot of trouble mounting much in the way of offensive pressure. Not much exciting to talk about other than to mention the terrible giveaway by the Sarich-Pardy pairing that led to Andrei Markov netting his fifth of the season. That is of course until the end of the game when Markov got a knee out to hit Dion Phaneuf and a pretend melee ensued only to, frustratingly, have cooler heads prevail. I hate that “Sutter rule” about fighting in the last five minutes of the hockey game.
1. Jaroslav Halak: Halak was lights out tonight. He had an answer for all but the best of shots. If he isn’t as stellar as he was in the first period, this score is likely reversed, but he was the difference tonight.
2. Robert Lang: Lang’s two goals on the night including the opening goal were key in dousing the Flames tonight.
3. Matt D’Agostini: D’Agostini played a great game tonight, scoring the game winner in the second period and having a dangerous nose for the net for the rest of the game.
In terms of importance, Halak should win this award, but in terms of “OH MY FRICKEN’ GOD HOW DID HE SAVE THAT” you have to go with Miikka Kiprusoff making Alex Tanguay cry all over again as he slid across with a glove hand to rob the former Flame.
Unfortunately the aforementioned praise heaped upon Matt D’Agostini is not everything to be said, he turned into the boards to make a devastating REGEHR SMASH! a penalty. Why did you have to do that? Why besmirch the good name of the REGEHR SMASH!?
Adam Pardy has seen his game steadily improve, until tonight. The giant Maritimer’s lack of foot speed was exploited on a number of occasions. Luckily he’s done well enough that he should rebound, but a simply terrible game from Pardy tonight.
Jaroslav Halak hands down has this. It’s hard to say if the outcome would be any different with someone like Carey Price in net tonight, but Guy Carbonneau’s decision to put Halak in was clearly a difference maker tonight. He made some saves that he had no business making, and really sunk the hearts of the opposition with his play in the first period.
Odds and Ends
Like I said, things are gravy for the Flames right now. On any road trip, you want to come home with at least an even record. More wins is obviously better, but you’ll take a .500 trip if you get it. Luckily the Flames have already accomplished that, because after the Rangers game things were only going to get harder…that’s what she said.
So the question now is, what do you do in Detriot. For the love of all things sacred, can we try something different and put the forgotten man Curtis McElhinney in net for once. It’s almost a forgone conclusion that the Flames are not up to snuff with the Red Wings, so why not give the kid a chance to show what he can do when he’s not facing some low rung team on their 9th straight loss. You’ve got your points on the road, PLEASE START MCELHINNEY!!!!!!!!!! Heck if the Flames can play like they did at the start of tonight’s game in Detroit, they could come away from the first up by three!
The mighty Detroit Red Wings tomorrow night starting at 5:30PM MT. Catch the action on TSN or the Fan 960.
Lines (To Start):
Bertuzzi – Cammalleri – Iginla
Lombardi – Langkow – Moss
Glencross – Conroy – Moss
Roy – Boyd – Nystrom
Phaneuf – Giordano
Regehr – Aucoin
Sarich – Pardy