Much has been made of the 6-1 drubbing that the Flames received from the Sharks in November and the stark turnaround in the Flames play since said drubbing. So tonight’s contest in the friendly confines of the Pengrowth Saddledome had to have been circled on the Flames calendar. Tonight was a chance for the Flames to prove if they indeed have changed since that rueful day nearly two months ago. The Flames more than proved tonight that they are capable of competing with anyone in the NHL.
On The Line
Other than the irritatingly persistent notion of trying to gain more and more points against your opponents, the only thing that had to have been on the minds of the Flames, the fans, the media, opposition fans, the ghost of Karl Marx (hey he’s atheist!), and Jesus was: could the Flames actually beat a team like the Sharks?
The first period was nothing short of complete and utter domination of the Sharks by the mighty Calgary Flames. It wasn’t even CLOSE. There is no arguing that it was the best period of hockey the Flames have played in probably three years. Curtis Glencross got the party started snapping home his seventh of the season through the pads of Evgeni Nabokov, and Daymond Langkow and Todd Bertuzzi would hook up as the hottest duo in red these days continued their hot streak with a nifty pass from Bertuzzi right onto the stick of Langkow for the tap in and his thirteenth of the season. Mark Giordano would add a third on the power play in the late stages of the period and the Flames were up 3-0 before the Sharks could even register a single shot!
The second period started off much the same as the first with Langkow once again finding the back of the net for his second of the game, the goal that would chase Nabokov from the net. Brian Boucher would come in and it seemed to provide somewhat of a spark for his teammates as on a five on three advantage Ryan Clowe would get his team on the board, and just a few minutes later Mike Grier would net a short handed goal on a terribly mixed up Flames power play. Suddenly the Flames were on their heels!
But entering the third the Flames once again took compete control of the game as they would set up the cycle, and repeat for much of the period. David Moss would add a further insurance goal late in the game and the Flames cruised to victory. Now shut up about not beating the best.
Three Stars (these were hard)
1. Mark Giordano: Giordano, who I’ve been hard on of late, played his best game of the season netting the game winning goal and finishing +3 on the night.
2. Daymond Langkow: Two goals, one easy, one pretty, the picture of consistency.
3. Curtis Glencross: A goal and an assist on the night, a +2, and helping the Flames get a little bit of swagger. The man is deadly when he’s got people skating with him. The whole third line could get this star really.
With the game still not quite salted away at 4-2, Ryan Clowe was left alone in the slot with the puck on his stick and Miikka Kiprusoff broke his heart. Honourable mention to Todd Bertuzzi simply because he blocked a shot with the game at 5-2 late in the third. I know, you don’t believe it, neither did I!
Probably the most entertaining bit of physicality was the “fight(s)” between Andre Roy and Alexei Semenov that were fights, but the ref’s decided that they were only minor’s for roughing. What had to be funnier was the coaches arguing that they should be fights. WEIRD!
The Sharks for showing up as the Lightning in the Sharks uniform in the first period. Seriously.. how do you explain being the best team in the league when you allow 14 shots and 3 goals before you can even get your first shot on net.
Daymarcurvid Langiocrososs. It was a team effort if you catch my drift..
Odds and Ends
The Calgary Flames seemed to be considered pretenders to many because they hadn’t beaten the likes of the Red Wings, the Hawks or the Sharks. Even with overtime losses to the Wings and the Hawks, the Flames were second rate when it came to being called elite. So with tonight’s complete and utter, whip me with a riding crop and tell me who your daddy is you dirty girl, manhandling of the Sharks, can the elitist talk stop? Or do the Flames have to be the first team in the NHL to beat the Sharks at HOME before they can quit having their name entered into the prom queen contest as a gag.
There are some times when you just want to stop all the talk of the Flames post the beat down, but at the same time, it was a clear cut change. The drastic nature of the change in the Flames play since that night, and the subsequent coining of the “West Side Story” can’t help but make you smile as a Flames fan. For the first few games it was a winning streak, and they could be coming to an end at any moment. But as the wins and points kept piling up, the secondary scoring continued to come from different sources, and even when all the signs pointed to the Flames going on an inevitable losing streak, they bounce back with an effort like tonight. At some point you have to seriously consider that maybe, just maybe, this team is for real.
The Flames take on the best of the worst in the New York Islanders on Thursday. Watch the action on Sportsnet West HD or listen on the Fan 960. Game time is 7 PM MT.
Lines (To Start):
Cammalleri – Conroy – Iginla
Bourque – Langkow – Bertuzzi
Glencross – Lombardi – Moss
Roy – Boyd – Nystrom
Phaneuf – Pardy
Regehr – Aucoin
Sarich – Giordano