At the onset of the month of November the Flames were seven points back of the division leading Colorado Avalanche, but obtaining eleven out of a possible twelve points to start the month, the Flames found themselves with an opportunity to take sole possession of the Northwest division lead.
But just like the last time these two teams met, the Flames were unable to find a way to get enough quality scoring chances against the Avalanche who, after suffering an 8-2 loss on home ice to the Vancouver Canucks looked like they were headed back down the standings. The Flames have a tendency to make inferior teams look like world beaters, and did a great job of it tonight.
On The Line
As mentioned above, the winner of this game would take sole possession of top spot in the Northwest division. Even if this had gone to overtime and the Flames had won, they’d still take top spot because of games in hand.
Calgary came out on fire to start the first period launching the first six shots on goal, but failed to score. Then it was the Avs turn to put the pressure on and former Flames free agent signing Ryan Wilson (part of the Leopold trade on deadline day) was Johnny on the spot finding the loose puck in the slot and wristed his first ever NHL goal to put the visitors up by one. The Flames would manage to outshoot the Avs in the period, but were still trailing after one.
The second period was a bit of an odd one. The Flames largely held the edge in play, spending most of their time in the opposition end, and with some hard work from Jarome Iginla along the boards they drew even on Iginla’s 12th goal of the season. Iginla fought for the puck on the board and eventually it found it’s way to Curtis Glencross who spotted Iginla at the blueline with Jay Bouwmeester providing a screen, and Iginla absolutely blasted a one timer past Anderson. Calgary took the lead just a few minutes later as Kyle Quincy suffered catastrophic stick failure and Dustin Boyd led a charge up ice with Bourque and Bouwmeester. Bourque ended up with the puck on his stick and made no mistake picking the top corner to put the Flames up by one. That lead lasted all of 32 seconds as Ryan Wilson spotted Paul Stasny at the Flames blueline and the Flames on an ill-advised change. Stasny passed to Cody McLeod who put the puck off the post and in. Mere moments later Robyn Regehr got tagged with a cross checking penalty and the Avs made short work of that with Milan Hejduk putting a puck towards the net that appeared to go off of Jay Bouwmeesters skate and in.
The third period was mostly Flames with a few chances by the Avalanche, but the Flames had almost zero mojo in the offensive zone as everything they tried to send towards the net seemed to find an Avalanche player before making it through. It was honestly shocking to see how many blocked shots and passes the Avs had.
1. Ryan Wilson: Wilson made a couple of really heads up plays for the Avalanche’s first two goals, and sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders. Too bad he got away.
2. Rene Bourque: Bourque was extremely physical and generated a number of scoring opportunities. He was livid a couple of non-calls and used that anger to crush some Avalanche players.
3. Scott Hannan: With Colorado captain Adam Foote missing the last half of the game after suffering a jaw injury, Hannan was called upon for some major minutes and really helped hold the Flames in check.
Inside of the last couple of minutes of play and the Flames had a glorious opportunity to tie things up but Olli Jokinen was unable to get the puck up over the pad of Craig Anderson, then hit the post on the second chance.
Cory Sarich leveled David Jones as Jones tried to come around the Flames net. He even took Dion Phaneuf down on the hit. It could have sparked the Flames except it happened far too late in the game to make a difference.
The mental makeup of the Flames just killed them tonight. Terrible puck awareness on the first goal, terrible decision making on the second and an awful penalty to create the third. Almost every mistake the Flames made ended up in their net.
Dustin Boyd. On a night where most of the Flames were skating in sand, Mr. Boyd picked up where he left off in Toronto and had the most fluid skating trio on the night.
Odds and Ends
Think about this one before you go to bed tonight. If you are a Flames fan and you watched tonights game, no doubt every time the word “blocked” was mentioned it increased your blood pressure just a little bit. Every time you saw a fantastic scoring chance somehow end up in the skates of an Avalanche player you probably got more and more irritated…well just image how that must have made the Flames players feel. That frustration can really work against you, and that’s one of the key reasons why shot blocking is so important. Never mind that if the Flames had managed to get everything on net that they shot towards the net, the shot totals would have been ridiculous. So comes and end to the Flames point streak in the month of November. But with more games in hand against the Avalanche, the division will be in the Flames grasp sooner rather than later. But man, that shot blocking is REALLY irritating when you’re down a goal.
On another note, the play of Dustin Boyd at this point in time is simply fantastic. While he’s still not great as a physical presence on with the puck, he’s making a lot of really good decisions and seems to be playing with a great deal of confidence. He needs to continue to use his awareness to help out his linemates and he’ll finally start working his way up the lines. He’s not at the point of deserving top six minutes, but he’s making really solid contributions with his third line (room)mates in David Moss and Eric Nystrom.
The Flames have a big test on Thursday night as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks. Hopefully they remember what killed them the last time. Game starts at 7:30 PM MT and can be seen on TSN or heard on the Fan960.
Glencross – Jokinen – Iginla
Dawes – Langkow – Bourque
Nystrom – Boyd – Moss
Sjostrom – Conroy – Prust
Regehr – Phaneuf
Sarich – Bouwmeester
Pardy – Giordano