March 20th, 2012 | Posted in Game Takes
By: D'Arcy McGrath
In my books if a team shows up, shows battle, hangs in through tough times and finds a way to lose it’s an easier pill to swallow.
The Flames had their moments tonight, and also had their share of trouble with a young, quick Avalanche team. Through it all they managed to hang in, gain a point, but drop the 2nd in yet another extra time foible, this time a 2-1 loss to the Avalanche in Colorado.
It goes without saying that two points were desperately needed for the Flames, but one point keeps them in the race and least for now. If 93 points are required the Flames need a 5-2-1 record to finish. For a team that has won 5 straight recently it’s possible, but they’re now down to 2 1/2 mistakes.
On The Line
The everything line gets walked out a lot during the season, but clearly this one is a big one. One point gained in two games against teams 29 and 30 on the weekend have essentially taken all the wiggle room out of the season that the Flames have. Instead of having to finish 5-3-1 to finish the season the Flames likely have to roll to the tune of 7-2. They can’t afford one of the “two” to happen in this one.
Great start for the Flames, from a quick Avalanche icing call to a huge early goal from Matt Stajan. It wasn’t to lasdt however, as back to back sluggish shifts leads to a delayed penalty and finally a goal by Stastny when he tipped a puck from the point in past Kiprusoff. Calgary continues to struggle to regain their momentum and the Avs take the play to the Flames until an Iginla breakaway miss seemed to ignite the team to a strong push for the Flames. 1-1 tie through one.
Flames continue the jump in the second period, keeping their game simple and getting the puck deep on most occasions. A few good chances early but bounces and a solid Varlamov keep the game tied at one. The good start didn’t last as the Flames spent the middle ten minutes of the period in their own zone including one run where Babchuk couldn’t get off for what seemed like 3 minutes. Calgary refinds their game and pushed back late, carrying the last four or five minutes but no blood for either squad in the middle frame.
Tentative start for both teams in the third, a lot of dump and chase though the Flames had an early edge in shots. Terrible Flames powerplay six minutes in threatens to rob the team of momentum much like their previous man advantage. Flames lose the handle again midway through the period, and get run in their own zone for the better part of three minutes. Another failed powerplay but this time although the powerplay was another dud the team rolled afterwards and had a few good chances. Colorado forces the play again and blasts one off the post. Calgary with a late chance but off to OT we go.
Too much standing around in overtime for the Flames. Modern overtime is all about puck possession and you can’t make that happen if you don’t have your feet moving; which they didn’t. In the end it was a Babchuk mistake on Stastny that resulted in the game winner for Colorado. Another tough loss.
- David Jones: Goal and an assist to pace the Avalanche to a big win, and continue their steak.
- Semyon Varlamov: Was good early and late and a difference maker over all for the Denver squad. Has really found his game.
- Matt Stajan: Scored Calgary’s goal, almost set up a few others. Guy continues to show that with a proper sports psychologist he could be a 45 point player next season.
With 2 seconds on the clock Giordano takes a pass and wires one net that Varlamov snares between and with his pads to send a tight game to over time.
Landeskog caught Blake Comeau cycling out of his own zone and through a shoulder into the snake bitten Flames forward, leaving Comeau down and his stick flying through the air.
Olli Jokinen. Was -2 along with Glencross and a complete waste of skin on the ice all night. Sutter has to sit guys down when they don’t have it, and he hasn’t had it for the past five or six games.
Mark Giordano. Classic drop and stop in the third that had goal written all over it, and was key in the late push as the Flames almost won the game in regulation.
Odds and Ends
I’ve always suggest fans and media look at their hockey team with myopic fan goggles, not seeing the role the other teams play in each outcome, or how the local chapter actually stands up with their competition. I’ve also always suggested that there was something wrong with the Flames leadership group; that they don’t stack up when the game’s get tough. This argument is getting harder and harder however because said leadership group keeps changing. Iginla (clearly a leader) and Kiprusoff (quietly possibly) are really the only hold overs from a group that has featured Robyn Regehr, Daymond Langkow, Craig Conroy and Dion Phaneuf. So is it that they just don’t match up against other skill players when the level of hockey escalates? That’s my new theory. … Olli Jokinen was especially bad again tonight, not coming back, acting tired, not covering anyone in his own zone; puzzling. Is he hurt? That just isn’t the play of the converted star center into a solid two way player. Maybe his point production this season has made him give up the tough work again. … Can’t say enough about how Cory Sarich has come on in this hockey season. I was a fan of bringing back Scott Hannan next year but I may have switched allegiances to Sarich if he signs for cheap. Eye popping move to the net in the first period … Biggest issue the Flames face in my mind? Too many players that have no hope of being themselves before the season runs out. Guys like Moss, Stepniak, Smith and likely Jones, Butler etc will never find their games in eight or nine games. There’s just no time. Moss was money for the little play in the past but is till fighting the puck. Stepniak doesn’t have the range or game shape to make things happen. … Don’t blame Denver fans for being upset at all on the high stick to O’Reilly, another reason for that one challenge flag for each team per game. … Way too many long shifts for Iginla in this one, brutal. … .
The road trip continues in Minnesota on Thursday night, game time 6.30pm on Sportsnet.
Lines (To Start):
Tanguay – Stajan – Iginla
Glencross – Jokinen – Kostopolous
Stempniak – Moss- Comeau
Jackman – Horak – Desbiens
Bouwmeester – Smith
Giordano – Hannan
Babchuk – Sarich