There’s been some talk in Calgary about Brent Sutter’s coaching future in Calgary, and whether the Flames would or should offer him an extension, as his contract runs out at the end of the season.
The point missed in all this maybe the question of whether the man himself wants to come back as the team continues to be abandoned by their skill players, blowing a two goal lead in Minnesota and dropping a 3-2 shoot out decision in Minnesota.
Sutter clearly flabbergasted by the team’s go to scorers went with Matt Stajan and the entire third line for the shooters, leaving Jokinen, Tanguay, Iginla and Glencross stapled to the bench.
On The Line
The Flames need 93 or 94 points meaning they need 11 or 12 and they have 8 games left. Math suggests 5-2-1 or 6-2-0 is the magic elixir for a playoff position. Of those eight games only two come against teams that are out of it, and one of those comes tonight. Do I need to suggest losing the Wild may be a bad idea?
The Flames are a little tentative early and cough up the puck a few times, creating more danger than they needed. From there however they settled right down and took the play to the Wild the rest of the way, playing most of the period in the Wild zone. With a 15-3 edge in shots the Flames finally solve Josh Harding with a late powerplay goal by Lee Stepniak, on their third powerplay of the period.
The Flames get three straight calls in their favour early in the second, a double minor high stick on Jokinen followed closely by a Prosser penalty for grabbing and hucking the puck down the ice. The resulting advantage finally nets a goal when Anton Babchuk wires one through a screen for his 1st of the season. They press with the two man advantage again, but can’t get puck luck down low and the score stays 2-0. Flames get running around, take some penalties including a maddening slash by Glencross that results in a Heatley goal and a 2-1 score. More penalties, some good kill, and an escape to the third up one.
The Flames were more than happy to sit on the one goal lead getting out shot 12-3 in the third period, a fact that just points to the fact that the team just isn’t in the proper mindset to win games late. The Wild tie it up on a bouncing puck play that went to a review, sending the game to overtime.
Some chances in OT, including a Mark Giordano goal post that was everything but in but the game goes to a shoot out where the Wild take it.
- Devin Setoguchi: Assist through 65 minutes, but the big shoot out winner for the homeside.
- Miikka Kiprusoff: Had nothing to do in the first 30 minutes, but was busy busy for the next 35 and shoot out, including stopping the first three shots.
- Josh Harding: Stops all four shots in the shoot out and was the difference early when the Flames could have ran away with it.
Five minutes into the third Kiprusoff had to be alert as all getup when a point shot hit a Wild player, then both of Anton Babchuck skates before careening towards the net only to find a deft Kiprusoff pad ready to block.
Mark Giordano caught Johnson in the neutral zone trying to wade through traffic and brick walled the Wild forward midway through the second. With hits like that and all the shot blocking the man does it’s a wonder he’s not in traction.
The Flames top players (with Cammalleri missing) have really picked the wrong time to completely dry up. It’s almost like a twisted hockey version of the Wizard of Oz with Tanguay looking for his hands, Bouwmeester looking for his brain, and Jokinen … well everyone is looking for Jokinen himself. Iginla has try in his game, but the skill players have completely seized.
Mark Giordano played yet another solid hockey game. The Flames best player in the past six games or so. Blocking shots, throwing big hits, and almost scored in overtime.
Odds and Ends
Three more Flames come back tonight with Butler, Jones and Bouma all suiting back up for duty. To make room the Flames sent Desbiens back to the AHL, and scratched Horak; Cory Sarich is back in Calgary likely with a concussion. .. Speaking of the new recruits, the reemergence of Matt Stajan coupled with the return of NHL bodies has certainly improved the Flames depth. A third line of Comeau, Jones and Stempniak was fun to watch tonight; great down low and very physical. Moss was good up with the Jokinen line as well. … When Kiprusoff was dealt to Calgary in late 2003 he was Arturs Irbe when it came to handling the puck (that’s bad by the way). He evolved over the years and it actually became one of his strengths, but lately he’s really struggled and given the puck away a lot. Tired? … Glencross didn’t see a whole bunch of ice after the careless penalty but he returned for the third. … Flames lost Smith to injury midway through the second, upper body and didn’t return. Hopefully Sarich is all right. (wasn’t expecting to say that this season). … Speaking of Kiprusoff again, you can’t fault him for recent shoot out trouble. He’s been pretty solid. Used to be his Achilles heel but now he’s at worst as good as who he faces. … Sorry to keep harping on Jokinen, but you have to wonder how the last 7 games (no points) will effect his contract value and the Flames desire to bring him back. He had a great season, so I’m still assuming he’s hurt and its not being divulged. … Nobody wants to hear this, but with the loss the Flames likely need to go 5-2-0 in their last 7, a stretch that will see them play only one game against a team out of it.
The Flames travel to Dallas to take on the Stars in an odd Saturday afternoon game; Noon on Sportsnet.
Lines (To Start):
Tanguay – Stajan – Iginla
Glencross – Jokinen – Moss
Stempniak – Jones- Comeau
Jackman – Bouma – Kostopolous
Bouwmeester – Butler
Giordano – Hannan
Babchuk – Smith