The Flames were very close to making the playoffs last season despite not playing all that well for most of the season. Miikka Kiprusoff was their MVP and the team muddled along just enough to be in the picture when the dust settled at the end of the season.
This season is completely different on many levels as the now “exciting” Flames once again found a way to play well, arguably out play their opposition for much of the night but still find a way to lose; this time 6-3 to the Avalanche in a game that was tied at 3 with just over 2 minutes to play.
On The Line
Personally, and I know many of you hate this; I see this season as a transition into a new order so I’m all about the process .. however if you have aspirations of a playoff spot, and I’ll admit this team seems more capable of such then I expected, then you need to have this one in order to get the season righted and push up the standings. A lack of games played and a tough schedule ahead would require two points against a tired Sharks team.
All around solid first period for the Flames as they out hustled, out worked, and out shot the visiting Avs but struggled finding the back of the net. The Flames went ahead on Hudler’s first of the night but surrendered a late goal to send the game to the second tied up at one.
Calgary comes out strong again and moves out 2-1 on a solid tic tac toe pass play between Cervenka, Stajan and Hudler, Hudler finishing things off once again. The Avs scored the next two though as Kiprusoff struggled and the Flames found themselves down a goal for the first time in the game. A late goal with Hudler pretending to be Tanguay as he set up Tanguay for an open netter had the game tied at 3 through two.
Close third period with chances back and forth and the Flames coming on. A late push by the Avs resulted in a Mark Giordano penalty and just like that the Flames were on the ropes. Stastny scores to make it 4-3, and then again to make it 5-3 a minute later. Empty netter finishes things off.
1. John Mitchell: Two goals and an assist for the former Leaf that has never scored more than 12 in an entire season. Good work!
2. Paul Stastny: Two late goals including the game winner despite being quiet for 58 minutes.
3. Jiri Hudler: Two goals and an assist to give the ex-Wing four points in just two Calgary starts.
With the Flames rolling, and the Czeck-Matt line leading the way, the Matt in my pathetic creation pushed through the defence and took a Cervenka pass, deflecting the puck towards Giguere who turned it away. It was a bang bang play that had the former Flames stopper sharp both in reaction and in timing in a close game.
Maybe we should scrap this category this season and go with Big Pass? Once again a game pretty much devoid of contact. Get used to it!
Miikka Kiprusoff wears the goat horns in this one. I always feel dirty giving this one out to a stopper but he’s the team’s best player and this year so far I don’t think he’d crack the top six; unacceptable, they need him. Five goals on 21 shots just isn’t goaltending.
Mikael Backlund. Love watching this guy emerge. It doesn’t appear his surge will go away as the third period was the guy’s playground. He seems bigger, faster, and stronger on the puck. Only a matter of time until he starts to find the net.
Odds and Ends
Very odd game to soak in for me. The team lost by three goals but left me thinking a whole lot more is right about this club then wrong in the early season. Kiprusoff is going to get better, and when he does he should help backstop what appears to be a team that is ready to rock with three scoring lines. The top line of vets has decent chemistry, but Backlund’s emergence and the play of the two Czechs leaves me pretty curious to watch shift after shift of this team. Refreshing, haven’t been able to say that forever. … There are a lot of hockey fans that don’t like Chris Butler; this game will do nothing to help that emotive. A cough up at the end of the first and blown coverage of the Av’s third goal had him stapled to the bench along with his defense partner Cory Sarich who I’m guessing was gazing upward at the press box and longing for Derek Smith to come down and join him. I’m guessing Bob Hartley may abandon this rotation plan soon. Just saying … Always interesting to pine about a player coming from a deep team to a team that will inevitably give him more ice time. Will he wither under the pressure or deliver with a greater stage and spot light? It’s early but the Jiri Hudler story is sure interesting to watch. … The other interesting variable in the mix is Cervenka who is also very talented. Getting Hudler signed long term has to have a pretty good tractor beam in keeping Cervenka here for a longer term deal as well. The lockout helps in this regard as well as the young Czeck who doesn’t speak English is less likely to fully acclimatize in a shortened season. … Will the Flames consider Irving soon if Kiprusoff continues to struggle?
Saturday night at the Dome with the Blackhawks the visitors; game time 8pm on HNIC.
Cammalleri – Backlund – Stempniak
Glencross – Tanguay – Iginla
Cervenka – Stajan – Hudler
Begin – Jones – Jackman
Giordano – Bouwmeester
Brodie – Wideman
Butler – Sarich