February 5th, 2013 | Posted in Game Takes
By: D'Arcy McGrath
The game story was predicted as the Jiri Hudler story.
The Flames hottest player returning to the team that drafted him, the team for which he helped win a Stanley Cup, the script was writing itself. But as the player has said on a couple occasions already this season, the key is the win, and that’s exactly what the Flames delivered to their hard luck Czech to the tune of a 4-1 score in Motor City.
On The Line
The season is now 1/8th old and the Flames have only one win. That’s a problem. Yet the city and this writer have to admit they’ve played decent, entertaining hockey and could perhaps deserve a better fate. A crucial road trip starts tonight in Detroit, with the general assumption that three to five points at least are needed in order to turn their season around. The trip has bookends of tough games against Detroit and Vancouver, and an easier touch against Columbus in the middle.
Getting off to a win would do wonders for both the trip and the season.
The Flames were ready off the drop of the puck, playing a solid first period and getting rewarded with not one but two goals to take a 2-0 lead. First Jarome Iginla fought off a defender and buried a rebound for his first of the season, then later on a two man advantage Mike Cammalleri set up Curtis Glencross for a tap in.
The expected Detroit push back came in the second, but the Flames system and goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff were ready for the task and turned the Wings away. A questionable call to Denis Wideman resulted in a Franzen goal, a classic marksman backhander that found the top corner, to make things much closer. The Flames stabilized though, and then moved back up two when Wideman fired the puck through a screen with just 30 seconds to play in the period.
The third period featured a surprise when Leland Irving was in the cage, as starter Miikka Kiprusoff had a “lower body injury” and didn’t return for the final frame. However both the young goaltender and the team were ready as the Wings only managed six shots on goal, none of which threatening and the Flames cruised to a 4-1 win.
1. Denis Wideman: Keeps the suddenly potent Calgary powerplay moving with a crucial back breaking goal in the second to add to an assist in the first.
2. Johan Franzen: Only Wing to light the lamp, catching Kiprusoff on a second period powerplay with a slick back hand to the top corner.
3. Mike Cammalleri: Two assists to the still snake bit goal scorer, his first a sick pass to Glencross in the crease for the team’s second goal; the game winner.
Derek Smith gets the not for getting his stick on a puck heading into the top of the net with Kiprusoff down on all fours and reaching. Wow.
First he fights Jordan Too Too to get some momentum going his team’s way, then the cagey vet finds Zetterberg tip toeing through the neutral zone in the second with a solid open ice hit.
No goat in this one, but man did T.J. Brodie come close when not once but twice did he almost completely blow it. First he tips the puck wide of an empty Calgary cage by 4 inches, and then later on he simply leaves the puck in front of the net for a great Detroit scoring chance.
Jarome Iginla … loved his grit on the team’s first goal of the game and his first goal of the season. It would be easy to focus on the fact that he didn’t score on a penalty shot attempt, but he was moving his legs and created that break and another later in the game.
Odds and Ends
My view of Bob Hartley continues to grow watching a road game in Detroit. True the Wings are a step down from the terror squad of the last ten years, but to watch the Flames casually protect a lead without running around and collapsing in their own zone was a pleasant surprise. The guys seems to have the team playing a very different, poised game plan. … Good to see Iginla and Cammalleri contribute offensively. The two forwards and goaltender Kiprusoff are clearly in the team’s top five players, and none of the three have had the start they would have liked … Odd situation for the Flames with Kiprusoff. Even if the injury is relatively minor they don’t have a backup for Thursday night with no other goaltender in the system signed to an NHL contract. What is the plan? If it’s medium to long term you’d have to assume a trade is in the works (think defenseman to Ottawa for Bishop) as I can’t see them getting Ramo out of the KHL mid-season. Shame if the team has found their game only to lose their best player. Sigh … Interesting game for T.J. Brodie with 50 some friends and family in attendance to watch his every move. He finished with almost 20 minutes of ice time and a +2, but had two almost gaffs that were heart stopping! … Interesting to see Steve Begin bloodying the younger Jordan TooToo’s nose, the vet is a gamer! … It’s early but the Flames really do appear to have balanced scoring throughout the roster. After seven games the Flames have nine players on roughly 50 or more point paces (82 game season pace). That’s pretty amazing.
This crucial road trip continues on Thursday night in Columbus, game time 5pm on Sportsnet
Glencross – Backlund – Stempniak
Cammalleri – Tanguay – Iginla
Cervenka – Stajan – Hudler
Comeau – Jones – Begin
Giordano – Bouwmeester
Brodie – Wideman
Butler – Smith