New year, same results. Both the Wild and Flames spent some money on players trying to become more offensive and creative, and yet with all of this creativity both team found a way to to play an old fashioned Flames vs. Wild defensive stalwart game. There was probably a couple more chances in the first few periods than in the past, but when push came to shove both teams went into lock down mode and played for the point.
The Flames played probably their most physical game of the season, and the effort was there from most of the players, but the losses are starting to pile up. Moral victories are starting to mean less and less. Eventually this team is going to need to show some results or risk falling out of the playoff race before it even begins.
On The Line
The chance at redemption after an underwhelming performance against the rival Canucks. A chance to get back up to .500. 2 points against a division rival.
Calgary’s lines were completely overhauled to start the game. The Flames came out a little slow to start the period, forcing Irving to make a couple good saves, but started getting their feet moving pretty quick after. The Flames played very aggressive this period, both offensively and defensively, which was nice to see but also led to the Flames taking a couple of penalties early on which the Wild were unable to capitalize on. Both teams turned up the physical play in this period, which was easily the most physical period from the Flames this season. Both teams exchanged some chances and some hits but not much else comes from this period and it ends tied 0-0.
Another period and another set of lines for the Flames. The second started with the same type of flow and tempo as the first. 6 minutes in To Gilbert gets called for hooking. On the ensuing PP Calgary put a lot of pressure on Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom who made some big saves to keep the game tied at 0. The Flames kept the pressure on after the PP expired and started to control the play. With under 2 minutes left in the period Jarome Iginla lazily attempted to clear the puck out of the zone, it bounced off a skate and ends up on the stick of Devin Setoguchi. He passes to Kyle Brodziak who was all alone as he deked around a sprawling Irving and tucks the puck in the net. The second ends with the Wild leading 1-0.
The third period starts off with a bang. Just over a minute in Jiri Hudler gets the Flames all tied up at 1 when he scores on a 2 on 1 after Roman Cervenka forces a turn over at the Flames blueline. After this goal both teams settled in and waited for overtime with both teams combining for 11 shots. This settling in period for these teams carried into overtime. A couple rushes for both teams in overtime didn’t lead to much as both teams only got 1 shot off. In the Shootout Parise and Koivu deked the pants off Leland Irving and Jiri Hudler made a nice move to score on Backstrom. In the end it wasn’t enough as the Wild come away with the 2-1 shootout victory.
1.Jiri Hudler: Played with a lot of energy and creativity tonight. Got the tying goal with a nice shot and made a nice move to score in the shootout.
2.T.J. Brodie: Another fantastic night from the Flames youngster. Hartley thought enough of his game tonight to throw him out in OT and Brodie rewarded that decision by making a big shot block.
3. Niklas Backstrom: This guy has become a Flame killer over the years. Another solid outing from the Finnish netminder.
Early in the first period a Mark Giordano slap shot finds it way through a crowd, Backstrom makes the quick save then falls backwards to stop the rebound at the side of the net with 2 Flames swarming.
Very early in the first period, Cory Sarich pinches up the board and runs over Justin Falk for trying to clear the Wild zone.
The Captain gets the goat tonight. Iginla spent the night flying the zone early, and floating around defensively. He had a brutal turnover that lead to the first Minnesota goal.
Matt Stajan is probably the best Flames center left standing at the moment and he stepped up tonight. He won 14 of 22 face-offs and played a strong game in all 3 zones. I lost count of how many shots he blocked tonight.
Odds and Ends
Irving had another solid performance tonight. With the Flames picking up Joey MacDonald off waivers today I’m not sure what Irving’s future with the Flames is, but what I do know is there’s not much more the kid could have shown in these 3 games. He’s shown he can handle being an NHL backup…Have to give credit to my buddy Dave for doing the research on this one. Since the NHL started doing the shootout the Flames have ranked in the bottom 5 every year except 2010-2011 where they finished tied for second in wins. (Which also happens to be the only time they’ve won more than 3 games in the shootout.)…T.J. Brodie and Dennis Wideman look like Calgary’s best defensive pairing at the moment. If Giordano and Bouwmeester can find any sort of consistency the Flames have a very solid top 4…Jarome Iginla really needs to get going if this team has any hope of making the playoffs. He was playing pretty well to start the season, but these last 2 games have been his worst this year. They have also been the 2 games where Iginla has started cheating defensively…Hudler and Cervenka should be stuck together for as long as they wear Flames jerseys. Those 2 are so smart and creative and have solid chemistry together…
The home stand continues Wednesday at 7:30 PM against the Dallas Stars on TSN.
Hudler – Street – Iginla
Cervenka – Jones – Glencross
Tanguay – Stajan – Stempniak
Comeau – Begin – Jackman
Giordano – Bouwmeester
Brodie – Wideman
Butler – Sarich