Before the season, many experts slotted the Flames anywhere from 8th – 15th in the West, where only the most dire of circumstances could possibly lead to a last place finish. With the Flames playing mostly healthy this year, the team has inexplicably faltered at any real chance to put together a winning streak and find themselves sitting in the Western Conference basement looking up at the Oilers, Blue Jackets and everyone else.
Their record isn’t terrible, but its well below average in a conference jammed with many middle of the pack teams. While the Flames are by no means out of the race – their task at hand is a tall one, and one that gets even tougher before it gets easier – a matchup against the Detroit Red Wings.
On The Line
Every game now is of vast importance if the Flames believe they have any hope at a playoff berth. A win against the Wings wouldn’t move the Flames anywhere in the standings, but it has to happen if they want to start the climb to 8th.
A familiar feeling to the first period as Calgary allowed the flood gates to open just minutes in when Kronwall ripped a screened shot past Kiprusoff as the fans were still filing in to their seats. This time however, Calgary answered back. First it was Alex Tanguay showing great patience on a partial breakaway, outlasting the net minder and roofing it from a terrible angle to tie it all up at 1. Then Jay Bouwmeester tallied on a 2-on-1 break with Lee Stempniak as the puck bounced in off a defender’s skate. Calgary was outplayed in the first, but finally the scoresheet and the bounces went their way.
The second period started better for Calgary, carrying the majority of the play for the first half of the period. Curtis Glencross hit the post among a few other chances, but Detroit was the only team able to find pay dirt in the frame. On a late powerplay, Valteri Filppula pounced on a rebound after Kiprusoff kicked our Kyle Quincy’s shot and the score was tied at 2 heading to the 3rd.
The third period went about the opposite of what most viewers probably suspected. After giving up that deflating goal to Detroit in the 2nd, Calgary did not let that deter their game. Instead, cue the Curtis Glencross show. The Flames winger took over the game in the 3rd period, setting up Lee Stempniak for the go ahead goal and just minutes later scored the back breaker himself to make it a 4-2 game. Blake Comeau would add another and that was it, 5-2 Flames win.
1. Curtis Glencross: The game time decision was the right one. A massive hit in the 1st period to set the tone, an early crossbar, then a goal and an assist on the 2 most important goals of the game. Plus 3 overall. Every now and again Glencross reminds us of what he is capable of.
2. Miikka Kiprusoff: Bounced back in a big way with 36 saves on 38 Detroit shots. Kept the Flames in the game early and was solid all night.
3. Matt Stajan: Calgary’s most valuable Centre had another great game, registering 2 assists and a plus 3 with his line mates of Stempniak and Glencross. Calgary’s best line yet again.
Detroit defenders for too many costly turnovers and mistakes. 5 goals on 22 shots, and most of those shots were great scoring chances caused by Detroit miscues.
Had to go with Glencross here. That third period was huge.
Odds and Ends
As soon as I heard the ridiculous stat that Detroit had not scored a road powerplay goal all season and sat at 0/37, I knew, without hesitation, that their streak would end tonight. For such an unpredictable sport, its funny how easy it is sometimes to call it. Calgary won their 5th home game of the year which is finally a nice streak they can keep building upon. Final shots were 38-22 in favour of the Red Wings. Interesting to hear them mention Hartley talking about having their eyes on the division lead – as opposed to 8th place in the conference. After tonight, they are 6 points behind Vancouver with an equal amount of games. Less teams in between them in the standings, and with 2 games left against them – that sure looks like an easier task then having to leapfrog 6 teams to get to 8th, on paper at least. Flames sit 4 points out of 8th but do remain in 15th place…very much a log jam yet again in the West. Extrapolate this over an 82 game season and Matt Stajan is on pace for 46 points and a +30 rating. Lee Stempiak on pace for 59 points and +20. They are the only Flames players not in the negatives (aside from Brodie who is even). I know plus/minus is a skewed stat at best, but this drastic a difference within one team tells you who is the best 5-on-5 this year…period. Huge kudos to Jay Bouwmeester who didn’t really fit in to the stars or the Mr. Clutch section but had himself a great game. had the goal, plus logged over 28 solid minutes.
The Nashville Predators come to town Friday night for a 7:00 start.
Glencross – Stajan – Stempniak
Hudler – Backlund – Comeau
Tanguay – Cammalleri – Iginla
Jackman – Begin – McGrattan
Brodie – Bouwmeester
Giordano – Wideman
Butler – Smith