Darryl Sutter was first to do the unthinkable.
March 3rd, 2010, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Steve Staois shipped to the Calgary Flames in return for Aaron Johnson and a couple of 3rd round draft picks. Yes. A trade. Between the two eternal foes. A first in the combined franchises’ history.
It was the makings of a desperate GM. Sutter, doing whatever he could manage to salvage his position as Ruler of the Flames, made a deal with the Devil (quite literally some would argue). Sutter always coveted his veteran defensemen and so the unofficial embargo with the neighbours to the north was lifted, in a dealing thought never to be seen again.
Prior to puckdrop it was announced that the second ever Flames/Oiler trade had been completed. This time? A veteran defenseman making his way to the Flames. Deja vu??
The clubs have swapped a pair of Czechs and a pair of goalies. Ladislav Smid and Olivier Roy to the Flames. Roman Horak and Laurent Brossoit to the Oilers. Smid a young(ish) 27 year old is a solid defensive defenseman who has already amassed nearly 500 NHL games. Horak has been serviceable in his time in red, but really becomes expendable with the bounty of young forwards collected through recent drafts. The goalies are essentially a wash as neither looks to be headed to the NHL any time soon… if ever.
So the move of a desperate GM, looking to make a splash and secure his position a little longer? Or a shrewd move by the Flames management team to acquire a piece most agreed the Flames lacked: A serviceable top 4 defenseman who can play a shut down role and compliment the new younger offensively gifted counterparts?
With Brian Burke’s public hatred for anything Kevin Lowe related, this might be a sign that it truly is still Feaster’s team. Or is it the beginning of the end like it was for Sutter, who “stepped down” from his loft less than a year from the trade the made history?
Time will tell. And Flames fans have nothing but time these days. Onto the game!
On The Line
A chance to stop the slide before they reach the bottom. The Flames got off to an impressive start on this four game road swing, picking up their first victory at the Madhouse on Madison in over a half decade. But back to back pastings by the Wild and Blues have smacked them back to reality. Still a win tonight and a .500 road trip would be mightily impressive considering their competition.
Another road game, another slow start for the Flames. Just five minutes in and again the Flames would give up the opening goal. A great defensive effort by Kris Russell was erased when the team would stand around and watch Ryan O’Reilly snap home his sixth of the season. The lead would hold up the rest of the period.
A flurry of action to begin the second as the teams would trade goals. First it was some questionable calls that led to a 5 on 3 for the Avalanche, who would make short work of it. The Flames would respond as Cammalleri, continuing his hot hand, unloaded a wicked wrister over the shoulder of robot Giguere. The two goal lead was restored shortly after however; John Mitchell doing the honours. But once again it would be Cammalleri bringing the Flames within one, this time finishing a nifty passing play from Backlund and Hudler. Cammalleri would nearly knot the game late with an in-close chance but the robot was able to slide across in time.
As always the Flames delivered a solid performance in trying to draw even late in the game. Unfortunately they couldn’t slip the rubber past the former Flame goaltender and the Avs hung on for the victory, adding an empty netter late to cement the 4-2 victory.
- Mike Cammalleri: Had both Calgary goals on seven shots. The impending UFA is playing so well he might just be forcing a trade come deadline time. His value could just be too high.
- Ryan O’Reilly: The almost-Flame was a force tonight. 1 G, 1 A, drew a penalty that led to the 2nd goal, and 100% in the dot. Still, would anyone trade Sean Monahan for Ryan O’Reilly at this point in time? I didn’t think so.
- Jiri Hudler: Two more assists for the Czech native. When was the last time the Flames had someone not named Iginla in the top ten for league scoring?
Late in the second J.S. Giguere would thwart Cammalleri’s hat-trick bid with a strong glove hand.
The hits to the face traded by Brian McGrattan and Patrick Bordeleau in a first period heavyweight bout. Love McGrattan’s preying stance prior to them locking up. But it was McGrattan who was left bloodied by the end and the Avs would capitalize on the momentum shortly after.
Hard to knock such a hard-working group, but the horns tonight belong to the defensive pair of Russell and Wideman, each a -2. Looked a little lost out there tonight.
Mikael Backlund. He was the victim of a questionable penalty leading to the Avs second goal, but nice to see the young Swede make the most of his promotion from the fourth line. The trio of Cammalleri, Hudler and Backlund were wielding some magic, but really it seems any line with Hudler on it this season is mighty dangerous.
Odds and Ends
Shane O’Brien playing in his 500th career NHL game tonight. Nice to see, as I’ve taken a liking to the former Av. He sticks up for his teammates if nothing else. Have to wonder though if his days on the Flames will be numbered with the acquisition of Smid, especially after Giordano returns. Butler seems to have won the confidence of his coaching staff… Avalanche are now 11-0-0 when scoring the first goal. For whatever the reason, the team is really responding to Patrick Roy as the new benchboss. It’s like a Boston Red Sox turnaround this season, and we saw how that ended up… Monahan has been fairly quiet in recent games. Losing Hudler on his wing isn’t going to help. Baerstchi had good energy in his 15 minutes of ice time. Interesting to see if he’ll be returning to the pressbox any time soon… Karri Ramo returned between the pipes, and just like Berra last night he was solid but not spectacular. My guess is they’ll return to Reto Berra to kick off the homestand.
The Flames take the long weekend off and return to action Tuesday, back in the Saddle to host the San Jose Sharks. 7 pm on Sportsnet West.
Lines (To Start):
Jones – Stajan – Galiardi
Cammalleri – Colborne – Hudler
Jackman – Backlund – McGrattan
Baertschi – Monahan – Reinhart
Russell – Wideman
Butler – Brodie
Smith – O’Brien