In an 82 game schedule you see a lot of meaningful games, but then quite a few others that just don’t seem to have that easy grasp story line just waiting to write itself.
Tonight there are almost a half dozen angles that are dying to be game stories, so you fight to pick the one most appropriate. Bob Hartley’s coaching would be a dandy. Reto Berra’s first game in the NHL is an easy mark. The St. Louis story connection that was all over the box score yet another example.
But given the fact that the Flames haven’t won a game in Chicago in ten tries coming in, a streak that included a blown 5-0 lead a few years back you had to almost laugh at the fact that a team stripped of most of its high priced talent (30th in the league in payroll) would ride a rookie goalender to a 3-2 overtime win and snap the streak.
On The Line
Losing two of three on home ice this past week has pushed the Flames under the .500 mark and in real danger of moving out of the mix in the West playoff battle. A point or two in Chicago would halt the mini skid and breath life into a tough road trip.
The dangerous Hawks were ready to roll tonight despite playing yesterday in Winnipeg, and jumped on the Flames early, a fact that likely helped Reto Berra get into the game quickly. The Flames recovered and pushed back, surviving the first period tied at zero.
The second was all Chicago to start the period as the Flames got running around in their own zone. The Hawks strike first when Kane losing his check circling the zone and fires a screened shot past Berra. The Flames countered quickly when Mike Cammalleri tipped a Wideman point shot over Crawford’s shoulder, a marker that did a lot for the Flames psyche, settling them back into the game.
The third period featured a Curtis Glencross go ahead goal that the Flames nursed through a dozen minutes and towards the end of the period. A Chris Butler holding penalty was made more dangerous when Matt Stajan put his hand on the puck, handing the Hawks a two man advantage for 1:41. Berra and the triangle hung in for almost all of it but the Hawks finally tied the score as Butler stepped out of the box.
In overtime the Flames wasted little time when Russell fought a puck to the ice and then wired one over Crawford’s shoulder to notch the winner.
1.Reto Berra: A Henrik Karlsson upgrade? The big Swiss goaltender was almost flawless in his first NHL start to notch the Flames a huge win.
2.Curtis Glencross: Flame vet has put a few solid outings on his resume in the last ten days, scored a goal and added an assist in the late going to pace the Flames .
3.Patrick Kane: The game’s slickest player showed us why tonight with some solid rushes and a classic Kane goal.
Moving laterally down two men late in the third period, Berra robs Patrick Sharp with a right pad and some solid strength.
Glencross and Shaw got into it in the third period with Shaw first dropping Glencross on his hoop by the blueline, only to have Glencross find him in a rage and staple him into the boards behind the Hawk cage.
Matt Stajan. The guy was great defensively all night but he almost wore the goat horns for his hand on the puck play to put the Hawks up two men. If you haven’t see it, there was no discretion on this call, it was mitt on the puck for a three count!
T.J. Brodie. No goals, no assists, and even, but some of the craftiest defensive plays, and some great leg speed to generate rushes and create scoring chances. Bob Hartley’s little “he doesn’t know how good he can be” speech last week really hit the mark.
Odds and Ends
Reto Berra is one likable dude. His goaltending on the night was enduring enough for Flames fans, but his post game interview quotes are for the ages. From his couldn’t sleep, nervous, and liking lots of shots stuff to his American anthem was so exciting he almost cried. Guy you want to like. His size is comparable to Karlsson’s but his style is the complete opposite. Rather than going into the butterfly instantly he stands as tall as he can which looks odd for such a huge goaltender, as he seeks to keep his eye on the puck. He then quickly drops to make the save once he sees the play unfold. … Interesting to see the St. Louis angle all over the game. The Bouwmeester trade yielded Calgary Berra, but it also added to the stable of defenseman in St. Louis that had Russell benched for the playoffs and then eventually traded to Calgary in a later deal. One wins the game in net, the other scores the winner. … Interesting to see Hartley move Backlund onto the Monahan-Hudler line in place of Baertschi in the third period, but how long until we see one or both of the tough guys benched to give all the forwards playing well a chance to contribute? … Wild to see how calm the Flames were on Chicago ice tonight, you really have to tip your hat to Hartley for developing and then maintaining a pretty solid system. … Odd to win in Chicago huh?.
The Flames travel to Minnesota to take on the Wild on Tuesday night, game time 6pm on Sportsnet.
Cammalleri – Colborne – Galiardi
Glencross – Stajan – Jones
Baertschi – Monahan – Hudler
Jackman – Backlund – McGrattan
Russell – Wideman
Butler – Brodie
Smith – O’Brien