One step forward two steps back?
Not exactly the best recipe for a team with low expectations attempting to stay in the playoff hunt, but that’s exactly what we’ve sen from the Flames over the past few weeks as they continue to fritter away a surprisingly solid start.
Tonight it’s a rough third period and a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild, to even their four game road trip at a win and a loss.
On The Line
I keep flip flopping in this section between “looks like they are drifting back to expectations” and “wow if they win this one they are right back in it” as the Flames continue to hover around .500 in the first week of November. Back to win and you’re in it tonight after a surprising win in Chicago.
Solid road first for the Flames as they start strong, play solid 200 feet hockey and even hit the twine first when Jiri Hudler completes a rush by firing home a Lance Bouma pass. The Wild tie it up when they take an odd T.J. Galiardi cough up down the ice, cycle and deposit the puck behind Berra.
The Wild go ahead in the second when Lance Bouma takes a holding penalty in the offensive zone setting up a Wild powerplay. Glencross weakly backhands the puck to the blueline and Berra isn’t able to make a second straight great pad save before Parise scores. The goal didn’t nothing to rattle the nerves of the Swiss goaltender as he makes a few solid saves to keep the game close. The Flames press on a powerplay later but don’t get much to the net so enter the third down a goal.
Flames have some jump in the third despite the loss of Glencross for the stanza, but fail to beat Harding on a few solid chances. Matt Cooke creates the classic pick play to take Billins and Jackman to the net and the Wild wrap it around and score and put the game away. Next shift out the Flames get diced like butter and it’s 4-1 and game over. The Wild mop it up with an amazing skill goal four on four by Parise.
1.Zach Parise : Two goals and an assist for the former Devil including a highlight reel final tally.
2.Miko Koivu: The counterpart to linemate Parise with a goal and two assists for the slick Fin.
3.Ryan Suter: “free agent” night completed as the other big signing Ryan Suter adds two assists as well as 112 minutes of ice time.
Harding flashed the pad to rob Sean Monahan in a high slot tip in the third period to keep his team up a goal. Great reaction for a goaltender with a great story.
Seconds after Jackman rudely ran into Matt Cooke, Cooke himself turned and slammed into Lance Bouma in the neutral zone in the second period.
I’ve criticized for picking on the guy, but I’m going with Curtis Glencross for his second period failed clearing attempt on a Wild powerplay. The game was 1-1 and the Flames had a solid road game going until the bang bang play scored the Wild their game winner.
Josh Harding. Didn’t have a lot of work as the Wild traditionally keep the shots against pretty low, but he was solid when needed and such a good story anyway, thought he deserved the nod because he didn’t make the game star list.
Odds and Ends
Hartley just seems too smart of a man to have an anti-young player angle when making roster decisions so I’m going to trust the man. Baertschi scratched again tonight and Backlund patrolling the fourth line with two bags of cement take a lot of trust though. Still think it comes down to details and turning young Flames skill players into the next Datsyuk and Zetterberg, but I’m really really hoping I’m right. … Terrible play by Cammalleri on that second period Flames powerplay. The veteran knows the Wild are bagged killing a penalty, spent, but shoots the puck unmolested right into the Wild goaltender’s pads and gets the puck cleared. You have them, you have to think that play. … The Flames are plucky as hell, but man do they lead the league in peppering opposing goaltenders right in the logo. Corners boys, corners! … Ok is it Rhetto? or Reetto? Driving me nuts! … Glencross went down in the game and didn’t return for the third period, no clue what the injury is. … Who is this #44 guy playing for the Flames? Can’t be Chris Butler, just can’t be. Calgary’s most popular hockey website’s whipping boy has been playing lights out in the last five games. .. So Baertschi sits twice this year, 5-1 loss in Dallas and a 5-1 loss in Minnesota. Clearly there’s more to a game then one winger, but at least his plus / minus has been spared! … What to make of Reto Berra in start number two? Five goals against on 24 shots and a .792 save percentage shows the line doesn’t support great goaltending. The reality though was a lot of broken plays and failed assistance so we’ll give him a pass. …
The Flames take on Jay Boumeester and the Blues on Thursday night, game time 6pm on Sportsnet
Cammalleri – Colborne – Galiardi
Glencross – Stajan – Jones
Bouma – Monahan – Hudler
Jackman – Backlund – McGrattan
Russell – Wideman
Butler – Brodie
Billins – O’Brien