Rebuilding teams find a way to lose hockey games.
The intoxication of the opening home stand in Calgary this season had you thinking just maybe it was possible that this team would be different, but things always adjust to the mean in the end. On this night their continued inability to finish was matched by some rather weak goaltending by Joey MacDonald as the Flames went down to the Wings 4-3 despite more spirited play.
On The Line
The Flames; sitting at .500 and staring down a tough 4 game road trip simply had to find two points in this one to ensure the club stays playoff competitive through mid November. Their 1-4 road trip followed by a 1-2 homestand would start to write the story of a team sinking to the bottom.
The first period was Flame gumption versus Wing experience, with the former being responsible for some solid territorial play and shots, and the latter being the principal reason behind two goals on just two shots. Neither first period goal were really Joey MacDonald’s fault but then two goals on five shots is a tough start for any goaltender.
The second was all Calgary at least until the final couple of minutes when the Wings had a strong push. Calgary found the net with their efforts twice; goals by Chris Butler (CP will love that), and Sean Monahan who surprise surprise found some empty ice in front of the net and roofed it.
The game was set up for an exciting third with the game notched up and the Flames playing an entertaining style, but it was the Wings that scored early when Anderson found MacDonald napping and banked the go ahead goal off the side of his skate. The goal was deflating, resulting in no real push from the Flames until much later and the game basically over.
1.Pavel Datsyuk: Best player in hockey this side of Crosby? I think so. Goal and an assist. The man finds options where they’re are none.
2.Todd Bertuzzi: Former Flame is still smooth with the puck on his stick; set up his teammates twice.
3.Jiri Hudler: Was heading for goat status with his mishandling of the puck in the first period, but he rebounded to his veteran self notching two assists.
With Calgary down 3-2 in the third Joey MacDonald robbed a Wing point blank from the slot to keep the game tight and give the Flames a chance (apologies for not getting the name on that bus).
Not a physical night at all, but David Jones stood out for manhandling defenseman Brendan Smith on his way into the Wings zone.
Not good form; for the second straight game I’m going to lean on the goaltender as Joey MacDonald simply has to be better. His two low percentage goals in the third period was the story, period.
Sean Monahan. The kid scored once but could have had another two or three. He’s second to none for finding open ice in the offensive zone, a skill you simply can’t teach.
Odds and Ends
Well the wheels have fallen off in the standings for the Flames as they now truck their way towards the bottom of the West standings. Well not bottom … it’s not Edmonton. A lack of shut down defenseman, depth up front that can finish, and big league goaltending is a pretty strong recipe for lack of results in the win loss column. … Despite not playing the same number of games as their counterparts the Flames at a game sub .500 are in the correct spot in the West at 11th. League wide the Flames are in a group of teams at a game under sitting in the 11th to 15th overall in draft position slot. … Don’t want to keep labouring this Backlund thing, but how can he show offense if that’s the issue if he’s playing with two pluggers? Seems like a fair challenge if he’s given wingers that can produce but in that spot his job is to play well in his own zone and get off the ice. … Said it above, but Monahan’s ability to find open ice is simply amazing to me. It looks so simple from afar but not many players do it consistently. Some jitters and over handling the puck cost him a chance or two in the first period, but he made up for it with his goal in the second. … What do the Flames do on this road trip? Do they struggle again and plummet further or do they surprise and stay in the hunt around .500? Over under? I say 1-2-1 and two games under when they get home.
Calgary hits the road, first stop in Chicago on Sunday night, game time 5.30 pm sportsnet.
Cammalleri – Colborne – Galiardi
Glencross – Stajan – Jones
Baertschi – Monahan – Hudler
Bouma – Backlund – McGrattan
Russell – Wideman
Butler – Brodie
Smith – O’Brien