If you could have just one superability, what would it be?
Invisibility? Invincibility? The power to fly? The strength of five Brian McGrattans? What about the ability to see into the future?
In the same vein, but not often considered, is the ability to hear into the future. Think about the possibilities! You could dodge a bullet when you hear the click of the trigger before the gun fires. Stop a theft before it happens when you hear the panicked scream of the soon-to-be-victim before they open their mouth. Or call out a bingo before the announcer even gets the “B52” into the microphone.
Or you could stop fantasizing and experience it firsthand by watching a Calgary Flames game on Sportsnet West. Hear the action before it unfolds in a refreshing reversal of the speed of light and sound. And tonight the celebration would start a second early, as a prophetic Rob Kerr bounded out Reto Berra’s clinching shootout save moments before the puck met pad.
It would be the Swiss netminder’s first career win on Saddledome ice. The Flames first home win in the past seven tries. And only the seventh time the Flames have been victorious in the shootout infront of the “C” of red. And for a city looking for something to celebrate in what’s been a cold, bristly, depressing week, you could hear the boisterous roar of relief…. even before the win was official.
On The Line
The Flames have been terrible. One win in their last eight. The Panthers have been terrible. Three wins in November. Something’s gotta give. Could be an important matchup in the battle for the number one pick, as both teams seem to be destined for their current standing of bottom five.
Speaking of terrible, what a stinker of a first period. When the most exciting portion of a period is the announcement of the participating Safeway product you know you have problems. Highlights of the period included Tim Thomas playing in a bib and the awkwardness of Charlie Simmer in his SportsnetWest commercial. The Panthers would finish the period up 6-3 in shots, and 1-0 in goals as Tom Gilbert would score his first in 57 games, assisted by a middle-Eastern country, Bjugstad.
The second period started as poorly as the first. Nothing was happening for the downtrodden Calgary Flames. It was then, an impromptu chant by the Calgary faithful, probably due to the realization it was Friday night and their babysitting money was going to waste, ignited the boys in red. First it was an aggressive forecheck, turning the puck loose right on the tape of Joe Colborne, who whizzed a wrister right past the bib of Thomas. Energy discovered, the Flames would draw their first powerplay a minute later, and then convert. Finally breaking through on the scoresheet, Sven Baertschi slid home only his second of the season off a fortunate bounce right to his blade. That’s just the type of break the young winger needed, and was well deserved on this night as he seemed to add some vigor to his game.
The Flames would carry their tenacious forecheck into the third. This time it was Backlund and Bouma teaming up to squirt the puck free for a wide open Blair Jones, who would absolutely bury the biscuit with authority as Thomas did the Dougie in an attempt to get over. But the insurance didn’t last long, as a race for a loose puck was won by Berra, only to put the puck right on the tape of Jimmy Hayes, who would make no mistake depositing his first of the season. In case you were wondering, Chris Butler does not have a strong future between the pipes if his career as a defenseman flounders. Then it was the vet Cammalleri making a “rookie” mistake with a brutal giveaway that would eventually find the stick of Marcel Goc who would squeak the puck through Berra and knot the game at 3. And for the third time this week, the Flames were headed to overtime.
Overtime solved nothing, and so we were off to the shootout where the Flames would look to reprise their dramatics of Monday in Winnipeg. A svelte move by Hudler would give the Flames the lead, but with their final attempt Brad Boyes would keep the Panthers alive. Then it was Mike Cammalleri wristing one over the glove of Thomas, in an attempt to make up for his egregious giveaway that tied the game. But Tomas Fleischmann was equal to the task, again extending the skill section. The teams would trade misses before it was the hero of Monday, Sean “Moneyhands” Monahan, returning to the well and snapping one low blocker on Thomas, who responded with his third temper tantrum of the shootout. This time the Panthers had no answer as Berra stretched out the big right pad to thwart Jimmy Hayes and seal his first victory on home ice. Flames win! Flames win! 4-3 final.
- Joe Colborne: A goal. An assist. A key shot block followed by 45 seconds of hobbling. The young centre did it all Friday night.
- Sven Baertschi: Not sure if his increased confidence led to his goal, or his goal led to increased confidence, but Baerstchi was a noticeable difference maker for the Flames. Hope to see it continue.
- Blair Jones: The kid has had a bumpy ride in Calgary, but has been tearing up the AHL and made good in his first NHL game this season, playing with gusto and scoring his second ever as a Flame.
Late in the second and Tim Thomas would pull out the breakdancing to reach back and poke the puck away from Monahan and a sure-goal for the rookie.
A decent number of bumps and another spirited drubbing by the hands of McGrattan, but I give the nod to the puck early in the third, where a couple of point blasts saw both Joe Colborne and Ladislav Smid debilitated on the same sequence. Both would appear to be okay and finish the game.
Mike Cammalleri. I’ve sung his praises my last couple writeups but today he must feel shame for his very costly turnover late in the third that ended up in the Flames net. No excuse for such a risky cross-ice pass in that instance. The feel is if a rookie was guilty of such a blatant turnover they’d be riding pine for the next game, but Cammalleri was out two shifts later. To his credit he almost amended his mistake with a nice snipe in the shootout. I’m not complaining about the lack of accountability for Cammalleri in this case, I’d just like to see the same leeway extended to the Flames’ youngens when they make similar booboos.
Sean Monahan. Was a little snakebitten on the night, but when it counted the future Flames’ captain made good on his second career shootout attempt. 2 for 2 with the exact same move. Hopefully we’ll see him before the extra rounds of the shootout soon.
Odds and Ends
The Flames acquired noted pugilist Lane MacDermid from the Dallas Stars earlier in the day, sending a 6th round draft back the other way. A replacement for Tim Jackman? He was immediately assigned to the Abbottsford Heat, so perhaps it’s more of a grit move for the farm team… Blair Jones is currently tied for eighth in AHL scoring, apparently earning his callup to the bigs. He made good on his first performance, hope to see it continue… T.J. Galiardi was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. He’s struggled as of late… Tonight was only the 7th time the Panthers scored the opening goal this season. They are now 4-1-2 in those contests…. Shots finished 26-24 in favor of the Cats. Far from the entertaining games of early season, but at this point the Flames will just take the W to help with morale.
The Flames get a bit of a breather before the Chicago Blackhawks roll into town next Wednesday, November 27th. Catch it on TSN, 8 pm puckdrop.
Lines (To Start):
Cammalleri – Stajan – Stempniak
Bouma – Colborne – D. Jones
Baertschi – Monahan – Hudler
B. Jones – Backlund – McGrattan
Russell – Brodie
Butler – Wideman
Smid – O’Brien