In retrospection, or introspection (or really any kind of “-spection”) it seems evident that the Flames were in need of a proper rebuild for years before they were begrudgingly forced into one last spring.
So who’s most to blame for this costly delay?
Was it Darryl Sutter? Nope. How about Jay Feaster? Guess again. Ken King? Getting colder.
Why it’s goaltending legend Miikka Kiprusoff!
The Finnish netminder was so fantastic for so long that he masked a lot of deficiencies for the Calgary Flames, single-handedly winning games the Flames had no business being in. With that superhuman capability in their crease the Flames were always in contention and a rebuild remained out of the question for the Flames’ brass.
It may be a long time, if ever, the Flames see a goaltender in the same ilk as Kiprusoff, but there was a reminiscent feel Tuesday night as they got lambasted by the San Jose Sharks only to stick around thanks to the quality goaltending of Swiss tender Reto Berra. Outshot 28-6 through the first two periods, they somehow remained in contention thanks to a solid, steady performance between the pipes.
Two quick goals in the third and the Flames collected a point they had no business getting. But they couldn’t muster any overtime magic on this night, as the Sharks exhaled a huge sigh of relief to collect two points they richly deserved.
On The Line
The Flames, losers of three straight, begin a stretch of six of the next seven on home ice. Meanwhile the Sharks, who enjoyed a hot start to the season, enter the night losers of five straight, four of those coming after regulation. A great opportunity for the Flames to get back in the win column.
Some expert forecasting by the broadcast crew led this one off. Just as Charlie Simmer finished talking about the Sharks fast starts– seven goals in the first 90 seconds of games this season– the Sharks would open the scoring, this time 92 seconds in. Logan Couture would pick up a lose puck in the slot and snap it shortside on Reto Berra, making his first start on Saddledome ice. It was a sign of things to come in the first as halfway through the period and the Sharks would enjoy an 11-2 shot advantage, dominating the play. Reto Berra would live up to his stature, coming up large the rest of the frame. But a late penalty by Matt Stajan set up a San Jose powerplay and the Sharks made short work, Patrick Marleau ending a personal seven game goalless streak with another shortside snapper. 2-0 San Jose after one of the worst periods the Flames have played this season.
The second period was largely forgettable. So let’s forget it!
The Flames came out with life to start the third and the fans responded, bringing the building out of its slumber. The new found energy would earn them their first man advantage of the night, and the Flames struck quickly, ending a powerplay slump that was too lengthy to calculate. Sean Monahan would win the draw cleanly and Kris Russell showed great poise, walking the puck in from the blueline and blasting a shot over a screened Alex Stalock. Five minutes later it was a funny bounce finding the backhand of Cammalleri and the Flames vet made no mistake depositing the rubber. Suddenly in a game they had no business being in the Flames found themselves all knotted up. The Flames would match forces with the Sharks the rest of the game, stealing a point as the buzzer sounded to end the third.
Flames looked determined to begin overtime but some sloppy defending by Butler and Brodie allowed Brad Stuart to glide uncontested to the front of the net where he banged home a Joe Thornton rebound. Sharks end their overtime blues and the Flames drop their fourth in a row. 3-2 final.
- Reto Berra: Cause Reto Berra’s better than your average bear. And in the case tonight, your average goaltender. Nice performance.
- Logan Couture: Opened the scoring and just looked dangerous all game.
- Patrick Marleau: A goal and an assist to lead the Sharks in a dominating effort.
Won’t go down as an official save, but a great athletic pokecheck in the second period by Reto Berra on rookie scoring leader Tomas Hertl kept the Flames within two. He missed the puck but got enough of the scoring forward to disrupt his path. Timely save and definitely caught Hertl by surprise.
Not a devastating or “clean” bodycheck by Ladislav Smid on Marty Havlat in the first, but deserves recognition as it will be the first of many by the Czech rearguard. The man certainly plays a physical game, putting his body on the line every night.
Sven Baertschi. Not a bad game by the young forward by any means, as at times he did look dangerous and engaged. But for a guy who’s been flirting with the pressbox, and as a fan who wants to see him in the lineup every night, I couldn’t help but cringe at some bad decisions and missed opportunities that will do little to improve his favour with coach Bob Hartley. Meanwhile Backlund was -2 in under 11 minutes of ice time so maybe he’s deserving of the horns tonight.
Mike Cammalleri. Every game I watch he continues to impress. He got the momentum started in the third and as he often does made no mistake when the puck found his stick around the slot. Kris Russell with an energetic game as well.
Odds and Ends
Flames with their first powerplay goal in 10 games tonight. Yikes. Such a simple play as well to end the schnide. Win the draw, bodies to the paint, shot from the point. How hard was that?… Not the ideal debut for the newest Flame, Ladislav Smid. But there’s little not to like about what the big rearguard brings to the table. Over 500 hits and 450 blocked shots since 2010. Most impressive is he’s been trending upward in both categories every season. Last season he led the Oilers with 151 hits and 119 blocked shots in just 48 games. Already this season he’s on pace for 250 hits. As expected Shane O’Brien checked out to make room…
The Flames will try to halt the skid on Thursday, as they welcome the Dallas Stars to the Dome. 7 pm puckdrop on Sportsnet West and fan 960.
Lines (To Start):
Galiardi – Stajan – Jones
Cammalleri – Backlund – Hudler
Baertschi – Monahan- Stempniak
Bouma – Colborne – McGrattan
Russell – Wideman
Butler – Brodie
Smid – Smith