December 7th, 2013 | Posted in Game Takes
By: Jeff Enns
It was so frigid Friday night in the city of Calgary that many of its citizens began exhibiting signs of hypothermia.
First, breathing becomes shallow and starts to slow. A sense of confusion begins to sink in as drowsiness and exhaustion overtake the body. Speech becomes slurred or mumbled, and motor skills suffer as one loses coordination. Finally the pulse weakens and the individual can slide into a state of unconsciousness as the body shuts down in a manner that mimics death.
Of course these could also simply be symptoms displayed by Calgary Flames fans taking in the doldrums of their favourite team in another losing effort. And on a night like this it’s hard to determine exact causation.
All kidding aside, it was frightfully, bone-chillingly, (profanity of your choice) freezing in Calgary as the Avs entered into town Friday, obviously loving life. Environment Canada had even issued an extreme chill weather warning across the province. Apparently in severe low temperatures such as these (below -40 with the wind chill) frostbite on exposed skin can occur in less than five minutes.
Well it didn’t take that long for the Avalanche to bury the Flames on this night. Two sloppy defensive plays in less than a minute, late in the second period, would turn the tables and send the warm thoughts of a third consecutive Flames victory spiraling down into the snowy abyss.
On The Line
You’d think the Avalanche would be eager to respond to an embarrassing 8-2 spanking by the hands of the lowly Edmonton Oilers only the night before. However the Flames are back-to-back winners for only the second time this season and playing some pretty good hockey. They are looking to extend their winning streak to a season-high three games.
You got the sense that Flames fans were hopeful the Avs would suffer another offensive explosion against them on this night, not so much for the entertainment factor of the host team scoring goals, but more-so that everyone could bask in the temporary heat of the Enmax Energy flamethrowers. Well the home crowd would be warmed quickly when a productive powerplay was capped off with a blast from Kris Russell finding its way through the crowd. This left Avs goaltender J.S. Giguerre a little hot under the collar, as he felt Lee Stempniak interfered with him atop his crease, and the former Flame’s theatrics earned another two minutes in the box for the Avs. Unfortunately the Flames couldn’t capitalize on their second opportunity, but still managed to carry the play in terms of shots, chances and territorial play for the rest of the period.
The second stanza seemed to be going as planned for the Flames, as despite a short spell of fantastic end-to-end rushes early on, nothing much was generated be either side. But before the clock could run out, some miscommunication between goaltender and defenseman saw the puck find the stick of John Mitchell, then Max Talbot, and then the back of the net. Not even a minute later and another sloppy defensive play by whom I won’t say… (the Butler did it) would burn the Flames. This time it was Public Announcement Parenteau sliding the puck into the open cage. And a game that appeared firmly in control was suddenly anything but heading into the third.
The Avs third goal was a display as to why Nathan MacKinnon was taken first overall in last year’s entry draft and highly regarded as a phenomenal talent. A busted stick negated a Flames scoring chance and sent the puck up on a three on two, led by MacKinnon. Some fancy moves at the line backed in the defense, allowing him to drop it to a trailing Gabriel Landeskog. Most impressive though is how MacKinnon didn’t drift off after the pass, but instead circle the net to establish himself in a strong scoring position. Sure enough the rebound would ricochet right to his tape and the Halifax native would make no mistake burying his sixth of the year. The Flames wouldn’t generate much until the final minutes, but with just under two remaining and Ramo off for the extra attacker, a heads up pass by Cammalleri would find the tape of Stajan and then the back of the net to bring the Flames within one. That would set up an exciting last minute where despite some puck possession the Flames wouldn’t be able to set up a high quality chance. And so the 3-2 score would hold as the final buzzer sounded. The final opportunity for a blast of warmth denied for the Flames faithful who stuck around til the end.
- Maxim Talbot: My buddy asked, “who wouldn’t want a Maxim Talbot on their team?” Good point. One goal, one assist, and one heck of a pest all night.
- Mark Giordano: Hard to tell from the stat sheet. 4 PIM, -1 in plus/minus and TA/GA, and only one hit. But he was noticeable out there with some fine decision making and skill plays, while near the team lead for shots (5) and ice time (24:21). Not bad for returning from injury two days prior.
- J.S. Giguerre: Bounced back nicely from an early temper tantrum to improve to 7-0-0 this season. Nothing fancy but solid all-round.
Five minutes into the 2nd period and Stajan would attempt to carbon copy his assist from Wednesday night, this time with Cammalleri flanking the other side of a two-on-one. But when the pass got through, Giguerre would come sliding across to deny Cammalleri’s one-timer, and keep the Avs deficit to one.
Shane O’Brien with possibly the shift of his career. First a fancy spin-o-rama backhand pass to Giordano in the offensive zone to set up a quality chance, and then back the other way sending Cody McLeod horizontally into the end glass behind the Flames net.
Sorry Karri Ramo. A stellar two-and-a-half games came off the tracks with an ill-advised giveaway to the tape of John Mitchell that ended his shutout bid. He was lights out until that point. Chance for Reto Berra to earn back the starting reins tomorrow night in Edmonton. Kudos for Ramo for stepping up his game and ensuring the number one spot remains a contested battle.
Not really sure who deserves it this game. Russell with another solid game. Saw some flashes from David Jones that impressed. Backlund received a promotion in line-mates and did some good things with it. Hudler with his usual moments, but made some sloppy plays. Stajan got the late goal, but parts of his game bothered me tonight. Choose your favourite of the bunch.
Odds and Ends
Lane MacDermid made his Calgary Flames debut, and was noticeable in his barely four minutes of ice time. Mostly for his uncalled for clipping of J.S. Giguerre which earned him two for goalie interference. At least the clip was so blatant it lured the Avs into an instigator penalty and a spirited scrap. Good on ya Lane…. Joe Colborne was a last minute scratch from the lineup. Why, I’m not exactly sure but I heard perhaps an illness? The Flames dressed seven defencemen by inserting Derek Smith into the lineup, who played some center. He was limited in his ice time however as a second period holding penalty didn’t seem to sit well with Bob Hartley… Speaking of Hartley he lost the battle of the francophone goalies turned coaches once again, as his former player, Patrick Roy, improves to 2-0 as head coach against the Flames.
The Flames head up north to battle the Edmonton Oilers for last place in the West on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada nightcap. 8 pm puckdrop.
Lines (To Start):
Cammalleri – Stajan – Stempniak
Hudler – Backlund – D. Jones
Baertschi – Byron- B. Jones
Bouma – – MacDermid
Russell – Brodie
Smid – Giordano
Butler – O’Brien