December 10th, 2013 | Posted in Game Takes
By: D'Arcy McGrath
Each hockey calendar has key games.
Rivals, revenge matches, original six games, games with superstars … marquee match ups. Tonight however, was a night that stood alone on the Flames schedule, especially in a season featuring a rebuild, and an expected disappointment most nights when the puck is dropped on Saddledome ice.
Former captain Jarome Iginla, a player on par with Lanny McDonald in Flames history (should be pointed out that McDonald never had to return to Calgary as an ex-Flame) returned on Tuesday night and his Bruins eked out a late rally to best the plucky Flames by a 2-1 score.
On The Line
Tonight was more about a former player than the players, and that’s fitting given the schedule and the fact that the former Flames captain never had a chance to say good bye. Whisked out of the Dome in March unexpectedly he never got to lift a stick an salute his fans in the colours that he wore proudly for almost two decades. The Flames are in draft pick country and don’t need the points. The night was about Iginla.
The Flames played about as good a period as you can against the Eastern Conference’s best, limiting their chances against and actually out playing the Bruins. Jiri Hudler had a great chance on a Sven Baertschi set up and the Flames tested Rask a few times and outshot the Bruins 11-5.
The Bruins right the ship a bit in the second but the Flames continue to slow the game down and keep the Bruins to the outside. The result? Very similar, shots are 11-4 for the Flames with the Flames finally finding a result for their efforts when Sven Baertschi chipped the puck up to Hudler who beat Rask with a wrister under the arm.
The third? Different story as the highly talented visitors pushed and pushed hard as they kept the Flames running around in their own zone for most of the period. With 7 minutes left an unfortunate penalty to Joe Colborne resulted in a Bruin powerplay and expectedly a tie game soon after. The Bruins weren’t done, a rush by Smith resulted in a surprise winner when Berra lost his post and the Bruin beat him short side. Game over.
- David Krejci: Iginla’s center has a great night with the tying goal and five shots on goal.
- Jiri Hudler: Scored Calgary’s only goal, and had another golden chance earlier as the Czech continues to pace the Flames offensively.
- Jarome Iginla: Emotional pick? Sure it is, as he was held pointless. However he had four shots on net, two hits and had noticeable jump.
Tukko Rask robbed Jiri Hudler early in the first period when he took a great pass from Baertschi from behind the net and peppered the Bruin goaltender with a one timer.
Brian McGrattan may not play a whole lot of minutes but he can use his time effectively when he throws his body around. In the first period he crunched Dennis Seidenberg not once, not twice, but three times to set the tone.
This one is tough as the Flames had a pretty gutty performance given their opposition. But you have to point to two tough plays in the the third period for your culprit. First Joe Colborne flips the puck over the glass soon after the Flames kill a penalty to O’Brien resulting in the first Bruin’s goal, then Reto Berra gets caught off his post for the game winner. My pick? Berra.
TJ Brodie. I may just name this “Mr Brodie” for the number of times I pick him as the clutch player. Ended up as a minus player on the night but he was large in ice time, blocked shots, and skating the puck out of trouble, a skill that winning teams need on the backend.
Odds and Ends
Jarome Iginla night is tough on me, as I’ve always had mixed feeling about the guy in Calgary. I know many readers have been choked at my criticisms of the former captain over the years. For the record I feel the man had to be traded, I’m glad he was traded, and I wish he was traded two years earlier. However I’d also be the first to admit that the man had a brilliant career in Calgary, and was singly important in returning a floundering franchise back to respectability in the last 15 years. A classy guy, and a great goal scorer. It was fun to see him saluted in Calgary tonight. … The Flames continue to pull of the rebuild miracle by working hard, being likable, playing an entertaining brand of hockey that you can respect, but still finding ways to lose and keep a high draft pick. Perfect! Speaking of draft picks, the Oilers win in overtime tonight puts them a point behind the Flames, but the Flames still have two games in hand. Amazing its lasted this long but will the Flames be ahead of their provincial rivals heading into 2014? And why are the Islanders looking to draft second overall? Don’t they know they rebuilt years ago with John Tavares? Proof positive that you don’t want to blow it up to the ground. Build a foundation and add to it. … Berra was solid, couldn’t be faulted at all for the first Bruin’s goal, but was off the post on the game winner. He has talent they have to work on his net positioning. … Has Backlund done enough in Monahan’s absence? The rookie center is coming back soon, and the center ice position is still crowded. Amazing that the Flames have a battle at center this season given the thin situation up the middle in franchise history. It’s a 26the overall team, but that battle up the middle is fun to watch. Hopefully Jankowski adds to it soon. .
The Carolina Hurricanes visit Calgary on Thursday night, game time 7pm on Sportsnet.
Lines (To Start):
Cammalleri – Stajan – Stempniak
B. Jones – Backlund – D. Jones
Baertschi – Colborne – Hudler
Bouma – Byron – McGrattan
Russell – Brodie
Smid – Giordano
Butler – O’Brien