Today was a big day for the Flames as Brian Burke came to the decision to relieve GM Jay Feaster and Assistant GM John Weisbrod of their duties.
For the Flames a new chapter begins tonight.
Buried in all the news from the Flames today was the fact that they have a game tonight. Tonight the Flames get to welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to the Saddledome, a team they haven’t gotten to play very often over the years.
The Flames are starting to get some re-enforcements from their Injury Reserve, with the Flames activating T.J. Galiardi and Curtis Glencross today.
On The Line
The Flames have played some pretty OK hockey as of late, but have had trouble holding leads late in the game. Tonight the Flames will want to keep the momentum going but will also want to show that they are learning how to hold on to leads and turn them into wins.
There was a lot of back and forth this period, but for the most part it led to blocked shots and missed passes. Half way through the period the Flames just could not get the puck out of their own end which led to a couple of chances for the Hurricanes, but Karri Ramo was able to keep the puck out of the net. Towards the end of the first the Flames were able to get some sustained pressure of their own but Justin Peters was also up to the task as the period ends with the score tied at 0.
I would like to say a lot of things happened this period, but they didn’t. I mean obviously things happened. 20 whole minutes of things happened, but few of those things seem to be relevant and only occasionally resembled NHL hockey. Lets just say both teams made more bad decisions than a teen on prom night. One of those bad decisions lead to a goal by the Flames 4th line. Carolina net minder Justin Peters went behind the net to play the puck, only to turn it over. The Flames were able to get some pressure in the Hurricanes zone and Lance Bouma would rub the Carolina defender off the puck and feed Flames enforcer Brian McGrattan in the slot, who fired it past Peters to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
During his media scrum today Brian Burke stated that he liked how hard this Flames team worked, but did not like the way they were playing and was concerned about their inability to hold a lead in the third period. Unfortunately tonight was not the night that the Flames would figure it out as half way through the third Jeff Skinner, who was easily Caolina’s best player tonight, tied the game up with a quick shot through the five-hole of Karri Ramo. Then a missed opportunity at one end for the Flames led to a breakaway for Skinner, but he would be hooked by Ladislav Smid and awarded a penalty shot. With the game on the line Karri Ramo would step up and make a big stop to keep the game tied at 1 and take the game into OT.
Overtime was actually pretty entertaining. With about a minute left Carolina got a 3 on 1 but were unable to convert. Then, just when you think it’s going into a shootout, Flames forward Paul Byron sends the puck across to Chris Butler who flutters one past Peters with 4 seconds remaining to give the Flames a 3-2 victory.
1.Jeff Skinner: The best player on the ice for both teams. Scored the tying goal and drew a penalty shot. Basically any time the Hurricanes had a chance Skinner was the driving force behind it.
2.Karri Ramo: Wasn’t tested very much in the first 2 periods but kept his team in it with some big saves in the third period and in overtime.
3.Paul Byron: The diminutive Flames forwards played with a lot of energy tonight, racking up 2 assists for his efforts.
On one hand it’s a shame because I had a nice little write up about how great the posts were tonight, especially on Justin Faulk’s shot that hit 2 posts before bouncing out, but Karri Ramo made 2 great saves that deserve some love. First he stopped Jeff Skinner on a penalty shot in the third period to keep the game tied at 1. Then in overtime Ruutu would get the puck alone in the slot but would be absolutely stonewalled by the Flames netminder.
Early in the first period Mark Giordano would make his presence felt, rubbing out Hurricanes top prospect Elias Lindholm in front of the Flames bench. Unfortunately Lindholm would leave the game and not return.
Flames win means no goat tonight for the Flames!
Too hard to choose, but I thought Calgary’s energy line of Bouma – Byron – McGrattan was probably Calgary’s best line tonight. They get to share the Clutch award with Karri Ramo for his big saves late in the game.
Odds and Ends
To make room for the returning injured players the Flames sent their highly touted but struggling youngster Sven Baertschi to Abbottsford…I’ve said in the past that I wasn’t sure if Feaster was the man to lead this team back to the playoffs, but I felt that his tenure would always be looked at favorably, as the guy who “stopped the bleeding”. Now that he is gone I still believe that. He fixed the cap and contract issues that plagued the team, made some good moves and started to build up the Flames prospect pool. His tenure was far from perfect and he made his fair share of bad moves but, in my opinion, his bad moves haven’t crippled this team long term (thanks to some near misses) and the good will be helping this team for years to come…Blair Jones has struggled the last few games and was a healthy scratch tonight but I’ve been impressed by his Heat counterpart Paul Byron. I would not be surprised if Byron got an extended look as he is a versatile player that can play all over the lineup and in any situation. The kid has not looked out of place since being called up… Can’t imagine Burke is impressed with another blown lead in the third period, but in a rebuilding year us fans should probably just enjoy the win regardless… Congrats to Mikael Backlund for playing his 200th game tonight! He played well too.
The Flames head out on the road for a 5 game road trip that starts in Buffalo. The Flames play the Sabres on Saturday at 12 pm and can be seen on Sportsnet West.
Cammalleri – Stajan – Stempniak
Glencross – Colbourne – Hudler
D.Jones – Backlund – Galiardi
Bouma – Byron – McGrattan
Russell – Brodie
Giordano – Smid
Butler – O’Brien