Easy Come ... Easy Go

Rick Charlton

October 12th, 2002

The NHL warned us there would be nights like this.

AP Photo

Rough Ride: Flames blow a two goal third period.

An astonishing parade to the penalty box that had Flyers GM Bobby Clarke launching a wild second period intermission tirade against the officials ended with Philadelphia scoring three late goals, including two on the power play as they edged the Flames 5-4 last night at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary.

For their part, the Flames punctuated an otherwise second straight moribund effort with three power play goals in 2:35 while playing five on three late in the second period but otherwise did little this night except watch the larger Flyers skate through them and over them.

The night illustrated all the salient points the NHL told fans to expect in its annual crackdown on obstruction. This was a game with the requisite 19 power play opportunities, including a controversial late call on Jarome Iginla that led to Jeremy Roenick's winner at 18:50 of the third, the latter capping the disintegration of a 4-2 Calgary lead with barely five minutes to go.

Then again, there were few calls that weren't controversial.

The Flyers were cruising along with a 2-1 lead late into the second period when the penalties began to rain down, creating a lengthy stretch of five on three hockey which the Flames gleefully exploited with two goals from Martin Gelinas, one from Jarome Iginla and three assists from Chris Drury.

Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock was so enraged that he sent his entire team to the dressing room, less Mark Recchi to take a centre dot faceoff, with nine-tenths of a second to go.

Flyers GM Bobby Clarke then stepped to the plate during a scheduled appearance on FAN960's intermission show, peeling back host Mitch Peacocks ears with gems like: "I think it was an abuse of the rules by the officials," and " These little weak girl penalties they're calling . . . " or "I don't have any understanding of what they're trying to do."

Naturally, we expect Clarke to be fined for the comments. And we should point out as well Hitchcock had earned his team a delay of game penalty by putting only one player on the ice even if the period had less than a second to run, although the infraction was charitably ignored.

In truth, however, the Flames probably had no business winning this one.

More ominously, the opening two games of the year for the Flames have looked an awful lot like most of last year, if not the last six seasons. A goal in the final minute of the period on a failed clearing attempt, a terrible defensive error by Drury leading to a short-handed goal and bad penalties late in a game opening the door for an opponent to drive a truck through.

In spite of all the additions to their forward ranks this off-season it was always going to come down to how much this team had improved defensively and to date the reviews are not good, Calgary surrendering eight goals in only two starts with the goaltender not to blame.

For the most part, Flames starter Roman Turek held his team in this game before finally succumbing to numerous Flyer chances, including a letter perfect set-up from Recchi for Roenick's final goal. Turek faced 34 Flyers shots, many of the point-blank variety, while Roman Cechmanek in the Philadelphia net had 25 shots directed his way.

Recchi himself was outstanding this night, scoring three times and adding an assist. Justin Williams also scored for the Flyers. Craig Conroy opened Calgary's scoring and added an assist as well.

Vertically challenged Micki Dupont did much to help the Flames cause, albeit inadvertently, when he ripped a point shot off the ankle of monstrous 6'5" Keith Primeau, sending the latter to the dressing room from which he never re-appeared. Primeau had spent much of the period casting a long shadow over Turek from the edge of the crease, his huge frame unmoveable for the Flames defence corps.

If the penalties on the evening weren't enough to raise your eyebrows the turmoil over Marc Savard's status probably did. Savard was withdrawn from the Flames lineup by coach Greg Gilbert and replaced with Mattias Johansson. Savard was quoted as saying Gilbert told him the move was being made to add size to the lineup but others saw it as one more step in Savard's eventual departure from Calgary. The real reason might have been a 1:30 power play shift Savard took in Calgary's 3-0 loss to Vancouver on Thursday night.

It doesn't get any easier for the Flames, off to Vancouver for a tilt with the Canucks Monday night. Of Calgary's opening 13 games this year, ten are against opponents who played .500 or better last year with another one against the much improved Dallas Stars.

Its early, but the Flames need to find their five on five game real fast.



Philadelphia Flyers 5
Calgary Flames 4

Box Score


Gelinas Conroy Iginla
Gelinas Drury Kobasew
Johansson Niedermayer Clark
Begin Yelle Sloan
Lydman Regehr
Boughner Buzek
Gauthier Dupont


1 Mark Recchi - three goals and assisted the winner with a terrific play.

2 Craig Conroy - brought the Flames out of their four period long funk with a great goal early in the second period.

3 Jeremy Roenick - plus two on the night and scores the game winner.


Pick any one of a flurry of chances from Primeau early on, the Flyers with the powerplay and Primeau parked in the crease blasting away with little interference from Calgary's overmatched defence. Turek also stopped John LeClair on the doorstep in the opening moments of the third period.


But for the collapse of the Flames in the final five minutes, Bob Boughner's crushing hit on Simon Gagne mid-way through the second period, which energized the Flames, might have been the turning point in the game.


As if coach Gilbert doesn't have enough pressure, a female within earshot was lamenting his choice of dress this night. "Blue shirt, shiny gold WIDE tie - No!! It's not Halloween yet," she lamented. Ouch. . . . . . Flames were only 44% in the faceoff circle on the night, but Conroy was 68%. Roenick was 65% for the opposition. Toni Lydman led the Flames with a yeoman-like 27:03 in ice time and Chris Drury contributed 23:10. Not surprisingly, both were the key point men on the Flames power-play. Eric Desjardins was the Flyers ice time leader with 23:44 and yes, he was the point guy on the Philadelphia power play. . . . . . . Flames were three for nine on the power play while the Flyers were 2-10.