Flames Drop Fourth in a Row

Offence Continues to Sputter in Loss

November 14th, 2002
Rick Charlton

AP Photo

All Muck and No Play: The Flames best forwards continue to be Chris Clark and the other third and fourth liners.

The well has run dry.

In spite of an opening goal from snakebit Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames lost a fourth consecutive game to a backup goaltender last night, falling 2-1 to the New York Rangers in the opening tilt of a five game homestand.

Flames have scored only twice in their last four games, a power-outage that is literally killing them, this time falling victim to Rangers 19 year-old Dan Blackburn for the second time in a week, the still-wet-behind-the-ears Kootney Ice product stopping 35 of 36 Calgary shots.

Once ranked ninth in the league offensively, Calgary has fallen to 20th in the NHL in scarcely a week and a half.

More ominously, this was probably the easiest start of the five the Flames will play in the next week and a half while the loss leaves Calgary with only one win in eight home games this season.

Calgary continues to stall after a fine start to their recent road trip, now 5-6-3-3 on the season and mired in 10th place in the NHL's Western Conference.

Flames backup Jamie McLennan turned in another workmanlike performance but received no support from his flatlining teammates.

Since taking over from injured number one starter Roman Turek, McLennan has surrendered only 15 goals in seven starts for a 2.11 GAA - yet he's won only two of those games.

The primary culprit in Calgary's skid might be it's powerplay which continued to sputter, now on a zero for 23 streak after failing to score on two opportunities. Flames are ranked 28th in a 30 team league with the man advantage.

Just to show it's possible to be worse than even the statistics might indicate, the powerplay allowed a critical momentum changing shorthanded goal by Petr Nedved early in the second period.

Iginla opened the scoring with 39 seconds left in the first, finishing off a terrific Jordan Leopold play by out muscling milquetoast Ranger defenceman Tom Poti in the crease for an easy tap-in for only his fourth of the season. He had 13 by this time last year.

It was Calgary's first four on four goal of the season, not a surprise to Flames fans who've seen their team fall three times in overtime this year.

But the Rangers tied it with a shorthanded marker at 4:09 of the second period, intercepting a Calgary breakout pass and turning it over for a Nedved goal amid mass confusion.

Rangers took the lead at 11:22 when Mikael Samuelsson picked up a bouncer off the boards, wheeled and surprised McLennan with a quick snap shot through the legs from 25 feet.

From there the Rangers literally threw a blanket over the game, registering only three third period shots but allowing the Flames virtually nothing as the minutes wound down to a final victory, New York's fourth in its last five games.

At least Rico Fata didn't score.

Next up is St. Louis on Saturday night.



New York Rangers 2
Calgary Flames 1

Kobasew Conroy Iginla
Gelinas Drury Yelle
Sloan Niedermayer Clark
Nichol Johansson Begin
Lydman Regehr
Gauthier Leopold
Buzek Montador

1) Dan Blackburn - steady progress for the 19 year-old wunderkind, defying the naysayers who claim even the best young goaltenders need until their mid-20's to generate consistent excellent play. He gradually became the story of the night. 

2) Mikael Samuelsson - I should have given him a star a week ago when these teams met but I'll make amends for another fine effort, punctuated by a goal and an assist in the second period. An emerging young talent. 

3) Mattias Johansson - A European experiment that's finally working for the Flames. But you'll lose more often than not when a fourth line penalty killer is your star.

Unable to convince his defencemen to come behind the net and relieve him of the puck, Jamie McLennan was forced to wipe out a charging and no doubt surprised Rem Murray early in the game.

Tied at zero, Iginla was sprung loose on a breakaway, but Blackburn followed Iginla across the crease and stopped a backhand attempt with his blocker at 17:50 of the first. Less than a minute and a half later, Iginla scored his fourth of the year.

Eric Lindros continues to flounder, his two goals this year scored five on three and zero goals in his last 14 games. Combine that with Pavel Bure's zero goals in eight games and that's about $17 million U.S. going to a couple of imposters. Interestingly, Bure told TSN before the game he had already accomplished all the individual goals he could imagine and that it was all about "team" now ... Marc Savard is still a Flame and was a healthy scratch again last night ... Rangers netminder Mike Richter is in Montreal undergoing tests for lingering concussion symptoms ... Flames were 51% in the faceoff circle led by Chris Drury at 85%. Nedved was 66% for the Rangers ... Brian Leetch led the Rangers with 25:06 in ice time while Toni Lydman, as usual, logged 25:09 to lead the Flames. Steve Montador, called up from the minors to fill in for the injured Bob Boughner, managed 9:02 in ice time ... C'mon, admit it - you miss the hit stats.


Read other Stories
Talk About it!