Flames Out Last Hawks in Afternoon Snoozer
Flames 3 - Hawks 2

Darren Linn
January 2nd, 2006

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With the emotion spent in the New Years Eve win on Saturday night, it could be somewhat expected that the Calgary Flames would come out against a lesser team in the Chicago Balackhawks somewhat flat and uninspired. A mere 38 hours after climbing to the top of the NW division, it would also be understandable if they showed some fatigue, especially in the latter part of the game. Both these factors showed their unwanted presence on Monday afternoon at the Saddledome. So did something else the Calgary Flames possess in spades....determination.

The latter knocked the stuffing out of the former, and the results were a satisfying 3-2 victory over a team that spanked them less than a month ago on the same ice. Some say hard work, grit, and determination aren't enough to win in the NHL any longer. They would be wrong.

 

On The Line

Keeping that momentum gained between Christmas and New Years going forward, adding onto their lead in the toughest division in the league, and a bit of a gut check to see if they can make lower tiered teams a regular victim rather than letting points get away. Mission accomplished on all fronts.

The Flow

Calgary actually started fairly strong for the first 5 minutes or so, and then faded into bad habits of watching instead of moving. The fatigue factor is a hard one to gauge, but it certainly seemed as if there was little gas in the tank for about 35 minutes of hockey. With the shot clocked tilted heavily in one direction after two periods (30-16 in favor of Chicago) one wonders if Darryl Sutter didn't express his dissatisfaction with his troops between periods 2 and 3. For the Hawks came out in the 3rd and managed just 7 shots on an overworked, but stellar Miikka Kiprusoff and the Flames played the Hawks very even for the last 20 minutes.

Three Stars

1 Miikka Kiprusoff.  Many have stated that when Kiprusoff is playing well, the Flames always have a chance to win. Never was this more evident than during today's game. With 35 saves on the night, behind an injury riddled defense and frontline, the Fabulous Finn was rock solid and allowed his team to stay close and eventually win this thing. There just aren't enough superlatives to describe what he has meant to the Flames since his arrival in November of 2003.


2 Jim Vandermeer. The Hawks D line is loaded with young promising dmen, but on this night this particular 23 year old was the best player on his team. With both a goal and an assist, the former Brent Sutter coached Hawk logged 16 minutes and was +2 on the night.


3 Darren McCarty. "Grinder" made his return 2 nights ago, but made his presence felt today. With an amazing piece of hard work and determination to fight off Jason Cullimore behind the net, he one handed a pass directly to a streaking Matthew Lombardi who promptly deked Hawk G Craig Anderson out of his jock and scored the winning goal. He also got into a fight with fellow midweight Matthew Barnaby and was a thorn in the Hawks side all night.

Big Hit

There were many a nice meeting of the shoulders today, but veteran Flame dman Bryan Marchment gets the nod for tonight's big hit, when he caught Radim Vrbata in mid-ice and crumpled him like a Styrofoam cup. Welcome back to the NHL and your new team Radim.

Big Save

Miikka Kiprusoff absolutely robbed young Hawk Tuomo Ruutu about 30 seconds previous to the game winner. After sliding post to post following a bullet pass, Kipper held his ground and kept the Hawks from taking the lead. Ruutu is still wondering what happened to all the daylight he was sure he saw when making the shot.

The Goat

This is going to go on one guy and one guy only. Jaroslav Spacek. What in the hell were you thinking?  During a line change, Flame C Byron Ritchie was carrying the puck up the ice and was looking across for a team mate when Spacek came off the bench and absolutely submarined the unsuspecting Ritchie with a knee blow that has to be reviewed by the NHL. If a guy like Marchment had committed this offense, fans from Toronto to Florida would be screaming for a suspension. This should be treated no differently, and it's a farce that Spacek was only given 2 minutes for tripping. It was as blatant an attempt to injure as anything seen since March of 2003. However, with Colin Campbell in charge, Spacek will likely be given a stern talking to, a bouquet of flowers to temper those harsh words, and a spot in the next "my NHL" commercial.

Mr. Clutch

Matthew Lombardi. Welcome back young man and thank you. With both Marcus Nilson and Byron Ritchie out of the game with injuries, someone needed to step up and fill in those minutes. He did so admirably and was rewarded with the game winner after a terrific deke from an equally impressive pass by McCarty.

Odds and Ends

Calgary special teams were not so special in this one. The PK was fine and went 5 for 5 in those situations, but the PP was horrendous, and never more than a 5 on 3 in the 3rd period that was 1:43 long. Ugly doesn't begin to describe it......OK. Lets do a quick check of sick bay. Roman Hamrlik, Rhett Warrener, Stephane Yelle, Tony Amonte were all scratched for this one. Clearly in today's game, you can add Byron Ritchie and Marcus Nilson to that list at least short term. Also Bryan Marchment and Jarome Iginla are not anywhere near 100%. Ouch. Thats 6 regulars and 2 guys that have played a bunch in relief. Who's next in line from Omaha? Giordano on D IF needed, but up front a MacDonald has to be summoned, or a Carsen Germyn. Amonte mentioned to Roger Millions that Nilson has been playing hurt for a while, and this particular one looked pretty painful as he squirmed on the ice before getting up. Ribs? Shoulder? And I would be dumbfounded if Ritchie isn't out a good chunk of time. That was just brutal looking. If his knee is anything but torn up, he has some real good stuff inside there.......Jarome Iginla led all Flame players with a yeoman 25+ minutes of ice. Welcome back El Captain. Low man who wasn't injured, was Chuck Kobasew with less than 10. I just don't understand that.....Flames won the physical battle according to the off ice officials, getting credit for 29 hits while the Hawks landed 18....and another interesting night in the face off circle. Though they were losers overall at only 47%, in the two important zones of Offense and Defense, they were dominant going 52% in the O zone, and 56% in the D zone. They were clobbered in the neutral zone however, losing 72% of the time...


Next up A Friday night date with the much hated Toronto Maple Leafs.

Lines -

Nilson-Ritchie-McCarty

Huselius- Langkow-Iginla

Reinprecht-Lombardi-Kobasew

Simon-Weimer-Donovan

Marchment-Phaneuf
Leopold-Regehr
Ference-Regehr Lite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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