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Flames Retake Division Lead
Flames 2 Blues 1

D'Arcy McGrath
March 2, 2006

Bounces, breaks, doing the little things, taking the puck to the net, being patient .. playing Flames hockey.

Not playing down to your opponent, going hard for a full sixty minutes, and awaken your sleeping giant captain. Heck get a goal from any forward on your hockey club.

The Flames headed out against the still hot St. Louis Blues looking to work on numerous things after dropping a disappointing 2-1 decision to the rival Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.

In the end the completed most, but not all in a convincing defeat of the St. Blues by that same 2-1 score.

I guess the rest of the list can wait until Saturday.

On The Line

With the standings ever bit as tight after the Olympic break as they were before the Olympic break each and every game matters an awful lot - regardless of the opponent. A loss puts the Flames on a nasty streak however, and you don't want that, and perhaps a chance to regain sole control of first place in the Northwest division.

The Flow

Was it the Flames? Was it the opposition? Perhaps a little of both, but the Flames had more jump and jam then we've seen, at least offensively, that we've seen in quite some time. They moved the puck from their zone on transition more effectively and seemed to have taken their collective creative pill when they had the puck in the Blues' zone. The only flow blemish belongs to the club's powerplay which, although it scored once, didn't seem to be able to set much up, and once again the Flames inability to keep their foot on the pedal for the whole sixty minutes.

Three Stars

1 Jarome Iginla. Iffy start, but a strong middle and end to the game as the captain scored the game winner, iced it with an empty netter, and dropped the gloves in an inspiration bout in the third.

2 Miikka Kiprusoff.  Looked very, very strong in this one. Controlled rebounds, didn't give up any second shots and made the impossible possible on a handful of occasions.

3 Curtis Sanford.  Continues his franchise lifting strong play. Had to be huge in the first period when the Flames swarmed the net to the tune of a 13-2 shot advantage.

Big Hit

Not much of a hitter, but Barett Jackman's face planting of Calgary captain Jarome Iginla certainly warranted the most reaction in the game with Iginla tossing off his mitts and lid and looking for a fight. Other notables was a first period bash by Jordan Leopold on Steve Poapst behind the Blues' net of all places, and Darren McCarty standing up Lee Stempniak in the second period. Though he missed to some degree, Rhett Warrener almost tore Kevin Dallman in half in the third period with an open ice hit attempt.

Big Save

Kip-hip-gate may not go away this season. Was he hurt? Was he miffed at the Finish hockey federation? Was he ordered to stay home? Perhaps some evidence to the stated reason as Kiprusoff looked very sharp all night despite limited action against. His stoning of Scott Young on a 2nd period Blues three on one kept the Flames up two and kept things under control.

The Goat

New Flame Cale Hulse came close to this dubious title by taking three somewhat needless (yet zebra assisted) penalties, but all three were killed off leaving the oldie newbie with a pretty solid first game back in Calgary silks. He took the man well, kept it simple and actually showed some good judgment jumping up into the play to take some shots.

Mr. Clutch

Jarome Iginla ... the fumbling captain took what looked to be another struggling night without doing much based on a first period performance and turned it around with a goal, an almost fight and some good jump in the second. Was even seen backchecking hard and foiling a Blue chance.
 
Odds and Ends

It's been pointed out that the Edmonton Oilers defence may be just as much to do with the club's woeful goaltending performance as the goaltenders themselves. Last night the Blues scored four times on 17 shots to beat the Oilers, but the four shots were somewhat difficult with missed assignments or screens, etc. The difference tonight? Three on one against and Kiprusoff stops it. You have to stop all the easy ones and a good portion of the hard ones to be a top NHL goaltender. Edmonton doesn't have that. Six days to the deadline. ... Sutter mixed up the lines tonight creating four relatively balanced lines and no clear "fourth" line to be seen. The change seemed to help the club with flow and chemistry, one of their better transition and puck movement nights we've seen this season. ... The rolling all four proof was in the pudding with only Chris Simon playing less than ten minutes. ... The Canucks loss gives the Flames sole position of first in the Northwest again, and they still have two games in hand. ... The win also pushes Calgary a full ten points up on a playoff spot with only 23 games to play. Could they actually clinch a spot without a collective heart attack for Calgary fans? ... The new "near" team to the Calgary NW crown attempts is the Colorado Avalanche who turned back the Blue Jackets tonight to keep within one point. The Flames also have two games in hand on the Avalanche. ... The Flames magic number to eliminate the Ducks and claim a playoff spot is now less than 20 at 19.5. Any combination of Flame wins and Duck losses totaling 19.5 puts them in. ... Calgary was full marks for two periods, but then got in penalty trouble and lost their mojo in the third period. It was good to see them reassert themselves when the Blues moved to within one. ... Hate to whine about officials, but what was going on in the third period. St. Louis players were hooking, interfering, holding Flame sticks, and yet it was guy in red after guy in red going to the box. Bizarre.
 
Next up The Flames move on to game three of this important five game home stand when they host the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night. The game will be seen on CBC in game two of their doubleheader. A great chance to put a spike in another chasing club.

Lines -

Leclerc- Langkow- Iginla
McCarty - Lombardi - Amonte
Simon- Yelle- Donovan
Huselius - Nilson - Kobasew

Phaneuf-Hulse
Leopold-Regehr
Ference-Warrener

 

 

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