Floundering Flames Fire Power Comes Alive in Show Me State
Flames 7 Blues 2
A must win game.
It's a fairly common phrase in the sports lexicon, but in reality the only game that really deserves that term is the one that would eliminate a team from carrying on in a season. As much as that may be true, a game in the 3rd week of March may have actually been as important as any that a fragile Calgary Flames club may face for a good long while. Not that it was life or death, but it was definitely a gut check game for a team looking closely over their collective shoulders for the first time in a long while.
The opponent on this night was not as important as the result, or rather, the effort. After giving up 35+ shots in 3 consecutive outings, the Flames had to clamp down and get back to what they do best; take advantage of opportunities that they force via a tough forecheck and let that little guy from Finland worry about the shots that make their way through to the cage.
One more time.....mission accomplished.
On The Line
Everything. A stranglehold on 1st in the NW division, 3rd overall in the conference...and maybe more than anything, confidence that a funk/slide can be snapped when it matters most. With the Canucks/Oilers eking out a 3 pt game, this one had to be a win. It was.
From the drop of the puck shortly after 8:00 MST to the final horn, this one was all about tight-checking, finishing checks, and playing very smart defense in their own end. Other than during an extended 5 on 3 in the 1st period, the Flames were nearly flawless in giving up any Blue scoring opportunities. When they did need some help, THAT guy was there to play kitty-bar-the-door. It stayed that way for almost the entire 60 minutes.
1 – Jamie Lundmark. What was a seemingly minor deal that happened right at the last minute on deadline day, adding a potentially offensive center paid off in spades tonight for Darryl Sutter. With 3 consecutive assists in the 2nd period, the diminutive newcomer was a spark that Calgary needed.
2 – Roman Hamrlik. Nice to see the Hamrlik of old show up after what has been an injury plagued season. With a couple "laserbeamesque" shots and a solid night in his own end, the Czech defender made the blueline brigade better once again.
3 – Jordon Leopold. He shoots....he FINALLY scores!! With his first goal in 1/5th of a decade or so....the young and talented defenceman has gotten King Kong off his back. Maybe his best game all year, and he has had some good ones.
Mikka Kiprusoff made a toe save for the ages in the 2nd period when he stoned Jay McClement. For Kipper though? Just another day at the office.
The Lauries of the Wal-Mart fortune. What they have allowed a once very proud and effective organization to turn into is nothing short of inexcusable. The NHL will be better off with soon to be announced Checkett group as their newest partners.
Kiprusoff. I'm out of superlatives to describe the soft spoken brick wall. He holds the club's shutout record for good reason, and the team still has over 20 games left. A distant second was the Flames PK units, but even then, Kipper is their best penalty killer as well.
Odds and Ends
OK....first off, announcers. Bernie Federko weaseled his way into the Hockey Hall of Fame somehow and someway, that cannot be undone however. What can be changed though is his position as colorman for the Blues. In a word....he is awful. Brutal. Stinks. Sucks. Maybe that is more than one word, but it's impossible to describe his complete and utter lack of objectivity with a simple word. His partner is not much better, and allows the rambling ex-NHLer far too much latitude. Hopefully these 2 get turfed along with the rest of the Blues family when the inevitable changes come.....and staying on that theme, what in the hell is wrong with Ray Ferraro? Babble, stammer, babble stammer, and carry on doing both almost endlessly. A sample of his superb work from the game tonight? " Watch this great pad save by Roloson as the puck goes wide of the net and off the backboards and out of harms way"---Huh? Then in the OT shootout, his partner Kevin Quinn (IIRC) and Ferraro were up one side and down the other of the officials for taking their time to make sure they got a possible goal call correct. What was the problem? It took too long and when it was finally overturned and announced as an Oilers goal, both of them decided it was the right thing to do, although one team wouldn't be happy. Duh!....Looking at icetime this evening, would you be as stunned as this writer to see that Cale Hulse led all Flames with just under 22 minutes on the board? I didn't think I would ever see the day................Also an anomaly from most games this season, secondary scoring was the difference in this one with Donovan, McCarty and those kind of guys all chipping in and making a massive difference....Also very nice to see the team play defense as a unit instead of making defencemen carry the load. 22 shots against and they look like world beaters once again.....They were also better in the faceoff circle garnering 52% of the linesman bobbles.....Former Oiler uber-prospect Jeff Woywitka notched his first NHL point....Congratulations to Head Coach Darryl Sutter on securing his 100th win behind the bench with a team he should of been with 5 years ago......
Next up – Friday night in Colombus against Rick Nash and the gang.
Huselius – Langkow – Iginla
Amonte – Lundmark – Kobasew
McCarty – Yelle – Nilson
Simon – Ritchie – Donovan
Leopold – Regehr
Hamrlik – Phaneuf
Ference - Hulse