Calgary started off the season pretty hot, playing some good hockey and taking some teams by surprise. The young hard-working Flames were easy to love and fun to watch. The last 10 games the Flames have started to fall off and come back to reality. They have not been showing up to start games and have been making a lot of mistakes defensively. The lack of quit is still there but the full 60 minute effort just hasn’t been and as a result the Flames have just 2 wins in their last 10 games, and only 1 win in the month of November.
The first time the Flames were embarrassed by the Sharks this season they were able to bounce back and beat one of the best teams in the NHL, beating the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Tonight the Flames will look for another bounce back game, after being embarrassed by the Sharks Tuesday night, against the Dallas Stars. A Stars team that already holds a 5-1 win over the Flames this season.
On The Line
This section could get pretty boring really fast if the Flames don’t turn their fortunes around. Already 9 points behind the Canucks for the last play-off spot in the West, the Flames have been stumbling as of late and falling farther and father behind the pack. Having lost 5 of their 6 games so far this month, and having only 2 wins in their last 10 games, the Flames will look to get back in the play-off hunt with a win tonight against a team ahead of them in the standings.
The Flames continue their streak of starting off games slowly by registering just 1 shot in the first 10 minutes. Dallas was able to control the play for long stretches. The Flames would turn over the puck in the offensive zone and would over commit on the back check. Stephane Robidas would make no mistake and rifle a shot from the blueline that would get passed a screened Reto Berra, who had 5 Flames standing in front of him. Dallas would continue their strong neutral zone play and control most of the period, but would be unable to capitalize on any chances. The Flames started to show a little life towards the end of the period but were unable to generate a tying goal. Towards the end of the period Jamie Benn would catch Jiri Hudler off guard with a big open ice hit away from the play.
The second period was a continuation of the first, this time Tyler Seguin, parked in front of the net, would get his own rebound and slide it passed a sprawling Reto Berra to give the Stars a 2-0 lead. Calgary would keep the turnovers coming, this time T.J. Galiardi would throw the puck right onto the stick of Seguin, who would spring Jamie Benn for a partial breakaway. Jamie Benn would make no mistake, deking Berra out and giving Dallas a 3-0 lead. Dallas would add another one before the second period was 10 minutes old, this time Jamie Benn setting up Tyler Seguin to make it 4-0. Ryan Garbut would pile it on with a marker of his own making it 5-0 11 minutes into the second. Calgary would finally get a goal with 5 minutes left in the second off the stick of Matt Stajan, getting the Flames back to within 4.
There was a third period? Just kidding. This was easily the best period the Flames played tonight, despite its suspect beginning. 30 seconds into the period Tyler Seguin completes the hat trick to give Dallas an insurmountable 6-1 lead. The Flames never quit attitude would show up again though, despite being down by 5, David Jones would tip in a Kris Russell point shot to get the Flames to within 4. Then with Baertschi in the box serving a double minor for high sticking, Stajan would score on a mad scramble in front of Kari Lehtonen to get the Flames within 3. That, however, was as close as the Flames would get as Jamie Benn would cap off a big night with his 5th assist and 6th point of the game by setting up Tyler Seguin for his 4th goal of the game, a power-play marker with less than 4 minutes left.
1.Jamie Benn: How could it be anyone else? Best player on the ice tonight. A goal, 5 assists, strong defensive play and a big physical game from the Dallas captain.
2.Tyler Seguin: 4 goals and an assist, Seguin was dangerous almost every time he was on the ice.
3.Matt Stajan: 2 goals of his own and 11 of 15 in the face-off dot, one of the few Flames to show up in the first 2 periods.
Kari Lehtonen was barely tested and both Flames goaltenders didn’t get a whole lot of help so I’m going to go out on a limb and say there was no big saves.
Jamie Benn would get away with one towards the end of the first period, catching a defenceless Jiri Hudler at center ice with a big open hit ice away from the play.
I will give the goat horns to T.J Galiardi for his turnover that lead to the third Dallas goal, but honestly any number of players could have been given the goat tonight. This Flames loss was a real team effort.
The duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin had their way with the Flames tonight, combining for 5 goals and 6 assists. Just an unbelievable game from the Stars young…stars…
Odds and Ends
I’m going to be honest here. McGrattan and Jackman aren’t hitting or fighting and are basically liabilities most of the time they are on the ice. I would rather see some guys who can actually play hockey take those shifts… Baertschi showed more jump tonight but needs to shoot more. Dallas started to cheat when he had the puck because they knew he was going to pass. I call it the Alex Tanguay syndrome… Kris Russell was one of the best Flames tonight. It’s hard to believe that he was the odd man out in St. Louis, which probably just speaks volumes about the Blues defensive depth… Joe Colborne has really cooled off lately, which is to be expected. After all he is just a rookie, but it is hard to justify Backlund playing on the 4th line when he is playing much better hockey than the Flames youngster… Monahan has also cooled off but he still impresses me with the little things. The patience he shows is amazing… Want to give a little shout out to the Abbotsford Heat here. They are on an 8 game winning streak and currently hold first place in the Western Conference… Jamie Benn is becoming a Flame killer. 8 points in 2 games this season is beyond impressive…
Galiardi – Stajan – Jones
Cammalleri – Colborne – Stempniak
Baertschi – Monahan – Hudler
Jackman – Backlund – McGrattan
Butler – Brodie
Russell – Wideman
Smid – O’Brien