End Equals Beginning

D'Arcy McGrath

October 10th, 2002

Last April, the Calgary Flames season came to an uninspired finish when the playoff bound Vancouver Canucks put the final nail in the Southern Alberta coffin.

Some things never change.

AP Photo

For Real: Good finish to exhibition season means little in home opener with Canucks.

When the Flames lifted the curtains on a greatly altered squad it was the visitors that showed up for the regular season premier. The home side has yet to be seen.

Can you say "tight"?

Teams have a core. The Calgary Flames core consists of Roman Turek, Jarome Iginla, Craig Conroy, Chris Drury, Marc Savard, Martin Gelinas, Denis Gauthier, Toni Lydman and maybe a few others.

None of the above showed up to work on this night.

Sadly, things could have gone a different way.

The Flames began the night with back to back powerplays, a golden horseshoe from the officiating staff, almost daring the Flames to come out with a great start.

They didn't.

Instead it was the Canucks that took the game and ran.

Brendan Morrison opened the scoring midway through the period when he jumped on a Micki Dupont miscue and moved in alone, beating Roman Turek between the wickets.

Four minutes later Bryan Allen fired a shot over a diving Calgary defenceman, short side high on Turek to put the BC natives up by a score of 2-0.

Before the end of the period the Canucks basically salted things away when Markus Naslund popped a powerplay goal to make the score three nil.

That was all she wrote.

The two teams slept through an uneventful second period, barely hitting the double digits in shots ... combined, before settling into an equally blasť third period.

When the dust settled the all deserving Canucks coasted to a 3-0 victory to open the 2002-03 season on the right foot.

"The guy came out hyper active", opined head coach Greg Gilbert. "Through the final few games of the preseason the guys played within the system, with disipline. Tonight they were running around".

And around and around.

The club's top two lines were nearly invisible, shooting themselves in the foot at every turn. The third and fourth lines actually had all the chances, but lacked the finish to get things done.

The upside?

It's only one game ... and the Flames, though clearly smacked by a more game opponent, basically beat themselves. Their best foot has yet to be put forward.

They'd better put that sucker forward on Saturday night.

The West is set to be a battle ... early jitters can equal an early exit.




Vancouver Canucks 3
Calgary Flames 0

Box Score


Drury Conroy Iginla
Gelinas Savard Kobasew
Wright Niedermayer Clark
Begin Yelle Nichol
Lydman Regehr
Boughner Buzek
Gauthier Dupont


1 Brendan Morrison - Pivot looking to prove last season was a sign of things to come did exactly that ... two point night. 

2 Markus Naslund - Not that successful diving all night, but handled the puck well and added the Canuck insurance goal. 

3 Rob Niedermayer - Held the dubious honour of "Best of the Flames" on the night. Didn't get a lot done, but cycled the puck well and had a lot of chances.


Early in the third period Canuck goalie Dan Cloutier came up large on four successive chances to keep the score at 3-0, including a dandy to Marc Savard.


Bob Boughner played the body hard all night, but his best hit was in the second period when he laid out Trent Klatt behind the Calgary cage.


Two of the best lines in hockey took the ice on Thursday night ... but only one could be found. The Flames trio of Iginla, Conroy and Drury had a miserable night literally doing nothing while Bertuzzi, Naslund and Morrison looked to be in mid season form. ... The final shots read 36-16 Vancouver, so one could hardly fault Roman Turek for the loss. But on closer inspection the first period chances likely stacked at 5-3 for Vancouver so a 3-0 cushion was as much to do about goaltending imbalance as skater imbalance. ... Rookie watch: Chuck Kobasew looked as "in place" as his linemates, but still didn't have a great night. Early in the first however, Kobasew positioned himself for a powerplay one timer that narrowly missed, showing the kid's potential for "getting in position". Micki Dupont looked a little over his head when it came to NHL size.