Flames Picture Perfect

Club Allows 15 Shots, Shuts Out Jackets

November 1st, 2003
Rick Charlton

In the latest test of many tests to come, the Calgary Flames passed with flying colours, dominating a downtrodden Columbus team begging to be beaten in a 3-0 victory at the Saddledome last night.

It's been precisely these kinds of opportunities the Flames have blown more often than not these lengthy and disappointing years out of the playoffs, beating the teams they shouldn't have while losing most of the time against the far more numerous opponents they should at least be competitive with.

Reinprecht Conroy Iginla
Gelinas Lombardi Kobasew
Saprykin Yelle Donovan
Oliwa Betts Clark
Ference Lydman
Leopold Regehr
Gauthier Warrener

It's been the mesmerizing predictability of impending doom that has caused Calgary fans to dread games like this in the past, Columbus entering the evening losers of six straight yet somehow causing everyone in southern Alberta to wring their hands with a case of the nerves.

As evidence, Columbus entered the game having won eight of its previous 12 starts against Calgary.

But there seems to be a new kind of predictability to the Flames this season, this game the eighth time in ten starts Calgary has limited opponents to 20 or fewer shots, the Blue Jackets managing to direct only 15 drives at starter Jamie McLennan who registered his second shutout of the year.

Calgary directed 34 shots at Columbus starter Marc Denis who was heroic in keeping the score reasonably close, so thorough was the Flames domination.

That's the kind of consistency which is the most significant difference in Calgary this year, the Flames giving themselves a chance to win most nights and particularly in games like this, kicking teams which are down and never giving them a chance to come off the matt.

With a dominating performance against the Blue Jackets, Calgary is now 5-1 in games most observers would generally qualify as "winnable" against opponents of an equal or lesser caliber, a statistic that, if continued, will go a long way to securing a playoff spot for the first time in eight lost seasons.

"We simply got outworked from the first period on and if it wasn't for Marc Denis it would have been a lot worse," admitted Scott LaChance of Columbus after the game on FAN960 "They (Calgary) seemed to have four lines going pretty good."

The victory leaves Calgary 5-4-0-1 on the season for 11 points, tied for fourth overall in the NHL's Western Conference.

If the Flames cared to check in their rear-view mirror they'd see Colorado trying to keep up and who would have thought that at the beginning of the season?

Jordan Leopold opened scoring for Calgary, the first goal by a Flames defender this year, taking a terrific seeing eye pass from Steve Reinprecht then roofing it on Marc Denis on the power play at 4:16 of the first period.

Flames took a 2-0 lead when Leopold again snuck in from the point in a carbon copy play of his first goal at 15:42 of the first.

Shean Donovan then blew past Darryl Sydor and scored an empty net goal late in the third period with Columbus on the power play and Denis pulled.

Calgary was one for three on the power play while the Blue Jackets were zero for five.

Next up is Detroit at the Saddledome on Tuesday night.







1) Marc Denis - An outstanding performance for the losing goaltender in a shutout game. Without him the Blue Jackets would have been blown out.

2) Jordan Leopold - Answered the challenge when the media focused on the fact the Flames were the last team without a goal from a defenceman, pinching in from the point aggressively to score twice.

3) Jarome Iginla - a dominating all around performance aided by the strong presence of Steve Reinprecht.

A lost and disinterested perimeter player until a benching earlier in the week, Oleg Saprykin has been bringing an edge to his game in his last two starts, this time annoying the Blue Jackets Derrick Walser with a wipeout hit after an icing call in the first period.

Killing a penalty in the first period, Jarome Iginla broke in alone on a short breakaway but a flashing left pad from Denis kept the Flames to only a 1-0 lead. It was the first of many huge saves on Iginla in the game.

Flames have had 12 fights in their last five games, the highlight on this night being Flames Kryzysztof Oliwa beating the tar out of credible Columbus heavyweight Jody Shelley. . . . . . Surprisingly, the Flames were only 48% in the faceoff circle, led by the 52% of Blair Betts. Andrej Nederost was 63% for the Blue Jackets . . . . . Toni Lydman continues to work himself back into the good books of coach Darryl Sutter, the Flames blueliner registered 26:20 while second star Leopold, with two goals, actually had 16:10 in ice time, actually below his normal quotient . . . . .Jaroslav Spacek led the Jackets with 20:42 in ice time. . . . . . Only 14,539 attending the game on a Saturday night. Then again, Columbus was the draw so maybe that wasn't too bad. No wonder the Flames were offering to charge only $2 for kids dressed in Halloween gear . . . . . Why is Columbus going in the dumper so fast? Geoff Sanderson hasn't scored in nine games. Neither has Andrew Cassels. . . . . Steve Montador and Dave Lowry were the healthy scratches for Calgary. . . . .

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