Skid Hits Seven

Flames Drop One to Provincial Rivals

November 21st, 2002
Rick Charlton

AP Photo

Slip Sliding Away: Flames fall for 7th straight game.

Tick, tock, tick tock.

Seven losses in a row now for the Calgary Flames, falling 3-1 to the Edmonton Oilers last night, their primary problem so glaringly obvious it would rival the brightness of the Sun at high noon.


Only three goals rattling opposing netminders in seven games.

Two attempts - one successful - at a club record for scoring futility in only ten days.

Allowing only two or fewer goals (two empty net goals) in six of those seven games, but no scoring, none, zippo, zero and therefore giving their magnificant starting goaltender, Jamie McLennan, no chance in spite of yielding an average of only 2.14 goals per game in the same time frame.

How bad is it?

A Calgary forward hasn't scored a goal in over 219 minutes.

And the clock has to be ticking now on Calgary head coach Greg Gilbert although we would wonder if it might have been different had Stephane Yelle's open net shot not hit some part of Edmonton starter Tommy Salo late in the first period, if Chuck Kobasew and then Petr Buzek hadn't plunked shots off the post in the second, if Rob Niedermayer's backhand attempt in the crease hadn't found the edge of Salo's pad in the same period, or Jarome Iginla's carom shot late in the game had been a few inches more off the ice.

Does it matter if we say the Flames played with much improved spirit and energy in this one, their game markedly superior to that of their emotionless efforts against St. Louis and Detroit earlier in the week.

But close counts for nothing in a game of inches and seven losses in a row drops Calgary to 5-9-3-3 on the year, the bitterness of this hapless stretch made all the more stinging by the phenomenal lack of scoring, knowing that two or more goals would have yielded points in six of those seven contests.

Yet the bottom line is they have nothing to show for those games, the loss leaving Calgary where they've been seemingly forever, mired at 16 points on the season, the Flames sinking, sinking further in the Western Conference standings, in fourth place only two weeks ago and now 14th, ahead of only Nashville.

Worse, the game was a four pointer, the arch-rival Oilers now opening a gap of four points on the Flame as they win their fourth in five games.

After a scoreless opening frame, Oilers finally gained a 1-0 lead on a Flames powerplay, breaking away on a two on one while shorthanded, Todd Marchant finishing off a passing play into an open net when Calgary's lone man back, Chris Drury, went after Anson Carter, unfortunately, the same man McLennan was playing as the probable shooter.

It was the fifth short-handed goal the Flames have allowed this year and the fifth the Oilers have manufactured.

To their credit, Calgary came back only 39 seconds later, however, breaking a 186:39 goal-less drought when Petr Buzek pinched in from the point and blew a quick shot past Salo at 6:00.

The Flames were only six minutes away from beating their previous goal-less drought set only 10 days ago in Atlanta.

The goal also broke a zero for 33 streak of futility from the NHL's 30th ranked power play unit.

Salo likely saved the game with only three minutes to go, taking away a point blank opportunity from Chris Clark. Marchant then iced the game with an empty-netter at 19:10 of the third.

Calgary finishes off its disastrous five game home stand Saturday against Chicago then launches into a rather ominous schedule, playing six of the next seven and eleven of 14 on the road.

The contest saw the Flames attract their largest crowd of the year, 17,660.

As is our want in extraordinary circumstances like this, we can see some humour. FAN960's Perry Berezin, an unfortunate witness and participant in Calgary's epic 11 game losing streak in 1986, recalled in the pre-game show the legendary Badger Bob Johnston, positive throughout the growing disaster, saying immediately after the last loss - "I've got nothing more to say to you guys."

Sooner or later, the players have to explain three goals scored in seven games.



Edmonton Oilers 3
Calgary Flames 1

Niedermayer Conroy Iginla
Gelinas Drury Kobasew
Sloan Yelle Clark
Nichol Johansson Berube
Lydman Regehr
Montador Gauthier
Buzek Leopold

1 Todd Marchant - two goals and an assist. 

2 Jamie McLennan - he's been the very least of Calgary's problems. Terrific again. 

3 Tommy Salo - a few breaks from the goal posts but solid when things got hot in the final three minutes.

Scott Nichol did the hard work in standing up Ryan Smyth then Toni Lydman came alone a second later to finish him off, sending the Oiler winger reeling later in the second period.

The league's 30th ranked powerplay coughed up another epic chance for the opposition late in the first, Mike York with the fake shot pass, springing Todd Marchant in alone on McLennan. But the Flames netminder aggressively pokechecked the puck off Marchant's stick as the Oiler attempted to sweep through the Calgary crease.

"We're a bunch of hyena's out there," Flames sparkplug Scott Nichol told FAN960 after the first period. "We're all over them (physically)." . . . . . . On a night when Calgary drew its largest crowd of the year, the Bruins had the second smallest crowd in team history, only 10,667 at the Fleece Center while the Senators must be sweating bullets having 2500 empty seats for a home date with Original Six and francophone rival Montreal. . . . . . . What a difference a year makes - after 20 games last year, Jarome Iginla had an admittedly improbable 18 goals. This year he has four, on pace for an equally improbable 16 on the year. . . . . . .Calgary was 69% in the faceoff circle, with Stephane Yelle toying with Edmonton centres with an 85% success rate. Mike York led the Oil at 54%. . . . . . Janne Niinimaa led Edmonton with 24:23 in ice time while Toni Lydman, as usual, led the Flames with 27:04. Of note, Iginla had 23:10 of ice time.
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