Singing the Blues
Calgary Squad Pounded in St. Louis
November 29th, 2002
Ouch Again: Flames
crippled in St. Louis
And the road trip from hell continues.
As the Calgary Flames continue a
pratfall that is nearing legend status, the third game of this road trip
a routine 7-2 shellacking at the hands of the St. Louis Blues, the clock
continues to tick on a coaching staff riding a wagon that must be
nearing the scaffold by now.
There was a point in the last three
weeks where one could point to the strangeness of a seven game losing
streak with the Flames having surrendered two or fewer goals in six of
those games but being hampered by an epic scoring drought.
"Puck luck" we might have
But now there should be no doubt this
team has moved well beyond coaching issues and has given up on each
other, a far more critical loss of confidence that must be dealt with
soon, if not yesterday, by GM Craig Button.
Calgary has been outscored 18-6 in its
last three games, surrendering hat tricks to opposing forwards in two of
Flames have hit the literal brick wall,
collecting only three points of 22 since a 3-2 road win over New Jersey
on Nov. 5, spiralling from a delirious fourth in the Western Conference
to the nether regions almost overnight, their record now 6-12-3-3 after
starting the year an encouraging 5-3-3-2.
We won't bother cataloguing the entire
Blues onslaught except to summarize: "He shoots, he scores,"
the Flames Mattias Johansson and Chris Drury providing the only
opposition to the St. Louis domination.
The fault again goes to a combination
of unlucky breaks (a Cory Stillman shot deflecting off Scott Nichol's
stick and behind starter Roman Turek), soft defensive plays (Pavol
Demitra rolling off Robyn Regehr for a tuck-in of an open net) and less
than stellar goaltending from Turek.
But that would be dwelling on the
obvious - good teams make their own luck, are tough to play against and
are backed by stellar goaltending. The Flames are now providing none of
those qualities, a team so distraught and plummeting so fast we may
wonder if there is a division below the NHL where they might finally
We will say only this in their favour:
with the Blues, a Conference opponent, deliberately running up the
score, Captain Craig Conroy finally lit a bit of a fuse under the
Calgary bench with some hits and then a fine play to set up Drury's
marker. Then the gloves came off as first Scott Nichol then Chris Clark
grabbed the nearest Blues to make a statement of defiance.
Too late, too late, too late.
And maybe too late for head coach Greg
Gilbert as well, generally liked and well-regarded by the players by all
accounts but that's not what he's going to be judged by, with wins and
losses ultimately deciding his fate.
A 1-9-0-1 record in his last 11, with
the latest loss last night, is a damning statement.
"I don't think we're giving the
organization any alternative right now," said a despondent Denis
Gauthier after the game, commenting on the possibility of a coaching
change or a major trade.
The bad news is that it might get
worse, with Detroit and Colorado, the two Western Conference finalists
last year, next up as the Flames drag their tails through one of the
more awe inspiring collapses in team history.
If it hadn't been a 3-1 victory over
Chicago at the Saddledome last week, the Flames might have already
equalled the epic 11 game losing string posted by Calgary in 1986 under
Badger Bob Johnston.
Pavol Demitra was the hat trick man for
the Blues, Stillman with two, Christian LaFlamme and Doug Weight getting