Starless Avs Best Flames

Ex-Flames Lead Way to Fell Old Mates 

December 14th, 2002
D'Arcy McGrath

AP Photo

Take That!: Scott Nichol was his feisty self on Saturday night.

There a tough outfit to love, ain't they?

Fans, were told are supposed to be loyal. Stand by their team through thick and thin, better or worse, rain or snow, lada lada lada - you know the script.

But has this fan mettle ever been tested, prodded or pulled more than any other moment in team history, than it has through the first third of this hockey season?

I would suggest not.

It's not just the performance on the ice, Lord knows this city is used to disappointment in that fashion, but the off ice upheaval and chaos to boot?

The day began with a hastily gathered and performed statement from Calgary - President, General Manager, Janitor, Conditioning Coach, Team Doctor - Ken King, in an attempt to deflect the intense pressure from the hockey world an on to the media where it belongs.

The day ended with yet another home loss, this time to the Colorado Avalanche by a score of 3-1.

The game itself played out much like you'd expect a Calgary - Colorado matchup sans Petr Forseber, Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic and Jarome Iginla to play out - dull and uninspired.

They say you have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good. Well ... lately the Flames haven't been that good, and last night they certainly weren't that lucky.

The home side carried a slight margin in play throughout the night, but lacked the bounced and finish to convert any of their chances save for a Stephane Yelle powerplay goal midway through the third period.

Colorado recieved goals from two ex-Flames as Dean McAmmond and Derek Morris both managed to beat Roman Turek to rub a little salt in yet another home loss for the Flames.

The home ice loss moves the club's Saddledome record to a disturbing 2-8-4-1, a sure recipe for another missed playoff season if I've ever seen one.

The game demonstrated once again how important goaltending can be to a mid range hockey team. Neither the Flames nor Avalanche generated much in the way of blue chip chances last night, but the Avs still found their way to three goals, while the Flames were turned away all night.

It wasn't that Roman Turek was bad, a case that could certainly have been argued on Thursday against the Hurricanes, but he didn't make the difference - and in failing to do so, sealed the team's fate.

Dean McAmmond's goal was a flip shot from the deep slot, unscreened.

Derek Morris' goal was a long unassisted slapper from the left point.

Finally, Vaclav Nedorost's goal was a turn around high shot that beat Turek high over his shoulder to the short side.

All acceptable, but as a trio a death sentence to a home club that simply can't have their goaltender out played by his counterpart.

The Flames road Turek's brilliant goaltending to a three game unbeaten streak last week, and his performance alone will be needed consistently if the team wants to get back into things in the west.

It would appear the Flames management group felt they had the option of time of their sides with the club winning under interim coach Al MacNiel, but that comfort zone had disappeared making it clear the team needs to get something in place soon.

The Flames leave on a five game pre-Christmas road trip, a trip that can't go as miserably as their last junket or they'll find themselves playing for a draft position when the ribbons fly on the 25th.



Colorado Avalanche 3
Calgary Flames 1

Saprykin Johansson Drury
Gelinas Conroy Nichol
Wright Yelle Clark
Berube Sloan Kobasew
Lydman Regehr
Montador Gauthier
Leopold Boughner

1 Derek Morris - Former Flame scored his 3rd of the season and added an assist to a peculiar chorus of Saddledome boos.

2 Craig Conroy - Was unable to create much, but looked strong on the puck all night. Picked up a powerplay assist.

3 David Aebischer - The Flames have a habit of making goaltenders look very good, but some solid work early set the game up for the visitors.

Denis Gauthier caught former mate Dean McAmmond with a hip/shoulder hit as McAmmond tried to beat him wide in the first period. Seconds later McAmmond took a penalty pulling Gautheir off his skates.

With the score 2-0 early in the third Aebischer stacked the pads to rob Scott Nichol on a rebound. 

The game was a sell out, with many fans likely having bought tickets weeks or months before the actual date, one would assume with Sakic, Forsberg and Iginla all on the sidelines ... The Flames had their 22 straight successful penalty kills streak snapped as the Avalanche were good on 2 of their 3 chances. The Flames were 1 for 5. ... As per usual the Flames were dominant in the face off circle, turning back the Avalanche on 61% of draws. The only Flame pivot with a sub 50% record in the "dot" was Chris Druy, who only took four draws. Mattias Johansson and Stephane Yelle were both in the 60's. ... It was an interesting night from an officials standpoint. An injury led to a one referee night, or old nostalgia week if you will, and the fact seemed to knock all three men off their jobs. Icing calls seemed to come more by whim then by any text book, and more than a few of the penalty calls were obscure (not to the advantage of either club). ... Chris Clark led all skaters with five shots on goal on the night, but ended up with goat horns when he took a silly roughing penalty right after the Flames had moved to within a goal.
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