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Flames Powerplay Fries Ducks
Flames 3 - Ducks 1

D'Arcy McGrath
February 8th, 2006

Just like that.

The ebb and flow of a hockey season is something to behold. What seems so wrong for an extended period of time can suddenly seem so right, when in reality, neither extreme were ever that concise in the first place.

The Calgary Flames suffering through a three game losing skid were never all that bad to begin with, they claimed points in two of the games to be honest.

With a 3-1 marginalization of the soon to be just Ducks, hold the Mighty for marketing reasons, the Flames are now on a two game winning streak without playing all that well.

Life in the new MY NHL.

Fun isn't it?

On The Line

I think we've established over time that every game is big, and we mean EVERY GAME! This one, though not a division encounter that carries the "huge" moniker, was especially important given the standings. The Calgary Flames, you see, despite the preseason prognostications of hockey big heads from coast to coast are simply a hockey team looking for a ticket back to the dance. They don't need to be the best looking guy at the ball, but they have to get in if they want to score with the hot girl that's hosting the thing. A win tonight against the team closest to making that reality a fantasy and suddenly that invitation seems all the more likely. Lose and you have some uneasy breathing through the Olympic break.

The Flow

A special teams affair that had the Flames bottled up five on five and stuck in their own zone for good parts of the game. "We had to make some adjustments", said Jim Playfair after the game, "the defenceman back to the puck had to take more time and force the puck up the boards to create a battle with their D keeping the puck in". The adjustment worked, the Flames turned the five on five tables and road their powerplay to a win.

Three Stars

1 Andrew Ference. Two assists on a night when the offence was spread around. Ference picked up helpers on the game's last two key goals, and was one of the better defenders at getting the puck out of his zone on the night.

2 Miikka Kiprusoff.  Faced more shots than ex-Flame goalie J.S. Giguere, but likely didn't have the same load when it came to quality chances. But give the guy the nod for allowing 1/3 of the goals on said night.  

3 J.S. Giguere  Had to make some key saves to keep this one close through forty minutes. 

Big Hit

A few good bumps in this one, but the nod goes to Duck defenceman Vitaly Vishnevski for lighting up Flames forward Shean Donovan streaking in on the boards in the first period. If it was possible for a human being to cut another human being in half it would have happened on this play.

Big Save

There were a few great saves in this game from both stoppers but the cake goes to Miikka Kiprusoff for his recovering in stoning Duck defenceman Francois Beauchemin on a play that featured Kiprusoff almost lazily moving across the crease before sticking out a late pad to foil the chance in the second period.

The Goat

No true goat on this night as no one player truly let the team down. The Amonte, Kobasew, Lombardi line did seem out of sorts in their own zone from time to time however, creating a riff in an otherwise sound defensive night.

Mr. Clutch

For the first time this season I'm picking the powerplay. Despite a few different combinations and some trouble setting up they got the job done, scoring three times on only five chances to make the difference in the game.  

Odds and Ends

As mentioned, the Flames went 3/5 on the powerplay while killing 5 of 6 shorthanded for one of their most lopsided special teams wins of the season. The bread and butter of this Flames edition will always be five on five play so it's nice to see the odd situations find a gear. .... It should be pointed out that Darren McCarty led all Flames in shorthanded minutes for a forward on the night and wasn't on the ice for Andy McDonald's Duck powerlplay goal. I've said before how surprised I've been to see how good a penalty killer Tony Amonte has been, but Darren McCarty has likely done more for this team than any addition in the off season. And people doubted the signing ... In and interesting but true sign of roster balance, only one player received less than 10 minutes of ice time on the night. That player? Kristian Huselius. He's been a great pick up by Sutter, but anyone beginning to wonder if he's falling into the rut that saw him moved from Florida? He has only three assists in the last eight games. ... The Flames took 52% of the draws on the night, with all but Darren McCarty being above water. McCarty was butchered, winning only one of seven draws. Matthew Lombardi won 78% of his 14 draws. ... The Calgary win, coupled with a Vancouver loss at home to St. Louis leaves the Flames in sole position of first place in the Northwest division with only one game to go until the Olympic break. Almost more importantly, the Flames have increased their bulge on the non playoff teams by ten points with only 26 games to go. Comfort is a foreign feeling to Flames fans but you may want to get used to it. Teams 15 games over .500 through 2/3 of a season should rarely miss the playoffs. ... Scott Niedermayer led all shooters on the night with five shots on goal. The Flames leader was ex-Duck Mike Leclerc with four. ... Dion Phaneuf had an eye popping seven recorded hits on the night to more than double the closest Duck offering. Leclerc had four.

Next up The Flames will head into the break after a Friday Saddledome matchup against the St. Louis Blues.

Lines -

Leclerc- Langkow- Iginla
Kobasew - Lombardi - Amonte
McCarty- Yelle- Donovan
Huselius - Nilson - Simon

Regher 2.0-Phaneuf







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