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Penalty Woes Sink Flames
Avalanche 3 Flames 0

Darren Linn
March 12, 2006

When the Flames play the Sutter/Playfair/Preston system and style of hockey and it's working, it can be a thing of beauty to Calgary's faithful. However, when it isn't going right, it can be summed up in one single word ... ugly. Today's matinee at the Pepsi Center in Denver was a perfect example of the latter.

When you are facing division rivals on the road, there are some very simple rules you have to follow. Stay out of the penalty box, jump in front early, and do not get too cute with the puck in the offensive end. The Flames failed on all 3 counts in this one, and the results were inevitably ... ugly.

On The Line

Oh just a little thing like 1st place in the toughest division in hockey. Or to put it another way, 3rd place in the conference vs. dropping to 5th.

The Flow

The Flames actually came out and played hard in the opening 10 minutes of the hockey game while killing a silly roughing penalty taken by Darren McCarty, and were matched by an equally determined Colorado squad through that time as well.  However, when the 3rd penalty of the period was called on Dion Phaneuf for some careless use of his stick, one could just feel what was coming. Sure enough the Avs got one with 10 seconds to go in the opening frame. That was all the Avs would need on the night, though Calgary did get some good action going in the 3rd period.

Three Stars

1 Peter Budaj.    Knowing that this is his best chance to show the world that bringing in Jose Theodore was a mistake on the part of management, the youngster shone brightly in this one making a solid 33 saves en route to his 2nd career shut out. He had some help from his goal post and an inept Flames offence, who could not corral loose pucks at the right times.

2 Joe Sakic.    The AV's captain was at his best on this afternoon, potting a beautiful wrister for goal number 2 on the day and adding an assist along the way.

3 Milan Hedjuk.  The hardest working player on the AVs had about 5 separate scoring chances before final netting a short handed marker late in the 2nd period to sink any Flames comeback attempt.

Big Hit

Dion Phaneuf caught journeyman plugger Ian Laperriere with his head down at the Calgary blueline late in the 1st period and sent the veteran ass over tea-kettle backwards in what might be his best open ice hit as a professional to this point in his career.

Big Save

Peter Budaj absolutely stoned Kristian Huselius a couple different times in this game, but the save of the night goes to his counterpart in the Flames net. Milan Hedjuk found himself wide open at the side of the Flames net and got a rebound right to his stick...but before he could get the puck across the line, Miikka Kiprusoff slid over and completely stole one from the Avs goal scorer.

The Goat

With the Flames close to getting out of the 1st period unscathed (after taking 3 minors) Jordon Leopold inexplicably went for a skate towards the corner of the rink while his teammates had containment. This left a wide open Joe Sakic to the side of the net who took a nice pass, held on to it while Leopold tried to scramble back in position, slid it through the panicked dman onto the stick of Alex Tanguay. Tanguay promptly deposited the puck into the yawning cage and Leopold distorted himself trying to make up for his gaffe. This is one that the coaches will be showing repeatedly tomorrow as they watch tape with the team.

Mr. Clutch

Two words. Peter Budaj. Again he didn't have too make a lot of difficult saves, but he was always there when called upon and never allowed the Flames to gain any momentum.

Odds and Ends

In a game where it was hard to find a whole lot of real good things done by the Flames, it was pointed out that before Tangauy's PP marker, the guys in red had killed 37 straight short handed chances. Thats a remarkable feat in this day and age...In keeping with a very odd trend in Flames games, they lost the game but won the battle on the faceoff dot. They garnered 54% of the pucks dropped.... Icetime distribution was something to look at in this game. Both Ference and Leopold had identical 22:19 stints, while no one saw much less than 11 minutes, including Bryan Marchment who was out for 15.5 minutes.... Look for Marcus Nilson to be sat next game while Jamie Lundmark gets a look see from the coaching staff...Matthew Lombardi went 8-2 on faceoffs for a remarkable 80% winning rate....This team has got to have more fire in its belly than they showed today or this last 20 games will be a long long stretch for Flames fans......Shean Donovan who clanked one off the post in the 3rd, was the most dangerous Flame all night....

Next up Tommorrow night, same two teams, same bat channel, at 7:00

Lines -

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

Regehr - Leopold
Phaneuf - Marchment



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