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Flames Fall Flat in Game Two In Minny
Wild 3 Flames 1

D'Arcy McGrath
March 21, 2006

Winning two straight games in an enemy's barn is a tall order in this wacky new schedule offered up by the NHL during this Olympic season.

The Oilers couldn't do it in Minnesota last week, and the Flames couldn't accomplish that feat themselves, losing game two to the Wild tonight by a score of 3-1.

The loss moves the Flames to 1-2-1 and only three points in four games on this marathon seven game road trip, adding pressure to the next two contests against cellar dwellers in St. Louis and Columbus.

The bigger concern for the Flames is getting back to their game, something we haven't seen in the last week, with too many shots and scoring chances being surrendered, and too much pressure put on Miikka Kiprusoff.

A sum of 38 shots given up tonight, 39 in game one in Minnesota, 47 in getting thumped in Nashville and a more normal 28 in Edmonton in an overtime loss spells an average of 38 per game on this road trip. A style of play that isn't likely to go very far in the playoffs should they manage enough points to get to the dance.

The team is relatively healthy, they had better grab a little focus soon.


On The Line

This is almost getting old, but EVERYTHING. A chance to put some distance between themselves and the Colorado Avalanche for first in the Northwest Division, and a chance to keep ahead of this onslaught of hockey teams marching up the Western Conference standings. 

The Flow

Once again the Flames simply failed to have any. The visitors were out shot badly in each of the three periods; 10-5, 17-9 and 12-4. The 12-4 third period margin is the most concerning for a team down a goal and looking to get back to even in an important road game you'd think they'd press matters somewhat instead of setting up camp in their own zone and hoping their goaltender could keep it close for a last ditch effort.

Three Stars

1 Marion Gaborik. Got the Wild back to even with his first of the night and then added the insurance goal into an empty net to salt things away. Amazingly, the Wild's offensive leader had nine shots on goal including SEVEN in the third period.

2 Brian Rolston.  The Wild's most consistent game in and game out performer scored the game winner, his 28th goal of the season.

3 Miikka Kiprusoff.  The reason this game was at the point where the man was pulled in hopes of tying the game. Without Kiprusoff this game looks closer to the Nashville encounter.

Big Hit

Pretty much a no hitter, which plays to the lack of jam the Flames seemed to have on this night. They need to generate more of everything their next time out.

Big Save

Just a minute into the second period Kiprusoff was forced to make four successive saves including two straight from Calgarian Kyle Wanvig to keep the game scoreless. Just a sample of what was to come.

The Goat

The entire team. Bad outlet passes, giveaway after giveaway, too much gap between the club's forwards and their defenceman, a general lack of communication on the ice. Calgary Flames hockey is rarely pretty to watch for offence enthusiasts, but it's usually disciplined and very methodic in getting the job done in their own zone. Right now they seem lost.

Mr. Clutch

Miikka Kiprusoff. Without this guy on this road trip the Flames are still looking for their first point, and are likely nip and tuck for making the playoffs. It's that close. He's found points for the team in two of his three starts, and came close to three for three on that front.

Odds and Ends

It might sound to over simplified, but I honestly think the Flames need Rhett Warrener back. Warrener gives them that three solid defence corps duos that can really help stabilized things shift to shift when it comes to playing their system. His loose style in the dressing room might actually be just what the doctor ordered as well. He's likely about two weeks away. ... Between Robyn Regehr's missing the club's first month and change, and Roman Hamrlik's injuries in the last half of the season and now Warrener's injury,  the Flames have only had their top six together on 18 occasions this season or 26% of the time. Their record in those 18 games? 12-3-3. Sigh. ... Jarome Iginla led the way with a paltry three shots on goal tonight. Only six players managed more than one shot, seven players failed to generate any shots on goal. Marion Gaborik managed as many shots on goal (9) as the Flames managed as a group in any collective period. ... With the loss I just can't see another Brian Boucher start this trip, unless perhaps they win the next two. They just can't risk it. They need to cinch up a playoff spot, and they need Kiprusoff if they insist on coughing up 40 shots a night. ... Minnesota was 1-4 on the powerplay while the Flames came up empty on three attempts. ... The Flames also managed to get edged out in the face off circle winning 48% of the draws, with Daymond Langkow and Matthew Lombardi being the only two above water. ... 

Next up The Flames move on to back to back games on Thursday and Friday night in St. Louis and Columbus. Very big games for the Flames division aspirations.

Lines -

Huselius - Langkow - Iginla

McCarty - Nilson - Donovan

Amonte - Yelle - McCarty

Simon - Lombardi - Kobasew

Regehr - Leopold
Phaneuf - Hamrlik



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