Wild Third Leaves Flames With Nuck Sweep
Flames 4 – Canucks 3

Darren Linn
November 7th, 2005

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All regular season games are worth the same amount of points whether they are played in November or April. There is however a huge difference in terms of importance at times, and in the last homestand in which the Flames were home fed for over a week and in the Dome for four games, never was that more apparent. Especially in the last two against their biggest rivals of late, the Vancouver Canucks.

After heading home following the last road trip with their tail between their collective legs and sporting a 4-7-2 record, this was a somewhat desperate hockey team. They needed to string a couple wins together, play solid from start to finish, and let the hometown fans know that the pre season prognostications of imminent success, was still a possibility.

Mission accomplished.

On The Line

An opportunity to climb above the .500 mark for the first time in the new NHL. Also, this was a real chance to make a statement to their division, their conference and indeed the entire NHL. Also a chance to start creeping into the psyche of the Vancouver Canucks who were victims in the last seasons playoffs as well as two nights earlier.

The Flow

What flow? A steady parade of penalties effectively killed the ability for both teams to get anything resembling an attack going. Especially in the 1st period and early in the 2nd. Once the Canucks got going they looked very strong on and away from the puck in the latter stages of the 2nd, and then in the 3rd period the Flames found their legs and dominated the Canucks with speed and physical play.

Three Stars 1 - Dion Phaneuf. The rookie blue liner was a force all night taking the body and adding the game winning goal, while adding two assists.
2 - Marcus Naslund. Vancouver’s captain was the teams best player on the night scoring 2 goals and pinging one off the cross bar. A terrific talent.
3 - Jarome Iginla. Flames captain scored a goal, added an assist, and led the clubs forwards with 21 minutes.

Big Hit

Dion Phaneuf caught Mattias Ohlund coming behind the net with his head down a bit and laid a solid shoulder check into the big fellows chest and sent him quickly on his keister. Typical for the rookie D man.

Big Save

It was hard to choose one particularly spectacular save from either net minder on this night, but Alex Auld was very solid on a flurry in the 1st period and stoned Chuck Kobasew on a penalty shot in the 2nd to keep the game at a 1-0 score for the Flames, and allowing his club to take a 2-1 lead after that pivotal middle frame.

The Goat

Trevor Linden should be forced to wear a set of horns on the plane ride home tonight. With the game tied and his club down a man and less than 4 minutes left in the 3rd period, Linden took a completely unnecessary penalty when he clobbered Jarome Iginla from behind. In the neutral zone. To put his team down two men. Dummy. One would expect more from a veteran such as him, especially at that juncture of the game and considering the situation.

Mr. Clutch

This goes to Roman Hamrlik who let go a howitzer over Alex Auld’s glove after getting sprung with a beauty pass from fellow blue liner Dion Phaneuf. The goal was a beauty but the timing was critical. The Flames needed a spark and they found it courtesy of the Czech born all-star.

Odds and Ends

4 Goals! 4 Goals! 4 Goals!….This concludes a perfect home stand in which the club won all four games, two by shut out, giving up four goals while scoring ten and keeping shots to a minimum… a recipe for success in any version of the NHL….Ryan Walter was the color man on the SN West telecast this night while John Garrett sidled up with Jim Hughson on SN Pacific. Now Walter isn’t in the Healy/Millen category of complete duffi talking heads, but he really is somewhat lost many times. Mumbling, stumbling and bumbling….apologies to Chris Berman. And what’s the deal? Was he born in a wind tunnel and his face just stayed the same when he emerged from it?…OK, Ive said this before and I truly mean it, but I hate to harp on the referees of this league, It’s simply put the toughest one in sport to keep up with and control of. However, the job done on this night can be summed up in one word and one word only. Atrocious. Brutal, Incompetent. Smelly. Inconsistent… Ok, so that was more than one word, but all of them are earned by the stripes on this evening. One time was a penalty, another time it wasn’t. Guys get tackled and nothing gets called, Andrew Ference takes his man out (that had the puck on his stick) with a body check, comes away with the puck and gets an interference penalty. Awful. Hard to explain a game like this to anyone who may be new to it. Hell, it was hard to understand on my part and I’ve been watching hockey for 35+ years. The NHL REALLY needs to get a handle on this thing before they turn people off…..Interesting to note the effect that the return of Robyn Regehr has had on the other blue liners in terms of ice time: No one over 22 minutes, no one under 17 minutes. Very good distribution and something that could bode very well as the year wears on……Darren McCarty played the game almost exclusively as a LW’er, something I never recall seeing him do in the past…After getting smacked around on the dot early in the game, the team came back to end up almost even but on the wrong side of 52% to 48%….15 minors in total in the game. 9 to the Canucks and 6 to the Flames. 30:00. That’s half the game folks if they go the distance on all of them….Flames get credited for 18 takeaways and only surrendering 4 giveaways…21 shots on net against the Flames, in this day and age that may qualify as top 10 of the season so far.

Next up - In Phoenix on Thursday night.

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