Barn Set Ablaze In Vancouver… Flames Wanted For Questioning
Flames 6 (what?) - Canucks 5  (SO)

Daniel Lemmon
December 23, 2005

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How despicable, the dreaded Oilers atop the Northwest division? I spit at thee! Yes kids, it’s true. Not the Vancouver Canucks, not the Calgary Flames, the Edmonton Oilers are leading the way in the NHL’s toughest division. Both the Flames and the Canucks felt the wrath of the Oilers in the past week both having games with defensive relapses giving coaching staff’s fits. Both teams were struggling in the past week, the Flames losers of two straight, the Canucks three, so someone had to keep the streak going.

Someone needs to tell the Canucks that the divisional games are REALLY important. Actually on second thought … forget I said that. Losing to your division rivals is the best thing you can do Vancouver! When you play these teams eight times over the course of a season missing out on two points can kill you. Having now “improved” their records against their Alberta rivals to an impressive 0-4-3, the Canucks did everything they could to try to alleviate their Alberta woes… Oops, dang shootouts!

On The Line

How can you properly describe the importance of a divisional game? When the division is the Northwest it becomes even more important. Both teams had their sights set on keeping up with the surging Oilers, who would gain sole possession of the division lead earlier in the night.

The Flow

Back and forth and back and forth! Goals, goals and more goals, who needs goaltending when you’re scoring right? Every time one team took the initiative to score a goal, the other team would be right there to respond and negate the lead. Three times the Canucks battled back to tie it up, in the end it was the shootout that solved this one once and for all.

Three Stars

1 – Steve Reinprecht.  One goal was a gimmie, the other was a beautiful tip and he scored the shootout winner … ON A DEKE! Not to mention almost burying the hat-trick if not for the quick reaction of Canucks goalkeeper Alex Auld.

2 – Marcus Naslund. GAH! Scores the game tying goal with only a few ticks left on the clock. He could have taken the top star nod had he managed to hit the net in the shootout.

3 – Todd Bertuzzi. Is he fired up at being able to represent his country in the Olympics? The big winger set up the game tying goal and had a total of three assists on the night.

Big Hit

Perhaps not the biggest hit, but the one of most significance. Rhett Warrener, Kristian Huselius and Ryan Kessler all collided with the Flames rugged rearguard taking the brunt of the impact falling like a sack of bricks and hobbling off the ice only nine second into his first shift.

Big Save

Both goaltenders were less than spectacular but managed to make a few good saves from time to time. Miikka Kiprusoff made a few game savers in the late stages of the third and in overtime, but Calgary just might have been able to salt away the win in regulation if Steven Reinprecht had managed to squeak a shot from the slot past Vancouver goaltender Alex Auld. Trifecta incomplete and for that you get a gold star Mr. Auld.

The Goat

Well I was ever so close to giving this one to Kristian Huselius for his boneheaded penalty in overtime, like the Canucks needed another power play! But since the Flames managed to kill that one the goat of the night goes to Alex Auld for his leisure skate in the third period allowing Steve Reinprecht to score his first of “three” goals.

Mr. Clutch

Rock paper scissors between Marcus Naslund, Steve Reinprecht and Tony Amonte. Amonte gets mention for his slick shootout goal to ensure the win, Reinprecht for his two goals and an actual deke on his shootout goal and Marcus Naslund for basically getting his team a point. As much as it pains me.. I give it to Naslund. Good ole rock… nothing beats rock.
Odds and Ends

After the Ottawa game I made mention that when Jordan Leopold shoots the puck good things happen. And amazing of amazing things even with Dion Phaneuf on the point with him, Leopold took a shot that Steve Reinprecht was able to get a stick on to put the puck past Alex Auld. Dear Santa, Please tell Jordan Leopold to shoot more! May I also ask for Stephane Yelle back so that this horrendous lack of defence is at least a little less prominent? Three straight games with the team giving up 5 goals is not what Flame fans are used to seeing. I think that Darryl Sutter is just as displeased, being the only man on the Flames bench who seemed less enthusiastic than Dion Phaneuf answering questions poised by Steve Strachan after the Flames managed the shootout win. Clearly the man is very unimpressed with the defensive efforts his charges have produced in the past three games. I’m also wondering if we’ll be able to see the Flames play with a complete set of lines for once this season, as in no changes during the game. What the heck happened to Matthew Lombardi and Chuck Kobasew? Both players barely played after the first period. Even after getting the game started I kept asking myself where the heck those two were. If anyone can tell me why on Earth those two were glued to the bench I’d love to hear it! I actually thought they were playing well. I’m almost afraid to watch Monday’s game if Sauve is in net. Kiprusoff is having a hard time the way the defence has been playing and it might be downright terrifying to see what would happen with poor Sauve stuck in there. So now we wait… for Christmas, or even better… for the start of the World Juniors and the hope of blood to continue flowing into my hands after my latest Flames induced heart attack, sure to be repeated on Monday night. Happy Holidays!

Next up – The very same Canucks on Boxing Day catch all the action on the Fan960 and on Flames Pay-Per-View starting at 8:00 PM MST.

Lines –
Amonte - Reinprecht - Iginla
Huselius – Lombardi - Kobasew
Langkow – Nilson - McCarty
Simon - Wiemer – Donovan








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