March 31 2009 09:49AM
I'm not talkin' 'bout pleasure boatin' or day sailin'. I'm talkin' 'bout workin' for a livin'. I'm talkin' 'bout sharkin'!
Well last night saw the Flames turn in an effort similar to the one against the Wild. And, not surprisingly, that wasn't enough to beat the best team in the NHL, even one as banged-up as the Sharks.
The first Sharks goal, well, you knew it was going to happen. A team with a power play running around 25 percent gets a two-man advantage for 1:57, and that's gonna put you in a hole. The second goal from Jonathan Cheechoo (though I still don't think he ever touched it) was on a screen. Defense and goaltending wasn't the problem though.
It was the offense, and the team's complete lack of ability to outwill the Sharks even though, by the end of the game, Todd McLellan was rolling just eight forwards and five defensemen. That made the closing minutes look a lot closer than they really were.
But if this game did nothing else, it proved that the Flames haven't completely lost any sense of how to defend good teams. So I guess, even though the division lead is likely gone after tonight, the game wasn't a total waste.
We should feel better about this loss than the Minnesota win. They at least showed they cared.
Defense — If you can hold any offense to 17 shots, you've done a great job. If you can do it to one of the best in the league, regardless of how many players are out with injuries, you've done an excellent job. Kudos to everyone on that front. Guys were jumping in front of a lot of shots and hitting the crap out of any Shark that got near them. The Flames have always needed a physical game to be in it mentally, and the defense set that tone tonight.
Miikka Kiprusoff — Not that he stood on his head or the stats support it, but he had a better-than-average night (more than we could have hoped for lately) and neither goal was his fault.
Jarome Iginla — His first in seven games, and it was a rocket. Great little fake to get Brad Lukowich to open the wickets just a bit more for the crisp snapshot. That was vintage Iggy right there. The Flames are going to need more of that in the final six games.
Jamie Lundmark — No points last night but he was dictating pace, had a couple solid hits and a created a few good chances. He's been dynamite.
David Moss — Three shots and six hits. Strong contribution.
The offense — Late in the game, it didn't seem especially threatening. Early in the game, it almost seemed harmless. That's not the way you attack wounded prey. This should've been a gimme two points for Calgary.
Dion Phaneuf — Once again on the ice for the opponent's game-winner. It's really getting bad.
The division lead is all but gone — Not that I expected it to last until the end of the season given the Flames' schedule vs. that of the Canucks, but it still sucks that Vancouver is going to slaughter Minnesota tonight and overtake the Flames in the final two weeks of the season to win the division. So many wasted opportunities. Were the Flames interested in playing hockey at all in a couple games over the past few weeks and we're not even talking about this.