November 22 2010 08:06PM
A day after a strong performance minus the correct result in Detroit, the Flames were unable to pull things out at Madison Square Garden, falling 2-1 in their only meeting with the New York Rangers. It was a game filled with hard hitting, chippy play...and one crushing hit delivered by Marc Staal to Calgary's Matt Stajan. Regardless, the Flames are three games below the .500 mark heading into New Jersey on Wednesday.
The Flames were not good to start this game, playing a very listless opening 20 minutes. Kent had scoring chances 9-2 in that opening frame in favor of New York, and had Calgary registering zero at even strength, which is unacceptable. But the Flames caught some breaks...the Rangers had finish issues, Miikka Kiprusoff made some saves, and this one was scoreless after one period of play.
The Flames seemed to reel things back in in the middle frame, but made a key mistake early on...an awful line change sent the Rangers in 2-on-0, and as Brendan Mikkeslon tried to get back into the play off the bench, Brian Boyle's pass went off his stick and into the back of the net. Boyle got credit for his ninth of the season at 2:08, but it didn't take long for the Flames to tie things back up...an odd man rush the other way lead to a nice passing sequence, when Jay Bouwmeester found Jarome Iginla in the right circle, and the red hot captain snapped one past Martin Biron to tie things at one. As things went back and forth, Ryan Callahan would deliver a clean hit on Jay Bouwmeester...something that Curtis Glencross decided to avenge. His retaliation put him in the box and New York took advantage in short order, as Dan Girardi wired one past Kiprusoff just 14 serconds into the powerplay to put New York up 2-1 after 40.
The third period saw Calgary fire 15 shots on the Rangers net, however only five of those were counted as scoring chances...Kent had chances 5-4 in favor of the Flames, and counted none on their only powerplay of the frame, which again, can't happen. New York went into a very visible shell and the Flames had difficulty breaking through, and Biron made a few key saves...two in particular on Jarome Iginla. The final would end up 2-1, as Calgary opens their five game road trip with two losses, albeit earning the one point Sunday in Detroit.
One Good Reason...
...the Flames lost? Calgary didn't really show up until they were down by a goal, and with how this team fights the puck at times, it just can't happen. The first period was an absolute write off, as they were controlled and lucky not to be down a few goals. After Iginla scored to tie it, they had a nice push for two or three minutes before things settled down once again. Their third period wasn't poor, and they fired 15 shots on net...but we've heard "too little, too late" a little too often as of late.
With no Robyn Regehr in this game, Jay Bouwmeester really stepped up on this night. I've been very impressed over the last number of games, as he's been solid in his own end and has been an offensive factor more than he's ever been in his time with the team. He lead all players with 25:45 of ice time and logged some tough minutes as well...he was under water in chances, but very few players weren't in this game. I liked Bouwmeester in this game.
Sum It Up
It sets up another November must-win on Wednesday in New Jersey, and it makes you wonder...who the heck gets the start in net when Calgary crosses the Hudson River? The original thought, going back as far as the weekend, is that Henrik Karlsson would start against the Devils...however, now, the speculation would be that is not the case. It's an extremely difficult debate, because you can see both sides. But do you really want your goalie playing 5 games in 7 nights?
The Marc Staal on Matt Stajan hit obviously needs to be addressed. I'm still formulating my take, but I think Staal was targetting the chest and made impact with the head. Therefore, I think it should be looked at by the NHL, but I don't know if anything will come of it...this will certainly put to test the new "blindside" rule, as you can make a debate that it is or isn't from the blindside. I think it was, which is why I think it should be looked at...but who knows with how disipline is handed out in this league.