Postgame: A Christmas Miracle!

Pat Steinberg
December 23 2010 09:53PM

Okay, perhaps a little hyperbole in the title, because the fact is the Calgary Flames won a hockey game they played well enough to win on Thursday night in Dallas.  Alex Tanguay was the man of the hour, tying the game late and scoring the only goal in a shootout to propel the Flames to 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars.  And seeing as how it's the last game before Christmas, why not...it's a miracle!

What Happened

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 23: Right wing Jarome Iginla  of the Calgary Flames fights with Jamie Benn  of the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on December 23, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
 

The Flames opening was a little slow and certainly had a few people thinking "here we go again" but it didn't take too long before they reeled things back in.  The games first fireworks came just over five minutes in, as Jarome Iginla dropped the gloves with Stars forward Jamie Benn...probably call it a draw overall, but it was Iginla coming away looking a little worse for wear.  The Flames would get the first powerplay of the game thanks to a Steve Ott tripping call, and they'd cash in at 11:03 thanks to Anton Babchuk; he'd take a Jay Bouwmeester pass and wire it past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen from the left point.  But Dallas would equalize late in the first, again on the powerplay...Mike Ribeiro would take a real nice cross-seam feed from Loui Eriksson and put it wear Miikka Kiprusoff couldn't grab it, and after 20 things were tied 1-1.

No scoring in the middle frame, but plenty of Calgary action, as they'd put ten shots on the Dallas net sprinkling a few quality scoring opportunities in there too.  They had a massive possession edge in the second period, but came away empty handed after a pretty good 20 minutes of hockey.

The one thing I was thinking while watching the second period was "this is exactly how Dallas plays" and they were in a position to win a hockey game tied heading into the third period.  And early on, the Stars would capitalize on one of Calgary's few mistakes in their own end...Brenden Morrow would score his 13th at 2:41 after the Flames failed to get the puck out of their own end.  Calgary went into chase mode in the latter half of the third period, and started to generate some chances, and they'd catch a bit of a break late.  On what seemed to be disjointed line change, Jarome Iginla would feed Alex Tanguay on a break and he'd make the Stars pay; his shot went roof on Lehtonen and sent this sucker to overtime.

The overtime was pretty fun and Kiprusoff gave us the highlight, making two great stops on James Neal, and he'd help the Flames move things to a shootout.  Alex Tanguay would start things off with an easy goal, and it would turn out to be the only goal in the shootout.  Eriksson, Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro would all be thwarted while Niklas Hagman was unable to score for Calgary; the biggest shame was we didn't get to see Ales Kotalik go in the shootout.  Oh well...Flames win 3-2.

One Good Reason...

...why the Flames won?  Because they really did give them nothing.  Dallas is a team that is extremely efficient with their offence, so if you don't give them anything, they aren't going to break through a lot of the time.  And that's what we saw in this game: the Stars scored on the powerplay and capitalized on a mistake, but other than that, they didn't generate a whole lot.  Calgary was very strong in their own end and made it very difficult for the Stars to do much.

Red Warrior

EDMONTON, CANADA - OCTOBER 1: James Vandermeer  of the Edmonton Oilers chases Ales Kotalik  of the Calgary Flames in first-period action at Rexall Place October 1, 2010 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
 

I'll go with Ales Kotalik BECAUSE I WANT TO.  For a guy who's been dreadful, at least he shot the puck, plust I wanted to use the link: http://kotes.ytmnd.com/ And he had six shots on net. And it's Christmas. 

Sum It Up

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 23: Defenseman Anton Babchuk  of the Calgary Flames celebrates a goal against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on December 23, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
 

It's a game the Flames deserved to win, and good on them for winning it.  What does it mean? Who knows.  But the Flames played a pretty solid game and came away with two points, so they go into Christmas with a good feeling.  Yay!

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Pat Steinberg can be heard daily on the Fan960 in Calgary at can be read at the FAN 960. Born and raised in Calgary, Steinberg considers himself a huge fan of all sports including the CFL, MMA and 13 round bare knuckle boxing matches. Follow Steinberg on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Fan960Steinberg.
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#1 schevvy
December 23 2010, 10:19PM
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Pat, i'm guessing Kotalik was the red warrior but no explanation on why he was?

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#2 John Deere Green
December 23 2010, 10:19PM
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Well that's good. The players go into the break happy. Their wives will be happy opening their diamond rings and Rolls Royce presents. Their kids will be happy opening thousands of dollars worth of toys. Wouldn't want an unhappy bunch of professional hockey players.

All this does is prolong the obvious for another couple of days. I agree with a couple of other comments I've read here about the Heritage Classic scenario. I don't see them making any drastic changes before then. Can you imagine all the unhappy customers if the core is dismantled? Tragic.

This team is going nowhere. It will be impressive when they do decide to make massive changes though. Merry Ho Ho everyone!

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#3 dotfras
December 23 2010, 10:24PM
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Kotalik sucks. Every shot he took was weak & directed right at Lehtonen.

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#4 BCFLAME
December 23 2010, 10:28PM
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No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Man, I'm sure bitter-sweet about this one. Two points in what is now a futile endeavor. Good game by the Flames, though.

However, if we had lost this one, Dutter would have been gone sooner than later. Now he's gonna point to this victory over one of the best teams in the West (at least in terms of points) and declare the Flames have turned a corner.

Damn you, Dutter!!!!!!!

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#5 B
December 23 2010, 10:40PM
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@BCFLAME

...I hope they have turned the corner. I hope they start to play like this all the time.

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#6 B
December 23 2010, 10:42PM
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@dotfras

...I don't know what game you were watching. Kotalik had a pretty good game.

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#7 B
December 23 2010, 10:48PM
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...Iggy and Reggie both fought and the whole team pretty much played like it was a playoff game. Maybe they haven't given up on Brent after all.

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#8 BCFLAME
December 23 2010, 10:57PM
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@B

That's a big ball of hope you got there B. I used to be like that until the Flames proved me wrong consistently. Fool me one year, shame on them. Fool me 3 years in a row, shame on me, lol.

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#9 B
December 23 2010, 11:00PM
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@BCFLAME

...hey, I'm a just a fan. I want to see the Flames win. I don't watch games because I want to whine about how bad they are doing. I'm not saying the probabilities are leaning in their favour, but if there is a shred of hope I don't mind it.

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#10 negrilcowboy
December 23 2010, 11:00PM
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a win but still no ability to score goals. two goals and a shootout win and the parade plans are back on. dallas looked like they were already on holidays.

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#12 B
December 23 2010, 11:06PM
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negrilcowboy wrote:

a win but still no ability to score goals. two goals and a shootout win and the parade plans are back on. dallas looked like they were already on holidays.

...Dallas didn't look all that great, but there lies the inherent question. Did the Flames make the Stars look bad, or did the Stars make the Flames look good? Probably a little of both.

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#13 BCFLAME
December 23 2010, 11:11PM
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B wrote:

...hey, I'm a just a fan. I want to see the Flames win. I don't watch games because I want to whine about how bad they are doing. I'm not saying the probabilities are leaning in their favour, but if there is a shred of hope I don't mind it.

Nobody wants to whine about losing. We want to see them win consistently. However, going on a run, thereby barely missing the playoffs, and then coming back with an even older group next year is not my idea of success.

We have wallowed in mediocrity too long. Time to get some young blood in the form of a lottery pick, and a couple of trades for good prospects (some of core group will obviously have to be traded).

Moreover, there are far more systemic issues at stake. The flames organization currently insists on playing a defensive system, the tenets of which are pre-lockout relics (not to mention they make for some boring hockey). We need an uprising now to subvert the stats quo and the misery it begets.

I'd rather watch a young, developing, and exciting core maturing together en route to future success than an old core looking for glory on the basis of "leadership" and "character".

I just want what's best for the Flames and most exciting for the fans.

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#14 BCFLAME
December 23 2010, 11:11PM
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B wrote:

...hey, I'm a just a fan. I want to see the Flames win. I don't watch games because I want to whine about how bad they are doing. I'm not saying the probabilities are leaning in their favour, but if there is a shred of hope I don't mind it.

Nobody wants to whine about losing. We want to see them win consistently. However, going on a run, thereby barely missing the playoffs, and then coming back with an even older group next year is not my idea of success.

We have wallowed in mediocrity too long. Time to get some young blood in the form of a lottery pick, and a couple of trades for good prospects (some of core group will obviously have to be traded).

Moreover, there are far more systemic issues at stake. The flames organization currently insists on playing a defensive system, the tenets of which are pre-lockout relics (not to mention they make for some boring hockey). We need an uprising now to subvert the stats quo and the misery it begets.

I'd rather watch a young, developing, and exciting core maturing together en route to future success than an old core looking for glory on the basis of "leadership" and "character".

I just want what's best for the Flames and most exciting for the fans.

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#15 negrilcowboy
December 23 2010, 11:15PM
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B wrote:

...Dallas didn't look all that great, but there lies the inherent question. Did the Flames make the Stars look bad, or did the Stars make the Flames look good? Probably a little of both.

a late goal to tie at 2, then win in a shootout against a team who looked like they took the night off. realy 2 goals. if dallas didn't play bad and the flames took it to them and managed on 2 goals indicates big trouble ahead.no production from the second unit again, rene where are you?

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#16 B
December 23 2010, 11:32PM
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@negrilcowboy

...Borque wasn't a factor, I'll give you that. However, the Flames out shot the Stars 6-4, 10-2, and 15-7 in regulation. I don't disagree that the production didn't come, but the shot totals indicate that it was solid goaltending not a lack of offence. I'd be interested to see the scoring chances when Kent puts them up later on.

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#17 schevvy
December 23 2010, 11:36PM
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Tanguay snipe show on the tying goal, if only he'd shoot the puck more often, he's got a great shot

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#18 negrilcowboy
December 23 2010, 11:37PM
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B wrote:

...Borque wasn't a factor, I'll give you that. However, the Flames out shot the Stars 6-4, 10-2, and 15-7 in regulation. I don't disagree that the production didn't come, but the shot totals indicate that it was solid goaltending not a lack of offence. I'd be interested to see the scoring chances when Kent puts them up later on.

bottom line is no goal scoring. can't keep sighting hot goaltending game in game out. they simply don't score, alot of shots are right in the label, not goalies making spectacular saves.

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#19 B
December 23 2010, 11:46PM
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@BCFLAME

...I wasn't indicating that you liked whining about losing. I was just saying I didn't (don't).

...you seem to think the only way for the Flames to improve going forward is to forefeit the season and hope for a lottery pick. I don't think that is the case at all.

...we could debate all day as to exactly why the Flames aren't winning and if it is systemic mismanagement or just bad luck. It's a matter of opinion. Not that I don't have my own opinions on some questionable decisions the organziation has made, but build a playoff team year in a year out for the better part of a decade isn't an easy feat.

...until the Flames miss the playoffs again, I guess I'll be satisfied at what most on here call "mediocrity". If you've read any of my previous post you'll know I'm not dismissing the option of canning one or both or the Sutter's, I just think canning the GM at this point would be a knee-jerk reaction.

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#20 B
December 23 2010, 11:48PM
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@negrilcowboy

...I agree. With the type of team the Flames have they have to get a screen in front of the goalie for those shots to go in.

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#21 negrilcowboy
December 23 2010, 11:53PM
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B wrote:

...I agree. With the type of team the Flames have they have to get a screen in front of the goalie for those shots to go in.

the thing about some of the stats is that they are arbitrary, one guy says scoring chance another views it as a routine save. still a shot on goal. how could jamie benn be so overlooked in the draft? great junior numbers, 22 tallies last year and good with the fists, scored a couple of good shots to iggies chin.

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#22 B
December 23 2010, 11:57PM
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@negrilcowboy

...I agree with you on both counts.

...IMO everybody is looking for proto-type players at the beginning of the draft. I expect that Benn's average skating ability knocked him down a few rounds. Look at Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Who knows what some scouts are looking for. Benn sure has some great hands for a gritty guy.

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#23 negrilcowboy
December 24 2010, 12:00AM
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B wrote:

...I agree with you on both counts.

...IMO everybody is looking for proto-type players at the beginning of the draft. I expect that Benn's average skating ability knocked him down a few rounds. Look at Zetterberg and Datsyuk. Who knows what some scouts are looking for. Benn sure has some great hands for a gritty guy.

he's got a hell of an uppercut, and can put the bisket in the basket.

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#24 SmellOfVictory
December 24 2010, 12:28AM
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I love watching Tanguay play. Good lord. Especially when he actually decides to attack the net on occasion.

I also think Kotalik earned his paycheque this game. He was reasonable defensively, and he and Hagman did really well offensively from what I saw.

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#25 negrilcowboy
December 24 2010, 12:52AM
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not to rag on anyone but rene bourque has 2 goals for the month of december. 6 year deal and 29 years old, may be a bad contract.

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#26 GermanFlame
December 24 2010, 12:57AM
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Kotalik? Too much rum and eggnog there Pat?

I guess you can justify it though. Happy the boys got the win and hopefully it can help them out before Christmas. Get a good break mentally from hockey and come back after Christmas and get it going.

One win doesnt really change my mindset on the playoffs are going to be a real tough thing to make, But I guess I will try to stay with a positive mindset for Christmas.

Happy Holidays Kent, Hope your getting a good break!

Merry Christmas to everyone involved with FlamesNation, especially to the people involved with OT, Pat and everyone behind the scenes, Have a good one and a Happy new year!

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#27 B
December 24 2010, 03:27AM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

I love watching Tanguay play. Good lord. Especially when he actually decides to attack the net on occasion.

I also think Kotalik earned his paycheque this game. He was reasonable defensively, and he and Hagman did really well offensively from what I saw.

...both his 3rd period and SO goals were beautiful things to watch go down.

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#28 icedawg_42
December 24 2010, 07:08AM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

I love watching Tanguay play. Good lord. Especially when he actually decides to attack the net on occasion.

I also think Kotalik earned his paycheque this game. He was reasonable defensively, and he and Hagman did really well offensively from what I saw.

Couldn't agree more! Boy Keenan did a number on Tangs, glad he's back in form. Good for him, he really is very talented individually and he's a guy who makes those around him better. I for one am going to take this game for what it was - a win...a rare and wondorful win. Im glad the players can spend Christmas on a high(er) note! On that note, Merry Christmas to all my fellow loyal (albeit aggravated) Flames fanatics on this board - and thanks for many a spirited conversation!

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#29 Gange
December 24 2010, 08:25AM
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As someone said earlier, this is bitter-sweet.

I like to see a solid effort and a win. Always like to see them win. However in the back of my head I keep thinking "please don't win too much this year! We need a high draft pick to come back stronger next year!"

I didn't see the game but I'll take Pat's word that Kotalik had a good game. He's capable of doing that if he sorts out what's between his ears. All in all it's not a contract that I'll be sad to see expire though.

And from one of my favourite television shows:

"Happy Holidays is what the terrorists say. Merry Christmas!"

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#30 Scott
December 24 2010, 10:18AM
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I'll begin with restating that I think the flames should go for a high draft pick,

but given the history of the flames, that draft pick, no matter how good he plays, will play atleast a year in the minors if not two. Which means if they sacrifice this season, the flames will reap the rewards starting two-three years from now.

That is until management changes, and the mandatory obligation that every player excel at defense ends, this pattern will continue.

It was nice to see a win, but I'll admit, when they went down 2-1 I changed the channel, I figured Dallas would put two or three up in a row and didn't want to watch.

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#31 dotfras
December 24 2010, 01:17PM
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@ B - Never said he didn't have a good game! Liked what he was doing in the offensive zone.....HOWEVER:

He still sucks & all his shots were hitting the Star in the middle of Lehtonen's chest.

He would excel in the AHL. They should send him down there to give the Heat an offensive boost.

Hopefully after the roster freeze the Flames can find a way to start stocking up the youth cupboard.

I heard Bergfors wasn't fitting into Atlanta's plan, maybe there is something we can throw their way to grab him.

@ Scott - Was literally shocked when Tanguay buried one with a minute left. It was such a broken play too haha.

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#32 JAY
December 26 2010, 12:11PM
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one thing i will never understand is Daryls obsession with 'reclamation' projects. obviously by our past record with them... they don't work.

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