Back in the Saddle

Kent Wilson
March 10 2010 09:26AM

 

With the win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Flames managed to leapfrog the former NHL juggernaut into 8th place in the Western Conference. The victory was Calgary's third straight, much of that owing to a sudden offensive outburst (14 goals in 3 games) the likes of which this club hasn't seen since October. Granted, a couple of those were empty-netters, but you have to be ahead at the end of the game to get those chances, so...huzzah!

The Flames were actually outplayed through the first half of the game last night, generating very little in the way of shots or chances through the first 30+ minutes. The Red Wings mostly controlled the play, especially whenever Datsyuk was on the ice. That and a couple of power plays had them ahead by a goal after two periods and seemingly in the drivers seat heading into the third.

Calgary took control in the final frame, however, out-shooting the Wings 15-4 and outscoring them 3-0. The reversal was driven by the new-look "first line" of Iginla, Bourque and Stajan, a trio that scored on back-to-back dominating shifts 1:31 apart. The addition of Bourque to the top line has sparked the recent offensive fucundity, with he and Jarome tallying 12 points combined in the last two contests. They mostly faced off against Datsyuk, Franzen and Holmstrom, although Brent was very cognizent of getting them out against lesser lights in order to avoid hard match-ups against the Red Wings best players. Bourque's GWG, for example, was a shift "out of rotation" for the first unit, which caught the Red Wings in the middle of change. That's why you see Darren Helm's number in the game summary beside that event instead of Pavel Datsyuk.

While not quite as impressive or dramatic, last night's come from behind win was somewhat reminiscent of the Flames 6-5 S/O victory over Detroit (in Detroit) last season - for my money, Calgary's best game of 2008-09. The Flames dominated the final period in that game too and were only robbed of a regulation win by a last second goal-mouth scramble marker. Of course, Detroit was a better team last year, but the stakes weren't quite as high for either club at the time either.

With the 'W', Calgary improved their chances to make the post-season to a coin flip, which is a drastic improvement from just one week ago. They could put further distance between themselves and the Wings if they can beat them again this coming Monday.

And finally, special congrats to Chris Higgins, who broke a long scoring drought by potting the empty-netter. Higgins has been full value since the Flames acquired him, so it was good to see him finally rewarded with a goal.

Flames Lines

Bourque-Stajan-Iginla

Higgins-Langow-Kotalik

Hagman-Conroy-Moss

Glencross-Nystrom-Mayers

Defence Pairings

Staios-Bouwmeester

White-Regehr

Sarich-Giordano

Fight Card

Twas a tussle free evening

The Big Save

Just 12 seconds into the third, Miikka Kiprusoff stopped Holmstrom point blank to keep the deficit at just one.

 

The Big Hit

Mark Giordano roughly introduced ex-Flame (and my favorite punching bag) Todd Bertuzzi to the boards.

What it means

Flames are one point ahead of Detroit for 8th in the West and 2 points behind the Predators for 7th

What's Next

Flames face the resurgent Ottawa Senators at home Thursday night.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 rod blogojevich
March 10 2010, 09:31AM
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I'm getting impatient with Kotalik on the 2nd line. They should slide Hagman in there and play Kotalik on the 4th line. Glencross moves up. Also why the fudge hasn't Kotalik been playing the point on the PP

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#2 RossCreekNation
March 10 2010, 09:39AM
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So... you're saying that playing Rene Bourque and Jarome Iginla together can actually work. Boy, why didn't I think of that~

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#3 R O
March 10 2010, 10:18AM
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I am not one to put too much on the making-playoff odds this far out since a game win here or there dramatically shifts the odds. Too much volatility.

That said, the fact that they swing so much really speaks to how fine a line the Flames are walking right now.

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#4 dickshilling
March 10 2010, 10:43AM
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Man, when I see the Flames lose a game it gets me infuriated, but I thought that was because for the last five years my hopes have been up and down so much. But take a look at what went down on KK's liveblog thread last night, especially on this page. The conversation went down once Higgins sniped his first. http://www.kuklaskorner.com/index.php/a2y/comments/its_a_live_blog_almost_kk_style/P450/ Wings fans sound a lot like Flames fans. Comments like "they didn't want it enough", and "this team ain't changing" remind me of that especially. Personally, this really inspires some hope that the Flames will make the playoffs after all. If Detroit fans have no confidence in their team, why should I be afraid of them?

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#5 dotfras
March 10 2010, 10:53AM
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Was at the game last night, drove down from Toronto-DEFINITELY worth the 3.5 hours each way. Really liked what I saw from alot of the Flames. Sarich didn't take any stupid penalties, a couple bad plays from Conroy but as soon as I'd see one, the next shift he'd come out and make a good play, Kipper played great, Flames looked good keeping the puck deep, their last two goals came from continuous pressure in the Offensive zone, they were both kind of garbage goals, but that's what this team needs. I noticed that on shifts when they were trying to be pretty, nothing was happening, but when they got back to playing the body, puck control and forcing the puck to the net, stuff started happening. Was a defensive battle throughout, awesome game to be at, really happy with the W!

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#6 Domebeers.com
March 10 2010, 10:57AM
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Is that graph real? Megastats?

Haggard was dope. I was the youngest cat in there.

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#8 dickshilling
March 10 2010, 11:06AM
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There was a stat last night that showed how the Wings had finished in the standings since 1990-91. They finished sixth that season, and have been no lower than fourth since. Insanity.

Anybody notice that Sportnet's camera yesterday was off-center?

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#9 Robert Cleave
March 10 2010, 11:13AM
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Kent, when I think of Red Wings fans, I'm always reminded of the line Dan Jenkins used to describe Notre Dame football fans:

"Arrogant in victory, malicious in defeat."

It's just their turn to suffer, and some of their younger fans thought it would never happen. Oh, well.

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#11 Rob in Toronto
March 11 2010, 12:17PM
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Thanks for the link to that "Playoff Chances" site Kent. Really interesting stuff. I was happy to see that the Flames still have a 1% chance of finishing 5th in the Western Conference. Who doesn't like those kinds of odds?

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