Better...But Not Good Enough

Kent Wilson
April 05 2010 08:48AM

IL: Anaheim Ducks v Chicago Blackhawks

 

The Flames season of irony continued yesterday. Calgary as a team played their best game in recent memory...and, of course, ended up losing by a wide margin. Some of that is a credit to the team they were playing, but really, it's just par for the course for this club in 2009-10.

Through two periods, the Flames basically played the 'Hawks to a draw at even strength (aside from the the scoreboard). Shots and scoring chances by both teams were side-by-side, with the Flames second and third lines again looking the most competent up front. Unfortunately, by the 15 minute mark of the middle frame, the Blackhawks were already up by three owing to their superior finishing ability. While Ian White would score on a nifty individual effort not long after that to make things interesting, the truth is the outcome was never in doubt after that point. The Flames may be able to pull off comebacks in Detroit, but Chicago has become the Place Where Hope Dies for Calgary over the last two seasons.

Chicago sat back in the third and the Flames actually pressed pretty hard to be get back into the contest. They would end up outshooting the Hawks 11-8 and outchancing them 8-3, but to no avail. Dustin Byfuglien would be the only goal scorer of the frame. Interestingly, Brent Sutter moved Rene Bourque up to play with Nik Hagman and Matt Stajan to play in Iginla's stead when the game was still somewhat within reach. The reason being - and advanced stats bear this out - is that Bourque was having an excellent of an afternoon (while Iginla, predictably at this point, continued to struggle). No Flames player was on the ice for more defensive zone draws yesterday (9) or had a bigger zone start differential (-6) than Bourque and yet he finished in the black in terms of possession (+6 corsi) and scoring chances (+2). That's a very good body of work against a team as strong as Chicago. It didn't turn the tide in the contest, but was a bright spot nonetheless.

Three Stars

1.) Antti Niemi - Finish rookie was solid all game and was the primary difference maker for the Hawks. 

2.) Patrick Kane - Led Chicago with two points, including his unstoppable snap shot to the top corner.

3.) Rene Bourque - ended up -1 with just one shot, but was probably the Flames best overall forward, constantly driving the puck forward and winning board battles.

The Big Save

With the Flames pressing in the third period, Niemi made an impressive shoulder save on a Matt Stajan deflection to preserve the 2 goal cushion.

 

 

 

 

 

 What it Means

With the Flames loss combined with the Avalanche victory over the Sharks, Calgary falls two back of the Avs with just three games remaining. That means even if the Flames goes 3-0 to end the season (95 points), Colorado can still make the dance by going 2-0-2 or 1-3-0. Hopes for a playoff birth aren't completely dead, but they're now dimmer than ever.

What's Next

The Flames face the increasingly medicore Sharks at the Dome on Tuesday 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 CitizenFlame
April 05 2010, 09:48AM
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I know that Chicago is a better team than Calgary, but I just can't comprehend the utter domination that Chicago has over the Flames? It's all mental. Chicago has crappy goaltending and a injury-riddled defence corps. I thought the Flames outplayed the Blackhawks for most of the game but Niemi was more than solid. Calgary really needs some players to break out of their slumps over these last 3 games if they want to have any hope. Iginla is gripping his stick, he had a glorious chance in the first but couldn't cash in. Scoring has been the achilles heel all season. Regehr looked pedestrian, especially on Chicago's second goal where he got beat in the corner and out hussled to the front of the net. Flames HAVE to run the table now and get on their knees and pray.

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#2 liefmeyer
April 05 2010, 10:11AM
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"The Flames face the increasingly medicore Sharks at the Dome on Tuesday night."

hahaha. A nice bitter comment from a bitter Flames blogger. See you in the playoffs.....oh wait a minute.

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#4 Bob Cob
April 05 2010, 02:44PM
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Lets go Sharks!!!! The one time I will gladly cheer for Dany Heatley.

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#5 SmellOfVictory
April 05 2010, 09:21PM
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CitizenFlame wrote:

I know that Chicago is a better team than Calgary, but I just can't comprehend the utter domination that Chicago has over the Flames? It's all mental. Chicago has crappy goaltending and a injury-riddled defence corps. I thought the Flames outplayed the Blackhawks for most of the game but Niemi was more than solid. Calgary really needs some players to break out of their slumps over these last 3 games if they want to have any hope. Iginla is gripping his stick, he had a glorious chance in the first but couldn't cash in. Scoring has been the achilles heel all season. Regehr looked pedestrian, especially on Chicago's second goal where he got beat in the corner and out hussled to the front of the net. Flames HAVE to run the table now and get on their knees and pray.

While I'm not disagreeing that some of that domination is probably mental, calling their D-corps "injury-riddled" is pretty strong wording, and Niemi is actually a good goaltender so now that he's taken over the starting position from Huet their goaltending is pretty solid.

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#6 OUTRIDER
April 06 2010, 12:02AM
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The Flames do not have the offensive talent needed to go anywhere except the golf course. Any team can crash the net, look for loose pucks and hope one exposes itself when there's a mesh cave sitting vacant.

Rarely are there goals off the rush. Rarely do we see multiple passing plays and breakouts leading to goals or even point blank in the slot and well the Flames must not have paid their power bill because their powerplay is powerless.

Flames fans called for changes back in January with the hope that there would be a post season party. Instead fans were slapped in the face and forced to ride the bandwagon for 2 months trying not to fall off when most knew it was eventually going to crash.

What a shame.

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