Postgame: Good Start

Pat Steinberg
October 26 2011 11:23PM

The Calgary Flames played one of, if not their best, first period of the season and carried over some good things into the second period, and it was enough to take a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.  While their final frame wasn't the picture of perfection, they staved off a chasing opponent and closed out their third win of the season.  With two games to go on a six game homestand, it was a big win for the Flames.

What Happened

It was the Flames controlling the opening stages of the first period, running up the shot count and getting some early scoring opportunities, both even strength on the powerplay.  However, after taking a penalty of their own, the impressive Colorado powerplay went to work and clicked at 10:50 with Kyle Quincey potting his second off the rebound.  But a good response from Calgary helped tie the game just under three minutes later, thanks to a great second and third effort from Roman Horak who scored his first NHL goal on his behind at 13:48.  The Flames ran the scoring chance count in the first, with a 7-3 edge at even strength.

Calgary took their first lead of the game early in the first period, with Lee Stempniak scoring his first as a Flame batting a loose puck out of the air on a bit of a broken play at 3:48.  It was a second straight strong game for Stempniak, who was Saturday's Red Warrior against Nashville.  The Flames went on the powerplay midway through the second, and cashed in with Rene Bourque batting another puck out of the air for his fourth of the season.  It was a decent middle frame, but the Avs seemed to start tilting things towards the latter stages.

That tilting was fully realized in the third, as the Avs put 20 shots of their own on net and went on a 10-1 even strength scoring chance run, only to be thwarted by Miikka Kiprusoff on nine of those opportunities.  The one Kipper didn't stop was a large rebound for Ryan Wilson (who only scores against the Flames it seems), who scored his first of the season from the left circle at 15:29.  With the net empty, Rene Bourque would seal it with his second of the night after being tripped with an empty net as the Flames took a 4-2 win.

One Good Reason...

...why the Flames won?  Because they ran the show for the majority of this game.  While they hung on in the final 20 minutes or so, Calgary was pretty good in the opening two frames, primarily the first period.  They limited shots and didn't allow much of anything of note until the Avs cranked it up in the third.  All in all, a better effort for the home side with some things to build on for Friday's game against St. Louis.

Red Warrior

That jerk Vintage Flame forced my hand on this one putting out a Twitter vote, but I think I probably would have to agree with the masses...Roman Horak.  On for eight of Calgary's 14 even strength scoring chances, Horak saw 16:29 of ice time and scored for the first time in this league.  He's a smart player and hasn't looked overmatched once in his short NHL career.

Sum It Up

Not perfect by any stretch, and the third period wasn't a pretty one whilst protecting the lead, but the Flames did an effective job in gaining a two goal lead and deserved the win.  Let's not forget, they were the much better team while the game was tied or within one, and the Avs do have some offensive punch which they showed at times in this one.  We knew they were going to push back and they did, so I'm not overly worried about the third period for Calgary, even if it wasn't exactly what they wanted.

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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 FireOnIce
October 26 2011, 11:30PM
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How did Bourque get credited with the ENG? He clearly hit the side of the net and Jokinen jammed it in.

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#2 Colin
October 26 2011, 11:33PM
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Just an observation from after the game, Kostopolous and Jackman were the only minus players after the game, surprise, surprise.

I thought at the start of the season Horak should probably start the year in the AHL to get better minutes more playing time, but he is clearly ready for the NHL and seemed to be a really good fit centering the third line.

The coach obviously still doesn't trust Babchuk AT ALL, less than 10 minutes of total Ice Time through the game, yeah 7 defenders were played, but that was still 3 minutes less than Smith and Babchuk had 2min of PP to Smiths 8 Seconds. Babchuk is on waivers or traded for like a 5th rounder by the end of November, book it. And its to bad to, Babchuks shot from the point actually looks good on our PP.

Also if Hagman is EVER sat again, Sutter should be fired. Unless Hagman really craps the bed, he has done more than enough since the start of the season to be a regular, still have no idea why he was out last game. Still the Flames best +/- player and he doesn't get a lot of PP time, 8 seconds to be exact.

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#3 Colin
October 26 2011, 11:35PM
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FireOnIce wrote:

How did Bourque get credited with the ENG? He clearly hit the side of the net and Jokinen jammed it in.

It was an Automatic goal because it was an empty net and the defender took a penalty on Bourque to prevent the breakaway goal, no different if someone throws a stick or something on a break away, its counted as a goal. But theres no reason to do it, you never know when the puck hits a rut or the guy coasts it out and pulls a Patrick Stephen.

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#4 Vintage Flame
October 26 2011, 11:38PM
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Thanks P-Stein!

I want to see more of Horak in different situations. He looked okay on a shift with Iggy and Tangs.. Hell got his goal.

I'd be interested to see what he could do once he developed familiarity on the line. He looked solid in the pre-season with Tanguay.

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#5 funkyjaman
October 26 2011, 11:40PM
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@FireOnIce

Because Bork was in the clear and was triped up with an empty net, it's considered a goal.

Great game by Horak!

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#6 stallsky
October 27 2011, 03:49AM
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Thought the team looked good for most of the first and second. Sat back to much in the third. Was dressing 7 d an open invitation to competition on the blue line. I watched the game and felt Gio was our best D and Kipper played the Angles and crease effectively in shutting down second chances for the Avalanche, especially in the final 5min. Loved the final segment on O.T. with the call in. Keep up the good work and Go Flames

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#7 the-wolf
October 27 2011, 06:07AM
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I think I've just discovered the secret to the Flames' success: rest!

Take a look at their schedule, the team had at least 2 days off (3 before COL) before every win this season.

Maybe the NHL can mofidy the schedule so that Calgary doesn't play more than 5 games ervy 2 weeks.

I wonder how much of this can be attributed to age?

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#8 CitizenFlame
October 27 2011, 06:46AM
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@the-wolf

Way to keep the negative connotation going. Can't enjoy the win for 5 minutes?But what you say is true, it definitely can be attributed to age. However, Sutter used optional skates for the team last year to pretty good effect. He's applying something that he learned from last year a little earlier this year.

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#9 ChinookArch
October 27 2011, 06:57AM
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@the-wolf

"Take a look at their schedule, the team had at least 2 days off (3 before COL) before every win this season."

Ya know, I'm not 20 something anymore and it takes me 2 days to recover after a bender too.

@ CitizenFlame

We all know the-Wolf is a Negative Nelli, but I'm pretty sure he was being sarcastic.

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#10 ChinookArch
October 27 2011, 07:01AM
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@ Vintage Flame

Nice work on the Red Warrior poll, too bad I missed it. FN is watching you Steinberg, there will be no more Red Warrior debacles from you this season!

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#11 Jarom
October 27 2011, 08:09AM
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Maybe it's just because we're use to seeing it, but Mikka was pretty damn good last night, especially in the third. IMO he should have taken the Red Warrior honours for the game.

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#12 xis10ce
October 27 2011, 08:32AM
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I liked what I saw last night, 3rd period aside. With a healthy Glencross and Backlund in the line up I feel the team has the potential to do something marginally notable (ie: make the playoffs). That will unfortunately keep us a middle of the pack team which will limit our drafting potential and ability to rebuild, but we've seen that for half a decade now, so basically the Statues-Quo as far as the Flames are concerned. It all comes down to in the end how Feaster approaches all those aging players with contracts dropping of the books this summer. Time will tell my friend.

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#13 icedawg_42
October 27 2011, 09:05AM
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Yeah - ya gotta give the red warrior to the kid who scores his first NHL goal, and couples that with a multi-point night. Good for him. Still nervous as hell in interviews though. Borkie could have been a good runner up last night too for that honor. Maybe Borkie should be exempted from practices. I get the feeling if that guy only had to be on the ice twice a week, he'd be hell on wheels. ANywhooo...Like I just tweeted to mr Vintage, the flames need to completely abandon the idea that they can shut anyone down and hold a lead. They just arent good enough to OUTPLAY anyone..they need to OUTCOMPETE if they want success.

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#14 icedawg_42
October 27 2011, 09:11AM
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xis10ce wrote:

I liked what I saw last night, 3rd period aside. With a healthy Glencross and Backlund in the line up I feel the team has the potential to do something marginally notable (ie: make the playoffs). That will unfortunately keep us a middle of the pack team which will limit our drafting potential and ability to rebuild, but we've seen that for half a decade now, so basically the Statues-Quo as far as the Flames are concerned. It all comes down to in the end how Feaster approaches all those aging players with contracts dropping of the books this summer. Time will tell my friend.

"STATUES-Quo" - was that a typo or were you referring to the Flames powerplay? lol

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#15 icedawg_42
October 27 2011, 09:23AM
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Colin wrote:

Just an observation from after the game, Kostopolous and Jackman were the only minus players after the game, surprise, surprise.

I thought at the start of the season Horak should probably start the year in the AHL to get better minutes more playing time, but he is clearly ready for the NHL and seemed to be a really good fit centering the third line.

The coach obviously still doesn't trust Babchuk AT ALL, less than 10 minutes of total Ice Time through the game, yeah 7 defenders were played, but that was still 3 minutes less than Smith and Babchuk had 2min of PP to Smiths 8 Seconds. Babchuk is on waivers or traded for like a 5th rounder by the end of November, book it. And its to bad to, Babchuks shot from the point actually looks good on our PP.

Also if Hagman is EVER sat again, Sutter should be fired. Unless Hagman really craps the bed, he has done more than enough since the start of the season to be a regular, still have no idea why he was out last game. Still the Flames best +/- player and he doesn't get a lot of PP time, 8 seconds to be exact.

I asked Kent about Kosto/Jacks during the second period - they were getting a lot of defensive zone starts and they were clearly under water, but thats probably a big part of the reason. As far as Babchuck goes, my take is that he was used correctly by the coach last night. He is a PP specialist because of his shot and he should not be used at even strenghth if at all avoidable. Coach did right - GM did wrong by paying him as much as he did. Contract issue, not a coaching issue. I also agree with you about Hags. At this point Hags should never be sat if Stajan is on the ice..even though they play different positions.

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#16 xis10ce
October 27 2011, 09:26AM
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@icedawg_42

So painfully true, but it was nice to see that Babchuk got effectively used on the PP for what he is essentially paid 2.5mil to do.

More shots from him on the point coupled with good puck cycling and (per yesterdays live chat discussion) traffic in front of the net and we might start to see a significant improvement in PP%'s.

Those special teams have a significant bearing on the game and can easily win or lose us a game.

Edit: On a side note, due to lack of data early in the season, yesterdays PPG moves us up huge to 11th in the NHL on the PP, lol.

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#17 Colin
October 27 2011, 09:41AM
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The Problem with Babchuk is that we are not always gonna play with 7 Dmen, you have to rotate guys out, and Babchuk shows that if you play him right he can be very effective, he wasn't a minus on the night, he was effective on the PP and is still overpaid.

When Glenncross and Backlund are healthy there is no way we play 7 defenders, so Sutter has to figure it out a lot faster and find a way to use 6 D and get Babchuk in the lineup. If not like I said, Waivers or a Trade by the end of November

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#18 Bandit
October 27 2011, 09:52AM
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Can we please start the rebuild already?

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#19 ForeverRed
October 27 2011, 10:34AM
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Wishful thinking on my part but Babchuk for Turris. Especially now that Turris has officially asked for a trade.

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#20 Kevin R
October 27 2011, 10:52AM
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Colin wrote:

The Problem with Babchuk is that we are not always gonna play with 7 Dmen, you have to rotate guys out, and Babchuk shows that if you play him right he can be very effective, he wasn't a minus on the night, he was effective on the PP and is still overpaid.

When Glenncross and Backlund are healthy there is no way we play 7 defenders, so Sutter has to figure it out a lot faster and find a way to use 6 D and get Babchuk in the lineup. If not like I said, Waivers or a Trade by the end of November

Agree, cant see using 7 dmen too often. I wonder if Babchuk was converted to a winger & played 4th line minutes & pp might be a solution. Loved Horak on a line with Iggy & Tangs. Those two need a young kid playing with them & Horak or Backlund when he gets back is a no brainer. But, now if Babchuk plays 4th line because of his power play shot, a skill that is of true value, we have some numbers issues when Backlund does get back. I see potentially 6-7 mill healthy scratches in the pressbox every night. My jeese, thats a Weber or Parise. Stajan scratched. Wow, 4.5 mill we're paying that guy this year & he's a scratch. Who cares about the return, move him somewhere, package him & a 2013 3rd to Phoenix for Turris, but Feaster needs to move this guy. Someone out there must need help at Centre.

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#21 Luc
October 27 2011, 10:54AM
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ForeverRed wrote:

Wishful thinking on my part but Babchuk for Turris. Especially now that Turris has officially asked for a trade.

god i hope feaster doesnt overpay for that kid if thats his plan. babchuk for him i would like tho. as long as his contract is less then 2mill

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#22 RKD
October 27 2011, 11:31AM
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Nice way for Kipper to celebrate his 35th birthday with a win. What a goal by Roman Horak, he's got good hands. Nice to see Stempniak score his first and Bourque get going again.

Still a long way to go. Matt Stajan a healthy scratch, not a good sign. We should be watching the benefits of his Gary Roberts workout progam. Instead, it's more of the same. Paul Bryon should replace Stajan.

I would take Turris is the price isn't steep. It would be nice to see more youth mixed in with Horak, Bryon, etc. playing more often.

If you trade Babchuck, maybe you start playing Brodie.

When Backlund comes back, does that still keep the Flames as the second oldest team?

Horak's nickname: Hordak, an homage to He-Man.

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#23 CitizenFlame
October 27 2011, 11:53AM
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@RKD

"Horak's nickname: Hordak, an homage to He-Man."

My daughter loves She-Ra on RetroTune, everytime I hear Horak I think Hordak! LOL.

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#24 Bean-counting cowboy
October 27 2011, 12:05PM
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Nice to get the win. Nice to catch a break. Flames can win these type of games when Kipper is hot, but I see troubles ahead if they can't get the chance count down in the third period when leading.

Kipper's not going to be that good every night & Karlsson is untested to whether he can handle that type of onslaught to this point.

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#25 kbignell
October 27 2011, 07:33PM
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The thing the flames did right was not giving babchuk much ice time. especially in the third. babchuk has an awesome shot from the blue line, but his speed on his defensive game and getting back in his own zone is what concerns me. Cory sarich does have much speed left in him but he plays his position with grit and a good shutdown guy. Last night the flames showed that they didn't even need the services of Matt Stajan to fill in for glencross, it is pretty bad when the flames rather run three centres with four lines. Matt Stajan cant be a healthy scratch at his cap hit, throw him on waivers and down to the minors even try doing the reverse waivers. you never know who is desperate out there.

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#26 everton fc
October 27 2011, 08:43PM
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Just heard the live post-game interview from ice-side w/Horak. Seems like a fun-loving, decent kid. Like Backlund.

Also just read the article about Stempniak rooming with Horak, being a mentor. Good stuff. I'm thinking this pairing could surprise us... Quite a productive third line in the making.

Gives me a ray of hope. And I've been one of the negative ones here. Go Flames!!

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#27 Kevin R
October 27 2011, 10:50PM
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@everton fc

Sure is nice to see & I really really am looking forward to Backlund's youth getting into this lineup. And now I have a confession. The Oilers beat Washington tonight, OMG, it's all because I made fun of a guy who picked Dubynick in our hockey pool about him getting 1/2 of the 20 Oiler wins this year. So he bet me that the Oil will beat the Flames in the standings this year. Naturally I jumped all over that one :( :(. Geez, I think they're planning the parade at City council now.

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