Postgame: Not Much There

Nation World HQ
January 24 2012 10:06PM

When you're generating as little offensively as the Calgary Flames have of late, there are going to be nights where allowing even one goal is going to be too much.  Such was the case Tuesday night, as the Flames fell to the San Jose Sharks 1-0 in their final game prior to the All Star break.  While they continue to do a good job limiting the opposition, they're just not generating enough to put up wins at a sustainable pace.

What Happened

I liked Calgary's start to this one, racking up a 6-1 edge in scoring chances before the Sharks decided to start skating again.  Lee Stempniak likely had the best chance for Calgary in the first, on a wrap-around opportunity from Lee Stempniak while a Sharks flurry in front late in the frame had the puck glance off the post.

The second period was far less even, with the Pacific Division leaders taking things over withan 11-3 shot edge, four of those counting as chanecs.  The ice was severely tilted in San Jose's favor, with the Flames having a difficult time generating much of anything.  A couple of Miikka Kiprusoff stops kept things scoreless though heading to the third.

After a couple of good chances to start the final frame, the game remained scoreless and settled into a groove once again.  The deadlock was finally broken at 11:35, with Benn Ferriero putting home a puck that was stopped nicely on two occasiosn prior by Kiprusoff.  Logan Couture did a nice job pushing the puck to a spot where Ferriero could finish the play off.  From there, the Flames racked up a couple of quality chances in chase mode, but Antti Niemi did his job shutting the door en route to a 25 save shutout.

One Good Reason...

...why the Flames lost?  They didn't generate enough offensively.  As Kent said in the scoring chances thread, it can become a dangerous game when trying to limit things at one end and not doing much at the other.  Good teams like the Sharks have the ability to battle through that, and despite a pair of posts prior, they were finally able to break through.  Calgary has picked up some points while playing similar hockey as of late, so they were bound to come up empty at some point.

Red Warrior

No one on the top two lines, that's for sure.  I'll go with Blair Jones, as I thought he centered Calgary's most effective line at even strength with Alex Tanguay and Tom Kostopoulos on his flank.  The top six forwards really struggled tonight, generating just three shots between them, and getting a ton put up on them at the other side.  When playing forwards like Couture, Thornton, Pavelski, and Marleau on the other side, games like that are going to have negative dividends.

Sum It Up

The team wasn't overly thrilled with their effort overall, point specifically at the second period.  The thing is, even though the middle frame wasn't great, they were still scoreless heading to the final 20, so I don't see that being a huge thing.  However, wanting to head into the All Star break on a high, the team certainly wanted to push a little harder than they did here.  Now a week between games, as the Flames get set for the Red Wings next Tuesday night.

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#1 Sobueno
January 24 2012, 10:24PM
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Meh, not surprised with this one. Last game before the break and a lacklustre effort from both sides. San Jose has a higher volume of talent, and thus came out on top.

Just wondering Pat, how far out of 8th spot do you think they'll have to be in order for Feaster to be a significant seller at the deadline?

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#2 RexLibris
January 24 2012, 10:50PM
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Sobueno wrote:

Meh, not surprised with this one. Last game before the break and a lacklustre effort from both sides. San Jose has a higher volume of talent, and thus came out on top.

Just wondering Pat, how far out of 8th spot do you think they'll have to be in order for Feaster to be a significant seller at the deadline?

I don't mean to pry, but my guess is that if the Flames were any further back than perhaps 10 or 12 points by Feb 27th, I'd say Feaster would be almost duty-bound to sell off some UFAs. Hanging on to Jokinen and Stempniak (assets that could net at least a 2nd or 3rd round pick) only to risk losing them for nothing at the end of the season would be a pretty reckless move, given the team's stated desire to accumulate some more youth in the system. In Jokinen's case, Feaster may not trade him and announce a re-signing after the season ends. Stempniak, Hannan, and Sarich, however, are another matter entirely.

Sorry, I didn't mean to butt in there, just thought I'd throw in my two cents.

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#3 schevvy
January 24 2012, 10:52PM
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It's not like the Flames played bad, hell, they stayed with an elite team, which is a positive thing. However, the Flames need to find a way to start scoring some goals onteams not named Edmonton. Yes, the goal was a direct result of a terrible Kipper rebound, however, when your goalie only gives up one goal, you should win the game. I don't know what it will take to score more goals, a new system, more defence involved in the offensive zone? Hopefully the week off will give the players more energy and enlighten them on what it takes to score goals.

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#4 Derzie
January 24 2012, 10:53PM
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Sutter hockey. Be responsible and pray for goals. Prayers not answered lately except in lowly Oil country.

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#5 the forgotten man
January 24 2012, 10:58PM
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Pat, Do you get any feeling if the Players are happy with the "System"? This squad will never be mistaken for the mid-80s Oilers, but being Professional Hockey Players, do you think they get bored with the stifling lack of offensive creativity and push the Team exhibits more often than not?

Just curious - your thoughts?

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#6 jeremywilhelm
January 24 2012, 11:28PM
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I sure hope the players aren't upset with a game like tonight. Tonight was probably the best this team has looked in a while, no goals not withstanding. They look structured and effective. Sometimes a goalie just pulls one out of his ass. Kipper does it all the time.

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#7 ChinookArch
January 25 2012, 07:07AM
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@RexLibris

"I don't mean to pry, but my guess is that if the Flames were any further back than perhaps 10 or 12 points by Feb 27th, I'd say Feaster would be almost duty-bound to sell off some UFAs. Hanging on to Jokinen and Stempniak (assets that could net at least a 2nd or 3rd round pick) only to risk losing them for nothing at the end of the season would be a pretty reckless move, given the team's stated desire to accumulate some more youth in the system."

I agree and HOPE you're right, this team can't afford to let any of the UFA's go for nothing. As for who comes back from the UFA's, I think it will be Moss and maybe Hannan. Moss because with his injury will not likely be trade-able at the deadline and Hannon, because we don't have enough quality depth at defense, barring a big end of year push from Carson. The rest of the UFA's may have some trade value at the deadline, or before.

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#8 kitttensandcookies
January 25 2012, 10:46AM
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I'd be shocked if this team was 10-12 points back of 8th by then. They should finish at most six points back, most likely four points back of the final playoff spot.

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#9 the-wolf
January 25 2012, 11:12AM
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Flames will lose momentum over the All-Star break while other teams kick up their own game (something Calgary has already done).

I expect February to break this team.

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#10 Kevin R
January 25 2012, 11:52AM
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the-wolf wrote:

Flames will lose momentum over the All-Star break while other teams kick up their own game (something Calgary has already done).

I expect February to break this team.

Looking at there schedule, I tend to agree. I see them coming out flat against Detroit & lose like 3-2. See them beat Chicago then lose to anaheim in O/T, lose to San Jose by 1 & get beat by Phoenix 3-1 or something like that on the B2B. We get home to play Vanc & we usually suck the 1st game after a road trip. 3 points out of a possible 12 & then what? I really hope Feaster doesnt go & make any trades to just try & make it. Any trade has to have longterm written all over it. Absolutely no rental shopping. When I look at schedules and gulp this team has suprised me and overachieved & won games I didnt expect. But as we saw last year, come Feb/Mar the stakes are higher for everyone & far fewer off nights. Interesting stat of the same record as we were last year. Dejavu, Ground Hog Day, same ole same ole, call it what you want but what is it with these guys?

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#11 Sobueno
January 25 2012, 07:19PM
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@RexLibris

Hey no problemo Rex, I suppose I could have just as easily made that a general question. So thanks for the feedback!

I agree with Kitten in that I'd also be surprised if they were that far back. Worse case scenario seems to be they miss the dance by 2-4 points. No playoffs (and thus even a miniscule chance of winning anything), and no justification for the Feast to attempt a maximum return on the departing UFA's. Therefore we get stuck in that depressing no-mans land with no post season and minimal team improvements. And history shows free agency breeds outrageous contracts.

At the very least we need to attempt a return on some of the UFA's we don't plan on resigning, regardless of playoff hopes. Here's for hoping the end of this season isn't a total write-off one way or the other!

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#12 RexLibris
January 25 2012, 09:39PM
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@ Sobueno, kittens, KevinR, and Chinook:

I should probably clarify that I don't expect the Flames to be 12 points back, but rather I was trying to estimate the line in the sand for this team's management when it comes to buying or selling.

I agree with Sobueno's point about free agency being, to paraphrase Burke (and lord how it pains me to quote him), a season of madness. Looking at Brad Richards' numbers this year, ask yourself or any Flames fan if that would have been $8 or whatever million dollars well spent over each of the next however-many years. Something I have mentioned over at ON in terms of what the Oilers do this summer is in possible pursuit of Ryan Suter. I wouldn't offer him any more than $5 million a year. I might offer up a six-year term, but by all means, the Oilers have to avoid signing their very own "Brian Campbell" contract in a fit of anxiety. Slow, steady, everything in it's place and balance above all. Those are the terms I think every GM should repeat to themselves on free agency's eve.

Kevin R, I understand surveying the schedule ahead and trying to come up with a potential win-loss record, but I wouldn't get too far ahead. As much as I agree that this team appears to be headed for the Bill Murray movie reference, they have also proven one thing the past few seasons: they are consistently inconsistent.

If anyone is a fan of the direction of selling off expiring assets and rejuvenating this team (I'm not saying rebuild, that's a can of worms I'm steering clear of) then they should cheer for every opposing team the Flames play this February.

If not, then cheer like heck for the C and pray to whatever deity gives you the best return on investment that Feaster doesn't do anything to upset the boat.

Until I start reading regular posts in the comments here about draft-eligible prospects though, I'm going to assume that the majority of the FN fanbase is in the "balls-to-the-wall" category.

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#13 Sobueno
January 26 2012, 11:30AM
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@RexLibris

I figured that was just your estimation of what it would take for Feaster to actually admit the playoffs are a lost cause, rather than what your expectations are for the Flames. And I think it is definitely a fair estimate, so long as they are in spitting distance of 8th management is going to continue bulling forward. So a 10 point gap seems large enough to realize the probability of closing is pretty small.

Personally I'm torn as to whether I would prefer the team to drive off a cliff next month to catalyze some more significant change, or for them to surprise the majority of us and make the playoffs (even though all signs thus far point to Van, Chi, or the other heavy hitters laying a beat down on them in the first round). Again, I feel the worst possible outcome is continued mediocrity - playing to a level that gets them no change and no postseason.

I also don't think the total and complete scorched earth approach is necessarily the best course for this team, but like you say that is a whole different discussion!

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