December 19 2013 10:19PM
So...things in Detroit these days are the opposite of affluent, and the Wings, sensitive to the fact that they're a collection of millionaires living amongst the regular citizens of a city that declared bankruptcy, are doing their part to fitting in by making sure they're not successful at Joe Louis Arena. They're only 5-9-6 at home this year, and just haven't looked good in their own barn.
So the Flames, who have been steadily improving as the month of December slides on, should have had a chance, perhaps even been the favourite to win this tilt with the Wings tonight, right?
Well about that...the results of the Chiasson Invitational after the jump!
RUNNING IT DOWN
This game started at 5:30 Mountain time, so there was a good chance most Flames fans were still trudging their way across the snow covered streets of Cowtown when the Wings' Daniel Alfreddson (pictured) put his team up 1-0 on, frankly a pretty damn ugly goal on Karri Ramo's part.
Visions of never scoring in Boston and Anaheim and with high school sweethearts immediately started forming in the minds of collective Flames fans everywhere and it was possible we had already written this game off and looked ahead to Sidney Crosby and oh damn the Flames still have to go play Crosby before this god forsaken road trip ends.
But the Flames, ever the model of focus and poise, gracefully held their heads high in the time it took the rest of us to lose our minds. Mikael Backlund, who in true Christmas form had his game grow three sizes tonight, was cash money tying the game on a rebound off a Mike Blammalleri shot, slipping it past Wings' starter Jonas Gustavsson (!) to make it 1-1.
Shots were 15-6 Detroit after the first, and chances were, I don't know, not really counted, but one assumes Detroit had the edge their too. Still, it was gridlocked at the break and the Flames were looking, let's say good.
It was more of the same in the second as the Flames continued to find themselves hemmed in their own end at times, but Karri Ramo once again held his ground and the defense prevented any real five bell scoring chances. Still, Joakim Andersson, I guess, managed to tip a point shot and redirect it past Ramo to put the Wings up again, proving that Detroit is not completely a have-not community. But the boys in white (The Flames, in case there was any confusion), bouyed by the fact that the Wings began to take ALL THE PENALTIES tied the game on a Mark Joordano snipe just after the 2nd of the Flames back to back 5 on 3s had come to an end.
So if you're keeping score at home, the Flames continue to shoot 0'fer on two man advantages, but 4 Wings are the key to success (and only cost a dollar depending on what night you go to the bar)
Detroit outshot our heroes once again in the second, but by a much slimmer margin at 11-9. You had the sense that maybe the Flames had a shot in this one.
But they didn't. Flash forward to overtime, seeing as nothing happened in the third:
Daniel Alfredsson (pictured) is an asshole. Alfie scored on a one timer served up on a pillow by Pavel Datsyuk, clapping his second goal of the game and sending the local fans home happy and still economically disenfranchised. The Flames were outshot 10-7 in the third, and 2-0 in overtime.
Why The Flames Lost
Well I'm not going to blame refs, but part of the reason why Alfredsson scored his second goal is because TJ Brodie was serving a penalty assessed to him late in the third when he had the audacity to lift Datsyuk's stick, which I guess you JUST DON'T DO, so that was pretty lame. But the Wings played a stronger possessional game basically whenever Mikael Backlund wasn't on the ice.
Sean Monahan was eventually bumped to the 4th line as the game progressed, swapping places with Joe Colborne, and rightfully so, as his line with Byron and Hudler, were beat up, losing ALL the corsis. Monahan has been in way over his head since he's returned from injury, and now he's being given the Sven treatment by Bob Hartley, except in this case it's because Monahan is actually not playing well.
Also, I guess we can chalk up part of the loss to being entitled or not being intense or having a spark or something else that's stupid.
Well, I thought Karri Ramo was spectacular tonight, but he was out-spectaculared by Mikael Backlund. Backlund was a machine tonight, as he has been for a lot of the last few nights, to the point where Bob Hartley (I'll say this again, BOB FREAKIN' HARTLEY) called Backlund the Flames best forward right now.
See? Backlund played over 21 minutes tonight, had a goal on 5 shots, and was undeniably noticeable everytime he was on the ice. He was the best player for both teams and it wasn't even close.
Funny how ever since Hartley realized Backlund was a good player and deserves to be surrounded by guys who don't make a living punching eye sockets that his performance (and I guess trade stock) has skyrocketed. That we don't hear idiots on twitter chirping us for defending Backs as much (though it's still happening).
In the End
Moral victories and all that. The Flames lost the game, are going to lose the war, but we're seeing positive things going forward, at least if you ignore the fact that the team for some reason signed Keegan Kanzig to his entry level contract tonight (Breen 2.0!). The little things are coming together. Ramo played well again. Backlund was a beast. McGrattan only played 5 minutes tonight (you gotta think eventually Hartley's going to see the forest for the GRITCHART on that one). I got to make that Matt Stajan photoshop. Pretty good night. Pretty good game. Unfortunately the results weren't there again, but they were remarkably better than they were against Boston a couple of nights ago. This season is a free pass, so it's all about gleaning the positives and learning how to trim out the negatives with a little on the job training. And hey, Christmas is coming, so cheer up Bud!
Yours in grit (Ryan Pike came up with that line, but I'm stealing it forever),
Book of Loob