March 09 2013 12:00AM
There were no travel delays involving the Flames game today, although given that Calgary was only 1 for 25 and 0 for their last 15 trips down to Anaheim... they maybe should have been hoping for one, or two.
Calgary began their Californication putting their newly earned above .500 record on the line in probably the most hostile of arenas they could visit. To their credit, they didn't play like they hadn't won there since 2004, or that they were playing against a team that was thirteen points ahead of them in the Western Conference. Well, not at first anyways.
Alas, on a night where the NHL saw the Blackhawks streak come to an end, we all got to enjoy another, not so proud one, continue...
It didn't take long for Calgary to put themselves behind the 8-Ball. Just 1:15 in, Daniel Winnik (yes the same guy we all wished the Flames had signed when he was available) took the pass from Cogliano lurking behind the net. Open in the slot, Winnik snapped home the puck to put the Ducks up early.
You never like your team to be sparked by a goal against, but after the Winnik goal, Calgary seemed to step up the play a bit and tilt the ice a bit towards the Ducks end. Unfortunately the few quality chances they got were stopped by Fasth.
For the middle span of the period, it was back and forth, as the teams shared possession and traded chances on each other's tenders.
Despite watching Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry and Brad Staubitz go down at various points in the period, Calgary wasn't able to take advantage long enough to put anything passed Fasth. They had the chances, but Fasth had collection of horseshoes behind him that kept the Flames off the board.
After the first 75 seconds, it was pretty much all Calgary. They out-shot the Ducks 10-4 and out-chanced them 8-2, yet the Ducks took the one goal lead into the intermission. If the Flames could keep this tempo up, you'd gotta think the puck starts to bounce their way.
The second started with a scare as Miikka showing perhaps a bit of rust as he backhanded a pass from behind the net right on to the stick of Bobby Ryan. Luckily for Kipper, he was able to scramble back in front in time to make the glove save.
Meanwhile, the story continued as Calgary again dominated Anaheim, but still couldn't manage to beat Fasth. The Ducks had no legs and weren't skating with any aggressiveness. If not for Fasth and 13 Anaheim blocked shots, your Flames would have been running away with this one by now.
Then at 13;35 a mistake from the Flames comes by way of another Giordano turnover deep in their own zone. Three seconds later, Bobby Ryan snaps it passed Kipper; and just like that it was 2-0.
That seemed to turn the tide, because at 15:52, Sheldon Souray would blow one passed Kipper from the point. The Flames were back on their heels after the Ryan goal, Anaheim took advantage of it and made them pay while they were licking their wounds.
Shots were even at 12 aside but the Ducks out-chanced Calgary 6-4 in the middle frame. Not a good sign heading to the third as it seemed the Flames lost a bit of that step they had on the Ducks after being jobbed by the hockey gods in a game they had control of.
The Flames came out in the third plying like the Ducks did in the first half. Poor skating and erratic passing, Calgary looked to have lost their legs.
As per usual, the Ducks basically choked out the middle of the ice, making it hard for the Flames to get going. Calgary still managed to out-chance Anaheim, but at the end of each play, there was Fasth.
Then like it was scripted, Giordano, already having a rough night, took a penalty for hitting Perry. On the insuing delayed call, Ryan Getzlaf would increase the Ducks lead to four.
Why The Flames Lost...
Because despite falling behind just 75 seconds into the game, the Flames still carried the play for the majority of the game... and that wasn't good enough tonight.
Because when the Ducks did get their chances on Calgary, they made them count.
Because Victor Fasth was very fortunate on some of the Flames 10-beller scoring chances, and on the others, he made some nice saves to stem Calgary's momentum.
Because you don't win games when you don't score any goals.
The firestarter is supposed to be awarded to the player that sparked or ignited the Flames offense or overall play. How do you do that when you get blanked on the scoresheet???
That being said, I'll give an honourable mention to Roman Cervenka. He led the team in shots tonight and you could tell from his play in the offensive zone that he is becoming more comfortable with the North American game.
It would have been nice if he burried a few of the golden chances he had tonight. If he had, I would have been inclined to give him the nod right out, but he didn't, and he's probably not going to have a good sleep tonight because of it. The chances that is, not winning my award.
Sum it Up
It started off as a series of unfortunate events for the Flames, that rapidly spiraled into the same old, same old when Calgary visits the Pond.
It's almost like the Flames just get into their own heads when they go down to Anaheim, but tonight it certainly didn't help that Fasth was everywhere in the net at just the right times.
Not sure how many people considered this a "must-win" for the Flames, depends where your head is at regarding the direction of the team. But now the team travels to LA for a back-to-back with the Kings, a team that is playing a lot like they did when they ran rough-shot through the NHL in the playoffs last year. It's going to make it harder when you account for the fact that Darryl Sutter is really going to want to stick it to his former team.
However, the Kings are still a beatable team and if the Flames manage to....
Nevermind, at least we don't have to watch stuff like this night after night!
We're right back at it tomorrow. Game time is 8:00 pm on CBC and the Fan 960.