April 21 2013 07:38PM
If you factor in the additions of Hanowski, the re-signing of MacBackup, the earlier additions of the likes of Sven and Max Power... even the season long astonishing rise of TJ Brodie, there are are actually like eleven new faces to track throughout the line-up.
We've all said this before, but really? What realistic chance do these "kids" have at beating the like of Parise, Backstrom, Koivu and Suter, not too mention a few others? Oh, and the game is away, not the friendliest of environments to your Calgary Flames this season.
The only things is, no body has told thes kids that the Flames don't play well away from the Dome. Or that this team is just playing out the string now with the likes of Tanguay, Glencross and tonight Wideman, out of the line-up. No, they were told to just go out and do their best.
Okay.. Let's see what their best was all about...
The first period shouldn't have come as a surprise to, well, anyone.
Minnesota with a heavily laden vertern line-up dominated for not just the better part of the period, but almost all of it. Despite that, Calgary managed to hold their own without giving up many 10-bell chances.
With the recent success Calgary has had with their call-ups and new aquisitions, all eyes would again be focused on the newest of the new.
Mark Cundari was one that immediately caught the eye of those paying attention this afternoon. A smooth skilled skater that also demonstrated the ability to clear the opposition from the appropriate areas, Cundari looked to make a lasting first impression on those evaluating him in the ivory tower.
He didn't disappoint. While passing the midpoint of the period, the Flames would go to their first power-play of the afternoon. Brodie and Cundari would play keep away from the Wild penalty killers with some finely timed passes of their own. Until the moment where they caught the defenders lagging on the play, perhaps anticipating the return pass to TJ on the point, Cundari was left alone at teh top of the circle.
Taking his time and keeping his head up, Cundari would take a few steps in on Backstrom and then snap the wrist shot high over the Keeper's shoulder and just inside the post. A great shot from the new blueliner, Joining Ben Hanowsk, and the 23rd Flame of all time, in the "first goal in his first game" club, and your Calgary Flames were surprisingly up 1-0?
That lead would hold until the near end of the frame. With just under a minute and a half left, and the Wild circling, Zach Parise would walk out and around a spralled out Joey MacDonald and level the score with a wide open net.
The score may have been tied, but that was the only surprise of this one. The Wild out-shot Calgary 14-5 and like I mentioned before, was pretty much able to keep the play in the Flames zone for the opening 20 minutes.
The second period did not have such a refined beginning for Calgary. Minnesota came down early and applied pressure immediately. In the opening shift, they put two shots passed MacNewContract, folied only by the post.
However, the Flames were again able to stave off the onslaught of the Wild's push. Long enough for this...
Somewhere around the eight minute mark, Mikael Backlund did what Mikael Backlund does for this team, regardless of who he plays with... or against.
This time he would show that he can play the body in his own zone as he stripped Kyle Clutterbuck of the puck behind the Flames net. He would then move out into the left face-off circle, make a small hitch move, then pause for a slight moment before dishing a saucer pass to Sven Baertschi; Baertschi would make a nice pass of his own to spring Lee Stempniak.
As Stemps moved in on Backstrom with Baertschi supporting on the edge of the crease, Backs would slowly move in, watching. Watching the play and the puck. Putting himself in the right place at the right time, Backlund was right there, when the puck popped loose from the crease, to put the Flames back in front 2-1. Just a great play from start to finish as Mike shows more and more of his potential with leadership by example.
Despite being out-shot again in the second (11-7), it was your Calgary Flames that went to the dressing room one up on the scoreboard. As always with games between the Wild and the Flames, the result would be determined with one telling period. Had Calgary just played it, or would it be left to the third?
The first half of the third could have been a tape replay of anygame, any period ever played between the two clubs. A whole lot of nothing much going on. Play was fairly even and the shot totals were pretty much following suit. Maybe this was not going to be the telling period.
The Flames would go back to the PP at the 12 minute mark, but it wouldn't last long. Just 39 seconds in Mike Cammalleri would receive a broken-play slap pass from Mark Cundari. Backstrom would throw himself across the crease, pads stacked, but Cammy just waited him out and wristed the puck into the open upper net. Cundari's second PP point of the day, both being initiated by great plays by TJ Brodie.
With just under a deuce left in the game, Calgary once again enjoyed the man advantage. In an effort to pull out some sort of miracle, the Wild decided to pull Backstrom, while short-handed.
As the boos rained down from the fans, Jiri Hudler calmly skated over center ice, steadied himself and potted the empty-netter. And with that, the Flames run as spoiler continued with a 4-1 victory.
Why the Flames won...
When you have 11... ELEVEN fresh faces in the line-up, you have a roster that knows only one thing, and that's to go full out for sixty minutes with nothing to lose, and let the chips fall where they may.
That's what this line-up is doing and they are getting results. Big results.
These kids don't know what losing is right now, because every night is nothing more than opportunity. They aren't playing for today because they know it doesn't matter. They are there because they are playing for tomorrow. A tomorrow where they are going to dbe relied on for so much more than an audition or an emergency call-up due to an injury.
They also won because they won the special teams battle. Not only did they go 3/3 on their own power=play, but they were able to keep Minnesota at 0/3 on theirs. That's a power-play that boasted the likes of Parise and Suter, while Calgary put out Reinhart and Horak.
Each kill was like a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart. Each goal they scored on their own PP, led by Brodie and Cundari was another litre of gas for the accelerator. Plain and simple...
The Flames were able to take and take from the Wild and when the opportunity presented itself, these kids were there to pounce on it. etching themselves in the memory of the Flames management.
I'm going to go with TJ Brodie tonight.
With Bouwmeester gone and Dennis Wideman out of the line-up, this was Brodie's defensive corps tonight. He led all defensemen and all skaters on the Flames with 28 minutes of ice-time.
He had two hits, two blocked shots, one takeaway... oh and two huge points for Calgary. Points that paced his team to victory tonight.
On any given night, Brodie is a serious consideration for the Warrior. He has been that good for the Flames this season. His ceiling seems unset right now as he continues to develop with astonishing upside. Even now, still young in his career, he is viewed as an untouchable for your Calgary Flames and has remained the constant silver lining in this clouded season.
Here is all the fun stuff that scientifically should just make the Wild feel nothing but shamefull humility after dropping this one tonight...
Scoring Chance Summary
|Away||1||6:24||Cundari (Goal - PP)||21||22||4||77||32||11||13||47||7||42||35||4v5|
|Away||3||7:20||Cammalleri (Goal - PP)||9||63||11||20||25||32||18||15||58||3||5||35||5v5|
Home Team Player Summary
Away Player Scoring Summary
Home Team Period Summary Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Away Team Period Summary Scoring Chances
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
Sum it up
Tonight's game wasn't a game where you saw a bunch of kids got called up to play against a team that was mailing it in because their ticket had already been punched to the post-season.
This game meant something to the Wild. Minnesota sits a mere 3 points out of falling into 9th place in the Western Conference and both DAllas and Detroit have a game in hand.
The fact that the Calgary kids came out and took this one away from the Wild means they deserve full credit for the effort tonight.
The Flames are doing well in playing the role of spoiler... too well maybe. With every victory, they push themselves further down in the draft order, and give themselves less of a chance to win the lottery for that illustrious #1 position.
It's great to see them winning, especially with almost every established vetern either gone or in IR now.
There is a very distinct possibility that your Calgary Flames can finish this season .500. That would probably mean they would once again finish above the Shelbyville Oilers. As much as I would laugh whole-heartedly at Edmonton for their disgrace, I would also be worried about the draft pick selection and the uncertainity of that lottery.
Calgary faces Nashville on Tuesday. This is another game that is very winnable for your Calgary Flames. Will they? Could they actually run the table here to close things out?
Game time is 6 pm. Catch the action on SNET-W and the Fan 960.