April 25 2013 10:49PM
The best and worst thing you can say about the Flames 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues tonight is that there is only one game left. As tried and true die hard hockey fans, we're conditioned to always want to see more hockey, and more hockey from the teams whose colours we bleed, but this season has been such a calamity for your Calgary Flames that giving it a nice viking funeral seems like the only way to truly end it.
But we had to all find the muster to get through tonight first. You know who didn't do this? The Flames. In the meaningless allegory of playing for pride that the month of April has been, the Flaming C has been good enough to steal games from teams with playoff aspirations, or just barely succumb to the depth of defeat despite putting in an effort prominent enough that it should have resulted in a win.
Neither of these things happened tonight, as the Flames, or, to be more specific, the Half Flames/Heat party time duo, coasted from start to finish in this one, as the Blues, and the nine fans they had in attendance, easily sidestepped the Flames en route to a first round playoff matchup against probably Los Angeles.
Flames Got The Blues
Well, for the longest time, things didn't happen. This game seemed destined to move forward without a pace for an eternity (which, if you're scoring at home, is not a thing that is possible). The Flames outshot St. Loo 8-5 in the first frame, but almost literally nothing happened.
Kris Russell and Mike Cammalleri got into a scrap, but one of them must have been naked for the first 45 seconds of it, because it didn't make it's way onto the Sportsnet camera until the tail end. Excellent work from the Flames' local broadcast team, who aired their final presentation of Flames games for this season, and spent a good chunk of time thanking each other for the wonderful jobs they did this season, which, well okay, I guess, I think that's open for discussion.
The highlight of the game might have been the interview with Flames GM Jay Feaster by (my favourite) Roger Millions during the first intermission, where Feaster spoke like a lawyer throughout (due diligence when it comes to trading or not trading one of the three first round picks, having to speak to everyone before making a decision on Roman Cervenka, the Flames' unique position of having cap space but owners willing to spend, etc, etc). Not much to be made of anything here, as obviously Feaster isn't going to show his cards here, but Rog, in typical Millioney fashion, got to Feaster when he made a joke about the Flames being in an Oil Change.
I truly believe Jay Feaster hates the Edmonton Oilers, and that's one of the few things that endears him to me.
Anyway, he's still the guy who guaranteed a playoff spot last year and said in ten years Mark Jankowski would be the best player from his draft year, so I try not to get too wistful about the man who has helped guide this team he's charged with building to one of the worst in franchise history.
Then the second period happen, and offensive powerhouse Ryan Reaves took over. Full disclosure, I missed his first goal, because the New York Jets were drafting their first round selection on another channel, and that's my team, so I wanted to see how that shook down.
It went okay, if you were wondering.
When I flipped back, the score was 1-0 and Cammalleri was skating to the penalty box, so I guess things went sour there for a bit.
Shortly after, Sven took advantage of some defensive miscues and buried a shot past a sprawling Brian Elliot into a wide open net to tie the game, which is awesome, and Sven is on a 7 game point streak to close the season out. Really encouraging to see. He and Backlund are (hopefully) going to be linemates for a long time in the coming seasons, and that's going to be just delightful.
Then the Blues scored a bunch of newly signed goaltender Joey MacDonald, and that's not surprising, and we all started holding our beers just a little bit tighter as our ever heavier heads wallowed that much closer to the surface of the bar. It hides our tears.
Ryan Reaves scored his second of the game and punched Tim Jackman more than Tim Jackman countered with, so all in all it was a pretty good night for that guy. I doubt that's a thing that happens very often.
The Flames were marginally outshot in this one, 20-19, and aside from the goals, I can remember maybe 6 total between both teams, so that should just about be an indicator of how exciting this one was to watch. There was one shift in the third when the Flames, down 2 and killing a penalty, had maybe their most dominant stretch of controlled play all season, and it was on the PENALTY KILL, and Roman Horak should have had a shortie hat trick. Which is only two goals, but hey...I'm saying he should have scored two goals on that kill. So close. Why you gotta have toes, Brian Elliot?
No one attacked Jay Bouwmeester. No one else was surprised.
Kipper looked sad on the bench whenever they showed him. So do we all.
The Red Warrior
I'm going with whatever the opposite of whatever it is Paul Byron is. I don't know if the Flames have that player, but they have three first round picks, they should draft one that fits that mould.
Safe to say I'm not exactly a Paul Byron fan. In his ten minutes of ice time, he put the care and effort into his game that I did into this post game report, which if you'll notice, is both hackneyed and slight.
He drew a penalty in the second that led to an Alex Steen power play strike that essentially put it away early for the Flames, and everyone else just put their head down and ran out the clock, like a game of Heads Up Seven Up that is destined to never end. I'm still not sure it ever did.
Sven Baertschi is great though, so he's my serious answer. Was one of the few really noticeable forwards all night, along with Backlund, and Cammalleri to an extent, though sometimes not for the right reasons. Our Swiss wunderkin is on a 7 game point streak, and I hope he keeps it forever, because I love that dude.
Why The Flames Lost
I suppose just average goaltending, an ability to set up for quality shots in the offensive zone, a mediocre breakout, and, I don't know, trumpet playing ghosts with attitude also aided in the L on this night.
The team is pretty checked out, even all the kids vying for ice time and a slot next season. Everyone realized this game was essentially meaningless for both teams. Sure, the Blues can enhance their chances of a better postseason opening draw, while the Flames can set their sights on trying to win the Draft Lottery (which we can all agree, the Oilers are going to be all over that thing), but there was nothing REAL to be competing for today. The season is about to slip out, and the hockey sticks are going to make way for a new oversized driver and decent hybrid iron, and you can understand why the Flames didn't have their hearts into this one.
Made for a superb game aesthetically.
The Flames close up shop against the Hawks tomorrow, in an equally meaningless game standings wise, and everyone's mildly relieved to see Calgary get euthanized after it's all over. This is my last post game report for this season, and I'd like to thank everyone at Flames Nation for giving me a place to soapbox this season, and thanks to all you Citizens out there who put up with it tirelessly and kept the complaints to a minimum.
The Playoffs are starting and draft day will be here in the ban of a Shanahan hammer, so keep your heads up high. There's still a chance to not ruin this against all odds somehow!