January 09 2014 09:41PM
pic via Chiot's Run
Before the game, Sportsnet played the highlights of the last Flames/Blues game on December 23rd. The Flames erasing a two-goal third period deficit, Giordano scoring with five seconds left to the roar of a dome crowd, once again invested in the fortunes of a loveable but altogether out-matched team.
It all seemed real but at the same time too improbable to believe. I mean, I know it's statistically possible for the Flames to score at home, I just don't think I have been alive for it. If I have, I must not remember it.
In the game that I watched, in a cold, distant, and seemingly separate universe from the one that the Dec. 23rd game was played in, the Flames were pummeled at home 5-0 by the Blues. Thats 11-0 the Flames have been outscored in their last two games.The game kinda reminded me of playing one-on-basketball with an older, taller brother. One who was interested to see what you could do sometimes but ultimately wasn't going to let win. Or score.
"How much longer is Boston College's season?"
The Flames began the first period by taking two penalties, which wasn't exactly an ideal start. They killed both of them off but shortly after the second penalty expired, Derek Roy went five-hole on T.J Brodie, feeding Chris Stewart in the slot who scored on a point-blank shot. After Lance Bouma failed to convert on a cross-crease play, the Blues went back the other way and made it 2-0 off a wrister from Vladimir Sobotka. That goal was a soft one and I am pretty sure one soft goal against, (hell any goal against) is enough to sink the Flames these days. The Flames started the game in a massive hole against a very good club.
St. Louis completely dominated play in the first period even though the Flames had a four minute power-play to end the period after noted skid mark Max Lapierre managed to both rough and interfere shrinking violet Brian McGrattan on the same play. And lived to tell the tale somehow. However, the Flames PP is more like poo-poo these days (see what I did there!?) and were completely unable to generate any good scoring chances. In four minutes of power play time, the mighty Flames generated two shots. The first ended with the Blues out-shooting the Flames 12-6 and leading 2-0. The Blues led in shot attempts 23-9 after one which I believe is a more telling indicator of how the first really was.
Early in the second, Karri Ramo robbed friggen Olympian Jay Bouwmeester who should have made it 3-0 early. The Flames then had another power play which was able to have at least possession of the puck throughout the two minutes. On that PP, Hudler had a wide-open, and I mean like really wide-open, net and managed to hit the far post from the low, right wing. Hitting that post was actually a much more difficult achievement than simply putting it in the gaping net so I guess I am not even mad, I just wish he would have called his shot first.
In the opening minutes of period two, the Flames showed a lot of jump and generated some legitimate scoring chances but after not being able to convert, the Blues made the Flames pay. After hemming the Flames in their zone for more than a minute and a half, Tarasenko found a wide open Ian Cole who had an empty net and made it 3-0 blues half-way through the second.
The best chances in the second came on the power play for the Flames who had another man-advantage at the ten minute mark of the second. They didn't score (what is scoring?) on it but they had some good chances. On a related note, was Lee Stempniak abducted by aliens and his body replaced by the alien equivalent of Clarke Wilm? Scratch that, Wilm would have buried a few more than poor Stemp over this stretch. Also, Lance Bouma had two wide-open nets in this game (you saw the final score so you know how that ended).
The second ended with the shots being a lot closer thanks to three Flames power plays. The Blues outshot the Flames 22-21 after two and led in shot attempts 37-36 though the power plays and St. Louis' big lead are surely the reason for the Flames closing the gap so dramatically.
The Blues started the third on a power play and, as good teams do, scored on that power play. The Flames were hopelessly unable to clear the puck from their own zone and Alex Pietrangelo made it 4-0 Blues, scoring his sixth of the season on a deflected shot off a Flames d man. I don't know who it was. Who cares. Life is pain.
Then, because he plays for the Flames and is terrible, Kevin Westgarth took a mind-numbingly stupid penalty and sent the Blues back to the power-play. Vladimir Tarasenko scored on a cross-seam pass from Leopold and made it 5-0. Still, Karri Ramo was left to absorb the onslaught, even down 5-0. The only goal that Ramo even had a chance on was the second goal by Sobotka and it didn't matter because the Flames have forgotten how to score entirely.
For good measure, the Flames failed on one more power play in the final three minutes just to remind everyone just how inept they are right now with the man advantage. The game ended 5-0. Comedically, the Flames actually ended up out-shooting the Blues 33-29 and probably deserved a goal but certainly no more than that.
THE RED WARRIOR
This one is exceptionally hard because literally no one looked good tonight. Let's go with Karri Ramo who made a couple very nice saves including one off of Jaden Schwartz, long after the Flames had stopped caring. You have to feel for him, who has played solid but behind a putrid, wretched team his last few starts (the Denver miracle notwithstanding)
pic via sabresfreak
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, BASIL?
The Blues are an awesome team. Our dear Flames are, well, a less-than-awesome team. The frantic urgency that the Flames displayed earlier in the season has completely evaporated and we are left with the sobering fact that the Flames are not a good team and are no longer finding ways to win games that they shouldn't.
It is my sincere hope that Burke's model of "black and blue hockey" looks like the St. Louis Blues because those guys are big, strong, skilled, and have four blue-chip defencemen. This team should compete for the Cup if they don't kill themselves trying to get out of the West come playoff time.
It seriously pains me to agree with Eric Francis in any way, shape, or form but he mentioned that it might be time to deal one of the vets and I think that he may be right. I think it might be time to reward some of the guys in Abbotsford who have been playing so well this year and move some of the pending UFA's along. What's the harm in giving Ben Street or Chad Billins another look? I no longer buy the 'insulating' argument as reason enough to keep them in the AHL, if the rationale for keeping the kids (Granlund, Knight, Reinhart, even Sven) in Abby this year was to give them big minutes, then give them the keys down there. Something should be done with the big club.
But it's all good because the Flames should be able to easily handle the Penguins, their next opponent, on Hockey Night in Canada.