I can’t wait to get off the road again.
So that was a disaster, huh? I mean I understand the Flames haven’t won against the Thrashers in Atlanta ever (that’s actually true!), but to get clowned out like that by the 29th-place team in the league? Terrible.
All the Flames seemed intent on doing was three things:
1) Standing around. And that’s something they did well. If hockey pants had pockets, the Flames would have had their hands buried in them.
2) Letting the puck get to Miikka Kiprusoff from high-percentage scoring areas. They did that pretty well too.
3) Watching Ilya Kovalchuk skate around 70-80 people on his way through the neutral zone and then overcommitting to him. They did this the best, and it led directly to two goals.
The turning point in the game, it seemed, was the two first-period fights between Jim Vandermeer and Eric Boulton, then Eric Nystrom and Nathan Oystrick. I’m not sure if the Flames felt like they needed to elevate their intensity in the game a bit or what, but both were ill-chosen fights against much tougher opponents, and whatever the intent and reasoning behind the fight was, I’m sure that the Toby Enstrom scoring like 35 seconds later was not in the gameplan.
Not surprisingly, the Flames fell apart after that, gave up two unanswered goals before Jarome Iginla pulled them back within one, then coughed up two more to Kovalchuk and Bryan Little, the only two offensive threats on the team.
A stunned Peter Loubardias put it best after Chris Thorburn chipped a puck off Jordan Leopold’s stick and in from behind the net: “Oh my goodness.”
Olli Jokinen — He might’ve finished a minus-3, but I thought he was the best Flame on the ice last night. He continued to (attempt to) make things happen. Granted nothing did, but he was one of the few Flames that actually put in the effort, so that’s acceptable enough.
Jarome Iginla — Another goal. Fine.
Jamie Lundmark — Probably the hardest-working Flame of the afternoon, Lundmark was everywhere and even picked up an assist on Iginla’s goal. He did everything you could reasonably expect a Jamie Lundmark-type player to do.
Craig Conroy — Continues to score. Awesome.
Limiting shots — Atlanta only had 20, so that’s usually going to win you some games. If not for Miikka Kiprusoff’s hideous performance, this was one the Flames had a chance to win.
Dion Phaneuf — Seemed back to his old self, didn’t he? Turned around more often than than a carousel for a large part of the day, though against a player of Kovalchuk’s ability, that’s a tough thing to avoid.
Mike Keenan — Speaking of which, I thought the Kovalchuk coverage situation was mishandled horribly. I can understand wanting to mix up the looks he got by sending out Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr in different situations and at different times, but clearly Regehr and Adrian Aucoin were far more effective against the Red Menace than was the Phaneuf-Jordan Leopold pairing, judging by plus-minus alone. Phaneuf-Leopold was on the ice for every goal the Kovalchuk line scored. Regehr and Aucoin finished plus-1 each.
Miikka Kiprusoff — Really, Miikka? A .750 save percentage? The last thing we need right now is the Miikka Kiprusoff of two months ago.
Road hockey — Two games this weekend, two atrocious performances against bad teams. The sooner the Flames get back to Calgary and figure this crap out, the better. This whole weekend was just terrible. There is good news though: they travel to New Jersey on Tuesday oh god that’s going to be ugly oh no.