Off the road again?

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.”

The Good

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.

The Bad

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.

The Ugly

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.

  • RCN

    Im happy u put Jokinen in the "good" category because I was expecting a lot of ppl to say stupid things like, "wow that was a great trade." He didnt score or even get a point but I thought Jokinen looked to be the most comfortable on the ice yesterday. He was one of the few who played a good physical game, joined and started scrums, and seemed to understand the importance of winning the games that you really should win.

    Ultimately I think Kipper should take almost 100% of the blame. There was a lot of goals he didnt have a lot of chance on but the ones he did let in, with the timing of when he did let it in, was enough to suck the life out of the team. They were within a goal with about 15 minutes left in the game and the Flames were pushing, Kipper needs to have the next shot to prevent a goal; he didnt do it. Now its the harder opponents they face for the remainder of this road trip. Can they beat Detroit finally? I think we will see one of the most inspired efforts against NJ and DET and I think they can beat NJ but unfortunately with the entire 2nd line not playing against detroit… I wouldnt put money on the win; despite the expected effort of the team as a whole. Hopefully I'm wrong, I have a feeling I still might be!

  • RCN

    On a side note, Im begining to think that when the injured players come back, I think Sutter needs to keep Vander Gulik and Lundmark up. I thought both played really good hockey since being recalled. I dont mean good hockey in comparison to expectations either; not expecting much from either player initially. I mean I think they have played very good hockey in the sense they make other regulars look like stupid roster players. I'm looking at you Roy…