Postgame: Mulligan?

ALBERTA, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 29: Ales Hemsky  of the Edmonton Oilers is congratulated after scoring in a shootout by teammates Ladislav Smid , Gilbert Brule  and Ryan Jones  against the Phoenix Coyotes. The oilers went on to win 4-3. on September 29, 2010 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)

We’ll just pretend Thursday’s Calgary Flames opener was the eight preseason game.  The regular season starts on Sunday, lets go with that.  Fact is, the Flames were not the better team at Rexall Place in Edmonton, and the new look Oilers were full marks for a 4-0 win.

What Happened

A poor, flat footed first period for the Flames gave the Oilers the jump they needed.  Gilbert Brule opened the scoring on the powerplay, as Calgary found themselves trying to keep up with their fired up opponents.  Calgary took four first period penalties, including two for delay of game from Adam Pardy and Jay Bouwmeester.  All four of those minors were the result of Edmonton pressure and skating, and the Oilers were unrelenting for 19 minutes.  Shots were 19-9, but I got the feeling they weathered a bit of a storm, and only being down 1-0 could be looked at as a positive.

The middle frame saw things tilted back to the visitors.  They started playing their game, using their down low advantage to generate shtos and draw penalties.  But they were unable to score in that second period, as they ran into their old nemesis Nikolai Khabibulin.  The problem with Calgary’s period was their lack of ability to get the puck with speed to the net.  They’d gain the zone fine, but most of their shots came from the perimiter.

Two goals in a span of 1:19 in the final frame closed this sucker out, as Jordan Eberle snuck behind T.J. Brodie to put the Oil up 2-0 before Ales Hemsky blasted a shot past Kiprusoff off the right wing.  Shawn Horcoff’s ankle deflected an Eberle PP shot to give the Oilers their four goal bulge, and seal their first victory over Calgary since the 2008-09 season.

One Good Reason…

…the Flames lost?  Well, plain and simple, they were flat footed in the first and to start the third period.  If you’re not going to score on your 18 second period shots, you can’t let two go in in under 80 seconds to start the final frame.  In a one goal game, you can’t let in an early shortie like that.  Of course there would be more reasons I’m sure you’ll get to in the comments section belo…

Red Warrior

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 3: Mark Giordano #5 of the Calgary Flames clears the loose puck in front of goalie Miikka Kiprusoff #34 in a game between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers during an NHL game on October 3, 2009 at Rexall Arena in Edmonton, Canada. The Flames defeated the Oilers 4-3. (Photo by Jimmy Jeong/Getty Images)

Not a whole lot to choose from on this night, but I’ll go with Mark Giordano.  He was by far the best Flame on the ice.  How many times will we say that this season?

Sum It Up

Just not good enough.  The Steve MacIntyre KTFO on Raitis Ivanans kinda told all you need to know…Oilers win big (hope all the best for #41 though).  The top line was dismal, the powerplay looked mediocre, and the Flames didn’t cash in their opportunities.  Um, just be better Sunday at home.  No good.  *shakes head*

  • Flames weren’t rough enough on the new kids. I was expecting Regher or Gio to line one of em up early to set the tone.

    They gave the kids too much room out there and didn’t make them pay for anything.

    LA should be better at home on Sunday.

  • I hear you Lawrence. It’s frustrating as hell.

    There was one point last night in the third (with the outcome already decided) where the Flames had the puck in offensive zone. I think it was Glencross in the corner, but I’m not certain.

    Anyways, he pulls out a tad from the corner, puck on his stick, looks out to assess his options…and the rest of the Flames just stopped dead in their tracks. Literally stopped, like (as you say) a deer in the headlights. Completely static. The Oilers tightened the formation slightly, knocked the puck off the players stick (he had no options to speak of) and the play died.

    • That’s it. I’ve been trying to figure out exactly why Flames games were boring last year (Beyond just “less goals”) as opposed to 08-09 where games were exciting as all hell… The 09-10 Brent Sutter Flames stand around alot while the 08-09 Keenan Flames were usually in motion.

  • BobB

    You know what it is? Just watching bits again.
    At least one part. Puck support. There is very very little puck support. Long passes, cross ice passes, when we gain the zone it’s one guy by himself.

    Everyone seems set up to be one-on-one with no short, quick option. Olli was terrible last night, but in defense of him, he had no safe pass to make. He winds it up and instantly is faced with a one-on-one and has to force a pass, try a behind the back pass, curl back or risk coughing it up. Brutal.

    Hockey is a game of two-on-ones. You want to support the puck carrier, by giving them an option to dish to and get it back, and break every battle down to a two-on-one. That just doesn’t happen with this team.

    And what happened to D joining the rush? Nothing last night. Edmonton did all those things well. Look at the shortie. Perfect, 2 on one battle against Brodie on the boards, then against White, then in the net. AND they were short!

    Give and go, guys, give and go. Fundamental, yet impossible for this team.

    • Danny Lawson

      This is probably the best summary of what the Flames did wrong.

      One of the reasons that I noticed they were having this problem, and I think it was particularly contrasted with the Oilers last night, was a total inability to move the puck with speed through the neutral zone. When we broke out it seemed to be to a man standing still at our blue line or their blue line. This let Edmonton get effective back pressure and a total inability to generate a scoring chance off the rush.

      And for those chalking Brodie up for a good game, Eberle’s goal was pretty much a total failure on Brodie’s part to recognize that he was in no man’s land. Although White could have made a better play coming across.

  • Backburner

    I think we all expected the Oilers to be up for this game… I knew they would most likely take their home opener. Don’t expect any change in the way Calgary plays from last season. Tanguay? so what? same team. On the other hand… it will be funny to see this Oiler team finish in last place again this year in the NW division!

  • PrairieStew

    Though I have been a summer long skeptic, I am not ready to set the house on fire after last night. Give some credit to the Oilers – they were up and played perfectly – I guarantee you they are not going to look like that every night. The second period was Ok – but the stupid highlight reel goal by Eberle killed the energy and Kipper muffed Hemsky’s.
    You said last week Kent part of the team’s problem is the negative territory the Flames are in when it comes to drawing and taking penalties. That showed through again last night with a 6-3 disadvantage. You’d think with a veteran squad that this would be in the plus as opposed to the negative. Speed kills I guess, and lack of speed kills too – just more slowly !!

      • OilFan

        Who where the game changers that were lucky enough to miss that ass kicking ? I also noticed Iggy circle the blue line and not back check, is he hurt or just to old now ? It is just one game and I’m sure my Oilers will get a ass whooping like that down the road, but the rookies outclassed the Flames vets and rookies.

        • Yup, they did. And Oilers fans deserve their gloating.

          As for who were the game changers missing? Langkow, Stajan, Moss primarily, plus Kotalik who is better than, say, Jackman for a third line role. None of those may stand out as “game changers” to many, but the effect of having them out together is a cumulative one. Particularly Langkow and Moss, who are very good at the little things that cause the puck to stay in the offensive zone.

  • sam

    No way!
    Last year was their Mulligan!
    Sadly it looked a lot like last year.
    Same players stinking..
    Same mistakes…
    Same results…
    I fear she’s gonna be another long sad fuitless year. I hope not, but if last night was any indication, we are going nowhere. FAST!

  • Section 216

    Might as well mail in the rest of the season eh boys?

    C’mon, One frigging game.

    Yes Jokinen was terrible if you didn’t know that already where have you been?

    Do I expect the Flames to be better, Yeah. Do I expect the Oilers to be worse, Yeah. This is the glory of the NHL – 1 down, 81 to go.

  • I dunno, I agree with your points. Im not in the locker room, I don’t know, and it could be simply a talent issue.

    However, whats a coach do? They are suppose to highlight the strengths and hide the weakness, in other words, coaches are paid to minimize talent gaps via strategy and system and that junk.

    Im not one who thinks the coach is elite or anything like that. So thats where I come from, but even with my biase, it just isn’t one game, its one game plus last season.

    Was the defence not suppose to support more? They didn’t do it. Sutter either lied about that or the players didnt listen. Whats the other alternative?

    All I heard in the preseason was puck control. Well, they didnt do that either. Terrible spacing on the ice…from a vet team…

    Look, I could be wrong, probably am, but it looks like a team with no gameplan. Or if it has one, they seem to abandon it quickly. I mean, I understand the emotions and all that for the Oilers, but how do you get playing shootout hockey with them? Thats on the coach, no?

  • @DB.

    It could be. It also could be the players not listening. But it’s really quite hard to tell the difference between not executing because you can’t and not executing because the plan is bad/players don’t care etc.

    It’s possible in my mind that the coaches had things laid out and lined up and the players were earnest in their efforts to follow instruction…but simply couldn’t. Because, well…they aren’t good enough.

    I guess we’ll see. I mean, there’s one that can be said about Sutter last night: he didn’t dress the best line-up for whatever reason. That most certainly is on the coach.

    • i agree in principle, except (if you recall) the flames were embarassed in a 9 game losing streak last season and responded with games that looked a whole lot like last night (only less bad) 9 consecutive times.

      as for brodie, the kid pinched on a powerplay and got suckered for it. that has happened to every single good offensive defenseman in the league, and let’s face it —we needed a goal.

  • A part of me is hoping the Flames go something like 0-15 and that someone with the power to makes changes realizes that Sutter has no idea how to operate a modern NHL team and finally shows him and his brother the door.

    Trade Iginla for a few first round draft picks and lets start rebuilding a team.

  • Danny Lawson

    The reason the Flames lost, speed & exuberance
    trumped experience. Flames looked slow and somewhat bewildered for large portions of the game. Best Flames IMO, Regher, Kipper & Meyer.
    It’s one game, not the end of the world.

  • Just some opinions from a long time reader, I thought giordano was very strong. Kipper could have stole the game if he had gotten a bit of help up front and not had a rough third. But as for some of the bigger players… Bouwmeester, after being called out by Peca proved that peca was accurate in his description. He is a lot of salary and this apparent free agent lottery we won on him was in fact not a win at all. I don’t see how one player can receive so much fan galore without ever truly proving himself to the fans. He is supposed to be a star defenseman, but Brodie the rookie who I am not saying had a better game or is a better player by any means but he comes in and shows the enthuasasiam and works. Look what pk suban did for Montreal in the playlets just by being a young guy and given a chance. We realize how old slow and maybe lazy some of these guys are when yet are out against a younger faster team. I realize this is te first game but for me it feels longer since it seems to be last season and nothing has changed. The games are becoming boring to watch, flames used to be exciting systamatic hockey now its no different. Same faces getting older, same guys who put forth effort every night but just have nothing to show forbid at the end ( giordano, bourque, regehr, iffy, kipper) takes a lot more players than that to win games. Just a loyal fan who is maybe pre naturally gettig disappointed with the sitters and thinks it’s time this team gets its spark back. I may be jumped on for these comments but feel a true fan should be able to admit things and say why and when a team dissapiints them… Since we are the reason these players get paid

  • And for those chalking Brodie up for a good game, Eberle’s goal was pretty much a total failure on Brodie’s part to recognize that he was in no man’s land. Although White could have made a better play coming across.

    True, but the only reason it really comes to mind mind is because White slide past Eberle on the ensuing 2on1 and the kid made a great move to pot the goal. This doesn’t change the fact that Brodie made a poor read, but the truth is the Flames gave up a bunch of odd-man rushes and chances last night, many of them on the back of much more veteran player mistakes – and we can’t recall them because the puck didn’t go in.

    Aside from that gaffe, Brodie looked solid considering he’s a 20 year old kid. The coach sheltered him, but probably no more than any 3rd pairing d-man would have been sheltered. In the great scope of the contest he didn’t get routinely victimized, which is a victory for someone of his age and inexperience.

  • I don’t think the guys on the side lines would have made a difference. The 3 guys that stood out for me. Was meyer brodie and gio. One thing I don’t want to see again is iggy camping out at the blue line 150ft away from the play. I’ve said this before too. Tape to tape passes. Where were the basic fundamentals. On the flip side I have to say wow. These kids up north can skate and make plays at full speed.

  • A quick goaltending comparison;

    Shots pretty even, Oilers an edge on scoring chances.

    Khabibulen was very,very solid and effectively slammed the door. He resumed his Flames killer reputation.

    Kipper 1st goal was a little weak given the angle but otherwise solid.

  • cambosmash

    Being an Oilers fan, Gio is terrifying when he has the puck. Everytime he has it in the offensive zone it seems like he’s going to make something happen. Just like Zubov used to do to us… hate that guy.

    Did Iginla get too old to back check? He spent a lot of time circling at the Oilers blue line last night.

  • OilFan

    Any discussion about getting rid of Iggy is just idiotic. Iggy is the best player on the ice 80% of the time.

    As for Kipper, he kept Calgary in that game as long as possible. Even the second period shot were missleading. Scoring chances in that period were even.

    As for the whining about injuries, I wonder how Calgary would have finished last year losing Bouwmeester, Iggy and Kipper by December.

    • OilFan

      I love Iggy, but I must respectfully disagree. I would say he’s the best player on the ice 20% of the time (I still stand by the assertion that it’s as much mental as anything else with him), and the rest of the time he’s the best shooter, but certainly not the best player.

  • icedawg_42

    im a huge Iggy fan – i’ll defend his residence in calgary until the day he retires, but he really cheesed me off with his cherry picking last night…looked like a Keenanism!
    It almost looked like their new “activate our defense on the rush” plan was more “forwards sacrifice defense for an all out attack”
    The Flames totally gave up the neutral zone most of night last night, and let the oilers waltz in unchallenged.

    • icedawg_42

      Here’s the funny thing about “Keenanism”… it worked better then “Sutterism” has so far. The team could outscore the competition and was exciting to watch. I’ll take winning and excitment over losing and boredom thank ya.

  • As bad as Brodie looked being out of position on that goal, it was White who looked like more of a moron sliding across the ice. Worse read than Brodie pinching IMO.

    Khabibulin might have looked better, but how many ACTUAL good chances did we have?

    Anything we had was an outside shot or a whif. Lot’s of bad passes & not enough taking the body.

    Eberle’s goal was unreal though, glad I have him in my fantasy pool, I’m thinking he’ll have a pretty decent year.

    • @dotfras and @wi re Brodie and White

      I am far more inclined to give White the benefit of the doubt on the play, he was hung out to dry and Eberle had to make a 1 in a 100 move to get past him. And Brodie didn’t pinch, he was trying to back up instead of turning and chasing Eberle. He didn’t have enough speed to get where he needed to, and he is supposed to be a speed defenseman.

      And everybody on the Gio train, it definitely looked like he caught the high and wide bug from Phanerpes last night. One of his strengths has always been getting the puck through traffic so lets hope that doesn’t continue.

  • Read a lot of comments here about suspecting that the players are now listening to the coach or something to that degree. Does that bring up the question that this core these players are ‘un-coachable’? I remember hearing that a couple of years ago (Someone who knows deeper give more insight please? I think it was something to do with Keenan?) and now its almost like that is starting to show some truths. It seems everyone is saying the right things, but when it comes to the product on the ice, it seems to be no where near what all these guys are saying.

    • When D.Sutter brought in Brent Sutter, he cited one of his reasons for switching from Keenan to be that the Flames are a ‘tough team to coach’, if I recall. Either way, for all his lumps (being an a-hole to certain players), Keenan’s style made them very successful, especially compared to what Sutter is doing. There are also the issues of not having Cammalleri and such, but I don’t want to talk about that too much, lest I punch something.