Postgame: Detroit Prevails

DETROIT - MARCH 12: Mikka Kiprusoff #34 of the Calgary Flames makes a shootout save against Henrik Zetterberg #40 of the Detroit Red Wings on March 12, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. Calgary won 6-5 in a shootout. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Can’t fault a whole lot of what the Calgary Flames did Thursday night at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, but in the end, they fell 4-2 at the hands of the Red Wings.  After a very good first period, the Flames were unable to follow up the same way in the final two frames.  It was a decent 60 minute effort for Calgary, but Detroit’s dynamic duo of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk won the day.

What Happened

The Flames came out flying in the opening frame, outshooting the Wings 16-12 and I was amazed at the edge they had in possession.  Calgary also did a nice job converting their down low pressure into real scoring chances, converting on two of them, both from Mikael Backlund.  All three goals in the first period came in a span of 2:44, with Backlund’s goals sandwiching a gorgeous finish from Henrik Zetterberg on a Pavel Datsyuk pass.  Give Jimmy Howard credit, he was outstanding in the first period, and kept it close for the home side, and gave the Red Wings a chance to get back into it in the final 40 minutes.

The second period saw Detroit outshoot and outchance the Flames, and they had the only goal of the period, with Niklas Lidstrom converting another gorgeous feed from Datsyuk on the powerplay.  It was Lidstrom’s first of the season at 3:51 and things were fairly tight for the remainder of the middle frame.  It deserved to be tied after two periods, because Calgary won the first period and Detroit won the second.

Entering the final twenty minutes, you knew Detroit would come to play, and they did outchancing the Flames once again.  Johan Franzen took advantage of a cough up and was able to get the puck past Miikka Kiprusoff to give the Wings their first and final lead.  Todd Bertuzzi sealed it at 16:43 after Mark Giordano was unable to keep the puck in at the blueline; Bertuzzi scored his second of the season to put Detroit up by two.

One Good Reason…

…why the Flames lost?  Because the top players were not the top players.  On our postgame show tonight, it was brought up that this was the first time when Calgary’s top offensive players let them down.  Florida and Edmonton?  The team was brutal period in those games.  But this game was different.  The Flames played some fairly solid hockey throughout, but names like Iginla, Tanguay, JOKINEN, and Stajan did not come to play the way they needed.  Iginla and Tanguay were largely ineffective.  Stajan was mediocre.  And Jokinen was downright terrible.  That can’t happen.

Red Warrior

Calgary Flames center Mikael Backlund celebrates after scoring a goal against the Detroit Red Wings during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Detroit, Michigan October 21, 2010.  REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

Let’s go with the two goal man.  Mikael Backlund played his best game of this young season, and dare I say it, probably one of the best games of his career.  I know Kent and R O will nominate Glencross, and I do agree, but Backlund scored the goals so we’ll go with him.  Glencross was outstanding once again though, he’s made Backlund look really good this season.  But, at least Mike Babcock knows how Backlund is now.

Sum It Up

This type of game stings if you’re a Flames fan.  All four goals came off of Flames mistakes: Zetterberg’s off of a Tanguay giveaway, Lidstrom’s off of a Staios penalty, Franzen’s off of a Jokinen cough up and Bertuzzi’s off of a bad pinch from Gio.  When it’s a close game and you’re playing a Red Wings team that’s as talented as they are, that’s not going to cut it.  And you have to see your top players rise to the challenge…they didn’t come close to doing that in this game.

But, if the positives we saw in this game carry forward to Friday’s game in Columbus, that’s a good thing.  Let’s hope they do, because Calgary will have Henrik Karlsson most likely making his first NHL start.

  • This loss is dissapointing but one that Calgary at least competed in. We could have won this one but hey, Datsyuk and Zetterberg are awesome and outmatched our top guys. It was nice to see Backlund pot a couple. Hopefully he can build off of this effort and start to be consistently more effective.

    Hind sight is 20-20 but I sometimes wonder about the logic of starting your #1 goalie in a game that is likely a stretch to win, and then start your back-up in a “gimme” game. I know Kipper gives the Flames the best chance to win, but now instead of 2 points in doubt, 4 are on the line, and a sub .500 road trip.

    What do the Flames do with Olli? He looks mediocre at best and clueless at worst. Where does he slot in to be effective, and not drag down his linemates in the process? Look at the scoring chances for that line, brutal. He has no chemistry with anyone on this team and drags down the entire line (no matter what line) he plays with.

    • What do the Flames do with Olli? He looks mediocre at best and clueless at worst. Where does he slot in to be effective, and not drag down his linemates in the process?

      The person who answers this correctly should immediately be given a spot as an assistant coach on the Flames.

      Bourque’s scoring chance numbers were dismal, but man, I can’t help but believe playing with #13 dragged him waaaaay down.

  • Maybe drop Olli to the 4th line because it doesn’t seem to matter who he plays with, you get the exact same thing from him, big loops trying to build up speed to carry the puck through the neutral zone then let a rocket go 5′ over the blue line, then another big loop in the slot area to build up some speed for the back check because his shot was high and wide and the other team is already moving the play back up the ice. At least on the 4th line he might keep his head above water since he should be playing against other players with similar decision making skills.

  • JPK

    I thought that the Flames played a descent road game against a good home team. While Jokinen was the most disappointing (especially after the stupid giveaway that led to the goal), I was more disappointed in Iggy tonight. He isn’t able to muscle his way to the front anymore. He consistantly has problems stickhandling in traffic and he is settling for perimeter shots now. He seems a shadow of his former self. I know my expectations of him are very high but he is supposed to be our best player. It just seems that age is catching up to him if he’s not caught already.

    As for the positives, Sarich has been looking like his former self and making some good plays, Backlund and GlenX make for a great tandem, and Jackman keeps impressing me.

  • On Jokinen, I was at least hoping for him to be decent on the PP, but he’s killing plays there too. There was one in particular last night where he had the puck on the sideboards and Giordano saw a soft area of coverage near the top of circles and moved up…only to see Jokinen pass the puck about 3 feet behind him, causing it to exit the zone.

    That play actually made me laugh out loud.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      I made some “out loud” sounds too when that happened, but I won’t repeat them here.

      Assface is more brutal than I remember.

      Maybe the top 6 should look like:

      Tangs / Staj / Bork

      GlenX / Backs / Iggy

  • JPK

    Hi Kent,

    First thing that I have noticed over the first six games is we still cannot finish plays when it comes to the scoring chances. You can have 16 to 20 shots in a period but if you cannot score more than one and sometimes none. It does not matter how many shots you have on net if you do not have players who have the skill set to finish plays. I feel we lack finishers on this team or we have REALLY bad luck. It is still early but the big name players, who you also mentioned in your article, are not leading this team. They never seem to get in sync and on a night that Backlund pots a couple we have nobody else that steps up in the line up. How often have we seen this over the years? Elite teams find ways to win and bring consistency to their game as a TEAM. We keep waiting for the Flames to do this but each year the story line is very similar. I am not seeing early on within the first six games that the Flames have the skill set to be an elite team. We are dealing with the same story line from past seasons.

    I also feel we are still not getting true return for the money Darryl has chosen to spend on our elite players on the team. I feel we have over paid for Jay Bouwmeester on defence, for whatever reason Jay is decent in the defensive zone but is not offering much on the offensive side of things. Please do not tell me the Flames were okay spending 6.7 million a season for a defensive stud (NOT) and little to NO offence. I would gladly take back Dion at 6.5 million. Maybe just maybe Mike Peca was not far off on his comments about Jay Boumeester. I think Jay is a fine pro defenseman but there are signs this guy is not going to give us the numbers he did in Florida or just some offensive numbers would be helpful. Overall he is a great guy to have on your team I am sure but in my own opinion NOT at 6.7 million a year. Then we can get into Olli Jokinen’s performance over 6 games, we can like the contract he signed but yet again this guy just seems out of sorts and makes me wonder how he ever put up the numbers he did in Florida. You have two players who have come from the Panthers organization who contributed offensively to the Panthers organization but since coming to the Flames organization they have not contributed to the offence the way the Flames brass I am sure had hoped for. From an offensive perspective they have been a bust. What concerns me is how the Flames will justify till there blue in the face and they always have the answers but Darryl has slowly made a mess of this team with over paid signings and poor trades. Mike Cammalleri should have never been let go through UFA. I still cannot believe we lost our #1 pick this past year for Olli Jokinen. We could have had another young gem defenseman to groom and instead we are left with old rickety parts that just seem to fit anywhere no matter where we seem to try to play him.

    The season is young and we are only six games in but there have been early signs of poor offence, lack of finish, players not showing up etc. If this continues we will be competitive this year but we will not even be close to an elite team in the league and it will be a LONG year yet again in Flames nation.

    Best to all the Flames fans and thanks for reading!


  • CitizenFlame

    I enjoyed the game tonight and liked the effort that I saw.

    I heard a rumor yesterday that LA was inquiring about trading for Iginla. It’s likely not true although of all the teams that would looks to acquire him they could give us the most. I dont know what the value of Iginla is but if we could get a return of L.A. draft picks and prospects including Braydon Schenn, Brandon Kozun, Colton Teubert and/or draft picks for Iginla + we should do it.

    L.A. with Iginla should win the cup in the next couple of years and I want to see Iggy win the cup more than anything…

    • the-wolf

      You really think Iggy is worth that much? Sorry, but you’re dreaming.

      I’ve been saying for the last 2+ years, ever since all the ballyhoo about Iginla shedding 20 pounds for the new NHL, transforming himself from a power winger into a finesse winger.

      Hasn’t worked. The “new” Iginla is a guy who stands around at the top of the circles waiting for the 1-timer or cherry-picking for the breakaway. Finally, the media have gotten the stones to comment on it as I’ve recently heard it mentioned on a TV broadcast and yesterday morning on the Fan during a MR interview. Sutter talked about it in the paper today. He didn’t mention names, but you’d have to be a fool to think he wasn’t including Jarome in that statement.

      Anyways, if I could just get Schenn for Iginla at this point I’d be ecstatic, although you could probably get a 2nd round pick in there too. that’s about it. Iginla’s 33 and nowhere close to the player he was in 2004. He’s got 2 decent years (including this one) left.

      • PrairieStew

        Yes – Iggy is slowing down, but I have confidence that he will be back in the 30 goal range again. Two more decent seasons are likely, then it becomes difficult to look at that $7 m cap hit when he hits 35 and is in effect a third liner.
        At 33 Lanny McDonald scored 28 goals on a team that scored 354 (!!!) goals. If this edition of the Flames scored 254 they would be awesome; so Iggy sure means more than Lanny did at the same age and is relatively a far better performer.

        Trading Iggy now is nonsensical – the team clearly mapped their strategy over the summer – go with the veterans – and the direction needs to be given some time. Nothing will happen unless Sutter is fired or the team is out of the playoff hunt in February.Then, as I have said in other places, Iggy would be the last to go.

        • the-wolf

          Agree that the direction has been set. The Flames organization is bound & determined to follow a strategy of scrape & claw into the playoffs, hope you have chemistry and ride the back of a hot goalie.

          Disagree in that if things were to change, say by the trade deadline or this coming summer, Iggy has to go in order to do a successful rebuild.

      • the-wolf

        I didnt say they would get all of that but those are potential targets. Schenn would be the first player I would look to acquire and if they could get a 2nd rounder too…GREAT!

        One thing you are overlooking is that Iginla literally has the weight of the world on his shoulders here and to me he looks like a defeated individual. I think the best thing to happen for him would get a change of scenery. The fact he would be joining such a strong organization wouldnt hurt either.

  • CitizenFlame

    What does everyone think about going after a guy like Spezza? Ottawa is in the same boat as Calgary right now. Murray is threatening shaking up the team already.
    Think they would go for a Spezza, Gonchar, 2nd rounder for Jokinen, Bouwmeester, + $3 mill player like Kotalik/Hagman?

    Cap hit is roughly the same, we get a #1 center in his prime, while taking on an aging powerplay quaterback, and a prospect to help replenish the cupboard, Ottawa gets a mobile defender who chews up tons of minutes like they want, get a center back to fill hole left by Spezza, + an additional potential 20 goal winger (that they thought they were getting with Cheechoo).

    • You know, Im really ambivalent on Spezza. He’s been a good point producer at ES for years and I think he’s excellent on the PP, but…he doesn’t seem to drive the play like a $7M should. He’s playing tough minutes in OTT this year, for example, but he’s also on the bottom of the club in terms of possession for example.

  • the-wolf

    I think a change of scenery would do him wonders, but I don’t think Ottawa would go for that trade. They signed Gonchar for a reason and Bouwmeester might give you moer for a longer time, but he’s more expensive, not to mention taking on a 3mil salary like you say. It also leaves Ottawa with no #1 centre, the rarest commodity in the league. Whether you’re a big fan of Spezza or not, it’s tough to argue that he’s not a #1. If I’m Ottawa, theonly way I move Spezza to Calgary is if Backlund is part of the package coming back.

    And as history shows, don’t think for a minute that Darryl wouldn’t trade Backlund if he thought it meant making the playoffs and/or saving his job.

  • the-wolf

    Some great comments!

    What do the Flames do with Olli? Great question; I am not sure what sort of interest the Flames could garner from other teams around the league for Olli. At 3 million he is affordable but the guy is so anaemic not sure anyone would look past his assists and goals. So, I feel the organization is stuck with him bouncing around from the first line to maybe the third line. If none of the above appear to be working and the experiment of Olli coming back here is done. I would hide in him in the minors and move on. You cannot let poor decisions and players who do not work out hurt the operation of your business. If you cannot find a place for them some where else, they have to be sent to the AHL and you simply bury the contract. I feel for the player but my business matters to me first and the overall success of it. The two year contract of Olli is also going to hurt.

    I wish Darryl and Ken King were not so stuck on making sensible trades and build up some quality draft picks. Hell, we have been so eager to give up our early round draft picks over the last 3 to 4 years we need to start getting some back.

    I personally feel it is time for a change of scenery for Iggy. The guy is the face of the Flames and has done an admirable job but some times in life and in any profession. A change does you good. Iggy, Kipper, Jay, Cory, Robyn, Staios are guys I would start to seriously look at moving and start building my draft picks and at the same time pick up a solid or above player (s) in return. I think Darryl is too stubborn and the Flames are so set in their direction on how this team is going to be shaped for years to come and he will not move the core because he still thinks the core can win for him.

    I am still trying to make sense of the Staios acquisition. We took on a contract and player that was so unnecessary and have only handicapped us with the salary cap and having another body on the blue line. Staois in my opinion was not going to add the depth or be the player we needed for a playoff run last year if we made the playoffs. What the hell was Darryl thinking again but he gets away with making border line to nonsensical trades that HE thinks are good for the team.

    I have thought lots on the idea of Spezza coming here but he is another player who demonstrates inconsistency and on again off again leadership skills. Now, having said this I would really like to see what Iggy, Tanguay and Spezza would be like together. My concern is does Iggy need a change of address more than we need to bring Spezza in. The other concern is would Darryl over pay for a Spezza and could he move or hide enough salary to get him here.

  • @ Kenn

    Re: Jokinen. Sutter gave him a NMC with the two years when he inexplicably re-signed him. A NMC means he can’t even be re-assigned to the AHL without his consent. This basically means that if Joker is a bust (and it certainly looks like he will be), the Flames are stuck with his contract.

    Why did Darryl Sutter give a 30+ year old player coming off a terrible season with no discernible leverage a NMC? I have absolutely no idea.

    • the-wolf

      “Why did Darryl Sutter give a 30+ year old player coming off a terrible season with no discernible leverage a NMC? I have absolutely no idea.”

      I was presuming that Jokinen wouldn’t sign without one… wanted to avoid being dumped at the trade deadline again. Mostly I think he probably wanted to have some geographic certainty so that he could move his family/buy a house and whatnot.

      The other thing I heard (In the vein of I heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who…) is that Darryl asked Iginla who he wanted from the crop of available UFA centers and Iggy said Jokinen.

      Really anyone whose musing about trading Jarome Iginla can muse about something else more realistically. Iggy won’t be traded until maybe the last year he intends to play (in a Ray Bourque type sendoff). I’m pretty sure upper-management will want him around to sell tickets/jersey’s etc. etc. He’s still a big name even if the skill no longer matches the reputation.

  • the-wolf

    Hi Kent,

    I was not aware of the NMC…….holly @#$%%& how does Darryl get away with offering such contracts. I just don’t get it. Bringing Joker back was a risk in the first place then to add a NMC to his contract. That is just totally bad business. Ken King sits back and endorses his GM’s moves. Now how comfortable does Joker have it now with the NMC. He can flat our refuse to being traded or sent to the minors. Contracts like this on any team is just plain bad business practice and to me really handicaps your business operations short term and in the long term. I don’t get how Darryl is allowed to offer the contracts he does but Ken King is right there letting his guy run the hockey operations without privately challenging Darryl or outright saying NO to him we are not doing this. Of course we don’t know the on goings behind the closed doors but it sure makes you wonder when you see the finished results.

  • BobB

    Here I go again…

    I know it’s easy to blame Jokinen on many a night. A little too easy.

    But his game wasn’t the worst of the bunch last night. If anything, I don’t find Jokinen frustrating to watch in that he hurts us. It’s more that he just doesn’t help us at all. I mean, of course everyone can hurt us sometimes…but he does sooooooo much skating, and accomplishes so little.

    His linemates last night were awful. Bourque and Hagman played perhaps the worst games I have seem from them.

    Giordano was freaking brutal last night, I don’t care if it was 3 steps forward and one giant vault back. The Bertuzzi play was horrendous, and the Gio-Joker play was a perfect example of two guys off their game. Jokinen made perfect pass under pressure, Gio made a perfect cut to open ice, they just happened at the same time.

    The problem with Jokinen as I see it, is there is no good to temper the bad.

    I said it all last year, and I’ll say it again. Iggy and Joker are two of the worst players on this team. Joker just gets it hard, cause, Iggy’s got the smile, and one whole goal.

    We looked impressive for 20 minutes, but, watching Detroit move the puck is so perfect, it’s almost nauseating.

    The Zetterberg goal was spectacular. They systematically turned a 3 on 3 into three 2 on 1’s and scored. It doesn’t get better than that.

  • BobB

    And please. Can we get rid of Staios yet? He is so slow, and has no upside. At least Sarich is playing physical.

    Jokinen will be fine for 3 million…. don’t lose your heads yet. I mean hell, we’re paying Iggy 7!

  • Greg

    Kent, your earlier comments about this game being won by whoever outplayed the other more, Glencross vs their third line or Datsyuk vs Iginla, turned out to be prophetic.

    Iginla is still a good player, but he can’t outwit, outplay, and outlast other elite players on his own anymore. If there was an opportunity to trade him to a contender later this year, I would whole-heartedly support it. I think it would be the best thing for both him and franchise. Pittsburgh or LA look like the best fits to me.