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.
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.
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.