Postgame: Look At All Those Minuses

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 06: Radim Vrbata  of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrates with teammate Ray Whitney  after scoring a first period goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the NHL game at Arena on November 6, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Calgary Flames were not horrible on Friday night in Phoenix, falling 5-4 to the Coyotes.  In fact, there times when they were extremely effective and dominant.  However, when your captain finishes a deserving -4 and players like Alex Tanguay and Brendan Morrison are well under water too, you’re not going to win very many games.

What Happened

Phoenix came out and really carried the first half of the first period, generating a few quality scoring opportunities, only to be turned aside by Miikka Kiprusoff in the Flames net.  During that span, the only Calgary players generating any offence were the guys we had been raving about Tuesday against the Avalanche.  And what do you know, it was one of those lines opening the scoring…Rene Bourque put one past Ilya Bryzgalov at 9:24 of the first period to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.  Following that goal, Calgary really started to turn the tide, and finished the first period up by that score.

The second period was a little different.  The Coyotes tied the game just 94 seconds into the middle frame thanks to Vernon Fiddler, and it started the night of underwater treading for Jarome Iginla et al.  Iginla would cough the puck up on an odd man rush, which would lead to a Lee Stempniak goal the other way at 5:22 before Scottie Upshall converted on a Matt Stajan giveaway at 8:21 to put the ‘Yotes up 3-1.  One of Calgary’s four powerplays got them back within one, as Ian White blasted one from the point at 12:40.  At some point during the period, Head Coach Brent Sutter dissolved the top line, and it paid immediate dividends, as the Jokinen and Backlund units really started to take over while names like Alex Tanguay and Brendan Morrison were stapled to the bench.  In fact, Calgary went on a 9-0 run of scoring chances after the top line was split up.

The final frame was odd.  Calgary was really impressive up until 12:24 of the period, when Fiddler scored his second of the evening.  Before that, Calgary really controlled everything.  They were dominating possession, had Phoenix running around in their own end, and were forcing them to make some pretty silly mistakes.  Yet, on their first shot of the period, they generated a scoring chance, and Fiddler would follow up on the rebound.  Fiddler shot one into an empty net at 18:22 to put Phoenix up 5-2…Tanguay and Tim Jackman scored late goals to make the score look a little more respectable.

One Good Reason…

…why the Flames lost? Plain and simple…the -4 from Iginla tells you all you need to know.  When Calgary’s top line was together, they were absolutely THRASHED at times, especially for that span in the second period.  Unfortunately, regardless of how much you’re going to ride the guys playing the best hockey on your team, if your top players are going to be that ineffective and hurt you like that, you’re going to lose games.  Fact is, the team fell into a 3-1 hole in the second period and it was too much to ask for them to come back for a second straight night.  Very disappointing to see a -4 on Iginla, a -2 on Tanguay (although it could be -3 if not for the late goal) and -1 for Morrison (could be -2 if not for a late goal).  It’s even more disappointing knowing how strong the unit of Glencross-Jokinen-Bourque and Hagman-Backlund-Moss were.

Red Warrior

PITTSBURGH - MARCH 25:  Forward Curtis Glencross #20 of the Calgary Flames skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 25, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

I’ll go with Curtis Glencross, because it seemed like every time he was on the ice, he was creating things.  Glencross finished with 18:16 of ice time, including a very deserving 3:36 of powerplay time.  While he had no points, he was easily one of Calgary’s best forwards AGAIN.  Unfortunately, by the time Sutter started riding his line hard and utilizing them as the top unit, the team was already in a hole.

Sum It Up

Calgary outchanced the Yotes 25-16 at even strength in this game, and had some really impressive spans.  There are some things to take out of this game, and you can probably take a positive from the late goals as well…but when you’re going to have games like this from the captain and the top line (when it was together), you’re going to lose hockey games.  The Flames are right back at it Saturday night against San Jose…good thing or bad thing?

  • Michael

    @ Sean Elekes:
    I have to agree 100%. And this is exactly why I think our GM should hve been fired a long long time ago. We are 1 of 3 teams at the max salary cap and don’t have a Superstar line? Why???
    I tell you why: Because we WASTE the money on average players with pretty names: “Iginla”, “Bouwmeester”, Kipper (as I said, he currently is the best goaltender, but not exactly what the Flames need I think – money could be spend better)
    Looking at the salaries I think even Sarich and Stajan and obviously Staios are overpaid for what they do.