Postgame: Better, But Another Loss

San Jose Sharks captain Joe Thornton (R) is congratulated by teammates after scoring against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Stockholm October 9, 2010. REUTERS/Bob Strong (SWEDEN - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

There was plenty to like about Calgary’s game on Saturday night in San Jose, but it goes down as another loss, this time 4-3 at the hands of the Sharks.  Lots of good things happened…Jarome Iginla scored a timely goal and Jay Bouwmeester showed some offensive flair…but in the end, Joe Pavelski’s line was the difference, and they drop the Flames two games below. 500.

What Happened

This game had the look of an ugly one for the visitors, as they found themselves shorthanded just 58 seconds into the game…and just 66 seconds in, they found themselves down 1-0, as Joe Thornton snapped his sixth of the season past Miikka Kiprusoff.  The Sharks would stake themselves to a 2-0 lead at 10:24 when Pavelski threaded a gorgeous pass to Ryane Clowe who zipped it through, and it was 2-0 after one.  San Jose severely outchanced Calgary in that first period, 15-4 in fact, and Kiprusoff needed to come up with some large, timely saves to keep this game within striking distance.

And Calgary was able to close the gap early in the second period, thanks to a 5-on-3 powerplay, as Mark Giordano snapped his second of the season just 51 seconds in, but the Sharks would answer right back thanks to the Pavelski line again…Joe potted his fourth at 16:22 to stake San Jose to a 3-1 lead after 40.  Give the Flames credit, they generated some chances in the middle frame, thanks to some powerplay time, but it gave them some optimism heading into the third.

Once again, Calgary reeled the Sharks back in, this time at 9:14 of the final frame…a real good shift lead by Jarome Iginla yielded a great cycle, and Jay Bouwmeester popped into the play at the right time to pot his second.  But once again, Calgary couldn’t keep the Sharks from coming back…a bad step up from Brendan Mikkelson set up an odd man rush the other way, and this time Logan Couture made the Flames pay, with his sixth at 14:10.  And yet, Calgary battled back once more, and it was the captain who got them back within one…Jarome Iginla fired his third of the season at 19:23 from the left circle off a nice feed from Alex Tanguay, and it set things up for a frantic finish.  Calgary got their offensive zone faceoff, but in the end, once again…it was too little, too late, and Calgary drops to 6-8 on the season.

One Good Reason…

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 16: Joe Pavelski #8 of the San Jose Sharks looks down while taking on the Chicago Blackhawks in Game One of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HP Pavilion on May 16, 2010 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
 

…why the Flames lost? It came down to two things ultimately for me, but more than anything, they could not contain Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Ryane Clowe, who were absolutely dominant on this night.  They were matched up primarily against Curtis Glencross, Olli Jokinen and Rene Bourque and outplayed them fairly consistently…both Glencross and Bourque were outchanced 9-0 at ES, while Jokinen was behind 8-1.

Calgary’s powerplay also let them down, going 1/7 with some opportunities to tie the game.  I know they scored on the 5-on-3, but when you’re in a game like this, it’s gotta be a little more timely.

Red Warrior

Calgary Flames' Jarome Iginla (R) controls the puck against San Jose Sharks' Marc-Edouard Vlasic during the first period of their NHL hockey game in San Jose, California November 13, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)
 

I’ll go with the captain…Jarome Iginla responded on this night for the Flames.  He had the late goal, played 20:33, and his strong shift lead to Bouwmeester’s goal in the third period.  I liked a lot of what we saw from him, and it came against pretty strong opposition, playing against San Jose’s top line for good chunks of this game.  Lets hope it’s the start of a trend for him.

Sum It Up

Once again, it was a better effort for the Flames, but I know a lot of people are getting tired of hearing "good things, but not good enough."  I for one don’t buy the argument that they’re not good enough to win games…I certainly don’t think they’re a top team, but I also think they’re better than 6-8.  However, eventually you have to start winning games when you play fairly well in them, and if the hole ends up being too deep, at some point it’s going to be too hard to dig yourself out.  The Flames take on Phoenix on Wednesday.

  • SmellOfVictory

    …by examining play alone, trading Hagman would be a mistake. He is consistently one of the hardest workers on the ice, with the added bonus that he has a nose around the net, a good shot, and good defensive sense.

    …if you want to point the finger at the players, you have to start at the top of the roster in terms of salary: Iggy, Bouwmeester, Kipper, Regher, and Sarich.

    …if you want to point the finger at the hockey operations, you have to start with King, Darryl, and Button. I wasn’t sold on a wholesale cleaning of house after missing the playoffs last year, but I said if the Flames miss the playoffs twice in a row I’d be more open to it, and three times I’m all over it. Count me becoming more open by the day.

  • icedawg_42

    I’m one of those rare ‘born and raised’ Calgarians, and I have been a Flames fan since they came here and will continue to support them, so no “bandwagon” comments please.

    Having that out of the way, I have to agree that this is the most frustrating team to watch. I don’t know if the “system” is too complicated or what, but too many times it looks like these players have no idea what to do or where to go. When they are able to move the puck through the neutral zone and across the blue line they seem to freeze up…it’s either curl and dump it to the middle or the point, or dump it behind the net. When was the last time the Flames scored on a rush? The lack of offensive creativity drives me crazy.

    D Sutter has basically amassed a team of pluggers, which worked back before the lock-out, but doesn’t work anymore. It only gets worse as there isn’t a great crop of ‘up and comers’ in they system either. Sure there are some good players, but nothing in the way of a ‘Savior’ to be sure.

    There was a Brent Sutter interview on SNet last week that could have been pulled from the middle of last season…We have some things to work on, we’re getting there, it’s a process…holy crap, how long does it take?

    As far as trades…I’m fully on board with moving someone big. I know it’s hard these days, but “the core” is simply not getting it done. If they are not getting the message from the coaches, then it’s time to cut ties.

    I’m rambling 🙂

    • icedawg_42

      …how many coaches do the Flames need to go through before we realize it is not the coach that is the problem? Brent has been a winner at every level, including the NHL. I’m going to step out on a limb and say he is not the problem.

      …if your in favor of moving someone big (like the list I made in my previous post based on highest salaries), who and for whom?

      …may I make a suggestion. Iggy to the Bolts for Malone, Downie, and a high pick/prospect. I’d like to hear feedback and more possibilities, possibly an article by one of the writers that stimulates conversation.

  • icedawg_42

    …how many coaches do the Flames need to go through before we realize it is not the coach that is the problem? Brent has been a winner at every level, including the NHL. I’m going to step out on a limb and say he is not the problem.

    Don’t know if you know this but Sutter’s vaunted system involves forcing the D into some crazy gap control scheme where they endlessly give up the zone. That probably worked for him in junior. Sure doesn’t work at a level where players are better players than the coaches are coaches. (I.e. coaches only have negative impact at this level).

    …may I make a suggestion

    Prefer you didn’t

    • icedawg_42

      call it “stifling” or “suffocating”…or insert any other descriptor here about the coaching, but it seems to me Giordano hasnt been as creative lately.

    • icedawg_42

      …don’t know if you know this, in his previous three seasons as an NHL head coach Brent has averaged 46 wins per year. That’s called success. FYI: there’s nothing crazy about a gap control scheme, every team uses it to a certain extent.

      …with Iggy averaging only one goal every 10 games for nearly half a season we’d be lucky to get a package of the quality I suggested.

      …Prefer if I didn’t? Drop the self righteous wanna be know it all critique and engage in meaningful conversation. Your not intimidating anyone from your throne behind your computer screen big guy.

  • icedawg_42

    The new CBA should go through the NTC/NMC and tweak them just like the NBA has them. Players can only get one if they meet certain criteria, such as age and tenure. The Leafs had the Muskoka 5 (Sundin, Kubina, McCabe, Tucker and Kaberle) and couldnt move any. They had to let Sundin walk, Kubina they finally got a late round draft choice after his stock fell, and then bought out the other 2 guys. The Flames have 11. When half your team you cant move you’ve got a problem. Its those players who should be able to be moved. I would cap the max number of players on one team to have a NTC to 2, either their star player and one other whos been there forever, or whatever. One of the reasons the Flames have played shoddy is that they can’t move players in and out and this lies on the GM. He made the bed. Unfortunately dismissing a GM inthe middle of a season is extremely rare.
    Oh and yes Feaster is the AGM in charge of media relations, pretty much thats all. Would i hire him as GM if Sutter left, . . . no.

    • icedawg_42

      …set team limits to NMC/NTC is a good idea. However, I think it would be hard to negotiate that into the next CBA. But with that being said (as we all know from the lockout), Bettman is a great union buster.

  • icedawg_42

    Yeah I’m sure Brent was the guy who drove the bus in NJ. Couldn’t be Parise, because he’s terrible.

    You don’t see successful teams do what the Flames D are told to do which is to maintain 10-15 foot separation no matter what context. F back support, no support, 1 opposing F, 2, 3… The same move almost every time.

    I’m still waiting to hear from you about exactly what is wrong with the PP. I doubt you even know.

    It pays to have a worthwhile opinion before expressing it.

    • icedawg_42

      …just because you negate Brent’s input doesn’t make you statement true. With any team sport you can make an arguement such as the one you made.

      …actually I feel most people on this board have an idea of what is wrong with the Flames PP (sadly RO, you are not a genius that exclusively has the all prevailing answer). How many times do the Flames carry the puck to just inside the blue line and have it taken away and iced? They don’t have the players with the speed, puck control, or offensive sense to gain offensive zone control off the rush. Is that the only reason for the Flames lackluster PP, no, but a main reason out of many.

      …stop with the childish insults RO, your not impressing anyone.

    • icedawg_42

      Sorry, but I’m having trouble with this 10-15 foot thing. Is this something you read or just your observations?

      Maybe you can explain it better, because I’m just not getting how this is feasible and may not know exactly what you mean here?

  • icedawg_42

    As far as the article goes, the Flames have at times been opportunistic; good on them.

    However, tell me how many times you’ve watched the opposition bring their “A” game. I mean watched them and thought “wow, that team really brought it, I mean they were at the top of their game for 60 minutes.”

    And yet Calgary still won.

    I can’t think of any outside maybe that 1-0 win against the Preds.

    Sure as heck, SJ and LA didn’t bring it int their losses.

    We’re lucky that we’re not chasing Edmonton.

    I may as well start it now:

    It’s the Couturier, Nugent-Hopkins, Larsson sweepstakes countdown! Which one do we get?

    Or does Darryl trade it for Mike Modano (former 40 goal scorer people!)?

  • icedawg_42

    This is a threadjack, but I just saw the All-Star ballots come out. The Flames nominees are Iginla, Bouwmeester and Kiprusoff.

    I know this is just the All-Star ballot and totally meaningless but it encapsulates so much of the Flames since December of last year that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    On one hand it is obvious these players, at least to this point in this season, are far from All-Star calibre (and yes even Kiprusoff who is 31st in the league with a .903 sv%). Yet, name one other player on the Flames who would be even close to being an All-Star? Maybe Bourque, and that is a huge enormous stretch.

    Our “star” players have played bad to average and our secondary players, while some have exceeded or met expectations, are still decidedly mediocre.

    Double infuriation bonus: Regardless of his point totals, Iginla will still get picked by one of the captains and make the team. Book it.

  • the-wolf

    “Bourque, Giordano, Glencross, Moss, are all great players, you are ignorant if you can’t agree that these are all younger guys playing well.”

    Define “great.” They’re good players (jury is still out on Moss), none are first line impact players. I’d like to say Bourque, but he’s maddeningly inconsistent.

    “Staios, White, Langkow, are all coming off the books.”

    And at least 1 of those positions needs to be replaced and ideally it’d be nice to have a little more cap room. So maybe you can sign an impact guy. So far that hasn’t worked out too well for Darryl.

    “I’m not buying Nemisz, Wahl & Howse are 5 years away from making any impact in the big league.”

    Their numbers dictate otherwise. Remember, I’m talking impact, not yet another 3rd line guy.

    “I can understand both the fans’ and management’s trepidation in committing to the rebuild through the draft, since this since this team has drafted abysmally since, oh, 1985.”

    Then that’s what needs to be fixed. Fans need to understand that 2004 was lightning in a bottle. They had the right chemistry at the right time, under the right set of rules and rode the back of a hot goalie. Once you look past that it’s 4 GMs not moving past the first round in 2 decades. 4 GMs since Fletcher all trying to re-tool and win now. Doesn’t work, obviously.

    I think you could’ve re-tooled a few seasons ago. Which is when I wanted to trade Iggy (right after his 50 goals and 98 points). Because looking at it I knew that if Iggy could score like that and they still weren’t good enough to go anywhere, then changes were needed.

    As well, at 30 years of age and those stats, I knew that his was height, max trade value was to be had and teams would’ve given away a fortune.

    Now? It’s too late. The bargaining chips just aren’t there to do a re-tool that will result in a contender.

    The one time this was successful, remember, was when they did build through the draft. That ’89 team contained many home-grown players: Vernon, Nieuwendyk, Roberts, Loob, MacInnis, Suter, Fleury, Hunter, Peplinski, etc.

    We also picked guys like Hull, Reichel, Nylander, etc. which allowed us the assets to trade and go all the way and remain competitive afterwards.

    The only way to win the Cup is to build a team through (even the ’94 Rangers drafted Leetch and Richter, at least as important as the ex-Oilers that came in) shrewd drafting and proper development. And the best way to do that given the Flames roster is a blow-up. The parts are worth more than the sum in this case.