Postgame: Another Loss

Calgary Flames goalie goalie Miikka Kiprusoff (R) tries to get the puck from Phoenix Coyotes Martin Hanzal during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Calgary, Alberta November 17, 2010. REUTERS/Todd Korol (CANADA - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

It’s kind of hard to come up with clever titles for the postgame article…really, tonight’s title is exactly what the game was.  Another loss for the Calgary Flames.  This time, it was to the Phoenix Coyotes (again) by a 3-1 score at home.  Overall, Calgary has lost four straight at the ‘Dome and three in a row…they now sit 7-10 on the season.

What Happened

The Flames really came to play in the opening frame, as they had their legs and were generating scoring chances on a fairly regular basis.  Overall, Calgary outchanced the ‘Yotes 7-5, including 7-3 at even strength.  But they couldn’t get one past Ilya Bryzgalov, despite carrying a 16-9 shot advantage into the second period.

That second period was odd…Calgary wasn’t awful, but they suffered for long stretches.  Granted, Phoenix didn’t do a whole lot to take things over during that time, but that’s not how they play.  The Coyotes keep things in front of them and pounce when they get the chance.  Exhibit A: Wojtek Wolski at 7:13 of the middle frame.  Wolski took an errant Cory Sarich pass in the neutral zone and brought it into the left corner…where he fired a shot that shouldn’t get past the goalie.  Kiprusoff was beat on a bad one, and it started to get away on Calgary a little.  On a powerplay, Phoenix would go up by two at 12:33 thanks to Martin Hanzal on a goal mouth scramble, and the Flames were down by two heading into the final frame.

The third was extremely frustrating capped off by a push by the home team.  There was a loooooooooong time where Kent had the Flames with no scoring chances, which is 100% unacceptable for a team facing another loss and chasing in the third period.  The urgency the team needed didn’t show up until far too late, but they did put a strong shift together and cashed in at 16:08 thanks to Rene Bourque…he scored his ninth to put Calgary within one.  The Flames had a few chances to even this one up, most notably an Alex Tanguay shot that went off the post, but in the end, this one was iced at 19:52 thanks to an empty netter.

One Good Reason…

…why the Flames lost?  Because they didn’t have enough urgency, push or desperation for enough of this game.  A first period is awesome, and the Flames put together a good opening 20.  But where’s the follow up?  The second period was listless and frustrating, and even down a pair, there wasn’t enough of a flurry heading into the third period.  Calgary was forcing turnovers when they had the puck deep on Phoenix, but it needed to happen more. It just didn’t.

Red Warrior

Calgary Flames defenseman jay Bouwmeester (4) jumps on Colorado Avalanche center Brandon Yip during the first period at the Pepsi Center on April 2, 2010 in Denver. Colorado lost to Calgary 2-1.  UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

I’ll go with Jay Bouwmeester.  I thought he was really strong, and playing 26:59, he was able to see the chances finish 9-5 in his favor.  I’ve been really impressed how he’s started jumping into the rush as of late, and has been a whole lot more comfortable overall.  He’s a guy who needs to continue his elevation, but I thought he was good against Phoenix, and I thought he’s been pretty good the last three games or so.

Sum It Up

It’s another loss.  This team is digging themselves a hole that can’t really get a whole lot deeper.  At 7-10. they’re looking up at 13 other Western Conference teams, and regardless of the good things happening, they have to find ways to win hockey games.  As a whole, things are not working…sure, there are good individuals, or good lines, or good periods.  But when was the last time we saw a full 60 from this team?  Oh, and Chicago is in on Friday…they’ve won eight straight regular season games over the Flames.  Maybe Calgary is due.

  • mikeecho

    At the beginning of last year, King, Sutter et. al told us that the Flames were an elite team that had expectations of challenging for the cup.

    At the end of the year, they revised that outlook to something along the lines of …”all we wanted to do this year was get into 8th spot. Once you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen.”

    At the beginning of this year, King told us that everything was great. 97% of fans renewed their season tickets and their goal was to make 8th spot and see what happened.

    The executives of this team have been lowering the bar for the last couple of seasons, and stocking the teams talent base to meet those reduced expectations with recycled players, has beens and never were’s.

    I’m at the point where I can’t really blame the players or coaches anymore despite the fact that none of them have a proven track record of winning as a coach in the HNL.

    The fact is, we have a team that can only pass 5 feet ahead, 5 feet behind or directly into the skates. At this level, those skills are what they are and there’s only so much that can be done with a limited talent base formed from former 20 goal scorers of the past 10-15 years.

    It’s time for the executive leadership to take accountability for their lack of performance.

  • Since it hasn’t really been discussed, let’s take a look at the Babchuk trade by the numbers:

    08-09 Stats (was in KHL for 09-10):

    Quality of Competition: 6th/7 of all Canes defenders. Likely faced 3rd-4th line opposition.

    PDO: 1000, so NHL average, but also highest of all Canes defenders. Meh.

    Corsi: +9.18, 3rd/7 of Canes defenders. Pretty, solid, until you consider his ZoneStart.

    ZoneStart: 55.6% or 3rd/7 easiest of Canes defenders. Fairly high, can start to see where those 16 goals came from.

    Penalties: Draws 0.5/60 and takes 0.4/60. Likely a small sample size, but its never a bad thing when defenders have a positive penalty differential.

    By comparison, here are Joni Pitkanen’s numbers in the same season for the Canes, a player I know many think very highly around the ‘Sphere from his time with the Oilers:

    QoC: 4th/7

    PDO: 993, 3rd/7

    Corsi: 11.19, 1st/7

    ZS: 56.8%, 2nd/7

    Penalty Diff: -0.7


    I don’t know where you can find the PP rates which is what Babchuk is being touted for (I may have scanned over them at BtN), but on the surface it looks like we have a 3rd pairing guy at EV who can do decently when put in easy circumstances.

    Pitkanen had a slightly superior season, putting up similar numbers across the board while facing 2nd and 3rd line opposition. For comparisons sake, Babchuk didn’t do all that bad compared to an effective NHLer and since he was 24 and most defenders that age are sheltered to an extent.

    Babchuck’s numbers are pretty comparable to those of White when he got traded from the Leafs to Calgary. And I expect him to leave the similar terms as White if he is put next to Reggie to face the toughs.

    Probably a slight win of a deal considering the cap savings. Or maybe not since it means Staios likely won’t get burried in Abby any time soon.

    • Great take on Babchuk MF…great stuff.

      Probably a slight win of a deal considering the cap savings. Or maybe not since it means Staios likely won’t get burried in Abby any time soon.

      That’s the only part I’d disagree on, as they took on another salary for next season in Kostopoulos. I knows it’s 900k or whatever, but it’s unnecessary in my eyes when you could have lost White straight up at the end of the season.

      From the numbers you put up, it doesn’t seem like he’s going to make much of a difference…won’t hurt either though.

      • PrairieStew

        Kostopolous in effect replaces Glencross going forward. Curtis may be the Flames most valuable trade commodity at the deadline, good energy, grit, and no committment beyond this year. If a team is looking to add to their 3rd line at the expense of a prospect he would be the ticket.

        As a UFA, GlenX will demand over $1.5 per year for a 3 yr deal ( Nystrom got $1.4); and if Tommy the Greek can fill that role for 900k for next year and we can get a prospect, we are ahead.

        • Don’t know if I’d take Kostopoulos over Glencross after 20 beers.

          Not saying GlenX is coming back next season, I have no idea…but Glencross is younger, and more effective.

          Kostopoulos last year: -4.6 corsi with 51.5% offensive zone start.

          GlenX: 6.52 corsi, 53.8% zone start

          Looks like Glencross does a whole lot more against depth opposition than Kostopoulos does.

          • PrairieStew

            Don’t know that I would take Kotsopolous over Glencross either; frankly I haven’t seen enough of TK to know.What I know about Curtis is some days he is awesome and other days he takes dumb penalties and/or starts to think he is a finesse player and gets too fancy with the puck and coughs it up. I know for sure that Glencross is not twice the player TK is, because he’s not twice anybody, so if is looking for close to $2m in free agency -I would pass.

            Given the state of the team, and the fact that TK is signed for one more year and GlenX is not, I stick to my original assertion that the best thing now to do with Glencross is to move him somewhere near the deadline for younger assets.

  • mikeecho

    Oh s**t. To me, today’s trade confirms that Sutter seriously thinks that Calgary has a shot at the playoffs this year. Instead of striving for draft picks, he is following last year;s strategy of making trades for “character” grinders and underachivers with potential upside. Don’t be alarmed if he signs Babchuk to a 5 year contract for 3.5 million a year before the season’s over. Then he will trade Iginla for 2 third liners and a 5-6 pairing defenceman (all of whom will be signed or resigned in the 3-4 million range). Sigh…at least back in the late 90’s we could look forward to watching an emerging superstar. Now…

  • I just hope we don’t get clobbered by the Nucks this year, as it will be tough to look at all the smug faces of Canucks fans here in B.C. Man, I love the picturesque countryside of beautiful B.C., but that also means I am perpetually inundated by the cheers and sneers of Canuckers. The performance of the flames is not helping matters.

  • Sutter’s gone off the rails. He’s trying to bring back the 03-04 Flames and hopes we can upset the top seeds through some sort of wizardry.

    Perhaps we should give Ville Nieminen and Krzys Oliwa a call, see what they are up to these days. Hell, might as well call up Roman Turek, see if he still has a few games left in him.

  • I haven’t watched all the games lately and only parts of ones I do catch but according to the authors here (whom I trust with this), the Flames are not playing all that bad.

    Is it just a matter of time? Is it Kipper?

    I agree though. We need to dig out of this hole asap or golf season starts early in cow town.

    The White trade was blah. It saves some cash. The only thing I wonder is if he might have more value later or if he could have been part of a package for something better. Guess we’ll never know.

  • PrairieStew

    I certainly would have preferred waiting on moving White. It seems to me that a playoff bound team that needed help on their #2 pp might have had some interest based on his play last year. The fact that he was not very good through the first 15 games and there is over $2m left to pay this year depressed his value considerably. I guess if had continued to play poorly it could have gotten worse.

    The lasting asset from this trade is the 31 year old grinder who is signed for next year. I guess he replaces Glencross, who we will not be able to afford beyond this year. It sure would have been better to recieve some more youth in this deal, as BCFlame suggests, this shows mgmt thinks they still can make some noise this year. SIGH.

  • Backburner

    This is lookin like the “Slump” of last January.. if you can call it that. I think all signs are pointing to a big change. Unfortunately I don’t think it means that the Sutters will be gone (although its interesting that Darryl traded his son); I do expect more trades to come, if only by a little salary dumping. An Iginla trade makes sense; It’s just a trade that no GM wants to make… Sutter would definetly seal his fate if he moves Iggy and it would be a last resort. I would bet that Darryl will try to bring in Savard or Richards.. by any means neccesary… with the exception of maybe Bourque and Gio. No one is safe. At least this is what I beleive to be common sense.. maybe the leash on Sutter tighter than we think!!

  • Backburner

    If I see Jarome Iginla skate backwards with the puck through the slot again, I may have to start some kind of voodoo regimen to get him out of the lineup so as to preseve my sanity and my hair.

    He has scored 444 goals in the NHL – how many of them were scored 20 feet from the net, not even looking at it?

    I will second comments that Bouwmeester stepping up looked good. Couldn’t agree more, there were at least two good chances that came as a result of him stepping up. More please.

  • PrairieStew

    7th or 8th not out of the realm of possibility but we will soon find out with the next 6 games are against tough competion; even though NJ is off to a tough start – any game vs Brodeur in their building, in the middle of a long road trip is a tough one.

    8 of the next 10 are also in the tough category with our first against Vancouver and a trip back in to Chicago. The only 2 easy games in the next 10 are 2 with Minnesota, and we lost to them first time out.

    The good news is within 2 weeks basically half of the tough games are out of the way. The bad news is that 9-18 looks like a distinct possiblity come Monday morning Dec 6.

    What we don’t know is how this team matches up against 3 critical teams : Vancouver – 6 games and the expected division leader, and Dallas and St Louis – 4 games each and competitors for the final spots. If for some reason, the Flames match well against these 3 squads, all is not lost.

    • “What we don’t know is how this team matches up against 3 critical teams : Vancouver – 6 games and the expected division leader, and Dallas and St Louis – 4 games each and competitors for the final spots.”

      That is a good point. The only thing that separates Calgary from Edmonton right now is our head-to-head. If Calgary matches up well against our division rivals we have a chance. It’s a long shot but it’s still a shot. Last time I checked we were only 5 points out of 8th. It’s imperative the Flames do well on this road trip or they’ll be out of it by December.

      I think by Christmas we’ll know for sure whether we’re making a run for the playoffs or if we’re dismantling.

    • 7th or 8th not out of the realm of possibility but we will soon find out with the next 6 games are against tough competion; even though NJ is off to a tough start – any game vs Brodeur in their building, in the middle of a long road trip is a tough one.

      Here’s the problem…Calgary has 7 games to go this month. If they go 4-3, they’re still two games below .500 and they’re still well on the outside looking in.

  • Brett Sutter on waivers.

    From Dreger “Brett Sutter requires waivers to go down to AHL and to adjust his salary from NHL to AHL.”

    Seems like Darryl worked his magic the last couple weeks to make sure his son had some cash in the bank for the move.

    Probably the only reason he’s been with in the presser all season.

    • Based on the interview with Jay Feaster yesterday there were logical reasons why he was kep up-Carolina had expressed interest in him a few weeks back when the trade was initially proposed. To send him down would require him to clear waivers and risk losing him for nothing.

      Makes sense that Carolina would send him down as he hasn’t played in close to a month.

      I trust Feasters interpretation more than your speculation on this one.

  • BobB

    I can live with some trades Darryl makes, I don’t agree with them all as they just have not made a lot of sense at times (Staios for one). lat night games we come out in the first period and 15 to 20 (?), we have done this lots in games we can have lots of puck pressure and look good at times BUT we cannot score. The bottom line is WE DO NOT HAVE ANY PURE GOAL SCORERS, we are a dump and chase team who lives off of the check and grind and get in front of the net and dig like dogs for the puck. Most of the time!

    The announcers and whoever can talk about the shots on goal but we tend to make a goalie look good. Last night Kipper was pretty good but not as good as the two previous games and we could not even get him a win. Lets face it whether it is the system that Brent and the coaches have implemented or it is the players themselves. We suck as an offensive skilled team who struggle most of the time to score pure goals. It is not going to happen with the group we have. We need more of a balance between some pure scorers and grinders who can muck it up and score.

    Ian White could have been held on till later in the year and JUST maybe we could have got more for him. A team more desparate for a player like Ian White or even at the trade dealine. This deal has been in the works for some time and therefore Darrly and Jay decided to pull the trigger.

    This deal was done for cap space because soome of our IR must be getting closer to coming back.

    There will be many more games like last night until there is a major shake up or the team starts consistently playing Brent Sutter’s system.

    Darryl seems to be set on keeping Robyn, Cory, Jarome and Kipper together. Jay could go too with his 6.7 million contract. Come on this is a joke the money we are paying our big studs and we are not even close to being a contender let alone a real playoff team.

    I don’t mean to sound so negative but I am tired of believing the BS and never seeing positive results. I am not saying you have to win the cup but Vancouver and other teams are miles ahead of us. Be competitive, play hard and score goals if you do not want to rebuild. Many Flames fans are confused and frustrated because of the act we see on the ice and the talk we here game in and game out. Either rebuild and use some of the assets you have or make some changes to show the fans that this team can actually be a winner. So it has to come down to buying into the present system by Brent or let Brent go and put in Dave Lowry and let him have a shot at turning this team around or start the rebuild.

    I only want the best for the Flames and for all the Flames fans but we are not even coming close to seeing good things from this team. They have a lot of work to do if they want to hit the 95 to 100 point target to make it into the playoffs by seasons end.

    • PrairieStew

      – Ian White could have been held on till later in the year and JUST maybe we could have got more for him.

      Agreed – unless he continued to suck and or got hurt.

      -This deal was done for cap space because soome of our IR must be getting closer to coming back

      Agreed – though one would hope that Tom K and Kotalik potentially have more offense in them than Meyer and Sutter.

      – Darryl seems to be set on keeping Robyn, Cory, Jarome and Kipper together.

      Agreed – He gave them the NTC. Maybe they start coming to him if Christmas comes before win #10.

      – Either rebuild and use some of the assets you have or make some changes to show the fans that this team can actually be a winner.

      The course of action was chosen days after the end of the year, when Iggy did not flatly refuse to look at waiving his NTC. The belief that Langkow’s injury caused them to miss the playoffs, that if a comptent backup could be signed to relieve Kipper, and seeing the success of low seeds Montreal and Philly in the playoffs sealed the deal – one more try. As I said during the summer, Sutter has set his course and staked his reputation on these guys. If it fails he should be held accountable, but I don’t have a sense of whether he will or not.

      • I understand why NTC are offered in their contracts (security and family). However, from a business standpoint they can handcuff a team terribly especially if your a team like the Flames who in all honesty don’t know if they are a playoff team or bottom feeder at this time of the season. Apparently Olli has a NTC too and that in my own opinion is just outright questionable business practice. Yes, the Flames management can justify all they want but come on this is a business and if you have assets that have NTC embedded into their contracts you just create so much more work for yourself and you have to convince the player the grass is going to be greener on the other side. The only way you do that is trade them to a contender or a team of their choice. So in the end your hands are still somewhat tied because the player holds the best cards. I don’t know how many other teams hand out NTC but Darryl has been generous and now our good assets all have to be approached and then convinced it is in their best interest to move on and in return you could help us out in rebuilding this organization. Now if you take the scenario of Matt Sundin a few years ago, he had the NTC with Toronto and in my opinion Sundin severely handicapped the Leafs from picking up a player or two or some draft picks. I don’t blame him for what he did but guess where he ends up playing anyway a year later…..Vancouver. Toronto as an organization lost big time by having the NTC with Matt and then approaching him and having Matt slap them in the face by saying no I think I will stick around till the end even though I know we suck and are not a playoff team.

        NTC are bad for business and if I were a GM, you would never get one from me unless I had a clause in there stating that the player and team have the right to revisit the no trade clause and the player can have a choice of 10 teams he would play for. Something along those lines, if not, as a business you are really backing yourself into a corner and giving yourself very few options at the end of the day.

        Side Note:
        I have been on other hockey blogs and forums and FlamesNation provides the most constructive, thought provoking feedback and lots of great discussion.

        Keep it up hockey fans!!


        • PrairieStew

          The upside to a NTC is that (hopefully) you have a player willing to give up salary in order to get one. How much 5% ? 7 ? 10 ? Seeing as how we are spent to the cap, one would assumbe that Sutter’s cash values for these guys in his mind is even higher. So is Joker worth $3.2 (7%) without a NTC ? If this is the case, it is further damnation of Sutter’s ability to build a competitive squad witht the resources he has at his disposal. Yikes.