Postgame: Heartbreak In Mo-Town

DETROIT - JUNE 06:  Nicklas Lidstrom #5 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates after his teams goal in the second period against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Five of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 6, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

That one stings.  Despite carrying a 3-1 lead heading into the third period, and holding a 4-2 lead into the final half of the third period, the Calgary Flames fell 5-4 to the Detroit Red Wings in overtime, starting off a five game road trip on a sour note.  It was a game with plenty of Calgary positives, and one of their best periods in recent memory…yet the Flames have just one point to take from it.

What Happened

Things started off with a Detroit goal, just 1:56 into the first period…Robyn Regehr was tagged for interference, which would start a theme on this night; Johan Franzen would cash in with his ninth to give the Wings their first and only lead of the night.  But Calgary responded, and a really nice pass from Jarome Iginla found Niklas Hagman who made no mistake…Hagman scored his sixth to tie things at one.  I felt Calgary really started to tilt things as that opening frame went on, and the even strength play was pretty strong for spans of that first.  It would carry over into the second.

The middle frame was Calgary’s best of this game, and probably their best period all season.  Just 54 seconds in, the Flames would take the lead thanks to…the captain!  Iginla potted his seventh to put Calgary up by one, and he’d stake them to a two goal lead at 4:09 on the powerplay.  Iginla hammered home a shot from the side of the net, and it’s fair to say he had an extremely strong second period.  The Wings started to push near the end, but didn’t manage a ton of scoring chances, but it set up for a crazy finish.

Detroit would get back within a goal at 2:28 of the third period, thanks to (another) powerplay…Pavel Datsyuk potted his seventh of the season with Cory Sarich in the box for hooking, and it looked like the Wings were going to be right back in this thing.  But Calgary would score a huge goal about five minutes later when Brian Rafalski would cough up the puck and Alex Tanguay would make him pay…Tanguay made a nice lateral move and undressed Wings goalie Jimmy Howard to put Calgary back up by two.  At 11:04 of the third period, Henrik Zetterberg would get the Wings back within one, getting a backhand shot through Miikka Kiprusoff, and that would set up an unreal finish.  Detroit REALLY started to push, and they drew a penalty on one of the more boneheaded plays in recent memory…when Matt Stajan hauled down Valtteri Filppula in the offensive zone.  But, they killed it off.  Then a weaker call on Jay Bouwmeester late, which the Red Wings would capitalize on, albeit late…with three seconds to go, Datsyuk and Zetterberg took advantage of 2-on-1 and a stickless Cory Sarich…and this game is headed to extra time tied 4-4.

Overtime was a formality really.  Detroit outchanced Calgary 4-0 and Niklas Lidstrom scored the winner at 1:38.  Detroit found a way to win this game, and it certainly stings if you’re a Flames fan.  How it stings the actual team remains to be seen.

One Good Reason…

…why the Flames lost?  Well, it would be too easy to point to the powerplays, but I’ll go a little deeper…they just didn’t do enough to close an elite hockey team out.  Tanguay scored to make it 4-2 at 7:14 of the third period…and Calgary didn’t get another shot the rest of the period.  Is part of that because Detroit is that good?  Yes.  But Calgary also changed their game, and wasn’t able to do it effectively.

I won’t really address the powerplays, because I know it’ll get talked about below.  It’s a shame Detroit scored three powerplay goals though, because there were some really good penalty killing performances from Calgary.

Red Warrior

DENVER - NOVEMBER 09: Mikael Backlund  of the Calgary Flames celebrates his third period goal against goalie Peter Budaj  of the Colorado Avalanche to tie the score 2-2 at the Pepsi Center on November 9, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Flames defeated the Avalanche 4-2. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

I  know Jarome had three points, but I was very impressed by Mikael Backlund.  Very impressed.  Playing with Hagman and Bourque, Backlund finished with 14:49 of ice time and looks to be losing that passenger type hockey we’d seen from him previously.  He’s no longer riding the coat tails of his linemates, at least not the last little while.

Sum It Up

This one stings, but you can look on the bright side.  Against two of the last three Stanley Cup champs, Calgary was able to yield three of a possible four points.  Now, that can turn into points in three straight games with a win over the Rangers on Monday night.  Just don’t dwell on this one if you’re the Flames…you caught some bad breaks mixed with questionable officiating, but if they do things at ES like they did at times in this one, they’ll have some success at MSG.

  • A caller in the post game show brought up an interesting point of how the owners of the Flames have managed to avoid any blame in this current situation. I agree fully that the lockout was basically all about financial certainty for teams like Cal and thats really all that owners like geezers like Hotchkiss and his cadre of decripet co owners have have ever cared about. Im not saying they are underspending but they would never overspend to make the team better. I also think that a commtiment to being the best is more a reflection of the ownership and then staff than coaching and GMs. Owners like Illitch is all about putting a winning team out there and seems to be a fan himself. I have NEVER felt that the flames owners feel the same way and I have been a fan for 30 years (season tickets 1993-2003). I really do think these people are way to close to Bettman and I am not interested in putting more money in their pockets. Maybe once ownership changes I will change my mind. (Altho D. Sutter aka George Costanza is clearly as disaster as GM and needs to go). Any thoughts?

    • Robert Cleave

      The Flames might end this season spending more actual dollars on payroll than any other team in the game, and they’ll certainly be in the top half-dozen teams if they don’t begin the rebuild during the year.

      I can think of any number of things I’d want the ownership to reconsider, but they’ve given Darryl Sutter the green light to spend to the cap every year since the lockout, so I think you’re off-base in your suggestion of a penurious ownership being at fault. There’s only so much any team can spend on payroll these days, and if the Flames are struggling, it’s due to the manner that very generous allotment has been spent by the GM or how the coaches have deployed those players. Murray Edwards and company haven’t shorted hockey operations one bit, IMO.

      • Gange

        I’m with you RC.

        Since the ownership is willing to spend to the cap every year, and do extras like bring psychologists and the such I’m not sure how the ownership can be at fault here.

        What more did you want them to do? Now that they have effectively kai-boshed the trading of Iginla I think they have sent a strong message that they are committed to this team. As much as Iggy is now diminishing returns and on the downhill side of his career he’s still a premier player.

        I’d still be in favour of trading Iggy if 2 conditions are met:
        1) He gets a chance to win a Stanley Cup. He deserves that much
        2) There is good young talent returning to further build a new team around.

        Sorry for the tangent.

        BTW – The loss is my fault. At 3-1 I said this is wrapped up and left for Best Buy. I should have known better.

        • Subversive

          I agree with both RC and Gange.

          Another game that the Flames let get away from them. I was so pleased for the Flames and Iggy and I thought hey if they pull this one out what a great boost of confidence for the team and then Detroit turned it up a notch and Calgary just could not defend against them. I really thought the Flames had a shot at winning today. Hopefully they can build off the last two games against two very good clubs. The Flames seem close but their mental breakdowns and or lack of effort at various points of their games are killing them in the wins and loss column.

          There has been so much talk about Iggy getting traded lately and the trade talk will continue. Now the organization comes out and says IGGY you are not being traded. One thought on the Ian White trade. They could have played lets make a better deal for Ian White at the trade dead line but because Darryl has us in a cap crunch he needed to pull the trigger sooner than later, if Darryl would have had the patience to do so. He needed to clear some money off the books but I think we could have done better trading White at the deadline. Why did he not send Staios to the minors, there is 2.7 million right there, I would hope White has more value than Staios at 37. I could be wrong but I cannot see the two players they brought in are going to make that big of a difference to Flames.

          If the Flames are out of the playoffs or on the outside looking in by the deadline, the Flames management and owners are going to lose a great opportunity to reload with some young skilled players and draft picks. This goes for Iggy too. In the end if they don’t ask Iggy if they can trade him and they agree on a group of teams he would welcome a trade to and has a legit shot at winning the cup. Then I am at a loss of understanding why they do not take advantage of this opportunity. It is pretty clear the present plan is not working as planned over the last 7 to 8 years.

    • Subversive

      You can say all sorts of things about the Flames ownership, but they’ve spent to the cap every year since the lockout. It’s not their job to make personnel decisions, it’s their job to give the management team the resources to do so. In that regard, they have been the perfect ownership group.

      And if you think Calgary will support this team win or lose, I have to question your assertion that you were a season ticket holder until 2003. That arena was *empty* on a regular basis until the miracle run in 2004. Calgary is a city full of fairweather fans, and with the economy in the dumps, I wouldn’t bank on the huge corporate dollars coming around either. Unless, that is, they start putting a winning product on the ice again.

  • I totally agree with you.

    The feeling I get from the Flames ownership is that they are happy with the current situation.

    Just like the Toronto Maple Leafs, they know they can expect strong coporate support to justfy their high ticket and concession prices.

    I suspect that when the new rink is built the entire lower bowl will be Avison Young seats.

    Local fans will have to be happy sitting up on the third or fourth deck.

    As a current Season Ticket Holder, I do not feel I’m getting value for my money as the Flames play a boring style of hockey.

    Nor do I feel appreciated as Ken King likes to remind us that the Flames have 4000 people ontheir season ticket wait list and can replace me with ease.

    To be quite honest, I do NOT think I’ll be renewing my tickets after this season.

    I’d rather save my money and take more vacations somewhere warm.

  • Rob in Toronto

    Of course, if the Flames could have held out for 3 more seconds, everyone would be talking about how this two game winning streak is a step in the right direction… but then again, I can’t blame people for being ticked off. It’s a pretty bad day to be a Calgary sports fan.

  • Sherw88d

    Can someone explain to me WHY you wouldn’t hook or tackle Datsyuk with 3 seconds left? There was 3 flames right around him that could have mauled him for the win….WT EFF!

      • Sherw88d

        It’s a no brainer – instead they gave up a 2 on 1, where the ‘1’ had no stick.
        Awful decision making. That’s what happened to us last game versus them – a mistake turned into a goal against.

        • Subversive

          On both the tying goal and the winning goal in OT the winger was caught watching the play and not the guy slipping in the back door. Morrison was watching Datsyuk stick handle in while Zetterberg was streaking to the net and on the winner Iggy was a spectator while Lidstrom skated in behind him.

          Forget tackling a guy, the forwards need to play defence for a full 60 (or unfortunately 65 minutes) instead of 59 minutes 56.6 seconds.

          All in all, while dissapointing

  • Robert Cleave

    Maybe I miscommuncated before…there is a difference between spending to the cap and spending money wisely. With the salary cap system, teams like Cal will bascially never lose money. This allows owners to basically wash their hands of the responsiblity of owning a team and hide behind management. In my opinion, having met the man many times, Murray Edwards is barely aware he owns the team (other than the fact he wabnts a new arena) and I am just really not in favour of someone like this at the top.
    I totally agree with Guardian’s comments as a season ticket holder and I’ll have you know I was at all but 8 games over those ten years before I had to move away for work (am back now). I also really believe that if you look for the true fans, they are the ones who were there thru the lean years watching that young team battle.I would take that over this bunch any day of the week.

    • Subversive

      Show me an owner who muddles in the running of the team, and I’ll show you a crappy organization. I don’t want owners who stick their noses in the middle of hockey operations. I want owners just like we have, who never say stupid things in the media, and hire people to do a job and then let them do it.

      Now, what I would like to see is for ownership to acknowledge that Dutter has failed at his assigned task, and for them to replace him.

      However, faulting ownership because they don’t appear (in what I’m assuming is fairly limited personal contact with them) to be invested enough emotionally, is just ridiculous. And to say that the fans who go to today’s games are inferior to the fans who went in 2003, and then somehow blame that on ownership too?! Seriously dude.

  • Sherw88d

    Also just wanted to say the number one problem with the team is Sutter aka Costanza and clowns like Ken King, but these people are the owners problem in the end. Owners are bascially the fans representive of how the money put into the team is spent. Them not acknowledging the concerns of ticket holders proves that they are out of touch with their customers.

  • Subversive

    Patriots owner Bob Kraft, Red Wings owner Mike Illitch, and many many others DEMAND a quality product from ther GMs and coaches. You really believe the Flames owners feel the same way? I sure don’t.
    Did you go to games in pre 2003 and also today? I think you would see a huge difference in the types of people at the game. Those days had good blue collar fans (the few around) in decent seats to watch their team. Now these people have been priced out for the most part. Now many of the people with season tickets sell them off at a mark up each game. This explains why there are ALWAYS opposing teams fans right in the front row to every game. Sorry this is not the way it works with most teams at all. Life is made miserable for those opposing fans the whole game if they do show up.

  • Subversive

    We are all ticked at the loss. However, a lot of good of positives:

    1. The Wings are 13-3. The Flames cmae within 3 seconds of the win here. Not to mention they played a pretty good game last time they took on the Wings. So, they can compete with the best in the Conference, on any given night – IF they play consistent.

    2. Iggy’s scoring goals. So is Hagman. Tanguay’s putting up points. And Backlund is starting to look like a decent pro.

    3. The attitude appears to be improving. Ditto morale.


    1. We still don’t have a qualified backup, in my opinion. At 34, Kipper may get burned out.

    2. We still give up a lot of goals.

    I think we come home over .500 after this road trip.

    And if this team’s out of the playoff picture by New Years… Things must change.

  • Subversive

    The long and short of this game is that Colie has a Blackberry and the Wings are not little fake artists.

    The writing was on the wall for a 0-4 against the Winged Wheel this 10/11 campaign when:

    A.) Franzen’s goal in the first game vs. DET on a blatant goalie interference counted.

    B.) Meyers gets penalized a few shifts later on the exact same type of interference.

  • CitizenFlame

    Well, it would be too easy to point to the powerplays

    I won’t really address the powerplays

    Why did you not address the officiating Pat? It’s not too easy, it’s the principal reason why Calgary has lost two games now against Detroit.

    That’s three points, teams have to pay a million bucks in the free agent market to buy that kind of impact. Why is a million bucks not worth addressing?

  • Subversive

    I think it’s a foregone conclusion given how the zebra’s dick swung toward the Red side of the ice tonight, that any hold, hook or undue interference on Datsyuk in the final minute would have resulted in a penalty shot.

  • CitizenFlame

    Correction, three points costs three million bucks to buy.

    So now it’s three times as curious why you opted to put this game on a team that played a pretty terrific road game even while skating with five men against six.

    • I didn’t address the officiating because I knew it would get talked about here…I figured yourself and others would do a better job analyzing it than I could.

      I’m not going to deny the Flames played a terrific road game…but, no shots in the final 13 minutes was curious to me.

      Maybe I’m being too critical of that span though, because on second read, I feel like I didn’t do enough to highlight what was a strong game for Calgary. My bad.

  • Canucks Suck

    They played a good game tonight and deserved a better fate, but if this team can rally back and win tomorrow I will be really impressed. I would like to see how they take this loss and if they can turn it around and get a win tomorrow I think it would be really great for the team to build off of.

  • Subversive

    I think what you want from a team is to see an improvement from year to year in effort and record. This teams has steadilly slid down since 2005-06 and that is perhps the worst thing of all from watching this team. I look back on the hiring of Keenan as a the main disasterous move. I really think the sense of team left the franchise that day. That move was ridiculed by most in the NHL and really wated the prime of both Iginla and Kiprusoff. What a disaster Sutter has been as a GM! One good move in his tenure and almost no bad luck to blame it on. No more games for me as long as he is GM.

  • CitizenFlame

    Whoops, don’t know what happened on that last post…

    It’s a dissapointing outcome but the Flames can still say they got a point. Collecting the loser point can make the difference at the end of the season, just look at Phoenix.

    It’d be nice to see a game where Iggy and RBQ could both get on the score sheet and then maybe do so consistently.

    Does anyone know what the word is on Reggie?

  • Detroit is a good team, however, they’ll be exactly what the Flames are up against come April (if they can squeeze into 8th). So come April there are NO points for an OT loss.

    Further, if the Flames squeak into the playoffs again… they will likely get squashed in 4 and will end up with another poor draft pick.

    Lots to look forwared to here in Calgary.