Postgame: How About That Penalty Kill

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 30: Tomas Kopecky  of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates a goal by teammate Jonathan Toews  in the 3rd period against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center on November 30, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Blues 7-5. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

**NOTE – No scoring chances tonight due to technical difficulties**

It was either a special teams display or a special teams nightmare, depending on how you decide to look at Sunday’s 4-2 Calgary Flames loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.  The Hawks scored four times on the man advantage while Calgary generated all of their offence the same way…in the end, the Flames would fail to put back to back wins together once again.

What Happened

Well, at the very least, the Flames reeled things back in after a not-so-good start…they were down 2-0 midway through the opening frame on a pair of powerplay goals from Bryan Bickell and David Bolland.  However, a parade to the box would put the Hawks down a few times, and the Flames would score a couple in short order themselves…Jarome Iginla had his 11th at 13:06 before Anton Babchuk scored his first as a Flame and fourth of the season at 16:28 and it’s a tie game.  And then another first period Chicago powerplay…and another first period Chicago powerplay goal.  At 17:33, Jonathan Toews would push home his 12th of the season, and the Hawks took a one goal lead into the middle frame.  For the record, before Kent’s technical difficulties, he had chances 6-6.

Compared to the first period, the second period was fairly uneventful…no goals scored even with some opportunities (surprisingly) on the powerplay.  Overall, I thought the Hawks had the edge in the second period, and Miikka Kiprusoff had to make some key saves to keep the Flames within one…overall, shots were 11-8 in favor of the Hawks, and for the 14th time this season, Calgary would enter the third period trailing in a hockey game.

The third period saw the Flames fail to do much in the opening ten minutes or so, but they went into chase mode and were very effective in the latter half of the frame.  In fact, Calgary’s job moving the puck drew a number of penalties and gave them the opportunity to tie the game on the man advantage…but it’s not how many you score on the powerplay, it’s when you score them.  Calgary went 0/4 in third period powerplay chances, and were unable to tie the game…Bolland would ice it into an empty net (of course on the powerplay) with 15 seconds remaining, and the Hawks take a 4-2 win.

One Good Reason…

…why the Flames lost?  It gets old and tired to say they trailed heading into a third period, becuase in reality, that’s why they didn’t win this hockey game.  They deserved to be down a goal after 40 minutes, and couldn’t tie things up.  However, their powerplay did let them down, and that’s what I’ll point to.  They had an extremely difficult time entering the offensive zone and lost far too many battles along the boards, and after what looked like a dismal Chicago PK early on took things over and made sure Calgary didn’t burn them again.

Red Warrior

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 24: Anton Babchuk  of the Calgary Flames shoots during a hockey game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on November 24, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Hey, why not…Anton Babchuk.  He scored his first as a Flame and played his best game with the team this season.  I thought he was much less of a liability in his own end and looked a whole lot more comfortable on this night overall.  He finished with 17:59 of ice time…although, playing with Mark Giordano makes things a little easier for him.

Sum It Up

Back to three games below .500 for the Flames, and overall, they weren’t as good as the Blackhawks on this night.  It was such an odd hockey game overall with all the powerplays, but for the most part, all the calls made were legit.  Neither team got jobbed, that’s for sure.  But when the Flames have the opportunity to tie things in the final frame with a good slab of powerplay time, they have to do it…they didn’t, and they lost.

  • icedawg_42

    agreed …no really blown calls…each team deserved their fate. Calgary had some really good looks/chances on the PP but couldnt convert.
    Going to be a REAL tough hall to go .750 the rest of the season *disclaimer: if that number isn’t worse by now*

    • Robert Cleave

      The Flames have some work to do, but if they claimed 75% of the points for the rest of the year, they’d finish with about 106 or 107:

      55 x 2 =110 x .75 = 82.5 + the current 24. 71 more points, or about .646 hockey, would likely do. They aren’t getting that total either at this rate, but don’t make things sound worse than they are 😉

      • icedawg_42

        I hope I am making it out to be worse than it is, but even .646 is a tough go for a team who has been pretty much below .500 since February. That stat is looking like the norm to me as opposed to a bad phase.

        • Flamin Cannot's

          have faith, afterall darryll says that if they limit the goals against to under 2 they will turn things around. he failed to mention however that they have difficulties scoring 2. just a player away from the cup, must be a deal in the works for crosby. or better yet god himself.

  • *sad trombone*

    From what I saw, Flames didn’t do a whole lot prior to being down int the final minutes. They certainly weren’t terrible, but this is becoming a familiar tune this year. They could probably have a few more wins under their belt with better luck, but I can’t really say they’ve definitely deserved a better fate more than once or twice this year.

    • MC Hockey

      the chicago blackhawks are in the midst of a mini rebuild. filling the holes from the departure of 9 stanley cup contributors. morin and lebby are kids,skille and bickell picks who were buried in the system and a pair of reclamation projects and bandaids in boyton and cullimore, yet they beat the sutter lead flames. what you witnessed was the result of poor drafting, and the belief that father knows best.2003 2004 were wasted drafts for emperor darryll.

      • Gange

        So was Darryl a genius a week ago when the Flames lay a 7-2 beating on the Hawks at the Dome?

        I’m not saying your wrong but don’t throw out definitive conclusions based on one game. We’re 1 & 1 vs the hawks with a 9-6 goal differential.

        Now if you based your statement on the Flames performance for the entire season and last years I would agree with you.

    • Flamin Cannot's

      i give this team until christmas, if the status quo remains the same then the time has come to start anew. there are alot of needs that need to be addressed.

  • Robert Cleave

    The bad news: we’re last in the west. The good news: we’ll get a first or second draft pick this year.

    Yeah, I’d like to be in the playoffs, and ,no, I will not actively cheer for us to lose, but I would rather get a top two pick than end up in the 9-13 positions.

    If our boys are gonna lose, then let them lose big.

    Also, Landeskog would not be my first choice, even though scouts peg him as the next Brendan Morrow.

    We don;t need another d man in Larsson, even though he will be a top two defender. We should be aiming for either Coutourier or Nugent-Hopkins, even though players like Landeskog and Saad could make a quicker and easier transition to the NHL, given their style of play, size, and leadership qualities. Nugent-Hopkins and Cotourier, however, will be point-per-game players, even though in Nugent’s case one will have to wait a couple of years to watch him realize that potential.

    But, man, I still don’t want to write the Flames off yet. I just dread the prospect of them finishing in the middle of the pack.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I can’t believe I made what I thought was an incredibly safe bet with my friend (that the Oilers would finish below the Flames this season) and somehow my money is in danger.

  • MC Hockey

    HI all, I have to disagree on the penalties. I thought several were weak calls against Flames. As for their play, I thought they were good but the old “can’t score when we need to” disease still prevails. As for Flames direction, well I expect no GM, coaching, or even major player changes till off-season. Then either DSutter or new managers will buyout Jokinen and Kotalik to save $4M for each of next 2 years, and hopefully trade Stajan, a 2nd-rounder, and another good forward/forward prospect (maybe Nemisz or Backlund) to land Brad Richards from cash-strapped Dallas. Then we have that #1 centre and 2011-12 is a better year. One can dream right…and yes I realize that’s a lot to give up for Richards but necessary.

    • PrairieStew

      Buying out Jokinen and Kotalik next year saves you $4m for next year only, but costs you $2m in the following year as the 2/3 buyout is spread out over 2 years. Since you would have to replace their place on the roster – assume $1m each, now you are only saving $2m for next year; unless you get great value from the replacements its a bad idea.

      Stajan only $3.5 m, do you think giving up him, picks, and future roster players for a guy that is twice as much and already past his 30th birthday is actually a good move ? How do you think we got in this pickle in the first place ?

    • T&A4Flames

      I don’t disagree with buying out Joker and Kots or adding Stajan to a pkg to send to Dallas for Richards. But sending a 2nd (which we don’t have anyway) and any one of our very few decent prospects is way too much for a player that isn’t signed and may not want to sign here. If we still had White I would try to add him with Stajan since they are rumoured to be needing a PP QB with a good point shot but, se la vie. Maybe Sutter’s real genius will be revealed in 2 years. Perhaps the plan all along was to ride this current plan through up until (I think) the new CBA. After 2 seasons expiring contracts will be Joker, Kots, Hags, Lanks, Koustop, Sarich….. etc. Talk about cap space! A couple losing seasons and (hopefully) a few good draft picks later, we can buy some poor contracts and get more draft picks and the rebuild is on. However, that seems like such a long time.

  • Gange

    Darryl could be a genius. He has crafted a team that will likely finish in the bottom 5 this year, perhaps even next. Two HIGH first round draft picks, some sorely needed talent, and a brighter future! All without losing Kiprusoff, Iginla, or Regehr!

    Either that or he’s really just Abe Simpson and he really believes Anton Babchuk is the “missing piece” in his championship fantasy.

    Either way I’m hoping for Landeskog. 🙂

    Oh, and a new GM.

    • Gange

      Looks like the Eklund random name generator has dredged up some YYC names again.

      Thanks Eklund for stating the obvious. There are changes coming to Calgary. If only in the form of cap relief there are changes coming.

      It also shows that we’re all desperate for some sort of change we’ll listen to almost anyone giving hope of that.

      Sadly I think we’re drinking the sand because the oasis doesn’t seem to exist.

    • Gange

      pathetic isnt it, yet fearless leader believes they are a player away from being complete. a complete embarassment. in related news the golden brett zero points and minus five with the checkers at last report. to think he was considered a prospect in the flames organization.

  • BobB

    Saying this next stretch of games is important to the team is like saying the sun is important to life on the planet…so…

    Starting against the Bolts we have 11 games until the New Year.

    6 @ Home, 5 on the Road. 55/45 split.

    We play division rivals thrice – Minn x 2, Col x 1. That’s about as good as it gets.

    Conference rivals 8 times – Minn x 2, CLB x 2, Col, Dal, LA, Ana.

    East x 3 – TB, Tor, Buf.

    Of those 11 teams, only 2, more likely 3 look like legitimate playoff teams DAL, TB and LA. (27%) None are true contenders.

    Only 4 of those teams, (5 games CLBx2) are actually in playoff spots today, and CLB is very much a cusp team tied with 4 other teams in pts.

    SO, if we are to believe we’ve been robbed by lady luck. If we’re to believe we’re close to turning it around. If we’re to believe we are a playoff team, we need that ~700 win % now. That’s 7-3-1. That would give us 39 points in 38 games. Likely about 11th or 12th in the division, and likely only a couple points out, sporting a .513W%.

    So, here’s the season. The next 11 games. If this group can’t do it now over these 11 games, they’ll never do it, cause they won’t be the same group together if they fail this stretch.

    As an added note for optimism. We went 4-5-2 over the last 11. But we faced CHIx2, PHI, PIT, VAN, DET, PHX, NYR…. MIN x 2, NJ. That’s arguably the toughest stretch of our season. 4 of those teams are legit contenders. Twice against the Hawks. 7 on the road. 8 games against playoff teams, two conference leaders, four division leaders(PHX at the time).

  • CitizenFlame

    It is very difficult to understand why the flames ownership continue to let sutter and king run the show, Anywhere else they would have been fired about 2 years ago.The only good thing is they are going to get some good draft picks next year as long as sutter and his crew aren’t doing the picking.They cannot continue to ignore the fans.

  • Gange

    seeing that the flames are maxed out with 50 contracts, is there any loopholes within the current CBA to free up any wiggle room. is there a method to elininate a minor leaguer or two to facilitate a future move? just wondering,if there is noway possible then darwood is over a barrell with his knickers down.

  • I think it’s silly to go after Richards.

    Pros: Just about a PPG player, great leadership, Won a cup.

    Cons: Huge contract, defensive liability (hasn’t finished + since the lockout), Dallas won’t want to take on a lot of salary in return, we’ll lose prospects, etc.

  • Gange

    The ONLY reason to go after Richards are the laurels he is resting on. Another aging veteran whose best years are fading. Trading for him changes nothing about our current situation other than may get us a few more goals. I’m not even sure that pushes this team into a playoff position.

    Pre-lockout star players are not a recipe for success in this post lockout era. Anyone who has watched this team should be aware of this.

    Ride it out, accept the team for what it is, get young and new talent.

    Now trading Sarich for a 2nd rounder and lower D-man, that I’m on board with.

  • Gange

    On Eklund is claiming that his source in Calgary says there are big changes coming to Calgary. Yes I know he’s wrong 99.9% of the time but he’s claiming his source has been dead-on in the past. Any ideas on who may be on the trading block?

    • CitizenFlame

      Actually staying the course is an option. Just not an option for success in the next two years.

      As T&A4Flames said, there may be a plan for two years when the CBA is up. Sutter has only signed a handful of players, if that, past that point. Not to mention that players like Iggy, Reggie, and Kipper could be signed for much cheaper contracts in supporting roles providing they haven’t been dealt by then in some sort of scorch-the-earth rebuild. He must be selling something to the owners to make them believe that he is still capable of being the GM of this team.

  • I now believe that getting Brad Richards would be a bad idea, given the cap space and what you would have to do. The team needs to become younger, faster. I say keep Jarome and Kipper, who knows 5 years from now we could, if done properly, they could be hoisting a cup with the Flames, a young, fast and scoring machine. What a great story to an end of a career for those two. That would be my dream, but a wise man once said, “Dreams rarely come true. Goals can.” It is clearly evident who is responsible for the troubles that lies with the GM and President. They built the faulty ship and the captain steering it only knows how to steer it one way. During war time, when a leader is clearly failing, they usually step down (sometimes with the help of a self inflicted wound). I would say to Darryl and Ken, be men, admit that what you thought would work, didnt and say you will be stepping down. Then say something like, “I love this team and I want the best, and its clear that new ideas and blood is needed to get that cup. I brought it this far.. . ” We’d all tip our hat, say thank you and look to the future while they go back to the farm and live out their dream.