A seemingly uninspired Calgary Flames team wasn’t able to muster much on Saturday night at the ‘Dome, and they’d end up falling 3-1 at the hands of the Minnesota Wild. It drops Calgary back to 14th place in the Western Conference and two games below .500, and it’s a disappointing finish to a three game home stand.
A rather dismal first period for the home side, as they had no life and no jump through the opening 20 minutes. Shots would finish 8-7 in favor of the Wild, and they seemed to carry the play. The Flames were sloppy and soft for a lot of the period, but fortunately, Minnesota isn’t a team that boasts a ton of finish, so after one it was still scoreless. Miikka Kiprusoff had to make a few big stops in that opening frame, and Matt Cullen seemed to generate on every shift for the visitors.
The second period saw the Flames get their game shored up a little bit, and they had the puck a whole lot more, but weren’t generating their time with it into very strong chances. It would be Minnesota opening the scoring on their dangerous powerplay, thanks to Antti Miettenen…he converted a Mikko Koivu pass at 15:25 to get the vistors on the board. They’d cash an even strength chance late in the second, and this time it was Koivu finishing off a play…he’d deflect a Brent Burns point shot past Kiprusoff at 19:07 to give the Wild a 2-0 lead heading into the third.
Minnesota was a perfect 10-0-0 when carrying a lead into the third period, and Calgary sat 2-12-2 when trailing after two…so the numbers didn’t really play in the Flames favor. Yet, with what we know of this Wild team, you can come out with some jump and get them on their heels…but Calgary didn’t do that. It was a fairly non-descript start to the third period for the Flames and the Wild would put the game away at 7:41; Chuck Kobasew finished off a nice passing play from the left circle. It would be a Calgary chase-fest after that, and they would cash on one chance, with Matt Stajan scoring his first goal in 19 games, but it wouldn’t mean much. A 6-on-5 push would yield nothing and this game would finish with a Minnesota victory.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? Um…reasons? No urgency. No life. Unforced errors. Soft plays. All of those things contributed to the loss, against a team that the Flames have the capability to beat when they’re playing hockey minus those aforementioned things. This team has a very difficult time of generating any emotion when it isn’t handed to them…sure, the Toronto game had built in atmosphere, that one is easy. This one? You knew it was going to be a snooze fest and the Flames didn’t do anything to rectify that. Anything.
One of those guys who DID try to get some jump on the team and in the building was Tim Jackman. Brent Sutter gave him 10:45 of ice time, and he was playing with emotion and was playing physical. Good on him…but Jackman can’t be your most consistent player in a game, he just can’t. His linemates, Tom Kostopoulos and David Moss, also had strong games, and that line was pretty good.
Sum It Up
It just wasn’t a hockey game where the Flames came to play. They don’t have the luxury of having nights like this, quite honestly…had they played well and been beaten by a better team, or had they ran into a hot goaltender, it’s certainly easier to take. And if this effort showed up on a team that was fighting for a division lead, you probably excuse it…but not when things are desperate like this.
They had an opportunity to at least take the game to the Wild in the third period, much like they did to Anaheim a few weeks ago. Ales Kotalik played 0 minutes in the third period, and Mikael Backlund played just 33 seconds. Message sent I guess.