Postgame: Four Is Better Than Three

When you’re a team that needs points in any way possible, the Calgary Flames should be just fine with their 2-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.  It was a game where they could have lead by a few more goals after one period, and after taking their second lead of the game, the Flames did more than enough to keep a bad Oilers team at bay.

What Happened

The Flames really did work the Oilers in the opening frame, firing 19 shots on net and really didn’t let the Oilers do anything.  Aside from a Taylor Hall breakaway, it was ALL Calgary in the first, as Kent’s scoring chance numbers will show – 9-2 in favor of Calgary.  Oh, and the Flames scored a goal thanks to their fourth line once again.  Tim Jackman would make good on a nice David Moss pass from the corner at 12:47; Jackman would score his fifth of the season and second in as many games to give Calgary a 1-0 lead, a lead they’d carry into the second.

The second period saw the Oilers reel things in a little bit, and they had better possession numbers…even though they didn’t generate a ton from that possession, they would tie things up just past the midway mark.  At 10:19, Ryan Jones would finish off a nice passing play as a result of a Flames breakdown – his ninth of the season would get the game back at even footing, at least temporarily.  Calgary would go ahead for good on Mark Giordano’s fourth of the season, as a point shot would find it’s way home at 14:16. Intial credit was given to Olli Jokinen on a re-direct, but Giordano would get credit after further review.

Edmonton had a bit of a push in the third period, as you’d expect, and Miikka Kiprusoff came up with some big stops…but there wasn’t any real long stretches of strong Oilers play.  Yet, Edmonton had a real chance late in the third thanks to a bizarre decision from Olli Jokinen, who decided to bat the puck out of mid-air in his own end; it’d go over the glass for a delay of game, and an Oilers powerplay.  And what a powerplay it was.  Or not.  Edmonton passed the puck around and kept possession, but generated exactly nothing…and to top it all off, after pulling the goalie, the Oilers thought it was good for TWO extra attackers.  A too many men call sealed the game and sealed a fourth straight win for the visitors.

One Good Reason…

why the Flames won?  Well – they kinda are just a better team, and did enough so their advantage won out on the scoreboard.  The way Edmonton played tonight, the Flames would have had to do something drastically awful to screw this up.  They didn’t, they scored two goals, generated some other chances, and did a nice job of keeping the Oilers to the outside.  Not a whole lot to see here, the bigger picture is more important – a fourth straight win.

Red Warrior

ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 10: Mark Giordano  of the Calgary Flames is pursued by Saku Koivu  of the Anaheim Ducks in the first period at the Honda Center on December 10, 2010 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

He really was a warrior, it’s everyone’s favorite non-drafted free agent signing.  Mark Giordano blocked ten shots on this night, and three or four of them were important shot blocks.  The guy is third in the NHL in that category, and not because he’s constantly out of position.  Oh, and he also scored the winning goal.

Sum It Up

This win starts a very interesting stretch for the Flames, as they play two of the worst teams in the league before playing two of the best.  Calgary’s next contest is Monday night at home to the Islanders, a team playing some scrappy hockey of late, but a team the Flames should take two points from.  Then it’s Vancouver on the road Wednesday and Detroit on Friday.  If the Flames are riding a five game win streak heading in to Wednesday…who knows?

One note: both Jay Feaster and Brent Sutter confirmed the Flames will be sending forward Mikael Backlund to Abbotsford of the American Hockey League on Sunday morning.  He’ll play four games with the Heat before the team plans to recall him following the Detroit game. 

The Flames go on an Eastern road trip, so the expectation is Backlund will be on it.

  • mikeecho

    not sure if you heard kevin weekes call gio a “new age” defenseman, which appeared to mean that he’s a defenseman/goalie hybrid…. which is pretty high praise from a former netminder.

    ps: i think i’m gonna have to fight weekesy for the position of president of the mark giordano fanclub.

  • mikeecho

    Mats Stajan? Quickly playing himself into the Gary Leeman bust category. Very weak on the puck particularily in the neutral zone time to shift his role to being on the black aces.

  • mikeecho

    During this four-game stretch, the Flames have beat two teams sitting on playoff spots, and two that are doing worse than themselves. It’s not as if they have transformed into an elite team, but this last stretch really shows them for what they are: a middling team. They had some bad breaks earlier on in the season (coupled with bouts of actual crappy play), and thus their current position in the standings. If the hockey gods had been a bit more graceful, we might today sit in 7th or 8th spot.

    Nonetheless, I’m 90% sure the playoffs will not be a reality this season. And if they do get in, the prospect of facing the top two teams in the conference in the first round is a bit unsavoury (although, if they truly do win 70% of games here out, they might actually be good enough to pull of the upset).

    My opinion is that hopefully we do not continue to be a mediocre team. If we suck it up, we can get a high draft pick and trade some marketable assets this year for some youth (the likes of van Reimsdyk and Schenn come to mind). If we are going to make the playoffs, let it be beacause we have actually turned a corner, and our core performs up to and beyond expectations.

    What I do not want is to finish in ninth or tenth, and have the conservative faction in management conclude that a late push vindicates the decision to stay the course for the upcoming season. The flames are getting older (too old), and would lose out on a high impact pick, thus perpetuating the cycle of mediocrity.

    Hopefully, one of the former two fates bears out this year.

  • mikeecho

    Agree with you BCFLAME, if we finish in a playoff spot even if it is 7th or 8th, crazy things have happened before, Anaheim 7th seed in 2003, Calgary was 6 seed in 04, oilers were 8 seed in 06 and flyers were 7 seed last year, and they all made it to the final. But please Calgary do not finish 9th or 10th, no high pick, no rebuild. So either tank it or make it, don’t be in between.

  • mikeecho

    High on the “bud” as I am right now, I’d also like to proffer a couple of trade scenarios I’d love to see if we suck miserably for the latter half of the season:

    1. Kipper and Tanguay to Philly for van REimsdyk, a first, and whomever they want to unload to make the salaries work (contract, however, should be off books within two years; Mezaros and Hartnell come to mind.)

    2. Iggy for Jordan Staal straight up. Pens get an elite winger to play with Crosby, and Calgary gets a 22 yr old, 6″4 stud who at the ripe age of 22 already has three 20+ goal seasons and a stanley cup. He is already a leader at his age, and a perrenial Selke contender for his defensive and physical play. If Pittsburg wants to throw a contract back at us to reduce the 3 million difference in salaries, that is fine along as they throw a second rounder back at us.

    3. Reggie to SJ for Setoguchi.

    To say the least, 21 year old van Reimsdyk, 22 year old Staal, and 24 yr old Setoguchi, coupled with Gio and Bouwmesster at the back, would form a formidable core in two years. Goaltending, of course, would have to be addressed during the mini-rebuild.

    Whatya say, fellow Flames fans? Are these pipe dreams, stupid conceptions, or savvy arm-chair G.M. strategies? 😉

    • Gange

      1) Trading Kipper is a terrible idea. You don’t trade a top 5 goalie unless you absolutely have to. Thankfully Feaster agree’s with this.

      2) Trading Iggy isn’t going to happen and not for Staal. This trade is NEVER going to happen. Pittsburgh won’t do it. Calgary won’t do it. Lets put this to rest please.

      3) Regehr for Setoguchi? If you’re SJ why would you make this trade?

      What I liked about hearing Feaster on HNIC is that he believes that there is a strong core group here. I agree. Iggy, Kipper, Giordano, Bouwmeester, Regehr. However it’s the supporting pieces that need changing. Stajan, Kotalik, Jokinen, these guys are at issue. They have to go but you’re going to have to give up a Tanguay and a Bourque to get something back of value.

      Someone has to chase Kotalik away to the KHL and Perhaps someone will pick up Sarich for something to take his salary off the books but that seems like a long shot.

      In the end I still believe tanking this season, picking up a Landeskog and getting back on track with a couple complimentary pieces this team can compete.

      Just not this team as it is right now but I guess we’ll see in Vancouver and Detroit.

      • I agree, keep the core. Stajan and Kotalik can go, especially because they’re taking up 6M$ for doing what? sitting a third of the season out and getting nothing for points. No thank you. Hagman I expect to pull out of it, plus I’d hate to see the last piece of the Phaneuf trade go to waste.

      • I can’t imagine the circumstance under which they would trade Malkin or Staal. Only if they decide to move Staal to the 2nd line center position and need Malkin’s money to get Crosby a winger.

        If we’re talking about a hockey trade (not take salaries into account), I have to think Staal would go before Malkin.

        • wattree

          The only way I see it is if Malkin gets seriously disinterested in playing behind Crosby. I’d actually be pretty pissed if we went after Malkin. I just wouldn’t be able to cheer for the guy. Once a game gets away from them, he plays so dirty, slew footing and slashing guys.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      1-Trading one of the elite goalies in the league and a guy who is vastly outplaying his contract = fail.

      2-Trading Iggy for the winger we always wanted to play with him seems too much like a cosmic joke, even though I’ve been on the trade Iggy bandwagon for a season and a half.

      3-Trading Regeher = biggest FAIL ever.

  • mikeecho

    Kippers salary is to large even at the season reduction rate and Philly would have to dump a lot more then just a Hartnell or Mezaros contract, why trade Tanguay? He’s cheaper and producing for the numbers he’s making.
    who do you expect back to replace Kipper, Boucher?.

    Um Iggys a winger and Stall’s not, he’s a center man. I do see the PP being in the race for Iggy should he come up.however your GM is on record as saying the Flames won’t pursue a trade for Iggy. No GM’s throw draft picks away anymore.

    No way does SJ trade Setoguchi that’s a pipe dream.

    This team is mediocre and desperately needs to rebuild! Ask Burke if mini rebuilds work.

  • mikeecho

    Is it just me or does Bourque look totally dis-interested? On that one PK in the 3rd I thought he was gonna fall asleep on the ice. Just no jump/will/speed in his game right now. If he’s hurt, sit him down for Backlund until he’s healed up.

  • Trading Kipper is a bad plan, unless the plan is to tank the next few seasons for a lottery pick. Enough said on that point.

    There is not a lot of point in having Jordan Staal if you don’t have wingers who can play with him. You would just end up with the reverse problem that we have now (Iggy with no center).

    Setoguchi had 36 points last year and has 12 points this year. There is not much to indicate that any core containing Setoguchi will ever be “formidable”.

    My concern is that these 4 wins are a bit of a mirage. Yes, the team is winning but there are still a lot of issues with the PP and the 2nd and 3rd lines. The wheels could easily fall off at any moment, and the Detroit/Vancouver games seem like a likely start.

  • wattree

    I still think that Tanguay and Morrison will be the easiest to move at the deadline if we’re on the outside looking in. Both are very cheap UFAs putting up good value for the dollars. After that it gets tricky.

    I love the idea of Staal, but I don’t see it happening unless Malkin is demanding to play up the middle. I actually see a better chance of a Malkin for Iginla just to balance the dollars, particularly if Staal is putting up good numbers for half price. Either way I don’t see these deals getting done. Now Tanguay to setup Crosby, maybe. Now that he’s evolved into a goal scorer, they are probably looking less for a triggerman. Does Pitt have any decent prospects in their system (Kent?)

  • …I like that Feaster isn’t enacting a scortched earth policy. However, maybe he isn’t because it would be political suicide for him to do so, but I digress. I’m not sure about my opinion of him as a GM quite yet, but he’s great with the media and seems to be an intelligent guy (but maybe just a smooth talker).

    …I don’t ascribe to the “tanking the season” philosophy that many of you are advocating. With good scouting, good player development, and a little luck, there are lots of future NHL players avaliable, whether you draft #5 or #20. When you give younger players a winning atmosphere to play in, it gives them a better chance to succeed. There are too many Alexandre Daigle’s, Patrick Stephan’s, Pat Falloon’s, and the like to ever convince me that tanking a season is a good idea.

  • @Wattree – sorry, didn’t mean to steal your point there. Further to what you say though, if Iginla stays so does Tanguay, I mean he’s been the most consistent forward next to Jackman all year and he actually make sIginla effective. Unloading him just puts Iginla into the same spot as last year.