Postgame: Well Earned

As a lot of us expected, it was a tight and hard fought hockey game Monday night at the ‘Dome, and on this night, it was the Calgary Flames coming out on top with a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.  The term "it could have gone either way" really did apply on this night, but the Flames did more than enough to earn the two points in a physical, chippy, mean hockey game.

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What Happened

The Hawks played some strong hockey in the first five minutes or so, buzzing around the Flames net, although not converting with a ton of scoring chances.  However, that turned a little as the period went on and by the midway point of the period, Calgary had tilted things back to their side of the ice.  They’d score at the 14:33 mark of the first, thanks to a nice pass from Lance Bouma onto the stick of Mikael Backlund.  The rookie center would deke to the backhand and beat Corey Crawford in net to give the Flames a 1-0 lead into the intermission.

Chicago would tie it about six minutes into the middle frame on a nice passing play finished off by Patrick Kane.  After Jonathan Toews and Troy Brouwer would play catch behind the net, Toews would feed Kane beside the crease for his 15th of the season.  The second would see things settle down a little bit, with a few chances at either end, but once again the Flames would come out ahead in the scoring chances count, this time 9-6.  It would set up another tight and close third period.

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It looked like Chicago was going to take their first lead early in the third, as they had the puck throughout most of the early stages.  But, the Hawks were unable to convert on some chances, including a shot off the post, and you had the feeling that things were going to turn.  And turn they did.  At 8:37 on a fast break, Olli Jokinen would feed a nice pass to Curtis Glencross on the left wing; he’d rifle his 14th past Crawford from the left circle to give the Flames their second lead of the game.  Chicago would keep buzzing, they’d come close a few times, and they’d play the score for the rest of the period, but the Flames did a pretty nice job of limiting them and by the end of the night, Rene Bourque had a shot at an empty net.  He’d ice it with his 16th at 19:35 for Calgary’s seventh win in eight games.

One Good Reason…

…why the Flames won?  Because they did a good job of shutting down the Hawks in all situations.  At even strength Calgary limited Chicago to just 11 chances, and they put on a nice performance once taking the lead in the third period.  As for the penalty kill, they came to play, once again.  Against the number one powerplay in the NHL, Calgary shut down Chicago on four powerplay opportunities and generated a few chances of their own.  Overall, Calgary has allowed just five powerplay goals in their last 55 times shorthanded.  Damn.

Red Warrior

I know there were a few times when he made some…odd choices, but Olli Jokinen was really strong tonight, centering Calgary’s best line.  Jokinen chipped in with two points, including a helper on the winner, and his line with Glencross and David Moss saw a ton of tough matchups against the top Chicago units.  They finished with their head above water as a line, and aside from a rough night in the faceoff circle, Jokinen was very strong.  His first assist also served as Jokinen’s 600th career point.

Sum It Up

An eight game point streak.  Wins in seven of their last eight.  Points in 13 of 14.  You can look big picture or little picture, and you get the same result right now: the Flames are playing some damn good hockey.  They’re doing it by playing their best hockey of the season, by riding some bounces, and by riding some high shooting percentages.  Who knows how long it lasts, but Colorado did this to a much more extreme degree for 3/4 of a season last year, so who says it can’t continue for Calgary?

Note: Flames defenceman Adam Pardy left the game in the third period with an upper body injury and he didn’t return.

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  • Vintage Flame

    I think this is the strongest game I have see the Flames play since the 7-2 win over, by coincidence maybe, Chicago.

    But before I go on… Steinberg, WTH is with that picture of Olli. I know he has has some bad raps and some dumb luck, but he did get his 600th point tonight??

    Anyone see the highlights of the Leafs game.. and how excited Frankeneuf was to get his 2nd… yup 2nd goal of the year??

    • But before I go on… Steinberg, WTH is with that picture of Olli. I know he has has some bad raps and some dumb luck, but he did get his 600th point tonight??

      Dude…it’s the ongoing joke around this team. There are literally hundreds of Olli Jokinen pictures, because they’re HILARIOUS. Sense of humour man, he played really well tonight.

  • Besides the Devils, the Flames have the best record in the league the past 11 or 12 games. We may never catch Vancouver, but seeing Nashville get shutout by Edmonton (gag) and Colorado shutout by Phoenix just makes it all that much easier for us.

    Finally can say this.. GO FLAMES!

  • Vintage Flame

    No question the string of wins has been a breath of fresh air.. not to mention breathed life into playoff hopes.

    Even behind the caution and the expressions of, “Let’s not get our hopes up yet”. You can sense that deep down excitement building. not just in the fans, the bloggers, the media, but most of all the players and coaches.

    The media for some time now has been sharing that there is a new air on the bench and in the dressing room. Smiles, laughter, pranks. this might be the best contribution thus far from Feaster. Under Darryl, there was always an ominous tone. One of the FIRST things Feaster sid he wanted to do was to fix the dressing room, and the on ice play would come.

    Well played Mr. Feaster.. You indeed just earned your first paycheck!

    • Ken King has his fingerprints all over this researgence. Not to take anything away from Feaster but it was pretty obvious as to why Darryl was asked to leave while the team was taking the corner towards respectable hockey.

      Acting like a leprechan after getting the gig was an obvious occurance and smart of him to pick up what the boss was putting down.

      KEN: The place was miserable and needs an injection of adrenaline.

      JAY: I know! I’ll dust off the ghetto blaster!

      KEN: Sounds good, let’s get those boys feeling good about themselves and have some fun around here…

      JAY: Let’s offer Conroy a job up here and we’ll leave him to manage Jaime Mclennan and the goalies.

      KEN: Sounds good, we’ll make him a special assistant and have him also mentor the kids Abby.

      JAY: Super!

      KEN: I’ll deal with the owners to see about writing Kotalik off the books to give you some leeway. Give me a couple weeks.

      JAY: I’m going for pocket dawgs.

    • BobB

      This is still Darryl’s build and Darryl’s team, make no mistake about that. People may not like to hear that, and he’s gone now… and any changes aren’t his, but turning on a Ghetto blaster is not the reason for the turn around, it’s the players, not JFeaster.

      The Flames faced a brutally tough stretch of games in November and came out on the bad side of it. This is the month-by-month winning %:

      Oct – 11gp, 12pts – .545 (.545)

      Nov – 13gp, 10pts – .385 (.458)

      Dec – 14gp, 15pts – .536 (.487)

      Jan – 13gp, 17pts – .654 (.529)

      Feb –, 7.pts – .875 (.554)

      The Flames had a good win% in Oct, and good in Dec. with Darryl, and then saw some weak comp. through January, (then with Jay) built a little confidence and are on a nice roll.

      Other than this small Feb. stretch, it looks pretty consistent and expected, less November. Well, in that November stretch we saw many very good teams, and many on the road trip.

      I’m not saying anything AGAINST Feaster, I just don’t think he deserves credit for sitting in a chair and watching.

      • CitizenFlame

        Excellent point. But don’t forget that Feaster also made a couple of good moves, tough moves. Putting Connie and Kotalik on waivers was dealing with a situation that Sutter didn’t seem prepared to do and helped create space for the players. One, now everyone knows that if they have a bad shift they aren’t watching in the press box next game. Two, it opens up space to test drive some rookies and reward young guys. Some excitement from young guys should help this team. That to me adds more to the dressing room than turning up the ghetto blaster.

        • BobB

          Sutter tried buying out Kotalik as well, then he got hurt. Injuries kept him where he was, both out of and in the line-up, during Sutter’s reign.

          Under Sutter the Flames also started the season with TJ Brodie, so he’s actually done MORE for the young players than Feaster.

          Bouma is only up by chance… that Connie, Kotalik, Hagman all happened at the same time.

          Sorry… but it’s little difference.

          It’s from the players and coach… not a Ghetto Blaster.

          • CitizenFlame

            I wasn’t aware of Darryl trying to buy out Kotalik. It’s doesn’t matter anymore. What ever the underlying reasons – and there are probably many- it is definitely on the players and coaches for righting the ship and getting results.

            I have to say that Feaster is definitely a creature of fortune. Looking back to what he landed in, in Tampa. Now Calgary. Which Calgary is still a long way off from acheiving anything but just the fact that they turned that corner just as Darryl was fired and Feaster takes over and gets credit is funny.

      • icedawg_42

        November was awful, but I would tend to think that the fact that this is the same roster before and after Darryl’s departure, coupled with the difference in how the team as a whole is playing lends something to Vintage’s point. – I won’t go so far as to say the “sunny atmosphere” is the reason for the Flames better fortunes, but dont underestimate the effect that a doom and gloom attitude can have, especially when it permeates the entire environment. The real question is: which came first the chicken (smiles and laughs) or the egg (the wins)

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    …we have a couple games in hand on the Kings and Hawks, but we are finally in a playoff spot 🙂 I think the Kings and Hawks will still get into the top 8, but I think the Yotes and Preds will fall out of the playoff hunt. What does everyone else think (minus the wolf of course, JJ 😉 )?

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I think that every team in the West, other than Phoenix, has at least one game in hand on the Flames.

    They still have an uphill battle to finish in 8th, but I’m starting to believe that they can make it. If they keep playing this well, they could squeak into the playoffs.

    At this point in the season, I think that is for the best as a big losing streak now won’t get them into a good draft spot, the only positive outcome for this season is the playoffs.

    Having said that, I don’t want my team to be a perennial contender for 8th. I want them to be a perennial contender for Stanley.

    3 finals and 1 cup in 30 years is better than a lot of teams, but it could be so much better. I want the next 30 years to be much better than the last 30. I want a great NHL team with a mix of vets and young guns. I want the young guns to be able to take over from the vets. I want a farm system that is ripe with the next group of young guns. I want the team to contend for the Cup, not the playoffs. I want this every year.

    That’s all I want. But I’m afraid that some minor success will fool people into believing that this a great team/franchise when it really isn’t and doesn’t currently have the prospects to be great in the near future.

    • I dont think you have to worry about anybody thinking this is a great team.

      But go look at drafts. They fall off quickly. The team has played too well for that to be an option anymore. Look at the standings, there is no way the Flames play bad enough at this point to get a lottery pick, and if you arent getting lottery picks, you might as well try to make a run.

      Whether or not we should have tried to be top 5 bad is another story…

  • everton fc

    I agree. Feaster may have been a breath of fresh air in the dressing room. Perhaps.

    November hurt us. Iggy and Jokinen’s slow starts hurt us. Bourque’s inability to stay hot hurt us. Injuries hurt us (pun intended, of course)

    Feaster may earn this job based on the current streak. But he didn’t bring the players in here, nor did he do anything behind the bench. Again, maybe his “positive upbeat presence” has helped. But not much.

    This team was in a bad slump that turned into a bad funk. Credit to Brent and the coaching staff for turning it around, and to Iggy, for never quitting. No matter what anyone says, Iginla’s a true pro, and took a lot of heat. He turned it around. That’s when we began to take off.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    I think sending Kotalik down, and moving Connie to the office, to make room for some prospects to get some NHL games is the best thing Feaster could have done for the org. It gives our AHLers some hope that they didn’t have under Darryls rule.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Ken King gets no credit? anyone? Feaster doesn’t buy out Kotalik and bring up Bouma without Ken. I’m pretty sure Ken had a mandate to get a good eval of our youth at the expense of Sutter. Sure his tweaking is creating positive fan fare but it’s just not his team. I’m scared to know what kind of team he would build knowing how he wrecked Tampa.

    The acting GM badge is still firmly woven.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    im not so sure the catalyst for these results were seeing is anything to do with with feaster as much as the firing of darryl. i have a hunch that darryl getting the axe made everything very real for the “core” players. dare i wonder aloud if theyre playing for darryl?

    • CitizenFlame

      that was just brought up this afternoon on the Fan960. Brendan Morrison said just that. He said that Darryl believed in him when no one else did, and that there were a lot of players who felt that way and that they were partly playing to vindicate his belief in them.

      • CitizenFlame

        A story just broke on how it wasn’t Darryl’s fault. How many players on this team do you love that are attributable to him? All of them. Good to see that history will be kind to Darryl. Hopefully this team suceeds and he gets a chance to rebuild a franchise from the ground up like Ottawa or NYI. I’d dare to say if they picked up Getzlaf over Dion, he’d still be here and he’d still be at hockey czar status. Hope to hear more nice things said about this man. Go Flames! win one for the Farmer!

  • Subversive

    Sort of unrelated to this game specifically, but I was looking at the standings today (just had to confirm it was real, 8th!) and I could honestly see the Flames having a realistic chance to beat any of the teams in the top 12 other than Detroit and Vancouver if they make the playoffs. Interesting times! Hey, if you’re not going to be bad enough to get a high draft pick, you might as well make the playoffs.

    • everton fc

      We could beat the Wings and the Canucks, as well. Right now, we could beat anybody.

      As for Morrison’s comments about Darryl – playing for Darryl. I beat Jackman feels this way. Jokinen. Others.

      Why no credit to Brent? Brent is probably the biggest reason we are winning. I was one who said it may have to be him who gets the noose, but he has proven me wrong, and I’m glad he has. He has sold the team on the concept of winning every 2 out of three games. It has worked. Undoubtedly.

      Could Brent, too, be “doing it for Darryl”? I wonder…

      Morrison’s comments are more radical every time I think of them. It took guts to say what he said. He’s a class act. Well respected. Good in the dressing room. Should be re-signed and retained in the organization, if at all possible. But does it perhaps mean the players supported Darryl more than we think?

      Interesting stuff, indeed.