Pat Steinberg has a good overview of the Flames home game here. Unlike him, though, I wasn’t at the Saddledome rubbing shoulders with the important people. Instead I stayed at home and switched between internet feed and SNET broadcast so I could catch as much action as possible.
I mostly concentrated on game 1B in Vancouver since Steinberg was in Calgary – also because it was on TV and not a grainy internet stream. The second game also featured Flames I was slightly more interested in watching; specifically Sven Baertschi, who has been impressive in his first training camp. Some thoughts on him and others that caught my attention…
– In Game 1A at home, there wasn’t much competition to speak of. The Flames iced a vastly superior squad and they ran roughshod over the Canucks hopefuls. Tanguay, Bourque and Byron had a field day with multiple points and numerous chances to score besides. Byron came away from the game with a star and high standing in his new fans eyes. He made an excellent play on Tanguay’s goal in the third where he threaded the puck through a defenders stick at the opposing blueline, cut laterally and then dropped the puck to Tanguay who put it home.
That said, I have to rain on the parade just a little bit – keep in mind Byron was playing on a line with the two best Flames forwards available against what could charitably called an AHL squad. Nevertheless, an encouraging first step.
– Game 1B was a lot more competitive. Calgary jumped out to a lead a couple of times thanks to the work of Hagman, Backlund and Baertschi. The veteran winger a very nice break-away and deke goal to open the scoring and then scored again with a poor angle stinker on Schneider. the kids on his lines were pretty dangerous at times as well and they were rewarded with Backlund’s one-handed tip-in goal on a Baertschi feed. They spent a few shifts dominating with the man advantage as well.
– The Canucks took a few penalties and the Flames were the better team through two periods, grossly outshooting the home club. Things turned in the third period, however, with the Canucks driving play before the game deteriorated into sloppy shinny hockey by the end. Calgary’s lackluster back-end was one of their weaknesses I think, with Bouwmeester being the only solid, top-2 presence. Babchuk and Butler were the other two veterans (the former had a rough evening while the latter was average) with fringe players like Derek Smith, Clay Wilson and Joe Piskula.
– Having a collection of tough guys up front didn’t help the Flames in the end either. Desbiens and Leduc-Leblonde were detriments in their own end of the rink. P3L also took an ill-advised penalty on a dangerous hit from behind in the third with the Flames trailing.
– The only other kids I noticed from time-to-time were Michael Ferland and Patrick Holland. Ferland seems to be pretty aware when he’s on the ice and was the one who sprung Hagman on his break-away. Holland skates pretty well for a bigger guy and doesn’t seem to make an really notable errors.
– David Moss and Curtis Glencross were the big boys up front and frankly they were a little flat. Glencross in particular has looked very rusty in everything I’ve seen him in so far this pre-season and yesterday was no exception. Although the Canucks line-up in Vancouver was better, it was still hardly a murderer’s row, so Glencross should have been one of the best skaters on the ice, but he really wasn’t. In period three, for instance, he broke in on a 3-on-1 and managed to completely defuse it by clumsily mishandling the puck and skating right into the lone defender.
Glencross has proven to be a very good player for this team, so there’s no need to overly worry about his performance in the exhibition time.
– Leland Irving was mediocre at best. Three of the four Canucks chances were quality, but the winning goal was the worst of the evening, even considering Hagman’s sharp-angle muffin. Nicklas Jensen was trapped behind a defender and drifting towards the corner so he decided to flip one at the net. It found it’s way beneath Irving’s arm somehow.
A few other pucks got past him but hit posts. Irving also looked somewhat frazzled when the play picked up in the offensive end. I’m sure he’ll get a few more looks before pre-season ends, so it will be interesting to see if he can leve this performance behind him.
Next up- The Flames face Edmonton on Saturday.