Postgame: Toronto Troubles

The Calgary Flames dropped to 1-3 on the season Saturday night, falling 3-2 at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs to finish off a three game road trip.  Calgary started the game in a strong fashion, with a pair of goals 82 seconds apart in the first period before Toronto replied for their three tallies to win the hockey game.  The Leafs have yet to lose on the season while Calgary returns home for a six game homestand.

What Happened

While I thought Toronto controlled the puck early in the first period, it was Calgary opening the scoring at 4:18 of the opening frame.  Curtis Glencross would pot his third at the right side of the night, finishing off a really solid shift from his line with Olli Jokinen and Lee Stempniak.  Jokinen’s pass was a good one cross-crease making it easy for Glencross to finish it off.  1:22 later Scott Hannan would give the Flames a two goal lead, taking a pass from Niklas Hagman at the left point, ripping it for his first on the year at 5:40 of the opening frame.  It was a fairly even first period, with scoring chances finishing 6-6.

The second period saw another fairly even twenty mintues, so it made sense after 40 that the game was tied.  85 seconds in, the Flames were caught with a few players trailing which allowed Joffrey Lupul to rip his second on the year past Miikka Kiprusoff to get Toronto within one.  The tying goal for the Maple Leafs came after an Alex Tanguay pass didn’t result in an offensive chance and lead to a Carl Gunnarsson stretch pass to Phil Kessel.  Kessel would turn Chris Butler inside out one-on-one and go shelf on Kiprusuoff.  The teams went to the second intermission tied 2-2, and scoring chances were even once again, at 7-7.

Just one goal in the third period and it came 41 seconds in, with Kessel breaking down the right wing.  He would go wide on the Calgary defender and make the smart move, instead of taking the shot, he’d try the pass.  The puck would bounce off Stempniak’s back-checking skate and just past the line for a 3-2 Toronto lead, which would hold up for the remainder.  I really felt Toronto owned the puck in the third period, and it didn’t allow Calgary to chase as effectively as perhaps they’d like.  The best chance to tie things came in the waning seconds, with Rene Bourque missing a wide open net on the right side, instead shooting it right into Leafs goalie James Reimer.

One Good Reason…

…why the Flames lost?  See above when talking about the third period.  It was a fairly evenly played hockey game through 40 or so minutes, with both teams generating things at even strength.  But after Kessel’s eventual winner, I didn’t feel there was enough done by Calgary to really push it, and it ended up allowing the Maple Leafs to control a lot of the possession.  Reimer made the stops he needed to, and the Leafs won.

Red Warrior

Olli Jokinen all the way.  I thought he was outstanding tonight, and he took on the Toronto heavies for most of the hockey game.  Olli finished +6 in scoring chance differential and drove his line with Glencross and Stempniak, with both of them having solid games as well.  Jokinen was matched against Gravovski for the most part, and I thought he did a really, really strong job.

Sum It Up

The game probably should have been 2-2 after two periods, but the third didn’t see the type of game they wanted.  I felt Toronto won the final frame even though they were outshot, and when it comes down to one 20 minute frame like that, it’s really all you needed.  On the positive side, Calgary didn’t go away, and they didn’t allow the Leafs to get any further ahead than one, and gave themselves a chance to be in the game late.  Now, a six game homestand, an important one for the team as they try not to fall too far behind the eight ball.

  • Truculence

    We’ve gone from needing a first line center for Iggy to needing an entire first line. Iggy, Tangs, and Moss had some chances but were horrible defensively.

    I just can’t see things getting better, even with the return of Backs and Morrisson. Iggy and Tangs can only thrive playing middle tier competition, but we have no one to really take on the heavies, unless the OMG line is reunited and continues where they left off last year.

    We’re already behind the eight-ball -our record is 1-3, with three of those teams being mediocre at best – and this six game homestand may actually make or break the season, even though it is early.

    If we can’t beat the Maple Leafs and Blues of the world, I dread the prospect of facing the cream of the crop of both conferences.

    That being said, I’d rather we out and out suck and compete for a top-5 pick, than be mediocre. Teams like Tampa and Philly retooled on the fly with a couple of horrid seasons, and given the collective age of the Flames and the fact that 23 million are coming off the books this year, it may be time for the organization to get a breath of fresh air. A top 5 pick and the pursuit of an impact player in free agency are exactly what this team needs to be competitive.

  • Truculence

    I’m cutting Iginla some slack because he missed all of camp but he (and by extension his line) really needs to step it up. They were terrible out there tonight… ineffective when they had the puck and a liability when they didn’t.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Iggy gave nothing tonight. Tanguay was a turnover machine. Moss is a winger playing centre.

    They beat a depleted Montreal team by playing really ugly and converting some low percentage scoring chances (like tonight).

    It’s just bad hockey right now. They don’t really control the puck and they are weak in their own end.

    Aside from a handful of individuals who are battling the overall team play is just horrible.

    They have to wake up and play with some consistency and cohesion. So far F-.

  • As much as I’d love to give the Flames slack, they were god awful tonight. I missed the two goals, but the highlights showed them to be same old Flames goals – garbage.

    Iginla was terrible and his fight over basically nothing was stupid. Kostopolos lost badly in his fight. Tanguay was making terrible passes, Moss was fighting the puck.

    And really, Kessel should not have scored his first goal. Defenseman was all over him, and did basically nothing to stop him. No block, no real fight, no push, nothing!

    Also – have the Leafs been taking diving lessons from the Canucks? Sure, Liles got a good clip to the face, but pretty sure he turned the wrong way when he got whacked with a stick. Armstrong was falling over at all chances as well.

    Terrible from the Leafs, BS calls from the refs to help Toronto get back into it. Bad game overall.

  • Emir

    First off I could really see the impact Grabovski had in the game, definitely better than my previous thoughts. I felt Toronto played a good game, but it looked even. Few thoughts on certain players though;

    Iggy looked very average tonight, finding his element but still not where he needs to be.

    Moss was lost

    Tanguay stepped in a time machine and went to a period where passing is the only option. If tangs shot a few times it would have made the first line more dangerous as opposed to focusing on iggy.

    Horak looked like he was lacking strength in the offensive zone and was shying away from tough areas. He needs some lbs to do better, maybe the AHL might be better.

    Butler looked decent

    Stajan played with heart and I felt like he had a good game.

    Stempniak looked good but i’m really impressed by Glencross, he just really seems like he puts it all out on the ice and I can’t help but love that, especially after signing his new contract so I really respect that.

    Kipper wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t great. I dunno I may be out in left field but I felt like he was very average.

    Really I felt like their first line beat our first line and the game was decided by Reimer, fantastic game for him might I add. Our first line looked so Neutered..

    Also we had issues breaking out of our own end, how many icings did we give up? too many to me.

    Team still looks like its finding itself a bit out there, which is dissapointing to see. I really wonder what Backlund brings to the top line.

    • skiing

      Re: Kipper

      No, you’re right… he was pretty average. Better luck on the goal off Stempniak and the game could have been totally different.

      I didn’t like how Kipper handled the Kessel play. I know why he dropped early and took away the backhand option (because Kessel should have been engaged more physically by Butler and Kessel loves going backhand)… but still…. if you’re going to try and force the play as the goalie and play off your defense, then Kipper should have been a step right, opened the short side, and butterflide faded tall, and straight back to the post (Forcing the shot high glove, as it came)

      But, I’d prefer with Butler (our new Ian White) playing against Kessel that he just played it square like a breakaway.

      He did neither, and dropped early, which was ugly.

  • Truculence

    Well I guess it could be worse, we could be 0-4 coming home to play the Oilers. Big home stand & .500 hockey wont cut it.

    I cant figure it out. There are things I really really like about our team & when they win it seems its reinforced. It’s just I think something is missing. Some catalyst on the ice that strikes & sparks of magic & oozes a confidence on this team. I dont know. We used to have a team that used to go after teams in waves & just forechecked and cycled the puck. I havent seen that from the Flames for some time.

  • The second & third goals were the result of our D (first Gio then Butler) letting Kessel blow by them.

    I was at the game tonight. What a waste of money. Neither team really came to play tonight. Jokinen was AWESOME tonight, really like how his line is clicking. Butler is horrible. Looked bad all night.

    Iginla & Tanguay are getting some chances, just isn’t clicking yet…..give it a couple more games.

    Looking forward to having Backlund back. Probably gonna be another month though.

    Oh and Horak looked great too.

  • Just re watched that attempt by bourque at the end of the game. in golf terminology that baby was the dreaded pull hook.
    Superb setup left him a 4 x 6 and rheimer no where to be seen.

    a testing start to the season for the flames to be sure.

  • It is probably a hail mary, but i think there is only one way to salvage this season and jaromes career, feaster has to find a centerman that can set him up and win draws…….has anyone heard this guy named spezza?

  • coptin_

    EVERY GAMEMAT….screw it the only thing that matters is we suck no desire no heart no energy no speed.i bet every player on this team would lift there no trade now.i watched the oilers game 2 nite (bored)they have speed and the kids have lots of enthusiasm,we’ll prbly get our ass kicked on tues.thanks 2 columbus were not in last place.jay fatter leave the team as is so we can get a top draft pick,years of 8-10 place finishes and a bad scouting staff have led to little cap space and a bunch of mediocer players.SERIOUSLY DO WE NOT HAVE ANYBODY ON THE FARM THAT IS BETTER THAN BUTTLER.keep on sucking so we can get a high draft pick. EVERY GAME MATTERS!!!

  • wawful

    The Flames top line just isn’t producing much yet, but this is not unexpected. Iginla has started slow for the last few seasons and that was even when he didn’t completely miss the pre-season! Tanguay has been in fine form, but who to stick in that first-line center position until Backlund returns is a real conundrum.

    The options:

    On paper, Jokinen is the guy who should be stepping up to play with Iginla and Tanguay until the #1 center returns, but we all know how he’s failed to click with Iginla in the past. Maybe his new two-way style will prove more compatible? I doubt it, but I’m sure Sutter will try the Tanguay-Jokinen-Iginla line before long. The only thing that’s prevented it up until now is how productive the second line has been while taking on top competition. If they hit a rough patch it’ll be mix and match, if not sooner!

    He did okay for a little while as a center last year, but he’s no first line center. Let’s face it, we’re just lucky Moss *can* play center at all! (Seriously, we’d need to call up another rookie if he didn’t.) Expecting a winger to jump into the center and play on the first line is just unreasonable. The sooner Moss is back on the OMG line as a winger the better.

    I’ve got to give this kid credit. He’s done way better than I was expecting a rookie to. Mostly that’s due to having hockey smarts beyond his years. Still, he has not developed the rest of his game to the point where he can be expected to take on top competition successfully. He could probably roll with the first line and a little failure though. As a completely green rookie he can do that without shame. Still, why put in him a position to fail in the first place?

    Maybe he’s good enough for the third line now that he’s gotten a couple points and a little confidence back. Still, this is probably the last guy to put on the first line right now because failure could easily ruin him, and his contract is not going to be easy to move if that happens! Stajan is like a cracked-eggshell right now. Not the best guy to lean too hard on at the moment. Yeah, pro-hockey is tough, but seriously, I don’t want to see another contract go the way of Kotalik. (Too bad the Czech league didn’t snap him up *before* the Regehr trade!)

    Not back yet, and he’s probably going to be in somewhat rough shape once he does get back. I wouldn’t count on him riding in off of LTIR and saving the day anytime soon.

    So where does that leave our options? Sticking with Moss is going to result in a lackluster first line. Jokinen may be the guy we have to try again, no matter how insane it sounds, only that will leave a gaping hole in our tough-minutes line. Stajan is just a bad idea, and Horak will be eaten for lunch, although he might view it as a fun learning experience.

    Rock – Sutter – Hard Place

    We’d all love it if Feaster managed to pull off a miracle trade and get us a genuine first-line center next week but, quite frankly, I doubt he could even get another second line center. We could certainly use one right now, but we’re not going to want one once Backlund and Morrison are back.

    I think we can expect Sutter to juggle the lines (as he was doing against Toronto), but I doubt it will lead to much. I think we’re just going to have to be patient with the suck until Backlund is back, and possibly even then.
    Welcome to rebuild mode gents.

  • Sticking with Moss is going to result in a lackluster first line.

    The Flames first line wingers are a combined $10.5. Quite frankly, they should be carrying the play with just about anyone between them outside of the rawest rookie or the worst goon.

    Ideally, yeah, you want your stars to play with stars. But the difference between the Flames and, say, Detroit or Vancouver is that nobody in those towns talks about getting someone to “help” Datsyuk for instance. The Sedin twins make former plug Alexander Burrows into a 30-goal scorer.

    • RexLibris

      Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Sedin also play down the middle, that should be noted.

      The insinuation that the ability of star linemates to convert a plug winger into an effective contributor should be equal to converting a plug center into an effective contributor – which is what you’re getting at with the Burrows comparison – just isn’t true. Until the sport is completely revolutionized, the shift checklist of a center will always exceed that of a winger.

      Jokinen’s line is playing well at the moment because Jokinen is the engine. He covers the most ice and takes on the most responsibility of the trio, and when he exerts his influence in all three zones, the line plays well. The ease with which Stempniak has replaced Moss on the RW of the OMG line further illustrates who the real key piece is, imo.

    • RexLibris

      Exactly, a true superstar makes those around him better. Iginla does not do that. Right now, the true force on that line is Tanguay. If you want to shut down Iginla, pound Tanguay into submission.

  • RKD

    We do have some kids I’m looking forward to seeing. Anyone know how Holland is doing?
    Kent, I agree a top line shouldnt be so dependent & non existent like ours & dependent on bringing in someone. I think we all have to face reality that Jerome is just a top player but not a franchise player that he used to be. Tanguay is also a top talented forward but has never been in a position that a team would build their team around him. He is a solid player at a great cap friendly price.

    So Wawful is right, Feaster/Sutter are inbetween a rock & a real hard place. Solution is simple but is it acceptable to the fan base. Iggy’s clock is starting to tick down on us. Do we trade our huge future to Ottawa for a Spezza. I would say like wow, this team looks pretty damn good, Iggy/Spezza/Tangs, followed by GlenX/Joker/Moss. But who do we give & is our defense good enough if we suddenly beef our top end. We’d also have to get Ottawa to take some salary, any deal would have to look like Bourque/Backlund & a 2012 or 2013 1st rounder to get Spezza & maybe one of their defense prospects.

    Decisions decisions, which path do we go. When Backlund & Morrison come back, they may not be the answer to our top line woes, although I believe Backlund is a great talent, their return will not equate to a top contender. One last shot for Kipper/Iggy? Then what next year?
    Tick tock, is that a clock I hear.

  • On that Kessel goal where Butler screwed up, that’s a time where you just push Kessel over. Hook him. Stick lift. Take a penalty if you have to and give him the penalty shot – Kipper might have a better chance at that.

    • BobB

      Yeah… but I think he tried to push Kessel over… and bounced off.

      Like I said, reminded me of Ian White.

      With that said… Kessel (+3) was dominant last night and destroyed Iggy’s (-2) line head to head….and feasted on Butler, especially with speed and the counter attack.

      Goal 1A – Iggy et al caught deep. Butler lost, Speed and counter = Goal!
      Goal 2A – Iggy et al caught deep. Speed and counter = Goal! (and a hell of a shot)
      Goal 3A – Hannan lost, Speed stretches Gio (who was a pylon) with the give and go to Kessel… boom… Goal!

      Same problems as always for goals against…. counter attack/poor puck pursuit and positioning vs transition.

  • flamesburn89

    How come Brent went with Bouwmeester on the pp in the third instead of babchuk? When I’m down a goal in the third period, I’d rather go with the guy who can score. If it’s and empty net scenario, you gotta go all out, and Bouwmeester doesn’t give you as good a chance as babchuk to score.

  • RKD

    Moss didn’t play as good as he did in Montreal, but really the whole first line didn’t play well.

    Jokinen has been one of the best if not the best player on the Flames so far. He’s converted from a goal scoring machine to a more two way player. He was neck and neck with Tanguay in points for a lot of last season until Tangs accelerated and pulled away.

    I think Iggy will rebound against the Oilers, he always has strong 2 goal performances against the Oil.

    This game was very winnable. Butler is struggling out there, he’s got to be way more aggressive.

  • RexLibris

    It sounds like panic is setting back in. If I remember correctly didn’t Iginla get off to a slow start last year too that spurred all of the trade speculations before Christmas? I imagine that his missing TC is slowing him down a touch but I’m sure he’ll be good for around 30 goals, 60+ points, again this year.

    Here’s a question I have for Flames fans: Assuming Bryan Murray decides to shop Jason Spezza, and assuming he waives his NTC, what would Calgary fans think is a fair trade for the centre? I think you can forget about offering Bouwmeester because they don’t need defensemen and I doubt he’d waive his NTC to go to a rebuilding team. But you’d have to send over nearly $7 million in cap space to make space. So if the price were something like Baertschi, a first round pick, Hagman and Jokinen (again, provided he waived his NTC) for Spezza and a 2nd round pick does that sound plausible?

    From where I sit I don’t see Murray sending Spezza out unless he feels he wins the trade hands down because they are sorely lacking for forwards. But seeing as they’re rebuilding and the Feaster is dead set against tanking the season I thought I’d bring it up.

    I know Eklund has had Spezza going to the Oilers for about 3 years now, so given his noted accuracy Calgary is probably a more likely destination.

    BTW, you guys are getting my Oilers after a back to back against Nashville so you might be at an advantage in that game.

    • BobB

      Hey Rex. I do think if Murray trades Spezza, he knows he will need a package of existing NHL + picks/prospects to level the salary exchange. Ottawa are loaded on D prospects & very much in need at centre & forward. Unless they trade Karlsson to Oilers for Hopkins or Erberle (I cant imagine Oil parting with Hall) then Spezza aint going nowhere.I really can see Murray wanting Backlund(1.3mill), Bourque(3.4mill) & a 1 st rounder back from Calgary for Spezza & maybe a Weiroch.
      Flames have the cap space to pull a deal like that off. Not sure thats how we want to go. That’s a lot of future for a 1-2 year kick at the cat.

      Feel sorry for Feaster, he doesnt want to be the bad guy & disassemble a team but I dont think he wants to be a D Sutter & trade more future for a 1-2 year window. But he does have to decide which way he’s going either way. I know the decision can be put off until February. If he does nothing now to get a #1 centre, I think the decision has already been made & he is going to let the team decide it’s destiny. Man we’re 1-3 & it doesnt take long for a fan base to jump on the same ole same ole wagon. If we’re under .500 come Feb, Feasters job in the eyes of the fans will be alot easier and justified. I’m not bailing on the team & it’s playoff chances but I’m with Feaster in that this team deserves the chance to show that 2010-11 second half was real. It makes so much sense, it’s tough to ignore. If we wind up making a trade for the likes of Spezza, well, like they say in poker, I made a terrible read.

      • RexLibris

        Yeah, I was interested in seeing if Flames fans would desire that kind of move be made, knowing the cost, of course. Yes Murray needs forwards, but I don’t see Calgary having that many that they could part with that would be enticing enough for the Sens, prospects aside. So in that regard this is all in the realm of speculation and thought-experiment.

        I believe Feaster will be here to man the helm while the ship heads towards the reef. I don’t know that he’ll be removed afterwards though, and I see the Flames ownership wanting to take a similar path to Philadelphia where they allow for one bad year but will not tolerate a prolonged decline, preferring to retool on the fly. My opinion of that strategy hardly matters, but were Calgary to attempt it they would have to overcome some significant hurdles in the process. #1 is acquiring enough top-end players to manufacture a core rather than develop one. As it stands you have two pieces in place with a few complementary players surrounding them. As VF has pointed out, there is no safe bet when changing the roster of a team, so only time would be able to tell if it can be successful.

        As for moving a d-man to the Oilers, I don’t see it happening. A few reasons: 1. Tambellini was supremely ticked off at Murray last time he outed the players in the Heatley trade for his own PR benefit. 2. The Oilers would be shopping superfluous forwards right now, not core players, and guys early in their careers (eg: Omark) and so Tambellini will wait to either find the perfect deal or until he has a better read on the kind of player he has. 3. Hopkins got a hat-trick last night and has 4 goals in 3 games. He, Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, and a few others aren’t being moved for anything that could realistically be made available.

        The defensive libalities that the Oilers have this year are being papered over with part-time fixes while the forwards figure out the NHL. The franchise is buying time for the defensive prospects to get their legs and develop. We’d need to have about 20% success rate on those d-men prospects for our lineup to be set and in the meantime the management will continue to evaluate and move out the redundant or ill-fitting pieces.

        Anyway, sorry for the long-form answer and I’m looking forward to Tuesday night!

        • RexLibris

          If I were Tamellini, if Karlsson was avail, I would certainly part with Omark & Parjarvi & maybe even flip a 1st rounder for a 2nd rounder with them. Gotta give to get. Keeping Eberle/RNH & Hall intact with a kid like Karlsson would be huge. I would take Karlsson over Larson, as he’s already NHL tested. Whether Murray does that deal is a different matter. Interesting you say that Heatley fiasco is still leaving an after taste between the two teams being trading partners. It really wasnt the Senators fault, was more Heatley. I would say there would be more urine between LA & Edmonton & 2nd place would be Burke & Toronto being reluctant to deal with each other after the Penner RFA. I gotta say, Kevin Lowe has really peed in the Cornflakes of some other teams with their targetting RFA’s Penner & Vanek. That may come back to haunt you guys as your many prospects become RFA’s.

          • RexLibris

            I don’t think Karlsson is worth the risk of moving Omark and Paajarvi and a first rounder at this point. He may be good, but unless you’re getting a young kid that you know will turn into a Pronger, giving up on Paajarvi and letting a depth winger like Omark (who plays RW and fills in well for the oft-inured Hemsky) go is a tad too risky at this point. And no, the Oilers aren’t trading a first round pick for the foreseeable future. Those are coveted by all but the most guaranteed cup contenders and GMs named Darryl. Besides, there is a very good chance we walk away with Ryan Murray at this year’s draft.

            As for the Murray trade, yeah Healtey sunk us, but Murray went to the press to say whom he had been offered which put Tambellini in a very awkward position with those players. In the corresponding press conference Tambellini outright stated that he was frustrated with what was a pretty unprofessional move by Murray. As for Lombardi, granted it has caused some raised eyebrows about the Oilers medical staff, but, like Burke, Lombardi is always letting his mouth write cheques that his glutes can’t cash. If it helps his team, he’ll make the trade, it doesn’t matter whom it involves. Same with Burke.

            I have no doubt that there will be GMs doing some homework to offer-sheet guys like Hall, RNH, Eberle, and so on, but the window for that is small and don’t forget, they all had a shot at Stamkos this summer and no one budged. It might happen, it might not. My guess is that at some point early next season (barring another lockout) extensions are announced for Hall followed by Paajarvi. Eberle has the same agents as Doughty so that one could take time, but in all likelihood they get locked up before it gets that far. Although I can appreciate that many Flames fans would hope otherwise.

            Looking forward to Tuesday’s game. I wonder if Feaster has anything specific riding on round 1.

  • Victoria Flames Fan

    I kept a close eye on Butler and was not at all impressed. I wish we had grabbed Luke Adam instead, like the original rumours were insinuating. Not giving up hope. Iggy is off to another bad start and should pick it up in the next couple weeks. Didn’t notice Horak last night. THat’s fine if your a D-Man but if you are supposedly a flashy forward desperately trying to make the team you’d hope to be noticed, no?

  • RexLibris

    butta got schooled. the iggie tangs moss love in simply doesnt work at an nhl level, perhaps its stellar in the inter squad games when beers are at stake. however against the bigs its failing. the butler did it, got burned that is. its very difficult to understand how an organization doesnt have any centremen in the system capable of playing in the bigs,exception noted ollie the eggman jokinen. we all love to hate ollie and stajan, perhaps its the butta system thats broke.

    • RexLibris

      Dont neccessarily agree. We’ve had many coaches during the prime of our current core & I’m tired of blaming coaches. Personally I think Butter & Feaster are a very compatible team & have added additional very good support staff.