The Pain Continues

The last time the Calgary Flames won a hockey game in Buffalo remains March of 1996 after falling 2-1 to the Sabres on Friday night.  The score could have been a whole lot more lopsided if not for the outstanding performance of Henrik Karlsson between the Calgary pipes.  He remains winless on the year and Calgary drops back a game below .500 after toppling the Red Wings the night prior.

What Happened

A fairly cautious start to the first period slowly tilted the way of the hosts as they started taking advantage of the Flames through the neutral zone and started racking up the scoring chances.  They’d score at 7:59 thanks to a Drew Stafford one timer shot as he was left all alone high of the left circle and counted his fourth of the season.  Jarome Iginla was way out of the play, allowing Stafford to launch a shot uncontested for a 1-0 Buffalo lead after one.  Scoring chances were 15-5 in favour of the Sabres in the opening frame, as they were able to rack things up with three consecutive powerplay opportunities.

The second period saw Calgary have their best extended opportunity to tie the game thanks to a 69 (heh) second 5-on-3 powerplay.  The Flames would have a few opportunities, including an Anton Babchuk crossbar, but they came away without the equalizer and trailed by the same score heading to the third period.  Buffalo still ran things 5-on-5 though, outchancing the Flames 7-3 when things were even.

The Sabres swelled their lead early in the third period thanks to Nathan Gerbe, who was the recipient of a tipped pass.  All alone at the right side of the net, he tapped home his third at 1:45 for a lead that looked pretty steep at two goals.  However, a nice shift off a faceoff win at 5:45 saw the Flames get back within one, as Alex Tanguay deftly tipped a soft Jay Bouwmeester point shot for his third of the season.  Calgary generated a few more chances after that, but Buffalo defended fairly well for the remainder of the period and came away with a 2-1 win, their seventh of the season.

One Good Reason…

…why the Flames lost?  Because much of what they did the night before wasn’t on display against Buffalo.  They allowed far too many shots and chances against and were fairly punchless offensively for most of the night.  As a result, Buffalo controlled the majority of this hockey game, and a third period push by Calgary wasn’t going to get the job done.  The Flames won against the Red Wings because they were frustrating to play against defensively.  They were not that tonight.

Red Warrior

No brainer on this one, he was one of the few Flames that came to play tonight…Henrik Karlsson.  Making 42 saves on 44 Buffalo shots, the Calgary Tower was out of his tree for much of the night, making numerous saves on ten bell Sabres opportunities.  It was by far his best performance this season and likely to date in the NHL, and was probably Calgary’s best goaltending performance this season.  Honorable mention to Matt Stajan, Tim Jackman, and Tom Kostopoulos as they were the only line to finish in the plus with scoring chances when it was all said and done.

Sum It Up

We talked about needing the Flames to perform similar to how they did one night earlier in Detroit.  That wasn’t the case against a beatable Sabres team, but when Calgary doesn’t do what they do best, they aren’t that difficult to beat.  The Flames wasted a sterling performance from their backup goaltender and fall back below the .500 mark.

  • jeremywilhelm

    Something completely unrelated to anything Flames related: Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers has 22 goals in 16 games. 22 in 16! Wow! On pace for over 100 goals!

  • Vintage Flame

    Complete regression from the Flames tonight. They played no where near the calibre or the system they played against Detroit.

    Once again they slipped into a chase mentality and let the opposition dictate the play and tempo.

    What a shame when they get the performance of Karlsson’s career out of him, and once again they simply had no answer.

    Too many invisible jerseys out there tonight.

  • jeremywilhelm

    Such a frustrating team to watch. We are never sure if they’re going to show up. For several seasons, it seems like it has been the trademark of this team to look totally lifeless after a good effort in the previous game.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Better they stay below .500 until the deadline than have a surge like last season. It’ll make for some painful hockey to cheer for a team that loses so much, but I’d rather short term pain that allows Feaster to sell off some pending UFAs this season than have him try to bolster the team for an unlikely playoff run. The Flames have gone from a low seed playoff team to one that’s only got an outside chance these past seasons, and that’s not good enough for me.

    • Vintage Flame

      I will be pretty disappointed in this team if they finish below .500 because they mailed it in vs. if they just aren’t that good of a team and as a result they finish below water in the standings.

      • SmellOfVictory

        True. I’d rather it be the result of some long-lasting bad luck (and really, it would likely have to involve a fair bit for them to stay below .500 for that long). Just as long as there isn’t another false hope thing going on that sets back the addition of picks/prospects by another season.

  • Vintage Flame

    I find it hard to believe that this game was simply the result of a back-to-back. This was more like the Vancouver game, just to a lesser result. It was almost as if the Detroit game didn’t happen.

    If that’s the case then this is seriously the wrong direction the team is focusing on. The theory is that it was the Van game that should have been shrugged off and forgotten. The reality is that the Flames forgot all the things they did right against Detroit and played this boring, sluggish brand of hockey that buried them against Vancouver and did it again tonight.

  • Vintage Flame

    Good Eve Pat,

    Well it is what we expect good game bad game.. the team coasted to much.

    I hope that the doubting fans will lay off Karlson now , He displayed an exceptional effort even the smart move to create the penalty.

    What else can you expect from a goalie ?

    Maybe a team in front of him that knows how to seize opportunities when their handed to them.

    Calgary does have 2 good goalies.

    I picked up on TV Lindy Ruff is using heart monitors to see who is working hard on his team, what a great idea!

    I would sure like to see that in Calgary but there are a couple players it won’t work on as they don’t have hearts.

    The other night against Vancouver Tim Jackman got into a squirmish and shortly after Tanguay scored.
    Tonight Jackman fought Tanguay responded , maybe we need Jackman in a few more tilts.

    I have to say again Sarich sure bobbles up when the pressure is on .. I said it before ” He can hit but sure is weak in puck handling skills.”

    One might overlook it if Sarich played his physical game but he doesn’t bring that often.

    And the final note as the team goes, so does “Iggie” and he was hardly noticable tonight.

    Have a good night

    Robbie Broatch

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I just don’t understand why they refuse to skate and attack. First period they sit back and play tight. It just sets the tone for the rest of the game.

    This team plays with no tempo, they allow teams to dictate to them, end up playing in their own end and if they’re not getting scored on, they’re taking penalties.

    I really don’t think they’ve played well all year. Even in their wins I think they’ve been outplayed just got some lucky breaks.

    At best they’re tentative, at worst they’re embarrassing.

  • RKD

    This team is the biggest enigma in the NHL. They looked like world beaters in the victory against the Red Wings. Yet, a night later they give up 37 shots after 2 periods.

    Last season, the Flames were 8th in league scoring, tonight they couldn’t score with a 5 on 3 man advantage.

    I still say replace Stajan with Byron. Play some younger players on d like Brodie/Mikkelson/Carson. They may lack experience but they have more mobility than Cory Sarich.

    More youth integration will help this team, can’t wait till Backlund comes back.

  • The only consistency the Flames have shown the past few seasons is that they are totally inconsistent.

    Some nights they can beat Detroit 4-1 or Chicago 6-2, others they get beat 2-1 by Buffalo or 7-1 by the Sharks. The highs are short lived and the lows are depressingly awful.

    I would be less concerned about these players and their work ethic if say, there were pictures floating around of them snorting coke off hookers’ bodies and spending thousands of dollars at the bars. As it is, they just seem lazy and unwilling to exert the effort required to score, play defense, or even skate around.

    Butter needs to do something to light a fire under their asses – bag skates, yell and swear, maybe tase them on the bench when they have a bad shift. SOMETHING FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

  • RexLibris

    Didn’t Sutter put out 5 defencemen last year on a powerplay because he was so disgusted with the effort and performance of his forwards?

    Think he’ll try that again? Or should Feaster get a cardboard cutout of D.Sutter and stick it in the lockerroom like Major League. Only with every LOSS the team has to take off a piece of the clothing. That might get things moving in another direction.

    It sounds like if Feaster is looking to move Bourque he isn’t doing much to help the cause with his on-ice effort. I watched the third tonight and it seemed a pretty sloppy affair on both sides. Giving up a two-on-nothing and then consistently bobbling the puck when trying to make a simple pass out of the d-zone? And those were errors on both sides. From what I saw this game really could have gone either way and Blues fans are right now probably saying how lucky they were that Enroth played well enough to steal a win.

  • Vintage Flame

    Hey, whats everyone talking about?? We’re consistent, win one, lose one, win one, lose one. .500 hockey team. I can see it on TSN next June, and picking 8th the Calgary Flames select—-…….

  • BobB

    Karlsson was excellent last night and showed exactly what we need to see (actually more than) out of him on a regular basis. But at least it’s an arrow pointing in the right direction. I was beginning to worry he was more the Calgary “Monster” than “Tower”. Now, keep it going.

    Unfortunately, Enroth was better, which both probably have more to do with the Flames skaters than anything else.

    Again, it’s the short-comings of this team, particularly at forward, where lack of ???? talent? results in few goals and lack of puck pursuit in too many shots against. Not really a winning recipe.

    The shots against were skewed heavily by the 13SA pk… but still…. come on guys.

    You’d like to think that without Miller we could have capitalized, but, Enroth is almost always very, very good. It’s nice Karl was on to prevent it from being embarrassing.

  • jeremywilhelm

    I fear its the Flames country club type dressing room atmosphere. There hasn’t been a spark in this team for 5 years.

    People are wondering, are they the team from detroit? Or the team in Buffalo?

    They are both. It’s a coin flip to see who wants to play on a given night with most of these guys, and sadly, that will never change as long as some of these players are here. Ill let you figure out which players i mean.

    • everton fc

      If there’s a country club atmosphere in the dressing room, that’s Feaster. I remember Peter Maher saying once, even when they won, or were on a winning streak, you couldn’t tell – it was so serious under Darryl as GM.

      We are, at best, a .500 team. At best. With this roster. I personally have no faith Feaster will get a decent return for Bourque, if he moves him. See return for Regher, as reference.

      • everton fc

        Well I dont think the lets not have fun atmosphere is any good either. You cant lump this on Feaster, it comes from the players. There’s just no spark, hunger, the need to achieve. Feaster’s job is to put the players with the talent together, he doesnt coach them & he shouldnt have to motivate these guys. These efforts on each end of the scale is totally mental. I’ve learned that “Perception is Reality” in most things in life no matter what you do. These guys actually perceive that the effort is there game to game & it’s a matter of “execution”& bearing down. When trying to change this perception with athletes you flirt very dangerously with the self confidence of the player, no matter how much talent that player may have. These players just seem to have trouble buying into Brents system on a consistent basis. Maybe these guys need to go on a team/management/player retreat where the players prework is to come up with changes/ideas to improve the system, where it breaks down, so that they all agree to, buy into & players and coaches agree on. The solutions and changes are then a product of the whole. If you need to have players only closed door meetings all the time, that aint good. It means you have players that are not maximizing the teams performance because its hard to execute something you dont believe in individually. Sorry for the ramble guys, I just picked up on what Feaster said about this thing is a mental thing & the solutions are in that dressing room. The vultures are circling & I pray we dont make any loser panic trades.

  • Graham

    Most of us have spent years drinking the spiked kool aid offered by the Flame’s management.

    Lets be honest, the Flames are basically playing to their potential, a middle of the road ‘average’ team. The days of this club being an contender, an elite, or even a top ten club are years behind us.

    While I am willing to give Feaster a chance, I question the logic of his slow rebuild menatality. The approach is add a few pieces this year, a few next year, a few in the third year and so on, basically trying to rebuild slowly over time. However, the reality in the post lockout era, is that by the time year three/ four arrives, you loose the pieces from year one, because their contracts have expired and you don’t have the cap space to resign them.

    The slow build strategy being offered by Feaster is going to keep this club average for years. If this club misses the playoffs this year, we have to look for a more aggressive rebuild, yes, including the almost unthinkable, trading Iggy…

    • ChinookArchYYC

      ” I question the logic of his slow rebuild menatality. The approach is add a few pieces this year, a few next year, a few in the third year and so on, basically trying to rebuild slowly over time. “

      There is no such thing as a fast rebuild. We have two choices big and risky, or slow and smart.

      • Graham

        One of the keys to success is to supplement your core pieces with top / high end kids playing on an NHL entry level contract, or failing that, on their first ‘non’ entry contract. (think Phaneuf at a million with $5 million to spend on other players, vs Phaneuf at $6.5 million and nothing else).

        I think the Flames need to (should have several years ago) traded Iggy for a package of high end kids, then used Iggys contract savings to sign a true first line center. Two high end prospects on an entry level contract playing on your first / second line frees up another four or five million…

        Hey pesto, a top end center and two high end kids… Had they repeated with Phaneuf, maybe Regehr… a fast rebuild with talent – no guarantees, but it has to better than what we have.

  • Graham

    More of the same. Every year every game it’s always the same. which team will show up? though it’s usually more about whether our opponent shows up or not to determine if the flames can win.

    Bottom line – mediocre coach, not enough skill on the roster.

      • Graham

        Agreed, what’s the alternative? More of this? Someone please, give me the viable alternative to blowing this team up with a thermonuclear warhead?

        And please, leave out any references to signing Suter and/or Parise, pretending other teams want our garbage and the always handy, but completely vague “value contracts” term so liberally thrown around these parts. “Yeah, just sign the 2 biggest UFA this summmer that of course no one else will want, trade our 4 most mediocre players for another team’s superstar and then add ‘value contracts’ (ie. more superstars who will play for us for peanuts).”

        And this is what the anti-rebuild through tanking crowd always seem to miss when they complain about how long a rebuild will take and that is, how many years have we been on this current path for and what has it gotten us? So really, what’s another 5 years to do it the right way?

        • RexLibris

          I posted on VF’s Stoking the Fire article last week a plan based on what I have perceived to be Flames’ fans desires to rebuild. By targeting UFAs in the middle tier to replace every one of the expiring UFAs from the team this year there could be a significant overhaul in the team’s identity and playing style. I specifically avoided Parise, Semin, and Suter in order to make the argument more reasonable. There are several options at all the positions (RW, LW, C, and D) that could be looked at.

          It isn’t what I would do, but I have noted that most fans here want to retool on the fly and find complimentary players that can support Iginla, Tanguay, Kirpusoff, and Giordano to excel and challenge for a Cup. Again, I’m putting my own opinions of that expectation aside and put up a list of potential candidates.

          Take a read, please, and give me your thoughts. Most of the opposition I received was that the UFAs would be too old (28+), or that the candidates wouldn’t provide a significant upgrade. Again, my perspective is as an outsider (albeit and Oiler one) so I don’t see either of these arguments as compelling, but I’m always curious to get more feedback.

          As for the “what’s another 5 years?” well, as I said, I’m an Oiler fan and that was basically the argument here in Edmonton. We’d spent years trying to build and add and chased UFAs and stars, all to no avail. So at some point you have to stop and say “this isn’t working and we need to change”. Like Einstein’s facetious quote about repeating the same action and expecting a different result being a definition of insanity.

  • RexLibris

    @RL – I read your comments when you originally posted and while well thought out, it’s just not the route I would take. I fall into the “not enough of an upgrade” segment.

    The fact is, all the finalists have been built through the draft and all of them have 3 or 4 superstars in their 20’s.

    People can argue all sorts of things – no guarantee, you have to finish dead last, etc., but at the end of the day it all comes down to one thing – do you want the Cup? Because I’ve yet to see a viable alternative route. And you don’t have to tank and get bottom 5 per se, but you do have to draft well (i. Detroit).