Postgame: Rope-a-Dope

The Calgary Flames didn’t necessarily carry the play Sunday night, and they kinda took a page out of their opponents book en route to a 2-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.  The Flames didn’t generate a ton offensively, they scored a powerplay goal, relied on their goaltender, and got back to the .500 mark.  No it wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done and Calgary has won four of their last six games and come away 2-1 on this three game road trip.

What Happened

This game didn’t start in the fashion the Flames wanted, as they were down 1-0 34 seconds in after losing a faceoff in their own end and standing around.  After Miikka Kiprusoff would make the initial save, Paul Stastny would be placed right for his fourth off the rebound.  But Calgary responded effectively, carrying the play for a good span and scoring on an odd one themselves at 5:19.  Mark Giordano would fire one seemingly no one was ready for, including Colorado tender Semyon Varlamov; Giordano’s second of the season had this game tied after one period of play.  The Avs won the scoring chance count in the first period 5-2.

The second period saw Calgary’s only powerplay of the game, and they’d cash in on it thanks to a Curtis Glencross re-direct in front.  Alex Tanguay’s shot seemed to glance off the body of Glencross, and his fourth would snap a seven game goalless drough and put the Flames up for the first time.  Once again, they’d trail in the scoring chance count after 40, but lead where it mattered, carrying a lead into the third.

Not a ton happened in the third period for the Flames, as they were in defending mode for the most part.  Colorado seemed to have the bulk of possession and Kiprusoff had to make some quality saves to keep this game tied, especially as the clock ticked past the halfway mark.  In the end, the Avs couldn’t solve Calgary’s goalie and the Flames did enough to hold on for the win.

One Good Reason…

…why the Flames won?  I felt they limited damage.  While Calgary was outchanced by the Avalanche and didn’t carry the play for the majority of this game, they did a decent job of keeping their opponent to the outside and then cleared things very quickly when opportunities were generated against them.  Yes they were outclassed for a good portion of this game, but they got the win by not allowing second and third opportunities too often.

Red Warrior

Gotta go with Miikka Kiprusoff as he was the largest reason the Flames won this hockey game.  Thanks to another strong performance from #34, and a nice Derek Smith save as well, the Avs were shutout for 59:26 of this hockey game.  This should have been a Colorado win, and they’ll leave knowing their fate should have been better.

Sum It Up

Here’s the thing: Calgary won this game and these are the type of wins playoff teams need to take at times.  However, the Flames have yet to be able to build on getting to even, as they’ve done it on three seperate occasions and haven’t been able to get past .500.  Calgary cannot continue to wallow around that mark, so things have got to be put together in a hurry.  That said, it’s two points they were fortunate to have, so money in the bank baby!

  • I watched the game and it was painful, to say the least. I’d say 75% of the game was played in the Calgary zone and that’s not an exaggeration. We’re lucky our goaltending was strong again and that Colorado seemed to treat the puck like some kind of combination racquetball/hand grenade. One of the sloppiest games of hockey I’ve seen in ages as neither team seemed to be able to make anything resembling an actual play until late in the 3rd when Calgary had a couple of 2-on-1’s due to the Avs pressing.

    When Calgary finally plays a team that has their sh*t together, and if their goaltending is just average, they’re really going to get it handed to them. Kind of like when they played Vancouver.

    What an unimpressive team to try and watch. Like I said, the Avs were somewhat terrible and still grossly outplayed the Flames. I just don’t understand how they can keep a team like this together. Whatever people’s thoughts are on rebuild or no rebuild, I can safely say that trading Rene Bourque is not the tonic to what ails this team. They are simply old, slow, boring, uninterested and overly reliant on goaltending.

    Speaking of which, Feaster made some comments on Sportsnet during the intermission about the impatience of the organization to start seeing some results.

    Really, this effort was worse than the Buffalo game, the only difference is they somehow won this one.

  • Ironically, goaltending has been the team’s strength recently. If the forwards could get their stuff together, the Flames could have a much better record at this point.

    Knowing the Flames, Iginla et al will finally figure out how to get out of their own end just as the puck stopping regresses.

    • jeremywilhelm

      I fully expected that, since last time Kipper had a good year in net the Flames were last in the conference (maybe the entire league?) in goal scoring.

    • BobB

      Kent, that’s not irony, that’s the result of being a middling team and the shortcomings in your roster emphasising shot quality for and against. (most teams that generate a lot of shots, have worse goaltenders sv%) compared to the norm.

      Sure, if you’re stacked across the board, maybe you don’t see that as much.

      Or if you’re brutal across the board maybe the same.

      But if Calgary has to “open up” to score a bunch of goals…. and get a ton of shots…. they are going to allow a bunch of goals.

      This team isn’t good enough, fast enough or consistent enough to do both ends of the ice.

      They don’t score on the rush, they don’t have great puck pursuit through the neutral zone, and they don’t have a great mobile defence. If they don’t emphasize defence and return to our zone in a hurry… they’ll get burned. That comes at the expense of shot volume… and then unless we’re lucky…goals.

  • jeremywilhelm

    Well, despite winning not so impressively, a win is a win. On an upbeat note, over a week ago I picked the next 6 games & hypothesized that we could very easily be 2-4 & the Flames wound up being 4-2. That’s interesting & it made me think I’ve been a little hard on them. So the next 6 games are Minni, Chic, Col, Ott, Chic & Columbus. I would normally say these 6 look way easier than the last 6 we pulled out a 4-2 record with but Flames never make anything easy. Just by the way things are going I would say a .500 record should be very very attainable & if they play better, another 4-2 run would not be out of the question. In fact, that is a must. So after Nov 21, Flames need to be 2 games above .500 to be in striking distance of the playoff chase. Big 6 games coming, hope the boys can do it. Would be nice to start dominating games, would go a long way in attaining that 4-2 record.

  • RexLibris

    I’d like to say that I had a wry, insightful post up that was erased, but who am I kidding?

    Watched the game last night and maybe it is just my own observer-status that kept me disinterested, but it seemed like one of the most boring games I had seen in…well since the Oilers-Phoenix game Saturday night, but still pretty boring.

    Glad you guys got the win, divisional games are going to be the difference for the Flames this year more than most, I think.

    The forwards looked out-of-sync on both sides and the defence (Smith’s save aside) seemed to be scrambling a lot. Speaking of which, what about trading Smith to Columbus for a draft pick so he can be Mason’s new goaltending coach?

    • Vintage Flame

      It was definitely a boring game to watch, but Hell at this point I’ll take a boring win over an exciting loss.

      There were some bright points on the defense. Sarich out of the line up was long over due, and I thought Derek Smith filled in admirably. He was defensively responsible and didn’t try to do too much, which has been Sarich’s crux as of late.

      This team has to remember to have any measure of success, they have to stick to their game plan, whatever that might be. When they start to ad lib, is when they get into trouble.

      Let the other team worry about their own chalk board. The Flames cannot play PvP with other teams, their greatest strength is keeping to their own game plan and hoping the other team gets deterred from theirs.

  • Vintage Flame

    Does anyone else think this whole sitting players out who aren’t performing regardless of salary thing is bunk?

    It seems to only apply to the marginal players on the team, as I’ve yet to see Bourque, Iginla or Glencross get benched.

    • Vintage Flame

      I don’t think it’s bunk at all. The benching of Morrison and Sarich, and in some weird manner, Hagman should be evidence of that. Not to mention the presence of Roman Horak still in the line-up.

      If they are trying to trade Bourque, they are going to want to to showcase him to scouts and other teams. There is no way they bench Iginla, regardless of policy or promise.. There is no way Glencross remotely deserves to be benched. He has played very well with Jokinen, which is why you have seen them matched up with Iginla in an effort to get his legs moving.

      • Vintage Flame

        Totally agree VF. GlenX has been pretty solid working with Joker. Bourque still has 5 goals & he’s one of the few assets we have to trade without admitting we’re blowing it up. Sitting him would be disastrous.

        Smith has been great as a 5-6 dman & about 3.0mill cheaper than Sarich What I think is nuts is carrying 5-6mill as healthy scratches all the time. How sad is that. When we get injuries, it should a call down to Abbottsford to the likes of Bouma & Byron to get a few NHL games in relief. I know, we’ve beaten this horse so much, there’s nothing left of the skull.:(

  • Vintage Flame

    In watching Smith over this admittedly small number of games, I don’t know why he’s considered a marginal NHLer. He’s not amazing, but so far he’s looked like an entirely capable 5th defender.

  • Vintage Flame

    @VF – “There is no way they bench Iginla, regardless of policy or promise..”

    That sort of make sthe whole process hypocritical right there. Don’t pretend that other players don’t notice that stuff, it’s no different than anyone else’ work environment. Everyone’s equal but som ear emore equal than others does not sit well with anyone (except for those who are more equal, of course).

    And Glencross hasn’t been all that hot as of late either IMO.

    • Vintage Flame

      It may sound an unfair or unwise practice, but it’s just the way it is. No matter how much they struggle, they are not sitting the face of the franchise.

      The fans would not see sitting Iginla as punishment for play. It would insight fans and they would be ridiculing the team nightly at the games and in the media. Just not going to happen.

      Glencross has been very good with Jokinen this year dude. Not sure what you define as ‘hot’, but GlenX has looked good almost every night. IMO

  • Derzie

    According to the “basic” stats presented on the Flames website, here is my report card.

    Playing Well?
    Iggy, Glennie, Tangs

    Holding down the fort in a solid way?
    Olli, Hagman (why is Sutter on this guy?), Stempniak, Bourque, Horak, Hannan

    Need to pick it up?
    Moss, Gio, Bo, Kosto

    Stinkin’ It up?
    Babs, Butler, Smith, Stajan, BMo, Jackman, PLLL, Sarich.

    Again, these stats speak nothing of salary, blocked shots, chances, corsi and the like. Just old fashioned production.

  • Derzie

    its next to impossible to sit the face of the franchise or any high priced help and maintain a coaching job, even if the circumstances dictate. ask hartsie about trying to bully the big egos, quickest ticket out of town. have to agreee the pressbox should be reserved for low end contracts, and taxi squad members.

  • RexLibris

    I think the distinction between sitting and HS-ing a player needs to be made also. Frankly, if I saw Iginla coasting around and not back-checking or executing the game-plan (as VF puts it: “whatever that is”) then he should be benched. Ovechkin was benched last week and it caused a huge stir, and I understand the argument of Flames fans who say that the face of the franchise shouldn’t be benched and that owners would have a fit, but what else can a coach do? I have heard many comments on this site about the coach not having enough pull, well, benching players, TOI and HS’s are about the only bullets a coach has.

    I agree, VF, that the current roster doesn’t have many of the creative types who can improvise or create offense outside of a team effort. I certainly am familiar with that, but the positive side of it is that it can push a team to play with solidarity and, in exceptional cases, become more than the sum of their parts. I think that is what Feaster is banking on right now, and Brent Sutter is as good a coach to bring that about as any right now.

    Maybe alternating Sarich and Smith into the lineup like a goalie rotation will keep them both on their toes and help their performance. Hard to say, just a guess right now.

    My prediction is if the Flames can keep their head above water until late Dec they should be able to creep up into playoff range. Teams are going to drop off and get injured (I’m thinking of my Oilers there) and others will plateau. I still say you should trade Derek Smith to Columbus for a pick so he can coach Mason on stopping shots.

  • RexLibris

    You can only limit Iggy’s icetime & not give him power play time to send a message but you could never sit him in a press box. If a coach did that with the highest paid & most popular player, the coach wont be winning that battle. The coach will be gone & we would be forced into a trade because Iggy would never sign an extension in this environment. Press box duty is a huge slap to a veterean player, it’s one thing to do it to the Stajans, Hagmans, Sarich, but elite players that are future hall of famers & have carried franchises in previous years would not accept that treatment & nor would I if I were Iggy. Quite frankly, if Sarich & Hagman continue to see press box time regularily, then either they will decide to retire at the end of this year or sign elsewhere. So irregardless of how we are doing in Feb, these guys should be on the market for whatever you can get at the trade deadline. They will have zero motivation to resign here even if Feaster offered them a contract.

  • RexLibris

    At this point in the season and with where Calgary sits in the standings (despite winning 4 of their last 6) I think a night in the press box for Iggy might actually motivate him. He’d probably come back and tear it up for 6 or 7 games. Everyone says the team needs a shake-up, well, there’s a shake-up. No one person should be bigger than the team, that’s the whole problem with Iginla, they’ve made him bigger than the franchise. I’m surprised it’s not a picture of his face stitched into the dressing room carpet with the eternal light on it rather than the flaming ‘C.’

    As for Glencross, yeah, overall he’s been good, but he’s had a couple of invisible games as well, notably Buffalo. Sure, the whole team stank, but my point is that too many nights the leaders are not leading. That’s pretty much a given point around these parts. And sitting out your bottom feeders in an endless rotation will have little impact when all is said and done.

    What’s Iginla going to do? Rebel, get the coach fired? He’s already done that. I look at it as what does the team have to lose? At this point I think the majority of the fanbase would support the move.

    It’s the same old story. Everyone complains about the lack of leadership, but then whenit come stime to hold that leadership accountable it’s another free pass.

    Though I will agree that making Iginla ride the pine is probably the first step, but if you’re Hagman and busting your butt and get sat out and then you look and see your fearless ‘leader’ doing squat and still playing, that’s not going to sit well and resentment is as big a workplace cancer as anything.