The title of our postgame article tonight is pretty apt, as there wasn’t a ton to dislike from the Calgary Flames on Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks, but it was the home team doing their thing en route to a 4-1 victory, their seventh straight over Calgary at the United Center. I liked most of the effort for the Flames, but when you let Chicago’s best players do what they do best, their likely going to win.
I sure did like Calgary’s first few minutes, as they were hard on pucks and made life pretty difficult on Chicago’s blueline and kept Ray Emery pretty busy early on. But a skilled opponent creates scoring chances even when they’re back on their heels, and that’s exactly what the Hawks did, with Duncan Keith hammering home a loose puck from the point beating Mikka Kiprusoff, who was out of position thanks to a good chance a few seconds earlier. Keith’s first of the season gave Chicago a 1-0 lead they took into the first intermission with scoring chances tied at seven after 20.
I thought Chicago controlled the latter stages of the first and they carried that through into the middle frame, earning a powerplay midway through the period. With Roman Horak in the box for high sticking, Brent Seabrook would get his first of the season thanks to a one-time shot from the point at 12:11. With chances again even, this time at five, the Flames trailed by two heading to the third.
Calgary would finally break through just past the midway mark of the third period, with the Flames doing the job off a faceoff win. Mark Giordano would feed Olli Jokinen parked in the slot, and at 10:50 Calgary was back within one as Jokinen was good for his fourth of the season. But with Calgary chasing and trying to even the game, they’d get a little sloppy and allow the Hawks to regain their two goal lead. Viktor Stalberg converted his fourth of the season as he was able to slip by Mikael Backlund to receive a Marian Hossa pass. Chicago added one more into an empty net, as Patrick Kane slid home his sixth with four seconds remaining.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? This one was quite simply a case of Calgary’s opponent being better than them. Scoring chances were even, which speaks a little to a chasing Flames team, but also speaks to a fairly decent effort overall. However, the Hawks are an elite hockey team in my eyes, and their top six has the ability to finish at a startling pace, and on this night, a better team was good enough for the win.
I’ll go Mikael Backlund, as I thought he was one of Calgary’s most dangerous offensive players, and certainly the best player on the top line. I know he finished -2 (while Iginla and Tanguay were both -3) but that number doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story, as they ended up in the plus when it came to chances. For his first game of the regular season, Backlund looked great, and it was great to see him back.
Sum It Up
This is the issue with continued steps taken backwards for the Flames, as after getting to .500 three times and no further, the team now takes another step back and is two games below the even mark. Now they’ve got a game against the Avalanche in Denver on Saturday night, a team the Flames have won seven straight against. Hopefully the Avs aren’t due.