Postgame: Sinking Further

For the first time this season, the Calgary Flames have fallen three games below the .500 mark thanks to a 5-3 loss Wednesday night in Detroit.  It was a game where Calgary lead in the second period and were even heading into the third, but it was also a game where the Flames made too many mistakes in tie game situations late in the contest.  It’s now an 0-2 start to Calgary’s road trip.

What Happened

A fairly decent start to the game saw Detroit open the scoring on their first powerplay of the evening (theme warning), thanks to Tomas Holmstrom.  Parked in his usual spot in front of Miikka Kiprusoff, Holmstrom tipped home a Nicklas Lidstrom shot that was going wide at 6:14 for a one goal Detroit lead.  Overall, it was a fairly evenly played period at even strength, but saw Detroit come away with a one goal lead and a 6-3 advantage in scoring chances.

The second period saw the Wings start a little flat and saw the Flames take full advantage.  It started just 44 seconds in, with Calgary pouncing on a Detroit offensive zone turnover; on a 3-on-2 break, Jarome Iginla took a pass from Alex Tanguay and put it past Jimmy Howard for his sixth of the season.  Brendan Morrison gave Calgary their first lead at 2:56 of the middle frame, firing a shot from the left wing that wouldn’t have been considered a scoring chance otherwise.  His first on the season had the Flames feeling it, but it was a tad short lived.  At 7:38 Ian White moved the puck from the point to the right side boards before fluttering a shot past Kiprusoff for his fourth on the year, getting us to a 3-3 tie after two periods.

Heading into the final frame, Calgary had the opportunity to win the period and, hence, win the game.  Instead, they got themselves into penalty trouble and paid a steep price for it.  On a Chris Butler hooking call of a faceoff, Holmstrom put home his second of the night from his regular spot, this time taking the puck in front of Kiprusoff and sliding it past him at 2:42.  The Flames got that one right back, however, thanks to a powerplay goal of their own.  Olli Jokinen received a gorgeous pass from T.J. Brodie at the tail end of a Justin Abdelkader holding call, just barely putting home his fifth at 5:06 and this game was tied once again.  Then the wheels came off a tad.  With the Red Wings having already 77 seconds of a Dan Cleary hooking call, Mark Giordano was flagged for tripping 33 seconds before Curtis Glencross took a numbskull slashing call.  With an extended 5-on-3, Detroit got their lead back with Pavel Datsyuk banking a pass in off Jay Bouwmeester at 12:39 for a one goal lead.  The Red Wings made it a two goal lead right as Glencross was coming out of the box, as Valtteri Filppula would score number four on the season taking us to our final score.

One Good Reason…

…why the Flames lost?  An awful penalty kill.  Heading into this game, Calgary had allowed seven powerplay goals in their last ten games, clicking at around 81%, which put them in the bottom half of the league.  On this night, they allowed three powerplay goals on four opportunities, including two (essentially three) in the final frame.  In a game where they were tied after 40, regardless of if it should have been there or not, they made some unacceptable mistakes and ended up losing the game as a result.

Red Warrior

I’ll go Brendan Morrison, who scored in his return and had some decent shifts on his line with Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos.  While they didn’t generate a ton in terms of chances, they did some really good work against Emmerton’s line when they were matched up.  The top six didn’t pull their weight, or even close to it in some cases, but the bottom six had a strong night overall.

Sum It Up

Look, Detroit was better after 40 minutes but Calgary was all even on the scoreboard.  No one is saying they would have definitely won that hockey game, but at least don’t lose it.  That’s exactly what they did, making life far too easy on their high flying opponents.  They’re now three games below .500, which is close to as bad as they were last season.  At their worst, Calgary was four games below even last year, following their loss in Columbus on December 21st.

  • Captain Ron

    @Redricardo

    I’m not so sure about that. I think I would support the honesty from management if they told me they were going to seriously rebuild the team. At least I could support knowing the direction we were going in. I may not always like the results on the ice in the process but gradual improvement over 2 – 4 years would be acceptable. Certainly better than going the other way which is what they have been doing for a couple of years now.

    I think that the term blow it up is a generalization of what needs to be done. Doesn’t necessarily mean we need 20 new players and most fans realize that. When you compare this team to Boston for example were not even close, but some pieces are there.

    • redricardo

      Hey Cappy! I dont think the word rebuild gets uttered by anyone until they pull the trigger on a major player & the return will be obvious. & that wont happen & admission we arent making the playoffs until sometime in Jan. I hear you, many will support a rebuild & I wish these guys would just come clean. This we wont trade Iggy“ versus Iggy saying “if the team feels that trading me is the direction they want to go otherwise I want to win here“ BS is pissing me off more than the losing. This isnt a way of conducting a multimillion dollar business. The business of the Flames is to win a Stanley Cup. I just wish these guys smarten up & do the right thing.

      • redricardo

        I agree with you, but I think the whole “we won’t trade him unless he asks” vs “I won’t go unless asked” scenario is quickly becoming a thing of the past. It’s unsustainable and now that the MSM are making the rift front page news you’d have to think that sooner than not King and the owners will sit down with Iginla and Feaster and talk about the future. And I don’t think simple platitudes about “I wnat to win here” will be enough anymore. Once ticket sales look like they may be threatened than it’s time to do something.

  • redricardo

    @Captain Ron

    I’m going to respectfully try to answer your statement with some random thoughts in my head. We’ll see if this works!

    We’ll start with the hypothesis that fans want to see a direction for this team, and many have given up and want a rebuild and Sutter fired for a new coach. I think this statement echoes the thoughts of many.

    Feaster isn’t going to come out tomorrow and say “Well, we’ve decided to blow this up. We’ve officially traded Bourque, Iginla, Morrison, Kiprusoff, and these other 5 players are no longer in our future plans.”. There are many reasons for this. Trades take time to come together, higher priced players need to go closer to the trade deadline so competitive teams are only taking on a portion of their salary, you don’t want other GM’s to know you’re holding a fire-sale since that diminishes the value of your own assets you’re trying to move.

    Sutter… may be fired. It also buys Feaster more time until the trade deadline, and if certain players respond under a new coach, trade value may just go up!

    But to all the fans saying they want to know the direction of the team, I think we can read between the lines somewhat. Sutter’s contract is up this year, you haven’t heard any talk about re-upping him, or either side saying “we’d like to get it done”. We want to start bringing in some youth for a rebuild? Flames currently have 4 players 22 or under, while the likes of Sarich and Stajan are sitting.

    All I’m saying is, after a loss saying “Blow it up”, isn’t the intellectual powerhouse debate that thinking fans come to this website for. There will be changes, in the form of some youth already being integrated, more prospects in the system, $20 mil in cap space next year and a head coach with no contract past this year. Anyone who wants a rebuild… I submit that it’s quietly already under way, and it’s going to be quick when it happens. But to blow it up we need dance partners, we need good return on our assets, and in the meantime, let’s focus on other things.

    Did that lengthy ramble make sense to anyone? Lol.

    • Captain Ron

      Hey redricardo, I’m on board with a lot of your thoughts. By this time next year there will have been many changes made to this team. Some we can probably predict while others may be from out in left field if you will. I personally think that when the time comes to move some players if that is where Feaster et al decide to go it will be pretty obvious to the rest of the league as to what they are doing. Given the probability of our win/loss record this year it will be tough to keep a secret if you know what I mean. In all likelyhood they will have to admit at some point they will be out of the post season dance. How long it takes for that to happen is anyone’s guess. As an avid Flames fan and multiple season ticket holder I’m very curious to see what the roster looks like at the start of next season and am cautiously optimistic at the possibilities. If the re-mix is done right we could be back in the post season sooner rather than later.

  • everton fc

    Don’t worry though folks, the real GM Kent King is on this road trip so all is well.

    As for the suggestions of Iginla ‘mentoring’ our youth – please, that’s not even funny. A selfish, one-dimensional player who can’t see the obvious wisdom of playing a 200′ game – yeah, that’s who we need ‘mentoring.’

    Jason Spezza has bought in Ottawa, but Iginla?

  • I completely agree with earlier comments about picking a direction. This team seems to have no long term plan. I know everyone wants to blame the coach but I blame Feaster. He is forcing the coach and players to scratch and claw and grind to try and grab a bottom feeder playoff spot with a mediocre (at best) team. If Feaster wants this team to compete now, he should give them some help , if not he should start to trade for the future. But sitting on the fence is killing the team (and me). Personally I don’t think Feaster has any assets to make any moves to improve the team now, so the choice is clear. Start tearing it down….

    Lots of fans seem to want it both ways. Fire the coach, keep Iggy and go for a lotto pick or some combination of those which all involve an imaginary world where the team doesn’t go through much pain and comes out a top contender in 1 or 2 years. But if this team wants to get some high draft picks and build through their own system it will take a few years. Lets be optimistic and say 3 years. By then Iggy will be 3 years older, 3 years slower and 3 years more worn down.

    This team needs to pick a direction, and make some tough decisions. Right now everyone is trying to have their ice cream cake and eat it too. But instead we just suck and have no future.

    • You’re bang-on. It’ll take time, no quick fix. All contenders are built through the draft, especially their stars.

      Why is it I can see the Flames panicking and doing something dumb like trading Bourque for Dustin Penner? Of course, we’d have to throw in a draft pick to even out the term.

      ….ugh…..

  • Captain Ron

    I only watched part of the game last night but what I saw was a team that was outclassed by a more talented team. I felt that the Flames had the effort but are trying to do things that don’t come naturally and as a result are almost always a step behind.

    It was very surprising to see the Jokinen-GlenX-Bourque line to be so underwater. Joker and GlenX have been the bright lights among forwards for me this year.

    As for all the Turris trade talk, I don’t think we have anything that Phoenix wants that we would be willing to trade so I am not holding my breath.

  • OilFan

    No playoffs for the next five years book it !!! What is the odds Columbus shrinks that 3 point lead and passes Calgary by December ? Underlying numbers prove Calgary is BY FAR the weakest team in the NHL.Wow an aging team with out leadership at least when Edmonton was last place ( 2 years in a row) they had multiple injuries.

  • yomamen11

    Calm down everybody. I was quiet sure that Flames were last year and this year out of playoffs according to contracts of players. So no big surprise for me. However I am not supporter of “Blow this team” strategy. Just be patient. Wait till the end of this year. I think that Jay Feaster has the same opinion, thats why he sign Scott Hannan and B Mo for this season. He just want to settle things down for the rest of this season and start to shake things little later after this season is over. Finally we have a few bright spots in our junior system. This year will be almost sure last in flames jersey for Cory Sarich, PL3 (by the way, only one brainless trady Feaster did till this moment) Stajan and B Mo and few other (Kosto, Moss, Stepniak, Jokinen, Jackman maybe, who knows). And for the team is pretty good to be pretty bad in this season. High first round draft pick is one of them. If the team sucks, players sucks, their statistics sucks, so in theory, if we want resign some of them, their price will be the same or less (other thing is, that also their trading value decline).

    Brodie is already in team, Byron and Horak aswell. For the next season it will be Nemisz and Baertshi and who knows who next. This young squad lead by veterans like Tanguay and Iginla sound quite good to me. Plus, there will be a lot of cap space to bait for some really big fish during free agent frenzy (Parise maybe???).

    So sum it up. Be calm my dear fellow supporters of our beloved team. Just wait till the end of this season and we will see what will be next. Iggys contract is ending by the end of next season anyway. If team want to trade him, they should wait till then.

    • I have Oiler buddies who sounded EXACTLY 100% like this in 2007, 2008, 2009. The years BEFORE they decided to blow it to hell. What you just said is word for word for word, exactly the denial stage they were in. Old team, lacking talent, and middling prospects that they kept pinning as organization changers. (FYI – Organizational changing prospects are lotto picks, not guys toiling in the AHL right now.) They kept talking about next summer, getting UFAs to “push them over the top”.

      You seriously sound 100% exactly like my poor sad Oiler buddies. I laughed and secretly hoped they kept thinking like this since I knew deep down that it meant they’d toil in the middle/bottom forever.

      Sadly they did the complete tank job grabbed some killer kids that will lead their team for 10 years and we’ll probably be looking up at them in the standings for the next decade. The strange thing is that I expected them to rub it in my face this year as we stink out the joint. But they actually feel bad for us… Thats even worse.

      I just pray Feaster doesn’t think like you… I’m scared he does.

      • yomamen11

        Please, never compare me with brainless oilers supporters!!! I hate the rhetorics of their right now as well. Being laughing stock of league for so long, had two 1st picks in a row, thats really tragedy and now looking at us with sad faces. I am really looking forward to 2012-2013 season. It will be fun to watch them to try to keep all their young guns together in one team.

        I am just saying that nobody can clean this mess within one season, but till now, I like the moves Feaster did and I can finally see the heading of this organization. Finally young guys get chance to really play, Sutter was just talking about it, not actually doing it. Thats only one of positive things for example.
        Don t you worry, next year around this time in same situation like this, I will have different point of view. I will be really really upset. Just give em one Feaster season.

  • T&A4Flames

    I mentioned this yesterday and now, after reading an article out of St. Louis I will say it again. We should be looking at the Blues for a possible trade.

    The article was about “Hitchcock” type players and that a trade was inevitable. The write used the term “Stempniak-esque” type players. Without going too much into it, Berglund and D’agostini were 2 players that don’t currently fit with ‘Cocks system. Also, it was stated that both Oshie and Stewart were on the fence. The Blues strength is R/S D.

    Don’t laugh, hear me out. How about JBo, Bourque and Moss (when he returns) for Berglund, Oshie/Stewart and Polak. We could throw in a mid-range prospect if necessary.

    • everton fc

      I wouldn’t mind dumping JBO and Bourque. And w/Stempniak, Moss is perhaps expendable, as well.

      I like Oshie over Stewart. But that’s just me. Berglund and Oshie – 2 centres… We’d have to send a centre the other way, no? You couldn’t have both…

      If you could grab Polak, you could certainly waive Sarich. Babchuk might be part of this deal?

      The centre to move… Is unmoveable. Stajan. You almost have to punt him to Abby.

      Would Berglund/Oshie slot between Tanguay/Iginla?

      • T&A4Flames

        My thinking would be that Berglund gets a shot between Iggy and Tangs relagating Backs to more of a 2nd line 2-way role which he is more suited for. Oshie also plays RW. in fact I think he has spent more time there than at C. He would slot in RW beside Backs I think perhaps with Byron.

        Ahh, fiction can be fun.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    This is a veteran team that is asked to play an expansion team style. The Coaching staff want to remove the skill from the game (no different than Tampa) and clearly it’s hard for some veteran guys to buy in.

    At some point, offensive skilled players want to play a style that let’s them make plays and scoring chances. The problem is lack of scoring, so playing more conservative (on an ultra conservative team) seems counter intuitive.

    I think Brent IS putting a system that best gives this roster a chance to be successful. It’s the sobering conclusion that this is really an expansion team filled with other team’s rejects.

    That’s what happens when you don’t draft skilled players. You make up for it by taking players that were pushed out of other organizations.

    Just look at Calgary’s PP personnel compared to other PPs. How many Flames would be on other teams PP units?

    The mystique of the Flames of being a good team is only because of Kipper and Iggy. They generate wins and the overestimation of the rest of the roster’s quality. Rene Bourque was an undrafted player like Gio, Glencross. Calgary counts on those guys.

  • supra steve

    Backlund, Horak, Brodie, Nemisz, Baertschi are the future backbone of the club. 2 are already in the NHL and the other 3 should make it next year or by the season after at the latest.

    Add a top 5 pick (hopefully) this summer plus whatever we can get for Iginla, Kipper, Bourque, Moss, etc. and we could do a rebuild in 3 seasons.

    The sooner (around trade deadline) we move out the loser, complacent culture that has set in the better. The young guys don’t need that influence of self-entitlement that permeates the current club.

    But first, fire King & Feaster & Button today and bring in real hockey people. That will givwe enough time to evaluate until TD day rolls around.

  • I knew from the start of the year we were in for a long 4months until Feaster had a chance to move & get some value for some of these otherwise unmovable contracts. I just had a gut we would get the same start as last year, dont know why. Its human fan nature to want immediate changes when their team plays & loses like the Flames have. I initially thought we should just ride this pain train with players until the trade deadline & with the coach until the end of the season. Whats the point of getting a new coach with the pending huge player turnover. I am questioning that, because Brent truly has lost that locker room. Problem is, how do you put in a new coach right when they are about to play a game every other day for the next 4 weeks. Someone mentioned a week or so ago & I dismissed it, but what if we put B Sutter out of his misery & we put Conroy behind the bench & let Lowry & Hartsburg do the heavy lifting until a new coach is hired next summer. The idea sounds better & better to me. Satisfy the head hunting sceaming fans with the coaches ritualistic blood & buy Feaster some time until the trade deadline. Makes sense to me.

    • What do you think is going to happen at the trade deadline that will save this team?

      I can’t really see any scenario where we have anything of value to trade that will help completely reshape the team.

      You seem very optimistic, I’d like some optimism so even if your ideas are crazy I’d like to hear them. Maybe I can dream too.

      • Chris, I’m not optimistic anything is going to save this team this year. My optimism is that come February, you have at least 23 teams with decent mathematical chance at a playoff run that will take a chance they can get some valuable pieces at the trade deadline. 23 buyers & only a handful of sellers. What happens in that scenario? Prices go up. Sometimes rediculous overpayments like LA’s trade for Penner. Injuries can dictate that spending behavior on teams in contention. My optimism is that we have our AHL team tied for 1st place overall & we have 3 players flirting with the top ten in scoring in the WHL. I think the chances of a few extra 1st rounders & possibility of a Schenn or Kassian or Alzner could speed up or lessen the fall of a long hard fall. A hope that we only really need to endure 1 lottery pick(this year). That we may actually get value back for Sarich/Stajan & not have to eat half salaries & get nothing over the waiver wire. We’ll also have cap space that could prove to be awful interesting come July 1. Things like that get me excited & optimistic. I know, just another dreamer.

        • T&A4Flames

          Yea, this is more the Philly re-tool approach, which I am on board for. Get good young prospects and draft picks for older veteran players and hopefully sign 1 big name free agent (Briere) to a ridiculous contract to keep other UFA’s interested. Miss 1 more year of playoffs while the new group of guys learn to play with each other and the young guys grow a bit. Sounds good to me.

          • Franko J

            Thats kind of my thinking. I think we have the players to tutor this as well. Tanguay with some young speedster kids could mesh way better than what he’s done with Iggy this year & Tanguay is only 31, contract may be a little long but not a cap hinderence. He’s great in shoot outs if we can ever get to a shoot out. & exactly, pick our spots on the UFa’s & Briere is an excellent example. Parise & Weber is pointless, Suter, maybe if we get really really lucky.

        • Jeff Lebowski

          Oilers got Teubert and a middling 1st round draft pick for Penner. Could turn out to be good for them, but Teubert is an AHL dman and their late 1st rounder is in Europe for a few years I think. So essentially they traded Penner for a few prospects who may or may not pan out in 3-4 years.

          I’d be happy if thats the type of reshaping people have in mind but I’m thinking what you have in mind is to trade our players for assets that will help in 2012 which to me is a pipe dream.

          • ville de champignons

            Well I guess we just agree to disagree on the value of whatever assets we think we have. You may be right, Iggy & Kipper will have minimal value & not get an NHL ready top tier prospect that can make our team in 2012. Hopefully we can get a couple of 1st rounders as well. Who knows, but one 1 st rounder plus another 1st rounder may get you another lottery pick(in addition to our own)in return. Maybe, maybe not. I guess we’ll just have to see & hope & maybe even dream a little. You have a better plan?

          • ville de champignons

            I have no better plan, except to blow it up. Trade Iggy for draft picks etc. But that means 2-3 years of hell and it might not even work. So I don’t really want to do that.

            I want to be optimistic too, I’ll try harder, I think your dreamer attitude would be better for my health.

          • ville de champignons

            Teubert is only 21 and its a long term project, so far hes doing alright in the big team, Kefblom is injured right now but some scouts said he was the steal of the draft….. also we got a 2 rnd pick 2012 for Penner.

    • ville de champignons

      @Kevin R 10:54AM

      Thanks, Kevin, that was my post suggesting we put Conroy behind the bench as interim HC. I took a lot of heat for it but still think it is the one move that we can make right now that has no downside. Mollify the fanbase for free, give Pat some new material, maybe even learn a thing or two about the room. Absolutely nothing to lose.

      • ville de champignons

        Well, I really dont think Jerome is too happy right now & I think Conroy would be instrumental in a communication because Craig has already got a good taste of the Management side but has a very good relationship with Iggy. The more I thought about it, the more it actually made a lot of sense.

        • Jeff Lebowski

          The players had a hard time listening to Playfair after he was the assistant. That’s quite common actually when assistants are promoted.

          Conroy would NEVER be able to tell Iginla what to do.

  • ville de champignons

    @the-wolf

    Agreed. But that’s not the point. It’s not about this season anymore. Its about getting a handle on the best way to rebuild this wreck.

    Putting Craig behind the bench- til the end of the year- would buy time and I’m betting that some of the turkeys on the team would show improved numbers and increase their trade value.

    That, and a finish in the bottom 5 is what I’m hoping for.

    Here’s another name for ya – Peplinski, for GM / President.

    • ville de champignons

      I think just the experience for Craig would be huge for his future in Management & what’s the worst that can happen, a lottery pick?:)

      Another name who I know was really really wanting to be GM a number of years ago was Lanny Macdonald.

      • Franko J

        The worst which will happen is a lottery pick.

        I don’t sense that Craig Conroy would be that interested in coaching, I think if he was that interested he would already be in some kind of coaching capacity with this team.

        Secondly, Lanny Macdonald and Jim Peplinksi, I don’t think they have no interest either. They both have vested interests elsewhere.
        As well, if memory serves me correct this same ownership group told both Lanny and Jim that their service were not needed back in the late nineties, therefore, why would they want to come back?

        If there is actually a plan in place to rebuild this wreck, shouldn’t this team be looking at hiring a President / GM / Coach(es) who will bring a fresh outlook and attitude for this team?

        Most importantly, rebuilding this team will not be easy or done quickly, but don’t you think that it is time for the Flames ownership and management to start drafting, trading, signing free agent players who actually care to wear the flaming “C”?

  • David McConner

    @ville de champignons
    @the-wolf

    Nobody is going to tell Iginla or any of the vets on this team how to play because nobody can.

    On the Conroy thing, this is the one high profile change that the team could make right now. Might sound crazy on the face of it, but it would change the dialogue around the team, we would have some questions answered, it isn’t permanent, and it costs nothing. Plus, geez it would be fun.

    If Brent is going to be cut loose before the end of the season anyway, better to keep it all in-house for now.