Postgame: What Battle?

Well, it certainly didn’t start the way the Flames wanted to start Saturday’s game in Edmonton, but after falling down 2-0 early on, it was a Calgary dominated affair from there on out.  While they didn’t lead until late in the contest, Calgary was 100% deserving of a 5-3 win, their seventh consecutive over their provincial rivals.  While they have a shootout loss breaking up a win streak, the Flames have points in four straight and have played good hockey over the majority of that span.

What Happened

It took just over two minutes for the Oilers to open the scoring, as the Edmonton fourth line got things done.  Lennart Petrell was able to deflect a Darcy Hordichuk goal past Miikka Kiprusoff at 2:19 and had Rexall Place rocking early on.  Just 41 seconds later, Sam Gagner would score his first of the season on a shot that may have deflected off of Curtis Glencross in front, and just like that, this game had an ugly tinge to it, with Edmonton leading 2-0.  Brent Sutter would call timeout following Gagner’s marker, and it took just 49 seconds for the visitors to respond, with Jarome Iginla feeding Olli Jokinen in front of the net for Olli’s sixth of the season.  Then at 6:45, Blake Comeau had an outside shot tipped in front by Roman Horak; Nikolai Khabibulin made the initial stop, but a hard charging Rene Bourque followed up with the rebound for his eighth and just like that this game was tied 2-2.  The Flames took over the first period following the first two goals against, and finished with an 8-4 margin in scoring chances when it was all said and done.

The second period saw things reeled back in a little for both teams, with the chances a whole lot closer.  Of note was Edmonton’s three powerplay opportunities in the middle frame, three opportunities where they didn’t get a sniff of a scoring chance.  All in all, the Oilers had six powerplay chances and created one scoring opportunity; in fact, they were outchanced by Calgary at the end of the game.

The Flames had been the better team through 40 minutes, but they fell down a goal at 5:27 of the third period when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins followed up on a soft Kiprusoff play; the Calgary goalie seemed to misplay Jordan Eberle’s flip pass, and the mistake cost the Flames a goal.  But again, less than a minute later, we were all tied; Jarome Iginla fed a nice pass to Derek Smith on the left wing who would rifle it upstairs on Khabibulin for his second of the season.  On Calgary’s third powerplay goal of the night, they’d finally take the lead at the tail end of the man advantage.  Mikael Backlund would take a Jarome Iginla pass in the slot and fire it fivehole on Khabibulin and at 10:25, it was 4-3 Calgary.  The Flames made it 5-3 with 32 seconds to go thanks to some nice work from Bourque; he’d free up Jokinen to fire a shot down the ice and into the empty net for his second of the night.

One Good Reason…

…why the Flames won?  Well, on this night, you have to give the nod to the aforementioned penalty kill.  They didn’t give the number one home powerplay in the league anything all night long, and it was by far their best effort down a man all year long.  Calgary was also pretty darn good at even strength for most of this game, and they scored a pair of powerplay goals, so both those facets get honorable mentions this evening.

Red Warrior

If the shoe fits…Rene Bourque.  When he’s on, he’s on, and tonight he was hustling, hitting, and engaged all night long.  That’s three straight pretty strong games for his line with Alex Tanguay and Roman Horak, with the two wingers really doing the heavy lifting.  Bourque finished with a goal and an assist, and while he didn’t get a point on the final goal, he certainly did a lot of work to make sure it happened.

Sum It Up

There’s no question in my mind the Flames are in Edmonton’s head.  Calgary outplayed them. sure, but watching the confidence and swagger the Oilers played with Friday against Columbus was in stark contrast to the tepid game they played for the most part against the Flames.  I guess when you’ve lost seven in a row to a top rival, and 13 of 14 overall, there will be that element coming into play.  Now let’s see what the Flames can do against Vancouver tomorrow night.

  • jeremywilhelm

    I thought this was a fantastic game by the flames. The young players, especially Brodie. Smith, Horak, and Backlund didn’t look out of place at all out there, though Iggy was a beast. Is it just me or is Tanguay way off this year? Kipper was his usual standout self.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Iggy had a lot of jump tonight. Kipper’s paddle save late. Brodie, Comeau, Backlund skated real well.
    Most importantly they made plays, gained the zone off the rush and looked good.
    This was by far the best game they’ve played. Comeau looks like a real keeper.

  • Vintage Flame

    The Flames key tonight was resilience. Got behind quickly and then they got back into quickly.

    This is one of the few times that the Flames looked to let the opposition dictate the pace, but managed to play it to their game.

    Great game by the kids and Smith just looked out right impressive tonight with the absence of Gio.

  • Franko J

    Tonight the timeout worked out and the team bought in.
    Oilers always bring out the best in Iginla.
    Nice to see Bourque smile and enjoyed himself on the ice tonight.
    Outside of the home game against Chicago, the game tonight was full value for
    Entertainment and excitement.
    Why do the Flames play (special teams) more exciting hockey on the road as to compare to home?
    Played another 55 minutes, this time on the right side.

    • jeremywilhelm

      No friggin poop “who was that team?” Saw it on the plane coming home & I couldnt believe they were still going on the attack when they went up 4-3. Just found out about Gio’s injury & it sucks!!!! But there is a silver lining, the kids will get to play a lot & it sometimes will bring that urgency that is so often talked about but never done out of the players. We just might see a little bit of a run here. For those who were hoping for a top 5 pick, good news is we are about to run into our nemisis lately to snuff out that run. Interesting times in Flameland.

  • Vintage Flame

    Tonight was my first time going to Flames Central and I arrived in time to watch the third period. such a great time. Flames beating Oilers + Inebriation = win. Go flames go!

  • Bleed the Red

    JBo had an impressive game. I have also liked the play of Buttler lately too. Kinda odd watching Iggy skate down the young kids of Edmonton to save scoring chances. The Flames should feed of this momentum tonight! GO Flames GO

  • Franko J

    @ Pat Steinberg

    As it appears, just as the Flames are in the Oilers head, opposite can be said of tonights game against the Canucks. Even if Calgary plays the same way tonight the outcome might be different. I think Canucks ooze confidence against the Flames (especially the Sedin twins) and in the past three seasons rarely play bad against Calgary and don’t lose too often.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    The Red Warrior choice was actually a hard one, but I really like your choice this time Steinberg. Bourque was a dominating force for the Flames, and his effort on the 2nd goal was impressive. No Red Goat for this game – a great overall performance for the boys!

    Missed Live Chat last night, but enjoyed the game regardless.

  • Vintage Flame

    Great effort last night.
    I don’t know if this is my imagination or not, but from what I could gather, the game plan last night was to pressure the Oilers both 5 on 5 and on the penatly kill. Obviously it was one of the best efforts all season. I suspect that the coaching staff has been preaching defensive hockey so much that the guys seem to think that means being very conservative and as a result they haven’t been doing a very good job of forechecking and keeping pressure on the opponent. As a result they have been playing way too much in their own end. Not to mention not skating and moving the puck.
    This is very similar to what we saw when Brent came here two years ago. Finally in the second half of last year they seemed to get it or Brent either changed the message or the plan.
    In any event it seems strange that after last years finish they reverted to the way they played two years ago.
    Hopefully they will keep playing this aggressive style because that is when they succeed.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I think Calgary was able to break out really well last game either by good passes and puck support or guys skating it up (Brodie, Comeau). The biggest difference in this game compared to others is that they were able gain the zone off these break outs (not dump it from centre). They actually completed passes up the ice and controlled the puck entering the offensive zone.

    It’s easier to play that way. If you don’t have to go full out to try and retrieve a puck then outmuscle a defender you’re going to have more energy and creativity in the offensive zone.

    Calgary looks bad when they are a one dimensional transition team (chip the puck) and they consequently spend more time without the puck, usually in their end.

    The question is, were they able to do this because Edmonton was bad defending (loose in the neutral zone) or can Calgary break down a defence with skill and passing?

    I think they can do it consistently because of guys like Brodie and Smith. They skate away from the forecheck and get their head up to make smart passes on the tape. That’s how Detroit does it.

    -Anyone else hear Reaugh say the criticism and trade Iggy sentiment is from a guy being in a place and watched for so long all you see are the warts? Bang on. It’s easy to point out flaws when that’s all you’re looking for. There is a lot of great hockey left in Iggy.

    Edmonton first two goals were flukish. Kipper is not replacement. His end game stat line doesn’t look great but he showed world class ability. Look at Mike Smith in Phoenix. He has great numbers this year. Did he suddenly get better? Goalie stats are crap. Not all goalies face the same shots in front of the same team. Can’t compare them that way.

    • SmellOfVictory

      The “you watch for so long you only see the warts” thing has some merit, but in reality it’s more than Iginla used to be so good that he spoiled us. He’s been clearly playing better as the season has gone on, and he’s finally at a point where I’m not worried about him falling off a cliff.

  • Bleed the Red

    Hmmm…So, a win tonight and there won’t be any room on the bandwagon. The Flames are approaching a hairpin curve in the road. Beat the Canucks and they’ll have negotiated a 180 to their sheepish start. .649 the rest of the way…now that’s a lucky winning percentage.

    • Vintage Flame

      Not sure if a win tonight loads up the band wagon per se, but it would definitely mark a change in attitude on the team.

      I was pleasantly surprised at the Flames play last night against Edmonton. they may not be an elite team, but the Flames played a complete game from possession to the PK, to the PP. They dominated scoring chances and the physical play. THAT’s how this team has to play if they want any measure of success against the Canucks tonight, whether they win or lose the game.

      and of course… Don’t hang Karlsson out to dry.

      • OnlyOil

        Last night and the last few games clearly show that the kids are the key to success here. Definitely no change in my mind that some older pieces need to be shipped out and a few more young pieces brought in in order for the club to eventually go from ‘competitive’ to ‘contender.’

  • OnlyOil

    Good game from the flames, totally out classed the oilers in every facet of the game, it looked like men against boys. They had a game plan and played the way they needed to play. Saying that, I’m furious with the effort the oilers showed, hell flames pk had more chances than the oils pp.

  • OnlyOil

    @ Steinberg – have to disagree on the Red Warrior again. I have to give credit where credit is due and Iginla played what was easily his best game of the season if not his best game in years. Certainly it was his best ‘200” game in years and if this is coming from me then you know he was good.

    Totally agree with you on Calgary being in Edmonton’s head.

    Now, hopefully Iginla sits back and thinks “hmmm….I was great defensively and scored 3 points, maybe it does work!” and follows that up.

    @Lebowski – NO! Yesterday clearly demonstrated how Iginla CAN play vs how he often CHOOSES to play. Not nearly enough of the how he CAN play the last few seasons.

    Now, if he can just keep playing like he did last night, score his 500 and drive up his trade value some more.

    The kids were fantastic and the best thing to happen to this club in years. Without the likes of Brodie, Smith, Horak, & Backlund this team is lucky to be 8 games under .500. Passion, baby, passion.

    Calgary was better all-around, but Khabibulin stunk. Not one good goal on him IMO. Just terrible.

    • Let’s not get too carried away on the Iginla front. I don’t think we can look at the performance last night and deduce that Jarome simply doesn’t decide to play most of the time.

      Human performance varies and there’s lots of reasons beyond the idiosyncratic – for instance, the Oilers are middling team with injuries on their back end and they were on the second half of a back-to-back. What’s more, Renney made some egregious errors in the final frame, including sending Edmonton’s 4th line out against Iginla (leading to the Smith goal) and the terrible line-change on the PK (leading to the Backlund marker).

      Iginla definitely looked more engaged, but be mindful of the effect the quality if the opponent can have on perceptions. It’s one thing to do that against a tired Oilers club. It will be quite another to do it consistently against the Canucks and Blackhawks of the world.

    • Jeff Lebowski

      You seem to be a guy who just looks for flaws. You make unsupported claims that Iggy is a cancer or coach killer. I’ve never heard one coach say that. It seems you try to manufacture things to convince yourself of your own argument that Iggy needs to go. That’s fine but when he does well he deserves credit. Otherwise it’s not honest, it’s just biased.

      Look, Iggy was a top ten scorer last year. There is no argument anyone can make to me that in one year his skills decline astronomically. People just look at stats and draw incorrect conclusions. It’s a superficial assessment.

      Last night, even when they went down 0-2 you knew they were coming back (at least I did). Calgary dominated the game 5 on 5, it was just one off breakdowns that generated anything for Edmonton (including Smyth’s breakaway). Calgary dictated the majority of the play. Calgary, from the beginning, was organized coming out of their end and relentless with their pressure. You can say Edmonton was tired or whatever but they couldn’t adjust. Six power plays against is going to tire you out too.

      Not one good goal for Calgary? Are you kidding? The only lucky goals in that game were the first two Edmonton strikes. There were tactical errors by Edmonton but you can’t discount that the balance of play for the game favoured Calgary.

      Of course Calgary scored 2 PP goals. However they generated offensive opportunities throughout, even SH.

      I want to see this style rather than the gameplan from the 1-0 win over Nashville. I think Iggy does too. When the team tries to play like last night (possession instead of dumping) I believe Iggy will show how wrong you are.

      • Jeff Lebowski

        Dude, were you drinking when you read my post?

        I spent the whole post complimenting his game against the Oilers and for finally having some buy-in.

        I’ve never stated Iginla’s skills have declined (at least not drastically). In fact, I’ve made not that he comes to camp better shape than anyone. It’s his decision to float most nights that bothers me.

        There was no great change in the system Sutter employed, like Kent said, there were other factors, but also the team’s leaders actually played the system.

        Why is it when Calgary wins suddenly you believe they’re not playing Sutter’s system? Talk about making the facts fit your opinion. Of course, when they do lose, it’s all Sutter’s fault. If only they’d let that darn Iggy play the way he wants, right?

        And learn to read, when did I say they were “lucky” goals? I said Khabibulin didn’t have one good goal on him. He was weak dude. Maybe the Smith goal, but the rest he should’ve had IMO.

        Stop twisting people’s words whenever they disagree with your own.

  • RKD

    I think Iggy is a very good influence on guys like Smith, Brody etc.

    Nice job with three assists and Jokinen getting a pair was great.

    It will be a much tougher game against the ‘Nucks.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Oh the trials for fans of the flames . they lose to the jackets and the sky is caving in . “fire sutter” , ” trade iginla .”tank the season ” are the cries . what a change comes from beating a young tired team makes . “look out teams the flames are back and just wait till we get to the playoffs . wake up flamers . come april this team will be in 9- 10th place .and miss out on glorious chance to rebuild . still have iggy and kipper and be another year away from making the playoffs . sure the flames are better than the oilers right now . they should be given the avg age of the team . but I’d much rather have the oilers than the flames . so be careful jumping on and off the banbwagon . wouldn’t want any of u to get hurt.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    RE-POST:

    Yes, I’ve noticed lately that some of the ‘Keep Iggy’ supporters have resorted to calling anyone who disagrees with them an “idiot” and such.

    They should perhaps check out the CP forums.

    I don’t mind a tall when people disagree with me and while I can be quite vitriolic sometimes I’ve never resorted to name-calling.

    I was Iggy’s biggest supporter ever since his WJC and even more so after seeing him live against Chicago in the playoffs. I’ll never foreget big, bad Cehlios running him from behind and cross-checking him straight into the back. And then Chelios falling down and Iginla seeming completely unfazed. I knew then we had something special for sure.

    For several seasons the Flames stood something like an 80% chance of losing if Iginla didn’t score.

    Because he was the only scorer coaches basically let him do as he pleases on the ice. I don’t think he was the motivator in 2004, but his play was beyond awesome.

    He became too iconic for too long and the team allowed it to happen. They sold icon over team. IMO Murray Edwards has become Harold Ballard, Jeremy Jacobs and Bill Wirtz in the 80’s. Just good enough to sell hope and fill the seats, sell beer and jerseys.

    Iginla has become out Raymond Bourque. He will soon become our Mats Sundin.

    Things changed after the lock-out. Slowly, but surely. I fully believe a combination of those 3 things listed above contributed to breaking his spirit and attitude. Too much pressure to score for too many years mixed in with no discipline being forced onto his play and added to being made bigger than the team.

    – Darryl called the team “a special group” to coach – Keenan stated he spent his entire time trying to get the team to lead from within to no avail. – Iggy dropped his power game to play finesse even though he still comes to camp as the most fit player. There’s a disconnect there. – The timing of his scoring became suspect and his droughts became longer. Only scoring when the Olympic roster was not set did not sit well with me. – Playing poorly and then dropping the gloves when the game was out of reach became annoying. – Lanny McDonald even stated he cherry-picked. – Grant Pollock is reporting unhappiness with “his act” in the dressing room (props to whoever posted that Outlaws link – great stuff). – Who else was Regehr always calling out when he talked about the scorers and leaders not committing? – Skrudland’s comment to Kent Wilson about “who will stand up to him now?” – Mike Rogers (check out his blog) even takes him to task. – The Fan constantly berates the “leadership group” without naming names.

    Iginla is the leader, face of the franchise and captain, so he bears the blame, who else could the non-specific references be referring to?

    To say that Iggy shows up for every game and gives it his all and to say that he supports the coaches by exemplifying their systems is simply not true.

    At this point I could handle him just playing offense, but where’s the passion? As ‘Shutout’ said, they’re not the “Calgary Iginlas.” It’s not Iggy’s face stitched into the carpet under the eternal light, it’s the Flaming ‘C.’

    The team has to be bigger than any one player. They must sell ‘team’ and not ‘icon.’

    I was once his biggest booster, but Iginla has not earned my support the last few seasons. He makes $7 million/year, good for him. But that’s his compensation, I don’t feel the team, the fans or the city ‘owe’ him anything.

    And I can’t see one reason keeping him benefits the team more than trading him would. His presence here will contribute nothing further than ruining our draft position. I agree with Pollock, if Iggy really cared about the team, city and fans he’d ask for a trade because it’s so obviously what’s for the best of the team.

    While I’m tired of his performance here, his scoring history and rep (go the finals once as coach, GM or player and forever have a job and be a hero in the NHL)at the trading deadline ensure a quality return.

    It’s the right thing to do. My final word on the matter until the deadline (cheers all around!).