Postgame: Ugly Trend

For a third straight game, the Calgary Flames were noticeably controlled by an opponent with an inferior record.  On Friday night in Ottawa, they staked themselves to a 3-0 first period lead that was not in line with the way they played.  Even with that lead, nothing changed, and that allowed the Senators to claw back and force overtime, eventually using career goal #400 from Daniel Alfredsson to skate to a well earned 4-3 victory.

What Happened

For a second straight night, the Flames got off to a very early lead, making Alex Auld look like, well, Alex Auld just 23 seconds in.  Auld’s misplay of the puck allowed Rene Bourque to take a shot from the left corner, and as it pinballed off two Senators players, it eventually squeeked through for a 1-0 lead on his 12th of the season.  A powerplay opportunity for the Flames swelled the lead to two, with Curtis Glencross taking a great pass from Jay Bouwmeester and rifling home his 15th at 6:25.  Late in the frame, Auld helped Calgary with another, as Chris Butler scored his first as alead Flame with an innocuous shot from the left point at 18:49.  The odd thing in the first?  Calgary wasn’t very good, as they were outchanced 10-5 in the first period, yet lead 3-0.

The second period didn’t see anything change for the Flames, and this time their play started to fall in line with the score.  Nick Foligno opened the scoring 3:34 into the middle frame as the puck just got by Leland Irving and Foligno’s 11th got the Sens on the board.  Ottawa would draw within one at 12:01 thanks to Zack Smith who beat Irving clean, and just like that, it was white knuckle time once again for the Flames.  Scoring chances slanted the Senators way once again, this time at a 10-4 count.  20 chances against and still Calgary lead after 40.

Until the 4:28 mark of the third period, as Erik Karlsson was good for his fifth of the season on a play he created.  Karlsson would eventually finish the play going behind the net and beating Irving tying this game at three.  That kinda ended the game controlled by Ottawa, as things were reeled in a little by the Flames, a little too little too late, as this game was off to overtime with Calgary fortunate to gain a point.

Overtime saw Rene Bourque take a holding penalty racing with Erik Karlsson for a puck in the Ottawa zone, and that allowed the Senators to win the game at 3:31.  Daniel Alfredsson’s 400th came from the left point on a nice teed up pass from Karlsson, sending Ottawa to their fourth win in six nights.

One Good Reason…

…why the Flames lost?  Another flat effort for the balance of the hockey game.  Calgary allowed 26 chances in regulation and seven more in overtime to yield a scary 33 scoring chances over a 65 minute span.  Most nights, the Flames wouldn’t have a sniff in this one, yet they earned a point which is I guess the only real positve you can take out of this sucker.

Red Warrior

That’s not true.  The play of Leland Irving was also a positive, as he made 45 stops en route to a third straight impressive performance.  Irving’s body of work is getting larger, and there are very few negatives to take from that body of work.  With Henrik Karlsson on the shelf a little longer, Irving has the opportunity to turn this into a real discussion as to who should be Miikka Kiprusoff’s backup.

Sum It Up

Once again, take the point and run.  This was one of Calgary’s loosest efforts of the season and the fact they got this thing past regulation is a minor miracle.  3-0 was a very inflated score after one, so I’m not even all that disappointed they gave up the lead, because it’s a full game thing that was the issue tonight.  You could see this comeback coming a mile away and it happened, now it’s on to Nashville New Years Day.  There are positives though.  This team still has points in 14 of their last 18 games with ten wins mixed in along the way.

  • Subversive

    Yeah, they were terrible tonight, lucky to even get a point.

    Also, I had forgotten just how terrible Babchuk is. He was brutal all night, and the pass that led to the 3rd goal was just stupidity.

  • Subversive

    It was fun to see the early lead of 3-0 in the first period. I’m very happy that Irving hasn’t actually had an actual ‘L’ on his record. I agree with you on your take of Irving becoming a back-up full time. Brent might have a tough situation coming up when Karlsson comes back from injury.

    Obviously, no Flames fan likes to see their team come out to a 3-0 lead only to let it slide for a 4-3 game but we have to remember this is a back-to-back game so I might forgive the Flames for this one. JUST this one.

    Go Irving

    • everton fc

      I think Irving has played better in these three starts than Karlsson ever has. I think Karlsson will (and should) lose the #2 spot to Irving. If we lose Karlsson on waivers, which I doubt, who cares? If he clears, he’ll get regular starts like Irving did, whicbh may be what he needs, but which also gives the Flames a true opportunity to assess this guy as a regular, day-to-day goalie.

      Irving has made a believer out of me. 45 saves on the road this evening. Impressive.

      Ottawa isn’t as bad as the Isles. A point on the road here is okay, though losing a 3-0 lead is getting too “typical” of this group over the years…

      As an aside… I think Feaster’s insistence on re-signing Babchuk should count against him. He clearly blew it w/Babchuk and PL3. PL3 cost us a 5th round pick.

      Michael Ferland was a 5th round pick. Adam Pardy a 6th. Patrick Holland a 7th.

      What an insane waste of a pick. Even if Brent was the one who wanted PL3 (did he?)… Feaster should have said “nay”…

      And I still think we got robbed on the Regher deal. A better GM would have parlayed far more.

      All that said… I still think we can crack the top 8 with this bunch. No thanks to the GM. We need a new GM.

      • loudogYYC

        RE: PL3 trade

        I believed in an earlier poll on the site we discovered the reason Feaster made that trade. Brent mentioned it as a joke to Feaster and Feaster took it seriously. So the problem can be solved by Feaster not taking jokes so seriously all the time!

      • RexLibris

        I agree with some of your points. Irving has played very well but I don’t know if 3 games can let us justify sending Karlsson to the AHL. On the other hand, it would be a nice switch to figure out if Karlsson really could be a full time NHL backup. I think the team actually plays decently in front of both of these back-up goalies.

        The Babchuk signing was brutal, but I think the Hannan signing makes up for it.

        At first I thought we totally got ripped off. Especially when I saw that Byron had only played 8 NHL games. But now I’m thinking that it wasn’t actually horrible. I’d give it a solid B. Butler has not been absolutely horrid (no he hasn’t knocked it out of the park either) but you have to give it to him. Playing against top competition night in night out, he hasn’t been too bad. Especially for his low salary. Would it have been nice to see Luke Adam and a first round come back. Heck yes. But was that really that likely, no unfortunately not.

  • T&A4Flames

    Just out of curiosity, whoever gets sent to Abottsford between Irving and Karlsson, are both exposed at waivers? Or is does an injury to a goalie protect this somehow?

  • Subversive

    Well I think that Karlsson may have a two-way deal which would make him safe from waivers and Irving should still be in his entry level deal. Correct me if I’m wrong because I’m not 100% sure on this.

  • Franko J

    Hey Happy New Year to all bloggers in Flames Nation.

    Of course, it is the time for New Years Resolutions.

    After tonights game, I can only imagine what fellow bloggers wish to change with this team.

    My three resolutions for the Flames for the new year would be:

    #1. Leave the coaching staff intact until the end of season. Making a change now will not inspire or motivate this team. At the end of season, Sutters’ contract is up and his record will determine his fate (status).

    #2. With at least 9 free agents at the end of the season, Feaster and Flames ownership should approach the trade deadline with major change in mind for next season. Be smart with the moves. For example, Resigning Babchuck, P3L not good choices.

    #3 Be patient with the forthcoming changes, very slowly this team is transitioning to youth. Now they have to find a way to either draft / trade for skill, speed and desire to win. Unfortunately, the previous regime (GM) did such a poor job with player development and personnel decisions, it has left Jay Feaster with very few options and it will take a few years to make this team from being mediocre to more execiting and entertaining.

    The culture of this team must change. Evaluate for long term success and not short term gains.

  • RKD

    Didn’t watch the game, but blowing a 3-0 lead is brutal. Reading that Irving had made 45 saves is good for his confidence but it also tells me there is a lot of growing pains still with the d.

    Congrats to Alfie on goal #400. I remember years back when Sundin got his 500th against Calgary. Teams love to hit milestones against Calgary I guess.

  • RexLibris

    Irving is no longer on his ELC, but his an RFA at the end of this season. I don’t believe he has played enough games to qualify for waiver eligibility. Karlsson was born in ’83 and as such, regardless of the fact that he has played fewer than 60 games, the minimum required by the CBA for goalies 21 years and older, his age means that he would have to clear waivers.

    When Karlsson comes back my guess is they might give him a conditioning stint in Abbotsford (waiver free movement) and then play him a few times before perhaps moving him at the deadline. UFA goalies can be a good trade bait at the deadline. The Oilers moved Mathieu Garon back in ’09 to the Pens for Dany Sabourin, Ryan Stone, and a 4th round pick. Sabourin and Stone disappeared, but the pick became Tobias Rieder, a power forward playing for the Kitchener Rangers with 35 pts in 28 games and a +12. Irving has shown, I think, that he can play. Moving Karlsson for a 4th or 5th rounder could help make up for the PL3 trade.

    • Karlsson won’t be worth anything at the deadline. I doubt he’d even be picked off of waivers. He’s a 28 year old sophomore with just 23 games under his belt and a .904 SV%. There isn’t a team in the NHL that needs him.

      • RexLibris

        Fair enough. I just thought it was worth mentioning. I know he hasn’t had a great year, but I hadn’t watched him closely enough to judge him that harshly. I knew he was struggling but I didn’t think he was in the “Steve Passmore” territory of league dis-interest. And I’d have to disagree with you on your last point there. I can think of two NHL teams that could use Karlsson. The Isles only have four goalies signed right now and we all know Snow is about depth at every position. Plus, who would you rather have in net Mason or Karlsson? (note: there is no third option for a piece of plywood)

        I found something that Flames fans can take heart from over last nights loss. The win kept the Sens tied with Winnipeg and the Leafs for the final two playoff spots. Anything to kick “Canada’s team” in the shins is a good thing in my books and I imagine that some Flames fans feel the same way.

  • supra steve

    If the 2012 entry draft was tomorrow (Jan 1/2012 coincidentally), the Flames would be selecting 13th (having missed the playoffs). I’ve seen this movie before.

    Please Mr. Feaster, start thinking about lighting that fuse. If you miss your opportunity to ‘flick that Bic’ this year, then you have lost my support/respect as GM of this team. And if ownership has tied your hands re. trading your captain, then you need to thank them for the opportunity and resign (or at least I would). He is too valuable for this team to allow him to continue to rot on the vine.

  • RexLibris

    So at the pace we are currently going, we should probably top out at 84-85pts. Probably picking 9th or 10th at the draft. We now would have to tick along at a .64% winning percentage to make the playoffs or 95pts. January looks like:
    San Jose (2), LA(2), Bos, Wash, Nash, NJ,Minni,Det,Edm, Ana. Only 3 games are not against a top 8 team in their respective conference. Our injuries are starting to mount & our D scares the crud out of me, does anyone else think 85 points might be a little optimistic right now? Wonder whats going through Feasters head after these last 3 games? What does it say when we have been outplayed by 3 teams in the lower half of the league? Man, no wonder being a flames fan can be hazardous to your mental health.:-(

  • RexLibris

    I don’t post as much anymore only because im repeating an earlier comment.

    But seriously what’s with the dig to get a pat? I don’t get it… You just keep doing the good work pat!

    In fact, id like to wish all of the flames nation staff a happy new year and thank them for all of their contributions and hard work. I read every article and love it.

    To the fellow posters, thanks for making it fun. Lots of quality comments and the hamming it up is always alot of fun too.


    as for the flames… Meh lets just enjoy the rollercoaster ride and see where it goes. even if its 10th in the west again for the third straight year, we can say that there is something consistent about this team!