Postgame: Leads

Holding 3-0 and 4-3 leads in another hugely important game should usually translate to two points.  It did translate to a single point on Saturday night, but the story will likely be another coughed up advantage for the Calgary Flames, leading to a 5-4 shootout loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers.  Thanks to the out of town scoreboard, the Flames lost ground on most of their Western Conference playoff foes.

What Happened

Ilya Ilya Ilya! Oi oi oi!  That was the story of the first period, as some loose Flyers defense and some looser Flyers goaltending had the Flames up 2-0 early on.  It started on a Calgary powerplay with Mark Giordano doing a nice job of jumping to keep a puck in at the blueline before setting himself and wiring a knuckleball high on Ilya Bryzgalov, giving Calgary a 1-0 lead at the 3:45 mark.  The Flyers goalie might be allowed the benefit of the doubt, but at 5:17, maybe not.  While the Philly D wasn’t great either in allowing Matt Stajan to walk into the slot, he still got away a muffin of a shot slipping by Bryzgalov for Stajan’s second in as many games.  Calgary wasn’t bad in the first, but the opening frame started the familiar theme of being outshot and outchanced; scoring chances were 8-6 in favor of the visitors.

The second period saw a season first for the Flames as they were killing another penalty; Alex Tanguay did a nice job of stripping an opponent of the puck and eventually feeding Tom Kostopoulos.  His fourth of the season was also good for Calgary’s first shorthanded goal of the season and a 3-0 lead at the 12:55 mark.  And then the onslaught.  Just under three minutes later, Jakub Voracek took advantage of a soft Derek Smith play at the defensive blueline and beat Miikka Kiprusoff for his 11th on the year.  Then with 34 seconds remaining in the middle frame, Braydon Coburn’s shot would deflect off Scott Hannan in front, and after 40 the Flyers were within one.

Philadelphia would tie the game at 7:35 thanks to a 5-on-3 man advantage (questionable at that), and it was Scott Hartnell planting his behind squarely in front of Kiprusoff.  Kimmo Timonen’s point shot would deflect off Hartnell for his 29th on the year and just like that, we’ve got a 3-3 game.  But don’t fear, Alex Tanguay is here!  With a breakaway opportunity, he’d be slashed (lightly) by Pavel Kubina at 10:49 and for the second time in two weeks, we got to see a home penalty shot for the Flames.  Tanguay would make it look easy and his ninth had Calgary up by a goal once again.  But less than two minutes later, it was Hartnell again with an in-front deflection, this time tipping home a Nicklas Grossman shot and htis game would finish 4-4 in regulation.

The Flyers had a glorious chance to win the game in overtime, as Andrej Meszaros put a puck wide on a gorgeous feed from Claude Giroux with less than a second to go, so off to a shootout we’d go for a second consecutive night.  Mike Cammalleri would score following unsuccessful tries from Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay, putting the pressure on Giroux.  Philly’s leading scorer made it look easy to extend the shootout, and after Jarome Iginla and Wayne Simmonds would fail to score, Bryzgalov got a tad lucky on Curtis Glencross’s try, as the Calgary shooter would ring it off the crossbar.  Matt Read would win it on Philly’s fifth shot, giving the visitors a 5-4 win.

One Good Reason…

…the Flames lost?  Well, on this night, they were lucky to get to a shootout, and that was thanks to a severe lack of time in the offensive zone.  Calgary was outchanced 25-14, including 17-11 at even strength, and the top line was absolutely hammered once again.  The trio of Iginla, Jokinen, and Glencross were soundly beaten by the Giroux line all night long, including getting outshot 18-7 in their matchup.  With a team lacking depth, that’s going to do you in most nights.

Red Warrior

Bouma and Kostopoulos could be good choices, but I’m going to lean to Matt Stajan, just because it’s probably my only chance this year to give him the nod.  He has goals in consecutive games (!!) and has been an effective cog on a pretty effective trio the last few games.  He was 62% in the faceoff circle and ended up playing over 13 minutes on the night.

Sum It Up

The Flames are 5-1-5 in the month of February, which ain’t too shabby when you look at the results themselves.  But this string of finding ways to get points will end eventually if Calgary doesn’t start to find more time in the offensive zone.  I just don’t know how realistic a wish that really is.  They’ve got the trade deadline on Monday and there’s a lot of talk it might be busy one for this team; they’ve got the Blues on Monday night.

    • CitizenFlame

      Makes you wonder if something is going on behind the scenes because he looks like he’s not engaged right now, which is bad news for a team fighting for 8th and the Captain is MIA. Maybe he’s been asked to wave the NTC.

  • CitizenFlame

    This game was tough to watch.. almost identical game to the one against the Yotes! Why is it that Calgary is getting heavily outshot every game?

    I really felt bad for Kipper and noticed the lack of physical play from Calgary…

    Who could Feaster possibly add at the deadline to make this a playoff team?

      • loudogYYC

        That looks like Ohio with Crosby Stills & Nash.:-)

        Whats happening is the worst possible scenario right now. Too close to sell & nothing to help us get something to get us there. I’m writing off this trade deadline & I’m writing off the playoffs now. I see this team no better than 10th or 11th. But hey, we’re close & we think we can make the playoffs. Uh huh.

    • CitizenFlame

      Philly really exposed Calgary’s D tonight. Calgary’s defence is not tough enough. Butler is out and Smith is not the answer on that top pair (most would argue neither is Butler but thats beside the point).
      I’m not sure what would be more pressing at this point, adding a top pairing, tough minutes d-man, or a top line scorer?

      • Jeff Lebowski

        Calgary wasnt outshot 2-1 because of defensemen.

        The Flames have good defensemen for today’s NHL. They can skate, they can move the puck, and they aren’t undersized.

        The issue in our own zone is what it always is, we don’t get the puck out. The dman is making good decisions for the most part, but there is zero puck support. Wingers leave the zone early or do not make safe plays at the blue line, wingers and the centermen arent where they are suppose to be. It leads to a lot of point shots and second and third opportunities. This team gets hemmed in too much and relies on the D and most importantly Kipper to bail them out. Our forwards are also particularly bad at taking away shooting and passing lanes many nights.

        Our toughest D (Hannan, Sarich) are also our worst.

        • CitizenFlame

          I agree with you about Hannan & Sarich. It’s hard to tell about decision making of the defenceman watching on TV because I can’t see what the whole unit is doing but I question the decision making in our own end. Our defenceman struggle with a heavy forcheck and often cough the puck up. This could be a result of poor positioning and lack of support from the forwards as you say but I think it lies more with the defenceman in this game.

  • loudogYYC

    The first line being outshot 17-8 is very telling. Our best players vs Philly’s best generated less than half the shots and scored 0 PTS outside of Tanguays shorthanded point and penalty shot.

    The biggest problem with mediocrity is that it’s contagious. @sincity, I don’t think iggy is done in Calgary, but I think he should be done. Every failed coach has talked about the same issue in the Flames dressing room, every player that could have been considered a problem is now gone and the f***ing issue remains.

    As much as I don’t like Playfair as a coach, he really shed some light on the dressing room issue which is clearly iggy. Too comfortable with the fan adoration, too comfortable with the 7 years + of $7M salary, too comfortable with the “greatest captain since Messier” reputation. If only there were someone with enough clout and balls to call him out..

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Calgary’s top forwards are struggling right now. That’s obvious. However, people will over react and hand wring obsessively.

    The fact is the line up is thin due to injury and it’s finally catching up on them.

    It’s not over and I don’t think trades will help much. Players ebb and flow with their games over a season. You can’t expect guys to score every game.

    If the top line guys aren’t dangerous and they play 1/3 of the game, Calgary’s gonna get outshot especially if the other lines are make shift.

    That being said, they blew a big lead again. To me, it’s just a function of playing in your own end and chasing all game. Kipper was good but needs a rest.

    I think Sutter should play 12, 40 & 93 as top line. Put 13, 20, 10 as the shut down line. Especially at home with last change.

    20 games left. They need 30 pts. Perhaps more.

    • CitizenFlame

      I was thinking the same thing. Put Tanguay & Iggy together with Cammy centering. Then throw Comeau up with GlenX and Olli and feed them the tougher minutes. It’s time to switch things up again to try to create a spark. Let’s face it, Cammy and Tanguay are both back to play with Iggy anyway.

  • Captain Ron

    @Loudog YYC

    Brent has called out Jarome, so did Daryl at one time or another with varying degrees of success. Can’t remember if Keenan or Playfair ever did it.

    @Citizen Flame

    I think right now both a tough minutes D man and a top line scoring forward (center) are needed ASAP for them to be any sort of a playoff threat. Without at least that much they won’t last very long in the playoffs if they ever got in. And thats if the team was fully healthy with the players we have today.

  • Franko J

    I think that the Flames are in the mode of missing the playoffs for a third straight year. With the aging core and suspect prospects at best, well it look like the “Dark Days” are upon the Flames again.

    Yes this team is 1 point out from a playoff spot, but seriously after three very dismal performances from this team at home this week it appears this team has lost it steam.

    Right now name me a playoff bound team that Calgary can beat?

    It is time for change. Look at the other professional sports team in this city and what they have done to its aging core this off season.

    While there is no guarantee that the Stamps will be good or bad either way, but with the new core and change in leadership I’m excited and enthusiastic for the season to start. A fresh start with a new perspective.

    In stark contrast, the ownership of the Flames is too cautious to make change and therefore suffer through mediocrity from season to season.

    Flames missed the opportunity hiring Tippett.
    Flames missed the opportunity hiring Yzerman.
    Flames cannot afford to miss the opportunity to makes the changes this off season.

  • Derzie

    For the love of all that is holy, please trade Kipper. He does EVERYTHING he can do but the team in front of him just doesn’t have it. I felt so bad for him tonight. The shot counts were ridiculous really.

    • It makes sense to trade him as the only real asset that would net the organization any return.

      HOWEVER

      Imagine for a moment… this team minus the 4 to 10 other worldly saves he makes every game. He is the MVP of this team by so freaking far its reminiscent of the Secretariat photo clinching the final leg of the triple crown.