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.

  • Captain Ron

    @Kevin R

    Yeah the Crosby, Nash thing came to me and I couldn’t resist the rest. Ohio…one of my favorite tunes from Young

    Considering the last few games and the overall situation we are in I thought it was appropriate to lighten it up a bit.

  • Franko J

    Why isn’t anybody thrashing on the coach. Losing leads is a reflection of the coaching style and ability. Sutter clearly isn’t in the same league as Tippett or Trotz.

    It’s clear that if Feastet really wants to give the team a big spark, he should replace Sutter with Hartsburgh!

  • supra steve

    I posted this Feb 24, 7:12AM.

    Prediction: Flames are outplayed/outshot by a wide margin and lose in overtime on Saturday, giving them 1 more point and keeping them in the “playoff race”(or they just lose outright, as do at least one of Dallas or Phoenix). Feaster neither buyes nor sells at the deadline. They continue in their inept/inconsistent ways, following their glorious and untouchable “leader” into a 10th place finish.

    ****Next prediction: This contradicts my previous prediction because I liked what I heard from Feaster in the last few days. Jay starts the cleanup/blowup, if he has the balls to move any or all of his star players he may finally start to get a little respect on these pages. Best thing for this teams future is to accumulate draft picks and young “A” list skilled players under 21.

    Also predict Erixon to the Blue Jackets in the Nash swap. Enjoy Columbus Tim.

    Don’t bother buying 6/49 tickets, as I’m predicting I already have the winning ticket.

  • As discussed on CBC last night, Nash’s list of acceptable teams are all eastern time zone. People dreaming of a Nash trade need to get over it. And what could we possibly trade them??

    The problem is this team needs to make a big splash at the deadline but has NOTHING to trade. Trade our good players and we are no further ahead. We have a limited pool of prospects and just can’t afford to trade any. We have already given away many of our draft picks and it would be organizational suicide to give away more….

    Feaster has no option IMO. He should have done it months ago. Blow it up.

    The great thing is that we aren’t too far away from a lottery pick. We could easily get down into 26-27th place if we traded Kipper. Then the season wouldn’t be a complete loss like it will be if we keep everyone and finish 9-10

    • amaninvan

      The only guys that seem to fall into the toughness category are a D-man everyone wants dumped/traded (Sarich), a 4th line player who barely plays (Jackman) and a kid with a handful of NHL games on his resume (Bouma). Ive been impressed with Bouma’s play, and I like Jackman, but trading Sarich scares me because he is the only guy on this team who seems capable of the big body check anymore.

  • Derzie

    Last I herd Nash is probably going to the rangers and Erixon is going the other way. When I laughed my head off when I found that out. That would be AWESOME! At least he’ll be able to play right away.

    Anyways, I really hope Feaster makes some moves to rebuild this team. The longer he waits the more it’ll look like an Oilers/Islanders type of rebuild. One that wasn’t on purpose and with no direction that takes 4 -5 years. It’s possible to cut that time in half with a smart, ballsy GM. I hope Feaster can do that.

    I do think a new coach is needed. Hartsburg might be a good option.

  • Derzie

    Are the seats in the Saddledome red? I sure hope so. When the afterglow of 04 finally wears off (give it up already), and Kipper and Iginla both ask for trades in the off season, I predict many open seats. At least if they are red, the folks still watching at home in standard definition will still think the rink is full. Hell, that kind of Jedii mind trick train could convince Feaster into thinking the team is a contender for years to come.

  • sell sell sell. feaster ya gotta trade kipper for the long term health of a floundering organization. igglatowski isnt anywhere near the leader messier was, iggster is happy with the ah schucks we lost and need a bounce back game attitude, all the while grinning like the butchers dog. far too comfortable with the star treatment he recieves in cowtown than bustin a nut to win a championship.

  • Franko J

    Hartsburg is not a good replacement. He failed in Ottawa, really has he made this defense in Calgary any better.
    All three coaches on the Flames belong back in junior coaching. At the end of the season clean house with the aging core and lackluster coaching.
    This team needs a fresh start.

    • Franko J

      amen brother. hartsburg was a bust in ottawa and for the most part in the juniors as well. his world junior success could have been accomplished by a fire hydrant. as for butter, way too over rated as well.his success in jersey was a reflection of the system not the man.

  • Franko J

    Time for Oilerfan to pile on. WTF did I wake up to this morning. I went to bed when the Flames were up 3-0. I look at TSN and your team managed to squander away a 3-0 lead and lose 5-4 in shootout. How the frak do you guys put up with this kind of garbage? So close yet so far. I can’t believe the fan base allows Feaster to continue in this same vein. Calgary aint Columbus or Nashville or any of those other non hockey markets where a rebuild wouldn’t go over. The Oilers may be 29 th place but holy moses we are atleast heading in the right direction. Eberle finishes top 10 in scoring this year and RNH probably wins the Calder. Hall scores 30. You guys live in a reality in Calgary that mirrors Alice in Wonderland. My goodness you have Matt Stajan as your 2cd line center. Please don’t tell me you haven’t noticed that Mikka is tired? You might want to play the other guy more than 2-5 times a year. As frustrating as it is to watch the inconsistency of the Oilers I would loath to think what its like for Calgary Flames fans to know that they have to watch this never good enough scenario play out year after year.

    The beatdown we gave you this week is only a taste of what yor in for in the next few years. And it won’t be just from us. You really got carpetbagged by Feaster.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    This is probably a useless observation but…

    Anyone notice on penalty shots, Kipper’s glove hand kind of cups down. I mean instead of the trapper being open with his palm facing out to the shooter his palm faced down toward the ice (as it would be if he was going to cover a puck on the ice). I hope that description makes sense. To make a save he has to frist raise his hand, then move the arm to grab it. Too many movements. But who the hell am I to break down goalie technique?

    Anyway some recent shoot out goals have beaten him glove. How many times do see saves where it seems the shooter just shoots into the glove. Just good technique.

  • Franko J

    The injury to Backlund has really set this team off. Since Backs went down in the 2nd period vs Vancouver, the Flames have been consistently out-shot and out-chanced and have played the majority of the game in their own end. Backlund was the only guy at the top 6 at the time who really drove possession. All the Backlund haters won’t admit it, but Backlund’s injury has broken the team’s back, and they’re struggling as a result.

    Another quick point: I don’t understand why Sutter doesn’t put Cammy, Iggy and Tangs on the top line and give them sheltered minutes, and put Scoreface, Jokinen and Comeau in a more defensive role. Maybe when Moss comes back he’ll do that, as he would reunite OMG line. (Olli, Moss, Glencross). Frustrating times to be a Flames fan.

    • Backlund & Jones were the injuries that have hurt the most. Unfortunately, we will be lucky to see them play too many games as their injuries are the worst. Moss coming back, whippee ding, he’s been gone so long & wasnt doing zippo before he got injured. What impact will he have. Really, Glencross isnt the same compared to before he got hurt either. Agree, you brought Cammi to play with Iggy, he’s done great at centre, put him with Iggy & Tanguay. Not rocket science Butter.

      I just dont understand. Kind of what Steve said. Feaster admitted if we didnt have Kipper we would be “worse than 30th”, so what does that say about his team. Doesnt that say forget the darn playoffs & start planning for a step back & for some quick steps forward.

      The step back is trying to salvage as many picks as you can with guys that wont be probably coming back. Quit thinking about now & think going forward. Sarich & Hannan, gotta shop them if you havent already & take the best offer. If Stempniak & Moss have any value as they are close to come back from injury, move them. They may or may not be back but they sure arent a priority to have resigned prior to July 1. But these are the kind of trades I’d be doing. You still have that Cammi Iggy & Tanguay line to try & win with. You still have Kipper. The above moves will not impact our chances of making the playoffs. Core player trades should wait until summer.

  • Franko J

    When your own GM states that the only thing stopping this team from being the worst in the league, is a goaltender that’s playing out of this world. You can bet some major changes are coming.

    Welcome to ground zero of your rebuild. Maybe in 2-3 years you can have a few lottery pick players of your own to start developing, and building a new core around.

    A long and painful road awaits you.

    Or maybe Feasted will sell off more of your future, for one last gasp attempt at glory, and prolong the inevitable for a little bit longer.