Postgame: The Blues

That’s how the St. Louis Blues win hockey games.  They take a lead and choke things off, which is exactly what you saw on Monday night in their final meeting this season with the Calgary Flames.  After Calgary opened the scoring for the fifth consecutive game, they allowed three straight and mustered next to nothing the rest of the way.  The alarming thing is, the Flames have lost four of their last five games even when taking the first lead of the game.

What Happened

It took just over five minutes for the Flames to open the scoring thanks to Curtis Glencross.  He’d score his first since returning to the lineup, wiring one past Jaroslav Halak from the left slot for his 19th of the season.  It seemed like a bad line change from St. Louis to allow all that open ice, and as he tends to do, Glencross made no mistake on his scoring opportunity.  It was actually a fairly decent first half of the period for the home side, but momentum turned in a big way at 14:13 when David Backes evened the score on one that shouldn’t have gotten in.  His weak one from the right side beat Miikka Kiprusoff five hole and it got me wondering…when was the last time Kipper let in a soft one?  Game one against Pittsburgh?  A Mark Giordano hooking call gave the Blues their first powerplay late in the period and they’d make good on it, this time thanks to Jason Arnott.  His long shot from high of the left circle would tip off of Jay Bouwmeester and past Kiprusoff for a 2-1 score after one.  In a reversal of fortune, Calgary had the edge in scoring chances 5-3 but trailed where it matters.

The second period essentially did this contest in fairly early, as the visitors extended their lead to two on another powerplay.  With Scott Hannan sitting for interference, Andy McDonald’s shot would be tipped by Patrik Berglund on it’s way to Kiprusoff; on the rebound was Arnott on the spot for his second and a two goal lead.  St. Louis isn’t the second best defensive team in the NHL for a reason, and they’d show that off in the final frame.

The closing 20 minutes saw Calgary generate a grand total of two scoring chances, and while that isn’t enough, as much of that credit should go to the visitors.  They’d choke this one off in impressive fashion en route to their 39th win of the season.

One Good Reason…

…the Flames lost?  Poor puck management.  Against a team who manages the team as well as teh Blues do, low hockey IQ isn’t going to do the job for Calgary.  They passed up shooting opportunities far too many times and tried walking around capable defenders on occassions instead of putting the puck in the corner.  As a result, the team fired just 21 shots on net including 11 through the opening two periods; they’ve now been outshot in 11 straight games. The Flames aren’t a team that generates by tic-tac-toe passing and fancy dangles at the blueline.  When they manage the puck right, they’re a whole lot more competitive.

Red Warrior

I’ll give her to Blake Comeau.  After having some rough games of late, Comeau was engaged physically and was one of the few with a commitment to that aforementioned puck management.  He finished in the black in terms of even strength scoring chances and was fairly effective throughout.  The one negative for Comeau tonight was his boarding call midway through the third period negating what would have been a Calgary powerplay with David Perron tagged for tripping.

Sum It Up

0-2-2 for the Flames on an important late-February home stand isn’t good enough, there’s no doubting that for the Flames.  More than anything, I didn’t feel that Calgary played a terrible game against St. Louis.  There’s no doubting how much better the Blues are than the Flames, that was very clear in this one.  However, when you’re not playing smart and you’re not shooting the puck, you’re not going to beat a team battling for the Western Conference lead.  Now a huge back-to-back set looms for the Flames starting Thursday in Phoenix.

  • Subversive

    Does Calgary finish ahead or behind Anaheim by the end of the season? My gut says they finish behind. I knew this would happen, they play decent *just* long enough to make sure Feaster has no choice but to stand pat for the trade deadline. This team is the most frustrating bunch I’ve ever seen!

  • SmellOfVictory


    I know they’re not in 9th right now, but they’ll bust out a solid win streak to creep up there by April.

    • 9th? Right now, Calgary sits in 11th place, with Minnie 2pts behind, Anaheim 3pts behind, and both Colorado and Anaheim showing no sign of letting up.

      My best guess is that the Flames end up in 13th. They have been consistently out-shot, out-hit, out-faceoffed, and out-played throughout February and most of the season. Kipper was the reason they won at the beginning of February, but he can’t keep it up. He will tire out and the Flames will be done for the season soon enough.

      What happened to the team that had one of the highest goals for last season? They haven’t changed THAT much, yet here they are.

      This coming from a Flames fan. I continue my advice that Feaster be calling up Oliwa, Niemminen, Simon, and Gelinas and get the old crew back together. My friend’s advice was: “Just call up Roman Turek. The last piece to the world’s sh!*tiest puzzle”

        • I never hope for this for the Flames. I prefer the playoffs over being consistently terrible and tanking every season (a la Edmonton or Columbus), but it’s inevitable that this is where the Flames are headed.

          It’s okay. Maybe they’ll keep their future draft picks, actually pick a couple diamonds in the rough, and will one day have a Malkin or a Stamkos. One day.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Kitten,empty seats in first was because there wasn’t a whistle for first 5-6 minutes, the entry areas where packed with people waiting to get to their seat. My concern is friends and I talked about Olli, sounds like he’s more willing to go home and do nothing than play in the playoffs, just doesn’t care. He could have gone to a playoff team but refused to go. What a loser among losers.

  • RKD

    Wow, they get beaten by old wily Arnott. No urgency with this team, lack of heart and desire. They seem to accept losing, no pushback, this team isn’t even physical. Teams used to be intimidated to come into the Saddledome. Teams didn’t want to get hit by the Flames and play that physical grinding game. Now, it’s an easy two points and we are becoming the laughing stock of the NHL.

    Feaster stand pat, just like I expected. His rant was merely a show to take the pressure off his players. He and ownership still believe this team can make the playoffs with this group and are hoping the return of injured players will lead them on a miracle run. They have now been out-shot for 11 games in a row.

    Good luck in March with 17 games in 31 nights.

  • everton fc

    Feaster keeps referring to the issues being “in the room”… Yet nothing happens…

    The only move left to make is to fire Brent. I don’t necessarily support this, as it’s a default solution. But Feaster will look like a rube if he does nothing at all and let’s the Flames tank, which they currently are.

    Sutter may be the bog move they make before season’s end, making it look like they’re giving Brent enough rope to hang himself. That will be the excuse come seasons end. Coaching change.

    And even though we’ll shed some salary, judging by the insane offer made to Richards, I have no faith Feaster will turn new found cap space into smart acquisitions and playoff contention. Signing a guy like Parise won’t save this franchise.

    Dumping the President… G/M… Coaching staff… before the draft… Just might.

    Our fates as fans are in the owners hands.

    Not good.

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      Dumping upper management before the draft is not wise, even if they botch it. You leave it to a scouting staff who are operating without a mandate…and bringing in a new President and GM afterwards could mean a new scouting staff with them.

      Kent, Pat or VF would know this better than I, but I think Sutter is in the last year of his contract and it might be allowed to run out as opposed to being fired.

  • supra steve

    If we’d traded Iginla last year we would have missed out on….let me think, I know there’s something, umm, there had to be something. Nope I got nothin of substance (he did score his 500th, but really…big deal).

    And if we traded Kipper this year Jay said we would end up worse then 30th. Where do you draft from there? It must not be good to be there, even worse then 10th I’m guessing.

    We got a few good pieces last draft, could have added so much more this year. Jay, you did drop the ball, or at least ownership stripped it from you. Where will this team be in 3 years when Iggy and Kipper have retired, never having won a cup.

    I have been patient with the Flames, maybe it’s time to throw my support behind a team that is behaving in a manner that I can support. Boston is killer, and that Kessel trade–nice to see a team trade a valuable player to Toronto and not get raped. Tampa…at least they know when to pull the plug and accumulate picks. I’ve always had a soft spot for St. Louis, and they are looking strong now. Notice to The Flames…with the internet, I could just as easily be typing my likes and dislikes about any of 29 other teams, clean your F’ing “room” or your Grounded.

  • everton fc

    They will need a miracle to make the playoffs. This is the same result year after year. You have to wonder if the ownership really cares. This organization needs a good cleaning from top to bottom. I can hardly wait to hear what king has to say at the end of the season.

  • supra steve

    13th place is even hopeful! The team looks very discombobulated! Last night was brutal lack of effort. what happened to north south hockey? Where is our fore and back check? Faceoff percentages and shots are down right patheic….my 2 cents…Iginla is coasting. Starting to remind me of Mats Sundin. Float around and skate in circles waiting for the puck to magically appear on his stick!

  • supra steve

    @bruins – they do care. About jersey sales.

    @theartfuldodger – Iginla’s got Kelowna on his mind. The fresh air, the wind and water in his face while knee boarding. You know, after he turns down the offer to play for Team Canada at the Worlds again.

    Yup, the decision to stand pat really paid off last night.

    • RexLibris


      I had thought about bringing up Iginla’s previous refusals to play for Team Canada but thought I’d better not start a war of words with such a prominent figure amongst the Flames fan base.

      I’m glad you went there first, and I think your comments are totally on target.

      • Captain Ron

        There is no doubt that Jarome isn’t playing up to his potential right now and I’m not even going to try and defend his play lately. If anything I am really begining to warm up to the idea that his moving on might be better for the team in the long run. Not convinced yet but I might get there if the carrot is big enough.

        Regarding your Team Canada assertion that he should somehow go to the worlds though you are both way out of line. Iginla has absolutely no obligation to go to the worlds. He probably has zero desire to go either even if he is asked. He has nothing to prove there and owes his country and the team nothing. His past participation as a member of various Team Canada(s) has been exemplary. Being 35 years old, away for most of the year and having your young kids want you at home in the summer is powerful stuff. At this point in his life I have little doubt that is a much bigger priority than that hockey tournament on the other side of the world that frankly a lot of people don’t care about. If anything his decision to stay home with his family is a much less selfish one than going to play in that hockey tournament.

        • RexLibris

          I absolutely understand Iginla’s desire to spend time with his family, however, I do have to disagree with the assertion that he has a record of exemplary service when playing for his country at international competitions.

          As far as I can tell his international experience is thus: 1996 World Juniors, 1997 IIHF World Championships, 2002 Olympics, 2004 World Cup of Hockey, 2006 Olympics, 2010 Olympics.

          Now if he had refused to play in the Olympics then there likely wouldn’t be anyone willing to defend him, however, in the years between his first, and apparently only, IIHF Championship appearance in 1997 to today he had twelve seasons where the Flames were either eliminated from playoff contention in the regular season or from the playoffs in the quarterfinals. Given Iginla’s long history of being largely injury-free, I’ll be conservative and say that of those twelve seasons perhaps there were six wherein he was healthy enough, and successful enough, to have been invited.

          So, to start a little intra-provincial rivalry trash-talking here (sorry to go there) I’ll compare that with Ryan Smyth’s international record/availability. Smyth has played in seven IIHF World Championships (’99, ’00, ’01, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’05) and two Olympics, and one World Cup of Hockey. Three times he played when the Oilers didn’t make the playoffs, while three times he played after the Oilers had been eliminated. He also played in the cancelled NHL season of ’05, something Iginla did not.

          Both players have families and children.

          Sorry, I’ll have to disagree with you about Iginla’s commitment to the International Men’s team.

          Thanks for the compliments in your other post though. I do try.

          I get why Flames fans would use the Oilers as a reference, but frankly, letting that get in the way of what that franchise so desperately needs isn’t going to help.

          When the Oilers went into a rebuild they didn’t say “we’re going to do it just like Pittsburgh and Chicago and L.A.”. They said they’re going to build something here using Pittsburgh, Chicago and other franchises as signposts on the path, but the model they’re working off of is Detroit. In that sense Katz and company made this their own and are working towards something that is, in some small ways, unique to the circumstances of Edmonton and the Oilers.

          There is no reason Calgary can’t do the same. No two rebuilds are identical and that’s what I have argued here. I think it took some bravery on the part of Katz and his management group to look at their product and say “this is terrible and we need to start over”. Can you picture the Flames ownership doing such a thing publicly? Probably not, but how much better would they be if they did?

          I’m really looking forward to a few parts of the rest of this season/off-season. The draft and draft lottery, obviously. Not just because I have some specific areas I want the Oilers to land in at the draft, but also to see if Feaster shakes off his inertia and does something there. If he does anything significant it will be at the draft. The next season will be free agency. The Oilers aren’t likely to be big players this year, but certainly I expect the Flames to try for one more big whale-hunt this summer (assuming the targets are still out there at that time) before they pack it in and are forced to start over.

        • Captain Ron

          He does get asked, every year, though I have no idea why.

          As far as obligation goes – Wayne Gretzky would disagree with you.

          This country gave him his lifestyle and this a chance to repay it. Team Canada progarm helped his career development, this is his chance to repay them.

  • supra steve

    I know us Flames fans loathe the idea of doing an Edmonton style rebuild. It sickens us to the core to even contemplate it.

    But last night I flipped over from the pathetic display that was the Flames game just in time to watch Eberle break up the middle, take a pass full speed, go in with a magical head fake/backhand dangle and top shelf it. The kid is what 20 years old? And they have Hall AND Nugent Hopkins to boot….

    You always hear from the Oiler fans that win or lose this year they are loving watching the hockey. I sure can’t say that about the Flames. We watch horrendous hockey night after night, get mad, blame the coach, blame Iggy and have no future hope….

    Maybe its time to realize we need to take a different approach. Cause the 10th overall draft pick we get this year when we finish a few out of the playoffs isn’t going to land us an Eberle (although I think the Oilers did snag him late in the 1st round which sort of defeats my argument, but you get the point). Even if we did somehow get the next Eberle this year, we need at least 1-2 more just like him now that Iggy is on the decline.

    I’m just so tired of watching this horrendous team trend down, down, down. If it wasn’t for Kipper I’d barely have a Flame I really am proud to watch.

  • supra steve

    “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

    Shame on you Feaster. Haha. 90% the same team with a worse Defense expecting better results. Good job.

  • supra steve

    thatta a boy jay, flap the gowels and guarantee a playoff spot, then flap some more and threaten the country club with a shake up, then stand pat on deadline day. the flames floundering in 10th or 11 th is becoming an annual tradition, just like taxtime. fire butter, and his crew, its obvious that iggie is running the team. its the same old same old, revolving door of coaches and minimal results. guess the real iggie is the problem here.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    St. Louis went up by two & I knew it was over.

    I turned off the TV & started playing NHL Slapshot on the Wii, knowing I could see the Flames win that way.

    I was centering Iginla & he got injured & the game bumped up Ales Kotalik onto the 1st line with me & Nik Hagman… at that moment… I had an epiphany – I am not enjoying watching my beloved Flames anymore. Haven’t for some time now. Even the games we win, there is some kind of emptiness about them, like I know it’s all for naught if the playoffs and a real contending team is not on the ice.

  • T&A4Flames

    I was worried that we would finish in 13th with the way ANA has been coming on. Now I am starting to worry that the Oil will finish like they started now that they have nothing to lose and we will finish 14th.

    I certainly do not advocate losing for a high pick but we may just be thrust into the Oil mode of a rebuild. Our team just looks tired and unmotivated. What’s worse is that Kipper is starting to show signs of fatigue.

    I will still hold out hope that they make the P.O. but it is looking bleak with all the other teams around us playing like they want it.

  • loudogYYC

    Lots of good comments here. Flames are a sinking ship and I don’t care what anyone says, the players know it.

    Iginla’s interview last night was ridiculous in how he was trying to talk about the lack of compete level without really admitting it. At one point he said: In the 3rd, we were a little more relentless…? But they’re a good team and play well with a lead and unfortunately we didn’t win bla bla bla. Whatever.

    A competitive pro athlete lives for this time of the season and the teams “leader” is on a 10 strides per shift regiment. That’s flat out bullsh*t. I’m tired of all the lip service and the nice guy attitude around the Country Club.

    Other than Feaster, fans are getting fooled with this team saying that they believe they can make it and every game matters BS.

    Eventually, something has to give. I say keep Baertschi, Reinhart and Ferland away from the “captain” and clean up this disaster before injecting the team with youth.

  • RexLibris

    Okay, I keep reading about how Flames fans are loathe to do an “Edmonton-style total rebuild”. First off, we didn’t invent it, so why are fans there so adamant against doing a rebuild? You could name it something else, like a Washington-style rebuild. They sold off everything and started from scratch too.

    I understand the reluctance to appear (emphasis there, I’m not going to start trolling about the Flames being one step behind) to be following in the footsteps of a hated rival.

    The Flames missed an opportunity yesterday, and in defence of Jay Feaster they may not have missed it by that much (they may not have had that many trade partners, as VF notes in his article today). Perhaps they couldn’t have gotten six draft picks in the first three rounds by selling off their expiring UFAs, but they certainly could have gotten something and they could have committed to a direction that, frankly, they are headed in anyway, with some courage and “intellectual honesty”.

    Perhaps in the summer the management will make the painful moves that are necessary (Iginla and Kiprusoff) and try to start over. They have an opportunity to draft one of several franchise centres in 2013, if they make the decisions that they have put off and avoided.

    I know this is going to anger some people here, but I’m not saying this from some high moral ground as an Oiler fan. I’m saying this as someone who is trying to offer honest, objective opinions about your team. If I wanted to be emotional and a homer I’d simply tell you to keep going the way you’re going.

    Anyway, I hope for the sake of Flames fans Feaster is active this summer.

    • Captain Ron

      Rex, we could call the rebuild something else no doubt but since we are so close geographically speaking an “Oilers style rebuild” phrase is the most appropriate. The mostly good natured bantering between fan bases only re-inforces the idea. Using an eastern based team like Washington as an example just wouldn’t seem right. The Flyer fans might do that though.

      As for Feaster and company in the summer time, they won’t have any choice but to be active since there are a few holes to fill.

      BTW I am one who feels that you do offer honest and objective opinions about the Flames.
      Most of the time anyway 😉

  • Derzie

    The only problem I have with the ‘Edmonton style rebuild’ is that it appears rudderless. It’s not very hard to pick the top player available. What’s hard is assembling a structure and team around them. Edmonton is not going to be able to keep all of their assets as they will run out of time before they get good enough. They should be a playoff team this year given the time they’ve had and they are not. They are behind schedule. BUT, I’d rather that fate than this ‘Calgary style dead-in-the-water non-rebuild’. Feaster has made it clear that the owners are the ones supporting the status quo. Again, DON’T GO TO THE GAMES. DON’T BUY JERSEYS. It’s the only voice we have to shake these guys up.

    • RexLibris

      I’ve talked here about the perceived and actual timelines of the rebuild in Edmonton and they are currently finishing up year three, which puts the team on pace for other similarly executed plans.

      The last place where results can be seen any time a team goes through this is in the standings.

      The first thing that usually takes place is a change of culture and a selling off of assets that are either redundant on a non-playoff team or have outlived their usefulness (Sami Pahlsson, yesterday as an example, or Steve Downie), accompanied by the teaching aspect where prospects and young players are given the time and space to learn the speed and profesionalism of the NHL.

      The next step is to teach systems and situations, where penalty kill and power play should be seen to improve and goal differential fall. Possession times ought to improve, but defensive lapses are still the order of the day. Games begin to be lost by one or two goals, rather than 3 or more.

      The step the Oilers will be looking to make next year is one that Tambellini spoke of this season (and which I thought was a little premature given their lineup) wherein they expect to challenge for a playoff position similar to where Anaheim, Pheonix, or even the Flames are right now.

      That means that for the first two or three years of this strategy there is little or no improvement in the standings at all, followed by a modest improvement in the season after and an expected significant improvement the season after that. L.A. had banked on that pattern and the wheels have fallen off, so don’t think that I’m saying its a simple process that runs itself. But rather that the path of success that I am describing is the one that targeted by any team making this move. Crosby won the Stanley Cup only a few years after getting into the league, Colorado made the playoffs the year after they drafted Duchene and O’Reilly before plummeting back down. There is a curve teams look for, but progress is rarely so methodical.

      Looking at the draft history of teams that have taken this same approach shows that they stayed in the bottom of the league, drafting in the top five for an average of three to five years (Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York Islanders, Washington, L.A.).

      Also, there is no reason that the Oilers can’t retain their core talent. They have their larger contracts expiring in time to sign their young players to extensions and already have an abundance of cap space. And I would like to add that Hall, Eberle, and Nugent-Hopkins are not in the same category as Crosby or Ovechkin or Malkin. They won’t be signed at the same rate. Perhaps in their second contracts one or even two of them will sign a contract in the range of what Iginla has earned in Calgary, but they sill have a long way to go to deserve comparison with his career statistical accomplishments.

  • Danny Lawson

    Not a surprising outcome.
    The lack of talent the Flames have amassed is reflected in their sinking position in the standings these past three seasons. For years the Flames could point to Kipper & Iggy and say we’ll remain competitive but now Iggy skills have eroded with time. I hope management will finally see the team as so many others, as one whose best before date lapsed years ago. There are no quick fixes, its going to be ugly for a long time. I hope we’re up for it.

  • Captain Ron

    @ RexLibris
    Since were on page 2 I’m not sure you’ll get this but here’s my two bits.
    As I was writing my post I knew you would trot out the Ryan “Captain Canada” Smyth comparison and you didn’t disappoint. So… fair enough that he may be the prime example as far as participation goes in the worlds. So then what your saying is there should be a certain minimum amount of participation that we should expect from our star players if they are healthy and available for that tournament if/when asked to go? Seems to be a this guy is more noble than that guy kind of thing to me. I do have to say that I always admired Smitty for all those times he played for Canada in whatever capicity asked. He did give it his all when he was in his prime. Great family too BTW. His folks used to come to see my wife in Calgary for health reasons. Brought our son a signed poster and some other stuff a few years ago. Ryan was still an Oiler then and they knew we were Flames fans. Left a really good impression on him.

    @ The Wolf

    Your points are valid but lead me to ask at what point can / should a player feel he has paid that debt? Does a guy go till he drops? Seems a personal thing to me since I don’t know if there is a textbook answer. I also think that his staying here allows for a younger player to step in and begin repaying that debt.

  • Captain Ron

    @CaptainRon – good point and I do agree. But in Iginla’s case he has refused the Worlds so many times while still going to the Olympics that, IMo, it speaks to his character. Had he played in a few, especially at his current age, and was just now saying ‘no,’ I’d agree with you.