I’m just glad the answer to the Flames struggles is in the room as Feaster says. You’d think that they could find it after 3-4 years though. Is it the Downey in the jerseys? The floor squeaks? … I tell you one thing, apathy has definitely set in with me. I could care less to watch another listless effort in a must win game for the rest of the year until some wholesale changes are made.
Commenter John Deere Green seems to be summing up what a lot of fans are thinking at this point in the Calgary Flames season after another 3-2 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars. While it was a better effort then many we’ve seen since…well, November of 2011, the Flames once again became listless and ineffective in the waning minutes of the game and it cost them-reducing their chances of making the playoffs to a meager 18.1%.
While I wasn’t able to watch the game tonight due to work, I did catch the radio broadcast. There was nothing doing in the first goal-wise but with 22 shots it was an eventful start for the goalies. Both Miikka Kiprusoff and Kari Lehtonen turned away all of their respective shots against. The Flames had 2 power plays in the period, but were obviously unable to capitalize on either of them. A couple of weird moments kept the game exciting, however-Tim Jackman and Sheldon Souray’s offsetting Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties and Steve Ott and…Curtis Glencross (?) fighting. Shots in the period were 13-9 for Calgary but chances in the period were tied 4-4.
It’s safe to say that the second period had the offensive output the first period was lacking. Curtis Glencross scored his 22nd of the season off of a nice behind the net setup from David Moss 7:18 into the period. Dallas would respond a short time later, with Loui Eriksson making Alex Tanguay look like a complete fool for Eriksson’s 22nd of the year on the penalty kill. The Stars weren’t done there, however: three and a half minutes later, Michael Ryder buried a backhand past Miikka Kiprusoff with the man advantage, leaving the score 2-1 Dallas after two. Shots in the period were 10-15 in favour of Dallas and the Stars also won the chance count, 7-9.
Jarome Iginla had a great chance to tie it up early in the third, but was stoned on the breakaway by Lehtonen. Iginla would get his revenge, however, 8 minutes into the period after a sort of broken play from Cammalleri and Tanguay, a through-the-legs pass from Cammalleri set up the Captain for the easy tap in at the side of the net, resulting in his 25th goal of the year. From there, it sounded as if the Flames went to a 1-2-2 trap and it gave them what was to be the expected result-an overtime game. Calgary actually lead Dallas in both the shot and chance count, 13-12 and 5-4 respectively.
The overtime was back and forth until an unfortunate hooking penalty was called on Cammalleri-although at that point it saved a goal against and as a result a loss. Dallas used the 2 minutes to their advantage, getting 4 of their 5 chances in the extra frame within a minute. Kiprusoff came up big once again, robbing Souray on a one-timer from the top of the dot, sending the game to a shootout. Both Stars shooters (Benn and Eriksson) scored on Kiprusoff and both Flames shooters (Jokinen and Tanguay) missed. Shots in the extra frame were 2-4 in favour of Dallas and the chance count was equally lopsided at 1-5.
1. Miikka Kiprusoff
2. Kari Lehtonen
3. Loui Eriksson
The Flames, ostensibly a playoff team (or, rather, what the organization deems to be a playoff team) have just a single win in their last seven games. For the past three years all we’ve heard around this point of the season is “2 out of 3!” and while it’s all well and good that the team’s simplified their goal, the actions they take on the ice are not indicative of a team that’s trying to put together a .600+ points percentage.
Last year, I wrote something that is even truer today about this team then it was in 2011-I said that this team doesn’t seem to know the difference between not losing and winning. You all know what I’m talking about-that horrific shell the team plays when they’re up or close to overtime. It always, inevitably, leaves a game a lot closer then it should be. While Sutter seems to recognize this and admonishes his team in the media for it, to me there’s only really two ways that allows it to keep happening: either this type of positional collapse and reliance on the goaltender is built into Sutter’s “system”; or it is a failure by the players to control their mental state and allow themselves to drift into a kind of weird risk aversion mindset.
Either way, the coaching staff, the players and hockey operations all should receive blame. This behavior has been continually practiced, causing the team to lose points over and over again and no one seems to know how to fix it, and that’s extremely worrying. Given all we know about the correlation between possession and winning, for a team to blatantly allow it’s opponent to control the puck and the pace of the play is asinine. Out of all the games this year to abandon that “don’t lose!” mindset, tonight would’ve been the one to do so.
The Flames play next on Tuesday, when the Montreal Canadiens come to town. Game time is 7 PM Mountain (Fan 960 and Sportsnet West).