Postgame: Falling Down

A total dog of a game tonight saw the Flames drop a 3-1 decision to the Edmonton Oilers. That might be all she wrote for the Flames this season, as they give 2 points to Edmonton for the second time in about a month.

The Recap

You could tell the Flames had played the night before as they came out very sluggish to start the game-and the Oilers took advantage, keeping possession of the puck for most of the first 10 minutes. Leland Irving had to make quite a few stops in the early going, but he was solid until the 10-minute mark as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put a snap shot past a screened Irving to open the scoring. The Oilers would add another before the end of the period, as Jordan Eberle snuck one short side past Irving with just over 5 minutes remaining. Earlier in the period, Cory Sarich absolutely destroyed Taylor Hall as Hall lost an edge going into contact. Hall did not return. The Flames were outchanced in the period (2-6) but tied the Oilers in shots (9-9).

The second period was a much more tepid affair, devoid of the big hits and dramatic scoring of the first. The only event of note was Mark Giordano’s rather fluky goal at 17:47 of the period-finding the back of the net via a strange deflection off of Ladislav Smid’s stick. The period was back and forth, with the Oilers winning the shot count 8-10 but the two teams tied in chances, 4-4.

The Flames, needing to come out strong in the third, decided to lay an egg instead. Edmonton would score one more goal in the third, with Nugent-Hopkins getting his second of the night and third point of the game-and that would be it for the Flames. While the team was able to keep it close on the scoreboard, Edmonton completely shut them down otherwise-the Flames generated the same amount of shots as I have eyes in the period. They were also outchanced by a count of 1-7.

The Stars

1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

2. Jordan Eberle

3. Teemu Hartakinen

The Final

Not much left to say about this one-you either watched it and were disgusted by the effort or you missed it-and you should be grateful for that. Losing 2 points to a bottom feeder should be unacceptable but it seems like it’s almost commonplace this season. The Flames’ next game is Sunday against Columbus-coverage is on the FAN 960 and Sportsnet. Game time is 7 Mountain.

    • PrairieStew

      I agree JW. It’s not like they were going to go the last 15 games without a loss. It was bound to happen, and I think losing to Edmonton is actually better than losing to Dallas, LA and Colorado. Edmonton is a team the Flames are not fighting with, so they’re not giving 2 points to a team they’re fighting with for the final 2 playoff spots. Yes, it was a crap game, yes it was vs Edmonton, but it was only one loss. Chill out people!

  • jeremywilhelm

    all she wrote???? really your gonna quit that easy c’mon now 10 games left many against teams their chasing, 1 point out of 7th. Keep a litte faith man..dont lay down like a tijuana hooker.

  • PrairieStew

    Cory Sarich was the best Flame on the ice. Had the guys in blue thinking after he hit Hall.

    The rest of the team looked flat. Ice time for bottom enders Desbien, Horak, Nemisz and (yes) Baertschi very low – compounding the problem, too much ice for Iggy et al and consequently they have no zip. Time to end the Sven experiment and bring back a couple of guys to balance the ice time back out – we need 4 lines going.

    As others have said this was a better one to lose. Beat the Stars and Avalanche twice each in the next 2 weeks and things will be fine.

  • CTown

    It’s not the loss that gets me. It’s the way we lost. Really 2 shots in the third when you need the win says a lot. Look at Phenoix the other night, they were on their back to back, even though they lost, they pushed and carried the play in the third period. That shows something the flames just don’t have.

  • PrairieStew

    What can you expect when we played the night before and sutter refused to play more than two-and-a-half lines. He wouldn’t play some of the young guys who might actually have some jump and emotion. Things such as this makes me question sutters coaching, among other things. And surprise surprise we get two shots in the third and the overplayed vets are in the minus column.

  • Robert Cleave

    a couple points to clarify:

    I’ve been saying this team has been playing over their skis for a while now-basically since when the injuries hit in late december. the team, as constructed and fully healthy with the average goaltending they’re getting this season is a 7th place team at best. the team the flames iced tonight, with emergency callups and backup goalies, is probably an 12th or 13th place team. obviously having sutter behind the bench doesn’t exactly help.

    even if you seek to denigrate advanced stats (which is your prerogative, although I strongly disagree with that mindset) all one has to do is to look at the shot totals. there’s that old wayne gretzky quote-you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right? well when your team has taken 255 less shots then their opponents it indicates a glaring hole in the ability to produce offence. that’s like 8 full games worth of shots and it’s totally insane to suggest a team that is routinely outshot is going to win 2/3rds of it’s games. another insane way to look at it? only 24 times this season has the team outshot their opponents at even strength.

    the other thing about the loss is not that it was to edmonton, but rather it was to the 14th place team. the flames will probably need to go 7-3 in their last 10 games of the season to make the playoffs; I don’t think I’m breaking new ground with that proclamation. the thing is when you looked ahead at the schedule before tonight, it was like this:

    oil (w) bj’s (w) avs (l) wild (w) stars (w) stars (l) kings (w) avs (w) canucks (l) canucks (l) ducks (w)

    and now it’s like this:

    oil (l) bj’s (w) avs (w) wild (w) stars (w) stars (l) kings (w) avs (w) canucks (l) canucks (l) ducks (w)

    so instead of taking two points from a crap team, they now have to get two more points from teams that are equal in skill level or better then them. that means the chance that they’ll get those two points has gone down when compared to 12 hours ago. and seriously, like tonight was so bad-2 shots in a period where you’re down by a single goal and you’re fighting for a playoff spot?

    I’m just sick of seeing this half way crap. beat the teams you should beat or just suck and get a better draft pick. I don’t want to see 7 more years of non-playoff hockey.

    fun fact: since I’ve been alive, they’ve missed the playoffs more then they’ve been in. the only teams worse then them in terms of that? los angeles and the new york islanders.

  • loudogYYC

    I’m not surprised or pissed that the team laid an egg in Edmonton tonight. I’m not even surprised that Svenny didn’t score. The Flames, as much as I love em, aren’t a team that’s used to depending only on their play. It’s always about a world class goalie or a future HOF forward or now, a rookie.

    What I’m actually worried about, is the Columbus game tomorrow. There’s no excuse for the Flames losing that game, but based on past experiences, it’s likely.

    18 shots won’t do it against Nash and their crappy goalie, let’s hope the boys get some rest and show up against the worst team in the league…

  • loudogYYC

    Relax man.

    Totally disagree with you.

    Calgary needs to beat them the remaining games they play against teams they are fighting with for a playoff spot, in regulation along with beating Columbus and Minnesota.

    They are still right there. You can’t win them all.

    • supra steve

      By your own admission “you can’t win them all”. But that is basically what you are praying for. Take all those games against equally desperate teams, and win them all (plus CBJ and Minn). Did you know that these teams will also want to win these games? Did you know that CBJ and Minn (like Edm) would also like to play spoiler? Could happen, but realistically? Look at this team’s 3 year history, or go back further then that. When the chips are down, this team WILL get widely outshot and find a way to fail.

      Almost time to start the “shame on you” talk re. Feaster. I have no idea what constraints have been placed on the man, but my tentative support of his tenure is waivering. This summer he either surprises me and resumes the overhaul he started last summer, or we are looking at a long dark time here in Flameville.

  • thymebalm

    in the hockey game i was watching it really looked to me as though the oilers took two points from the flames as opposed to the flames giving two points away.

  • supra steve

    As an Oiler supporter, i’d rather be fighting for a playoff berth than being fed “wait until next year” crap.

    So you lose 1 game? No big deal. Take a rest and come out hard aganist Columbus. Good luck. Hope you make it.

    • RexLibris

      I would rather accept reality and make moves to improve my situation rather than put used tires and a new carburator on a 84 Reliant K car. I don’t care how good the brakes are.

    • Vintage Flame

      Wow. not a post I was expecting to read this morning from an Oilers fan. Props dude.

      As for the Flames blowing their chances last night I have to disagree.

      Justin, I totally agree that Cgy has been playing over their skiis this year, but it would be unfair to assume that trend can’t continue just because they lose a stinker to the Oil.

      This team is one point out and still have a game in hand on the Avs. That will be key if they beat the Avs.. which they should, they better.

      They were not going to win all 15 games but beating the Sharks and the Yotes gave them a decent shot. They still control their own destiny so if they want it they are going to have to take it. No one is going to give them anything this time of year. Last night showed that and they let another one slip away.

  • Like Prairie Stew, not really surprised, all the advanced stats lead to the Flames not winning last night. A little disconcerting with that 3rd period, also if you are only going to play Sven for 6 minutes against the 14th & 29th place team overall, send him back to Portland & get excited for next fall. My Lord, we’ve been harping about how we have an aging team & we continue to burn out the old geezers:). Doesnt make sense to me.

    I still think 96 points gets you to the dance, so we can only afford to lose 4 points out of the last 20 points available, dont care how we do it. So our magic number is 2.5 in games with lost points & we’re done. I never expected to be late in March & this close, this was supposed to be a cleansing year of the remaining D Sutter garbage. I’m pretty proud of these guys. We have some fabulous things to feel we are way ahead of schedule. 3 biggest ones are Irving, Brodie & Bears. Now we just need Feaster to make great decisions this summer.

    • RexLibris

      Any concerns that the Flames seem to have played better with all of their callups and replacements than they were for awhile when they were healthy? It speaks well for the callups, I think, but does it not also reflect poorly on some of the injured vets?

      Just wondering.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        I think we already knew we had an aging core with some contracts expiring this year. I’m more encouraged because we still have huge decisions to make going forward this summer but the cupboard seemed bare but now we found some things in the cupboard that may impact the type of decisions we have to make. If that makes any sense.

        • RexLibris

          I was thinking more in terms of guys like Jones, Cammalleri, Stempniak and so on who were roster regulars until they were injured.

          It will be a test of the Flames developmental depth if they can replace those expiring positions internally and maintain their current levels.

          I say that not because I believe the Flames are desperately poor of NHL players in their system (I think they have some very serious issues for a team that has drafted in their position over the past number of years, but are not completely devoid of lower-level replacement players) but because the perception around the league is that they are shallower in talent than a team with their record (and draft position) ought to be. Hockey’s Future has the Flames ranked 26th (posted Nov 2011). I’d say that ranking is a bit low.

          • DieHard

            Hey Rex

            What should Calgray do with
            Baertsci next year? Full season in the A with callups, half season in both or full time in the NHL. Where’s his best place for development?

          • Vintage Flame

            Bärtschi will be a Flame to start the year next year. His play over the last 5 games earned him a spot that is his to lose.

            Whether he remains with the team the entire year, I won’t say for sure. Consider if they do fire Brent Sutter and say…. hire Troy Ward as the new head coach here in Calgary, I can’t see a situation where Sven goes to Abby. IMO

          • RexLibris

            What I think should happen is that Baertschi should get 9 games at the start of the season and, if eligible (I’m a little unclear on that right now), should be sent down the AHL for at least half a season to acclimate and go through the necessary bumps and detours in that league before coming up. He will face challenges when he starts playing against men and how he responds to those challenges will go a long way to helping his development. It can take time to train out of a young player the junior tricks that worked at that level but only get a player knocked on their butt at the NHL. Hall has spent the last season and a half learning some of those. RNH and Eberle have had fewer of those moments, but they are lessons that all young players must learn.

            Now, what I think will happen? Much of this will depend on the coaching staff next season. The Flames are desperate for some secondary scoring and the proposition of adding a young, creative winger to a second line to complement Iginla’s line will be too tempting for the organization. He will start the season, my guess, on the second line wing, or third line wing at worst and will likely go back and forth between the NHL and AHL (eligibility pending, as I said) depending on the ups and downs of his season.

            Junior graduates often hit the wall right around December or just after as the level of intensity begins to wear them down, so if he does stay up next season that will be something to watch for.

            I know that there will be comparisons to say that Baertschi is doing more in his junior year than Nugent-Hopkins, or that Hall was put into the league right after his draft year and those are understandable comments and comparisons. However, Nugent-Hopkins was a quarter-point per game ahead of where Baertschi was during the same season and it is apparent that Baertschi has benefited from being returned to junior. And Hall won back-to-back Memorial Cups so there really was nothing left for him to do at that level.

            If Baertschi is stuck so that he has to either play in the NHL or go back to junior then the Flames will need to keep him in the NHL and dress him for every second game or so. The coaching staff will need to shelter him with his zone starts and minutes, and he will need some appropriate linemates who can help cover for him, but also create offensive chances and give him a real opportunity to succeed.

            In some ways the Flames are fortunate that they have only the one major offensive forward to try and work in to the lineup as that lets them focus their energies and playing time resources on him.

            Basically, to answer your question I would say that the ideal place for him to develop would be the AHL, however, barring that option, then limited and controlled minutes in the NHL under a coaching staff that has the time and patience to teach this young man all aspects of the game, not just shoot and score. I would be concerned about Iginla’s zone tendencies presenting a bad inlfuence.

          • DieHard

            Actually Rex, Jones was playing real good, antagonizing & showing some offensive upside. His injury hurt more than some think. Cammi was just having a bad year, hence why Montreal traded him for Bourque, he still shows way more ability than Bourque did. I have no doubt he will be a top 6 next year. Stempniak will probably not be resigned & thats too bad because he could have got us something at the trade deadline if healthy. Dont really care what Hockey Futures say in Nov 2011, Irving has come up since then & played some solid goaltending & Brodie has really established himself on our blueline. Sven has been noticed & we cant really ignore both Bouma & Horak who are rookies & that at least shown they belong in the NHL. Thats 6 rookies that all have shown they are NHL ready and have played with the Flames for a significant number of games this year. Its mid March & we are still within a few points of the playoffs. Tell me how many teams played with this many rookies in their lineup for that many games. Playoffs or not this year for us, that is a huge step for this organization.

          • DieHard

            The problem here is that the Flames have been carried through the stretch drive by the veterans – most of the scoring is being done by one and a half lines, and Kipper doing the rest. Will these rookies continue to develop and compensate for the inevitable decline in the thirtysomethings? So hard to say. Oilers have seen a massive breakout in Eberle, decent steps forward in Hall and Petry, modest improvement in Dubnick, and a step back in Paarjarvi and Peckham. RNH is getting stronger as the season progresses with less and less sheltered icetime and a prediction for steady improvement is logical. Which is why a lot of people are predicting the franchises are moving in opposite directions.

          • RexLibris

            I know Jones was having a good season and seemed to be pushing the pace well.

            Montreal traded Cammalleri only partly because of a bad season. His calling out the team was what forced Gauthier’s hand. I’m sure he’ll have a rebound season. My comments were that Flames fans may be tempted to look at the roster and say “well, if we’re this good with all these call-ups then how much better will we be when we get healthy” and start thinking about a run as high as the 6th spot in the West. I’m just urging caution. It could be that once the veterans return the team might even sag a little as other players feel they can let up now that the reinforcements have arrived.

            I don’t treat HF as gospel by any means, but they do have insight and in cases like this all perspectives need to be taken into account. The posting is out of date, obviously, and the good play of Irving and Baertschi as well as the addition of Ramo will no doubt knock that rating up a shade.

            Here is something to keep in mind at this year’s draft though: the Flames are likely graduating Irving, Brodie, Bouma or Nemisz and likely Horak from the list of prospects to players next season. They will perhaps add one of Ferland, Reinhart or Gaudreau to the farm team. Probably Ferland as he turns 20 in April and Gaudreau may want to move to NCAA next season. With the Flames lacking a 2nd round pick this year and next, in order for the Flames to successfully retool this roster on the fly and try to challenge for another Cup within Iginla’s adn Kiprusoff’s window of dominance (another two to three years?) will they have enough opportunities at the draft to restock the cupboard?

          • RexLibris

            I dont think most fans are delusional enough to think that when healthy this is a 6-7th place team. Its going to get real interesting next year as we see the true colours of both the Flames & Iggy camps with his contract expiring next year. Depending on how extension discussions go, this could have a huge influence on direction of the team. I was more expecting a huge youth movement next year or the year after if negotiations went sour with Iggy & we move him next trade deadline. I just feel that movement started sooner than I thought & gives us vital time to start getting some of these guys NHL experience & evaluate what we do have. If the trading frenzy comes in Calgary, it may help them determine the type of returns they should try to pull off as well.

            It was a bad night for us last night & looks like an 11th or 12th pick over all is in our destiny.

          • RexLibris

            I saw the standings today and chuckled. I remember those days when you’d win five of six and not. move. an. inch. in the standings. So frustrating. The Flames would draft 13th today, barring lottery changes. Cue the deja vue jokes.

            That position would have the following players as likely available: Sebastian Collberg, Olli Maatta, Matthew Finn (a very good pick), Brady Skjei, Pontus Aberg (intriguing), and Alex Galchenyuk (surprised if he’s still there, but if so, what a steal!).

            The Flames have had a windfall opportunity this season with all the injuries to afford them a look at their prospect depth and it has shown, from my perspective, that once the call-ups started to the NHL there wasn’t enough left on the Heat roster to keep up the fight and AHL free agents had to be pursued (Kolanos and Jessiman).

            At this point, with Anaheim beginning to separate from the pack (downwards) the Flames are looking like the worst of the playoff bubble teams, points-wise. Upgrades on defence and forward depth (secondary scoring) have to be the focus in the off-season, in my opinion.

            BTW: thought I’d pass along that Hall is alright. He is sitting out as a precaution but thus far does not appear to have any of the standard concussion symptoms (headaches, sensitivity to lights, etc).

          • RexLibris

            Thats good news about Hall. It’s crunch time & I have him on my hockey pool:-)

            Hopefully we can get lucky & get another player like Sven who slips through the cracks. I figure we will be 11th in the conference & would equate to a 11th over all pick if that were to happen. We would have to finish 9th to pick 13th, right?

          • RexLibris

            That’s funny, shame you didn’t have Eberle. He’s going to become a poolie’s dream, even in goals and assists and virtually no penalty minutes.

            Anyway, You’d be drafting 13th today, but if the Flames finished 9th in the conference it might be closer to 15th overall. The Oilers could draft anywhere from 1st to 4th overall (barring lottery changes in either case) so there is still some time for teams to sort the order out. Minnesota is making a strong push for the second overall pick the way they are losing every game.

            Chances are that Calgary will find a defenceman at that draft position, or perhaps Galchenyuk, but I’m not convinced he makes it past Washington’s first round pick (12th effective today). I wouldn’t bet on finding another gem outside the top ten though.

            This draft really isn’t looking like anything spectacular. If the Flames were looking for defencemen specifically, then great, you’ll get one. But the forward group is less than spectacular and the best goalie is Malcolm Subban (P.K.’s brother) over whom I have heard some mixed reviews. Last year’s draft had some phenomenally creative talent available that fell because teams were looking for sure things and complete players.

            I would argue that for some teams drafting in between 5th and 11th, trading away their pick for a first rounder in next year’s or the 2014 draft might even be a decent gamble. Those appear to be interesting years and if the return were to include a roster player, then for a team interested in a quick turnaround the return might be worth it. That Colorado pick might be in play from Washington this year (currently 16th overall).

            I think you are probably right about finishing with the 11th overall pick. The teams ahead of you are at least holding their ground, while of the teams below you only Washington or Winnipeg, not both, appear to be ones that could make the jump overtop.

            The next few games might become less about the playoffs and more about the Flames draft position as far as some fans are concerned. I know I’ll be watching closely.

            Still wish they had traded and maneuvered for those five first round picks? I think that was your idea wasn’t it?

  • Flames weren’t going to keep winning forever.

    They remain a mediocre club, despite both the recent loss and, before that, winning streak. They were long shot for the playoffs before the game and a marginally longer shot now afterwards.

  • T&A4Flames

    Yea it sucks we lost to Edmonton. Yea it sucks we lost to the 29th placed team in the league. And yea, it sucks we Went from a chance to be 7th to 11th. We were going to lose at some point, as will the teams we are battling for a P.O. Spot with. We are still right there and I won’t give up hope yet.

    As for the Sutter comments, seriously, we are icing a little better than an AHL team right now and a still only a point back of 7th. You’ve got to give him a lot of credit.

  • RKD

    Realistically, we know the Flames aren’t going to win all the games down the stretch. There a going to be a few hiccups along the way.

    No one likes to lose to the Oilers, but they wanted it more. The Flames still have a tendency to play down to the level of their opponents. They can’t take Columbus lightly, if they come out like that again they will lose.

    Hey, in some sense if they can beat the Avs, Coyotes, Stars, Canucks they will be more battle-tested and playoff ready.

    SJ has 80 points in 70 games, means they are on pace for 94 points. If they win one of their games in hand, then they would be on pace for 95 points. If they win both then they would finish with 96 points. Phoenix is on pace for 92 points, Colorado is on pace for 91 points, LA is on pace for 92 points and Dallas is on pace for 95 points.

    The Flames are on pace for 91 points. At this rate they would miss the playoffs. However, if they can end up with 94 somehow they would have a much better shot of getting in. In the next 10 games they would have to go like 7-3-0, 6-2-2, 5-1-4, or 4-0-6. The way I see it with two games each against Colorado, Vancouver, and Dallas I would say those would have to be split. Those are your three losses. Somehow, the Flames will have to beat these team each once and then win out all the others.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    I would have a tough time taking Sarich out of the lineup should both of Brodie & Butler return, based on last night’s effort. I’ve liked his game lately playing with Bouwmeester. Still slow but Bouw helps cover for that. Tough decision for Brent coming up. Play 7 D maybe if there are still injured forwards?

    • T&A4Flames

      Yea, I agree on Sarich. One asset he has always had is his ability to to turn it up in the playoffs and the lead up to them. In fact, I would say he may be one of the few with that ability on this team. I’ll never forget that hit on Marleau a few years ago; a complete game changer. The year he played with a busted foot also shows his courage.

  • T&A4Flames

    As long as Calgary still has a chance I will be holding a midnight candle vigil. Asi see it another three wins in a row against weaker teams can make this a reality. Calgary has done an admirable job with the man games lost, no other team other then Pittsburg has even come close to Calgary in man games lost, and other then Sid, a big chunk of them being rookies. Calgary has shown that they can be competitive while rebuilding, and feasted deserves credit for the great moves he’s made; baertschi draft, jones trade, Derek smith sign, not going after carter, solidifying are goaltending for years with aquiring rights to khl goalie- best goalie outside NHL, not giving up on backlund, all while cleaning up shit heads mess(Sutter), hiring weisbrod- a smarter hockey man then himself. This team is in good hands and is never going to blow anything up, so buckle up for a piece by piece rebuild over the next two to three years.

  • beloch

    The Flames are a team that seems to need regular doses of humiliation to perform optimally. e.g. The Boston massacre and their previous trip to Edmonton.

    A part of me wishes they’d just hire a team dominatrix.

  • I don’t agree that were only icing a ahl team right now. the 1st two lines have been intact for a couple weeks now. The Flames have not relied on the 3rd and 4th lines for the majority of there scoring.

    Thats not an excuse. Sure Cammy was swapped out for Stajan, but this is the best he’s played in teh last two years of his life.

    I want the team to go in a new direction sooner rather than later. Baertschi is the first glimmer of hope I’ve seen that something great may be around the corner.

    Next year I hope we see changes with the club. and that doesn’t mean not signing Sarich or TK.