Postgame: Mass Hysteria



The main narrative in the coming days (besides the unlikeliness of the Flames making the playoffs) will be the debate over Brent Sutter’s job; and with good reason. An absolutely childish pair of decisions in the shootout were one of the many culprits in the Flames’ 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

The Recap

For the most part in the opening frame, there was nothing doing for either team-the only chance of note was an early oppourtunity for ex-Calgary emergency call up Warren Peters off a pass from Jed Ortmeyer. The Flames were managing to push the puck the right way, however, as Josh Harding was busy in the first. Harding had a couple difficult points where he struggled to control the puck-likely rust from yet another recent injury-caused layoff. The Flames did finish off the period strong with a pressure-heavy power play that led to Lee Stempniak’s 13th goal of the season with just over a minute left. The Flames grossly outshot the Wild (17-4), but were somehow outchanced in the period, 4-3.

Anton Babchuk got his first of the year after the Wild took a double minor (courtesy of Olli Jokinen’s face) to start the period. Just 10 seconds into that double minor, the Wild would add more to that penalty situation as Nate Prosser decided to play a little catch with the referee. Babchuk potted the aforementioned goal with 30 seconds left in the first half of the 4 minute penalty to put the Flames up two. Dany Heatley would pull the Wild within one when he unleashed a pretty wicked one-timer into the back of the net for the Wild’s first goal of the game-on the PP, to boot-at 8:36. The Wild reeled the game in a little towards the end of the period, outshooting the Flames 12-9 and outchancing them 10-9.

If you could personify “meh”, it would take the form of the third period. The first ten “exciting” minutes resulted in a grand total of 5 shots and 2 chances, rendering it nigh unwatchable. The action would pick up a little late on, however, as Minnesota would start to push against the shell, breaking it at 12:23 as Darroll Powe would redirect a weak goal past Kiprusoff to tie the game at two. That score would hold true the rest of the way, as the two teams would go to overtime. The Wild dominated in shots and chances, winning both by respective counts of 12-3 and 6-2.

In overtime, EVERYTHING WAS HAPPENING. Giordano hit the inside of a post, Matt Cullen missed a wide open net, Cal Clutterbuck tripped on a breakaway…just a horribly nerve-wracking five minutes, but no one was able to bulge the twine.

The shootout was horrific. More on that below.

The Stars

1. Josh Harding

2. Mikko Koivu

3. Dany Heatley

The Final

First, let me start off by saying that the game was not simply lost because of poor decisions in the shootout. No, a horrible effort in the last 30 minutes in which the Flames sat back-like they always do-started the downfall, as it allowed the Wild to tie the game and allow it to go to a shootout. Saying that, however…

The shootout is a self-contained skills competition. The rest of the game has no bearing on the result of it; unless there was an injury that hampered a shooter or goaltender. To not use your most skilled players in a skill competition is absurd. This team still thinks it can make it to the playoffs; whether or not we (as fans) agree with that is irrelevant. The people in the organization have said that in both private and in public. Thus, it makes little to no sense as to why Blair Jones and Blake Comeau were out there when you have 3, 4, 5 other guys on the bench who are better with the puck then those two. If players were sat to teach them a “lesson”, that’s stupid. Why would anyone ever want to lower their chances of winning?

Anyways, the Flames probably need 9 or 10 points to make the playoffs. They play next on Saturday against the Stars. Game time is 12 Mountain on FAN 960 and some television station that is unknown.

  • Scott

    The game: Sutter could have played glencross more but didn’t to teach him a lesson about taking a bad penalty. That’s on Sutter. Glen x has the second most goals on the team, give it a break.

    The shootout: Sutter again teaching lessons teached the “How to lose” lesson by sending out plugs to score on a “skill” comp. Petty, immature and amatuer. After the first three he could have sent Jokinen out, who is actually pretty good at these but didn’t try to help a player in a funk, he instead whipped him for it.

    This was the one game I can say Sutter looked unraveled, broken, frustrated and bad at his job. This loss IMO was for the most part a result of coaching.

    The rest of the season?? Well if you take the last three seasons and see that Sutter’s record now is 115 wins in 239 games and no playoffs tells you regardless of his coaching and your opinion he’s done.

    • T&A4Flames

      “The game: Sutter could have played glencross more but didn’t to teach him a lesson about taking a bad penalty. That’s on Sutter. Glen x has the second most goals on the team, give it a break.”

      Sorry Sane, I have to disagree. That is on GlenX. That’s 2 stupid penalties in this charge to make the playoffs that cost this team points. I love GlenX but he isn’t that different from Bourque in that respect; dumb penalties at bad times.

      As for Joker, just like I said with Iggy earlier in this thread, he wasn’t hitting the net all game either. So why put him out in the shoot out.

  • @Tommy Gunn

    I partially agree with you, you can’t solely point the finger at Sutter and the other coaches.. but you have to ask yourself if he is doing his job.. Not playing your best forwards in a shoot out in a must win game, or starting your #1 goalie… questions must be raised… even if they have had limited success on the shootout, that’s what they are paid for!

  • Bottom line is players should respond to the coach… you don’t mold your team around the coach, or a system! Look at how St. Louis and Anaheim turned there seasons around. Yes sometimes the coach is the scapegoat.. but when you look at the changes that the Flames have made to the Roster, it seems they are building the team around Sutter.. time for a different approach.

  • Scott

    Re: The shootout selection

    I’m very surprised at the outrage at the selection of players in the shootout, Tangs had 1 goal in the shootout this year, why send him out there? I think it was good to try some new players at the shootout, maybe not all 4 new guys, i liked Stempniak and Stajan getting a shot, and comeau I am okay with. In my mind, when it came to the 4th round still tied, thats when you go with a leader and a scorer.

    Listening to sportsnet yesterday, and how Doug Maclean related not playing Iggy in the shootout was like not playing Gretzky in Nagano made me laugh. What a poor analogy.

    • everton fc

      You shouldn’t be… Tanguay and Joker both have above average career S% in the shootout. Sure tangs hasn’t been good at in his opportunities this year (Joker’s been good though) but his opportunities this year constitute such a small sample size so as to be functionally irrelavent. Truthfully, career marks are also SSS but they’re still the more valid of the two. I was fine with using Stempniak but Stajan and Jones (to say nothing of Comeau)should not have been anywhere near the top of the shootout order.

      Also, Doug Maclean related not playing Iggy in the shootout was like not playing Gretzky is not a poor analogy. It’s actually very apt. Neither Gretzky nor Iginla consider the shootout to be an aspect of the game in which they consider themselves proficient (Iginla has said so in interviews and Gretzky said so in his biography IIRC). That’s not to say that I think Iginla should have shot in the first three but I’d have put him (along with many others) out there before Jones & Comeau at the very least.

      Butter was being stupid. Flat out terrible choice on his part. I think that decision (especially in lieu of the reported shouting match with Feaster afterwards) sealed his fate if it wasn’t sealed already.

      • everton fc

        How is a one game shot at an Olympic gold the same as a regular season game in the NHL?

        And how is not letting some of your top players who aren’t getting the job done in regular time, OT or SO for the last while the same as not letting the greatest player of all time shoot?

        Everyone complains about using the same guys, evryone complains when it’s mixed up.

        Everyone complains Kipper is overplayed, everyone complains when he sits.

        Stajan has been re hot lately and deserved a shot. Stempniak can score and did so his first game back. Did I agree with Jones and Comeau? No, I’d have done something differnt, but I don’t blame Brent for mercifully allowing us not having to watch Iginla, Tanguay, Glencross and Jokinen come in and so the same lame move again.

        • RexLibris

          The Nagano comparison is ridiculous. It is hyperbole and, frankly, while I have never liked Crawford as a coach, Gretzky had a very poor historical record on shootouts.

        • RexLibris

          “How is a one game shot at an Olympic gold the same as a regular season game in the NHL?”

          The venue and stakes of the game are irrelavent, it’s the situation and circumstances that matter… You have two players (Gretzky & Iginla) both considered the best player on their team at least by reputation, you have a shootout situation, the two players have both publically acknowledged in the past that they are not good at the shootout, you have a coach who doesn’t put them in, you have a loss. Frankly, I don’t see how anyone can NOT see the two situations as similer. I don’t even think not using them (both Gretzky then and Iginla now) was the wrong call but the situation is absolutely similer. If you want to get on MacLean for insinuating that it was the wrong call, sure I’d buy that, but don’t get on him for comparing the two because they ARE very comparable.

          “Everyone complains about using the same guys, evryone complains when it’s mixed up.”

          I know I’ve never complained about the usual guys (Joker + Tangs + Other). I don’t know where this “everyone” is coming from. I’m not even sure “most” people complain about using the usual guys let alone “everyone”.

          The smart money is always on playing for favorable probability and the best probability choice based on career totals last night was Tanguay, Joker, Stempniak I’m not sure who I’d have gone with as the #4 shooter but it sure as hell wouldn’t have been Comeau.

          • RexLibris

            Well everyone that writes articles on hockey sites including FN & most posters whine about the fact the points we have lost because we cant seem to win a shootout seems to me an idictment of the player selection & the fact we are outside looking in. Brent chose to try something different.

            I would imagine Feaster was politely asking Brent why he went with the shooters he did & they discussed it. I think B Sutter could care lees about a contract extension at this point.
            He could question Brent all he wants but I do recall Feaster having a similar meltdown on our usual pisspoor effort, you know “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”,
            I wonder what the next saying is on that, “Fool me 3 times & I’m a flicking idiot”.

          • Captain Ron

            No, they’re not irrelavent. Loosely associated circumstances and completely different situation. Gretzky never missed the shootout 4 times in a row during the Olympics.

            0-for-12 is smart money? Glad you’re my financial advisor.

            From the Herald:

            Feaster acknowledged that it had been his decision to keep Sutter away from reporters after the outburst.

            While that may have shielded the coach from a barrage of immediate criticism, Feaster applauded the shootout shakeup.

            “It’s Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results,” said Feaster. “We were bordering on insanity in terms of what we were trying to do in the shootout. We kept using the same guys over and over and over, and we were get-ting the same results.”

            Feaster noted that in the four previous shootouts – all losses – the big three of Olli Jokinen, Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay had combined for 0-for-12.

            Meaning Matt Stajan, Lee Stempniak, Blair Jones and Blake Comeau got turns Thursday. None converted.

            “I don’t think one of the top guys – not one of them – said, ‘Oh boy, I’m upset,’ or, ‘I wonder why he’s not going with me,’ ” said Feaster. “I think we would have been remiss if we hadn’t changed it up.”

            It should be noted that Tanguay, because of an unspecified injury, had been unavailable.

            “Tangs is one of the best in the game,” said Sutter. “I would use Tangs most of the time in a shootout because he’s very gifted at doing that. But he informed me, at that point in time, that he couldn’t do it.”

            Read more:

  • I wonder what Flames ownership thinks of the public spectacle that followed the game.

    ~Can we expect a Ken King “explanation” of the events?~


    Just when u thought it couldn’t get any worse, the teams off ice “leadership” goes all sandbox, in another teams barn.

    Dear Murray Edwards:


  • Super_Gio

    No matter what Sutter does he will be largely criticized. I honestly don’t see ANY coach doing any better with this lifeless squad.
    I’m surprised they didn’t loose in regulation as that 3rd period was brutal.

  • Super_Gio

    So now, it’s time to trade Iggy. Your gonna get what?
    Maybe a late first round pick?
    How about Kipper?
    Same thing.

    You know that desert that Edmonton has been in for the last 6 years?
    Ya… They’ll be holding the door open for you and ripping up your map as you enter.

    Gonna be some long cold winters in cow town for the next decade.
    Well.. There’s always polishing up the belt buckles and two steppin with the fat girls chicks that are way hotter then the ones in deadmonton, huh?

  • RexLibris

    I can’t wait for this team to go 0-0-82 next season and for the powers that be to talk about how they were “in every game”.
    I have had enough and fully believe the owners need to be called out here. This is not to say they dont spend the money or are greedy, but I fully believe that somehow the goal of winning a Stanley Cup is about priority number 48 un their list of things to do. (Well behind their sellout streak and havin Jarome come to their grandkids birthday parties) At some point I think that group has to sell or become more centrated into one or two individuals who have a big stake in the teams success. The fact that they have employed a used car salesman like Ken King for so long says all we need to know about them…Too cowardly to make any kind of tough decision.

  • Captain Ron

    The fantasy is Yzerman as GM.

    Tippett as coach.

    Ken King gone as President.

    However the reality is that the drafting and development by the Flames from 1996 until the last two drafts have been abysmal. Whether it is Coates, Sutter, or Button, they failed miserably to draft a legitimate # 1 center.

    Sutter was lucky Kipper panned out. The best draft prospect the Flames have drafted from 2000 to 2009 was a dman who somewhere along the way forgot how to play the game. Oh yeah, we had another who didn’t want to be here.

    While the scouting department will take the majority of blame for poor drafting, ultimately it is the GM who gets paid to make the final decision. The GM is in place for one sole purpose, to build and make the team better.

    The question I have is “Can Feaster draft a #1 center?”