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.
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.
1. Josh Harding
2. Mikko Koivu
3. Dany Heatley
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.