Postgame: Slim Is Better Than None



A high-scoring affair in which the Flames were the better of the two teams meant a 5-4 win for the boys in red tonight, keeping alive whatever slim playoff aspirations they currently hold.

The Recap

Just an absolutely brutal goal started the game off tonight, as Jamie Benn continued his hot streak against the Flames less then 30 seconds into the game. Benn telegraphed the shot from the blue line and caught Miikka Kiprusoff swatting at it. No matter, however, as five minutes later Olli Jokinen would respond on the power play, putting a wrist shot past Kari Lehtonen to tie the game at one. Although there wouldn’t be any more action in terms of goals, it was still a high-event period-shots were 13-17 in favour of Dallas and the two teams tied in chances at 6 apiece.

Benn would score-again-in the first minute of the second, restoring the Stars’ two-goal lead. The goal was scored on a 3-1, directly resulting from an ill-advised Mark Giordano pinch. The Flames would pull even once again though as a beautiful pass from Mike Ribeiro (haha) was blasted past Lehtonen by Ol’ Stonehands himself, Blake Comeau for his fifth of the year. Less then a minute later, the Flames gained possesion in the offensive zone and Anton Babchuk ripped one towards the net. Lehtonen would stop the shot, but not the rebound as Mike Cammalleri was at the right place at the right time to put it into the mesh for his 17th of the season. Ribeiro would redeem himself and score the tying goal with 5:31 left in the period, but from there it was all Flames. Giordano scored his 9th of the year, which was also the Flames’ 2nd PP goal on the night and then Alex Tanguay would add another on the PP to end the period. Shots were 17-10 in favour of the Flames and the Flames outchanced the Stars by a healthy margin of 10-7.

The Stars would tighten Flames fans chests as Philip Larson would get his second of the season past Kiprusoff at 5:24. Kiprusoff would come up big for the Flames with 8 minutes left though, stopping Loui Eriksson on a break to keep the team up by one. The Flames would trade possession back and forth with the Stars and would hold onto the one goal lead with the 3rd line stifiling the late attempt by Dallas. Chances were 4-5 for the Stars, and shots were 5-12.

The Stars

1. Mike Cammalleri

2. Jamie Benn

3. Jarome Iginla

The Final

Not much else to say about this one except that the Flames came out and played like they still have a shot. I think it’s done, but if they intend to make make the dance, it was a good start tonight.

The Flames play next on Wednesday, as they welcome the Kings to the Dome. Game time is 730 Mountain, with coverage on TSN and FAN960.

  • RexLibris

    I’m guessing the responses here will be split between those who are upset that the team shows life after they are all but mathematically eliminated and wins enough to diminish their draft position and those who want to see the team win at all costs and still hold out hope for a playoff date.

    Just guessing.

    • SmellOfVictory

      You forgot about the ones who just can’t bring themselves to care, since the Flames have done this exact same thing three years running. Haha. If they draft high, great. If they make the playoffs, awesome. If they do neither, then all is as expected.

      • RexLibris

        Yeah, there does seem to be an awful lot of fatalism in the tap water in Calgary lately.

        I have imagined the Flames as a team almost like a hot air balloon. They are slowly descending towards the ground, all the while management have been tossing ballast overboard in a futile attempt to regain altitude.

        Arguably the worst thing for a sports team to receive from it’s fans is ridicule or indifference and it seems the Flames (management and some players) have the latter and are perilously close to attaining the former.

    • RexLibris

      Hey Rex. Wanted to get your opinion on the Oilers winning some games late. How are Oiler fans taking it?? Happy that the team is starting to click, or angry that they might end up lowering their draft position?

      • RexLibris

        The winning has been nice, actually. And this is from a fan who is committed to the long-term view of this rebuild, not the hurry-up-and-win group.

        Dubnyk has played well and is showing that he is taking more steps towards being a legitimate starting goaltender in this league. Smid and Petry are showing tremendously well and I think have solidified themselves as a 3-4 pairing on par with any other in the league. Petry may yet take another step and gadually reach the point of being a top-pairing defender to replace Ryan Whitney’s position there and allow him to slide down to the second pairing.

        The forwards are playing a more complete game, Nugent-Hopking and Eberle are competing and sometimes excelling against the opposition’s better lines now.

        Hall is out for the rest of the year to get shoulder surgery for an injury he first received in junior but that didn’t heal properly and was exacerbated by the Wilson hit in Colorado this year. I don’t consider it to be anything like an indication of his fragility. Shoulders that get surgically repaired virtually never become problems again and this is an injury that power forwards suffer.

        The winning has been more or less well-received because most fans here know that there need to be signs of success in the dressing room and if you are going to play your way out of a top three pick this would be a good year to do it.

        Truth be told, if the Oilers end up drafting 5th overall and walk away with Galchenyuk, Murray, Reinhart or Forsberg I’d be just fine with that.

        The first phase of the rebuild is more or less complete after this year. Next season they will probably end up drafting within the top ten and adding another complementary piece. The year after next though there will be tremendous pressure on this group and coaching staff to make the playoffs and either go to seven games or win a round or two.

        I saw on the FN chat last night that some suggested the Oilers would be remiss if they didn’t trade away their draft pick this year for a top-pairing defenceman. I disagree. This team is on a timeline to challenge in three years. Trading a top five pick (assuming the position) for a defenceman who is peaking now is paying a hefty price for a likely depreciating asset. In three years the Oilers will have more defencemen then they know what to do with and will need that depth for a playoff run. I understand the criticism from external sources, but coming from someone who has taken a very long and anxious look at the position of this team, I wouldn’t move that pick unless it was to move down, still grab a potential franchise defenceman and pick up a 2nd round pick to boot.

        Sorry for the length, but you probably expected that from me.

  • PrairieStew

    Does anyone else think if they had played this way against Edm, Columbus, Minni & Colorado we would have been in way better position to make the playoffs. Way better game.

    • Jeff Lebowski

      IF they had played this way against those teams we WOULD be in play-off spot. I still go back to that 6-1 debacle at home against Edmonton and the loss at Columbus as examples that there are issues with this team that need to be addressed in the off season (play-offs or not).

  • Jeff Lebowski

    I was at the game tonight. Although I was real happy to see the offense, the Flames didn’t play that well.

    Calgary is really tentative and make ill advised drop passes to no one in particular on many occasions.

    They are also slow to initiate contact in either zone.

    I just feel as though they aren’t letting things flow and just go. It seems they are thinking on the ice a lot. It’s strange to see this late in a season.

    I think Calgary is at their best when they are initiators of physical play. In fairness it did get better in that regard in the later parts of the game.

    I’m not optimistic they can get the lucky bounces and abundance of powerplays in upcoming games. From my vantage point, they won this game because of this.

    Babchuk was quite good tonight, in all areas. I especially liked his bombs devastating guys who tried to drop down and block it. He really opens guys up down low with the threat of his shot. Souray is similar for Dallas.
    The win is great but this was NOT a good game overall by Calgary. It got better but there are some big improvements needed.

    • Captain Ron

      Their habit of making those drop passes is really maddening, Joker and Tanguay are the worst offenders. I can’t believe they still do it over and over again without getting benched. They are so predictable too with that same play and it often causes an odd man rush the other way. Then crisis management defensive zone coverage is the result. The worst part is that either one of those two is capable of taking the puck much deeper into the safer areas of the offensive zone.

      As far as them thinking too much on the ice and not just letting things flow. This is something that has bothered me about this team as well and for a long time. They should not be doing that at this time of year. It is one of the reasons I’m really on the fence about keeping Brent Sutter. I have often wondered if Brent, and Darryl when he was here were such an intimidating presence that it is having a negative effect overall on the team. Its hard to explain but I really wonder what they would be like if they were a more confident and relaxed group that operated in a less fearful environment. I always get the impression that the management and coaches are too controlling in certain areas of their game. If that makes any sense.

      • Captain Ron

        Yeah, predictable is a pretty good description when they try to regroup & move the puck up the ice. On the other, the biggest difference on the power play was some one was actually parking themselves in front of the net & they were driving to the net in big massive scramble that generated rebounds, opportunities & 3 PP goals. When I say they played a better game, dont get me wrong, I dont see them as a playoff juggernaut.

    • Captain Ron

      Was at the game as well but I thought Babchuk was scary. Many terrible high risk passes that he was just lucky not to get burnt on. I thought they played a fairly consistent game & matched Dallas on possessions pretty good. There was a huge 3 minute stretch they pressed Dallas & 2 of the Dallas players were limping after blocking shots & we came close.Personally this was one of their better games in the last 10 games. I came away actually feeling they deserved the win tonight.

    • loudogYYC

      I was gonna mention the same thing on Overtime tonight had I stayed on hold a little longer.

      The tentativeness should be gone after 15-20 games and these clowns still have to think what to do next. I can accept that from Blake Comeau cuz he’s just a very limited player, but Iginla and company should be automatic right now. This is a huge focus problem and no coach seems to have the fix.

      My guess is it’s the captain. He’s not intense or disciplined enough (lazy) and everyone else follows suit.
      Look at Cammalleri or Giordano play when the game is on the line. Gio skates hard even when it looks he’s about to get creamed, all heart that guy.

      Nice to see your team win a tight game. But this “core” has to go. They’re not doing their careers any good, and their cap hits are so high that the team can’t do a whole lot either.

      • everton fc

        It will be an interesting off-season, as Feaster, whom I’m sure will retain his title, rebuild the coaching staff. This scares me… Unless he can poach a guy like Tippett.

        Then the draft… Which also scares me with Feaster and King at the helm.

        Comments the past few years have been the same – no heart, no killer instinct, inability to stay focused when they need to… Inability to score… Tenativeness… And so forth. It won’t change unless the organization – the owners – want and proceed to make radical changes from the President to the GM to the coach… cascading into the dressing room.

        I’d take a slightly above average player w/a strong, positive influence in the dressing room, supporting a strong, positive coach who’s not radically hard on the players, but who also takes no guff… than what we currently have.

        Who wouldn’t?


        As an aside, everytime I hear Bouwmeester interviewed, his aloofness bothers me. Does a lack of intensity in an interview, if that’s possible, make for the same in the dressing room? Shouldn’t this guy be one of our leaders?? To me, he seems very expendable, regardless of the minutes he plays…

        Just my opinion, of course. One of dozens. Hundreds.

        • T&A4Flames

          “As an aside, everytime I hear Bouwmeester interviewed, his aloofness bothers me. Does a lack of intensity in an interview, if that’s possible, make for the same in the dressing room? Shouldn’t this guy be one of our leaders?? To me, he seems very expendable, regardless of the minutes he plays…”

          Yea, but who do you replace him with? Aside from Suter, there aren’t really any 1st pairing defenders about to hit free agency.

          I think we should be looking to sign 2 top 4 guys like say Carle and Wideman. Move Bouw for a guy like Statsny (just and ex.). Then look to move our 1st rounder in 2013 for a good up & coming player. Maybe the rumors out of Montreal are true & they would consider moving Subban. I know, long shots but stranger things have happened.

          • PrairieStew

            Replacing Bouwmeester’s contribution might not be that hard, the trouble is he could be be better. He has played most of the season as a right side defenseman because Butler Gio, Smith, Brodie are all lefties too ( Hannan, also a leftie has played most of the year on the right side). Bouw has done OK, but I think he would be better on the left side. Getting a decent right hand shot guy should be the priority which is why Wideman would be an option. I also wonder if Columbus would deal Wisnewski (Stajan ?)

            Nashville still hasn’t signed Shea Weber. If they are looking to keep a top 4 guy, and want to spend 2 to 3 million less than Weber going to ask for, then a trade for Jay makes some sense. ( Ya, I know – dreaming…)

        • PrairieStew

          “It will be an interesting off-season, as Feaster, whom I’m sure will retain his title, rebuild the coaching staff. This scares me… Unless he can poach a guy like Tippett.”

          I keep hearing this Tippett stuff. Rumors are Edm won’t resign Renney. In that case, which team do you think Tippett picks?? Ummmm… lets see.

          Edmonton has a gazillionaire owner whose team is his pet project and can (will) pay whatever he wants for a coach. We have… well we know what we have in the front office/ownership.

          Secondly, they have an exciting team with tons of potential just ready to burst out. We have a bunch of aging stars on the decline and are likely just starting a long, painful 3-5 year rebuild which will really really suck.

          I know where I bet Tippett will go. Same for UFAs this summer. Why would any come here? I honestly can’t say I ever felt we were at a disadvantage in the “don’t want to go there” factor. We always knew the Flames were a desirable place to play, good organization etc (or we thought so anyways)…. Its sad.

          Dreaming of Parise and Tippett is ridiculous, those guys are going to screen their calls if the Flames call. Its time to face the facts, trade the ‘core’ and get on with building our pride back up properly through drafting and developing some new young talent which is going to be slow and extremely painful, but likely won’t piss me off as much as watching this group of misfits.

          • PrairieStew

            Really think its pointless to talk about where free agents like Parise, Weber & Suter or any other big name player will sign between Edm or Calgary. These players will go where the culture of the City, proximity to family & coaching staff & other players. It’s a multi variant thing. Parity has made it a fine line between winning & losing in this cap NHL & doesnt matter Oilers owner is a gazillionaire. Just because Oilers have a few nice rookies that are poised to have great careers ahead of them does not equate that future UFA’s & coaches are flocking to Edmonton over Calgary in the next few years. Thing is, with Edmonton hitting great on these young kids, they will be scrambling to keep their players versus worrying about attracting UFA’s. They wont have the $$$ to throw around signing plum UFA’s. Dont forget Lowe did his share of offer sheets to unsigned RFA’s & I see Oilers being targetted in the next few years. Thats not a negative, people complain about paying taxes & I always say, if I’m making enough to complain about paying, thats a very good thing.

          • RexLibris

            I agree with you that it is both too early and too unpredictable to predict UFA signings (be they as coaches or players). There is nothing to suggest that a free agent would be more or less interested in signing in either Edmonton or Calgary based solely on the roster or ownership. Certainly it has some bearing, but often free agents will choose for entirely individual reasons, be it winning immediately, money, lifestyle, anonymity. Kurtis Foster chose to sign in Edmonton because his daugther was born with a serious illness and the Stollery gave he and his wife peace of mind. Bouwmeester chose Calgary in part because it was close to family but not Edmonton (it has been stated that he does not wish to play in his hometown because of the pressure and intense focus, and rightly so).

            As for Tippett, I believe his reticence in re-signing with Phoenix might have more to do with the chance of the team moving to Quebec City in the off-season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go back to Phoenix, but perhaps he’ll have a clause in his contract that give him an out if the team is relocated.

            One point I have to disagree with you on though (you knew that was coming) is the idea that the Oilers will be capped out trying to retain all our talent. I’ve heard this a few times from Flames fans here and on FN chat.

            I think some of you are overestimating the level of our talent. Pittsburgh has paid through the nose for some of the league’s top talent and kept together a core for several years now. Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins can all be signed for long-term deals and maintain a manageable cap hit. Our current cap situation is inflated by two contracts: Smyth and Horcoff. Hall and Eberle will likely be re-signed for somewhere in the 5 to 6 million range for a long term deal. Nugent-Hopkins may be in the same ball park and for perhaps a longer term (centres are always so valuable).

            Paajarvi isn’t going to demand a huge payout and Dubnyk is likely looking at an increase to the 2 million range next season. Petry may eventually move up to the 4 million range and after that the rest are really mostly prospects or support guys and so they will be scaled in accordingly.

            I’m not saying that there won’t be attrition from their current group, there always is. But it isn’t as though we have young players who are so far ahead of the other top-end stars of the league that they will demand more than Stamkos or Crosby. The kids are good, but they aren’t that good.

            I’m absolutely in agreement with you on the taxes angle. If you can complain about paying taxes, you’re obviously making enough money to pay taxes.

          • RexLibris

            Just saying when you have all the high end picks you see coming close to hitting potentials, chances are your team wont be so focused on UFA’s but making sure you fit your own high end prospects into the cap. From what I see, you will have at least 3-4 that will command 6.0mill, thats a big chunk of the cap.

            Another note are you concerned Hall is out 5-6 months, so 2 consecutive years very long term injuries so young? He’s a great player but he really plays reckless not smart like gretz used to play.

          • RexLibris

            Looking at Pittsburgh as a comparison, and taking into account that we have nowhere near their level of talent, Malkin and Crosby are commanding league-high salaries at $8.7 per year (million is implied), Fleury at $5, then Staal at $4 and Letang at $3.5 for their drafted and developed stars. They have sunk another $9 into free agents Martin and Z. Michalek to round out their roster.

            Hall, Eberle and RNH I’m guessing will be somewhere closer to the Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan line with perhaps a bit more. I don’t disagree with your assessment that the three might average out to about $6 million each a season, but that only makes it $18 million out of a cap that could fluctuate anywhere from $60 to $70 million and forwards are almost always the highest paid positions as teams are structured today.

            The defensive core that is coming along likely won’t have anyone making more than $5 million and the team doesn’t appear to have a goaltender that would command more than $4 million a season, yet both are areas that have some potential with the defense predicting to be fairly strong and deep.

            A UFA ought to be a cap stone in your team structure. For too long the Oilers tried to make that the cornerstone and it always failed. That is also why I have been skeptical about some Flames fans who argue that Parise should play the same role for Calgary. Go ahead and try it, but I don’t hold out hope for him being a significant solution to their current problems.

            The team will likely make a few deals to move pieces (Omark and Paajarvi are the two most often mentioned right now) to bring in complementary players and eventually a UFA or two will be courted. But it has also been shown that some players will take a contract that fits a team’s cap structure if it gives them a reasonably good chance at winning a Cup. Time will tell, but the cap is honestly the least of my worries about this team right now.

            Not really concerned about Hall, to be honest. This shoulder has apparently been a nagging injury since junior that never seemed to go away after rest and physio in the off season. So, you get it fixed and rehabilitate. It will affect his season early next year as his strength training will have to wait, but once repaired shoulders virtually never have other complications. Last year’s injury was a high-ankle sprain. Those happen all the time and are in no way an indication of how Hall plays.

            Hall actually has a tremendous resilience and flexibility when taking hits and to some extent it has given him a false sense of security. That being said, he is learning what he can and cannot do at the NHL level, no different than most new players. I’ve seen similar recklessness in Ovechkin, Crosby, Staal, and many others. His game will adapt and he’ll probably become a savvier player, though perhaps never be considered a “smart” or “crafty” player. If there is one word to describe Hall, for those who don’t see him play as often or can only read about his games, it would be emotional. He is a very emotional player and that is where he’ll need to learn the most.

            Hall is more like Glenn Anderson or Mark Messier than any of the other 80s Oilers. His emotional leadership and drive are similar to Messier, and I don’t make these comparisons lightly so don’t take this as fanboy hyperbole, and his skating is as kamikaze-esque as Anderson. As Hall gets older and enters his peak in another two years his skating and driving to the net is likely going to start scaring goaltenders and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the league made some adjustments to how officials call net-crashing in part due to he, Landeskog, and some others.

            There was some talk after Elliot Friedman tweeted today about Matt Duchene being unhappy in Colorado that the Oilers should call Greg Sherman and inquire. I’m curious, from a Flames fan’s perspective, what do you think about that. The offers being kicked around were Gagner and Musil or maybe Pitlick or Hamilton for Duchene.

            Keep in mind, Sherman dealt Stewart and Shattenkirk for Johnson and Jay McClement, so the guy has been known to make some rash decisions.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    @Kevin R: This is the conundrum of being a Flames fan lately. It’s almost like being a Leafs fan. The team should be good enough to eke into the playoffs, but it doesn’t. The team isn’t bad enough to get a lottery pick. (But at least the Flames didn’t trade away their only lottery pick in years, and help a hated division rival win the Stanley Cup in the process.)

    @Chris: I see I’m not the only one who posts under this alias.

    The other teams in the playoff race conspired to give the Flames the optimal results tonight. So we’re still in this, no matter how low the odds. Here’s hoping St. Louis wins a couple so the Canucks have no motivation when we play them.

  • loudogYYC

    ok so whats the parade route? just listened to everyones favourite reporter eric francis on the fan toronto. he sure has a man crush on butta, claims he is a great coach when it comes to the kids, and that butta is so successful running multi million dollar businesses that he realy doesnt care about coaching the flames, but he is a sutter so he does care about the flames. its the same old rerun for three years, the spin has begun, the flames are so close to being an elite team feaster and king can almost taste it. whats the tragic number today?

    • everton fc

      Yes, he does have a big ol’ man crush on Butter.

      So much so that he’s willing to misinform (or at least underinform) his readers with partial information. He had a real gem in the Sun yesterday. He claimed that Butter was completely justified in his irrational shootout choices because the guys he replaced (Jokinen & Iginla apparently) have the same career success rate as the guys he used in their stead (Stempniak & Stajan)…

      Of course he neglected to mention that 90% of their combined shootout attempts were made by Stempniak (and consequently that Stajan has a pitiful sample size to add into that) and he neglected to mention that Iginla drags down Jokinen’s shootout % numbers if you “pool” them (which I assume was his intent in pooling them in the first place). He made zero mention of Tanguay’s exclusion nor the other boneheaded shooter choice Comeau nor of Jones near non-existent shootout experience.

      It was just about the most nakedly obvious (at least to me) agenda driven “fact” presentation I’ve ever seen. Completely meant to manipulate the views of any of his readers that don’t fact check his statements… Disgraceful.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Eric Francis is no better than a message board troll. Ignore him and he will go away.

    And if he doesn’t, like Grapes doesn’t, at least you get the benefit of not listening to him.

  • Decent game to watch. A few turn overs meant some scoring chance going both ways. I enjoy watching these higher scoring games alot more than the 1-0 snoozers. However, this does remind me of the last, what, 3-4 years? Get close and then fall off the map when it matters the most. Too bad the Flames didn’t play like this all year, I guess “every game does not matter”.

  • PrairieStew

    On Dallas second goal, Giordano’s pinch was ill advised; ill advised because Mark should have looked up and seen #20 as his covering winger. Instead of backing him up Glencross skated pretty circles in the centre of the ice, eventually running in to his own player and allowing the 3 on 1.

    On the third goal, on 4 on 4 we had another forward who decided he should remain in motion rather than stop in front of the net and play defence. Reminds me of Torterella on 24/7 this year giving it to Gaborik “Are you gonna bleepity bleep stop on one tonight?” I think he was talking about the offensive zone, but the message is the same, being committed means more stops and starts and not high speed circles.

  • PrairieStew

    There is no point in the Flames ‘playing for draft status’ now. The top 10 spots are pretty well locked in unless the Flames lose all 5 and multiple teams win all 5-6 games left. They’re locked in to 11-14 if they miss the playoffs.