POST GAME: You’re Going to Need A Bigger Boat


The stage was set. The Dome was packed and as the season opening video hit the jumbotron, it was enough to rile fans into a steady buzz. Armed with as many light-sticks as you could hold, when the music hit, the frenzy was too much to contain, and the fans were alive, and it felt like home again.

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Needless to say, the events of the last four months were long forgotten, and all was forgiven.

As I sat in my seat, the fans all around were already beginning the season’s first pool. Who would score the Calgary’s first goal of the season? With names flying around, one fan made mention that Glencross was the odds on favorite since he had done it twice before andnow he was playing with Iggy and Tanguay. That seemed enough to convice the undecided in the area.

With a grin on my face, I turned to the gentleman and said, "My money’s on Backlund this year."

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The one thing we were all hoping to see, what the Flames needed to have to set the stage for this season, was a fast start. Well the fans weren’t going to be disappointed. The Flames came out looking sharp and determined to set the pace.

Calgary immediately took the play to the Sharks. It looked like the high tempo, skill-oriented drills were coming to life in a game situation. Moving their feet and making that first good pass out of their zone, kept the Sharks on their heels and in most cases hemmed in their own zone. It seemed like it was only going to be a matter of time before the Flames put one in the back of net.

While many were waiting with baited breath to see how the captain would perform, it was Mikael Backlund that answered the bell. Backs came out looking like the #1 Centre we had all dreamed about; he was literally everywhere when his line was on the ice. The BBC (Baertschi, Backlund, Cammalleri) line drove the play, set up chances and the energy they brought to and from the bench set the example as to how the rest of the team played.

So who had Lee Stempniak in the first goal pool? Well when Martin Havlat took a penalty at the mid-point of the period it seemed possible for Glencross to tally the first goal yet again when he came out with Iggy and Cammalleri, while Tangs and Wideman manned the point for the first unit. When that didn’t pay off, out came Back’s line. Controlling the play in the Sharks zone, he dished the puck to Bouwmeester and went right for the net. Jay made a nice touch-pass to Stempniak, and he made no mistake; putting it past Niemi with a laser of a shot. Calgary out-shot San Jose 16-9 and it was 1-0 for the good guys.

The second period was un-eventful for the first half, both sides missing on a power-play each. At 13:45 though Chris Butler took a roughing penalty trying to remove Logan Couture from the side of Kipper’s crease. On the PP, Joe Thornton would steal the puck from Giordano behind the Flames net and feed a backhand pass to Patrick Marleau. An open Marleau in front of the net meant it was a tie game.

That seemed to be a big turning point in the game. At 15:05, Kipper would mis-handle Boyle’s shot from the point. Martin Havlat was waiting just off his left pad (how many times have Flames fans seen that?), and promptly deposited the bobbled puck behind Miikka. Then, at 18:10, Marleau would again be left open at the side of Kiprusoff’s net, needless to say, in just over four minutes of play, it was 3-1 for the bad guys. The sharks really took the play to the Flames in all areas and it showed, out-shooting them 14-4 in the second frame.

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Behind the eight ball, the Flames came out with some push back in the third period. In fact they out shot the Sharks 7-0 to start the final frame, yet they couldn’t get the puck past Niemi. The Sharks seemed quite content to just hold on to the two goal lead and let the Flames fight their way into frustration. And that they did. At 16:13, Matt Stajan took a hooking penalty, which forced the PK to eat up valuable time, when the Flames had started to put some pressure on. After killing that off, frustration turned to collapse. At 18:36 Curtis Glencross would go to the box for tripping Havlat, and before they could even announce it, Baertschi was right behind him, tagged with holding. o.O

The full two minute two man advantage led to the goal from Dan Boyle, and that was the end of the home, and season, opener folks.


The Flames have a new "Hardest Player Award" this year; it’s a firefighters helmet. While the Flames spent the last two periods acting like fighters trying to put out fires, in the first, they were red hot.

Kipper played flawless for the first half of the game. The captain led the team with six shots on the night, but right behind him was Mikael Backlund with four. However, along with those four shots, he directly set up Baertschi for another two and was the catalyst in many of the Flames breakouts or movement into the offensive zone.

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With that, I’m going to go with Backlund for the first game. Like I said, he was out there doing something every shift. He drove the play and created opportunities, even having a few near misses himself. At one point, he was like a beast behind the Sharks net, battling for the puck and dishing a beauty of a pass to Baertschi, which he put off the post.

Backs showed that he wanted to be a leader in this game and when the number one unit missed on the PP opportunity, he came in and helped the second unit get the job done. For a period when almost every line was greeted with ovations as they returned to the bench, Mikael’s fire burned the hottest.


We all know that it’s only game one right? So there is no need to bash the hell out of the panic button just yet. 

The Flames played a first period that was almost exactly as what is designed for them to have success this year. Unfortunately, the Flames of last year showed up for the second period. You remember them right? Score one goal, then hold on for dear life and hope Kipper is perfect! *HeadShake* Instead, what was all to familiar to fans last year, reared it’s ugly head and the outcome??? All too predictable.

Some notes on the game. Alex Tanguay appeared to struggle in his first game as a centre. Asst. Coach Martin Gelinas said after the game that there were going to be some growing pains, but that Alex is a smart player and he’ll find his way soon. Let’s hope so Marty! Also I found it odd when I got to the Dome, to find out both Brodie and Jones were sitting in favour of  ohhh say Begin and either Sarich or Smith. Though Begin was doing what they wanted him to do by getting in the middle of things with the Sharks, I expect Jones will draw into the line-up tomorrow. Jones is one of their better face-off centres and I have a feeling they will want him over the dot to go face to face with Ryan Getzlaf.

Tomorrow is a new day and with that a new opponent. The Anaheim Ducks are next on the dance card, and after seeing what they did to the Canucks in their opener, Calgary had better  be prepared to get in the early habit of playing 60 bloody minutes.

  • Truculence

    (warning: I just posted this on the last article before this one cropped up)

    Well, it`s only the first game, but a few things stuck out to me:

    1. Hartley may tout a up-tempo, strong forchecking game, but the Flames don`t have the firepower to outscore the likes of the Sharks and the other top-tier teams. Defense was sorely lacking in the second, and showed the glaring weaknesses of the Flames -i.e. no power-to-power options capable of winning the possession game and a dearth of size to consistently win the battles along the boards.

    2. Baetrchi obviously has some skill, but his defensive zone coverage and puck pressure in the Flames`end was non-existant. He was consistently waiting for someone else to go steal or battle for the puck, so that hopefully they could break out the other way.

    3. Backlund has really gained confidence. He vindicated his first-round draft pedigree tonight.

    4. The Flames were real rusty – a corollary of the fact that a majority of the Flames players did nothing but engage in low-tempo practice for the majority of the lock-out.

    5. Hartley really likes the vets, cuz there was absolutely no reason Sarich or Smith should have been playing instead of Brodie, who is prolly the most fit and ready at this point.

    I know it`s only one game, but I believe the Flames will be out of the playoff picture by late-February. Hard-nosed, young teams with a plethora of skilled players in the mould of the Kings and Blues will be the juggernaughts of the west, followed by well-balanced teams like the Canucks and Blackhawks (I know the Canucks are`nt off to a good start, but they`ll make the big show. And if Kesler returns by then, they`ll be a contender.)

    The Flames are neither: they are not a highly-skilled, fast team, nor are they a physical, defensive menace. They`re just an assortment of a few promising rookies, a few over-the-hill stars, but mostly mediocre players.

    It`s gonna be a long three months.

    • loudogYYC

      I agree with most of what you’re saying, except for maybe being out of the picture in late February. Their mediocre setup will ensure that they always look like they’re halfway there. More than likely the Flames will have a mathematical chance at the playoffs at trade deadline time. I’d like nothing more than for it to be painfully obvious that they’re out and have to start collecting assets, but that’s not Murray Edwards’ style.

    • Vintage Flame

      Let’s take a look at your points…

      1. Yeah the defense was lacking in the second, but so was a lot of things compared to the first. Plain and simple the Flames stopped moving their feet half way through the game and it cost them… again. When they stopped moving their feet, they got lazy and turned the puck over instead of generating turn overs from the Sharks. Once that tide turned, they were over their head in the deep end… You know what happens when your over your head with Sharks around (Really bad analogy).

      2. Sven seems to take his lead on the play from Backlund. There were a few times when he broke out of the zone on his own and was able to spring Mike from some nice drives to the net, but for the most part, Backs was driving the boat tonight.

      3. Relates back to point #2, but yup. Backlund is playing with a lot of jump and it’s reflecting in his play. He was battling behind the net and along the boards and was able to generate some nice scoring chances. It’s a shame Sven rang it off the post instead of burrying it when Mike made a nice play to get it to him from behind the net.

      4. I think the team got frustrated that they only came out of the first period with one goal. When they came out for the second, they seem to press what was working and then reverted to old habits when Niemi stood tall.

      … Basically, they got off the game plan, and the Sharks took advantage of it. Had they stayed with the plan, they had San Jose reeling, cause it looked like they just couldn’t skate with Calgary.

      5. I have no idea why Brodie wasn’t playing tonight.. I’m stunned, just like you. I could understand Begin being in tonight clearly for the sole purpose of getting to guys like Ryan Clowe. Clowe is a killer when he’s on his game, but he is also easily agitated. So if they could get him off his game, it’s one less thing they have to worry about.

  • Nice VF! I just about peed myself when I saw the Title & picture of this one. It’s one game but boy, after that 1st period, this was last year all over again. Thing is, in all these NHL games this week end, one obvious thing comes out as a pretty common theme, the guys that played during the lockout looked way better throughout the whole game. So what do we freaking do, we sit out probably the best defenceman in our rotation. We have no grit, so lets sit out Jones. Maybe someone should have showed Hartley the friggin video of Jones last Feb just before he got injured & he got under the skin of that whole San Jose team. Then I know Kent will berate me but I dont care, I want to see Akim Aliu out there & lets see if he can rise to the occasion because it cant get much worse than those 2nd & 3rd periods. I suggest moving Glencross to the Backlund & Baerstche line & put Cammi between Iggy & Tanguay. Then I would put Hudler with Cerevenka & Stempniak & Jones with Jackman & Comeau (I know Akim wont be brought up:-(

    Yes its one game but I see a 2011-12 dejavu start.

    • Vintage Flame

      I suggest moving Glencross to the Backlund & Baerstche line & put Cammi between Iggy & Tanguay. 

      One interesting fact, is that when you look at the game sheet, Cammalleri was on the Backlund line but didn’t register a shot. It was suggested on the post game xshow on the fan that Cammalleri might have been the “forgotten man” on the line.

      I’s apparent that Baertschi and Backlund have some chemistry and so they tend to look for eachother. There were a few times that Cammy looked a bit frustrated going back to the bench, and later in the game Horak was on the ice with Mike and Sven. So there may be something to that.

      It was suggested that we might see some line juggling against Anaheim, so you might get your wish Kevin.

      • Michael

        I think one thing not to ignore is that Backlund & Baertschi both had their game legs because they played during the lockout. Cammi didnt & Cammi was just trying to keep up with these kids instead of trying to inject creativity into the line.With the importance of quick starts, again, what a horrendous decision to sit Brodie. Hate to say it, but I think it’s going to take 6-8 games for the majority of our vets to get their legs but we’ll be sitting in a hole by then. I will cut Hartley some slack this year, he is a fitness fanatic & he really didnt get a chance to get these guys prepped & conditioned the way he normally would. I do think this will be the last year we have to endure these horrible starts. My fear is both Hudler & Cerevenka were injured for lots of the lockout, so their games are minimal & not sure what their game shape will be. This could get real interesting. New coach, slow start, Hartley is going to start pushing some of the veteran buttons soon enough. Looking forward to seeing that play out.

        • everton fc

          I didn’t see or hear the game, but I think Kevin’s comment above is logical. Makes sense. Where’s the “grit” on this line, currently? And if Sven lacks the professional maturity to play defence, go after the puck in the tough areas, and so forth, Glencross seems a good solution. Cammy centering Alex and Jarome would be a much better trio. Cervenka or Hudler could center a line that includes Stempniak.

          Smith should have been moved when he had some value. He’s a career minor-leaguer, and not a young one. Just my opinion. Brodie/Sarich are your 5/6 d-men. I’m okay with that pairing.

          It’s early in the morning, and in the season. I may be missing something here. And I am surprised I even care, after the lockout. But there’s my op-ed. How did Wideman and Butler look? Good to hear Begin pulled his weight, but him at 4C, Jones at 3C… Kind of messes with my concepts above, with Cervenka and Hudler. We seem to have too many forwards, and too many forwards who are average.

          • SmellOfVictory

            Wideman was not bad, overall. Came as advertised offensively (best point shot the Flames have by a large margin, from the look of it) and appeared to be as good defensively as any of the other guys. He’s definitely not a speed demon, but he generally avoided making too many positional mistakes (although if I recall he did end up being a key factor in one of the goals against).

            Butler was okay; I didn’t notice him a ton either way, so I can’t comment too much. As a pair, I wasn’t filled with dread when he and Wideman were on the ice.

  • I too was shocked when they said Brodie and Jones were sitting. I was also shocked when I saw that Irving is the backup now.

    First period looked promising and then the wheels fell off – classic Flames. Hopefully they can continue on this path. A horrible season = Seth Jones or Nathan McKinnon.

  • Very very mad that Brodie and jones were left off the roster! Comeau looked horrid and don’t need to talk about my least liked player stajan. Sarich and smith fall way behind Brodie and Brodie has been playing since October. He’s fast and has great hands! Thought that was Hartleys new style ! I know we’re nothing special this yr but come on!!!!!! Comeau and stajan suck!

  • loudogYYC

    After the first period, I thought Flames did a great job on the forecheck, getting turnovers then getting shots on net. As good as the Flames were playing, I thought it was more about how bad San Jose was playing. If they showed up like that, they were in for a long season.

    Second period was a completely different game. There was no forecheck, and instead of taking the puck away, they gave it away and couldn’t complete a pass.

    Other notes. First PP unit looked absolutely terrible on the first power play, it’s a good thing the second unit scored soon after.

    Speaking of penalties, they probably could have no called them, or called a lot more to be consistent. I was in section 205, and no one around me could figure out why they made the calls they did.

    If the Flames could have capitalized on a couple of their chances in the first period, this game would have been a lot different. If they can play consistent for the entire game, this team will be a playoff team

  • Colin.S

    Hartley very much the same as the old crowd, playing slow old sarich over brodie(same old sarich, same old results). If the 2nd and 3rd periods are most indicative of what this team is going to look like this season, we may very well have single digit wins when the season is done.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Why Begin and Sarich instead of Brodie and Jones?

    Answer: Flames politics.

    How does Feaster look at the ownership group and answer why he signed last years 7th defenseman to a 2 year $4M contract, if he can’t even beat out a rookie?
    Begin, on the other hand is Hartley’s signing and likely just a ‘devil you know’ slot in. I suspect Jones will draw in before Brodie, but eventually Hartly will look to preserve his own position, over the GM’s and sit Sarich.

  • Willi P

    Sarich was better than Smith. I counted at least 7 times where the puck when by Smith at the point, leaving him chasing the play. Brodie would have been better than either option, in fact any option. The “D” was mostly pathetic last night. As for up front, Begin was better than expected. I would put Jones in at 3C, Begin at 4C and sit softy Stajan.

    • SmellOfVictory

      I agree; defensively, the D corps looked pretty rough, overall. I noticed way too many times that it looked like the forwards were doing most of the defensive work while one of the dmen was off picking his nose somewhere.

  • I have to say I don’t think the Flames were that bad last night. My expectations are muted at best for the season, so maybe that’s why I didn’t come away terrible disappointed. They controlled play in the first and they pushed back in the third. The second was bad, but they were entertaining a very good team.

    A couple post shots go in and maybe Kipper makes one more save and the Flames get a deserving win.

  • -I thought Backlund and Baertschi looked good tonight. If Sven scores there I think we win the game. I didnt like how many defensive zone faceoffs that line was getting, in the second period especially.

    -Stajans line looked good as a shutdown line, and raises some questions for when fully healthy, what to do with the top nine? What does everyone think? I think im liking the idea of a shutdown line.

    -Smith looked horrible tonight, in my opinion Brodie should be in the lineup instead, Sarich wasnt bad, but I only noticed one hit of his. If he isnt hitting, and Smith is stuggling with the puck as much as he was last night, theres no reason Brodie should be sitting.

    -Kipper wasnt sharp tonight, Niemi was and that, combined with the lack of finish in the first is why we lost. Flames looked dominant in the first…then looked outmatched in the second, third was more even

  • icedawg_42

    Didn’t get to see the game, only the highlights. That second goal on Kipper looked very uncharacteristic. I’m surprised to hear that Brodie didn’t play. Sounds like the same problems plagued the Flames as always: no puck luck – posts, near misses etc, then a second period collapse, then a push back late. Maybe they got that one goal lead and then decided to shut’er down? Hmmm. Maybe Dutter’s “2-1” philosophy is still stuck in some of their heads? Such a stupid idea. Pedal to the metal for 60 boys. THAT’s how you win games.

  • Michael

    Hartley, welcome to the Calgary Flames. One period of good hockey, a 30-35 minute nap, then well rested (from the nap), a late push.
    Unfortunately for Hartley he didn’t get much of a preseason, and isn’t going to get much pratice time. Lots of things to work on…

    Good first period effort, liked some of the younger guys, but they got killed in the faceoff circle, didn’t do well on the boards or in the corners, generally physically out played and out hit.

  • RexLibris

    From what I saw it appeared that the Flames were trying to run and gun, with a roster that has some run but lacks some of the gun required. They were also getting moved around a fair bit by the Sharks. Which isn’t embarrassing or anything, many teams do.

    Once the rust starts to come off, I suspect that the Flames will finish approximately where they have been pegged – as an also-ran in the West who can score and play an up-tempo style but lack the necessary elite talents to push them into a playoff position.

    And sitting Brodie for Sarich makes sense from a size and physicality point of view, but not the Comeau scratch. Unless Hartley was purposely keeping Comeau fresh for the Ducks, it just seems a poor choice.

    I hope to see a very different team on the ice tonight, by way of execution and ability to compete.

    • Vintage Flame

      And sitting Brodie for Sarich makes sense from a size and physicality point of view, but not the Comeau scratch. Unless Hartley was purposely keeping Comeau fresh for the Ducks, it just seems a poor choice.

      Even if you are on board with Sarich playing over Brodie (which I’m never in favour of), it still didn’t make sense to sit him in favour of Derek Smith.

      As for Comeau. He played last night. He had 1 hit, 1 block shot and 6:18 of ice time. Just wasn’t noticable.

      I think you might be referring to Blair Jones. He sat last night, which he shouldn’t have considering the play of both Comeau and Begin.

      • RexLibris

        Thanks for the correction on the Comeau scratch. I was watching the game with half my attention draw elsewhere, so I guess I’d assumed, when not recalling hearing his name, that he had been a healthy scratch.

        Any chance the Flames look at picking up Anthony Stewart on waivers? They don’t necessarily need more bodies on the bottom six, but he might be an upgrade.

        • RexLibris

          “Any chance the Flames look at picking up Anthony Stewart on waivers?”

          I hope not.

          Watched the Oilers (sort of) last night. Their defense is… not good.


          The only thing about the dpairs that confused me (other than Brodie sitting, which is just downright mystifying) was the fact that Wideman was out for the PK. Yeah. Wideman. Why?

          Interesting thing about Butler is he had more ice time at even strength than anybody. What a strange game.

          PLEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSEEEEEEE dress Brodie tonight instead of Smith. I’d beg Hartley on my knees if I knew where he lived. And thought he wouldn’t have me arrested for doing so.

  • Derzie

    The Positive:
    – Backlund
    – Baertschi
    – Stempniak
    – Tanguay
    – 1st period jump
    – Begin’s jump

    The Negative:
    – Period 2
    – No Brodie
    – No Cervenka
    – No Hudler
    – Lackluster Wideman
    – Strange d-pairings
    – Begin over Jones
    – Cammeleri
    – Glencross
    – Wingers playing center

  • T&A4Flames

    A lot of doom and gloom for the season only being 1 game old. I’m on the “take advantage of a strong draft” train this year so I’m not going to get too upset with losses. I JUST WANT FEASTER/WEISBROD/KING TO BE ON BOARD WITH IT!!! I’m hoping for a clear path at the deadline, one way or the other. Either they are clearly out or well in a PO spot.

    As for the line up last night, I was upset with no Brodie and Jones as well but I suspect that there will be a lot of line up changes with all teams to keep players fresh in a compressed season.

    Backs and Sven were very good last night,especially in the 1st. Cammi, yea, he seemed a little invisible. I’m not against a bigger/physical body on that line. Why not try Iggy on the RW with Backs and Sven and move Cammi with GlenX and Tangs. I would even try Jones with the kids; maybe even Comeau.

    • T&A4Flames

      With you that its early, but during the 2nd & 3rd I had to look down to see if it wasnt Brent behind the bench. Too erie. Too much much of a last year flavour to their game. I’m on that draft pick train like you with the hopes we have good things come out of our younger players. We really need a high end top young up & coming gun to play with Sven & Backs. Maybe Cerevenka might be that player, who knows. I still like that Kassian kid & I think we need someone like his pedigree to give these guys some room but can contribute & is as equally dangerous.

  • T&A4Flames

    Can we not try to poach something from St. Louis. They are SOOOOOOOOO loaded up front! Backes, Oshie, Perron, Tarasenko, Berglund, Stewart, D’Agostini and on and on. And they STILL have guys like Rattie & Schwartz ready to come up.

    That’s just sick…..SICK!!!