Post-Game: Big Boy Hockey

The first meeting of 2013 between the Calgary Flames and their bitter rivals, the Vancouver Canucks, started off as a bit of a snoozer. Both teams played as poorly as they had in their two previous regular season games to date. However, after a lacklustre first period, the game turned into quite the barn-burner and a play-off like showcase of what Sportsnet’s Rob Kerr would call “big boy hockey.”

After falling behind 2-0, much like their early effort against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, the Flames battled back and earned their first point of the season in a 3-2 shootout loss. While the talent level of the Flames may be up for some debate, their heart has been on display in the last two games.


The first period was scoreless and was, to be blunt, not an amazingly great period of hockey. The Canucks drove the play in the first 12 or 15 minutes and the Flames got their legs going late and pushed the play. Neither goalie was forced to keep their team in it, although Miikka Kiprusoff made a big save on a Sedin early-on, while Cory Schneider stole one from Jarome Iginla late. The Flames out-chanced the Canucks 5-3 in the first.

The second period featured every single bit of regulation scoring. The Canucks drove play from the get-go and scored twice. First, on a Zack Kassian wrister, then two minutes later on a power-play caused by a Derek Smith high-stick while the Flames were penned into their own zone.

However, the Flames pushed back. Two and a half minutes after the Canucks went up 2-0, Alex Tangay scored on a rush to bring the Flames within one. From then on, Calgary really pushed the play and tied up the game on a Mikael Backlund power-play marker.

The first half of the second period was almost entirely driven by the Canucks (going 6-0 in scoring chances), while the second half was driven by the Flames (who went 4-0 in scoring chances after the half-way mark). The Canucks out-chanced the Flames 6-4 overall in the second.

The third period and overtime were both back and forth affairs that were largely even. Both clubs generated scoring chances, but both goaltenders were quite good. The Flames out-chanced the Canucks 4-3 in the third period, while each club had a scoring chance apiece in the extra frame.

The Canucks scored twice in the skills competition to close the game and out skated away with the win. The Flames head back to town with the point for the extra-time loss.


Well, much like every game to date, the Flames haven’t seemed to have found their sea legs. There were quite a few passes made several feet in front (or behind) teammates, and there were a few instances where Flames played bumper-cars with their teammates, knocking into each other when – had there been some pre-season games – they would have usually worked out their typical time and space ont he ice by now. The second period was a cavalcade of errors and the Canucks probably could have run away with things if they had not have taken so many consecutive penalties, which allowed Calgary to get back into things.

The Flames also deployed their power-play units rather bizarrely. Jarome Iginla had six and a half minutes of power-play time, which was fairly typical of the first unit. Mikael Backlund led all other players with just over two minutes, despite scoring a goal in the second. It seemed that the first unit just didn’t have it tonight, and it was a bit frustrating to see Flames coach Bob Hartley continually throw out them over the boards over and over again.

That said, the Flames went into enemy territory, are definitely not icing their “regular” 2013 roster and were playing one of the most skilled teams in hockey. The fact that they managed to fight back from two-goal deficit, won half their face-offs and actually ended up even on shots on goal is pretty impressive.

After Monday’s game, Hartley said the Flames were playing hard enough to win but not well enough to win. They closed the gap between those two measures considerably tonight.

Red Warrior

Let’s go with Alex Tanguay. A goal with that snipe on a two-on-one rush and the only Flames skater to score in the shoot-out. Tanguay is still getting used to playing center and Alain Vigneault wasn’t shy about sending the Sedins out against him tonight. That he emerged with a point and with an even plus/minus on the night is a victory by itself.

  • AF

    As long as we keep out-chancing teams the W’s will come. That was the best game we’ve seen from our defence and goalie. With Cervenka and Hudler possibly both making their Flames debuts on Saturday I’m actually optimistic for our chances vs the Oil on Saturday and onward.

    • AF

      Remember that the refs are human too, and likely didn’t get paid. Probably had to find temp jobs as walmart greeters. I haven’t had the opportunity to watch every bit of the games, but the penalties I have seen called and not called has left me… Bewildered, is a nice way of putting it. The refs are rusty too. They need to remember how to watch the action instead of saying “Welcome to Walmart” with their eyes closed and spittle dripping from the sides of their mouth.

    • T&A4Flames

      Yea, reminds me somewhat of the Buffalo/Miller/Lucic issue from last year. We need someone that is going to punch one of those goalie runners right in the mouth… straight shot… right in the pie eater.

      • T&A4Flames

        And if a soft team like Vancouver isn’t afraid to run us over, who is? The odd skill player we have don’t even get in the shoot out too. Someone mentioned that the 1st shootout spot would have been good for Sven as it is the spot with the least pressure. I agree but instead we have Iggy shooting in that spot in order to not hurt the confidence of our 500 goal scoring captain.

        • everton fc

          Again, names that come to my mind that could help this team, in this department;

          Derek Dorsett
          Matt Martin
          Deryk Engelland
          David Clarkson
          Adam McQuaid
          Chris Neil
          Kyle Clifford
          David Backes

          Not saying we could get any of these guys on our roster. And I know their skill levels are not level. “Just sayin'”.

          The Wings picked up Tootoo for a reason. He also had 24 assists, last year.

          Again, “Just sayin'”.

          • T&A4Flames

            JBo could have *itch slapped him.

            Smith could have threatened to take his mother out for a nice seafood dinner and never call her again.

            There’s always options.

          • everton fc

            Sarich still does. And of course, Jackman. But both are fringe players. My list was trying to point out guys (many, not all) who get minutes. Can score. Are on the younger side. And so on. I see Reeves as a goon. Carcillo’s a punk, but can play more of a role then a goon. Prust has utility other than the odd scrap.

            But I totally agree with your point. Grit/character/some offence/some defence…

            Where’s the next Terry O’Reilly?!

          • ChinookArchYYC

            Yea, I thought that someone like Gio or Sarich would’ve ‘discouraged’ the contact against Kipper, but no one did jack. A small part of me is glad that they didn’t take some stupid after the whistle penalty, but the majority of me is pissed that they allowed Vancouver to run Kipper MULTIPLE times.

  • AF

    Keep in mind that I grew up adoring first Fluery then Iginla. However, I think the most important thing Calgary needs to do to improve is simple: Play like we have two second lines, rather than a first and a second. I don’t think that the BBC line – as exciting as Backlund/Baertchi are – is ready for de facto first line status. However, Hartley needs to acknowledge that GlenX/Tangs/Iggy is NOT a first line on almost any club in the NHL. Especially not witn the talent our second line possesses.

      • seve927

        Yes, evening TOI and also a mentality shift that Tangs/Iggy are the defacto best players. I would also like to see Backlund/Baertchi on the number one powerplay unit with Tanguay on the point. Iginla on the right would be fine, though I would expect the magic out of the combination of the other three.

  • Truculence

    Was at the game, and my friends and myself thought that Backlund had a very good game, while Baertchi made a few nice passes into the slot to pinching defenders that just didn`t find their way home.

    Flames played well in the third and overtime. Given the fact that they were playing their third in four days, it was admirable that they were the ones that got stronger as the game went on.

    BTW: Smyth was mediocre to horrible. Why did they sit Butler instead?

    Looking forward to Hudler and Cervenka on Saturday.

    Still don`t think this is a playoff team, but their last three outings, although all losses, have shown the Flames can actually out-chance and out-shoot, if not out-score, opponents within their system.

    Hoping for a high pick, but, more than anything, a shot at the playoffs.

    • jeremywilhelm

      I suspect that the player sitting shuffling is due to the first few games effectively being preseason. Butler sat in favour of Smith because today’s lineup was the one submitted to trial-by-fire. After the first ~5 games, the shuffle will – probably – stop. For the defense, anyways. The offense will likely experience a similar musical chairs once Hrudler and Cervenka are available. Particularly Cervenka, since his performance in the NHL is a complete unknown.

    • everton fc


      “There was an observation made about Kipper being repeatedly run and no response. Who on this small, soft team is going to respond?”


      I know I may get pummeled for saying I’d rather have Engelland as my #6 d-man than any of the current crew, but guys like him limit run-ins with the goalie. Ditto Martin with the Isles. Dorsett. All three can play regular minutes. Not goons.

      You still need some tough guys who can play minutes in this league. Always will.

      So Stajan moves to 4th line centre when Cervenka enters the dressing room?

  • flamesburn89

    I was impressed with JBouw tonight. After the Flames got their feet under them, he was a rock. There were multiple times where he shut the Canucks possession down, whether from a smart hit or a quick pokecheck. He was very good below the goaline in his own zone, battling the puck away from a Vancouver forward and simply chipping it off to a team mate, like he did against Mason Raymond in the third. Were there times where he lost the battles? Sure, him and Gio were victimized on Kassians goal. But hey, he was playing against the freaking Sedin twins, tough to blame him too much on that. If you wanna blame someone for that goal, blame GlenX, because he let Kassian skate right by him. Oh yeah, and Bouw played over 28 minutes.

    Somewhat related, Wideman gives me the heebie jeebies (sorry, loved scooby doo as a kid!) defensively. In the OT, when Bouwmeester was caught up ice on one shift, a Van player came against WDman one on one, and Wideman played it terribly, basically just standing there like a pylon. Here’s hoping his defensive game improves this season, because the Flames don’t need another expensive, one-dimensional, power play specialist with a no-trade clause. cough**’Babchuk’** cough

    • T&A4Flames

      Re: Wideman

      I think I know what play you are refering to. If so, I think he was coming off the bench and had to fight to get in position. I actually though he did an admiral job.

      • seve927

        Yep, I’m with you. He looked really awkward, and has quite often, but his play so far has greatly exceeded my expectations. He’s looking like a very good addition, albeit at a high price.

  • GermanFlame

    Being in a country with little to no hockey coverage (and an 8 hour time difference) has made it difficult to get my Flames fix. Thank goodness Flamesnation is here. Waking up this morning to 300+ comments on the game day thread was better than any recap I could read on TSN. After reading (almost) all comments I felt like I actually watched the game and have a pretty good idea of what happened. Thank you to everyone!

    I will try to wake up and be here for Saturday’s game against the dreaded Oilers. #eatsh!toilers

    While I can’t say much to this game, I just have a question regarding line combinations. With the imminent return of Hudler and Cervenka, any ideas on how the Flames top 9 will look Saturday ?

    • Perhaps that solid percentage of mediocrity on this roster that can fathom Kipper as their meal ticket.

      What compounds my disgust with the zero response is that this game follows a little speech from none other than Lanny.

      Ill go out on a limb and suggest that a Lanny led team might have at least had a “chat” with the bum that just ran the guy who allows my sorry as8ed self to collect a cheque.

      Big Boy Hockey? really? Oh….. its a Kerr line….. never mind.

  • GermanFlame

    Why in the hell wouldn’t you put Baertchi in the shoot out!?

    I hope the Flames don’t loose every shootout like they did last year… Tanguay, Cervenka, Baertchi and Backlund should be automatics.

  • Willi P


    Totally agree. Every goalie knows Iginla, Camm, Stemp and GlenX will shoot first. Stemp and GlenX were both 0 for 3 last year, Hartley had much better choices. I would alway use Tanguay, he is creative. The shootout is for younger players, like the ones you mentioned above. It has been in their game generally their whole career. The NA vets, not so much.

    • After seeing Iginla shooting first I just knew who was gonna shoot 4th and 5th, and I wasnt happy about it.

      I think Tanguay and Cammy should shoot most of the time. The Stempniak didnt bother me too much but still should be a 6th or later selection.

      Did we not learn from last year Iginla and Glencross usually dont score in the SO.

      I feel like it should have been Cammy, Tanguay, Backlund, then Beartschi, Stempniak, then maybe Iggy and Glencross.

      Ive been slightly annoyed with the way he has deployed his forwards so far. I didnt like Iggys unit staying on the ice for so long of the 5-3 powerplay, and the lack of quality offensive ice-time for Sven. I’ll hold judgement until later in the season, but it has been slightly annoying.

      That fourth line didnt look too good last night either…

    • Avalain

      I agree as well. They should have put Baertchi in as the very first shooter. It would put the least pressure on him for his first NHL shootout and he has a good chance to score simply because the goalies haven’t studied him for the last decade.

  • Truculence

    @Devin and @If only his name…

    I hope Butler was sitting because he is being traded for Bishop or Bernier… one can dream.

    As for Smith… he can be replaced by Breen or Carson IMO.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Now that NHL hockey is back, it’s time for my regular Backlund boosting: Backlund is awesome. Also, suck it haters, etc. Nearly every time I saw a Flames player stripping or intercepting the puck: Backlund. Most active backchecker and forechecker (outside of the 4th line, maybe): Backlund. Guy with longest hair: Backlund. And now he looks like he’ll get some shiny scoring numbers to go with all the other awesome stuff he does.

    And as a secondary note: JBo looked ten times better than the last two games. He’s stopped running around like an idiot, for the most part.

  • Michael

    Yes, the Flames are battling after falling behind, but that is only a feel good spin on the real issue. Why are we falling behing 2 – 3 goals in the first place? It’s a recipe for disaster, as the season goes on, these leads become insurmountable.

    Looking forward to seeing Cervenka and Hudler in the lineup, it will be interesting to see who sits.

  • T&A4Flames

    This is what happens when you have a new coach in a lockout shortened season. Coaches need to see what these guys do in game situations & Hartley is open minded and needs to do the same thing. Personally, except for Tanguay who is playing great for Hartley, the other guys were almost afraid to get creative in fear of looking foolish to the new coach. Common sense of it would be to use Backlund & Sven & Brodie who are way ahead in game shape & wouldnt have been afraid to make a deek move.

    We need some talented grit, someone should have taken Kassian to task. Problem was the game was close & the points were huge. Again not knowing how the coach would react played a role in the decision of doing nothing. These guys need 15-20 games to start playing as a team with confidence that they are on the same page as the coaches. Its too bad, because I think there are some good things happening but the pressure & patience is minimal. Oiler & Avs games coming up are must win. Nothing less, just to get us to .500. We cannot lose these divisional games & expect to sneak in to the playoffs. That means coaches are going to have to accelerate their learning curve as well.