So where do we begin with this tonight?
Justin mentioned at the top of the FGD, that the Flames 1-2-1 didn’t look too fancy. Well then what does a 1-3-1 record look like?
"Tonight, Calgary will welcome the Colorado Avalanche to the ‘Dome. The Avs are on the second game of a back-to-back (losing 3-0 last night to Vancouver in the rainy city), and are currently sporting a depleted roster – meaning that tonight is a great opportunity for the Flames to pick up two points."
Did we mention that the Av’s were going to go this one without Ryan O’Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog, Steve Downie, and… uhh.. Oh yeah! Their backup in net!
The first period started as we had all hoped and predicted. Calgary came out skating, looking to take advantage of an Avalanche team that was playing its third game in four nights; while the Flames spent the last four days resting and practicing. (We talkin’ about practice? Already)
Keeping the game at a high tempo in order to allow your opponent to run out of gas early is a pretty good game plan as long as you don’t commit any bonehead plays and cough up a bad goal. Well that’s just what Calgary did, control the play and bide their time while J.S. Giguere made some timely saves to keep his team in it.
As it turned out, at 7:23, Colorado would be the first team to blink when Matt Hunwick had his pass picked off by Jiri Hudler. The new Flame would deliver a nifty pass over to Matt Stajan for the one-timer. However as we all know, Matty Franchise doesn’t scor that often, but he did get the shot off fast enough that Giguere had to kick out the rebound back to Hudler, who would then put the sharp angled shot in the back of the net.
Tim Jackman had the chance to double the lead with a little over three minutes left with a fantastic tip off of a Chris Butler shot. The deflection cleanly beat Giguere, but not the post behind him. The missed opportuity would prove costly as the Av’s would tie it up at the 19:13 mark after Chris Butler would throw a blind pass right on the stick of John Mitchell; who would beat Kipper with a snap shot on the far side. One both Kipper an Butler would like to have back.
Not dwelling on a late tying goal, the Flames quickly re-established the lead at 1:49 of the second period. Brodie would start the play behind his own net with a quick dish to Stajan. Matty would then hit Hudler with the stretch pass. Then in one of the nicest tic-tac-toe plays we’ve seen in the Dome, the puck would go from Hudler to Cervenka, back to a trailing Stajan and finally finished off by Hudler. Flames fans were feeling pretty good at that point.
Unfortunately the Av’s would answer back 1:41 later, when P.A. Parenteau would lob a backhand towards Kipper that somehow found its way through his pads. A broken play behind the Flames net at 16:58, with Stajan dancing a do-se-do around Cody McLeod results in the puck finding its way to a wide open Mitchell, and then quickly behind Kipper. 3-2 for the refugees.
This time it was the Flames turn to score a late one to tie up the game. Alex Tanguay, still needing just one assist to reach 500, would instead register his 3rd goal of the season. Again, the series was set up by some nice passing, and again it was Hudler making it count when he touched the puck. So at the end of two, we were right back where we started, all tied up. The Flames had the only PP of the period, and it was the first of the game as well. It wasn’t overly productive for the team with the 4th best in the league, so we’ll just move on.
The third period was the one where the Flames should have really put this one to bed. The Av’s should have been gassed and with the four days rest, Calgary should have had a lot left in the tank. Alas, would’ve, could’ve, should have… didn’t.
It’s not like they didn’t try, but somebody forgot to tell Giggy that jig was up and it was time to end this thing. Shots from the point weren’t finding their way, and Giguere turned away Mikael Backlund when he and the Flames would bring the play in tight as well. In the end, it was the Flames caught off guard when the Avalanche occured with less than three minutes left in the game.
At 17:20, Paul Stastny would score on the power play before Giordano even had the chance to sit down after tripping Matt Duchene. Stealing the puck behind Kipper, he would turn and wrap it around, sliding the puck under Miikka’s left pad. Then, at 18:49, Stastny would score again as picks up the puck off a Wideman blocked shot, and fire it past an out of position Kiprusoff. Not Kipper’s fault, but it didn’t provide an excuse for his performance tonight either. The icing on the cake came at 19:12, with P.A. Parenteau potting his second of the night into the empty net. We won’t fault Kipper on that one either.
Why the Flames Lost…
There are a number of reasons why Calgary lost this one. They didn’t capitalize on a lot of the chances they got. Yes they scored two incredibly nice highlight reel goals, but that’s not what wins hockey games.
An unlucky bounce for Jackman (Sound familiar?) and some missed chances by Backlund. If those go the other way, the Av’s cave and are licking their wounds exhausted right now. But, the Flames also took Colorado for granted and the fact that they were facing a struggling team and their back up.
Perhaps the four days off after the win over the Oilers was too long and the team lost that excitement. Maybe it was another game where they did great with the secondary scoring while the top line was no where to be found. Honestly tonight, it was hard to tell who the #1 line was. Another game with no goals from Iginla or Cammalleri. Tanguay got on the board, but it was while on the ice with Hudler.
Then there was Kipper. Needless to say it was not his best effort out there. While I’m not going to blame him for the empty netter, of the other five, he was easily at fault for at least three of them. Kipper has looked shaky to start this season and many of us are getting less vocal about his ability to pull it together sooner rather than later.
Although the buck may stop with Kiprusoff, the blame doesn’t; Chris Butler and Cory Sarich can stand right beside him. Hell, they might as well, cause they were doing a good job of standing around during the game. Honourable mention goes to Dennis Wideman too. While he was generating a lot of chances in the offensive zone, he also generated a few in his own.
Not much of a stretch to realize that Jiri Hudler was the best on the ice tonight for the home team. He got the ball rolling and then got the team back in the game when they needed it. Jiri is showing a lot of leadership on this line, pulling it together and making it seem like the trio has been playing together for over 20 games, rather than 2. What makes it more impressive is that one guy is a guy who can’t speak english (although that’s not an issue for Jiri) and has never played in the NHL… and the other guy is Matt Stajan!
He might have this honour for awhile.
Sum It Up
Time is ticking on the Flames and the sand is going to start running quicker and quicker in the hour glass. This was supposed to be an easy two points, but then again nothing is ever easy for this team.
It doesn’t get any easier as the Flames get ready for a hellacious month of February, where they face the Canucks, Blues, Kings, Wings… the Stars twice and the Wild three times. Oh to kick it all off, they get the Blackhawks this Saturday.
Hope for the best people.. and maybe say a prayer or two. Unless your prayers include names like Jones or McKinnon, then you just shut up!
See ya Saturday, 8:00 p.m. MST on HNiC.