So here we go again.
Tonight the Flames were facing a team playing in their third game in four nights, and their back-up in net. Granted the Chicago Blackhawks are a far superior opponent than the Avalanche were, afterall, they are still one of the few to lose in regulation. However, they were coming off back to back shoot-out losses and the goal for Calgary was still the same; dominate a weary opponent, bide your time and capitalize on mistakes without giving up any.
Normally, after what happened in the Flames last outing, it would be a no-brainer to say the team needed to come out with some jump and take it to Hawks early. Not so in this case because there was a high probability that they would get burned by a team like Chicago.
Add to the fact that despite this only being Ray Emery’s second start of the year, the Flames have historically had problems getting pucks past the tender, and you have the makings for a cautious, fairly low-event first period.
And that’s exactly what we got. No scoring in the first, a powerplay for each team, and a pretty good tilt between Jackman and Bollig. Calgary out-shot Chicago 10-6 but the Hawks took the slight edge in scoring chances 4-3.
In the second period, the tempo started to pick up. The Hawks came out swinging first, dominating the Flames for the first five minutes or so by out-chancing Calgary 3-0. But the Flames weathered the early storm and the game stayed tied. For the rest of the period you could see Calgary start to put the game plan in motion. Moving their feet and subsequently moving the play down the ice, they started to generate some quality chances of their own. In fact, despite the score remaining in a scoreless tie at the end of forty, Calgary out-chanced the Hawks 6-5 while out-shooting them again 10-6.
At some point during the second intermission, someone mocked the hockey Gods so badly, that this game was only going to result in one way. Whether Joel Quenville had a voodoo doll stashed somewhere, Emery sacrificed a live chicken beneath the depths of the Saddledome, or if Patrick Kane beat someone up because they tried to offer their two cents… I don’t know.
But the only way to describe what happened next was Bad JuJu!!
The third period began with a big push by the Flames, in fact, the first quarter of the period was all Calgary. Despite that it would be the Hawks to get on the board first, when Patrick "Mr. Cab Driver" Kane" would bat a bouncing puck at Kipper. Miikka got a piece of it with his pad as he came sliding across, but not enough as the puck would trickle into the net as Kipper hugged Shaw’s stick.
To the Flames credit, they did not let the goal get them down, nor did it stem their play; if anything it amplified it.
After the goal by Kane, the Flames threw wave after wave after wave at the Hawks. They were relentless in their assaults and had Chicago reeling by the midpoint of the period. Only no one told Emery. With every wave and every assault, Emery seemed to make more and more unlikely saves. Even the announcers said, "Glencross is going to need therapy after this game!" And it was true. Curtis alone was stopped on several chances that were almost certain goals, but with Quenville’s voodoo doll and the bad juju and all… Chicago kept their lead.
FINALLY!!! At 13:23 of the third, Dennis Wideman… with the patience of Job, the nerves of a sniper, and the forethought that they just couldn’t put the puck past Emery…. Waited, waited and then put the puck in off Brent Seabrook’s skate. Whatever, we’ll take it! 1-1. It was a power play goal against a team that was 23 for 23 on the road with their PK, and it circumvented the voodoo sh…tuff, so it was all good.
Then the improbable and unimaginable happened. The high flying, goal scoring, Jay Bouwmeester joined the rush late and snapped a beauty past Emery with only 35 seconds left in regulation. Like money in the bank, 2 points were coming the Flames way; no way this one could go south right?
Yeah, well Quenville bent over and picked up his doll that he had tossed down the hall after Wideman cheated fate, and gave the little guy a jab. Bang, Marian Hossa ties the game with 2.8 seconds left on the ticker, and all Flames fans thought their tickers had just stopped.
The Flames did everything right in the third. They out-shot Chicago 24-6, 20… yes TWENTY of those shots were scoring chances (so were all 6 of the Hawks shots). They went 1 for 2 on the PP, yet were still tied and the teams were going to overtime.
The extra frame didn’t help Chicago at all, but Emery did. The Flames dominated, and I mean Dominated the Hawks in OT, out-shooting them 3-1 and out-chancing them 6-0. Emery stopped all three and on 26 different occassions, the Hawks players blocked shots from Calgary. Despite a power play for the Flames, they were going to a shoot-out. It was a travesty, it was robbery, it was unfair. Whatever you wanna call it, that’s what it was. Even CBC’s Elliotte Friedman commented on twitter…
Can’t believe Chicago got out of that OT alive
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 3, 2013
The shoot-out was less exciting and quite frankly predictable. Even though it was nice to see Hudler and Cervenka join Tanguay as the trio, all three were unsuccessful, while ol’ "Mr. Cab Driver" was able to tuck the puck between Kipper’s pads for the win. Game over.
Why the Flames Lost…
Been over this… Picture says a thousand words!
I’m going to go with a couple of guys tonight. Sharing the honour will be Mikael Backlund and Curtis Glencross.
In the first period, Calgary’s top 2 lines had zero shots; Backs had three on his own. Once again he was flying tonight and making things happen, creating chances in the offensive zone.
His line continued to dominate in the second as Stempniak taking the lead in shots taken by Flames players.
In the third, it was the Curtis Glencross show, unfortunately minus an appearence from Scoreface. In the waves of assaults thrown at Emery, it was Glencross that should have benefitted the most. He hit the crossbar, tipped two more directly at the net and could have two more from each side of the net. All denied by Emery and the iron.
Sum it up
This is going to be a tough one for the boys to take. It’s not going to be enough to say at least they took a point away from the Chicago Blackhawks.
They dominated, they deserved the win and they were denied. But hey, it is what it is and they have to move on from this.
I’m not going to take any pot-shots tonight or assign any blame. Kipper looked miles ahead of how he played two nights ago and the defense was pretty solid holding the Hawks to 6 shots each period and then shutting them down in OT.
Despite the loss, it was clearly the best game the Flames have played this season. Many fans commenting on just how entertaining the team looks. That’s a plus isn’t it?
And DID YOU SEE THAT CRAZY PASS CERVENKA MADE FROM BETWEEN HIS LEGS??? This guy has some sick skills with the puck.
They have two days to be pissed and then get over this one. Leave it in Calgary as they now embark on a three game road trip… they don’t need the extra bagage.
Things get under way in Detroit on Tuesday. Game time is 5:30 on SNET-W