After the Calgary Flames went out with what Kent Wilson described as a medieval attack, only to come up empty handed, on the Chicago Blackhawks, many of us wondered just how they would respond tonight against the Redwings.
One brightspot the Flames have had is the play of Jiri Hudler. After only three NHL games without a Wings’ jersey on his back, he would once again return to the Joe. With the chance to finally get out of town for awhile, the Flames would follow Hudler; taking to road, hoping to find a few answers along the way.
Despite the undeserved loss to Chicago, this three game road trip presented yet another opportunity. Detroit was coming into this game with Broken Wings, Aside from Hudler changing sides on the field of battle, Detroit was going to be without several regulars, while the Flames would come (ahem) *into this game, relatively healthy.
While it’s never a smart thing to deter away from your team’s game plan, I was curious to see if the Flames were going to try a different approach with Detroit. Calgary has done very well to play the possession game with their opponents, but the Wings are also very good at that, especially when Pavel Datsyuk is on the ice. Could the Flames beat the Wings at their own game, in their own barn?
Just 3:24 into the first a huge weight (or is that wait?) was lifted off the shoulders of both the fans and the Flames captain, as Jarome Iginla netted his first of the season. Iggy loves playing at the Joe, and showed good strength and tenacity as he waited for Alex Tanguay to finish a few nifty moves along the boards before taking the puck in front and sliding it under Jimmy Howard to give Calgary an early 1-0 lead.
At 10:02 the Flames would go on the power play after Jonathan Ericsson would go off for interference against Glencross. With Jiri Hudler breaking into the Wings zone, Kyle Quincy would trip him up, giving Calgary the two man advantage. It wouldn’t take the Flames long to make good on this opportunity. Only 19 sec into the 5 on 3, Mike Cammalleri would calmly settle down a high wobbler from Wideman and then feed it across to Glencross for the open tap in. After the game Glennie had against Chicago, it was good to see him net his fourth on the tic-tac-toe.
Detroit out-shot Calgary 10-9 and out-chanced them 5-3 (4-2 at ES), but the Flames went 1/3 on the PP and were 2/2 on the PK. More importantly, they lead where it most counted; 2-0 on the scoreboard.
In the second period, it appeared for awhile that we were going to see the Flames of yore. Get out to a 2-0 lead and then try and hang on for dear life. At 12:06, Dennis Wideman was flagged for a pretty questionable penalty as Tomas Tatar tried to squeeze his way between Wideman and Brodie. Wideman made his play for the puck and down went Tatar. 31 seconds later Franzen would take a backhand pass from Zetterberg and lift a backhand of his own into the top corner over Kipper’s glove hand.
Calgary would re-establish the two goal lead when Dennis Wideman would throw a wrister from the blueline with only 24 seconds left in the period. With Howard ill-positioned and screened, the puck found the corner of the net. Matt Stajan was 50% in the face-off circle tonight (12/24), but he won a big one to get the puck back to Wideman with little time on the clock.
Calgary would again be out-shot 10-9 in the second, but they drew even in the scoring chances with the Wings, five each. Calgary was 0/2 on the PP and 1/2 on the PK, but still managed to keep pace on th scoreboard. 3-1 after 2.
Then the unimaginable happened. As the Flames skated onto the ice for the third, something was different, it didn’t look right, something was wrong… Ohhh Noooo!
While the players skated around in their normal ritual, the dude scraping up the crease was NOT Miikka Kiprusoff! Nope, apparently, Kipper was injured somehow in the second. They aren’t saying much, except for the fact that he may have been hurt on a collision with Franzen in the second period. He will be re-evaluated and more will be released by the Flames tomorrow; but for now, #PlayIrv was the hashtag now brought to life from twitter.
The third was a strong period for Calgary. Most expected the Wings to come looking for blood, but the Flames did a fine job of keeping them from getting anything going or generating any significant chances. It was a good to see since the Flames usually, uhhh…. well, suck when they play in front of their back-up tender.
The Wings missed an opportunity to cut the lead in half with their one and only powerplay of the period, the Flames would not miss with theirs. At 15:48, Dan Cleary would go off for holding, and just 10 secoonds later, Mark Giordano would let just an absolute bomb go from the point. Before Joe Louis could finish announcing the penalty to Cleary, it was 4-1 for the Flames.
Shots went 6-5 for the Wings, but the goal by Gio gave the scoring chance edge to Calgary, 3-2. On the night, the Flames may have been out-chanced (12-11) and out-shot (26-23), but they made count what was given to them.
Why the Flames Won…
Because they were the better team tonight, in almost all areas of the game.
When you win the special teams battle with Detroit, your probably going to have a favourable result. They also out-hit a team that was already physically beat up. They balanced out their giveaways, by also having more takeaways… and they blocked more shots that the Wings, which contributed to Irving playing more and more confidently in the third period.
In the end Calgary didn’t have to change the game plan to beat Detroit, because they just played it better and cleaner than Detroit could. The number one line showed up tonight and Calgary was able to keep the power-play rolling. Guys like Iggy and Gio finally getting their first goals, keeps a team ignited and on their toes.
I’m going with Cammalleri tonight. After being maligned for the first six games of the season, Mike had a solid all-around game tonight.
He assisted on both Iggy’s and Glencross’ goals in the first, but he also played well on the other side of the puck. In 15:53 minutes of ice-time, he had two hits, two blocked shots and was 50% in the face-off circle.
All in all, it was a pretty consistent effort tonight from a man that just tempts fate when you wear the number 13.
Sum It Up
The Flames got almost exactly what they needed from tonights game. They got scoring and they played consistantly for 60 minutes. Though we don’t know the full story on Kiprusoff yet, there is obviously cause for concern here.
If the injury is nothing more than a bruised or twisted knee, then there might not be much reason to panic. If the injury is one that looks to be long-term, then the Flames are going to have to make some tough decisions.
Many people on twitter are already contemplating who the Flames will sign tomorrow; Brust or Taylor? I think that is jumping the gun a little. The Flames are not going to be keen on burning a contract on another goalie. If this is a short term set back for Kiprusoff, then I would be more apt to seeing Calgary potentially calling up Laurent Broissot from the Edmonton Oil Kings to pull bench duty, while Irving starts in Columbus and maybe even Vancouver (Remember Dec 23rd last year??)
If the injury is worse and Kipper’s time away is an extended one, then the Flames hand just might be forced into other alternatives, like Brust or Taylor. Which they choose is beyond me, but I tend to think that Book of Loob is already on a plane to Abbotsford to help Barry pack.