Well, chalk one up to you guys on Team Tank Mode. Your Calgary Flames (they are still YOUR Calgary Flames, are they not?) outclassed and outplayed their division rivals tonight, had a strong enough game to win, lost., and now sit one step closer to the NHL’s consolation prize in MacKiDrouJoneKov, or whatever other backwards high school kid Jay Feaster decides to draft that no one’s ever heard of.
Indeed, it was not the Flames night. A 5-2 loss to the Canucks might be more or less the way people expected this game to end, but that line really flatters the Canucks and makes the Flames look like the fat kid at the dance who couldn’t score a date, but that’s not how this one played out in reality.
In the same vein, the Flames, now with 11 games left in the season, are riding it out down the stretch and playing for something meaningful, just not in the way you’d be hoping they would. The most we can hope for now is for the team to play compeitive, watchable hockey, where the results dictate the Flames get something worthwhile out of it.
Which is exactly what happened tonight, and it was infuriating. A 5-2 loss, and all the Flames have to show for it is a shot at a Top 3 pick and a broken Matt Stajan.
Run It Down
Van City is abuzz these days with the news that the Canucks might potentially be retiring Pavel Bure’s jersey, FINALLY, and in fitting fashion, the Orca played this game like they were in cahoots with Bure’s ties to the Russian Mob and throwing the game for a quick score.
That was a rather roundabout analogy, no?
Regardless, the Flames and their half a roster looked like the team that was attempting to win the division tonight, and even while being the squad playing the last half of a back to back for once, the Canucks were not able to come in and win this game through sheer will like they seemed to think they could.
Which, of course, happened anyway.
Cory Schneider happened big time in this game, and was very much a key factor in the win for the Canucks, making some timely saves off the likes of the Cervenkas and Cammalleris of the world when they balance of the game was very much still in question. The Canucks’ "Don’t Call Me Ginger" and number one incumbent made 36 saves in this one, and even the goal he surrendered to Alex Tanguay in the third came when the NHL.com folks were all but adding the two points to the Canucks on the standings page.
The Flames could have had this game wrapped up in the first if not for a bit better puck luck and some frustratingly common Vancouver opportunism, as the Flaming C outshot the Canucks 15-8 in the first period, outchanced them 12-2, and….trailed 2-1. Vancouver opened the score 34 seconds in and Calgary could have packed it all in from there, but the fans were treated to a few scraps and the Flames pulling themselves up by the skatestraps as they went along. And Dennis Wideman scored, so everyone get happy!
It was more of the same in the second, as the granola munchin’ hippies from the West Coast padded their lead by adding 2 more goals on what some would say questionable goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff, himself playing in back to back games despite being 35 years old and also being 35 years old. I wouldn’t blame him myself, but hey, at this stage in the season and his career, it’s all kind of moot anyway – they both put a fork in it weeks ago.
Chances were even at 5 in the second, and with the Canucks outshooting Calgary 10-9 and the Sedins almost assuredly cheating somehow, the Flames found themselves down 4-1 going into the third.
The third period began and the game was over, but that didn’t stop Kevin Bieksa, the Canucks’ resident cymbal bangin’ monkey, from taking a needless, late, and deliberate elbow to the head of Flames All World Superstar Matty Franchise Stajan. Bieksa only got 2 minutes on the play like he was Gunner Stahl, but Stajan was all Gumby’d after, and it just did not look good. SO GOOD WORK ON THAT ONE BIEKSA, I’m sure you’ll get the proper amount of discipline meted out to you for haha just kidding, Brendan Shanahan.
The chances in the third were 9-1 Flames, as they dominated the period, but like you might have guessed, that ONE Canucks chance? Yeah, they scored. Story of the game right there.
Reinhart of The Game
Though there was stiff competition from Tim Hunter’s 21 year old son, who may or may not even exist, Reinhart of the Game went to rookie Max Reinhart, making his Flames and NHL debut tonight in absence of real hockey players currently available to the Flames (unless you count like Sven and Jones and whatever)
Paul’s son played over 16 minutes in his big league deflowering, and that’s not bad when you think about it. He had 3 shots on goal and rightfully played more minutes than McGrattan, Begin and the bunch, and filled in decently enough in what I guess is probably Blake Comeau’s roster spot.
Reinhart’s continued spot on the team remains tenuous, because the Abbotsford Heat have been eliminated from the playoffs, and Calgary is 5 or 6 losses away from the same fate, meaning a lot of AHLers are about to start getting a lot of looks from Flames brass as the season wanes down, just to see who’s worth a shot on and who should be cut loose but won’t because who are the Flames going to trade for when they already got their "big get" in Mike Testwuide.
There’s 11 games left, friends, this pain will all be over soon. Have you guys picked a playoff team to cheer for yet? I’m going with Columbus, because after all those years of watching him toil in a Flames jersey, it sure would be nice to see Blake Comeau win a Stanley Cup, and he’s on the powerhouse squad to get it done.
(Hopefully Tim Erixon somehow gets cut before the playoffs start. I was hoping he was involved in a trade for Alex Ovechkin on Deadline Day)
The good news is the Oilers still look like they suck, and if they miss the playoffs, the Flames rebuild is automatically better than the Oilers one, though I have no idea how. But that’s something to look out for.
The Flames are back at it on Monday, traveling to Denver to take on those snowfooted sasquatch bastard Avalanche, and the implications for that one and how they relate to the number one overall pick make me weepy knowing that it’s come to this. But hey, buck up, tank fans, the game’s on the road, and we all know what that means.
And all your Raw Data, Nerds
And yet somehow Calgary lost this game. I need a shower.