Post-Game: How To Outwork A Young Turk

Well friends, it was one of those nights. A collection of perfect moments stacked on top of other perfect moments. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon that melted away into a decadent Saturday night, and with a national audience including in house appearances by Ron, Don, and Spike Lee (prove to me that he WASN’T there), your Calgary Flames put the cherry on top.

In case you didn’t notice, we had ourselves a little bit of a Battle of Alberta tonight, and true to form, it was a spirited tilt, where all the surrounding optics that usually follow teams over the course of the season fade, and the two provincial rivals, regardless of where they are in the course of their respective histories, combine to treat fans to some of the purest hovkey you will ever see. Tonight was just one more pristine example of how beautiful this game can be when two impassioned franchises rise above themselves and leave everything on the line.

The Flames, however, were just much much better this time around.

Get Off My Back, Monkey!

You’ve heard it all month now: "In a lockout shortened 48 game season, every game is important". Which is, I suppose, at least a little bit true. So it’s safe to say that when you’re playing your fourth game and still looking for your first win, well, YOU BETTER GET THAT FIRST WIN.

What better way to smash though that wall then by putting stick to the "good" forever rivals talking a big game up north? It’s cute when they talk like that, but the Flames did a good job of reminding them who was the babysitter and who was the baby tonight.

Mikael Backlund continued his mini-renaissance by opening the scoring in the first period by scoring a decidedly Ryan Smyth goal (which is to say, an ugly one). Jay Bouwmeester, who was an absolute bull tonight (you read that right), made it 2-0 after slipping one past a Jarome Iginla screened alleged starting goaltender Deven Dubnyk shortly after the Flames power play had expired.

The Oilers did make it worth watching before the end of the stanza as Anaheim’s Most Wanted Justin Schultz blasted a maybe questionable gun past Flames goalkeeper Miikka Kiprusoff who, unsurprisingly, was bananas good for most of the game.

That said, the Oilers did outchance the Flames in the beginning frame, putting up 6 chances to Calgary’s 4 (despite Calgary outshooting the Oilers 13-10 (13 shots in the first period! (!))), which is hilarious, because 2-1 Flames. What an organization.

From that point on, it was all Flames. Like if not for the fact that it was absolutely hilarious, it wouldn’t have even been funny.

Despite Jordan Eberle scoring the Oilers second PP goal of the night while Mark Giordano was sitting in the penalty box for watching Eberle fall over, it was about the only real shred of offense we’d see from those precious young children for the balance of the contest.

Curtis Glencross potted his third goal of the season to start the second, on a BONKERS dish from Jarome Iginla, and Lee Stempniak also cashed in his third (on an equally pretty pass by Bouwmeester) as his scheduled hot streak continues on over the early part of the campaign for the Flames. The boys in red outchanced the Oilers 9-4, outshot them 13(!)-4, and things started to get real dusty over on the Edmonton bench.

The third period was Calgary’s offering to let the Flames fans embrace themselves in the win, playing a tough defensive game that just shut down the vaunted Oiler’s still really kind of puny offensive efforts. The Oilers managed 20 shots to end the game along with 13 scoring chances, while the Flames finished the night with 18 chances, 35 shots, and most importantly, 2 points, while Flames head coach Bob Hartley earned his first of hopefully many wins as a Calgary Flame.

And golly, it was fun to watch.

J-Bo  Est J-Bon

That’s French, y’all.

While outside of Blake Comeau and to an extent Matt Stajan, neither of whom were particularly good, and Sven Baerstchi, who was limited to 5 minutes, presumably on purpose, most of the Flames played out of their skulls on this night. Lee Stempniak had a three point night, Iginla was a bull, and Kipper is as Kipper does (which is be awesome at things).

But Bouwmeester was the man on this one. Playing 24:01 of the most important minutes of the game (as always) (somehow the Flames leader in ice time was Dennis Wideman, so that’s a thing that happened), Bouwmeester had a goal and an assist and was all over the ice on both ends of the puck. He even led the odd rush, in Bobby Orrwellian fashion, which is a term I just made up. He looked very much like the player everyone expected to see when Stanley Cup Winner Darryl Sutter signed him to a six year eleventy billion dollar contract three seasons ago. He was worth the money tonight.

He even hit a couple of people, so get your smile on, Jay, you’ve been deemed pretty good at hockey by a panel of experts who were watching you tonight and are only mostly me on that panel.

Czechmate

One of the big stories going into the game (outside of it being the Battle of Alberta that the Oilers were supposedly going to decimate the Flames in, which is adorable, thanks for coming out Edmonton, you were all like puppies out there) was that the Flames were FINALLY going to get to debut their significant offseason acquisitions, Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka.

While Cervenka, who hadn’t played in a game since November, and has racked up a lot of frequent flyer miles flying between Russia, Calgary, Phoenix, and Mars over the past 10 days or so, looked unspectacular, which you might expect, but you can see that good things are coming. And that. freaking. rules.

Hudler, on the other hand, was all Black Crowes about it, being way to hard to for the Oilers to handle on this night, running roughshod over the Schultzes of the world and even assisted on Lee Stempniak’s game winning power play goal in the second.

The Czech forwards each played just under 18 minutes, and looked REALLY good when you consider they were centered by Matt Stajan, and they just made the Flames immediately better. The team has some depth now, and we’re all happy to be able to hear that word again without any hint of sarcasm for once.

Kent said it best on twitter: I can say the Flames can actually ice to two full PP units for the first time in recent memory.

I couldn’t agree more. This is not your father’s Calgary Flames. Assuming your father only started watching the Flames 4 years ago.

Look out for the Flames, Citizens, because they are on their way.

  • I’ll give you guys Stajan. He wasn’t terrible last night, I just thought he was mostly…there, which is better than terrible, which I thought Comeau was.

    He better make the most of his opportunity playing with those guys, because it’s not going to get any better for him than that.

    But let’s not focus so much on the negatives. Let us all regale in how badly Oilers fans were trash talking us Flames Nation Citizens, and how they’re all virtually silent this morning.

    Feels good, man

  • Craig

    I thought that Blair Jones was awesome last night, he picked up where he left off last year, can’t really see him as a third liner but he is an excellent fourth liner. Backlund should be centering the czechs, he doesn’t have any chemistry with Cammaleri, and stempniak will be good with anyone right now. Everytime I saw Stajan last night I kept thinking that the cycle would have lasted way longer with backlund there. They would have killed it.

    • Agree on Stajan and Backlund. Stajan is still weak on the puck and is too easily taken out of the play.

      Overall a really good game by the Flames though. I also have to hand it to Iginla – he looks a couple of years younger in the early going.

      • I also noted quite a few times for ‘key’ faceoffs in the defensive zone, Stajan was getting thrown out to take the draw. I’m not sure exactly what it says about the Flames if Stajan is our go-to center in those situations, but he’s proven pretty useful to my eye so far this year.

    • Willi P

      Jones did have a good game last night. Maybe he will develop a little more finish and pot a few.

      Can’t agree on the Backlund/Stajan thing though. Backlund has started off great but his play is shoot first right now and he seems to be trying to do it all himself on that line most of the time. Unfortunately, I think Backlunds ice time/stock may start to drop off until he starts passing more to the shooters on his line.

      Stajan kept the play alive a lot last night and his puck possession game was as good as I have ever seen it as a Flame. I think he is a good centre for these two guys until they get up to speed, if he can continue this type of play. (and I am not or never have been a Stajan fan but hope he can change my mind)

  • beloch

    A few observations:

    I think Stajan was ok, But he has no finish. Hudler and Cervenka need a better Center.

    Best game I’ve seen J Bo play! Looked like Scott Niedermayer last night!!

    Cammelleri was a lot better last night too.

    Kipper scares me a bit this year, but one thing I noticed.. The team has confidence in him, that’s got to count for something..

    Brodie kicks ass!

    Comeau’s useless right now…

  • beloch

    @ bookofloob:

    Hey I’m not a stajan booster either but we gotta give credit when credits due. He was very solid last night. I’d rather see Sven on their line but for now while they’re learning the system stajan is ok. He’s worked hard in the off season obviously. Playing hard.

  • beloch

    I was really pleasantly surprised how well hudler and cervenka performed.Hudler plays with alot of patience and is very confident in himself on the ice. Very skilled and mature player. I’m sure playing in Detroit helped with that. Cervenka played it safe the first few shifts, which was smart but he showed flashes of what we’ve been told about his skill. Looked great. Almost scored too. They both bring some great natural skill to this team. I almost hate to say it because I’ve been a huge nay sayer regarding stajan….. He was solid last night. Good at both ends. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a team with good puck possession skills. Was fun to watch last night and I thought the 3 scratched were the correct choices. Jacko, butler, begin. Not a big begin booster, sorry! Can’t wait for gaudreau, granlund, Jankowski, sieloff, ramage, culkin,Wotherspoon,kulak, brossoit, gillies to develop too. Edmonton will be great but were fine. Nothing to complain about. Jays staff are aggressively loading the shelves.

  • beloch

    A thought on Baertschi:

    I thought he looked decent out there, but he only got 5 minutes of ice-time tonight. It was nice to have him on the ice when his family is in town, but he should probably be sent back to Abbotsford until a bigger role opens up for him (i.e. Once the injuries inevitably start to pile up).

  • beloch

    Stajan is unlikely to find himself between better wingers at any future point in his career. Here’s hoping he takes advantage of it! Hudler looked like he knew what he was doing, which is very promising given how little time he’s had to learn Hartley’s system. Cervenka looked a little tentative at first, but got better with every shift. He seems to be able to stick-handle around other players well and has a nice quick-release. He’s definitely got potential!

    Stempniak… Man… WHY CAN’T HE PLAY LIKE THIS ALL SEASON!!!??? Seriously. The last few games he’s been excellent.

    Iginla and J-Bo also played great tonight. It’s too bad the Flames don’t play again until Thursday. They should have gotten some momentum off of this game for their next one. Still, I expect the Czechs will look a lot better after a full week of practice.

    • Willi P

      With regards to Stemp, maybe this is a progression in becoming more consistent. GlenX is a much more consistent scorer in the last few years after he started as a very streaky scorer. Perhaps this is the evolution of some types of players. If so, looks good for him and the team.

  • I thought the Ragin Stajan looks pretty good with his Czech mates. Hopefully they stick with it for a bit and give them a chance to gel. Sure nice to have 3 scoring lines and a fourth that’s pretty talented. Defense is really rounding into shape also. Hartley’s upbeat attitude seems to be paying off.

  • Truculence

    Awesome article. Disagree on Stajan, though. I thought he was more than adequate, and nicely complemented the Czechs with some hustle and good cycling down low on occassion. He played like a decent third line center, in other words, but not quite like a 3.5 million second-line center.

    Bomo was a beast, though. He was really good in Van, too, so maybe, just maybe, he will flourish under Hartley`s system. If so, damn you B Sutter for constraining the ability of a guy we were paying 6.5 million a year.

    • Willi P

      Agreed.

      Stajan had a good/great game. Two games in a row and for his sake, I hope it keeps progressing.

      This line took over as the number 2 line as the game went on.

      As for JayBo, that is the type of play I expected when the Flames signed him. If it continues, it will be obvious that it was all coaching that held him back for the last three years.