Post Game: Bankrupt in Detroit

(Well the night wasn’t a total loss)


So…things in Detroit these days are the opposite of affluent, and the Wings, sensitive to the fact that they’re a collection of millionaires living amongst the regular citizens of a city that declared bankruptcy, are doing their part to fitting in by making sure they’re not successful at Joe Louis Arena. They’re only 5-9-6 at home this year, and just haven’t looked good in their own barn.

So the Flames, who have been steadily improving as the month of December slides on, should have had a chance, perhaps even been the favourite to win this tilt with the Wings tonight, right?

Well about that…the results of the Chiasson Invitational after the jump!


This game started at 5:30 Mountain time, so there was a good chance most Flames fans were still trudging their way across the snow covered streets of Cowtown when the Wings’ Daniel Alfreddson (pictured) put his team up 1-0 on, frankly a pretty damn ugly goal on Karri Ramo’s part.

Visions of never scoring in Boston and Anaheim and with high school sweethearts immediately started forming in the minds of collective Flames fans everywhere and it was possible we had already written this game off and looked ahead to Sidney Crosby and oh damn the Flames still have to go play Crosby before this god forsaken road trip ends.

But the Flames, ever the model of focus and poise, gracefully held their heads high in the time it took the rest of us to lose our minds. Mikael Backlund, who in true Christmas form had his game grow three sizes tonight, was cash money tying the game on a rebound off a Mike Blammalleri shot, slipping it past Wings’ starter Jonas Gustavsson (!) to make it 1-1.

Shots were 15-6 Detroit after the first, and chances were, I don’t know, not really counted, but one assumes Detroit had the edge their too. Still, it was gridlocked at the break and the Flames were looking, let’s say good.

It was more of the same in the second as the Flames continued to find themselves hemmed in their own end at times, but Karri Ramo once again held his ground and the defense prevented any real five bell scoring chances. Still, Joakim Andersson, I guess, managed to tip a point shot and redirect it past Ramo to put the Wings up again, proving that Detroit is not completely a have-not community. But the boys in white (The Flames, in case there was any confusion), bouyed by the fact that the Wings began to take ALL THE PENALTIES tied the game on a Mark Joordano snipe just after the 2nd of the Flames back to back 5 on 3s had come to an end.

So if you’re keeping score at home, the Flames continue to shoot 0’fer on two man advantages, but 4 Wings are the key to success (and only cost a dollar depending on what night you go to the bar)

Detroit outshot our heroes once again in the second, but by a much slimmer margin at 11-9. You had the sense that maybe the Flames had a shot in this one.

But they didn’t. Flash forward to overtime, seeing as nothing happened in the third:

Daniel Alfredsson (pictured) is an asshole. Alfie scored on a one timer served up on a pillow by Pavel Datsyuk, clapping his second goal of the game and sending the local fans home happy and still economically disenfranchised. The Flames were outshot 10-7 in the third, and 2-0 in overtime.

Why The Flames Lost

Well I’m not going to blame refs, but part of the reason why Alfredsson scored his second goal is because TJ Brodie was serving a penalty assessed to him late in the third when he had the audacity to lift Datsyuk’s stick, which I guess you JUST DON’T DO, so that was pretty lame. But the Wings played a stronger possessional game basically whenever Mikael Backlund wasn’t on the ice.

Sean Monahan was eventually bumped to the 4th line as the game progressed, swapping places with Joe Colborne, and rightfully so, as his line with Byron and Hudler, were beat up, losing ALL the corsis. Monahan has been in way over his head since he’s returned from injury, and now he’s being given the Sven treatment by Bob Hartley, except in this case it’s because Monahan is actually not playing well.

Also, I guess we can chalk up part of the loss to being entitled or not being intense or having a spark or something else that’s stupid.

Red Warrior

Well, I thought Karri Ramo was spectacular tonight, but he was out-spectaculared by Mikael Backlund. Backlund was a machine tonight, as he has been for a lot of the last few nights, to the point where Bob Hartley (I’ll say this again, BOB FREAKIN’ HARTLEY) called Backlund the Flames best forward right now.


See? Backlund played over 21 minutes tonight, had a goal on 5 shots, and was undeniably noticeable everytime he was on the ice. He was the best player for both teams and it wasn’t even close.

Funny how ever since Hartley realized Backlund was a good player and deserves to be surrounded by guys who don’t make a living punching eye sockets that his performance (and I guess trade stock) has skyrocketed. That we don’t hear idiots on twitter chirping us for defending Backs as much (though it’s still happening). 

In the End

Moral victories and all that. The Flames lost the game, are going to lose the war, but we’re seeing positive things going forward, at least if you ignore the fact that the team for some reason signed Keegan Kanzig to his entry level contract tonight (Breen 2.0!). The little things are coming together. Ramo played well again. Backlund was a beast. McGrattan only played 5 minutes tonight (you gotta think eventually Hartley’s going to see the forest for the GRITCHART on that one). I got to make that Matt Stajan photoshop. Pretty good night. Pretty good game. Unfortunately the results weren’t there again, but they were remarkably better than they were against Boston a couple of nights ago. This season is a free pass, so it’s all about gleaning the positives and learning how to trim out the negatives with a little on the job training.  And hey, Christmas is coming, so cheer up Bud!

Yours in grit (Ryan Pike came up with that line, but I’m stealing it forever),

Book of Loob

  • Mort

    Made the trip down to Detroit from Toronto to watch my beloved Calgary. But the Joe Louis Arena is probably/most likely the most outdated arena in sports. They don’t even accept debit. The video board is not HD, so good luck trying to watch instant replays.

  • Derzie

    Those pics cracked me up. Alfie is indeed an asshole. Good call. Feaster getting canned was the exact moment Backlund started getting ice. Don’t give ‘artley credit. Maybe the work of the grey-haired madman at the top.

  • Derzie

    Those pics cracked me up. Alfie is indeed an ahole. Good call. Feaster getting canned was the exact moment Backlund started getting ice. Don’t give ‘artley credit. Maybe the work of the grey-haired madman at the top.

  • beloch

    -You’ve got to wonder if Hartley is bipolar when it comes to Backs. Here’s hoping the love doesn’t turn to hate by tomorrow.

    -Paul Byron was also pretty visible tonight for playing like Theo Fleury has been giving him pep-talks. Can he stick with the club? If he keeps playing like this…

    -At one point during the evening, the commentator stated that “there’s no such thing as a bad shot on net!”. Obviously he wasn’t watching Big Ern. McGrattan is starting to do a few things better than the average goon, but he still shoots the puck at the net the moment he touches it in the offensive zone whether it’s a smart play or not. Unfortunately, his shot sucks. McGrattan is one player who should pass rather than shoot. Heck, his corsi would probably improve by at least 10 points if he just carried the puck to the boards and turned his psycho-glare on any opponents stupid enough to approach him. Then one of his linemates could just skate right over and pick the puck up.

    -Datsyuk demonstrated, probably every single shift, what elite talent is and that the Flames still need some. That guy is unreal!

  • aloudoun

    Seeing Backlund having games like this make me as happy as the Jay Feaster Sun.
    I wonder if Boomer is going to eat his words tomorrow after saying earlier this week that Backlund is invisible most games.

  • Alright just to keep things interesting here’s a thought. Most people agreed that two weeks ago (ish) Backs wasn’t playing well. Maybe more like a month. Coach sits him, tells him he has to earn his ice time, play with increased drive and think offense too. Coach gives him a shot when injury hits, meets with him, shows him video, slowly increases ice time, pats him on the back, and we have Backlund without a doubt playing the best hockey of his career. Maybe rather than blast Hartley we should give him some credit for helping Backlund with his development. If its the coach’s fault when player X is playing poorly then maybe the coach should get some credit when he is playing well…

    Do I believe this argument, no not really. But I will say that Hartley seems to get the most out of his players. He pushes them and sometimes the results are pretty impressive when they respond. We can all agree that Russell, Brodie and now Backlund are performing really well. Again just a post to keep things interesting….

    • Burnward

      This isn’t just keeping things interesting…you’re keeping it real.

      I would wager dollars to doughnuts this is way closer to the case and makes a tonne more sense than, “Hartley hates Backlund.”

      Well said.

    • Willi P

      Hartley had it in for Backlund, Baertschi, and Ramo.

      Backlund played very well at the beginning of the season before Stajan got hurt. Once Stajan got back all it took was one bad game before Backlund found himself on the fourth line. If there weren’t injuries I think he would still be there.

      Ramo was the better goalie between him and MacDonald (with a LOT more future upside) but MacDonald kept getting the starts in October. When Berra came up in November Ramo couldn’t buy a start spending weeks on the bench and getting called in for the occasional second half of a back to back. It wasn’t until Berra proved completely incapable that Ramo got an opportunity.

      Baertschi, well we all know how that ended up.

      So is coaching the reason Backlund and Ramo are playing well? Or is it dumb luck they got to play and they would have played well much earlier if given the opportunity?

      Personally I think the philosophy of expecting players to earn being put into a position to be successful is ridiculous. Putting Ramo on the bench and Backlund on the fourth line is putting them in a position to fail. You shouldn’t ever put players (and assets) in a position to fail.

    • It’s a chicken and egg argument. One on hand, Backlund seems to be proving that moving him down the rotation was ridiculous. On the other hand, maybe Hartley’s tough love helped elevate his game?

      Can’t really know for sure. I’ll note Backlund was this good quite often last year as well, which seems to be forgotten by many.

      We’ll see how the rest of the year plays out.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I believe that Bob Hartley has a way with his players i.e. qualities that inspire his players to do well on ice; and he has done very well so far. Credit the coaching staff for bringing the Flames at this level today….

  • Burnward

    When the Flames lost in a shoot out a couple of nights ago Boomer was all over Backlund on Twitter. Because he didn’t score in the shoot out and lost the game.

    Even Walker rose from the dead to join in on the fun.

    So the idiots are still out there in twitterland.

    • Willi P

      Walker, Fan 960 weakling exported to Tranna cause they (Sportsnet) need some talent there.

      Boomer was, is and always be a stand in for a radio station missing a morning personality. If you need proof, listen to the co-host Rhett Warrener; the epitome of a marginal NHLer riding on the coat tails of one of his ex teams trying to earn recognition because he didn’t earn it on the ice. Kind of like Louie DeBrusk, but at least LDB wasn’t cut from the TV like monotone statue Rhett W.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I don’t know what to make of Hartley’s decisions, frankly decisions are somewhat unpredictable, and the only trend seems to be that he plays ‘his guys’.
    One thing that I have noticed however, is that when Bob gives a player a chance with more minutes or better linemates, he’d better make the best of them. Blair Jones got the memo right away (and after his banishment has been a good addition this year). Baertschi has not shown a consistent effort this season, and inevitably got sent to the farm. While Backlund has always been a very effective player, it’s also fair to point out that he hadn” t been bringing his A-game every night. Since, he started really pushing himself the coach rewarded him consistently (albeit only very recently).

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Red Warrior honourable mentions should also be given to Mathew “Franchise” Stajan last night. He has been basically really good to great all year long so far, and all the Stajan hate of the past, here at FN and within the fanbase at large has all but evaporated.

    Stajan is still the same player, but as our good buddy Charlie Simmer always says “he’s playing within himself”. I’d be willing to bet that the worst playing days as a pro for Stajan started at the exact moment D. Sutter was fired allowing brother Brent to make him his personal punching bag. Stajan literally became useful again after B. Sutter vacated his post with the Flames.