For those who desperately want the Flames to lose every game to end this season, have a look at today’s roster. How much harder can they try to lose?
The flames started this game with one of the worst lineups they have dressed in my living memory. With Stajan and Byron both away from the team for personal reasons and Backlund not playing after a hand injury the Flames had Monahan, Cammalleri, Galiardi, and Bouma as their centres. Chad Billins and Chris Breen played, AS A PAIR. Oh yeah, with Joey MacDonald in net. All of this was in addition to their regular group of dynamos including McGrattan, Westgarth, Hanowski, and Agostino. They started a line of Hudler, Cammalleri, and Bryce Van Brabant. In an NHL game.
But dang nabbit! These guys don’t know how to quit! The Flames won back-to-back games in Florida after defeating the Lightning last night 4-1 and the Panthers tonight 2-1. Find out all about it after the jump.
Anyway, the puck dropped in front of dozens and dozens of faithful fans, some of whom were possibly sticking around after they mixed up the date of a Billy Joel concert. The Panthers had a couple pretty good chances early on but were able to draw a penalty three minutes in and went to the powerplay, a powerplay that saw Kenny Agostino and Chad Billins getting time on it. As you might guess, the Flames were unable to score on this man advantage.
Seriously though, the early part of this game was DOA. Which wasn’t really surprising as both rosters were largely AHL-level and it was being played in a building that makes mausoleums look like frat houses. Bless his heart, but Joey Mac looked pretty solid in the first 10 minutes of this game and made a few reasonably good saves. Bascially, the first had absolutely no pace and it ended scoreless, even though Scott Gomez rang one of the inside of the post with under 20 seconds to play. Shots were 11-6 in favour of Florida.
Before the start of the second, the Sportsnet broadcast informed us that on this day in NHL, there was the last recorded tie. This did not bode well for the game picking up in excitement. However, the start of the second had a veritable avalanche of offense. About two minutes in, a Brian McGrattan shot ricocheted to Kenny “shoot first” Agostino who beat Luongo blocker side for his first NHL goal. A nice shot from Agostino which is what we were told to expect from him, a shoot first mentality:
However, less than a minute later,Lance Bouma was whistled for a holding the stick penalty, sending the Panthers to the powerplay where Vinny Trochek scored to even the game at one. The goal came off of a pretty ugly rebound from ol’Joey Mac. But the goals didn’t stop there!
The Flames took back the lead seven minutes in with Mike Cammalleri burying an absolutely gorgeous pass from Jiri Hudler, through three sticks. That was Cammalleri’s 500th career NHL point and his 26th goal of the season. All the way around, it was a pretty goal from the only NHL line that the Flames dressed tonight. At this point, I think BoL speaks for the fanbase with regards to Cammalleri’s future of the team.The Flames held on to the 2-1 lead heading into the third period. The second ended with the shots favouring Florida 27-14. The Flames were refusing to go down easy in this one again.
About five minutes into the third, Joey MacDonald made the most Joey MacDonald save imaginable with a two pad stack on a partial two on one for the Panthers. Shortly after that, Cammalleri had a breakaway and missed on an empty net after freezing Luongo. If we learned anything from last night’s third period, the Flames were going to try to sit on their lead and collapse around their net. That is exactly what they did.
The Flames won the game 2-1 and ended it with two consecutive blocks from Lance Bouma and Mark Giordano because they are brave and cool. The Flames were outshot 35-17. They won an NHL game with only 17 shots for. Also, MacDonald made 34 saves which is incredible. Good for him, seems like a nice dude.
THE RED WARRIOR
Joey MacDonald had a pretty good game tonight and gets an honourable mention playing behind an exceptionally weak Flames lineup. The Flames were badly outshot again and MacDonald didn’t allow a back-breaking goal, in fact he played well enough to earn the win, which is more than one can expect from a goaltender like MacDonald. He made 34 saves on 35 shots which is pretty amazing even though the shots weren’t always quality scoring chances.
However, it has to be Kenny Agostino for netting his first NHL goal in the second period of tonight’s game. It was a pretty good shot too against Roberto Luongo which has to feel great for him. I am not sure of Agostino’s future at the NHL level but he has shown flashes of offence during his very brief time up with the Flames this season. I am nearly certain that he will start next season in Abbotsford so hopefully he can continue to generate shots at a high clip and fill the net in the AHL.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, BASIL?
Darren Haynes tweeted out the lineup from the 1989 Cup winning squad today and it stood in stark contrast to one of the weakest lineups the Flames have dressed in my living memory. Here is the tweet from Haynes
Flames lines (25 years ago today): Roberts-Nieuwendyk-Loob, Mullen-Gilmour-Patterson, Peplinski-Otto-M. Hunter, T. Hunter-MacLellan-Fleury
— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) April 4, 2014
Basically the same as tonight’s right?
The Flames held on the entire third period and Joey Mac made some key saves to preserve the Flames lead. The Panthers managed a fair amount of shots but generally looked bland and disinterested. They looked like a team comfortable with losing. The Flames are the antithesis of that. With the win tonight, the Flames clinched a spot above the top-three this season so celebrate or grimace accordingly.