Archive for January, 2010
Sunday, January 31st, 2010
Well, for the first time in 9 games, the Calgary Flames left the ice with 2 points…and for the first time in the 29 year history of the Battle of Alberta, one team won every single meeting. That being the Flames, who finished off the provincial series with a 6-1 win on Saturday night. Fact of the matter is, it’s a win and the Flames needed one…we can start analzying things other times.
I say that because I don’t really know what to take from this game…the Oilers are unbelievably bad, and because of that it’s tough to get a true indication of where the Flames were. Give Calgary credit, they did more than enough to win this game…but when you’re playing that team, you have to temper your excitement I think. Now lets see what happens Monday at home to Philly and make some judgements then…but the Flames did what they needed to do, they won, and with 9 straight losses prior…I think that’s really all that matters.
Jarome Iginla lead the way on this night, with 4 points and a +4 rating…he was pretty darn good. He dropped the gloves, he was an offensive force, and had his second multi-point night in 3 games. For Iginla, he said following that his fight with Sheldon Souray was already predetermined and they dropped them as soon as they had a shift together. In Iginla’s words, they were just “getting it over with”…but it’s funny, many believe that this all stems from that hit Iginla delivered in Edmonton way back. If that’s the case, I think Iginla has answered the bell more than enough…he’s fought Moreau and he fought Souray. For Sheldon, well, not great news…he fractured his hand and didn’t return. As for Iginla, one of his four points was good for the 900th of his career.
The Oilers are now just 1 game off from tying a franchise record for games without a win…they’re now 0-11-2 in their last 13 games. The Flames play Philly on Monday night. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Steinberg960.
Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Make the winless streak 8 games, the longest for the Calgary Flames since 2001-2002…Calgary fell 4-3 in a shootout Wednesday night at the hands of the Dallas Stars. It was a game where Calgary looked better, and showed some good signs, yet were unable to close out a 2 goal lead. The Flames were outplayed in the final 25 minutes, which was a big reason why they fell…with the single point, they do move back into 8th spot in the Western Conference.
It’s funny how you look at this one…there were some positive things for sure. Jarome Iginla scored his first goal in 11 games; it was also his first multi-point game in 11 games. Olli Jokinen scored. Dion Phaneuf scored for the first time in 17 games. And Jamie Lundmark added a helper for the first time in 10 games. For the most part, Calgary’s best players were there best players.
Yet, a couple spans of time when they weren’t sharp and this thing slips away…James Neal scored with 24 seconds to go in the second period to make this a one goal game heading into the final frame. Not a good time to surrender a goal, especially on a breakdown like that. But still, Calgary…who had been a third period team for a good part of the first half of the season…had a chance to close this sucker out. But, for a second straight game in that situation, Calgary was unable to close out a third period, this time allowing a powerplay goal to get this thing tied.
Part of that third period was a not great penalty from Rene Bourque…he broke his stick and then didn’t drop it, leading to a powerplay. Jay Bouwmeester would take a tripping penalty shortly thereafter…and bam, 3-3. Calgary was outshot 15-5 in the third period and overtime, which is not what you need to be doing when leading after 40…and in the midst of a 7 game (now winless skid.
Calgary takes on Phoenix on Thursday night at 7 pm. Notes: Jarome Iginla ties Theoren Fleury for second all time on Calgary’s assists list with 466; Calgary’s powerplay scored twice in one game for the first time since November 30th in Toronto (27 games).
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Friday, January 22nd, 2010
The effort Calgary put forth on Thursday night at home to Chicago was better than Monday’s debacle in San Jose, but it wasn’t good enough. The Flames fell 3-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary’s 7th straight regular season loss to the Hawks. It’s also Calgary’s 6th straight loss overall, they’ve dropped 8 of their last 9 games. Calgary now sits just 7 games above .500 and 4 points back of both Vancouver and Colorado.
First off, the Blackhawks are incredible…they were the better team period on Thursday. It wasn’t Calgary not playing well or anything else…Chicago won this hockey game because they were a better team and played a better game. From seeing them on this night, there’s no question in my mind…they are the best hockey team in the NHL without question. San Jose, Washington, New Jersey…all great, but Chicago seems a cut above everyone else right now.
And I think what you saw is where Calgary is at this point. Not at a high, elite level. They were better than they were Monday in that 9-1 loss to San Jose, and it wasn’t just that they were better by default. They played pretty good hockey for some of this hockey game, but it just wasn’t up to par with the Hawks. It took Calgary 32 minutes to get any sustained pressure, while Chicago had the puck for a large portion of this game. And for the majority of this game, Calgary wasn’t fast enough or skilled enough to stay with Chicago.
Yet they did. Why? Well, #34 of course. Miikka Kiprusoff was incredible and a deserving first star on the night. Here’s what seemed to trouble Head Coach Brent Sutter: they were still in this game in the 3rd period, they were starting to play better and were matching up a whole lot better and it was 1-1. Yet, they made some costly mistakes in the final frame that led to scoring chances for Chicago…and in Ben Eager’s case, a goal. Sutter needs his team to win close games…regardless how much they’ve been outplayed or haven’t. And at the very least, he wants his team to be smart and composed in close games and not make mistakes…and on this night they did.
So, it was better and maybe it spurs them on to continue to improve…their next 4 games aren’t against “powerhouse opponents” persay, but you’ve gotta come to play against whoever you play. And that’s Calgary’s challenge now as they try to snap a 6 game skid. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Steinberg960.
Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
“We didn’t come close.” Those were the words of Calgary Flames Head Coach Brent Sutter following a 9-1 loss at the hands of the San Jose Sharks on Monday night. And Calgary didn’t come close in their most lopsided loss in almost 4 years.
This one started bad and spiralled out of control, and there’s not really a whole lot else to say. Brent was at a loss for words following the game, because it’s clear we’re not talking about a coaching issue with this team. In fact, that’s the most resounding thing I got from this atrocity…Calgary let it happen, and never showed any resolve to try and make it stop. In a huge game, the Flames had an opportunity to step up and answer the bell. Instead, they showed no emotion from the get go and were embarassed in another “rock bottom” game.
I firmly and 100% believe that Brent Sutter is the right guy to coach this hockey team. The problem with this team is not the coaching, it’s not the system, it’s not the X’s and O’s if you will. Right now, you have to wonder if the message is getting through. Sutter and the coaching staff have a very clear message…but is that message being embraced? That’s what you need to ask at this point…and clearly we don’t have the answer.
In fact, the questions will be plentiful…but the problem is, if the coaching staff doesn’t have the answers at this point, how can anyone else? Is it a good thing or a bad thing this team has 72 hours until they play the (NHL best) Chicago Blackhawks? Not sure…Mike Rogers said a good thing, so I’ll defer to him. But in my opinion, it’s on the Flames to make sure it’s a good thing.
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Sunday, January 17th, 2010
For the first time this season, Calgary carried a lead into the third period of play and lost in regulation…that’s exactly what happened Sunday night in southern California as the Flames fell 5-4 at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks. Calgary falls to 26-17-6 on the season, and they lost their 11th straight game at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
The Ducks have now won 6 of their last 7 games and 7 straight games on home ice, but I don’t come away from this one thinking the Ducks rolled en route to a win. Was not impressed with the Ducks, as they were very lax defensively. But, the Flames weren’t impressive either, as they strayed away from the identity Brent Sutter wants from them for too much of this game. They need to get back to that heading into a Monday game in San Jose, no question…but it must be hard for a head coach to point to HOW you’re supposed to play without a ton of examples to back it up. Calgary played their game for 3 straight games (Van, Col, Pit) but gained just 3 points in that span. Yet, that’s the hockey the coaching staff needs them to continue.
The 800 pound gorilla of course would be Curtis McElhinney, who fell to 3-4 on the season with the loss. He was not impressive, letting in 2 goals that should not have gotten past him…Evgeni Artyhukin and Bobby Ryan both scored questionable tallies. Don’t know what else to say though…we’re past the halfway mark of the season, if you’re thinking that Calgary needs to do something at that position, I’m not sure if this is the time.
The powerplay laid another goose-egg on this night, but they did show signs of improving…firing 11 shots on net on 3 man advantage opportunities. But, they didn’t score, and they’re now 1 for 25 over their last 8 games…that stretch needs to come to an end very soon. 1 interesting wrinkle…Robyn Regehr saw a lot of PP time in front of the net. Brent Sutter said following the game he needed a big body in front that wasn’t going to move away. For what it’s worth, I liked it.
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Friday, January 15th, 2010
After being seemingly snakebitten the last 2 games against Colorado and Pittsburgh, the offensive woes came to a bit of a peak on Friday night as Calgary fell 1-0 to the Nashville Predators. It was a game where Calgary didn’t give up much…they allowed just 21 shots and just 1 goal, yet they could not find a way to score, and lost their 3rd straight game in the meantime.
Calgary falls to 26-16-6 with the loss while Nashville improves their record to 29-16-3…the Preds now lead the Flames by 3 points in the Western Conference standings. The problem has been offence, no question, the last few games…they’ve scored just 5 goals in their last 4 games. This one was interesting…it was a battle between 2 teams playing almost identical styles of hockey, and it just so happened Nashville was able to find a way to score. Defensively, Calgary was just fine…it was the other side of the game where they struggled.
Head Coach Brent Sutter felt the team played too much on the perimiter, which was true. While they did generate some quality scoring opportunities, a lot of their 22 shot came from the outside and the coach felt the team didn’t do a good enough job getting to the tough areas of the ice. And the powerplay let the team down once again…which I guess plays into the lack of offence discussion. But Calgary’s PP was not good on this night, and finished 0 for 3…they’ve gone 1 for 22 in their last 7 games and 4 for 45 in their last 13.
Calgary tries to get back on track Sunday in Anaheim. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Steinberg960.
Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
So, the Calgary Flames threw 35+ shots on net for a 3rd straight game…but for a second straight game, the Flames were unable to earn the 2 points. In fact, on Wednesday, Calgary wasn’t able to earn any points as they fell 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in their only meeting with the defending Cup champs this year. Calgary drops to 26-15-6 while Pittsburgh improves to 29-18-1.
Calgary lacked finish on Wednesday, as they fired 38 shots on the Pittsburgh net and were well into the double digits when it came to scoring chances. But they weren’t able to convert upon their scoring chances, and they weren’t able to draw even with Pittsburgh once Sergei Gonchar scored on the PP. From a Pittsburgh perspective, give them credit…they’ll bite you when you let up. Calgary let up twice in this game in my eyes, and both times they found the puck in the back of their net. Plus, Sidney Crosby made a pretty dazzling goal happen all by himself.
Here’s the thing…Brent Sutter stressed following this game that the Flames can’t stray from what they’re doing. Was he disappointed that Calgary only scored the 1 goal? Yes. But he said you have to be very careful in walking the line of not scoring enough and trying to score too much. If the Flames stick to their gameplan and don’t stray away from it, they’re going to be just fine. And that’s what the Head Coach was stressing following Wednesday’s game.
Good news in the fact that Calgary snapped a 5 game goal-less streak on the powerplay. Mark Giordano scored in the 2nd period on a powerplay that looked all-world. Pittsburgh was running around and Calgary moved the puck so well that it was almost a guarantee they were going to score. Calgary finished 1 for 5 on the PP, but maybe that goal on the man advantage can get things back on track…they were 0 for 16 prior to the Giordano marker.
Calgary plays Nashville for the final time on Friday, gametime is 7. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Steinberg960.
Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
For the second straight game, the Calgary Flames fired 40+ shots on the opposition net, and for the second straight game the Flames went to extra time. In fact, for a second straight night, the Flames twice in regulation and had their game finish 3-2. Except on Monday night at home to Colorado, Calgary came out on the wrong side of the score. And for a second straight night, the Flames did almost everything right…except on this night, they didn’t win the game.
Calgary outshot the Avs 46-21 on Monday night, including 40-15 in the final 45 minutes of the game. But Craig Anderson was stellar, as he has been all season long, and it’s no stretch to say he stole the hockey game from the Flames. As a result, Calgary falls to 26-14-6 while the Avs improved to 26-15-6 on the season. But it’s clear the Flames were the better team on this night, and I think fans can be happy that for 2 straight games they stuck with the gameplan for a full 60 minutes. Once again, just like in Vancouver, there wasn’t any deviation or let-up from their plan and it payed dividends. They just couldn’t finish.
Captain Jarome Iginla was very quick to say that the Avalanche are NOT in Calgary’s ahead, this despite a 4-0 record against the Flames this year. Brent Sutter also scoffed at the notion, saying “we know who the better team was, #41 for them was the difference”.
The only scary thing is Calgary’s PP which continues to limp along. They have not scored on the man advantage in 5 straight games, going 0 for 14 in that time…they’ve scored just 3 powerplay goals in their last 11 games. That’s on 37 opportunities, at a very low 8.1%. Calgary plays Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Steinberg960.
Sunday, January 10th, 2010
A lot of Calgary Flames fans were hoping their team would present an adequate response following 2 unimpressive games against Minnesota and Columbus. Well, I think they got more than that on Saturday night in Vancouver, as they took a 3-2 shootout win over the Canucks. As a result, Calgary improves their record to 26-14-5 and moves to 3-1 against Vancouver this season.
Head Coach Brent Sutter challenged the team after Friday’s 3-2 loss at home to Columbus. I guess you can say message received. This rivals, and to me surpasses, the first game in Nashville for Calgary’s best 60 minute effort of the season. To me, Calgary was controlling and/or dominant right from the get-go and did not let up once. Did Vancouver have a couple of spurts of some sustained pressure? Sure, but that’s hockey. But there was never any let-up or deviation from the plan for Calgary tonight…and when that happens, well, look what happens.
Did Vancouver play great? No. But as much of that, in my mind, was how Calgary played. The challenge now is for Calgary to carry this through to Monday night against Colorado. The Flames have yet to win a game against Colorado this season, but the main thing is the C word. Consistency. We won’t know what this win does for consistency for a little while, but lets hope it’s big.
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Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
It was a Calgary Flames team that just seemed to be lacking something on Wednesday night at the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota. The Wild won their second straight game over Calgary, taking a 4-1 win. In the process, Minnesota snaps a 4 game losing streak while Calgary sees their season-high 5 game win streak come to an end.
It’s one of those games where you’re not exactly sure what to make of it. The Flames didn’t seem to have much fight in them on this night, as Minnesota outworked and outplayed Calgary for most of this hockey game. I think we all realize that the stretch Calgary has been on lately in terms of games probably played a factor. It’s not an excuse, but it’s probably fair to say that “sometimes these games happen”. The mark of a really good team is how you respond to an inevitable let down, and if they do that well on Friday, I think it answers some questions. If they don’t, well, maybe it raises a few…and then again, maybe it doesn’t.
It’s not necessarily a game where you point fingers here or there…for me I’m going to wait until after the Blue Jackets game to really evaluate this one. Inside the numbers, Calgary lost for only the 6th time this season when scoring the first time…they’re now 20-6-4 when doing that. Calgary also loses just their 6th game on the road this season…overall they’re 13-6-3 away from home. Martin Havlat extended his point streak to 6 games for Minny, while Eric Belanger played his 600th career game, scoring 2 goals to boot.