Archive for October, 2010
Friday, October 29th, 2010
Well we’ve heard this before. The top players on the Calgary Flames are not buying into what needs to be done, and it was the main thing harped on by Head Coach Brent Sutter following a 6-5 home loss at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche. It was a game where Calgary held three leads, including a 4-3 cushion heading into the third period.
A lot of scoring, that’s what. First period? Niklas Hagman scores his fourth of the season on the powerplay at 6:45 and it’s 1-0. But 62 seconds later, this thing was tied thanks to a Paul Stastny pass to Chris Stewart who would score the first of three goals on the night, also on the powerplay. At 13:41, it was Tim Jackman scoring his first of the season on a nice slap pass from Cory Sarich, and thanks to an Avalanche giveaway, the Flames carried a 2-1 lead into the second period.
Matt Stajan would give Calgary their biggest lead of the game, ripping his first of the season under the trapper of Peter Budaj at 11:43 of the second period. But two Stewart goals in the span of 29 seconds late in the frame had this game all square at three. The first came at the tail end of a Flames powerplay, and the second was an absolute rip of a slapshot beating Henrik Karlsson in net. Olli Jokinen got his first of the season with 91 seconds to go in the middle frame to give Calgary their lead back, as he jammed the puck through with Budaj not covering his post properly.
The third period…yikes for Calgary. They were absolutely thrashed in the shot column, and more importantly in scoring chances, as the Avs outshout the Flames 15-3 and outchanced them 11-3. Colorado started their three goal final frame outburst thanks to a Brandon Yip marker at 1:55 before T.J. Galiardi would take a gorgeous pass from Paul Stastny to stake Colorado to their first lead at 5-4. Off a bad Avalanche giveaway, Stajan found Alex Tanguay and he made a great move on Budaj to get this back square. But with just 2:20 remaining, Daniel Winnik got one past Karlsson to lead us to our final score, thanks to an absolute collapse from the home team.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames lost? Because, for the second straight night, they carried a lead into the third period and couldn’t lock it down. This one was even more troubling, because they held three seperate leads and couldn’t keep the Avs from pushing back. Even worse, they got a gift to tie this game at five and they STILL weren’t able to lock things down to earn a single point. The top line was no good, the second line was mediocre, and the top blueliners made far too many mistakes. Six goals against at home isn’t going to cut it, and performances like that while holding the lead are going to drive your coach nuts every single time.
Tim Jackman. Give the guy credit, he scores his first goal of the season, he fights, and he plays some hard hockey. On a night when the team needed an unwaivering guy, he was one of them, and probably the best. You’re not going to win games when your bottom three forwards are some of the better ones, but I thought Jackman was at least fun to watch and he is still doing a nice enough job driving the play.
Sum It Up
Just not a good night overall for the Flames. Brent Sutter said it was about 36 minutes of okay hockey where the team was sticking to the plan. However, the third period especially was no good at all, and you can’t hang this one solely on a shoddy performance from the backup goaltender. Neither goalie was good, but Colorado caught on and started funneling everything to the net (including two posts in the third). Calgary? They managed three shots on goal in the third period. Washington’s in next…they’ll thrash you if you let them.
Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
That was the total opposite of pretty, as the Calgary Flames were able to pull one of their behind and eventually skate to a 5-4 shootout win over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Alex Tanguay scored the winner on a gorgeous roof shot to seal a game where Calgary held a three goal lead late in the second period.
I thought a pretty solid first period for the Flames, outchancing the Oilers 9-4 and outscoring them 2-1. Brendan Morrison opened the scoring on the powerplay, his second of the season, as he walked in from the right point and wired a slap shot past Nikolai Khabibulin at 5:52. Just under three minutes later, the Oilers would equalize, also on the man advantage, as Kurtis Foster would blow a point shot past Miikka Kiprusoff at 8:38. But a late powerplay chance would give the Flames their lead back (TWO POWERPLAY GOALS!) on a Jay Bouwmeester goal from the left circle. But credit Tanguay and his deft no look pass to set that one up…goodness gracious that guy can dish.
The second period saw Calgary scoring early on, just over two minutes in the Flames best line (again) would cash in…Mikael Backlund fed Curtis Glencross off a Ryan Whitney giveaway to put Calgary up 3-1. You can make it 4-1 on Morrison’s third on a shorthanded breakaway, his second such break of the period unassisted at 9:48. Edmonton was downright awful at spans of the middle frame, and laughable at other times…there was a two minute span when it looked like they were the Washington Generals. Ugh. But, Jordan Eberle would score a softy on Kiprusoff with 17 seconds left in the second to put Edmonton within two, and give them some life heading into the final frame.
And that momentum would certainly come into play, as the Oilers came out flying. Edmonton media are calling the third period their best since opening night, also against Calgary. Magnus Paajarvi scored at 6:52 on a partial break to put the Oil within one before Tom Gilbert took a nice pass from Dustin Penner to wire it through and get this game squared at 9:19. Once it was 4-4, the Oilers had some real good chances to put themselves up by one, but Kiprusoff came through on some big saves, and the Oilers missed some quality opportunities as well.
Overtime solved nothing with a few okay chances both way, so off to a shootout where Kiprusoff made three stops on Eberle, Hemsky and Penner while Tanguay scored the only goal for the Flames to seal this one. Whew.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames won? Well, plain and simple, because they won the shootout. They blew this game in the final frame, and let a team playing downright awful hockey at teams get back into this hockey game. It’s a shame too, because there were some positives, including a dangerous looking powerplay that finished 2/5 on the night. Now, give Calgary credit, they won the game and got the two points and make it a three game win streak…but I know a lot of people weren’t thrilled that this one went to extra time. Head Coach Brent Sutter said you learn from it, and move on…because there was some good in this game, and some bad in this game.
No question. Two goals for Brendan Morrison only starts to tell the story of how much he was around the puck tonight. For a guy making very little dough, he’s been pretty darn good at times, but never better than he was in this game. The scoring chances flesh that out…10-3 in Calgary’s favour when he was on the ice. Very, very good night.
Sum It Up
Well…Miikka gets a win for the first time on his birthday, but it wasn’t pretty. Calgary played some sloppy, bad hockey in the final frame, and let the Oilers back in this hockey game. Alex Tanguay said following this game that it wasn’t really what Edmonton did, but more what Calgary didn’t do in that third period. Not to take credit away from the Oilers, but come on, 4-1 should not turn into 4-4 period, but especially not with how bad Edmonton played at times. But, move on, that’s all you can do…a beat up Colorado team is in next Thursday night.
Friday, October 22nd, 2010
The Baddest Man returns to The Octagon on Saturday night in Anaheim, California. Brock Lesnar will put his UFC Heavyweight Championship on the line against undefeated Cain Velasquez at UFC 121. It headlines a great night of fights.
Remember to follow along on Twitter on fight night, as I’ll be going back and forth…it should be a great night.
The Main Event
Brock Lesnar enters coming off the most impressive win in his career, a sucessful title defence over Shane Carwin at UFC 116. After being completely and utterly dominated for the opening round, Lesnar held on and ended up gassing Carwin. The second round was a different story and saw Brock finish a takedown and finish his opponent with an arm triangle from the side. It showed Brock’s perserverance and ability to take a punch, and made him even scarier than he was before.
The undefeated Velasquez continues his quest to become the first ever Mexican Heavyweight Champion, and does so with an impressive recent resume. At 8-0, Cain now boasts wins consecutive wins over Cheick Kongo, Ben Rothwell and Minotauro Nogueira, with his last two wins coming via stoppage. The guy is as well rounded as they come, with a good BJJ pedigree, tremendous power in his strikes, and a wrestling background similar to Brock’s. Velasquez was a two time All American at Arizona State alongside Ryan Bader and CB Dolloway. He deserves his shot, and is a worthy challenger to the strap.
The problem I see it for Cain is the same problem most opponents face when taking on Lesnar. Brock will have the weight advantage, by a good 20 or more pounds come fight night. There are few fighters on the planet better at using their weight advantage than Lesnar, so it will play a part. I will not choose against Brock, and I certainly won’t after his 116 win…I’ve got him by second round TKO.
The Runners Up
I’ve highlighted two fights as the co-main events in this one, even though only one will be billed as such. We’ll start with Jake Shields and his debut in the UFC fighting at 170 pounds against Martin Kampmann. Shields is an absolute freak of nature, as he’s held the Elite XC welterweight belt and Strikeforce middleweight belt at different times. Add into that a 14 fight win streak (14!) and you’ve got one hell of a 170 pounder. The last win for Shields came over Dan Henderson, and he’s also taken recent wins over Robbie Lawlor and Jason Miller. Jake is gunning for GSP’s welterweight belt, and he’s a bonafide contender at 170.
As for Kampmann, it’s never smart to count the Danish fighter out. He’s coming off a UFC 115 win over Paula Thiago, a match I got to see live in Vancouver…he looked very strong throughout. Kampmann is a strong, well rounded fighter with slick submissions and underrated standup. I’ll take Shields in the debut, just because he’s one of the very best in the world…but the UFC has given him a strong opponent to open up agaisnt.
The second match I’m very excited about pits Tito Ortiz against Matt Hammill. The interesting storyline dates back to season three of The Ultimate Fighter reality show, where Ortiz was a coach and Hammill was a promising competitor. The outcome really isn’t in doubt for me, because I think Hammill’s superior wrestling and MUCH improved standup will win the day in a decision. However, what will be very interesting will be how Ortiz performs…he’s lost his last two fights and hasn’t looked impressive in the least. If Tito wants to keep getting big paydays for fights, he better start earning it.
Also Of Note
A number of other good fights highlight this great 121 card. Brendan Schaub and Gabriel Gonzaga is a GREAT heavyweight battle, and a Shaub win could really bump him into the upper echelon in the division. Ultimate Fighter winner Court McGee takes on Ryan Jensen while there’s some great Canadian content as well. Patrick Cote is back, taking on Tom Lawlor while always exciting Sam Stout takes on Paul Taylor.
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Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
Not like it was an offensive showcase at the Bridgestone Arena (how many times has that place changed names?), but it’s two points and consecutive points for the Calgary Flames. Rene Bourque scored 2:10 into overtime to supply the only offence in a 1-0 Calgary win as the Flames move above the .500 mark for the first time this season.
It was basically the same game from start to finish, with both teams going back and forth. Nashville’s powerplay in the first period gave them a slight chance advantage, but shots were even at 12 following twenty minutes. The second period was much the same, with a few more chances on the man advantage…Calgary went 0/2 on the man advantage while the Preds were unable to score on three second period powerplays. The save of the game came in the second period coming from Miikka Kiprusoff when he slid across to close the door on a wide open chance from Martin Erat. Shots finished 12-6 in favour of Nashville.
I liked the Flames start to the third period, as they were skating and getting pucks towards the net, generating some of their better chances of the game. Things shifted back towards even for most of that third period, and shots finished 14-10 on the Flames side. Calgary had a nice push late in the final frame, and carried that into the extra frame…the Flames fired three shots on net including Bourque’s winner set up after a Morrison opportunity.
It was an even game, and the most competitive game these teams have played in Tennessee in quite some time. Scoring chances finished 17-12 in favour of the Preds, however even strength number slanted 11-8 for the Flames. As Kent pointed out, the Preds did a nice job limiting damage 5-on-5 and tried to gain some traction on the powerplay. Unforunately, the loss of defenceman Ryan Suter early in the first period paid it’s dividends, as the Nashville man advantage finished 0 for 5. That being said, don’t discount the job Calgary did on the PK.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames won? Well…this is a tough one. There are a number of little things the Flames did well in this game, but really it was fairly even. So I’ll go back to my point above…I’ll go with the PK. Calgary’s job with a man down was very strong, and even though Nashville had their chances, I felt Calgary got stronger as the game went along. In fact, the PK has been Calgary’s strongest suit since their opening loss to Edmonton. Since that time, the Flames have killed off 15 consecutive penalties, including all 5 on this night.
Hey, it’s his 32nd career shutout with the Flames, and 35th in his career…this one’s easy, it’s Miikka. #34 stopped all 34 shots fired on him, including the aforementioned save on Martin Erat. Talking on the postgame tonight, it’s true: no matter how much we appreciate what Kiprusoff does for this team, we won’t really understand it until he’s gone. Another great night, and a great start to the season.
Sum It Up
Give Calgary credit. They outwaited the Nashville Predators, who played a very solid game themselves. They had plenty of posession, and it never seemed they got discouraged, they just kept doing the little things. And eventually they were rewarded. They didn’t take a step back after their win over Edmonton, so now it’s time to keep it going. Calgary’s up against Detroit on Thursday night.
Friday, October 8th, 2010
We’ll just pretend Thursday’s Calgary Flames opener was the eight preseason game. The regular season starts on Sunday, lets go with that. Fact is, the Flames were not the better team at Rexall Place in Edmonton, and the new look Oilers were full marks for a 4-0 win.
A poor, flat footed first period for the Flames gave the Oilers the jump they needed. Gilbert Brule opened the scoring on the powerplay, as Calgary found themselves trying to keep up with their fired up opponents. Calgary took four first period penalties, including two for delay of game from Adam Pardy and Jay Bouwmeester. All four of those minors were the result of Edmonton pressure and skating, and the Oilers were unrelenting for 19 minutes. Shots were 19-9, but I got the feeling they weathered a bit of a storm, and only being down 1-0 could be looked at as a positive.
The middle frame saw things tilted back to the visitors. They started playing their game, using their down low advantage to generate shtos and draw penalties. But they were unable to score in that second period, as they ran into their old nemesis Nikolai Khabibulin. The problem with Calgary’s period was their lack of ability to get the puck with speed to the net. They’d gain the zone fine, but most of their shots came from the perimiter.
Two goals in a span of 1:19 in the final frame closed this sucker out, as Jordan Eberle snuck behind T.J. Brodie to put the Oil up 2-0 before Ales Hemsky blasted a shot past Kiprusoff off the right wing. Shawn Horcoff’s ankle deflected an Eberle PP shot to give the Oilers their four goal bulge, and seal their first victory over Calgary since the 2008-09 season.
One Good Reason…
…the Flames lost? Well, plain and simple, they were flat footed in the first and to start the third period. If you’re not going to score on your 18 second period shots, you can’t let two go in in under 80 seconds to start the final frame. In a one goal game, you can’t let in an early shortie like that.
Not a whole lot to choose from on this night, but I’ll go with Mark Giordano. He was by far the best Flame on the ice. How many times will we say that this season?
Sum It Up
Just not good enough. The Steve MacIntyre KTFO on Raitis Ivanans kinda told all you need to know…Oilers win big (hope all the best for #41 though). The top line was dismal, the powerplay looked mediocre, and the Flames didn’t cash in their opportunities. Um, just be better Sunday at home. No good. *shakes head*
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Monday, October 4th, 2010
I wrote on the signing of Craig Conroy over the summer and how much I liked it for a number of different reasons. One of those reasons was the low risk factor of it, which is exactly why it’s hard to dislike Calgary’s signing of free agent forward Brendan Morrison on Monday.
If you want to hear from the parties invovled, you have lots to choose from…
It’s a reported one year, $725,000 deal that comes in the wake of a rash of injuries to Flames centres over the past little while. Matt Stajan, David Moss and Ryan Stone have joined Daymond Langkow as centres on the shelf, not to mention another injury to winger Ales Kotalik. In that sense, it’s pretty low risk…an easy cap hit to manage, and you’re not affected by it once this season is done.
But with the financial stuff aside, it still is a signing that you like on the surface…at least I do. Similar to a guy like Conroy, and a good chunk of the rest of the Flames, there’s the redeption angle to look at. Morrison is miffed he didn’t get a contract on July 1st, and wants to show the Canucks (who released him from a tryout contract) and other teams that passed on him they were mistaken. A guy trying to prove a point can sometimes be a dangerous thing.
From an on-ice perspective, Morrison’s a guy who gives the Flames flexibility. He can fit into the top six as it stands right now with the injury situation, and makes life a little easier on Mikael Backlund, who I don’t think is ready to be a top two centre on a regular basis yet. His puck distribution skills could be very handy for a guy like Rene Bourque or Niklas Hagman, who both have a nice amount of finish. And he can win faceoffs, something that hampered the Flames last season.
If it doesn’t work, it’s a whole lot easier to scratch or waive a guy at $725,000 then it is with someone making more. I think the move will work on ice, but if it doesn’t, it still leaves the Flames with flexibility.
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