Well you didn’t really expect this one. Calgary outplayed Montreal the last time the teams meet last week at home. Montreal won in a shoot-out. TOnight, Calgary badly outplayed the Canadiens at home, a place where no team in the NHL has picked up a point this year. Despite an up-tempo start, Montreal slowly gave way the the relentless forecheck of Calgary, and in a big way too, to the tune of six goals.
AND NOW, the post game after-thoughts.
I had a bet with a neighbour who quickly took the Flames to win. Fine, I’ll take Montreal, after all, for a beer, they are the top team in the East. I didn’t expect a Flames team to largely dominate. They looked really good 5v5 and took control most of the game. Where they lacked was again, that edge that separates average teams from great teams. They also couldn’t do anything on the PP, and after squandering 3 chances in the late third period I said, “you don’t score on three late power-plays you do’nt deserve to win.”
Sure enough, the prophecy would hold true.
Some additional thoughts on tonight’s game.
If you want to have a look at a team that’s not really good and probably playing for the top draft pick next year then tonight was the night. Although the Carolina Hurricanes have a number of key injuries, Calgary was dominant in all facets of the game. They looked perhaps too good at times. Here are post-game thoughts:
Calgary 1 – Tampa Bay 2 (OT)
Calgary returned home after a length two week road trip which saw the team exceed expectations. With a 5 game homestand coming up, the Flames looked to extend their point streak to, well, two games. Here are some thoughts.
TJ Brodie is fresh coming off a 5 year contract extension. That puts him in a Flames uniform, barring trade, for the next six years including this one. Brodie’s signing is good for the club, but tonight, despite logging the minutes, was too eager to score in OT and ultimately lost his defensive assignment that lead to the OT goal for Tampa.
– Two goals late sunk the Flames. They’ll fix the glaring defensive zone miscues though, so that’s the growing pain for a young squad.
– Giordano with his first fighting major of the season. Don’t think he needs to do drop the gloves needlessly. The team is noticeable better with him on the ice and not in the box for 5 minutes.
– Dennis Wideman scored the Flames only goal and now has three. The defencemen are leading the way with scoring. The forwards?
– Curtis Glencross was half-asleep the entire game. Don’t know what his problem is. It’s a contract year after all.
– Backlund’s line could use energy, and size. Hudler and Byron on the wings doesn’t exactly scare teams with size (the truculent Brian Burke identity lost?)
– Ramo looked good through 3 periods, but ultimately couldn’t steal the two points.
– Another slow start. The team lacks energy it seems at time.
– But it’s great to see Jooris in the lieup. He’s moving his legs.
– Gaudreau did it all on the Flames only goal. He left to sharpen his skates (might have tweaked his ankle) but did return. He’s still figuring out his game and the coaching staff are watching him closely….
– Engelland, man, terrible tonight.
– No David Jones (dump him somewhere at night), Setoguchi, or McGrattan.
– Really quiet crowd tonight too, what’s up with that!?
At this rate my prediction of a slightly better, but not much, season points wise will work out. Calgary is on-again/off-again, winning one, and then losing one. I guess you could say they should’ve lost in Chicago. They should’ve lost in Columbus tonight and they did. Notable reasons why? Well let’s look at the primary ones.
If you want evidence that the Flames are playing for the bottom pick then look no further than the lineup. With able bodies in the minors waiting to come up, and the likes of broken vets like Setoguchi and *shudder* David Jones, picked over the likes of Sven Baertschi and Josh Jooris, couple that with sitting Jon Gaudreau, and you get the picture. If coaching decisions make you scratch your head, maybe the reasons are coming from higher above (not the hockey gods, but head office).
With next year’s entry draft probability effectively a crapshoot, the Flames winning games here and there isn’t so bad. It’s been a see-saw first few games for the club with their hot and cold play game in and game out. Versus Nashville last night the team pulled together a solid outing and backstopped by exceptional goaltending by Ramo, came out with a shootout victory.
Tonight, they were cold, and as a result were badly outplayed. If you thought St Louis was bad, here was a Stanely Cup contender that was showing the Flames youth the ropes. A total of 50 shots were thrown on goal compared to Calgary’s 20.
If you want an idea of how far away the Flames are from being a good team then look no further than this game. Every facet of the game was St Louis. There was no single time in this game that Calgary had control. Top to bottom the team was manhandled.
Although this is only game three, you get the sense this season will be a hot and cold season to watch. .500 hockey is good I guess, but there’s a missing spark that should propel this team to at least compete for 60 minutes rather than fall behind from the get go. It’s somewhat surprising to see the team take night’s off in terms of effort, that’s not a Hartley style. I surmise there will be a better showing come Tuesday.
Some more thoughts.
The longest rebuild in NHL history will continue as the league’s hapless Edmonton Oilers continue to look for answers despite being given #1 draft pick after #1 pick for what seems like a decade. You do’nt build Championship teams by stacking your top two lines with gifts forwards. You need great goaltending and great defence as well. Edmonton got neither tonight.
Calgary was playing their second game in as many nights and looked to pick up their first win of the season after last night’s loss to Vancouver. Some pre-game changes, all of which fans called for. Here are some post-game thoughts.
The puck drops on another hockey season for the Calgary Flames. A lot of red in the stands and a new look Sportsnet for fans watching at home. The starting lineup includes a couple of new faces, especially on left-wing and in goal.
Calgary opened the season against the league’s most hated team the Vancouver Canucks who themselves are trying to right the ship after an abysmal season. With the Sedins anything is possible simply through their skill, but we can expect Vancouver to crash and burn (or we can at least hope) as they did last year.
Calgary on the other hand will try to build on their rebuild and their record from last season. Sure, they competed every game, but fans and management and players want wins–nothing less. To do that the team needs to improve, and on paper it seems as though they’re better. On the ice? Well it looks pretty much the same.
Flames 2 – Canucks 4
Can you feel it in the air? The brand new NHL season is only one sleep away! The Calgary Flames enter the season in year #2 (is that official?) of their rebuild plans. So what can we expect from the team this year? Will they be worse off? Better? Will they slip to #30 in hopes of winning the draft lottery?
If we use last year as a barometer of the expected overall success of this team I would have to go against most pundits and suggest the Flames won’t be slipping to #30. They probably won’t even challenge for the top pick. No, I’m not suggesting this is a playoff team, but all things being equal, with no major injuries, the Flames shouldn’t be worse than last year and the roster proves that.
This year’s Calgary Flames HAVE lost scoring, yet improve in all other areas. With that in mind I predict 84 points, finishing ahead of Edmonton yet again, for 25th in the league. A fantastic ‘best case’ scenario the Flames finish with 88 points and 23rd. The worst case scenario, 29th and 77 points.