Dallas has talent but hasn’t found their legs just yet, until they met Calgary. Luckily my PVR was wrong and starting taping the game at 830PM. That meant missing two thirds of the game which was a stinker. Funny thing is, the Flames are adding vets coming from injury, but their play has deteriorated back to old times.
We’ll what shakes down for Saturday’s rematch against Washington.
While Calgary waited forever for their election results to trickle in, the Calgary Flames were in Los Angelas playing a late game to entertain voters who stayed up late. After 8 games Flames fans have seen enough to get a rough idea of the rhythm this team plays in. You can bet on consistent effort game in and game out, unlike previous years. Of course, great effort doesn’t mean the team won’t get hemmed in repeatedly, largely due to stupid defensive lapses. Cue TJ Brodie who may have scored the game winning goal with 30 seconds remaining, but put in a third consecutive poor performance on D.
Test refs must get the South Florida and South California games because nobody in those two States watch hockey. A half filled arena were on hand to watch what was easily the worst officiated game of the young season, and one of recent memory. This wasn’t a case of one sided officiating, this was a case of horrible call after horrible call for both teams. Embellishments won the day. Felt a hook? Throw yourself on the ice and get a call. Shed tears of a ‘butt end’ and you get a five minute major. Pretend to be hurt, get a quick whistle at the most crucial part of the game (a total an utter violation of NHL rules). Call a Selanne slashing penalty that lead directly to the GWG? Nah.
But with straighter refs would that have helped Calgary win their first game in Anaheim since 2007? Probably not. This was the team fans expected at the start of the year. It doesn’t help they’re missing 3 vets and their special teams are abysmal. No, Calgary was behind and outclassed in most ways, but even then, they still put up a fight and made for an interesting game which is more than what most can expect.
In one of those rare and glorious sports days for the City of Calgary, both the Stampeders and the Flames were playing at home at the same time. And for the first time in recent memory, BOTH teams won.
Admittedly, before this game went down I told everyone who’d listen, “Flames will lose this one.” There’s no way with the lineup they were field that a win was remotely a possibility. Stajan, Cammalleri, David Jones, all injured. So early, and so many vets out of the lineup. At times in the game it seemed I would be right, Calgary was faced with their, what seems to be usual, defensive zone fire drill that lasted for what seemed like 5 minutes. There were bending but ultimately didn’t break.
Hmmm, something seems to be amiss. The Calgary Flames don’t win games in October. After all, Iginla always has a slow start. Maybe that guy was dragging the whole team down because early in the 2013 season Calgary has been a pleasant surprise. Admittedly, the sky will come crashing down, or at least that’s what fans expect, but in the meantime, there’s exciting hockey to take in, even if it’s a bit of river hockey action from time to time.
Defensive zone lapses are the achilles heal. The team gets scored on when you expect them to get scored on, not the random times of years past. But they’re also putting up points. Team point leader? Sean Monahan. Is he going to stay up? Well he can’t win a draw to save his life but he’s learning quickly and contributing in big ways.
The Flames will win quite a few games up to December because other teams take them lightly. Vancouver did it and they should’ve lost. Even without a ‘star’ hockey player on the roster, and with Stajan and Cammalleri out with injuries, the Flames still compete night in night out. In fact, the same issues that plagued the team day 1 of this season are the same problems 3 games in. That’s a good or bad scenario.
Each of the 3 games Calgary has played thus far they’ve lead in. Each time, they’ve blown leads. Part of it is the ‘talent’ problem, but most of it is just brain cramps. Brian McGrattan played himself out of Wednesday’s lineup with a boneheaded giveaway that put the Canucks up late in the third. Curtis Glencross did the same to give the Canucks even more momentum.
Eliminating the mental mistakes was something Calgary never could do in the past. A full 60 minute game was a problem night in and night out. This year we have glimpses that they’ll compete for 60 minutes, but we don’t have enough evidence to believe they can fix mistakes. But, all indications point to differences in this year’s Flames team–they’ll get it together eventually.
Calgary 4 – Columbus 3
Well, it’s not dump and chase hockey, it’s actually exciting most of the time, at both ends of the ice. Sometimes it looks like a defensive zone fire drill, but this year’s Flames are certainly different. New faces everywhere and with them come new zeal. It’s only been two games but there’s certainly a different feel to the club, particularly in consistency.
Taking 3 of a possible 4 points after tonight’s win means the Flames play their season opener against the Canucks on TOP of the Pacific Division (how many times will we be able to say that this year?)
Second game is as many nights with two lineup changes. In goal, Joey MacDonald, who picked up from where he left off last year–offering competent backup goaltending. Joe Colborne, recent acquisition from Toronto, factored in the lineup for the injured Matt Stajan. He’s a big body but looked out of place and slow.
Calgary’ all around even strength game looked good against Columbus, a playoff team last year, and perhaps slightly less talent than a Caps squad from the night earlier. That’s good news for the Flames given they were able to keep pace despite all the consistent talk on the opposite from NHL pundits.
Special teams is the concern, ineffective on the PP and in need of real help on the PK. Having more consistency in the place we all knew would suffer, the faceoff dot, will help. It’s hard to believe the Flames could get worse on draws, but so far they’re not so great.
Final Notes: Baertschi continues to try to find his way, albeit playing a more rounded game. McGrattan taking space on th ebench with his four minutes a game…..although he did draw two penalties. Derek Smith and Tim Jackman healthy scratches. Mike Cammalleri still on the mend with a hand injury. Sean Monahan with his first NHL goal. He looks good, albeit small, and if he’s play continues to improve over the next 6 games he might stick.
Calgary 4 – Capitals 5 (SO)
That’s what the pundits are saying, this Flames roster is ‘up there’ as one of the worst. Hockey ‘analysts’ (honestly, I give the same credence to awesome bloggers as I do to TSN ‘analysts’ *cough*Aaron Ward*cough*), pit the Flames to finish no lower than 30 (you can’t go any lower).
Is this team really THAT bad? Is this really a revamped but worse version of the ‘Young Guns’ from the mid 90s? ‘Hard work’ was the name of the game back then and it still holds true today. Competing every game will be the calling card for this squad. Chances for the young prospects to shine, and no-name goalies to showcase their wares will be innumerable.
For the first period in the season opener on the road in Washington the Flames silenced all the pundits. 3-0 going into the second intermission. But alas, classic Flames, the lead was squandered in a hurry.
#1 draft picks don’t have a stellar career when picked by the Flames organization.
A brief history of Calgary Flames first rounders and GP with the Flames:
2006 – Leland Irving 13 career GP
2005 – Matt Pelech 7 career GP
2004 – Kris Chucko – 2 career GP
2000 – Brett Krahn – 1 career GP
1998 – Rico Fata – 1 assist over 3 seasons
1997 – Daniel Tkcazuk – 19 career GP
1993 – Jesper Mattison 0 career GP
1991 – Nik Sunblad – 2 career GP
Not to be outdone, also ’85, ’86, and ’87 Calgary’s first rounders were, respectively Brian Deasley, George Pelawa, and Chris Biotti, the three of whom have combined for a grand total of ZERO NHL GP.
This doesn’t count Dion Phaneuf, obviously.
So Sven and Sean, we’re ready to be blown away, maybe 25GP!?!?!?!
The new NHL season is upon us, a full 82 game slate to entertain local fans. 48 home games with each NHL team on the schedule will make for an interesting season. What everyone is talking about is three-fold:
1) Who will be captain (since there’s not much contention talk going on, you have to fill it with something). Some say Glencross, but most say Giordano.
2) Who will start in goal? Ramo? Berra? MacDonald?
3) How low will the Flames go? 30th or 29th?