Wheels Starting to Fall Off
Coming off a significant bashing at the hands of the Caroline Hurricanes, the Calgary Flames had a chance to return to their winning ways against the second worst team in the NHL. Through the 08-09 season the Flames have definitely picked up their game, however, one glaring problem remains: beating bottom basement dweller hockey teams. You know the ones, St. Louis, Atlanta, Phoenix, etc. Calgary has a complex of blowing easy two points against teams they should dominate.
This afternoon in Atlanta you had the same feeling early as the changes and trades seem to have finally caught up to the team, in a really really really bad way. Although some of the lines were buzzing on their regular forecheck routine, the top line struggled to figure out who was going to play defence to the tune of a -2 outing after one period of play.
The second began with Calgary killing off Iginla’s penalty, then a couple minutes later another lazy penalty on Vandermeer. Calgary killed both off but moments later Leopold deflected a puck into his own net as Dion Phaneuf sat around in no-man’s land playing what appeared to be the role of a spectator.
The top line dropped to a solid -3 for the night and it was only the second. They take it on themselves to respond but what that means is playing the entire two minute powerplay to no effect. Zero offence from the top line and zero sustained pressure from any line even on two powerplay chances.
Iginla finally chimed in offensively after a powerplay. Staying on the ice and sustaining pressure he collected a Dustin Boyd feed and scored his 30th goal of the season to draw the team within one.
Two minute slater Kovalchuk broke in aroudn the hash marks, and on Atlanta’s first shot of the third, blew a shot past Kiprusoff. Thank Jarome Iginla for giving the puck away before going off the ice (to prevent going back to -3 for the afternoon).
Cory Sarich caught another penalty, coupled with an unsportsmanlike call, thanks to a monster dive. Atlanta didn’t waste time scoring (the penalty killers finally gave up a goal).
No lucky for a come back against another bottom basement dweller. Let’s hope Keenan puts the team through a bag skate, maybe they’ll get back with the program before more damage is done.
Notes: Flames were without David Moss who left on personal reasons making total AHL callups 4.
Calgary’s trip doesn’t get easier, expect them to get pounded against NJ on Tuesday. Vancouver is healthy and playing great hockey, Calgary is not healthy and playing terrible hockey. Something is going to give, and the Flames, in their current state, will forfeit their top spot by the time they get home from their road-trip.