Cold on the heels of their close 2-1 home loss to the Stars on Saturday, the Flames got crushed 5-0 in Edmonton tonight, souring CuJo's first start with the Flames. Let me tell you, I didn't watch much of the third period (because Prison Break was on, and also the Flames were down 3-0 after two) but I can tell you that this was the absolute worst I have seen the Flames play all year (and looking at the Flames' schedule I can see that I am right - this was the worst margin of defeat all year). The Stars game was a tough loss, I can accept that. Which made this game crucial. If the Flames won, they would have leapfrogged Anaheim and Colorado into fifth in the West and one point out of the Northwest lead. I realize that at this point in the season, all the games are big, but this game is the kind of game that comes back to bite you in the rear. Maybe I'm just releasing some pent up anger from the Pats' loss on Sunday, but this game really pissed me off and I am wondering how the Flames can manage to even make the playoffs when they can't win a game like this (incidentally this is their third straight loss to the Oil). Next up is a big game against Phoenix tomorrow night at home. If we lose and Nashville wins, we are out of a playoff position. It's also an important game if the Flames want the division; they are currently three points back of Minnesota, who also play tomorrow night. The Flames also need to get out of their inconsistent winning-streak, losing streak trend that has been going on for the past two months.
Since there isn't really much to say about such a blowout loss (other than how it highlighted the Flames' terrible special teams and lack of speed), I'm going to pose a few questions that aren't specifically related to the game.
Fellow Flames fans: can you tell me why Wayne Primeau is in the lineup instead of Eric Nystrom? I know, it's the fourth line but this has been bothering me. I know Nystrom's been sent down to Quad Cities, why? He's a lot faster and a better skater than Primeau...pylon. And to think that he's all we have to show for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew...
The power play, as I see it, has been the exact same for the past five or so years - horrible. What needs to be done to fix it? We've gone through enough powerplay quarterbacks, that's definitely not the problem. Every Flames powerplay goes exactly the same - players hold on to the puck way too long and can never get a good shot, so they pass back to whoever's on the blueline or point...only to have the pass miss them and skitter back down to center ice. The Oilers color guy pointed out after the game how the Flames kept trying the exact same centering pass on the powerplay, but it was intercepted easily by the Oilers every time.
A statistical observation: while everyone is talking about Iginla's now 10 game goalless streak, it's obviously not for lack of trying. After tonight's game, Iggy has, in the past 10 games, 40 shots on goal. He's also done what he could to contribute on the scoresheet with 5 assists in those ten games. Meanwhile, Kristian Huselius and Daymond Langkow are also in mini-cold streaks, Huselius with just 1 point in the past 5 games and Langkow with none in the past 4. Huselius has 12 shots during his streak and Langkow has 9. An interesting statistical comparison to think of when contemplating which of these pending UFAs is more important to the team.
Dammit, I was trying to write a post entirely about the game and ALMOST made it!
(PS: As I said, I didn't watch the 3rd period so I didn't see the big melee in the third that almost resulted in a goalie fight, originating with Godard pushing Garon into the post. I have to agree with Keenan on this though, I don't know what Godard was thinking. Oh well, since he's going to be suspended maybe Nystrom can get back in the lineup.)