I wasn't intending to write a post after tonight's game. But considering this was a 5-4 overtime loss that was much more lopsided than the score, and considering this followed a 6-0 season-opening loss to the same team, I figured it was noteworthy enough. Only two games out of 82 may be in the books, but in short, the Flames look even worse than my most pessimistic state could have predicted. Though they were slightly improved tonight, through two games the Flames' defense looks completely brutal, Miikka Kiprusoff is not back to his old form, the offence looks inconsistent and not that much improved, and, as usual, the powerplay looks atrocious. Tonight, it was mainly the lack of a powerplay and terrible defence that lost them the game.
The Flames looked outstanding early on. After both weak defense and weak goaltending led to an early first goal by Daniel Sedin, Flames goon Andre Roy was the unlikely recipient of a drop pass in the slot, which he one-timed between Luongo's pads to tie the game. Halfway through the first, Todd Bertuzzi tipped in a Mark Giordano shot from behind the blueline, and then Rene Bourque got a rebound off a draw to give the Flames a 3-1 lead. However, this was as close as they'd come to having control. Two wasted powerplays in the early second were followed by the Canucks tying the game midperiod with two quick goals. A sweet three-line pass by Dion Phaneuf to Rene Bourque on a Canucks line change allowed Mike Cammalleri to put the Flames up again on a rebound. Early in the third, the Sedin brothers were uncovered as usual, and Kiprusoff had no chance as Daniel one-timed the tying goal home. Pavol Demitra scored on a a 2-on-1 3:54 into overtime; I viewed this goal as almost merciful.
The Flames were outshot 34-29, giving up 18 shots in the second period. The defense simply looks atrocious through two games. I felt that Miikka Kiprusoff's first goal against was soft. But these concerns seem petty through two games when you consider the Flames' powerplay. If the Flames had converted just one of their powerplays, they would have had the game. But no, Rich Preston remains behind the bench running this thing for some inexplicable reason (one day, the mystery of how the man still has a job will get its own blogpost.)
Other notes. I really like Rene Bourque; he's looking like he might be a viable second line solution after all. Right now, the Canucks look like a much faster team than Calgary, but you know what doesn't help things? When Keenan scratches Boyd and Nystrom in favor of Primeau and Prust. This may be emblematic of a bigger problem that I'll explain in my next post. I know Bertuzzi is washed up and I'm only expecting him to replace Owen Nolan, but he seriously seems to have lost a physical edge. Mark Giordano was the Flames' best defenceman tonight. At this point, I'm willing to bet that Curtis McElhinney gets at least one start next week. I'm not blaming anyone or making any excuses: Miikka Kiprusoff does not look that good right now. The powerplay looks atrocious but the penalty kill is much better.
A final note. I can't get through a postgame blog without mentioning the controversial penalty to Todd Bertuzzi at the end of the third period. Like most, I agree that Ryan Johnson dove. I didn't feel this was the only blown call; I can't remember what penalty it should have been but I felt there was a noncall right before the Canucks' game winning 2 on 1. Overall, the reffing was awful on both sides. But I'm not going to complain because I felt the Flames deserved to lose.
This was originally going to be a much longer and deeper analyzing post, but I felt that my post game reactions and my overall impressions should be two different posts. Since many people dislike the game by game format, and it's redundant to post summaries and reactions to every game in an 82-game season, I'm instead planning on weekly "reviews" in which I evaluate each week's games briefly and update my impressions of the team. This doesn't mean I'll only be posting once a week, but it probably will mean less postgame posts. That is, if I follow through with this. I was originally planning on posting one in the next two days but due to the Flames' schedule I think it's better suited for next week.
It's still too early to evaluate the Flames with confidence (and before you ask, Nucks fans, I think Calgary has looked so brutal that I can't say yet whether the Canucks are for real either). We should have a clearer picture of how serious the Flames' problems are in the coming week, when they play the Avs and have a home and home with Edmonton. If their horrific defence, mediocre goaltending, appalling power play, and mediocre offense continues, they could easily be looking at 0-5. The type of start which gets coaches fired. On an unrelated note, Alex Tanguay scored four points tonight.