A lead blown. Three straight goals in the second period. Complete domination in the speed department. It was the same story in a different building tonight, as the Flames fell 3-2 tonight at Rexall Place, losing to the Oilers for the second straight night. I saw this game as simply a one period effort, with little promise shown.
After a 17-3 shot advantage and 2-0 lead in the first, the Oilers scored three goals in the second through pure domination of the Flames through speed. Just as they did last night, and just as they will throughout this season unless changes are made to the Flames. After a great save by Garon, the Oilers turned it around and Ethan Moreau was able to walk into the slot and wire one past Kipper. Then they scored on a great 3-on-2 play from their third line to tie the game. Andrew Cogliano raced past every defender and wired another slot shot for the winner.
Mike Keenan's constant line shuffling is resulting in zero chemistry across the board. I am seeing it constantly in every game: passes to guys who aren't there, nobody picking up rebounds or pinching when they should, guys pinching when they shouldn't, guys passing when they should shoot and vice versa, passes not connecting, etc.
Some notable statistics for this game: hit tally: Oilers 21, Flames 3; faceoffs won: Oilers 34, Flames 23; and here's my personal favorite: Matthew Lombardi's stat sheet - 14:00 TOI, 0 shots, -1, and 36% on the draw. I've made my opinions on Lombardi clear, but have faced disagreement, so I'm just going to post every terrible statline he puts up.
The only center more ineffective than Lombardi has been Craig Conroy. He is -3, has been the Flames' worst man in the faceoff circle, and is tops among centermen with 6 PIM (just as he led the Flames in the playoffs last year). I was surprised when the Flames re-signed Conroy for two years in June, now I'm outright questioning why they did it.
I think Miikka Kiprusoff was even better tonight than he was on Friday, helping keep the Flames in the game. However, he got outplayed by Mathieu Garon, and this was definitely one of the biggest factors in the game. But I wouldn't expect Curtis McElhinney to get his first start until next Thursday in Nashville at the earliest.
Jarome Iginla's cold streak is reminding me of his streak last year when he went, I believe, 10 games without a goal. He plays Phoenix next week, a team he's dominated in the past. But until then, the Flames' offense still looks dead. They're worse than a one line team; their most effective forward is Todd Bertuzzi. (Though I honestly think Bert will maintain his effectiveness in a top six role, no matter who else gets on track.)
Repeating this from last night, but I don't care: in a 1-4 hole, the Flames' next three games are at home against Washington (self-explanatory), on the road in Nashville (a place they always seem to play terribly, and against a team they should be better than), and on the road in Phoenix (against a team that could steal someone's playoff spot, and possessing similar speed as the Oilers). At what point does a slow start stop being just a slow start, and simply turns into a team with major, major problems? Well, if the Flames haven't passed that point already (I think they have), they will or won't next week. And you know what that at least should mean for a certain person with the initials MK (hint: he doesn't wear pads during games).