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Calgary, AB • Canada • 31 Years Old • Male
In a game that could be described as the answer to the question I posed in last night's postgame blog ("Is Kipper playing too much?" the Flames were whupped 6-2 in Colorado by the Avs tonight with Curtis McElhinney in net. Though this game looked virtually the same as yesterday's home loss to Phoenix, I still pin most of the blame on Curtis Mac, as I blamed Kiprusoff for the previous game.

The Flames looked even worse in the first period than they did at their worst versus Phoenix. They allowed 20 shots, and it could be said that McElhinney kept them in the game. I didn't blame him for either of Colorado's first two goals. However, much like how Olli Jokinen's goal late in the second period killed the Flames' momentum and chances of coming back from a 2-0 hole, the same thing happened tonight with a weak goal allowed by McElhinney. Near the end of a second straight powerplay, Ryan Smyth took the puck shorthanded, streaked down the wing, and handcuffed McElhinney with a soft wrister. This to me was the turning point; it ended up the game winning goal and came at a time when it looked like the Flames had a real shot at tying the game. Other than the first period, the Flames did not play as bad, certainly they didn't look quite as flat as the first 40 minutes of the Phoenix game. They got 41 shots on goal and had yet more really bad luck. But in the end, Peter Budaj outplayed Curtis McElhinney, and this to me was the biggest factor.

Perhaps the Flames' effort in the last two games can be attributed to general tiredness. The Flames seemed worn down from their battle in San Jose against Phoenix, and a largely unenthusiastic crowd didn't help matters. The Flames also apparently arrived in Colorado fairly late according to Mike Keenan. Whatever it is, I'm still not really concerned over two games. However, it has become clear that the Flames' most crucial factor for success remains quality goaltending. Other thoughts from tonight's game: Rene Bourque redeemed himself for last night's atrocious game with a goal that sort of got the Flames back in the game early in the 3rd...the Flames are really missing Todd Bertuzzi right now; Jim Vandermeer is painful to watch at LW...secondary scoring is great, but the Flames' best player scoring 2 goals in the last 19 games is not sustainable...Matthew Lombardi was the Flames' best player over the weekend...I am now convinced that the Flames HAVE to re-sign Mike Cammalleri.

Luckily for the Flames, they still have an 8-point cushion in the Northwest Division lead thanks to Columbus' 6-5 shootout win over Vancouver. The Flames' next game, their last before the All Star break (and as I found out, the last NHL game before the all star break, period) is on Wednesday against the Jackets. Hopefully they'll be refreshed and able to go into the break on a positive note (Vancouver plays San Jose this week, so if all goes well, the Flames could be up 10 points by the end of the week).

Filed Under:   flames   avalanche   avs  
January 19, 2009 12:38 AM ET | Delete
I've been convinced for a couple weeks now that the flames need to re-sign Mike Cammalleri. also think the flames need to go for a more experienced back-up. i dont think things are working well with Curtis Mac.I completely agree with you on Vandermeer, whenever he touched the puck last night vs. the Coyotes i got a little scared. deffinantly need big Bert back.also wouldnt mind seeing aucion go, cause of his contract, unless he decides to re-sign for less.
January 19, 2009 1:13 AM ET | Delete
Are you not worried that with every point Cammalleri earns he is undeniably pricing himself out of Calgary? Im not suggesting that he wont be signed or that he doesn't want to stay in Calgary (quite frankly, with the way he's been playing... why wouldn't he?)... just seems to me that the ol' Sutter may have a tough time with this one... although he has managed miracles in the past.
January 19, 2009 1:34 AM ET | Delete
Just how much money are you suggesting here OilDerek? The Flames have the cap space to re-sign him. The only problem is finding space for their other needs.
January 19, 2009 2:01 AM ET | Delete
My point exactly Mr. Rollins... the team should indeed have the cap space to re-sign Cammy... but at what cost to the team as a whole? I will be the first to admit that I do not possess the foresight needed to manage a hockey club especially in the salary cap era. It is an intricate web... just seems to me that Calgary is currently/or will be shortly teetering on that edge of having 4-5 incredible players that will command an inordinate percentage of the teams payroll... thus leaving 16-17 roster spots for players that are suspect at best (and may do little in complimenting your elite core).Assuming Cammalleri is signed at fare market value... (4-5 million/season) what does that leave? Is the team putting all of its eggs in one basket?... what if Iginla gets injured?... worse yet, what if Kipper goes down... those are the chaces you take... they are uncontrollable. I'm not suggesting for a moment that the Oiler model is better... (believe me, Horcoff at 5.5 mil/season for the next 6 years scares the hell out of me)... just seems like the Flames would be taking a huge risk... then again; no risk, no return.
January 19, 2009 2:30 AM ET | Delete
I assure you that the Flames' cap scenario will be the subject of a future blog post. I could write one right here very detailed but right now I'm too happy because of this 8 point cushion in the NW
January 19, 2009 11:11 PM ET | Delete
Find a way to sign Cammy. Bury Vandermeer in the minors. Just flat out bury Sarich. Anything. :-p Anyway, was out of town and missed the last two games. Sounds like I did myself a favor. A return to Earth was to be expected after the amazing run of the past 6 or 8 weeks. Let's hope this doesn't become a streak in the opposite direction.
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