On a day in which Sylvester Stallone got elected into the boxing hall of fame (huh?) and Graham James gets out on bail(you have to be kidding me right?), the Calgary Flames climbed out of last place – at least for the time being.
With the Oilers shootout loss, the Flames sit one point ahead of the junior high school misfits, but unfortunately the Flames have played one more game.
Really, Flames fans should’ve known this was coming, what with the seven, now eight, game string in which the Flames have yet to record two of the same result in back-to-back games.
Where do they hide periods like the opening frame of tonight’s game? A dominating 20 minutes where the Flames asserted themselves on every shift and dictated the flow of the game. Despite being outshot in the period, the Flames owned it, scoring two goals to the Lightning’s zero.
Then, that un-mistakable Flames moment of panic – the visitors come back with two goals to send it to make it close going into the third.
We all know how this story ends, right? The Flames give up a goal to start the third than lose it late despite putting forth a real strong effort and come up short again...WHOA WHOA WHOA!
The Flames didn’t blow the lead. They actually capitalized on a power play mid way through the third that helped ease the tension. A power play not unlike the one they botched during the Red Wings game while up 4-2 – in case you forgot the Flames lost that one in OT.
The Flames power play is a fascinating science experiment. If they can win the draw (that’s a big if with this team—they rank 25th in the league) right off the hop, they seem to have reasonable success. If they lose the puck however, they never seem to recover as they fumble around trying to gain the line and when they do gain the zone they are almost always to eager to take a low percentage shot that gets easily cleared. The other scenario is where they get muscled off the puck or there dump and chase gets dumped back before the chasers ever had a chance to do the chasing.
But tonight, the one they needed to work, worked and worked well with Iggy firing home his 12th of the season, ironically from a place in which Steven Stamkos has made a name for himself.
Getting to Stamkos, the Flames did a fantastic job of making him a non-factor for a majority of the game. Here is my theory on the situation and maybe I’m wrong.
The Flames couldn’t stop Ovi and Sid as these players are so complete and tough to knock off the puck that eventually they are going to kill you. The Flames did however shut down Ilya Kovalchuk and tonight they shut down the leagues newest superstar, Steven Stamkos. Don’t get me wrong Stamkos is an amazing talent, but I don’t think he is on the level of Crosby/Ovechkin for this reason: he is too one dimensional at this point in his career. He, like Kovalchuk, is most dangerous when he is on the powerplay, where he gets time to set up and other players feed him the puck on proverbial tees. You can halt his chances by simply taking less penalties and being smart. Sure, he had some perimeter shots early in the game, but for the most part that’s all he was, a perimeter player, much like Kovalchuk was against the Flames a couple weeks back. This was due large in part to play of the Flames defence as they kept him contained. And you could tell Stamkos was agitated as later in the third he was whining to the ref about some supposed blown call.
Just my theory, take it or leave it. I still love Stamkos and really wish he would snap this slump as my fantasy team depends on it.
The Flames now face the Los Angeles Kings who are coming off back-to-back 3-2 wins, against Florida and Detroit.
The Flames were able to beat LA already once this season in game #2 of the season 3-1 at the Dome. The Flames then face the Ducks the following night in Disneyland. The Flames were 6-2-1 against these two teams last year.
The Flames need to buck this yo-yo trend and win back-to-back games. It’s a must if they plan on ever seeing separation between them and Oilers – and that’s a sad goal to have.