Curtis McElhinney started in his second game of the year and third of his career. He played great stopping 35 shots but it still was not enough to earn him a win in the National Hockey League. Up 3-1 midway through the third period the Flames allowed the high powered Wings to score 2 goals in four minutes of play forcing the game into overtime. The Red Wings come at you non-stop , shift after shift, flying through the neutral zone with so much speed and so much talent, it was really only a matter of time before the Flames lost this game. Especially when OT comes around, as they roll out Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Hossa, Holmstrom, Lidstrom and Rafalski; it was like a 5 minute sudo power play for the Wings. They are a puck control team and it’s tough to lose when you always have the puck. The Wings lead the league in face-offs won (a staple of Mike Babcock teams; see 03’ Mighty Ducks). The Flames could not win the key face-off, couldn’t win the key battle, and eventually Lidstrom blasted it by number 1 in the Calgary net, to end a chance for a Rookie to get his first win.
This though could be a blessing in disguise as it showed that the Calgary Flames do indeed have another goalie that can play in the NHL. “Mac” went up against arguably the highest octane offence in the league and played very well. He made some key stops on Hossa in the first and second periods, and came up big on a number of other occasions. Keenan should realize that Mac has to play more than once a month and that the more he plays the better he will get. This will, in turn, give Kipper the rest he rightfully deserves and make the Flames a better team. It’s insane that Kipper has started 27 of 29 games! The guy needs a rest every once in a while, and now it has been shown that his backup is capable of handling some of the best players in the game.
Going back to the game, the Flames played a very strong road game, especially considering it was the 2nd half of a back to back against the defending Stanley Cup Champs. The one thing that has come to my attention though in the past two nights is that our PP is very easy to breakdown. Aggressive penalty killers make the Flames PP look horrible, as they can not get into the zone because the opposition pressure them in the neutral zone, and then we gain possession and it’s usually out of the zone in no time flat because our reaction time with the puck is not very good. Other teams must have noticed this in the past two games and I will not be surprised to see future opponents try the same thing, at least until the Flames figure out a way around it.
Till next time
This has been another edition of
Newman on the Flames