The Flames went into two arenas that have been quite unfriendly in the past and walked away with 4 points. First, the Flames shut out the two time defending Western Conference Champion Red Wings in Joe Louis Arena, which is no easy task. For the first time since 1977, the Red Wings were shutout twice in a row at home; the Flames being the back half of that equation. The following night, the Flames are down 3-1 going into the third period, yet manage to battle back to beat the slumping Blue Jackets for wins on consecutive nights. The Flames now have won 9 road games on the season and have gained points in 13 of their 14 contests away from the Dome. A drastic change from past years where “the Road” was the last place the Flames wanted to be.
Miikka Kiprusoff once again stole the show in a Flames game, not to mention stole two points for the win. The Flames were out shot 40-17 over the three periods of play and Kipper managed to stop everything that was thrown at him (well, sort of). Detroit had two goals that were disallowed that looked to be legitimate scoring plays. The Wings must have thought they jumped in Doc Browns Delorian and went back to 1999 when the infamous “foot in the crease” rule was a topic of conversation. The goal was apparently called off because Kipper did not have a chance to save the puck due to Cleary being in front of him, and being slightly in the crease. Is that not called screening the goalie? Most fans, even Flames fans, thought that it should have counted yet the Flames caught a major break. It is a very vague rule as there was no penalty called on the play and is something the league should look into changing. Nonetheless the Flames played a strong third period and kept the home team off the board and Miikka earned his second shutout of the season.
Now if you read this blog often, you will know Olli Jokinen really grinds my gears. Well Olli, you really have shown you can contribute to this team after all. Scoring 10 points in the last 8 games, he is showing more confidence and playing like he is capable of being a high calibre NHLer. He is fore-checking with authority and using some patience when he is handling the puck, which is a drastic change from earlier in the season. Scoring 2 goals and 2 assists during the weekend’s two wins, Olli is shutting up his critics and letting his playing do the talking. The Jokinen-Iginla experiment is clicking right now as they have provided a majority of the Flames offence over the last couple weeks. Sutter must have implored the motto, “at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, and again, and again,” until it works. Sutter does make an interesting point, where as Keenan might have diverted away from the duo playing together rather quickly, Sutter let the two superstars gel through time and let both players grow accustomed to one another. Things do not always click right away, and this seems to be the case here.
Curtis McElhinney, starting his 3rd game of the season, had a very average game amid the “Whiteout” in Columbus, but shockingly came out with the win. Normally, that would have been a loss for the back-up goaltender, but the Flames persevered and rallied to win the game. Allowing two very soft goals from the Blue Jackets, it looked as if McElhinney and the Flames were headed towards their second road loss in regulation this season. But, Curtis stopped all 13 shots he faced in the third and overtime and then made a key stop in the shootout to win his 2nd game of the season. He has had better games, but this was a good sign that the Flames back-up goalie does not need to stand on his head to win the game.
The Flames have not lost in regulation on the road since a 2-1 defeat to very same Jackets back in late October. The Flames have gained point in 9 consecutive road games and look to set a record when they travel to Nashville on Monday. The Predators, for their part, are one of the hottest teams in the NHL. They have won 8 of their last 9 games and have quickly vaulted into contention in the tight Western Conference. The Flames swept the season series last year against the Preds, outscoring them 18-12 over the four games.
The Flames are now atop the Northwest division by 2 points over the Avalanche and hold 2 games in hand. November has once again been the Flames month and hopefully they can close it out with another good showing on Monday in Music City.
This has been,
Newman on the Flames
Read more at: http://calgaryontheflames.blogspot.com