The Flames finished off their six game road trip with two stops in California. On Saturday night, they played a gritty game and came away with an impressive 2-1 victory over the league leading San Jose Sharks. The Flames played a tough road game and pounced on their opportunities, as was evident with Langkow’s game winning goal. Tonight, however, they were not as fortunate, losing 2-1 to the rejuvenated Los Angeles Kings. They outplayed the Kings but were stymied by the Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. A surprise to say the least, Quick has helped the Kings to an impressive 18-10-3 start, putting them currently tied with the Flames in points, with 39.
The Flames finished their season long road trip going 4-2 and gaining 8 of a possible 12 points in the process. Four wins, one in a shootout, two shutouts, and two regulation 2-1 losses. Can we consider this a successful road trip?
Yes and No.
They won more than they lost. They beat some impressive teams like the Sharks, the red hot Predators, and albeit a less impressive Red Wings team than we are used to seeing, but a win over the Red Wings is still notable. As was the case tonight, their fore-checking is ‘top drawer’ and they are firing a lot of rubber on net. The cycling down low by the Bourque-Langkow-Moss line in the first period tonight was fantastic, and that was duplicated later in the game as well. Kipper played great over the trip, not counting the weak goal in Phoenix, but made up for it with a Highlight of the Year heel-kick-skate save in San Jose.
Looking at a couple negative aspects of the trip, the Flames went 3 for 19 on the powerplay, and 0 for 12 in the last three games. Subsequently they have only scored 4 goals in those three games, despite firing 92 shots on net. They have run up against some impressive goaltending in Bryzgalov, Nabokov and Quick but that is no excuse for this team. This team needs to score when called upon, and they need their stars to put the puck in the net. Jarome Iginla has only 1 goal in his last seven games coming off his torrid start in November. Olli Jokinen has been playing better, yet he only has 6 goals all season, and is on pace for roughly 17 goals. As the Flames now play 8 of their next 11 games on home ice, Iginla will need to re-ignite his scoring touch and Jokinen will have to continue his resurrection for the Flames to have success under the Dome. Just don’t call Tiger if you want help scoring at home.
The Flames style of play is getting more and more consistent as the games progress. Sutter’s influence is starting to show as the aggressive fore-checking and puck movement in the offensive zone has become synonymous with the Flames. If the Flames can replicate their road record into success on home ice, then 1st place will become a staple of this team as well.
This has been,
Newman on the Flames
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