Well, despite a stronger effort the Flames lost for the 6th straight time and the 8th time in 9 outings. This was also the 3rd straight loss to the Blackhawks this season and 7th straight, not including the post season. That was the Flames 5th straight loss at home to boot; the last win coming on January 2nd against the Toronto Marlies. To think, this team should have come hard out of the gate, however they only mustered a measly 5 shots on net in the opening frame. The Grinch (Sutter) really knows how to spark his troops up for a crucial home game; a real encouraging sign!
The Flames faced the leagues best tonight, and failed to throw that giant ape of the top of the Saddledome roof. The Flames were shut down offensively again, as they only had 20 shots on net and a single goal; the 4th time in 5 games they failed to score more than 1! Now, give credit to the Hawks, as they do possess the 2nd GAA in the league, but the Flames are out of excuses. They have apparently run into every hot goaltender in the league on this never ending slump.
Oh Captain my Captain! Want to guess the number of shots Jarome Iginla had on net tonight? Go ahead, guess…give up? I will give you a hint; it starts with Z and rhymes with hero (something this guy is supposed to be). He had two shots at the net, yet they were blocked. He did contribute an assist on the lone Calgary marker, but that is not even close to the production Calgary needs from him. He even tried shaving his head, ala Setoguchi, yet proved ineffective.
Two categories: face-offs and shots on goal. The Flames rank 30th in face-offs won. That is dead last for those who are counting. That means every time the Flames step in the dot, they are unlikely to come away with the puck. This means that they possess the puck less and have even less control over the game as they are constantly trying to play defence. San Jose, Minnesota, Chicago and Washington are the top four in this category. Not surprising that all of them, save Minny, are top teams in the league. You control the puck, you dictate the flow of the game; it is that simple. In shots on goal, the Flames rank 28th in the league. Once again, set aside the Leafs, and top teams like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington and San Jose rank highest in this category. The more shots you throw at the net, the better chance you have of scoring a goal. It is not rocket science as to why the Flames constantly struggle to find the net. They rarely control the pace of the game and therefore have to wait for their chances, and when those atypical opportunities do come, they seldom convert. Think about how many unreal saves Kiprusoff had to make tonight; I can think of at least 3 or 4. The Hawks goaltender Antti Niemi made saves, but none, and not nearly as many or as nice, as Kipper had to make. #34 is constantly left out to dry by his team, and I am sure its beginning to wear thin.
Cory Sarich might have played his way out of Calgary tonight displaying his sluggish speed on the penalty kill being beat to the puck by a much quicker Jonathan Toews. Sarich was weak at the (to use a Maguire-ism) ‘point of attack’ and Toews quickly passed the puck to Kane, who then opened the scoring. Just another glaring example of the Flames defence being too slow for the game right now. Doesn’t Keith, Seabrook and Campbell sound better then Bouwmeester, Phaneuf and Regehr. Comparable, yes, but everyone knows who they would choose.
At least Flames fans spring season will be less stressful…
This has been,
Newman on the Flames
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