The Flames ran into a very hot team and two very hot players tonight in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Jason Spezza and Brian Elliott led the way for the Sens who have now won 11 of their past 12 games.
Spezza, for his part, has 12 points in those last 12 games; 10 of them being goals. Brian Elliott, who has won 9 in a row himself before losing to the Leafs on Saturday, shut the door on the Flames when called upon and helped the Sens climb into a tie for first place in the Northeast division with the Buffalo Sabres.
The Ottawa Senators have to be the surprise team of the Eastern Conference this year as most experts had them pegged them for early golf this season. Not only are they in the playoff picture in the second half of the season, but they are flourishing and climbing higher in the standings each and every day. They are getting steady goaltending from Elliott, and Spezza along with Captain Alffy, have really stepped up since coming back from injury.
The Flames, tonight, suffered the fate of a one dimensional unit; something thought to be a thing of the past when they made the trades this past week. The line of Hagman-Stajan-Iginla played very well collecting all six points for the Flames. Jarome picked up two helpers while the former Leafs provided the clean-up. Hagman fired a laser to the top shelf to open the scoring late in the first, while Stajan, on a beauty pass from Iginla, made a nice move on Elliott to put the Flames back on top early in the second.
It seems this year, more than any other, the Flames have more goals bank in off of their own players than ever before. Case in point: Ottawa’s first tally. The goal, which came 21 seconds after Hagman opened the scoring, banked off of both Jay Bouwmeester and Daymond Langkow to find the back of the net. A powerplay marker on a very unlucky ‘pinball-esque’ goal. Bad luck? Maybe. Yet, the Flames still gave up a goal mere moments after scoring one themselves, which is unacceptable for a team trying to gain ground in the standings.
On the pre-game show on the Fan960, the guys (Rob Kerr, Mike Rogers and Peter Maher) were really talking up Mark Giordano and his great play of late, and who could blame them as he has been playing lights out. Peter Maher went even as far to say that he has an outside shot at being a replacement player for Team Canada should a defenseman go down in the next week; something I do not agree with, but that is for another time. I could not help but notice the instant ‘hex’ or ‘curse’ that this put on him. He made some very poor decisions tonight in his own zone, was a -1, and suffered an injury to boot. Tonight was probably his worst game of the season. I guess Dion did teach him something after all…
The good news for the Flames is that both Detroit and Nashville only gained a point each on the Flames, as both teams lost in extra time. The Flames sit in a tie for 7th still but are stuck in a quagmire in the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture.
Both Dallas and Anaheim are teams that are chasing down the Flames for that spot. The Flames better be ready.
This has been,
Newman on the Flames
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