One play can often be the turning point in a game, but rarely do you see one play possibly be the turning point in a season.
That might have been the case this evening.
Tonight, in front of a sold out crowd at the Pengrowth Saddledome, Curtis Glencross was awarded a penalty shot with 1:30 remaining in the 2nd period. He skated back towards Kiprusoff who was smiling and spouting advice on what Glencross should do. Known for a laser snap shot in the top right corner, the speedy left winger blazed up the ice picking up the puck at the centre dot. He came in with great pace and let go a snap shot as expected, but instead tried to pick the left corner of the net. Unfortunately, Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard was not buying what Curtis was selling and threw out his blocker to keep the Wings within one. Fist pumping as he skated out of the crease, Howard knew he made a pivotal stop. 40 seconds later Pavel Datsyuk scores to tie the game at one.
So often plays are over analyzed and over scrutinized for their importance in a single game, yet this play stands out as a possible defining moment for a Flames season that is slowly slipping away.
Rewind to the start of the game. You could sense the tension in the ‘Dome. You could feel the uneasiness running through the fans minds. The Flames hit the ice to very few claps and a less than normal ovation. It was a weird game in that regard. Normally, the ‘C of Red’ is bouncing with excitement as the Flames make there way onto the ice; the opposite was the case tonight.
The fans had a right to be nervous. The Flames are on the verge of missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the 2002-03 season; a span of seven years, six if you discount the lockout. Never in a full year with Darryl Sutter have the Flames missed the playoffs.
They now sit three points back of Detroit and four points back of 7th place Nashville.
They have 13 games remaining; nine of which are against teams currently in the playoffs. They have eight games remaining away from the ‘Dome where they are 17-10-6.
They have five remaining games at home where they are 17-16-3.
Maybe this stat is the silver lining that helps the Flames make a push?
The Flames have been horrendous on the powerplay of late sporting a ghastly 3 for their last 31 chances; not to mention zilch on the last 13 attempts. Tonight’s rendition of the man-advantage was like watching a train wreck as they had a difficult time even gaining the offensive zone. Granted the Wings have now killed off 19 straight penalties, but the Flames need to find some chemistry when they have more players on the ice than there opponent.
A few highlights tonight from players not normally noticed for them. Craig Conroy hit the score sheet and looked good in his limited role of 9:40 of ice time. He won all 12 draws he took, and led the Flames to a very rare dominating performance in that stat category.
Ian White also stood out for me tonight. Not only did he create some chances in the offensive zone, but he made some sound defensive plays including one in particular on Zetterberg. Since coming over from Toronto he has been the exact opposite of Dion Phaneuf; a reliable defenceman. He has been a +9 and has recorded five assists in the process. Not to mention he has helped Robyn Regehr post a +8 rating over that same time.
A couple of bright spots that a team like this desperately need more of. Obviously, I did not mention #34, but we all know he has been far and away the MVP of this team.
Kiprusoff can only do so much though, and his heroics might not be enough to help this band of underachievers jump into Lord Stanley’s tournament.
This has been,
Newman on the Flames
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