Flames won their first game of the season against Montreal and that too by a decent margin of 4-1. After two stinking losses against the pens and the blues, finding the win column is definitely a good feeling. Going into Toronto with a win will be a feel good factor. In Toronto we will be up against ex-flames Phaneuf and Lombardi and the game should be a fun one for a Saturday. Well before moving on let us see how the Montreal game went.
1. First period
After coming out flying in the first two games to take leads only to fall behind, this time it was the opposing team who did the honors by scoring the first goal of the game. Kostitsyn got a lucky bounce from behind the net and the puck just came on his stick and he did the needful. Being a Montreal home opener the fans were really into it and there were a tonne of excuses for the flames to sit back and look dejected, but then came the powerplays and flames deposited two goals to take the lead. They outshot Montreal 13-10 in the first period and definitely looked good and comfortable out there going in with a 3-1 lead into the intermission.
2. Rene Bourque
As I had mentioned in my previous column on the flames wingers, Rene Bourque is a skilled winger with lack of consistency. Well last night, he was definitely on his game. With 2 goal outing, Bourque now has 3 goals in 3 games to start the season. A major issue with Bourque will be him keep this up for a majority of the season. If he can do that, he will be a huge part of the flames push into the post season and if he is unable to do that, he might be one of the reasons we look back to next May, for the flames not being in the playoffs.
3. Glencross/Jokinen/Stempniak line
They were present out there and even though all three players only amounted in 1 point, it was their play of taking it to the Canadiens zone and keeping it in there, that amounted to Bourque's second goal. This line is currently playing as the top line and Sutter's confidence in Stempniak shows as he is getting powerplay time on a line with Iginla and Moss. It will not be long before Stempniak finds the back of the net and if this line can keep this up it will bring up interesting dilemmas to the lines when both Backlund and Morrison return.
4. Kiprusoff setting a franchise record
Miika overtook Mike Vernon for most wins as a flames goalie. A great task for someone who we picked up for just a second round pick. He had a good bounceback game after the ones against the pens ending the night with 36 shots. Originally he seemed a bit shaky with the bars helping him out but later on he was indeed phenomenal as could be seen by his glove save with Gionta right around the crease. If Kipper can play with such consistency flames have a good chance of having a good season.
5. David Moss
Losing Backlund was not an ideal situation for the flames when the season started. They had to breakup the OMG line in order to get a first line centre. The player who started last year on the first line, once again got a chance this year. So far he has looked pretty comfortable playing with Iginla and Tanguay. He netted himself a goal from a beautiful pass by Tanguay and had a couple of other good chances by being at the right place at the right time. As he said in his interview during the intermission, playing with Iggy and Tanguay, he has to go to the right places and they will find him. Well so far he has been doing just that and if the top line has to be successful they need Moss to keep on doing that. He is decent on faceoffs as well which is not a bad thing either. He saw time killing penalty and was hungry out there to get the puck out of the zone. he was a steal of a draft pick by Darryl Sutter.
1. Second Period
The flames, like their previous two games seemed a bit out of sync in the second period. It was not till the shift prior to the Bourque goal that they seemed to have any energy or hunger. Glencross was a catalyst for the goal and he has had himself a good start to the season. The flames need to keep on working on keeping up their momentum. Stajan looked on that goal and the way he played yesterday, there might still be hope for him to regain his confidence. Prior to last season, in an interview Kotalik called himself a broken man. Stajan seems so far to be the Kotalik for this year. Fans ripping on him is not helping his confidence. I get it, you make the money so take the criticism, but the entire blame of last season cannot be put squarely on his shoulders.
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