Tuesday, November 15, 2005

 

Don't believe your lying eyes...

Maybe I'm being obstinate, or wilfully blind, but I was terribly irritated to turn on my radio and hear how the Flames' 3rd period comeback last night was thanks in large part to the New NHL.

The narrative here is familiar: Minnesota is a good defensive team, and they have an excellent record when leading by two goals after the 2nd period (surprise!). So, the fact that the Flames scored three in the final 20 minutes is evidence that Minnesota Wild Hockey is doomed, and thank heavens for that, boy-oh-boy.

This makes perfect sense, unless you actually watched the game. John Garrett used replay to show pretty clearly how the Wild was making it very difficult for the Flames to move the puck up the ice. And it was! The Flames had 25 shots, and I can't think of one that was generated of anything resembling an end-to-end play.

If Calgary had tried to counter the Wild's scheme with sharp passing and good puckhandling, they would have lost 2-0. The entirety of the comeback was accomplished with their legs, and I don't know that there's many other teams in the league that could have done it.

Dump the puck in, hope for a lucky bounce or a mishandled clearing attempt, and start cycling. This is how all Calgary's even-strength chances were created. I suppose you could argue that they wouldn't have had the PP chances last season, but I'm not sure I buy that--as I've noted before, I think the extent of clutch-and-grab (and 3rd period whistle-in-the-pocket) in the Bad Old NHL is way overstated in retrospect.

The Wild's problem, in general, is that they don't create enough scoring chances (Gaborik and White, among others, were out last night). Their additional problem last night was that they couldn't match Calgary's energy in the 3rd period. Their additional problem, one they share with 28 other NHL teams, is that they can't stop Jarome Iginla when he's playing well.

Which reminds me: there was a classic moment on the TV post-game show. They were talking to Langkow and asking him about his (game-tying) goal, and Langkow was watching the tape as he was answering:

"Well, we were controlling the puck along the boards, and then I moved into the high slot and Jarome made a nice pass... whoa. .....I didn't know it was that nice...."

Stopped in mid-cliche; a magic moment.

Comments:

I'm hosting the Carnival of the NHL #13 this Sunday (20th) on Behind the Jersey (http://behindthejersey.blogspot.com) and I was wondering if there was a certain post you'd like me to highlight. If so, could you just drop me an email (cjhammon@umich.edu). Thanks!
 


The pass on the Langkow goal is a true eyesplitter--on the highlight reel it almost looks like the tape skips--but for sheer comedy you can't beat Iggy's winner, scored with literally every Minnesota Wild skater inside a four-foot radius of the boss man. I'm sure there was a lot of "But I thought you had him" on the Wild bench after that one.
 


Too much credit was definitely given to the "new NHL" for the Flames comeback, and not enough credit was given for the real reason, "the fluke".
 

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