Wednesday, December 07, 2005



Hey Hey!! It's been awhile; Blogspot was out of commission late Monday, and I was out of commission yesterday, so there was no pointless Flames Game Day piece. Apologies to those of you who rely on those previews.

I have a few comments about last night's shootout loss to the Flyers, but let's kick it off by excerpting the last line of the AP recap of the game:
Flames coach Darryl Sutter left the arena without speaking to reporters.

There's all sorts of reasons why he may have done this: maybe there was something going on at home he had to get on the phone to deal with. But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the reason was approximately, "he was unbelievably frustrated". Why might that be?

- His best player was awful. Honestly, Jarome might have been one of the worst players on the ice. I went out with a good friend (and Flames season ticket-holder) on Saturday, and he's pretty sure that Iginla's not snakebitten, he's hurt. I'm much less skeptical of this after watching last night's game.

- Besides being a non-factor in the offensive zone, Iginla's two breakaways were also terrible. He blocked a Hatcher shot and went in alone late in the 3rd. Nittymaki must have been 15 feet out of the goal, yet Iginla shot high blocker side. And in the shootout: blah! If you were instructing someone on How To Get Stopped On A Penalty Shot, you'd say something like, "For starters, pick up the puck going about half-speed. Then, when you hit the blueline, slow down some more. 'Cause then the goalie doesn't have to cheat to play the shot, since he could stay with you if you choose to deke!" There, I just recapped Iginla's shootout attempt for you.

- The Flames were unable to take advantage of the fact that 3 of Philly's top 4 D-men were Derian Hatcher, Mike Rathje, and Chris Therien, all of whom are exactly one-half of the archetypal "big and mobile" defenseman. When Calgary's playing well, they might be the best puck-cycling team in the league: they can really sustain pressure in the offensive zone. None of that last night! No doubt doubly frustrating for the coach was that Hatcher and Rathje are two of the guys that Calgary took constant advantage of in the '04 playoffs, and now they're a year and a half older.

- The whole game, much like a lot of the Penguins game, was played "The Eastern Conference Way"; certainly not the Flames' style or pace at all. It's hard for me to describe (it was rather discombobulating, actually), but the pace wasn't so much fast as it was frantic. Maybe the puck-freezer was on the fritz, but there was more pucks bouncing around than I've seen in a game all year. To my eyes, this was bad for the Flames, because they starting cheating on their system in hopes of having a puck bounce their way.

- Huselius gets full credit for his nice assists on Saturday, but he seems about as tough as medium-rare filet mignon. He needs to ramp up his intensity, a lot, if he wants to play a regular shift on the Flames once the honeymoon's over.

Still, there's a couple of things for Sutter to be happy about. Amonte is still playing very well, with good intensity. His best defenseman (Regehr) was excellent. And his goalie, well, yeesh. Awesome. (Note to opposing players: if you get a crossing pass and have a wide open net, you need to get your shot at least eleven inches in the air, because by the time it gets to the goal, Kipper's pad will be covering the bottom ten).

Controversial Statistic Epilogue: We don't seem to quite have a consensus on whether Kiprusoff earned a shutout last night. Stats show that now he has 4, which would include last night. But Yahoo! Sports, which runs my hockey pool (where of course Kipper is my #1 goalie), shows him having 3, costing me 5 points. I'm biased for at least two reasons, but I don't see how you wouldn't credit him with a Shutout when he had 0 GA, and no player was credited with scoring a goal on him.

See you later with a preview of tonight's back-to-back v. New Jersey. (While you're waiting, don't forget to vote.)


Iggy's snakebitten. He's had at least 4 break-aways in the last two games and converted on exactly none of them. He shoots wide, he shoots it into the pads...he shoots it anywhere but in the net. There's a just a curious lack of finish in his game right now...

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