Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Flames-Avs post-mortem

**My favourite development of the early season is how well Phaneuf has been playing. It's still early, but signs of The Leap are there. Last night he skated as well as I've ever seen from him. The opening goal is the best example of that, but there were several times where he ended up fairly deep in the attacking zone and the Avs gained possession, and every time he got right back into position in a flash -- the odd-man rush was over before it started.

**On Monsieur Tanguay, he had kind of a poor game for him... he just seemed a bit off-balance all night. A bit of trouble controlling the puck, some passes that went well wide of his target (which is awfully rare), and a shot that couldn't find the mark. On the other hand, I didn't notice any lack of effort, and he still created a bunch of scoring chances (and I thought his shoot/pass decision making, which frustrates a lot of Flames fans, was right every time).

**Ryan Smyth was by far the Avs best player. He was making stuff happen out there just about every shift. I thought Paul Stastny, in the context of a 3-assist night, was actually pretty invisible, and Sakic's biggest play was onto the stick of Iginla.

**I confess I sneered a bit when the Forechecker wrote before the season that Scott Hannan isn't much of an upgrade over Ken Klee. I hereby offer him a formal apology for that reaction, because for Scott Hannan to be a top-pair shutdown defenseman, he needs to make a lot fewer bad/dumb plays than he did last night. And we haven't already forgotten who passed the puck to Matheiu Schneider for the Rd2 series-tying goal this spring, have we? (scroll to bottom!)

**This is more of a general assessment, but Cory Sarich has surprised me a bit (in a good way). I assumed that one goal since the lockout meant that he was a stay-at-home defenseman without exception, but he has jumped into the play (and effectively) a few times already this season; he's even ended up past the other guy's goal line on occasion. Also, to Sportsnet: I quite enjoyed your intermission piece about how Sarich has quickly developed some chemistry with his new D partner Dion Phaneuf. I know the interview with him was from before the road trip, and the voice-over probably was too... but Rob Faulds still looks like a knucklehead when he introduces the piece and wraps it up, live in-studio, without mentioning that the pairs got changed up three games ago.

**The Flames gave up a 4-0 lead (my fault, I think I angered the hockey gods with my "effectively nil" remark last week). I'm halfway between "that's hockey, bad bounces, etc." and "embarassment, clusterfuck, etc.".

The first and third goals were unfortunate bounces for the Flames for sure, but they weren't crazy by any means. I'm sure a PP goal deflects off a defender just about every night in the NHL. And yeah, the Svatos 4-1 goal was kinda lucky, but that happens fairly often too, and when you're defending well and controlling the puck in the far end, there are a lot fewer opportunities for those kind of bounces.

The second goal was a horribly unlucky bounce for the Flames, but at the same time, I've just watched the replay of it 10+ times at trying to answer the question, "What was Eriksson doing?!?" Smyth shoots off the LW, and Eriksson doesn't look for the puck OR move towards the man. He just stands there stiffly facing the corner, until it's too late...

And speaking of shit or get off the pot moments, Huselius made a poor play on the tying goal too. I don't mean the turnover at the blueline; that happens on occasion, and it shouldn't have been dangerous anyway. The problem was his recovery. Wolski and Warrener are skating to the corner to fight over the puck -- at that point Juice has to either turn and pick up a trailer, or go into the corner with Warrener and make damn sure they gain possession. Instead, he went most of the way to the corner and hovered, waiting for it to pop loose in his direction. It did pop loose, but not in his direction.

**Overall though, I was pretty happy with the game the Flames played. They had a distinct edge in play in the 3rd and OT, I thought (and in Shots, for a change), and the scoresheet says all you need to know about the 1st.

The Flames look like a pretty good team. I'm concerned that the PK is going to be lousy all year, but hopefully a good PP can cancel that out. And at evens, they look good. They can actually score goals 5-on-5, which you can't really say about a sizeable chunk of the Western Conference.

The lads start a 7-game homestand tomorrow night. I'm curious to see if they can get their mojo back there. With the exception of Games 3 & 4 vs. the Wings, they've actually been pretty lousy in the Saddledome recently (even including pre-season, the Flames haven't beaten anyone besides Detroit in regulation time since February 26th). And I'll be there, with comments stalwart Peter. Now, more than ever...(?) Go Flames.


Have a good time, you two! Make sure Peter buys you a couple, Matt. He got me loaded last time he was up here.

I agree... Dion has been a pleasant surprise. He just looks dynamic and noticable everytime he touches the ice. A great development if it can continue.

There really is no middle ground on this game. On the one hand, we were clearly the better team. On the other, we LOST. On the one hand, we have an abundance of goal scorers. On the other, we were shut out after Iginla's second goal. I just can't decide whether to be satisfied or angry with the outcome.

On the plus side, McGeough is supposedly going to retire after this year. As much as I might miss him getting more excited about a goal the I ever do, I won't miss him making calls from halfway across the rink that the ref two feet away didn't see.

Oh, and Souray is injured. With Moreau, Pisani, and Souray out, I'm starting to feel pity for Oilers fans. I'm definitely looking forward to Saturday.

I saw that Colorado had pulled off the comeback and tuned in for OT, which was terrific, and then the shootout. Call me a heretic, but I think that the shootout is terrific.

I think you're undervaluing Sakic and Hannan here though. Sounds like Iginla was on his game, and the guys he's playing a bunch against rarely look good when that's the case. If Hejduk had been healthy then maybe they both look a bit better and Iginla a touch less impressive. I dunno, that's usually the way it works though.

Didn't The Forechecker rank Eriksson in the top 25 of NHL defencemen as well? Or was that Ryder? It was one of them. Klee is crap IMO, Clark and Skrastins carried the mail last year. Hannan and Clark this year for Q, by the looks of things so far.

Has Dion gone from a young Andy Delmore to a young Rob Blake? I'm pretty sure Delmore wasn't playing 30+ minutes every other night though.

Wow, did Kipper look bad in the shootout. He got screwed into the ice on all three shots - Sakic cleanly beat him and sent the backhander over the bar. It's weird how he can't seem to play in the shootouts.

Matt, I thought Tanguay looked pretty good in the 3rd and in OT. In fact he was every bit as dangerous as Iginla and made some pretty good chances that Theodore stopped.

woo hoo this is going to be a blast.

Go Flames

According to John Garret, Kipper is just too damn fast to stop people on the breakaway

You are totally right. Phaneuf was incredible. Really amazing.

I think "the leap" is happening under Keenan.

I caught the 2nd half of the game and then, of course, the OT/SO.

Good game by Phaneuf. Didn't look exposed defensively, looked great offensively. You guys really are jerks for drafting him. I love to hate on the guy because he's something like -12 in 13 playoff games even when sheltered but I know that it's only a matter of time until he can hold his own against very good opposition and keep his offensive numbers up.

Smyth was my reason for watching, and he didn't disappoint. He clearly called the bank on his 3rd period slap shot goal (if you watch the replay, you can actually see his mullet forming into an animated display of the events before he shoots) and the shootout goal was nice to see as well. Fuck the bounce though, there is no way Kipper (or any goalie) should give up a rebound like that to a Ryan Smyth slap shot.

Sakic impresses me. A lot. So does Hannan. I agree though regarding Stastny looking invisible for a guy who had 3 assists but damn, this season has been a good story for him. Colorado would be pretty scary if they had goaltending of some kind. Lowetide likes to suggest Roloson will be a deadline day Av and if it happens, I wouldn't write Colorado off in any playoff series.

RQ: I don't really feel like Sakic "beat" Kipper, though you're absolutely right that he looks awful in shootouts. To me, the poke check was a smart heads up move by a guy who knew he wasn't doing well and Sakic, despite having the angle, was thrown by it and missed. He didn't have all day to finish the backhand and you know that if he did have time or wasn't thrown he would have finished it. Sure, the poke check isn't going to save him very often but I have to think it was the reason Sakic missed.

Man, I absolutely HATE Eriksson.

Falling down at the blueline to create an odd-man rush against. Give aways, horrible decisions, atrocious in his own end. The goal off him was just bound to happen.

I'm glad overtime stops after 5 minutes because he would have ended up hurting one of own teammates if the game went any longer. No shit, I'm worried that he's gonna push someone right on top of Kipper, or attempt a clearing that smacks Iggy in the eye.

WOW does he suck.

I want my Ference back.

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