Well, for the second straight game the Flames were handily outshot but managed to escape with a victory. Some would council against looking a gift horse in the mouth, but that's precisely what I'm going to do. Let's face it everyone - if Calgary continues to play like this, they're going to lose more than they win.
I liked a lot of what I heard from players and coaches during the off-season about a return of structure and an emphasis on defensive play. I am thus far unimpressed with the results, however. The Flames are having a lot of issues in their own currently and defending the neutral zone hasn't been much better. By eye, the Flames are having a lot of problems transitioning from the puck from the defense to the forwards in the defensive zone, especially when it concerns the wingers. The break out is being stuffed a lot by pinching defenders and causing a lot of problems. In addition, Calgary seems to be giving up a lot of point shots and opportunities. And although the club seemed to be trying to clutter the neutral zone when Edmonton had possession last night, the Oilers nevertheless had little problems breaking through and entering the Flames zone.
Other problems I noticed:
- First line was again rather bland at ES. I've been tough on Jokinen in my discussions thus far, but I think Jarome has actually been the weak link on the first unit. He's doing nothing with his ice time currently. In fact, he's been a liability more than anything. Plays died on his stick more than once on Saturday, he gave the puck away needlessly several times and he seems to be struggling with his decision making. Four minutes in penalties and one shot on net is a goat worthy performance from the Captain, who hasn't even looked 75% to me yet. Jarmoe in full effect.
- Speaking of stars struggling, Robyn Regehr was also abysmal last night. He had all sorts of issues with puck retrieval and it was his terrible give-away that led to the first goal against. He lost more puck battles than I'm used to last night and he was off on a couple of his reads. Reggie occassionally goes through these bouts of crapitude, so we can only hope that it ends sooner rather than later. Ended the night -2 and could have been further in the hole if not for some good bounces and decent performance from Kipper.
Just so the post game isn't all about raining on the parade, here's the stuff I liked from last night:
- Nigel Dawes was also -2, but I thought he was very strong overall. He was very quick and tenacious in the offensive zone and create a number of opportunities.
- Jay Bouwmeester...another 2 assists, +1 and 30 minutes of ice.
- Aside from a hiccup or two, I thought the 4th line showed well again.
I've openly theorized that Calgary would struggle to adjust under the new regime for the first couple of weeks, so let's hope that's all we're seeing here. An average of 37 shots against in the first two games is the polar opposite of what the team is aiming for this season. Only some good goaltending, opportunistic scoring and very favorable bounces have the Flames at 2-0 at this point. The first line also has to have more impact - I'm not certain that's a coaching thing since what I'm seeing is eerily familiar to what was on display at the end of the season last season.