As the old adage goes, you have to play sixty minutes to win it, and the Flames didn't even come close in what was a thoroughly abysmal loss to Jordan Eberle and the Oilers in Edmonton. Taylor Hall and his cohorts skated circles around a Flames defence that struggled to close gaps and keep up with the smooth-skating youngsters while the first line of Tanguay-Jokinen-Iginla was decidedly average, and the team's depleted forward corps failed to generate much in the way of five-alarm scoring chances. An undisciplined fist period which saw the Flames take four consecutive penalties led to the visitors being outshot 19-9, but only one puck found the back of the net courtesy of Gilbert Brule thanks to the fine work of Kiprusoff. In the second, the Flames held a decisive advantage in the possession battle, outshooting the Oilers 18-7 and out-chancing them 7-6, but still couldn't beat Khabibulin. The best chance of the period, and probably the game, was a Tanguay shot that glanced off the inside of the post.
All hell broke loose just 1:24 into the final frame, when Jordan Eberle burst up the middle of the ice shorthanded, around rookie T.J. Brodie, dodged a sliding Adam Pardy, and out-waited Kiprusoff before firing home a perfect shot for his first NHL goal. Two more followed in short order. One Ales Hemsky snap-shot short side that Kipper probably should have had and a screened Shawn Horcoff powerplay marker later, the Flames found themselves down 4-0 before the period was five minutes old. It didn't get much better from then on out, as the team simply seemed to accept its fate. Not even Raitis Ivanans put up much of a fight.
That basically sums it up right there. The Oilers overwhelmed the Flames in every facet of the game, and MacIntyre's KO of Ivanans was a microcosm of that.
Some observations, in no particular order:
- The Flames' special teams were collectively the 'goat' in this one, I think. The Flames allowed two powerplay goals and one shorthanded. The PK looked disorganized and panicked while the powerplay never looked dangerous on four opportunities, generating 8 shots on net.
- Despite getting burned on the Eberle goal, T.J. Brodie didn't look out of place in his first real game with the big club. His quickness was evident on several occasions and he maintained good body position, and proved proficient at separating the man from the puck. If he makes a mistake, he'll hustle back to atone for it.
- Tanguay was easily the best of the big three, despite only registering one shot on goal. I noticed Jokinen on two occasions: once when he made one of his typical, no-look passes into traffic just inside the offensive blueline, and once where he actually made a decent defensive play, keeping his stick down and clearing the puck from the front of the net. What he was doing there in the first place, I'm not entirely sure. I didn't think Iginla was as bad as some did, but he wasn't particularly good either. I also don't think Bourque was as bad as some, but I think we're all in agreement that Hagman had a pretty rough game. On the whole, it was not a great night for Finnish Flames.
- For a team missing two of their top three centres, the Flames did better on the dot than I expected, winning 49% of their draws at EV and 48% altogether. The absences of the likes of Langkow and Conroy were really noticeable on the PK though, as the team won only 25% of their faceoffs while shorthanded. Conroy was practicing on a line with Sutter and Meyer today--which I like to think is a function of this, but probably has more to do with Ivanans having to eat through a straw for the foreseeable future.
- 2/3 of the Glencross-Backlund-Jackman line were probably the best forwards of the game last night, by which I mean Glencross and Backlund. Glencross had three shots on goal and threw some big hits while Backlund had two, spent almost three minutes on the PK, and was generally error-free. Jackman's slowness was evident throughout, especially on what I believe was the Hemsky goal or a chance shortly after it, where he failed to catch up to his man, left completely open after Giordano had taken his man into the boards.
- Why on God's green earth did Brendan Morrison spend more time on the powerplay and less time killing penalties than Mikael Backlund?