OK, we know we're supposed to drown our sorrows after a loss by tossing a pint or two and composing haiku upon haiku in the post-game comments. It's easy to figure out how to react. But do we know how we're supposed to celebrate after a win? A win that looked like that? Sure, after the Ottawa game I noted that I finally found out what it felt like to be cheering for the Avs. But I didn't mean I wanted to feel like that after every game. Hell, we managed to out-Colorado Colorado tonight, which is no mean feat. I want to keep feeling superior to Avs fans for having to watch that hockey all the time, but the Flames are starting to play that way all the time too. And, by the way, don't let tonight's result fool you, the Avs are going to the playoffs and the Flames aren't. Not if the next three weeks look like this game.
Why am I so down after a win? I really don't know. Let's analyze a bit and see if I can feel better after that.
1) Calgary has proven (at least to me) that they have one of the weaker top lines in the league. Is that harsh? I mean, wasn't it last week that Jarome Iginla, Rene Bourque and Matt Stajan scored a boatload of goals? And two more tonight? Sure, but they are underwater every damn game. I find myself pleasantly surprised when they score and cursing them constantly for not getting the puck out of their zone. Stajan is not a top line center, at all, and Iginla is a scorer and a liability at the same time. You know it's true. The Flames roster is built with hope that the top line holds their own against the other team's best - it's their depth that will win for them, right? - and I don't think they even do that regularly. Granted, tonight, they started in their own end a lot, but it isn't their numbers that bother me. It was that they never moved the puck up ice, they ended up stuck in their own end far too much. (OK, I guess it is the numbers - look at those Corsi).
I don't feel better yet...let's talk second line.
2) What did Daymond Langkow do to piss off Brent Sutter? I think he is nails, the hardest worker out there, defensively conscious and still an offensive threat. But Ales Kotalik? And Niklas Hagman? Langkow doesn't have a chance carrying both of those guys all night. Does Kotalik think that firing a puck back to the point along the boards when the other team has a guy along the boards between he and the defenceman is going to work? Any chance he might stop thinking that after a third time having it tipped by the D-man down the ice (and causing danger at the other end)? Kotalik defines a zero-sum player, but not because he balances a lot of chances for with a lot of chances against. It's because he may as well not be on the ice at all - he has absolutely no impact. And Langkow's talents are being wasted on a line with him. Quite frankly, Hagman has been no better since joining the Flames, but I don't have anymore energy to waste on the second line.
As an aside, who would have predicted that Jamal Mayers was the second best player we got for Dion Phaneuf. And yet, I'm still glad Phaneuf is gone - I never realized until now how great my dislike for him had grown.
3) Finally, happy thoughts! David Moss had a great game tonight. He was a beast on the penalty kill and all over the offensive boards. This has been far too rare for the Mosster, but it was welcome tonight. He did come close to scoring a couple of times, which has also been rare. I'm not sure how he scored 20 last year, I think that's his absolute peak. But if he played like tonight all the time, he's still a valuable 3rd liner. That whole line was solid, winning their battles on the night pretty decisively. Nigel Dawes even used the Eric Nystrom "look skyward for answers after missing a glorious scoring chance" move, which was great because, against all odds, we didn't get the look from Nystrom himself...
4) ...Even when he couldn't score on the breakaway. And that's because he already scored a goal earlier, and Eric Nystrom is well aware that he can't look to blame the gods on a night where he's already scored. Water to wine is one thing, but Nystrom scoring twice is too much for any deity (well, unless he's playing Montreal or Vancouver, because even God hates the Habs and the Canucks!). Again, though, the fourth line did their job. Sutter stuck them out against the top Colorado line to start the 2nd period for reasons clear only to him, and that shift combined with one or two others against top competition left them on the negative side of the numbers. But they also forechecked very well (the best on the team tonight, according to Ray Ferraro, and I like Ray so I'll pass that along with no further comment).
I know the Flames won the scoring chance battle, and dominated parts of the game, and were owed in spades by the hockey gods for the earlier games against the Avs. In retrospect, I'm guess I'm not really happy after that win because I realize that with this roster, the Flames are consistently going to lose battles with the top guys (yes, Bourque got two tonight, but they were SH and PP) and win battles with the lower guys, and that doesn't lead to a lot of goals or excitement. And, as we're all too aware, the Avs have Matt Duchene and Peter Mueller and Ryan O'Reilly, who are only going to get better. And the Flames have Kotalik, Hagman, Stajan (not to mention Staios - he looked awful tonight, to my eye - and Sarich, and even Iggy and Langkow) who are only going to get worse. I don't want to keep thinking about that, I really don't, but the Flames aren't going to win eight or nine more games this year playing like this and it's hard not to see doom around the corner.
Sorry for the downer. Haiku, anyone?
Actually, I have one to finish with:
Tucker in the crease
Long before puck knocked in net
Why was that a goal?