Imagine you're a hockey team that is potentially a handful of games from the end of the season. You know every game is critical, you are going on the road for a quick three game trip - across country no less - knowing that the team you're about to play is likely the worst you'll see the rest of the year. Desperation doesn't begin to describe your position. So, of course, you'll be coming out like gangbusters, perhaps the best first period you've had since the Olympic break.
Now imagine you're the Calgary Flames in that same situation. And ignore the part about "gangbusters" and "best first period" because, damn, you're just not wired that way. You'd rather get your brains beat in for most of the first period, losing the possession game, getting gifted with six power play minutes and doing less than nothing with them. Against Anaheim, a similar start was overcome and the spell broken by a nice tip by Nigel Dawes for a goal. However, in this game even another nice tip for another goal by Dawes didn't help change the flow. The whole first period was ugly, and the Flames were lucky to be tied 1-1.
Fortunately, they play three periods.
Hah! I wrote that line when they were up 2-1, because even though they play was still sloppy I thought they absolutely had to lock this one down against a team full of players I'd never heard of. Seriously, I'm somewhat embarrassed to say I've never heard of Matt Moulson. Yes, a guy who has 27 goals, one of which came tonight. You've got a lifeless crowd, a team going nowhere (on the second night of a back to back, no less), a guy named Bruno. Put it in the win column and concentrate on the two afternoon games on the weekend. Whatever you do, don't let that guy named Bruno score mid-way through the third period of a tie game - that may lead to an absolutely crippling loss.
Ah, I give up. No sense talking too much about this game. They had four scoring chances at even strength all night. Coach Sutter can close the door for 200 minutes and have post-game meetings and it doesn't matter - this group has stopped listening. So let's make this about Eric Nystrom instead. And not about the fact that some guys think he's worth $2M a year - he's not. But he's become my favorite player since the break. It's not just the goals, which are a nice extra but are not going to continue to come at this pace. He's just been fun to watch - he's had more jump, more passion (yes, I went there!) than anyone else on the Flames. He's had more 10-bell chances than anyone, too, so maybe the goals are completely deserved.
Tonight was a big night for him - he's from the Island, son of "Islander's royalty" to quote the NYI announcers, and his first game played there as a Flame. The Islander's TV crew probably went too far by putting the highlight bubble around him every time he was on the ice, with his dad on split screen, but they were pretty excited about him being there! OK, slight exageration. Funny thing was, I didn't mind. He's one of the guys who has been around for a few years, and I hope he stays around. He was the best Flame tonight, easily (not a tough competition to win) and of course got the big goal. Good for him.
I have nothing else. Except this...
Big trip to Island
Loss to a guy named Bruno?
Bad trip on Island.