I'm not sure what is more depressing - that this game is the first I get to write the post-game writeup, or that I started writing it at the end of the 2nd period. I went back and re-read the last post-game before the break, titled "Causes for Optimism". At the time, I was optimistic about the Flames chances coming out of the Olympics. Jarome Iginla did look like classic Iggy, Jay Bouwmeester did look like a full value shutdown defenceman who could and would take on all comers and still help drive offense. The new forward core was pushing the puck in the right direction.
So what happened?
If you were looking for answers after the jump, I don't know what to tell you. I can say that 'lack of finish' is a tired cliche that I use too much, but it fits this team. They are pushing the puck in the right direction (at least until after the 2nd Wild goal tonight, when they just stopped). But they don't generate great scoring chances, and it doesn't matter how many new forwards cycle through this team, that hasn't changed for years. Matt Stajan just signed for big bucks and long term - did he play tonight? Rene Bourque just signed for big bucks and long term - is he really a 3rd liner? (Ask Brent Sutter, I guess). Iggy just reinforced himself as a national hero - did he just complete his deal with the devil? A gold for a Jarmoe?
Yes, the D made a few bonehead plays tonight, and they all ended up in the net. Yes, JayBo was particularly shaky (he and Iggy were two of the four with negative Corsi). Yes, the Wild played a good 'road game' (never mind that they're a team that had all of 9 road wins coming in! ). But the Flames play a style with little room for error and depends on generating a ton of chances. Instead, we got a couple of errors, and no way to overcome those.
It is probably well past the time to do an honest assessment of coaching and playing style. Some of the zone breakouts tonight looked like they were in a pre-season game. I don't know that I know enough to judge coaching from a distance, or in a vacuum without seeing what the players are being taught. But, that's the next point of analysis and as Bob mentioned in the comments, it looks like we may have a longer summer than expected to do that analysis.
I guess the best summary of this game I can give is that it mirrored the trades made by Sutter today. Nothing stood out, nothing terrible, nothing great, just a whole bunch of nothing. Overall result is that you don't come away from it feeling good, for sure, but really, you just come away feeling empty.