I keep going into these games against Edmonton knowing the Flames have absolutely dominated the Battle of Alberta lately and think to myself that maybe because the Oilers are out of it (again) they'd put a game against their chief rival as among their highest priorities, especially at home. I'm still waiting. Last night's game seemed like a new low for the club as they've now lost 9 in a row to the Flames and 16 of 17, but hey, they'll always have Jordan Eberle's SH goal, right?
It started early and the game was practically over by the end of the first. With Colten Teubert in the box, the 2nd PP unit opened the scoring when Mark Giordano made a perfect pass to Mikael Backlund for a wide open net. Blake Comeau added to the lead with a slap shot that squeaked through Nikolai Khabibulin and then Lee Stempniak sniped one home late in the first and the Flames were off.
The Flames held off a mild Oilers push to start the second, handled their flurry of hits and even a few cross checks and slashes before Stempniak really sealed the game with another questionable snipe past Khabby.
Miikka Kiprusoff looked like he wasn't all that focused (not that he needed to be) when the third started and it showed on the Oilers first goal; a softy from Andy Sutton. But, it didn't matter - Jarome would use Jay Bouwmeester's stick to ricochet one past Devan Dubnyk to hamper any hopes the Oilers had of a comeback. Ryan Smyth made a perfect deflection past Kipper and Stempniak added a meaningless and confusing EN goal for his 2nd career hat trick.- Why on earth did Tom Renney pull the goalie down three with under 3 minutes to go as if they'd had some sort of sustained pressure at any given point during the game?
It appears Taylor Hall was wondering the same thing as after he attempted to stop Stempiak's EN goal, he broke his stick on the ice, skated away and said "why would we pull the goalie?!" - all caught on the HNiC broadcast for all to see.
- I'm not sure what the point of dressing Brendan Morrison is if he's not going to go out there and put out a decent effort. Brent Sutter scratched a healthy and eager Roman Horak for Morrison and were it any other team but the Oilers, might have paid for it. One of few issues I had with the game - Morrison floating around like Todd Bertuzzi making the easy play on the puck every time it came to him. I noticed he came out on the positive end in the corsi numbers and I'm not quite sure how that happened. I'll be keeping a close eye on him Tuesday night in Calgary as well.
- Nice to see Comeau and Stempniak break out with 7 points between them. They may have gotten a lot of help from poor goaltending, but it doesn't matter, sometimes that's all it takes to get the confidence back up.
- Only other issue came when the Flames had 3 odd-men rushes (one of which was a partial breakaway) and never got a shot on goal. How do you not shoot the puck any time you're open when a goalie is playing that terrible? And, I'm hoping this doesn't become a Tanguay-like issue with Michael Cammlleri as he was very clearly looking to force that puck to Jarome when he had a wide open lane to the net. Um, Cammy - we need ya to shoot that puck bud.
- TJ Brodie continues to impress me. He shows poise with the puck and is able to carry the puck away from trouble and make the right reads. He's also being used properly by Sutter as he's being matched up with exactly who the 3rd pair D should be matchup up against; equivalent or weaker competition. At least he's got that right.
- Since the Bruins pummeled the Flames 9-0, the club has gone 5-1-1 and has put themselves right back into the thick of the playoff race, despite many injuries to key players. This was similar to last year when the Flames dropped a 6-0 decision to the Wild in mid-January and then reeled off an 8-0-2 record over their next 10 just when you thought they were down and out.
- The Flames host the San Jose Sharks in their last game before the all-star break. The Sharks are a very skilled team but the Flames do seem to match up OK against them as both teams seem to like to win low-scoring games. Right now, that plays exactly into the way the Flames are winning games against good teams. It took a bit of good luck to get them a point at the Shark tank so hopefully the 'dome brings a better effort and a full 2 points.
1. Lee Stempniak - Empty-netter for the trick. He scores in bunches so hopefully he's got some more on his stick for this upcoming 3-game homestand.
2. Blake Comeau - Had him penciled into the #1 slot until the hat trick goal. Played with a lot of confidence last night and did a lot of digging for the puck.
3. Jay Bouwmeester - Oiler fans love to give Flame fans flack over J-Bo, and all he does is dominate the games against them. It just seemed like when he was on the ice, the Oilers didn't stand a chance to score.
- Flames remain 2 points out of 8th and are in 10th overall in the West. They face a very tough stretch of games with San Jose, Detroit and Chicago at home before heading back to California.