CALGARY, CANADA - JANUARY 24: Jarome Iginla #12 of the Calgary Flames skates back to the bench as the San Jose Sharks celebrate the only goal of the game in third period NHL action on January 24, 2012 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Mike Ridewood/Getty Images)
The Calgary Flames appeared to be more than happy to settle for a 0-0 game that would be decided in the extra period. Take the single and try to push it to two after regulation. Sure, there were chances for both clubs - and some good bounces, take the Joe Pavelski goal post, for example - but no real forward attack from the Flames.
That can work, especially against a team that's supposed to be much better than you are. But, I think if you asked the San Jose faithful what they thought of their effort last night and they'd say they were lucky to get the win. Not that they didn't deserve to win, just that their effort probably wasn't what it should be or what it is normally. And, for the Flames, those are the nights that you need to take advantage of.
And they didn't.
Despite the lack of real effort, seemingly from both sides, the Sharks did manage to get a regulation goal and spoil the hopes of overtime. It wasn't a beauty by any means and it came on the Flames first real defensive breakdown, and by that I mean, an incredibly lazy play by those on the ice - specifically Mikael Backlund and Scott Hannan, who let the Sharks get multiple chances against a sprawling Miikka Kiprusoff on a chance that should not have taken that long to extinguish. Backlund with the first chance to clear the puck, or tie up his man - neither of which he did - and Hannan because he was still coasting in from the top of the circle while the Sharks banged away at the puck.
A momentary lapse in focus cost the Flames their bid for overtime and a chance at two points. A disappointing effort leading into what is several days off for most of the team.
There's been a lot of talk on twitter recently between Flamesnation's Vintage Flame and the Fan 960's Andrew Walker (and many others who've chimed in) about who's the most disappointing Flames player this season, an argument stemming around their difference in opinion about Mikael Backlund's lack of statistical success. For me, easily the most disappointing Flame is Mark Giordano. And I know it's hard to fault a guy who missed a large portion of the year (like Ryan Whitney in Edmonton) but, I expect more out of him, expect him to make the smart defensive plays and get the puck on the net in the offensive zone. Last night, he was on his chest sliding into the boards when the goal was scored and had several chances, not just late to get the puck into a scoring situation for the team and failed to get it by the forwards blocking shots or just plain fired it wide. It's also tough to fault a guy who has to play with Hannan every night, but that's my two cents on the disappointment topic.
The power-play. Oh, the power-play. Brent Sutter not including Alex Tanguay on the first unit in some facet was mind-boggling. The most talented play-maker on the team relegated to second-unit duty with the likes of Blair Jones and Chris Butler. I keep waiting to see some sort of method to his madness, but after nearly three years, we just have to concede that there won't be any method, ever.
One the team fell behind by a goal, it was a totally different club. A complete 180 on the ice. They forechecked with the intent of creating turnovers, they head-manned the puck instead of reversing it backwards towards their own end and they tried to force the puck to the net and create opportunities. If that team had played the first 52 minutes of the game, we may have seen a different outcome. I just can't see any other way to describe that effort other than they were playing for the 0-0 tie.
1. Blair Jones - He never stops working. He's become the leader of the third line. This is a replacement-level player outworking the rest of the team almost every night. Got hit with an unfortunate and questionable diving penalty late in the game that looked to be a missed call on the officials part.
2. TJ Brodie - Brodie instinctively wants to move the puck forward. I like this.
3. Miikka Kiprusoff - I didn't see the 100% focused Kipper though the entire game, but he was there when they needed him and his defense let him down on the goal.
- The Flames aren't going to win many more games (that Kipper doesn't steal) without the top 2 lines being their best players.
- Flames fall 3 points back of 8th place leading Minnesota Wild (on pace for 92 points).