Sometimes it really can be just that simple.
Brent Sutter... or Dave Lowry...
or Brendan Morrison... or whomever runs the power-play in Calgary finally managed to muster the courage to ice the teams 5 most talented PP performers. I was happy to see it. Which, in a way is sad, that fans like me are happy when the coaching staff manages to get something right. Regardless, without their infinite wisdom the Calgary Flames wouldn't have even reached the scoreboard... again.
It seems this is the tactic they're going to take for the rest of the year. Collapse in the defensive zone, glass-and-out at every opportunity, dump and chase and cycle the puck. Granted, the team has seen a touch of success since employing this no-attack system of late, but good teams like the Wings or the San Jose Sharks don't lose a lot of those games unless the goalie steals it.
This is how the game went: the Flames play cautious no-attack hockey until their first mistake, a bad Miikka Kiprusoff rebound (or bad d-zone coverage, depending on how you look at it) and they're down 1-0. A 4th-line goal from the Wings (I believe it was Matt Stajan listlessly chasing behind Cory Emmerton). Now, they turn it up a notch and within a minute, draw a penalty; this, because they're actually attempting to put the puck in the other teams net and generate forward possession, a novel concept. Early in the second, the pressure pays off. After another Todd Bertuzzi penalty, the Flames power-play capitalizes to tie the game. Long story short, the Flames go back into collapse mode, playing for a good bounce or overtime until the Wings take the lead back for good. Then, naturally, we see a little bit of a push, albeit too late... and Bob's your uncle. 3-1 Wingies.
I wondered aloud on twitter last night if maybe I should just copy and paste my recap from the Sharks game one week ago. And, let's be honest, it was nearly the exact same game. The only difference was that the Flames iced a decent first PP unit and got on the board once. I took some heat from a couple frequent commenters following that negative recap, but I stand by my evaluation of that game and this. It's possible that's the only way the Flames can stay in some of these games against the top teams as a 3-1 or 1-0 loss looks a hell of a lot better than the 9-0 loss to Boston, but to me, it makes no difference as they have very little chance of actually winning these games without generating any sort of attack when the game is winnable.
-Chris Butler had a game to forget, that's for sure. On the ice for the first two goals against and then somehow the Flames, at home with last change and in the third with benches close, get saddled with Butler AND Cory Sarich on the ice at the same time. If that's not a recipe for disaster I don't know what is... then Drew Miller scored the 3rd goal.
- Jay Bouwmeester needs to learn to pass, or stop bringing the puck up the ice. When there is nobody between you and your man, there is no need for a knee-high or chest-high pass, Jay. Just a heads up.
- I liked that Tanguay was directing the puck towards the net more often. He is an excellent shooter and needs to use it.
1. Todd Bertuzzi - Without big Bert's brain farts all night long, the Flames wouldn't have been in this one, let alone on the board at all.
2. Lance Bouma - On night's like this it's hard to pick any others. I love seeing 57 chase the puck into the corner because I know he's going to battle for it and likely lay a big hit. I think he's proven himself worthy of his minutes and he's made me think he might be able to contribute as slightly more than a 4th line checker.
3. Blair Jones - Doing the little things. Hitting, playing hard, killing penalties. The Flames need Jones' mind/attitude put into the top lines body... It shouldn't be the 3rd/4th liners leading by example.
- It doesn't get any easier as the Chicago Blackhawks are at the 'dome on Friday night and then the Flames head out for another 3-game Western roadie... only to return home to face the Vancouver Canucks.