ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 02: Goaltender Jonas Hiller #1 of the Anaheim Ducks and his teammates celebrate following a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames at Honda Center on March 2, 2012 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
You gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em.
The 'must win game' has been bantered around so much this season that it has almost lost meaning for the Flames. This was another one and they didn't win it. A team they should have been able to take out.
Is it the turning point game? Maybe not quite, but it is certainly getting close…
This was not a terrible effort by the Flames. Not by any stretch. Leland Irving played very well. Jarome Iginla gave the old Iginla effort, dropping the gloves and playing with intensity, snapping out of his more recent disinterested play. It was looking fairly positive for the Flames.
The Ducks quickly answered back on a poorly timed pinch by Derek Smith who was schooled by Teemu Selanne as he went up the ice and flashed past David Moss resulting in a two on one with Bobby Ryan joining him. Old man Selanne still has incredible speed and incredible passing skill and put a perfect saucer pass on Ryan's stick. Ryan made no mistake on his off-wing and there is no way this goal was on Jbo or Irving.
Irving had several great saves throughout the remainder of the first and he kept the Flames in it.
With the game tied and into the final minute the Flames should have bolted down the hatches like Kansas Hillbillies in tornado season but a breakdown occurred which in gut wrenching fashion, allowed to the Ducks to win the game with a Getzlaf slap shot in the final minute.
The Ducks ran a decent play on the goal. Getzlaf picked Glenscross while Perry took advantage and carried the puck into the zone. Glencross had options, he didn't have to be picked to the inside allowing Perry to shoot up along the boards but, it happened, good players do this you have to know how to respond defensively.
Irving didn't really have a chance on this one. The shot was perfect and there wasn't much that could be done.
Mark Giordano gave it his all to keep the score from inflating to 4-2 on an empty net goal but the damage was done.
The exciting thing about this game for me though was watching Leland Irving, who for the first time in the Kipper era is the first Goaltender I can realistically see replacing him.
In this loss he still posted a 0.921 SV% and he was peppered with 38 shots. He made several big saves, I see his positioning as very good for a young Tender. He is in control, does not over-extend past his posts too much in East-West movement, he stays focused, reads the play well and does not get scrambley.
A lot to like about this kid and most important of all he seems confident, that mental state is important for a goaltender. Despite the loss, this interview is a positive sign of a young man who is not devastated by it, one who has his confidence, positive energy and he is going to be a big part of the Flames future when it is finally allowed to happen.
Leland Irving Post Game
At some point here, the fold em and not hold em mentality is going to have to come down from the Flames old ownership group.
That may require the ghost of Harley Hotchkiss coming back and dancing a jig in the travelling train or something but it has to happen here at some point. When it does, players like Irving are going to be part of a new Flames team that will be the new hand dealt when the Kipper and Iggy Aces are folded back into the deck...
Kenny Rogers' The Gambler on the Muppet Show (via dteeps42)