It's tough to analyze a game that runs away from one team in the first period: typically the winning club spends the rest of the night relaxing while the trailing team runs around trying to even things up. That happened tonight when Raymond's floater bounced off of Kipper and went in. As a result, the Flames were able to claw back in terms of scoring chances and possession by the end of the night (they were -5 in terms of corsi in front of Kipper and +19 with CuMac in net), but the truth of the matter is the game was never as close as many of the stats indicate because the bad guys went on vacation half way through.
There's a lot to dislike about the Flames right now. They're in the midst of their longest losing streak this season, they can't put a puck in the ocean and they often look lost on special teams. In addition, a lot of their expensive players stuggled this evening - Regehr in particular looked like a rookie caught in a three-on-one for the entirety of the first period. Olli Jokinen was 2-8 in terms of scoring chances through just 10 minutes of ES ice time (par for the course, I know). Bouwmeester and Phaneuf aren't playing poorly, but it's hard to justify $13M for the both of them right now.
That said, I'm not going to start brandishing attitudinal epithets when talking about this team yet. The truth of the matter is the Flames have been this club for a majority of the season: in October, they were on the other end of games like this one where favorable bounces (pucks off the backboards, floaters from the neutral zone and questionable goaltending) masked what have proven to be enduring issues. Aside from a brief period in November where Calgary resembled a legitimate top end club for maybe 10 games, there's been plenty of nights where their play hasn't been above board and they've escaped with points thanks to Kipper or "opportunistic scoring". The latter has disappeared entirely this month, while the former simply wasn't there this evening. So while indicting the club as disinterested or lazy or some variant thereof may seem appropriate right now the fact is all the info we've gathered since puck drop in October has suggested the Flames are a rather mediocre squad overall. I honestly don't think they're as bad as they're showing currently, but I never believed they were as good as they seemed before either. The truth is no doubt somewhere in between, which ironically makes me a lukewarm optimist currently (whereas I was cynical pessimist previously). At some point the scoring will come back in line to some degree, although probably not anywhere near the level some fans and pundits may be expecting out of this team.
There were some minor positives tonight. I thought guys like Boyd and Giordano had above average performances and the PP sprang to life once Sutter put Jokinen on the bench and gave Glencross/Bourque and others more of a chance. Some 10-bell saves by Luongo in the third actually prevented the Flames from making a game of it...so there's that.
In addition, Sutter finally found the will to sit Olli Jokinen after yet another horrible performance. The punk that smashed the pumpkin was an offensive zone penalty which came on the heels of a Vancouver icing and favorable match-up for Calgary. As I mentioned in the comments below, it was the second time in the last few games that Sutter put Iginla and Jokinen out to take advantage of an icing call, only to have the play go the other way after the ensuing face-off (last time, it was a goal against). It's one thing when your big boys don't take advantage of a good match-up; it's quite another when they end up costing the team in the process. I doubt it will necessarily mean the end of the Iggy/Sex Panther pairing, but some cracks are starting to form in the foundation at least. Aside from a prophecy that the bounces will start to even out at some point, that's the biggest positive I can assert at this point.