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Flames @ Kings Post-Game - Karma's a Bitch


Scoring Chances

H2H Ice

As sometimes happens, the Flames were the better team last night in just about all facets of the game, but ended up on the losing end of the score. Tough to be mad about it though - Calgary has been the beneficiary of similar fortunes recently so we'll just write this one off as the universe trying to balance itself out.

Calgary won the possession battle, the scoring chance count and the shot count, but a couple of posts and some decent saves by Jonathan Quick kept the Kings out in front. That said, it was hardly a perfect contest from the guys in white and red: Adam Pardy moved up in the absence of Robyn Regehr and got his head beat in. In particular, he was frequently victimized off the rush, including Scott Parse's opening tally. Pardy typically ends up on the positive side of things in terms of chances and possession when he's restricted to the third pairing, but last night he was well under water by both metrics (-11, -5). He also took a penalty to boot. Sorry're clearly not ready for that kind of gig.

In addition, the Flames newly formed top line of Iginla, Jokinen and Dawes struggled for the second straight game. Since being formed, the trio is a combined -26 in terms of scoring chance differential, which is a rate reminiscent of the bad ol' October days where Iginla and Jokinen were getting beat up by the opposition nightly. To be fair, they faced some pretty capable bad guys the last two games (Thornton et al, Kopitar et al), but the point of going PvP is to at least try to come out even at the end of the game most nights. If not, then you just have $12M+ worth of offensive forwards chasing the puck around their own zone for an evening.

Which brings me to the ever rotating cast of left wingers for that unit - I've resigned myself to the fact that the Flames organization has collectively decided that Iginla and Jokinen have to play together (apologies to Mike Keenan, whom I blamed this exclusively on last season), but the fact of the matter is, outside of periods where Iginla is shooting lights out, that combination is going to need some help to get the job done; especially if Brent is going to send them out against the Thorntons and Kopitars of the world. The natural choice is Rene Bourque, who is doubtlessly the best LW on the Flames roster. Bourque's audition on the first line was rather inauspicious (loss to PHX), although that unit did manage to outchance their counter-parts on the evening - something that hasn't occured since Bourque was moved to Langkow's line and Dawes was elevated. Granted, the level of competition between the PHX game and the following two contests isn't congruous, but I think it's been shown pretty conclusively that Bourque is a strong ES forward who can play against anyone and move the puck in the right direction.

As such, I find the decision making about this situation curious: in Bourque's absence, the Dawes-Langkow-Moss combination held their own. Bourque returns, makes a brief appearance on the first unit and then is "demoted" in favor of an obviously inferior option (no disrepect to Dawes, whom I like - he's just clearly in over his head). Any talk of "balancing the top 6" here is untenable: not only was the Langkow/Dawes/Moss trio operating at an acceptable clip previously, but the Flames first line sees the toughest match-ups. Iginla and Jokinen should therefore play with the best LW option available - otherwise you're just throwing them in the deep end of the pool and tossing them an anchor. And it's not like Olli Jokinen is the best swimmer anyways.