Penguins vs Flames coverage
There's a scene (NSFW) in Planes, Trains and Automobiles that nicely sums up the way Flames fans (and players) are likely feeling right now. It's near the end of the film where Steve Martin's character trudges out to a middle-of-nowhere parking lot only to discover his rental car isn't there. Seething, he returns to the rental place and directs an expletive filled tirade at the unfortunate clerk.
With that in mind, I think it's pretty safe to say that everyone involved with the Flames organization would like a f**king game where the f**king team scores more than two f**king goals. Where the f**king opposition goalie isn't f**king lights out; where pucks don't hit f**king posts, break-aways actually go in the f**king net and Jarome Iginla's shots don't always go f**king wide.
There. Just had to get that out.
To be fair, the team is play well right now. Really well. They spend way more time in the offensive zone, they out-shoot their opponents and they generate far more chances. Pucks just aren't going in for whatever reason. It's natural to point fingers at the players, of course. Every chance they get seems to end up wide, shot into a block or at the goalie's chest. But the truth is (also) that the bounces haven't been there. One has to expect that, at some point, things will turn around if the team keeps up this level of play.
Again, the Flames out-played Pittsburgh in every period last night, particularly at even-strength. Ironically, it was Calgary's much maligned power play that actually got them on the board with Mark Giordano doing the honors. It's noteworthy that all five Calgary PP scoring chances were generated with Bourque, Dawes and Langkow on the ice. The supposed first unit featuring Jokinen and Iginla floundered with the man advantage. Again.
The first line did play well at even-strength, however, even though they saw a lot of Crosby. I think Brent Sutter has reversed his earlier tendency of sending out Olli and Jarome for own-zone draws which saw them drowning in both pools and puddles in October/November. So while they are still seeing some of the other team's better players, they often begin the shift with the high-ground, which helps keep them from spending their time chasing the puck around the defensive zone.
That would mean everyone else is getting th defensive zone draws, which may explain why the 3rd unit has gone from creating the best chance differentials to barely keeing their heads above water. Even with Nystrom demoted, Conroy back in the middle and Glencross patrolling the left side, that trio was a cumulative +2 in terms of chances last night (whereas Iginla and company were +20). If my assumptions are true, I think it's a sensible move by Sutter: it makes sense to set up Iginla et al for success; partially because they are (theoretically) the more capable offensive players and partly because they were getting their asses handed to them in that role previously.
Finally, the TSN crew spent a good portion of the evening gushing about Mark Giordano's performance - and for good reason. Gio was on the ice for a team high 11 scoring chances at ES and another 5 on the PP. That means, of the Flames 25 total chances, Giordano was out for more than half of them. Oh...and he scored the teams only goal. It was mentioned he's the only Flames defenseman to score a goal in the last 10 games as well. His cap hit is 892k. Of course, it's probably safe to say that Sutter is probably putting him in a situation where he can succeed (a la Iggy and Jokinen), but good value nonetheless.