Flames vs Coyotes coverage
Let's ignore the fact that the Flames lost this one. Partially because the game could have gone either way and partially because, well...I'm running out of things to talk about when it comes to this losing streak. Nothing has changed enough for there to signal an alteration in the analysis. At least the Coyotes didn't score one of those random, triple-deflection off-of legs-in-front goals that have plaguing the Flames recently.
Here's the briefest of recaps for those who missed out: the teams played to a draw in the first period, essentially spending most of the time in the neutral zone. Phoenix came on in the second period, thanks to a combination of power plays and just being the better team. At one point, they went on a 14-0 run in terms of shots. Not surprisingly, this is where they took the 2-0 lead. The Flames battled back a bit by the end of the second, with Mark Giordano's 'Goal the Year' acting as a rallying cry. In the third, Brent Sutter went to the "blender", unveiling all sorts of wacky combinations up front that actually kind of worked. Mikael Backlund played a bunch in the period and tallied his first NHL goal.
There was a bit of controversy when Eric Nystrom jammed at the puck during a goal mouth scramble and then raised his arms in celebration. No available camera angle could conclusively prove the puck was in the net, however, so the "goal" was disallowed.
Overall, Calgary played a decent game. The scoring chances were equal at 19 apiece and it took a coin flip to decide the contest. If the club hadn't stumbled about deaf and dumb through the first 10 minutes of the second stanza, they probably would have won the game. Cold comfort, I know.
On an individual level, last night was a stark illustration of how thoroughly Mark Giordano has usurped Cory Sarich from the Flames top 4. The latter drew back into the line-up after being a healthy scratch the game previous and visibly struggled. He was caught on bad pinches twice in the first period, one which caused him to take not one, but two hooking penalties on the back-check (no, I've never seen that either). Sarich just happened to be on the ice for both goals against as well. So although he started the evening out playing on the second pairing with Bouwmeester (for some baffling reason), his ice time slowly eroded as the game wore on when it was clear he couldn't handle the assignment. He didn't touch the ice in overtime and ended up with just 12 minutes of ice.
Giordano, on the other hand, scored the best goal by a single Flames player all year. On top of that, he defused a Phoenix 3-on-1 break (caaused by you know who) with a valiant back-check. He ended the evening with more than 24 minutes of ice. If someone rational had been picking the three stars, Giordano would have landed there (instead, Lang, Korpikosky and Brygalaov were the stars...meaning some goober simply watched the shoot-out and chose from there).
I once compared Giordano to Brian Rafalski awhile back. Suddenly that comparison doesn't look so silly.
Up front, it was a mix of good and bad. Iginla's underlying numbers were rather poor (-4 corsi, -1 ES scoring chances) and he spent a lot of time mishandling the puck whenever it was on his stick. Langkow and Bourque continue to be fairly average as well, although Rene seemed to come to life in the third period. Boyd spent more time in the top 6 and didn't look out of place either. If there's any benefit to the current rash of injuries, it's that guys like Boyder and Backlund are getting more than a perfunctory look. Backlund, as mentioned, had a solid outing. He seemed to get more comfortable as the night wore on. As a result, Butter gave him some ice time with better players. Perhaps most intriguing is that fact that he went 60% in the dot for the second straight night. Someone who can win draws?? Maybe we should keep the kid around for that reason alone...