For a while, if we squinted hard enough, we could pretend the Flames were an elite team. There was the drubbing of Columbus and the obliteration of San Jose. Sadly, that wasn't the case. And tonight showed exactly why, in spite of a win: the same old, same old.
In a night reminiscent of the Detroit game a week ago, and so many more last season, Calgary started off strong. No- they started off dominant. Edmonton routinely gave up the puck to pretty much any Flame that asked for it. Scoring chances were everywhere for the Flames, and it paid of pretty quickly with a power play
goal rocket by Brendan Morrison. The enemy in the form of Kurtis Foster struck back with a power play goal of their own 3 minutes later, but that was one of only a few scoring chances that Edmonton got that period. Calgary capped off their terrific man-advantage play with Jay Bouwmeester's first goal of the year, scored purely because of getting dirty.
Not much changed in the second period either- if anything Calgary was even better, limiting the Oilers to 6 shots on goal (compared to 8 in the first) and no goals until the last 17 seconds where Eberle scored a bizarro-goal from a poor angle shot. Ian White was completely victimized on the play. This period the Flames' special teams continued to be dominant, especially on the PK, where it sometimes looked like the Oilers had forgotten they had more people on the ice. This strong special teams play resulted in a terrific short handed goal for Brendan Morrison, his second goal of the night. Curtis Glencross also notched his second of the year in this frame, which was well deserved.
Unfortunately everything fell apart in the third. The Flames were reeling from Jordan Eberle's 2nd period closing goal and it showed: they went into the patented Brent Sutter Shell. The third line, as usual, continued strong, even aggressive, play. They pushed Gilbert Brule et al. around a lot. However the big guns, mostly notably Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay, and Matt Stajan just started making terrible decisions. If Stajan or Tangs were in the slot with the puck, they were passing the puck right back out. If it was Iggy, or if Iggy had the puck anywhere on the ice, he was shooting it into someone's shin pads.
The Oilers pushed back, and hard. Magnus Paajarvi grabbed his second point of the night on a solid rush to the crease ending with a puck being flipped over Miikka Kiprusoff's pads and pretty much all of Cory Sarich that could've possibly blocked it. With the game now only a one goal lead, the Flame's shell behavior got worse and allowed Tom Gilbert to score the game tying goal. Rene Bourque and Niklas Hagman did what they could, but any line with Olli Jokinen just isn't going to succeed. With the game tied and 10 minutes left, the Flames 2nd and 3rd lines took to the ice with something to prove, and accumulated shots, scoring chances, and in the case of Glencross, some PIMS (more on that later) but no goals. Overtime, sadly, was just more of the same with way too much Jokinen.
And though I never thought I'd say this: thank heavens for Alex Tanguay. After Kiprusoff poke checked 2 Oilers skaters (Hemsky and Eberle) and Hagman got stonewalled by Niklas Khabibulin, Tangs shot down the right wing and right as Khabi though he would switch to backhand for the opposite post- Tanguay scored forehand to the roof, preserving the Flames win in a game where they probably didn't deserve one at the end.
- I like the various player rivalries developing between the two teams: Giordano/Hall showed up early, but it was Glencross/Brule that got heated.
- I really wanted to see Mikkleson, but Steady Steve (who wasn't horrific today) dressed instead.
- Tanguay really likes passing
- Ian White had a pretty "off" game. He was frequently taken advantage of.
- On the other hand, Mark Giordano was terrific all the time, and Bouwmeester was particularly strong too.
- #34 turned 34 tonight- glad to see him get the win
- It can't be said enough: Brendan Morrison has the best value contract on the team. When the Flames signed him I asked my Capitals fan friend about Morrison and he had nothing but good things to say. He blamed the low scoring totals on his typical line deployments- usually against the other team's top guys.