The Flames and Wild were kind enough to schedule an afternoon game to make sure that their tilt wouldn't interfere with Hollywood's grandest night and deny us all a chance to see that Steve Martin is still alive. In that vein, the envelope, please...
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - I'd like to nominate Vesa Toskala, for expanding his repertoire beyond simply opening the door to the bench. He isn't our winner, because he still has room to improve (starting with covering the whole net). But, he wasn't the train wreck that McBackup had appeared to be the last few games. I wasn't going to nominate Matt Stajan, but apparently the talking heads on SportsNet nominated him for me, as the wind beneath Jarome Iginla's wings. OK, he played decent and while he shouldn't be with Iggy, he can help this team (and will have to, since he's been signed through 2014).
For this one, our winner is Mark Giordano. He was the steadiest of the D-men today, he played a bunch, chipped in a goal and an assist, and with the mysterious poor play of Jay Bouwmeester has perhaps become the Flames most reliable defenceman. He still isn't typically playing the toughest matchups, but he's making the best of the matchups he's getting.
Best Actor in a Lead Role - Well, seriously, it's hard to pick anyone other than The Captain (capital letters brought to you by Peter Loubardias) after his three goals. But, Iggy didn't win this with a seamless effort from start to finish. Like many a 'best actor', he was overshadowed by the supporting cast (played by Miiko Koivu and the rest of the Wild first line) for a good chunk of the game. However, the memorable moments belonged to him, the shots that stole the show.
The other nominee would be Guillaume Latendresse, who is one more in a long line of players who benefitted from a change of address. He's good evidence for the theory that past the first few picks, drafting is a crapshoot and good teams can be built from good NHL scouting and a keen eye for bargains. For all of Darryl Sutter's flaws, he's done a good job with this in finding some gems for the Flames (Rene Bourque, Curtis Glencross, maybe Chris Higgins if he stays), which makes you wonder why he's so mesermerized by the bigger names (Olli Jokinen, Ales Kotalik, Steve Staios) he's acquired at a high cost and dubious value.
Best Director - As with all Flames games lately, the great result doesn't reflect a dominant effort. The scoring chances came out even, the Corsi numbers are generally sub-zero, and the large number of goals is not necessarily repeatable without an improved effort. A large part of the problem in my eyes is Brent Sutter's troubles with line matchups. I'll give the Best Director award to Todd Richards because he certainly had more success directing the action on the ice than his counterpart behind the Flames bench. However, I might have done as good a job figuring out who to put on the ice against the Flames 4th line that Sutter kept putting out there at the strangest times (coming out of a powerplay, for example). Koivu and Martin Havlat and friends spent far too much time on the ice against the Craig Conroy and Eric Nystrom's trios - fortunately, good directing doesn't always mean a good result if the acting doesn't get the job done.