The most anticipated Flames game of the season - what better game to keep a running diary, Bill Simmons style!
19:30 - Alright, first minute and they're in the Avs zone! They're all over them! Great pressure! They're killing them! It's early, but this looks like it could be a dominant effort!
19:25 - OK, breathe.
18:30 - It's been another minute! They're still winning the puck battles and possession game! Mikael Backlund looking more and more comfortable every game! Nice pass by Ales Kotalik (I've always liked Ales Kotalik)!
18:15 - I promise to calm down soon, the exclamation mark key on my keyboard is worn out.
17:45 - Milan Hejduk. Just hearing that name makes me uncomfortable. (Note, in retrospect, that may have been the only time we heard his name all night. Nice to see him kept quiet).
16:29 - Coach Joe Sacco is using last change to get his first line against Matt Stajan's line. I fear the power vs power is going to favor the Avs tonight, unless we get a much better performance out of Stajan, Iginla and Hagman.
16:17 - The early push lasted about as long as it took me to type the first ten exclamaton marks. Settling in a bit here, with Miika Kiprusoff making saves from his back. A bit of goalie interference there, but Kipper is all over the place right now.
14:26 - Iggy, get the damn puck deep! Second turnover outside the opposition blue line. I'm already hoping their ice time starts getting limited.
13:30 - Icing, Avs. And who is Butter putting out? Of course, the fourth line! Well, they're rested now anyway, with the Kipper strap coming loose, so it doesn't matter. But, still...why?
12:45 - Scary moments with Kipper going board to board instead of post to post. But the whole sequence started with Staios losing a battle with himself for the puck, which is impressive in it's way. He had all sorts of time but looked like he couldn't decide which way to go with the puck...then it bounced off his stick...then he nearly tripped himself... then suddenly the puck was on Cody McLeod's stick and a great chance followed. Dark comedy, there.
12:10 - Wow, ugly rebound Craig Anderson. He looks very beatable, time to start peppering him with shots.
11:11 - The Flames first line is getting eaten alive, but somehow Iggy draws a penalty. Hope that means the second line will get to take the first shot at the powerplay.
First Commercial - Wait, why is SportsNet showing a commercial with the Avs carrying the cup? They couldn't find a better commercial for tonight's game?
10:37 - A powerplay rush starting with a dump and chase is no fun to watch, especially when the camera pans to the end boards and on the screen there's the puck, three Avs and no Flame.
9:54 - OK, an offside on the power play is even worse than the dump and chase.
9:12 - The Flames, with their patented momentum killing powerplay.
7:00 - Is there anything more disheartening for a fan (or a player) than a broken stick? Game flow changes very quickly upon a broken stick, and the two on one the Avs just got (and almost scored on) is a far too common result. I'm not the first to ask the question, but are the constant broken sticks worth whatever gains you can get from them?
6:45 - On the powerplay, and truly the most jarring difference between Iggy now and Iggy even last year is how often he loses the battles on the boards. Nearly every guy he goes in against comes out with the puck.
5:55 - A variation of the dump and chase on the powerplay. Ian White gains the zone, gets to the top of the circle along the boards and then dumps the puck deep, to noone in particular. Why, when you've already gained the zone do you want to give it up for a board battle. Even with the edge in numbers on a PP, it's a bad percentage play. In this case, it almost worked but I don't like it.
5:29 - I usually don't mind Peter Loubardias (sorry Domebeers). Announcers often rub someone the wrong way, but for the most part they're interchangable. However he is really annoying me tonight - this has not been a great game, and quit trying to tell me that it is.
3:51 - Reggie - What the hell was that? Couldn't have played that puck any worse in the corner, looked very awkward.
3:24 - And the puck is still in the Flames zone after that misplay by Regehr. I'm worried, this never ends well.
3:11 - Finally cleared the puck...
2:44 - How slow is Cory Sarich? Ryan O'Reilly goes around him just outside the blue line and it takes him six seconds to get back to the front of the net. Wow.
0:11 - Didn't enjoy that period much...and Corsi agrees. Team is -8, Reggie and Iggy are double digit negative.
19:14 - Seems like a lot of icing tonight. Is it nerves? Both teams starting this period a bit tight.
19:00 - David Moss is getting a lot of pucks in the direction of the net tonight, shooting from all directions. And getting PP time in place of Hagman. He needs a goal or assist to reward his good efforts lately.
17:54 - Funny, sometimes a team has two guys with similar numbers, playing together, and you have to look twice to see who's who. That is decidedly NOT the case with Sarich and Mark Giordano. I think if they were both carrying the puck, Gio could go down the ice and back in the time it would take Sarich to go one way. Gio goes around his own net and breaks up ice as nice as anyone I've seen.
17:32 - Nigel Dawes!! This is just like the earlier Avs/Flames games, except the exact opposite. The Avalanche make the bad change (does Dion Phaneuf play for them now? Sorry, I had to take my nightly shot at Phaneuf somewhere!), and a two on one, followed by a nice pass by Moss (there's that reward I mentioned) and great finish by Dawes.
15:55 - That was the best shift Matt Stajan's had in about a month. Hope that's a sign of things to come, because it's much more fun watching the first line in the offensive zone.
14:25 - Eric Nystrom has slowed down a bit since his game back home on the Island, but he's great to watch killing penalties, especially his forecheck. He does a great job making it hard to move up ice.
12:54 - Nice work on boards by Stajan and Hagman. That's two strong shifts in a row for Stajan in particular.
11:25 - Ales Kotalik doesn't seem to have much touch on his passes, and Rene Bourque often struggles picking up passes. So when Kotalik cycles with Bourque and throws a 90 mile an hour pass across the ten feet between them, chances are pretty good Bourque's not picking that up.
10:00 - Loubardias notes that Gio has not had a minus game since early February. Even though he doesn't play the toughest matchups, that's pretty impressive.
8:02 - There's been a lot of icings in this game. Yes, I realize I've already written that.
4:23 - Adam Foote is nearly done. Here, he turns the wrong way, right into the pressure of the forecheck from Dawes. This leads to good zone pressure and a Craig Conroy chance. Foote is another guy that loses most of his battles these days, which with his size and (lack of) footspeed is all he really offers.
2:00 - Steve Staios will see your Adam Foote and raise you a dumb pass at the end of an already long shift for forwards stuck a long way from the bench. Staios could have held the puck and cleared the zone, but instead he reversed it to open space, which was quickly filled by Paul Stastny.
1:12 - Finally the puck clears the zone and finally Backlund/Bourque can get off the ice after a 1:50 shift. The bad Staios play almost undoes an otherwise very good period for the Flames.
19:06 - Already this period feels like the dreaded shell is in full effect. Please, I hope I'm wrong.
17:56 - This has been a great shift, with great work by Bourque and Backlund behind the net...
17:46 - ...AND GOAL! Bourque abused Foote that entire shift, and despite getting paid back with a cheap crosscheck, he appears to get his stick on a Sarich shot and tips it by Anderson. Well, that may not have hit his stick, but doesn't matter, it's 2-0. The Flames will not blow a two goal lead, I'm sure of it. And a quick glance at Mile High Hockey shows Avs fans are feeling the same way.
16:30 - And a powerplay also. Will they put the final nail in the coffin? I doubt it, based upon past history with this exact situation.
14:32 - And there you go. Man, I need to do a study on what kind of success rate (or should I say failure rate) the Flames PP has with a one or two goal lead in the third period. The powerplay looks bad to begin with, but in this situation they seem like their overriding goal is to kill two minutes, not put the dagger in the opposition. No puck possession in the zone at all, and no shots.
13:05 - Another dumb reverse by Staios. Anyone else missing the Johnson-Pardy?
12:50 - Nice dive by Niklas Hagman to clear away a good chance. He was supposedly questionable because of the flu tonight, and he has looked a bit sluggish at times, but he's played quite a bit. (Looking at the event summary, after the game, he played the most of any forward at even strength. If he was sick, add that to the list of strange moves by Brent Sutter).
12:28 - Like I said, I'd rather watch the first line in the offensive zone, because they run around a lot in their own zone. Every guy was out of position - Stajan was covering for Iggy at the point, White was deep in the corner losing a board battle to Paul Stastny, Hagman was...well I don' t know where Hagman was, Reggie left the front of the net wide open to play Chris Stewart coming out of the corner, and Iggy decided to go with Reggie, instead of picking up T.J. Galiardi, who happened to be in the most dangerous spot on the ice. Goal Avs, and we have another one goal game to sweat out.
11:28 - Geez, this would be a good time for a time-out. Flames are looking sloppy.
7:38 - Another inch farther on that pass from Dawes to Moss and he was in all alone.
7:10 - Really, Simmer, you think the mile high is a big issue right now? Have you been waiting all game to be able to note the elevation in Denver?
7:05 - I'm too nervous to type.
6:54 - WOW, KIPPER! Great save of O'Reilly. Just, WOW.
5:51 - Moss, get it out dammit...another amazing KIPPER SAVE! Holy hell, this is hard to watch. Right now, it's really funny that Kipper was the #1 concern coming into the season. That's "funny" in a nervous laugh kind of way. Great time for a commercial break, by the way.
4:33 - Kotalik, you have to hit the net! You have a great shot, so hit the net, don't miss and have the puck bounce all the way out of the zone. Have I mentioned I don't like Ales Kotalik?
4:11 - Two on one...See, Kotalik, Bourque won't pass to you. I guess he doesn't like you any more either.
2:37 - If they're going to play a shell, this is how to do it. One forward in, playing position smartly. Second guy in a bit of trap mode, but pressuring up ice too, not retreating. They've kept the Avs bottled up for a minute now.
2:29 - Of course, speed kills. Nice rush by Kyle Cumiskey to gain the zone. This could be trouble.
2:18 - Nope, puck cleared. And nice pressure up ice, Dawes. He's played really well tonight. He was out of place the first half the year in the top six, but he's great on the third line.
1:45 - Iggy, that's the type of pressure I don't like. You hold position as the first forward in, but then without forcing the Avalanche D farther back, you turn and get off the ice. I don't mind the line change, that's important, but that gave a free rush with speed to Colorado. You need to time that better.
0:44 - Anderson can't get out of the net. Great last few minutes by the Flames.
0:10 - Nice play Reggie, good board work...glad to see you out there at the end...except you need to get it out on the boards...and THE GAME'S OVER! Tied for 8th, can't ask for more after the disaster on the Island and in Beantown last weekend.
Next stop, Chicago.