Treading water is how this one can be summed up and even just doing that cost blood. This is the NHL playoff race.
An ill advised pinch by TJ Brodie, in which he had no forward swing back to cover for him resulted in a two on one and an early goal for the Coyotes. It was one Leland Irving should have had.
From that point on it was slow ice and watching the paint dry as the Coyotes shifted into their well patented stifling trap, until the third period when a Mark Giordano shot deflected off Olli Jokinen for his 17th goal of the season. Given how the game had been played at that point, one was already thinking ahead to OT. Something both teams likely had no issue with.
A soft call was made on Mikael Backlund, a Coyotes PP ensued and a hard shot took Blair Jones in the leg. He was hobbled and could barely stand. The 4 on 3 became a 4 on 2 PP and the inevitable game winner went in from Shane Doan. That was the game, plain and simple.
Still the Flames have to be at least partially satisfied with a 3 game road trip where they got 4 out of a possible 6 points and kept solidly in the playoff race.
Random Notes from the Game
- Mikael Backlund continued his sound defensive game but was pointless. That in itself is not notable but he took a small semi-fight in the corner which means he is starting to bring more of an edge, more hunger to his game. That bodes well for the Flames as sometimes a player needs to make his luck. In Backlund's case it was good to see, even if he ended up taking a hard low-brow punch to the head in the scrum.
- Olli Jokinen continues to light it up. Olli is angry and playing hard. Playing with fight and you can see he wants to win. Another positive to the game as this is exactly the time of year you want to see players getting that anger bitch on.
- Alex Tanguay took a errant puck to the face and was bleeding everywhere, came back with a cage for a bit but this was not what an injury ridden Flames squad needs. Tanguay along with Jokinen and Iginla is a key part of the Flames first line which has really come to life lately and is providing all of the offense.
- Mike Camalleri is not scoring at EVS but since he arrived the Flames power play has looked markedly better. That alone is a plus but Cammy finds himself on a depleted 2nd line that is not looking up to speed. Blake Comeau and Blair Jones, despite good efforts out there, are looking out matched.
- A third line centered by Mikael Backlund, who is doing most of the hard work, has Lance Bouma and Krys Kolanos also not quite up to speed. In short the Flames can not get Curtis Glencross and Lee Stempniak back fast enough.
Leland Irving, excluding the first goal, turned in another solid night, turning aside 33 of 35 shots.
Excluding the Boston Massacre game his SV % is a very healthy 0.942% over the 4 other NHL games he has played.
The Flames took 4 of a possible 6 points on this 3 game road trip and that is the kind of point percentage they are going to need to climb back into the race.
The L.A Kings lost tonight. The Minnesota Wild lost tonight. Ground was made on them. The Stars and Coyotes won, ground was lost. There is a solid 6 way log jam for the final two spots in the West with 28 games left. It will be game by game from here on out...
And yes, like tonight, there will be blood...