The Flames may need another day or two to get back into shape after the holidays. As is standard for the team nowadays, they weren't necessarily hurting for lack of effort, and probably deserved to win this game, but almost nothing seemed to connect for them. It happens.
The game got off to a good start, as Mark Giordano scored on Devan Dubnyk in the first period. However, the goal was almost immediately waved off as the official determined Joe Colborne had committed goaltender interference. Colborne did briefly bump Dubnyk, but Dubnyk had more than enough time to recover, and Colborne in no way impeded him when Giordano shot the puck, so that was an odd one. Colborne with the sass:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Joe Colborne on <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Flames&src=hash">#Flames</a> goal called back: "I’d like to see what the ref saw...I have to be careful about what I say because I’m a rookie"</p>— Kristen Odland (@KristenOdlandCH) <a href="https://twitter.com/KristenOdlandCH/statuses/416805241443475457">December 28, 2013</a></blockquote>
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The game went on, though, as soon after Ryan Smyth deflected a shot past Reto Berra with his chest. This goal got a longer review than Giordano's for some reason, but it was ultimately ruled good.
And... that was about it. Berra and Dubnyk played well when they had to, which wasn't all that often. The Flames weren't able to get quite the third period they had against St. Louis going for them, and Giordano took a penalty to prevent an empty net goal. That pretty much ended the game as Smyth eventually got the empty netter off a centre ice faceoff, and that was it.
- The officials really did not have a good night. In addition to waving off Giordano's goal for no apparent reason, on one occasion they completely forgot the NHL is using hybrid icing this year, not touch. They also called the Flames for icing... when the Flames were on the penalty kill. You can never expect perfect officiating, but tonight was something special.
- Giordano really, really wanted that goal. The captain was a force all night and had a few other chances to score, including ringing one off the posts. He finished the night leading the Flames in ice time (25:40) and with three shots. The results weren't there, but that's the kind of thing you want to see.
- Paul Byron is still really fun to watch! He had a great hit on Perron and didn't give up on the puck. It was nice to see someone really fighting for it. Byron is continuing to establish himself as someone who may have a longer term future with this team.
- Mikael Backlund played over 20 minutes for the sixth straight game. No centre has seen more ice time than him in those six games, so the Flames either love him now or are shopping him really hard. It better be the former. (It's probably the former.)
- TJ Galiardi is making the most of the fact that he's probably only playing due to injuries right now. He had a few good chances tonight with three shots and was definitely battling out there. Nothing's really going for him at the moment and he hasn't scored since the second game of the season, but hey, he's trying.
- Watching Lee Stempniak made me feel sad tonight. Mike Cammalleri too, to a lesser extent. Almost nothing was connecting. Just not a particularly great game from anybody, but man.
- Berra made some pretty great saves, and would seem to be improving. The only goal he let in was Smyth's chest deflection, but other than that, he made 26 saves on the night and did a fine job. He now mirrors Karri Ramo's .904 SV%.
- Sean Monahan finally escaped the depths of the fourth line, swapping places with Colborne. His Corsi was the best tonight since his return from injury, at 50%, but he should still probably be playing for Team Canada now instead.
- Is there any point to Chris Breen? He was a healthy scratch for the Flames until they were forced to play him. Down two of his top four defencemen, Hartley only let Breen see the ice for 4:24 tonight. Derek Smith would see more time than that. Probably Chad Billins, too. Probably just about anybody else on the Abbotsford defence. Breen requires waivers to be sent down, but if you aren't even doing anything with him at the NHL level, what's the risk of potentially losing him? Why keep him on a team to just do nothing? Just makes no sense.