When a game starts with an almost goal from far out that eludes you number one goalie, hits the post and barely stays out, you know it's going to be one of those kind of nights.
And it was exactly that for the Flames.
Despite failing to score on the opening shot of the game, it didn't take the Kings long to take advantage of a tired Flames team, shutout in Anaheim the night before. After a Flames goal was called off because of Lee Stempniak getting a little too close to Jonathan Quick for his comfort, Calgary was assessed a bench minor for abuse of the officials. With Roman Cervenka in the box serving the penalty, Jeff Carter scored to put the Kings up 1-0.
Mike Cammalleri would score a beauty up high on Quick with the Flames on a five-on-three just a few minutes after that, but it wouldn't take LA long to restore their lead. Jake Muzzin scored to give his team a 2-1 advantage and Trevor Lewis would add another to put the Kings up by a score of 3-1. With just seven seconds left in the period, Mark Giordano would feed Alex Tanguay for an easy tap-in on a two-on-one to cut the Kings' lead to one, but that was the last goal the Flames would score in this one. LA would score three more unanswered for the win, chasing Miikka Kiprusoff in the third period.
Kipper allowed six goals on just 24 shots in this one, with many people saying that his movements were noticeably slower than they once were and that his age was beginning to show. The CBC play-by-play team mentioned that he prefers not to wear a brace on his injured knee, indicating that perhaps he's not quite 100%, but perhaps he simply can't play three games in four nights at this stage in his career.
Anyway, the Flames had only 19 shots on goal throughout the entire game and spent an inordinate amount of time in their own zone in what was altogether a low-event contest, so needless to say they didn't provide their goaltender with a lot of support.
Mikael Backlund played just over fourteen minutes in his return to the lineup; he wasn't credited with any shots but I seem to remember him creating one somewhat dangerous scoring chance, and he was one of few Flames who seemed to be engaged on the forecheck in the offensive zone. It might take him a few games to get back into the swing of things as well, but from what I saw in the last game I'm not overly concerned about him.
A few people have been complaining about Mark Giordano's play as of late, and I felt he got better as the game wore on last night. He seemed to be blocking more shots and generally more aware of what was going on around him in his own zone in the latter half of the game so hopefully he plays himself out of this funk soon.
The Flames' loss to the Kings on Saturday night combined with the Blue Jacket's sudden resurgence and the Oilers' unlikely win over the Chicago Blackhawks today have put the Flames in last place in the Western Conference. The Flames and Oilers have an identical -16 goal differential, although Edmonton has played two more games than Calgary has. Tomorrow's game against the Kings marks the halfway point of the season for the Flames, and with the team being six points out of a playoff spot and the trade deadline quickly approaching, time is running out for Hartley and Co. to right the ship.
But the question of whether or not it would be best just to let the said ship sink remains unanswered by anyone in the organization.