In a classic trap game, the Flames took on the Iowa Wild at home Wednesday. Iowa is presently the worst team in the AHL and (up until tonight) on a six game losing streak. The Flames have a critical weekend home series against the team they chase in the standings - Utica (who they have not beaten all season). So...
Coach Huska decided to healthy scratch veteran defenseman Nolan Yonkman and Mark Cundari. With injuries and call ups, he also was forced to dress both Trevor Gillies and Brian McGrattan, putting them on the fourth line together.
The Flames had several opportunities early in the first period - but failed to find the back of the net. At times, they seemed to be trying for the perfect pass and the pretty play - rather than crashing the net and working in the tough areas.
The Wild got the first power play opportunity of the game - and the Flames had several shorthanded opportunities that just failed to give them a lead, only to give up a goal with seconds left in the man advantage, on a shot from the point that Joni Ortio never saw.
The second period started similar as the game started - the Flames had chances to score several times, but a bad bounce or one too many passes failed them. A questionable call led to the Wild's second power play goal - and then the wheels fell off. A series of penalties, including John Ramage's five minute major and game misconduct led to two more Wild goals on extended 5-3 situations.
The teams went back and forth in the third period, and the game ended 4-0. The Wild had been outscored 22-10 in the last six games entering tonights game. Joni Ortio was pulled after the second period, but his play should not be blamed for the outcome.
- These were two points that the Flames had to have. They looked beyond this game, and it could cost them in the big picture. The healthy scratches left me with the perception the coaching staff also was over thinking or looking ahead.
- The defensive pairings were Wotherspoon / Culkin, Ramage / Sieloff, and Acolaste / Stevenson. When things started to unravel - there was no veteran presence to steady the ship.
- Sena Acolaste has a great shot from the point - but his play in his own end is painful to watch, and hands the opponents several opportunities each time he dresses.
- Being forced to dress both Gillies and McGrattan really hurt their normal flow. Why did the team not recall Taylor Vause? One area that has led to the Flames' success has been their ability to roll four lines that can skate and press the play. That did not occur with the roster on the ice tonight.
- Drew Shore has not settled in since arriving in Adirondack, and actually in the games leading up to the trade. The talented winger has only 5 points in his last 11 games with the Flames and Rampage - and seems to be pressing.
- The officiating tonight was awful - but that is not an excuse for not putting an inferior team at the end of a long road trip and losing streak away early.
The Flames have some soul searching to do between tonight and a big weekend at home against Utica.