Flames finally win, thanks Pronger

The Flames beat the best the league had to offer, or at least the best in terms of points coming into today, downing the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in a shootout.

The win didn’t come without its share of controversy as the Flyers had an apparent winning goal disallowed in overtime due to Chris Pronger doing his best impersoation of Sean Avery. With the Flyers on a power play with less than two minutes to play in the extra frame, the Flyers Captain Mike Richards appeared to have ended the game with Pronger screening in front. However, the ref waved the goal off immediately and sent Pronger to sin bin for two minutes. Not for goaltender interference, but for acting in an unsportsmanlike manner by waving his hand in front of Miikka Kiprusoff’s face in an attempt to flap the seemingly un-flappable goaltender.

Pronger, along with the entire Flyer team and fan-base, were visibly upset. The call was abnormal to say the least, but the question persists, was it the right call?

I could play the homer card and say it was most definitely the right call, or I could do my best to look at it objectively.

Look to the book:

"An unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty (Rule 75) will be interpreted and applied, effective immediately, to a situation when an offensive player positions himself facing the opposition goaltender and engages in actions such as waving his arms or stick in front of the goaltender's face, for the purpose of improperly interfering with and/or distracting the goaltender as opposed to positioning himself to try to make a play."

Chris Pronger never turned around and faced Kiprusoff, but he did wave his hands deliberately in his face causing an obvious distraction that is a little different than a simple screen.

Pronger’s reaction (courtesy of the Calgary Herald):

"I wasn't turned around waving at him," Pronger said. "I put my hand back on my stick on the puck went in the net. It's infuriating. It should've been two points instead of one. There's no question about it. All you have to do is watch the replay. It doesn't really matter, does it? I'm not going to get into a he said, she said with the refs."

And he gets angrier (courtesy of the Calgary Herald):

“What does it matter to you?” he snapped. “That was five seconds before the puck went into the net. I wasn’t turned around at him, waving in his face . . .What did you see? Same thing? OK, thanks.”

So I can see where Pronger is coming from as the rule book and the call on the ice don’t exactly match. Having said that, Pronger knew what he was doing, even if he claims he was waving that he was open (C’MON MAN!), and if he hadn’t gone into “Avery-mode,” the goal would’ve still probably found the back of the net.

In the end, the ref made a straight out ‘ballsy’ call in the hostile confines of the Wells Fargo Center. Another thing I wondered is if the ref saw this right away why didn’t he stop the play before the puck had entered the net? He had time to do so but waited until the puck went in to say something. I’m sure he was hoping he wouldn’t have to make that call. But he did, and I’m guessing he may have needed an escort to leave the state of Pennsylvania.

The call was discretionary and it was up to the referee himself to make the split second decision. Unfortunately for Flyer fans, he ruled that Pronger was in the wrong. It really couldn’t of have happened to a nicer guy...

The break paid dividends for the visitors as the Flames were able to push the game to a shootout and win a game that, quite frankly, they NEEDED to win.

Kiprusoff was outstanding stopping 34 of 36 Flyer shots including 6 power play chances, and then two of the three Flyer shootout attempts. The best of the saves came late in OT as Kimmo Timonen had what looked to be an open net but Kipper stuck out his paddle and thwarted the defenceman’s chance at sealing it for the home team.

The Flames have had a tough road trip in terms of results, going 0-1-2 before this afternoon match. A blown lead in Detroit followed by scoring issues in New York and New Jersey, the Flames were due for a victory, and for a break to go their way.

Well, they were able to get both in Philly.

Mikael Backlund was slotted on the top line with Iggy and Tanguay for the start of the game. Sutter juggled the lines a little but Backlund was alongside the top two guns for the majority of the game. He looked a little nervous to begin the game but I thought really settled in well as the game progressed. This top line experiment will likely only last as long Matt Stajan is on the sidelines, but it’s good to see Coach Sutter didn’t stay with the Jokinen top line catastrophe any longer.

Jokinen belongs on the third line. He is not the scorer he once was and I have reason to believe he never will be. Everyone saw this mistake the moment Darryl went out and re-signed him. Just think, Calgary has to pay him next year too! He has a no movement clause as well. Well done.

With a team that is so much cap trouble, I just do not see the point of having Olli on this team. I’m tired of talking about it, but with Kotalik coming off the IR very soon, it begs the question, what is Calgary going to do to free up the money?

One option, besides dropping Jokinen in the middle of the Sahara desert and letting him fend for himself, is trading Cory Sarich. He was a healthy scratch today for the second straight game and his $3.6-million dollar would be the perfect subtraction for the Flames. What he can bring back in return is up for debate – a 6th rounder? A bag of pucks? A new skate sharpener? New fancy glow in the dark skate laces?

Something will happen in the next week. I’m sure Darryl is racking his brain as to what can be done temporarily fix his cap problem. After all, Darryl is good at implementing temporary bandages. Kind of his thing actually.

The Flames play Pittsburgh tomorrow in the final game of their five game road trip. If they are able to beat Crosby and friends, than I think you could actually call this a successful road trip.

That is, of course, if they win.

Newman
www.thesportsroundup.com
twitter.com/TSRNewman

Comments

George Prax's picture

Great analysis and good on you to remain objective about it... I'm on the fence about the call. Pronger WAS distracting the goalie, but it doesn't fit the letter of the law for the NHL. Refs don't know how to call this rule and there's a clear miscommunication and a clarification needed by hockey operations. Because when it costs a team a game and they don't know why, there's a problem.

But the Flames should take the 2 points. Definitely.