Flames Hit Speed Bump in Chi-Town

Losing on the back half of back-to-back games – it’s something that shouldn’t surprise most Flames fans.

With a record of 4-6-1 when playing the night before, the Flames don’t thrive on playing on a near empty tank of gas. Then again, I would venture to guess most teams don’t beg to play two games in as many nights.

The Flames, after giving the St. Louis Blues a thrashing of a lifetime, fell behind on Wednesday night to a much hungrier Chicago Blackhawks team. Unfortunately, the magic comeback attempt wasn’t in the cards this time as Chicago eventually squeezed out a 6-4 win on the shoulders of Jonathan Toews –the best player in the NHL right now.

Despite a third period surge of three goals, the Flames were simply in too big of a hole and let the Hawks leapfrog them in the standings, while Chicago earned their sixth straight win.

Warning to all Western Conference teams: Chicago has that groove back. Be afraid. The Madhouse on Madison is starting to shake.

Meanwhile, the Flames are stuck in arguably the tightest playoff race in history with nine teams, including Chicago, fighting for five spots and all separated by only seven points.

Despite being the laughing stock for much of the first half of the season, the Flames have rebounded and shocked, well, everyone. Much of the success can be attributed to Miikka Kiprusoff. Quite regularly he is the MVP of the night and the sole reason for the Flames winning games. Ironically tonight was not one of those nights. Yet with most of the goals this evening, the fault was on the defence. A few typical Sarich and Staios blunders come to mind.

Why Staios is still playing is beyond me. But I guess when your other option is Brendan Mikkelson I understand the dilemma. When is this Carson kid available? What about that TJ Brodie guy? A nice shiny orange pylon might suffice.

The Flames PK has been downright amazing. The previous five games before tonight they had been a perfect 10 for 10 while helping Kipper earn three shutouts during that span. Kipper gives a lot of props to his defence and forwards for blocking shots and a lot of that work is done while on the PK. Defence is a team game and this team is playing exactly that way –something Brent has been waiting for since day one. Before tonight they had only allowed nine goals in their last seven games.

The trade deadline passed with little to no action from Jay Feaster. A couple depth moves in Modin and Carson will help to shore up any injury woes that may fall upon this team. And it seems it wasn’t a moment too soon as two Flames forwards left the game with an injury.

At the start of the season I would have never imagined myself saying this, but I hope Brendan Morrison isn’t out for too long.

16 games left and every game is crucial, that is obvious. Out of those 16 games, five games are against teams out of the playoff race: COL x 2, EDM x 2, and STL (figure last night was it for them), while the rest of the games are against teams in the logjam or in the penthouse of the west. Four out of the final six games of the season come against those non-playoff teams. So if the Flames can survive until then, is it smooth sailing to the finish line?

Unfortunately, these next five weeks won’t be smooth for anyone outside of the Canucks, although you can always hope for 18 straight losses.

Ahh hope...you rear your ugly head again.

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Newman

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