Flames shut out by Sharks
The Calgary Flames fell 1-0 to the San Jose Sharks in their final game before the All-Star Break leaving them with a record of 23-21-6 heading into the over-hyped mid-season organized game of shinny being played in Ottawa this Sunday.
In what was a bit of snoozer, the Flames failed in 25 tries to get a puck past Sharks goaltender Antii Niemi, leaving fans with nothing much to cheer about before the week long break.
The only thing the fans really had to cheer about, yet again, was the play of Miikka Kiprusoff, who continues to stand on his head night in and night out.
Kipper has now started eight straight games, a season high. In those eight games, he has a miniscule 1.63 GAA, to go along with a .945 SV%. The only thing he isn’t doing is scoring goals and as Sportsnet’s Rob Kerr and Charlie Simmer so eloquently pointed out during the game tonight, Kipper has zero points this season after posting nine assists over his career with the Flames...talk about reaching for something interesting to keep the viewer from dozing off.
The game saw the return of Alex Tanguay, who registered two shots on net in 17:37 of ice time. He had a couple great chances in the third period, one on a partial breakaway, but was stymied in his first game back since Dec. 20 – a span of 15 games.
Despite the addition of Tanguay to the line-up the scoring woes continued as the Flames have now scored one goal or less in five of their previous six outings (all five games coming against Pacific division teams). The only game they scored more than a single goal was on Saturday night when they beat the hapless ECHL look-a-like squad known as the Edmonton Oilers 6-2.
This was also the Flames fifth straight loss to the Sharks dating back to last season.
The Flames now sit, through 50 games, with 52 points – ironically enough this was their exact record a year ago through 50 games, and we all know that ended in bitter disappointment.
Will this year be any different?
Well, let’s look at the flames remaining schedule.
Calgary has 32 games remaining. Nineteen of the 32 come on home ice where the team is 13-7-2 this season.
Fifteen of the final 32 games come against Pacific division teams where the Flames are 2-2-1 and, as mentioned above, have scored all of four goals in those five games. To compare the Flames were 6-8-4 against the Pacific last season.
Last season the Flames finished 18-8-6 over the final 32 games for a total of 94 points and missed the playoffs by three measly points.
Only seven of the final 32 games are against sub .500 teams, while one opponent, the Winnipeg Jets, are currently hovering on the mark. Out of those seven games three are versus the Anaheim Ducks, who just so happen to be one of the hottest teams in the league right now having won eight of their last ten games.
Only nine of those games are against elite teams, meaning teams in the top five of their respective conference (Detroit, Chicago, San Jose, Vancouver, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Jose, Vancouver, Vancouver).
Subsequently, the majority of the remaining games for the Flames come against teams they are chasing or teams in mix for a playoff spot, which basically means the Flames hold their own fate.
The playoffs have already begun for the Flames as every game will turn into a do or die type of game – not to say it hasn’t already.
They need goals in the worst possible way because unfortunately the final 32 games don’t all come against the losers to the north. Goals win games in this league. They need the stars to start scoring goals. Cammy’s honeymoon is over. He was brought here to score goals. Not to single him out though as no one is really scoring at the current moment.
Iggy has one in his last six. Olli, despite putting up some assists, hasn’t scored a goal since December 23 – a span of 14 games. Backlund has one goal in his last 14 games. For a guy who wants to be the team’s top line centerman, he is going to have to produce more than that.
If they continue to throw rouges at the opposing teams hoping for #34 to stop everything, then they better start dusting off those golf clubs early because they will miss the playoffs for the third consecutive year.
Consequently sending most fans to question the direction of the franchise, if that topic wasn’t being beaten to death enough already.
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