Flames Split Back-to-Back
First the Calgary Flames can’t score a goal to save their own lives in Chicago and make NHL cast-off Ray Emery look like the next coming of Jacques Plante. Then they look like the Edmonton Oilers of the high flyin’ 80s putting up four goals in a period and half in Colorado tonight. And in the end of this mini two game road trip the Flames looked like the Flames – white-knuckling the steering wheel and hovering the brake trying to desperately hold onto a four goal lead.
It has been said it’s the worst lead in hockey.
To give them credit, they registered the ‘W’ on the back half of back-to-back games – now 1-1 in that situation this season – and maintained their dominance over their division rivals with their 8th straight win over the Avs.
None of this could have been possible without the stunning brilliance of Miikka Kiprusoff. He was outstanding in every facet of goaltending. He made save after save and enabled the Flames to inch closer to the .500 mark after dropping two straight and three of their previous four games.
The line of Roman Horak, Paul Byron, and Lee Stempniak was undeniably the best line on the ice in the win tonight. They started the Flames engine with a rush up the ice and Byron finished off the play for his first career goal in Flames threads.
The hope was that the youth and exuberance of Byron, coupled with the ongoing excellence of Horak would spark the team, and on this night it did just that.
That’s what, in many ways, Flames fans have been waiting to see for a long time. Speed kills in this league and Colorado is a prime example of that with the likes of Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Paul Statsny leading a youth laden club to an impressive start.
Calgary doesn’t possess the youth or the prospect pool of Colorado, or for that matter of many teams in this league, but a little spark that Byron provided tonight might be enough to show Flames brass that what this team really needs is to be faster and preferably younger.
Feaster and Sutter have continually said that if the younger players earn a chance, then they will see ice time and so far they have kept their word with the likes of Byron, Horak, and Brodie un-seating veterans like Sarich, Hagman, and Stajan for ice time.
I’ve been waiting years for this, and in a way it’s the beginning of what I hope to be a youth transition in Calgary. For a team that is consistently in the upper ranks of aging teams, it’s a welcome change to see young, speedy talent in the Flames line-up.
They provide a spark that the stereo-typical ‘veteran third line grinder types’ cannot. They see the game differently. For a team that has been stuck in limbo for the better part of the last three years, it’s extremely welcoming.
Now, issues will still persist and the third period of the Avs games tonight was a prime example of that.
With a 4-1 lead heading into the third, the Flames shouldn’t have had a problem shutting the game down. But, in typical Flames fashion, and thanks to a brutal Jay Bouwmeester give away, they give up a goal in the first 30 seconds of the final frame forcing the tension to rise and the ‘collapse to the net mentality’ to kick in.
You could almost see it coming, couldn’t you?
Maybe I’ve grown too pessimistic watching this team do the same thing over and over again, but it’s just all too predictable.
Thanks to Kiprusoff the Flames eeked out the win, but not without a dramatic edge of your seat finish with a flurry of Avalanche (pardon the pun) crashing the net in the hopes of sending it to OT.
In Brent Sutter’s post game conference he mentioned something along the lines of having the core of this team for two years now and still they have horrible mental breakdowns like the third period.
Is it just me or did Sutter pretty much write his own resignation letter?
If, after two years the players still aren’t getting a grasp on the system, then maybe it’s time to switch up the system.
The clock is ticking.
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