Between work and studying for mid-terms, I've barely left the house this weekend and I thought a Sunday night without a single NHL game on the schedule would give me ample opportunity to get all caught up on past few days' happenings.
The Flames improved their record over Northwest division opponents to 4-0 Friday night with a 5-3 victory over the Canucks. They went about it in a convincing way for the first forty minutes, carrying a 5-0 lead into the third period. The Canucks got on the board at 6:55 of the final frame, and the hosts did a pretty good job at maintaining their composure until the final three minutes of the game. With Bouwmeester in the box for hooking and Boyd serving a too many men penalty, the Canucks capitalized and scored two quick goals. The Flames managed to hold off the surge and hold on for the victory as Alex Burrows quelled his team's momentum with a late goaltender interference penalty which ate up the remainder of the period.
I really liked what I saw from this team until the third period. They came out with a lot of energy, played physical, and showed flashes of good defensive positioning. The Boyd-Prust-McGrattan line put on quite a show, making me feel sufficiently foolish for questioning Brent Sutter's methods. McGrattan completed the Gordie Howe hat-trick while Boyd scored a goal and an assist and Prust chipped in with two helpers. Boyd is really starting to heat up after a slow start resulting from a concussion he sustained during pre-season. I didn't even know that until yesterday, poor Boyder. He had multiple chances during the game against Vancouver and had a great game all around, finishing the evening +1 in eight minutes of ice time.
The Iginla-Conroy-Glencross line didn't exactly pan out the way the Coach was hoping, and if I'm not mistaken it wasn't long before Jokinen was moved back onto the top unit in a desperate bid to ignite the captain. Iginla had five shots on goal and wasn't TERRIBLE, but wasn't especially noticeable either as he cracked the 20 minute mark in ice time. Glencross was great, scoring a beauty of a shorthanded goal and finishing the evening +2, while Jokinen...well, he finished with two shots on goal and not much else. The lack of production from our top forwards is disconcerting, and while the performances of Bourque, Boyd, Glencross, and the likes is encouraging, the levels of offence they are providing are probably not sustainable. Jokinen and Iginla have to be better.
On the defensive side of things, Robyn Regehr was much improved Friday night, and finished +3 while Phaneuf finished +2; perhaps this pairing is finally beginning to work? Bouwmeester and Sarich were steady, while Giordano and Pardy stuggled slightly. The shots ended up 29-24 for Vancouver, which still isn't great, especially considering the Flames led for the majority of the game, but is an improvement. The Flames' faceoff performance was sort of a mixed bag; at even strength they were 39%, while they finished 67% on the powerplay and 56% shorthanded for a total of 47%.
The Flames devoted their entire practice to special teams Sunday morning, after their 16th ranked penalty kill allowed two goals on five Vancouver powerplays. I am not yet sure whether or not to be concerned about this. What concerns me more is this team's tendency to allow multiple goals in short periods of time with such alarming frequency. I don't ever recall this happening so often as it has so far this season, and I don't understand it whatsoever. What are we paying our high-priced defence and goaltender for if not to shut down the opposing team's forwards and limit scoring chances? This habit absolutely has to stop.
In other news...
Here's something funny:
There's your game winner. Take that, Chicago.
Chuck Kobasew was traded to the Minnesota Wild today for Craig Weller, a second round pick in 2011, and the rights to prospect Alexander Fallstrom. That seems like a lot to give up in exchange for a twenty-goal guy like Kobasew, as much as I love him. Minnesota must have been desperate for a top-six forward. Looks like we'll be seeing a lot more of each other this season, Chuckie.
In Oilers news/salacious gossip, Sheldon Souray's ex-wife Angelica Bridges, who appeared on the popular 90s show "Baywatch", has apparently accused him of "tricking" her into a divorce and withholding the details of the fat $27 million deal he signed with the Oilers in the summer of 2007 from her. She has also accused him of abuse in the past and is fighting for custody of their two young daughters, currently residing with Souray, who has yet to speak on the matter. To top it all off, TMZ has got hold of the story. Yikes. What is it with Edmonton Oilers' defencemen and their gossip-worthy tendencies? Oilers management really knows how to pick 'em.
Up Next: The Flames host the Blue Jackets on Tuesday, looking to avenge a loss in Columbus last week. The Flames have a light schedule during this five game home-stand, as they don't play again till Saturday after Tuesday's match, and are then off until the following Wednesday. Symptoms of Flames Withdrawal are beginning to set in already.