Monday, March 15, 2010

Game day--No time to grieve

The Flames were embarrassed by the Canucks in the first period last night and found themselves down 3-0 after being outshot 20-6. Not the first time that's happened this season, but hopefully it'll be the last. They came into the game knowing that it was another important two points that could vault them back into a playoff spot, and vastly underperformed in the first twenty minutes, allowing the first Vancouver goal just a minute and a half in and making multiple trips to the penalty box as a result of trying to slow the Canucks' attack.

Toskala was sent out to face the second wave of Vancouver's vicious siege on the Flames goal after Kiprusoff had already seen almost a whole game's worth of action in the first period, and the following fourty minutes would have likely been a perfect road game, if the visitors weren't already down by three goals. The Flames rattled of twenty-seven shots on goal in the final two periods and allowed only eight, including zero in the final frame, but could only solve Luongo once, on a screened point shot by Robyn Regehr, his second goal of the season. His only other tally came in the 9-1 loss to the Sharks a few months ago. Make of that what you will.

There is no time to grieve, as the boys will be back at it tonight at home against the Wings in another crucial battle for eighth place. One crappy period of hockey derailed what was an awfully fine-looking four game winning streak, and it's up to the team to get back on track.

Brent Sutter bemoaned his team's lack of preparation after last night's loss, and as much as it is the players' responsibility to make sure they are ready to play, it's also partially the coaching staff's responsibility. I'm not saying they need a reminder of just how important each and every remaining game is, but a little pep talk to ensure everyone is on the same page surely wouldn't hurt, especially for some of the younger players who may have never been in this situation before.

This loss is definitely a setback, but I saw too many good things in the final fourty minutes to declare it a total disaster. The Flames forechecked tenaciously, went hard to the net, blocked shots, killed penalties aggressively, and Toskala made some big saves when called upon--specifically a breakaway stop on Mason Raymond (aka The Guy With Two First Names.) If they can do all those things from the 20:00 mark of the fist period onwards, they could very well escape with two points. If not, well, I'd prefer not think about that at the moment.

Such is the wild unpredictability that is the Calgary Flames.

This just in: Chris Higgins will sit this one out with an apparent lower body injury and Nigel Dawes will likely draw into the lineup as his replacement, as per Pat Steinberg's twitter. That's a real shame. He's played consistently well since being acquired by the Flames and has been rewarded with two goals in his past three games and some quality scoring chances. Dawes has been scratched for a while, so maybe he has something to prove. We'll see tonight.

Game time is 7:30 on TSN.

Go Flames Go.

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