I’m delighted to say that my proclamation of doom for yesterday night was inaccurate- the Calgary Flames beat the Chicago Blackhawks, winning a 3-1 game. It was a classic Flames win- not much offense, good in their own zone, and Jarome Iginla having a great night in doing so. A few wandering thoughts:
In mentioning the ‘Hawks desire for revenge, I managed to completely ignore that they were playing their third game in four nights, which is not a scenario where you want to come in to play a max-effort team like Calgary. You noticed the fatigue, especially later on in the game. The Flames are already a more physical team, and you noticed it more in how they came after Chicago.
Iginla isn’t able to be an impact player every night any more, but when he’s on, he’s still amazing to behold. Good to see him chip in on the scoreboard, and when he’s chirping at ‘Hawks after the whistle, you know he’s engaged. It’s always a bit of a double-edged sword for Flames fans when he gets into scrums- when he fights or shoves guys around, he seems to get inspired and play better, but you never want to see your leading scorer get hurt.
Jay Bouwmeester had a goal, which is nice, but for someone who essentially replaced Dion Phaneuf, he doesn’t seem to get as much notice as Phaneuf did for underachieving. One of the commentators last night mentioned Bouwmeester’s offensive production falling off a cliff with the Flames, which is something that the media is starting to notice. Bouwmeester’s better in his own end than Phaneuf ever was, but for the money the Flames are paying him, they should expect excellence on both ends. Last year, he was probably the third best defenseman on the team, which isn’t nearly enough value for a team capped out and needing to extract as much value as they can from their players. They’re paying $6.6 million a year for a Robyn Regehr clone. Which isn’t a slam on Regehr- he’s a fine player in his own right, but not worth that money.
I miss Regehr. He was the master of the subtle defensive moves, like going one-on-one with a forward coming down the ice with the puck, and diverting him harmlessly to the corner, utilizing his size and approach to take him out of the play.
Great to see the Flames’ power play generating some good opportunities, including the Bouwmeester goal. The Flames are middle-of-the-pack on the power play, but 26th overall in goal scoring, as we discussed in the game preview. A team that struggles to score goals needs to capitalize on the man advantage, so it was great to see the Flames do that yesterday, and get some good puck movement even when they didn’t score, something I think they struggle with.
I’m probably not supposed to praise the ‘Hawks here (between that and liking Regehr, I expect Cait will fire me tomorrow), but their goal was a beauty. After some fine work in the corner by the ‘Hawks forwards, Patrick Kane threw a nice pass across the crease to a cutting Brent Seabrook. Even in the replay, I was yelling at Olli Jokinen and Mike Cammalleri to close out on him- you can’t give Kane that kind of room. Very nice work there.
Overall, a solid win by the Flames against a team that’ll probably be staring down at them in the standings at the end of the year. A tight defensive effort against a tired team, and a top line playing like they should, which the Flames will need going forward. The ‘Hawks fatigue definitely played a factor, but 2 points is 2 points, however they get it.
The win puts the Flames into a tie for 9th in the Western Conference, though it should be noted that the Dallas Stars (one of the teams they’re tied with) have played two fewer games.