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Calgary Flames

Game 73 Recap: An Ironic Loss



Irony: The use of words to convey the opposite literal meaning

Why was this game ironic?

Because the Flames really won it in play, in scoring chances, shots, physically, by almost all bars of comparison. It was their best 2nd period of the entire season. Brent Sutter himself said he was quite happy with almost all of the game except the early part of the first period but the Flames lost a point in the shoot-out and what can you say. They lost where it mattered most, on the scoreboard.

All game analysis aside for a moment, the Flames path to the playoffs just got a lot steeper. Just a few days ago Flames fans were pretty heady about the playoffs, a big part of that was the more favorable schedule the Flames have. Playing the worst and 2nd worst teams in the NHL had a reflexive assumption of banking 4 points via wins.

Now that we know only 1 of 4 points was established, the Flames are forced to do this the hard way. The easy path has evaporated under them. Short analysis is simple here, there are 9 games left. 13 points are required for the likely cut-off of 94 points. That means a record of 7 wins or 4 wins and 5 OT losses.

The gimme games are all gone now, maybe they never should have been assumed in the first place. In short don't call the season quite yet. The Flames still have a path to make the show but it is much, much harder now. The Flames have recently received next to no help on the out of town scoreboard but that is going to end coming up here because playoff competition is forced to play each other several times in the coming weeks.

Hold fast Flames fans because the San Jose Sharks are lining up 7 games, the Kings 4 games, the Coyotes 4, the Stars 5, the Avs 4 and the Flames 5 all against direct playoff competition. Only one team can emerge with the precious two points.

It ain't over yet.

The Flames started slow in the first period. Cautious and not as aggressive as they should have been, they gave the Jackets a point shot from Nikita Nikitin which was double screened on Kipper and he never saw it. It put the Jackets up 1-0 and it was all they ended up needing.

Guillame Desbiens, the high screen player on the Flames goal tried to make amends by getting in a dust up with Jared Boll, I guess you can give him the win in the fight but who really cares. He was the Flames player with the high screen on Kipper that resulted in the goal.

Jay Bouwmeester rang a shot off the post and the Flames did get their taste of scoring chances but to no avail.

Curtis Sanford took an injured quadricep in the first and I personally have no idea how it happened. There was no significant contact prior to the injury, not even an awkward stretch save but he left the ice in obvious pain.

Steve Mason was called into the firestorm. A moment that may have been a good sign for Flames fans if they hadn't noted that recently Mason has been playing quite strong. It was probably the opposite of what should have happened. The resurgence of Mason is linked here to his new goalie pads, make of that what you will here on Puck Daddy.

Regardless of whether you buy this explanation or not, Mason certainly played solid for the Jackets through out the game despite some drama.

The second period started and if you were a Flames fan it was one where you were just waiting for the goal to go in. The Flames completely dominated the frame spending a good chunk of time in the Jackets zone. To give himself some breathing room I think Mason was making the most of a high stick that hit him from Jarome Iginla, one would have thought from his body language that his head was about to fly into the stands.

Contact from Olli Jokinen who had contact from Colton Gillies had Mason laying flat on his back like he had just taken a Cannon Ball to the chest in some old civil war battle. But kudos to Mason who was probably doing everything he could to give his team time to catch their breath and break the flow of the game for the Flames.

Alex Tanguay took an old school elbow hard to the chin from Jared Boll and this one was getting scrappy.

Now younger eyes may wail at me in outrage but all I am going to say is that I watched a lot of hockey in the 70s and these kind of plays did not result in these kind of reactions from players. I don't want to knock Alex Tanguay for leaving the ice to make sure he didn't have a concussion, that is just the way of the world in the modern NHL with a heightened awareness of concussions. In the old days elbowing was a very common penalty and now it is forbidden but I digress.

I also don’t even really want to knock Mason for embellishing or slowing the game down which is in his and his team’s interest, so humor me. I will just say though that I am more than happy to put on Steve Mason’s goalie mask and have Zdeno Chara or Babe Ruth for that matter pick up a hockey stick and hit me full force baseball style in the face to illustrate the protective qualities of modern NHL Goalie equipment.

I usually listen to the away broadcasts for all Flames games and this one was no different as the Fox Sports announcers were on the verge of hysteria on these incidents. I honestly don't think that helps the game or helps a newer audience to the game in America. How can you expect them to want to follow a game where they hear NHL Refs lambasted as incompetent non-stop?

I can assure you that Steve Mason will be suited up and ready to go for the next game and probably won't even remember these incidents in a week.

The seeds of anti-ref mania are being sown now for the playoffs, as fan bases on all sides with the homer glasses firmly in place start to rage. Tom Kostopoulos who has himself had a few late third period dives this season failed to draw a call on one that got the Dome crowd enraged.

Matching penalties were called on Derek Dorsett and Curtis Glencross and the Columbus – Fox announcer almost lost his mind. Calling for further discipline, going for the head, you name it, you would think Curtis Glencross would be headed for a ten game suspension, you know what? Nothing is going to happen but you can understand how these announcers can whip that fan base into a frenzy on incidents that are simply not properly interpreted, never mind fairly interpreted.

As I saw it, and I invite those with NHL Game Center to watch it again themselves. Glencross and Dorsett are going for the net. Dorsett slashes Glencross as he skates away from the net and a hot headed Glencross turns and cross checks him in the chin. Penalty for Glencross? Absolutely. Interference on Dorsett, was the wrong call, should have been slashing but whatever.

The point for some of these low quality announcers I have listened to all season is I wish they would look to their own players closely and watch what they are doing before they proclaim Shannabans are coming. It does not help newer fans to understand the game imo. I also wish there was some kind of job requirement that forced them to watch at least 500 games from each decade starting in the 70s.

The incident itself isn't the big deal to me, it is how the CLB announcers blew it out of proportion that is the concern.

Anyway, after Glencross served his penalty he emerged from the box and assisted on Matt Stajan’s game tying goal. To an OT period where again the chances were there, but no cigar.

A notable invisible man was Rick Nash who was surprisingly not much of a factor in this game. Blake Comeau made his presence known but not on the score sheet but the far and away 1st star of the game was Steve Mason.

As the shoot out began Nash did not threaten at all. Alex Tanguay who was so dominate last year for the Flames but this year much less so, could not beat Mason. Mark Letestu was stymied by Kipper. Olli Jokinen was stopped by Mason. Jack Johnson didn’t do much and missed the net. Curtis Glencross was stopped until finally Cam Atikison put one past Kipper.

With the game on the line, Jarome Iginla was called to the shoot-out. I have never understood why Iggy is still called in the early rounds. He has a long history of not being strong in the shoot-out. Would not have hurt my feelings at all to see Matt Stajan or Lee Stempniak, who had a good game for his first one back, called up instead.

Iggy was stopped by Mason and the game was over. It ain't over yet Flames fans but the Fat Lady is clearing her throat.

Highlights and Sutter's post-game below

by M Smith