Wednesday, April 16, 2008

You Win Some, You Lose Some

A lot of thoughts keep running through my head after last night's game, they're scattered but I'll do my best.


RudyKelly was pretty prophetic with his tirade against Thornton bashers. I partially agree with him; for some reason 'showing emotion' usually means losing composure, and that's not really a great leadership quality. Some guys lead by yelling and breaking teeth, some lead by playing smart hockey. I don't think there's one right way. Joe Thornton's play at the end of the game, domination along the boards leading to good puck possession and movement lead directly to the goal which he tipped in. He did it all. He can't be that good all the time, and it's unreasonable to have that expectation. IMO his linemates aren't that great and sometimes it's hard to soar with the eagles when you fly with turkeys.


Calgary did just about everything right in the first period - scored a goal, kept the opposition chances to a minimum, played with speed. The 2nd and third period were different stories, despite tying San Jose in the 2nd, the Flames were starting to get overwhelmed. Craig Conroy takes yet another stupid penalty, the Sharks tie it up. The third was even worse - it was white knuckle hockey at it's best, or worst. The Shark's 2nd goal was a bit lucky, but one hell of a shot by Cheechoo.


I commented to a co-worker today that the Flames 'almost won.' He said to me, the Flames didn't almost win, they almost didn't lose. Couldn't have said it better myself - on Sunday night after the Sharks started to see the Flames come back, they played to not lose. Same with the Flames last night.


The little things played a big part in this game, here's a few plays that I couldn't help but notice.

1) Craig Conroy, offensive zone hook. That penalty lead to the Sharks first goal. I know the Flames pulled ahead soon after, but a goal is a goal. Some penalties are legit to take, some are just stupid. This was just stupid.

2) In the third period the puck slides through the Flames crease; Miikka Kipprusoff puts his glove on it and slides his glove across the crease as he is poked and prodded. Eventually he realizes the referees are not going to blow the whistle (who knows why) so he plays it behind the net. The Flames cannot regain control and are forced to take a penalty. The Sharks don't score, but that's an extra 2 minutes down a man that the Flames could have pressured San Jose and maybe created some chances.

3) Kristian Huselius goes in on a 3-1 with Iginla and Langkow. He messes up the pass to Iginla, but recovers behind the net and centers a pass to Langkow who proceeds to hit th post. Both Huselius and Langkow believed it was in (it wasn't) and stopped playing. That could have put the dagger in San Jose's heart. Score that and the Flames more than likely win the series. Miss and you give the Sharks a chance to get back into it. Flames missed, the Sharks get back into it.

4) With about a minute to go in the game Huselius ices the puck; Iginla almost beats it out but apparently does not. Keenan knows the players out on the ice are tired but decides not to call a time out. It's easy to say it was the right call now, but it really was the right call, especially the way the Flames were panicking. Another subtle mistake by Keenan, having Huselius out there with just over a minute to go. I can forgive the Phaneuf /Hale pairing becausee Keenan was probably hoping that they could come off and Sarich/Regehr (the appropriate last minute pairing) would come on; I mean, you do need to put SOMEONE on the ice, and Phaneuf and Hale are probably the second best defensively (I would certainly put them both ahead of Aucoin and Vandermeer) but it really was the difference. Phaneuf obviously couldn't handle Thornton, possibly because of fatigue, possibly due to lack of ability, but quite simply put, he couldn't get the job done.


This was the second time the Sharks scored a last minute goal this series because of poor bench management.


Still, I remain pleasantly suprised by the Flames overall competitiveness. Excuse me for predicting a couple losses in a row to finish off the season, but in general it hasn't been as excrutiating as last year.

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