A late start to this one, even for a West Coast game. The Flames honored Olli Jokinen
for 1,000 games played, which is a big deal. Matt Cullen
will have the same honor on Tuesday, so I can't really downplay Jokinen while admiring the longevity of Cullen. Kudos to both men.
The Wild actually came out with some early momentum. As unusual as it is to say these days, the Flames had to fend off a feisty Wild forecheck. Setoguchi had a glorious opportunity early, but Kipper was equal to the task. The top line came out and set the tone, but I'm not sure the rest of the team was listening. After a nice chance by Johnson, Iginla and the Flames started to exert themselves. The consistency wasn't there in the 1st period, as the Wild started running around in their own zone for extended periods of time.
The Flames tried to hand the Wild the game in the 2nd period. Two powerplay opportunities for the Wild, but a succubus will suck, so to speak. To be fair, the Wild did have some quality looks on the powerplay, but Kiprusoff was there to make every save. Backstrom was definitely the equal to Kiprusoff, as he made some big saves to keep the game tied at zeros. Backs robbed Blair Jones
at point-blank range late in the 2nd. Still, the Wild have to get better on the man advantage, as the two powerplays need to count for something.
The Flames wasted no time in the 3rd, though, as Wellman failed to pick up his man on the backcheck which led to a rebound goal. The goal sparked the Flames (bad pun) as the Flames fired two straight shots off the pipe and forced a Scandella penalty. The period long naps apparently have returned, as the Wild chose not to show up for the 3rd period. After the Flames dominated play, Iginla threw a puck to the net that went off Zidlicky's and then Koivu's skate and in. Not exactly the prettiest of his goals, but Jarome Ignila officially scored 500 goals. 300 of those were against Minnesota. Frustration set in as Setoguchi took a dumb boarding penalty, Curtis Glengross cashed in on the man advantage.
The Flames were skating away with the game when something unusual happened. Dany Heatley
broke the shutout, and the Wild (as a team) responded with actual impressive play. Brodziak was robbed by Kipursoff on a strange bounce off the back boards on a play that really would have made things interesting. Unfortunately, the Wild just aren't cashing in on their opportunities. Even in a 6-on-5, the Flames dictated play. The Wild did not get a proper set up once with the extra attacker.
Something has to change with this team soon. The offense isn't there. The 60-minute effort isn't there. The early season resolve isn't there. The heart and desire isn't there. I don't know what else the team needs as a wake up call. They've now lost 11 of 12 in poor fashion. 13 goals in 12 games isn't going to cut it. Yeo needs to remember what he had going early in the season, because this team needs to get back to the process. He needs to get his team back on track, doing the small things for a full 60 minutes.
The Bennett's Chop & Railhouse Stars of the Game:
Jarome Iginla (1G for 500 in his career, GWG)
- Mikka Kipursoff (25 saves on 26 shots, robbed some glorious chances early and late)
- Dany Heatley (1G, 4 shots, top line was the only line with constant pressure)
- Can the Wild start the second half of the season on a winning note? Negative, Ghostrider.
- Will Jarome Iginla score his 500th NHL goal? Of course. He played Minnesota.
Greg Zanon and Clayton Stoner are back in the lineup tonight. Will we see a difference? Not really.
Niklas Backstrom is 5-0 with a 0.52 GAA and .984 save % in his last five starts in Calgary. Can he keep up that level of success tonight? No, but it's hard to blame him for the goals.
- Will the Flames come out on a mission after losing 9-0 to Boston in their last game? Well, if the game was only the 3rd period, then yes. Wild had their chances early that they didn't cash in on.