Johnson: Playoff hopes dim amid toxic waste dump of a season
Columbus stays hot with dominant performance
Three games under .500 for the first time in this toxic waste dump of a season.
Why, they’re sinking so far so fast, Dr. Robert Ballard and the Woodshole Oceanographic Society couldn’t locate the wreck.
We’re past the salvage stage now. Let the yard sale begin.
Iginla. Kiprusoff. Bouwmeester. Pick a name. Any name. Whatever direction they take - stay on the treadmill or buy some blasting gelatin - this isn’t getting any better anytime soon. Probably not for a long, long while.
So strap yourself in, grit your teeth and prepare for the worst.
Incinernated 5-1 Friday by the surging Columbus Blue Jackets to end another fruitless road swing, the futility streak on their travels having risen to nine (0-8-1), the Calgary Flames slunk home again with tails tucked firmly between their legs.
It’s bad. Very bad.
And threatening to sink even lower.
The St. Louis Blues come calling on Sunday followed by a visit to - smelling salts and cold compress, please - the league-pacesetting Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.
Given what we’ve seen over the last month, that one at the Madhouse on Madison should come with a parental guidance warning.
The last half-dozen games away from the Scotiabank Saddldome the Flames have been torched for an unseemly 27 goals, bordering on a fat five a night. At times in their own zone they appear as utterly defenceless as as a dewey-eyed seal pup on an ice floe.
Coach Bob Hartley continues to bemoan the upardonable, glaring gaffes that consistently plague his veteran group. But the problems persist; nothing ever gets fixed. The blooper reels grows and grows.
That’s on them, yes. But it’s on him, too.
Stunned by a second-period three-goal barrage in 75 seconds, there was precious little fightback Friday in a group that seems increasingly resigned to its ignominius fate, to its own fatal frailties.
In direct contrast we refer you go the Jackets, now with points in 12 straight games and a rib-tickling punch-line to a joke no longer.
“They’re a team that works hard,’’ murmurred defenceman Jay Bouwmeester, after a sigh so heavy, so long, it might’ve been pinched from Brent Sutter’s repertoire. “Every time you come in here, you know that. Them, Nashville last night. They haven’t had a lot of success here but they always work hard, they always give you a tough game.
“You have to expect that. Tonight was no different.
“They play a really simple game. And at times we didn’t do a really good job of responding and doing the things that can shut that done. All in all, it wasn’t every good.’’
All in all it was awful, in point of fact.
Hartley, shuffling the deck, matched captain Jarome Iginla with Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka. They each ended up minus-1. The Micheal Cammalleri-Blake Comeau-Alex Tanguay triumverate all finished minus-3. Bouwmeester and Brodie were minus-2.
And the giveways ...
On the first Jackets’ goal, T.J. Brodie flat-out whiffs on a clearance behind the net and then, trying to atone for the miscue, actually blocks the puck out front to Jared Boll to rip home. Nick Foligno fakes Dennis Wideman down to one knee, sliding to inside space to count the second, then wires a shot over a screened Miikka Kiprusoff’s glove hand on the third. The usually-dependable Lee Stempniak sweeps one into Artem Anisimov’s path, prime real estate 15 feet out, on the fourth.
Maybe Kiprusoff should’ve squeezed that fifth one, by Colton Gillies in the third, but by then he’d probably cried “Uncle!’, and who could blame him?
Besides, there wasn’t a Flame anywhere in the same time zone as Gillies when he unloaded from the high slot. Typical.
Exasperated by the rough-and-tumble treatment he was from those nefarious crease-crashing Preds on Thursday, an incensed Kiprusoff reached out after being toppled on one occasion and theatrically punched David Legwand in the leg.
Friday, he probably wanted to sock at a few of his own guys right in the pie hole. At game’s end, Kiprusoff literally sprinted off the ice and into the dressing room.
“It was a tough night,’’ he murmurred later, masking his digust admirably. “As a goalie, five goals ... no excuses. But I think they did get quite (a few) quality chances tonight.
“There’s no point in pointing fingers. We’re a team. Five goals ... a tough game for a goalie, for sure.’’
The Flames themselves certainly weren’t about to throw their meal-ticket puck-stopper under the bus (well, at least not off the ice, anyway).
“Blame him? No,’’ countered Bouwmeester. “There’s not too many (games) you can. Especially after yesterday’’ - a spirtless 5-3 loss at Nashville - “you need a bounce back against a team that always plays hard and has been having some success lately.
“We kinda hung in there and then they get three quick ones in the second and it’s tough to come back from. The damage was done at that point. You give up three one like that and they weren’t like they really earned ‘em. We kind of gave them to them.
“That’s what needs to change.’’
Among so, so many other things. Too many to count.
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald