Johnson: Flames can ill afford to keep letting others be the king of their castle
Home record gets even more woeful after dull as dishwater loss to Minnesota
An unhappy Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley looksd for some answers from referee Mike Hasenfratz during the third period of their game against the Minnesota Wild on Monday night. The entire Flames group is looking for answers after losing their fifth game out of six this season at the Saddledome.
Photograph by: Colleen De Neve, Calgary Herald
They’re simply not doing enough to safeguard their own home and the valuables inside. Install a security system. Put in extra locks. You simply can’t leave the doors unlocked, the windows open, the lights ablaze, allow the insurance to lapse and not expect to get robbed blind.
“We have to be better,” murmured defenceman Mark Giordano. “We have to get more points out of our building.
“We HAVE to get the extra point. We can’t be satisfied losing in shootouts or giving points away. Especially not here. That’s a divisional team.
“There’s a lot of good things in the game but it’s a big disappointment, as well.”
The new-look, uptempo, high-pressure Calgary Flames met the new-look, more-skilled, uber-hyped Minnesota Wild their two mega-money signings on Monday night. But while the expectations may have been jacked up and a number of fresh faces injected into the mix, the game itself had the look of so many others these teams have engaged in through the passing of the years: Tight, disjointed, and woefully lacking any sort of flow.
As enthralling as watching soup simmer. All the yuks of passing a kidney stone.
And Bob Hartley and his crew were the ones once more in utter agony at the end, a 2-1 shootout loss continuing a disturbing series of home flops to open this abbreviated season.
That slipshod 1-3-2 record at the Scotiabank Saddledome, four points out of a possible 12, has weighted the locals down and dragged them back to the ocean floor of the Western Conference, with both Columbus and the hugely-disappointing Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings vaulting past courtesy wins on Monday.
“Energy. Execution.” Hartley searched through a long list of key ingredients missing on a consistent basis against the Wild. “For both teams there were a couple of powerplays with not much going on. It’s a game that’s kind of tough to pinpoint ... like where it went good and where it went wrong.
“There was good parts and bad parts from the two teams. It seemed like we dominated some parts, then they dominated us in other parts. We were down 1-zip after two and we showed some charter, Jiri (Hudler) gave us the tying goal and then I felt we had our better moments, we generated some good scoring chances but we couldn’t get the winner.”
This was one of those constipated encounters (calling it a chess match would, frankly, be offensive to chess players everywhere) the Wildebeasts have become infamous for. In a frantic attempt to shake things up, Hartley kept juggling his lines but among his forwards really only Hudler and Blair Jones distinguished themselves.
Goaltender Leland Irving, making a third straight start in place of the knee-nicked Miikka Kiprusoff, was solid again. Oh, during the shootout a couple of surprisingly anonymous stars on the night, Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, turned him ‘round more times than the stripes on a barber’s pole but they’ve been known to do that to goaltenders with far more games on their big-league resumes.
“His performance was great,” lauded Hartley (making you scratch your head as to precisely why Joey MacDonald was claimed off waivers earlier in the day). “In Detroit. In Columbus. Even in Vancouver there’s no way we can even think of faulting Irving for any of those goals. And tonight he did his job. He was strong. You could tell that he had good focus; he could see the puck, his tracking was very good.
“And he gave us the chance to win.”
In a game bereft of many memorable moments, Kyle Brodziak provided Minnesota with a lead at 18:22 of the second period, Ryan Suter pinching in on the left point to jar the puck free from Jarome Iginla. From there, Devin Setoguchi slipped a pass to Brodziak who made a power move to the net to drain it on his forehand.
The home side answered in the third via Hudler, draining a 2-on-1 rush through the Niklas Backstrom’s pillows early in Period 3. Which led, as should have been expected from the outset, to the inevitable shootout.
And then — as also should have been expected — to the Flames inevitable demise.
“It’s definitely not the outcome we wanted,” said defenceman T.J. Brodie. “We’ve got to start taking advantage of scoring chances when we get ’em. It takes more than one goal to win a game. We have to create more offensively. We’ve had some good games at home, without getting the results. We played really well in the Chicago game, for instance, and didn’t get the two points there.
“It’s frustrating, definitely, but we’ve got to get this turned around.’’
With two ’Dome dates left before departing again for foreign soil — Dallas on Wednesday, followed by the spiralling St. Louis Blues on Friday — they’d better get the home fires burning. Fast.
“We battled,” sighed Hartley, “but not as consistent as I would’ve liked. And I think it could’ve made the difference.”
A man’s house is, after all, reputed to be his castle.
And these Flames simply cannot continue to keep flinging themselves out of the tallest turret, left bloody and broken on the ground below.
George Johnson is the Herald’s sports columnist. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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