Flames have zero jump early
RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
|Predators forward wing Patric Hornqvist gets a face full of glove from Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester (left) in front of Chris Butler in Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 13, 2011. (M. J. MASOTTI JR./Reuters)
NASHVILLE - For a team on the cusp of getting so close to a playoff spot they could taste it, the Flames sure came out with zero jump.
A regulation win over the Nashville Predators, combined with the right results elsewhere, could have put the Flames in a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference.
Instead of charging like a herd of buffalo, the Flames were run over like gophers on the highway in the opening 20 minutes of Tuesday’s 2-1 loss.
“If we would have played just a smarter, better first period, we’d probably come out of here with some points,” said winger Alex Tanguay.
“We’ve been slow starters, waiting to see what kind of game the other team wants to play. If we just play our pace, like we did the last two periods, we’ve been successful.”
The numbers tell the tale of how bad the first period was for the visitors.
Calgary was outshot 18-6. Had it not been for some all-world goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff, it would have been far worse than a 1-0 deficit.
Sure, the Flames managed to tie the game in the middle frame and fell due to Colin Wilson’s third-period powerplay goal, but starts such as that are just unacceptable for a team which believes it can be in the playoff picture.
“It’s all you’re thinking of since our last game,” said head coach Brent Sutter, whose players all knew they had a chance to be tied for eighth with a regulation-time win. “It’s right there and we want to take that next step. We come in here and play a good 60, 65 minutes, we’ll do that. Then we let them dictate the game right off the start.
“We were standing around watching, and the plays we made were soft.”
OFF THE GLASS
Flames D Brett Carson played his NHL first game of the season, and was walking on air after the morning skate.
“It’s exciting. Going out there today, maybe a little more jump in my step, knowing that I’m in tonight,” he said. “Got to control the emotions and go out there, get back in, and feel good.”
Carson, who suffered a back injury in the summer, only played six games last season after being claimed from the Carolina Hurricanes via waivers on trade-deadline day.
“I’m still coming in here and trying to prove where
I belong, jump up the depth chart on the defence,” said the 26-year-old.
Things looked good for Carson in his first shift, while the team was shorthanded, when he blocked a shot and fired the puck down the ice. However, he didn’t tie up Preds forward Matt Halischuk on the game’s first goal.
IN THE CORNERS
For the third straight game, the Flames were without a forward due to the flu. Rene Bourque is the latest for the team, which had to do without Tanguay in Saturday’s clash and LW Curtis Glencross in Thursday’s game. Tanguay returned and played on a line with Brendan Morrison and Roman Horak ... While the Flames have four on the shelf for the long-term due to injury — G Henrik Karlsson, D Mark Giordano, D Anton Babchuk and RW David Moss — the Predators don’t have anybody injured now that LW Blake Geoffrion returned from his shoulder injury and was sent to the minors ... Preds coach Barry Trotz is the NHL bench boss with the most consecutive years in his post — this is his 13th season — and was among those disappointed to see Terry Murray axed Monday by the Los Angeles Kings. “That’s my brotherhood,” Trotz said. “That’s the new NHL. You only have so many moves as an organization and it’s harder to make trades, all that. Coaching is one of the only moves you can change.”
Preds goalie Pekka Rinne doesn’t know Kiprusoff beyond pleasant greetings when they see each other. However, Rinne speaks with reverence about his Finnish countryman. “He’s one of the guys I grew up watching. He’s probably the first Finnish goalie that really broke through in the NHL, been the No.-1 guy for many, many years. It’s always exciting to play against him,” Rinne said before the game. “To me, he’s a been a really big influence for a lot of Finnish goalies.”