Saturday, March 30, 2013

DBJ's Calgary Flames six-pack for game 35: Columbus

Columbus 6 - Calgary 4
14-14-7, 10th in Western Conference, 19th in NHL
12th overall draft pick (plus 14th and 21st!)
The Columbus Blue Jackets wrapped up their Northwest Canada road trip by being The Team That Played Calgary In Calgary's First Game Since Losing Jarome Iginla.  The Flames lost that game, 6-4, to the visitors in regulation at the Saddledome.

To borrow the line from "The Incredibles," this was the classic "It's NOT about YOU!" night.  It wasn't about the Blue Jackets holding onto a thread of a chance to make the playoffs (If you have to go 9-4-0 or some combination thereof to hit 53 points, have only five of your remaining 13 games at home and sport a 4-10-2 road record, that's a thread).  It was about Calgary.  It was about the Flames and how that terrible hockey team would recover from the shock of losing Iginla.  Thank you, hockey media, for setting me straight.

Blue Jackets fans have been there, in a way.  They had to try to move past Rick Nash openly thumbing his nose at the team he captained, except Nash didn't leave until the offseason and the team didn't have the guts to send him packing early.  I gather that Iginla's demise in Calgary was pretty much an open secret for a while, but it was his looming unrestricted free agent status that forced Calgary to move him for the closest thing to a bag of practice pucks that I've ever seen in my six or seven years of intense observation of the National Hockey League.  At least the Blue Jackets got something for Nash.

Oh wait, I'm sorry, it's not about Columbus.  It's about Calgary.  Yeah, back to that.

We mustn't challenge the conventional wisdom.
1. Beer number one goes to The Calgary Flames.  They are a bad hockey team.  I mean really bad.  They have, in my mind, become "That Team" in the Western Conference.  By that, I mean that you go into a game against Calgary expecting to win (and not by a small margin).  You also are bitterly disappointed if you lose, for you know that extended navel-gazing is soon to follow.

Hence, Columbus' six goals against the Flames was not entirely unexpected.  The four Calgary goals against Columbus should give the visitors all sorts of heartburn, though.  Sure the Blue Jackets tossed their backup goalie out there and returned a clearly rusty (if not regressed) James Wisniewski to the blue line and gave him nearly 20 minutes of time of ice to work out the kinks against this AHL-wannabe team. Still, giving up four goals to Calgary...ouch.

2. Beer number two goes to Mikka Kiprusoff.  Stopping 14 of 18 Blue Jackets shots and getting pulled in the second intermission doesn't get you a banner in the rafters.  But I found Kipper's behavior in net totally fascinating.  Was he old and tired, perhaps just not giving a darn any more as his season circled the bowl?  Might he, too, have been shocked that Iginla finally was traded?  Did it really matter?

I say it did not matter, for he was getting undressed on goals like Matt Calvert's (and note Billy's totally appropriate discussion of the pain of the Calgary Flames prior to the goal):

3. Beer number three goes to Bob Hartley, who had a good thing going in coaching the ZSC Lions to a Swiss League championship before jumping ship to return to the bright lights of the NHL.  He has to be thinking, "I gave up fancy chocolate, exquisite timepieces and untraceable bank accounts for this?"  Drink long and slow, Bob.  You still have a number of games left.

4. Beer number four goes to the Calgary Flames scouting department, for they are the only scouting department in the NHL who makes the Blue Jackets (pre-Jarmo Kekäläinen, of course, for Jarmo is the über-scout) look like rocket scientists.  If you think the cupboard could stand to be a little better stocked in Columbus, folks...go look at the organizational depth chart in Calgary.  They've got next to nothing.  Like at all.

5. Beer number five goes to Calgary's Mountain Time Zone.  Love ya, but I fell asleep in the third period.  It probably wasn't you but rather the accumulated lack of sleep from watching the Vancover game and the Edmonton game during the week prior.  Gosh, how I hate these western road trips.

6. Can there be any other recipient of the final beer than Jarome Iginla?  Didn't matter that he was on a plane to Pittsburgh as the game was underway, didn't matter that he totally screwed over the Flames by leveraging his no-trade clause to give the Flames zero negotiating strength.  Nope, the Flames still honored him with a video, and the fans still gave him a standing ovation.

Folks, this is part of the Stages of Grief.

Truth be told: While I acknowledge that Iginla has been a very good NHL player, I never saw him have a lights-out game.  A goal here or there, sure.  But that was it.  Not that I ever watched Calgary Flames hockey as intently as I was forced to tonight...

WERE THE FLAMES OUTWORKED TONIGHT?  (See what I did there?)  You betcha.  But it was the Flames, and that was a given.  For the Calgary Flames stink.

NEXT UP: The Flames re-engage in the Battle of Alberta on Monday night in what surely will be a lopsided affair - not to Calgary's advantage - against the Edmonton Oilers. Those little kids can skate like fiends.  Calgary can't.

Oh, the Blue Jackets?  They return to Nationwide Arena on Sunday for a 6PM game against the Anaheim Ducks.

1 comment:

  1. In truth, that's the way MOST Canadian media looks at our lowly Blue Jackets. Most have little idea of the actual reference of the nickname, and further, don't care to know. The comment was made here a few weeks ago that the only way this team was going to be relevant was to continue winning. I don't feel badly for Calgary, with their massive and sometimes premature goal celebrations. They need to learn, as do some others, WINNING IS NOT THEIR BIRTHRITE, just because they are north of the border. I hold no grudges, but several of those teams have received blantantly "homer" calls against the likes of Cbus. May they wear their angst well. Ditto for the annointed BEST TEAM ON PAPER, rangers.