The Calgary Flames ended their 7-game roadtrip on the wrong end of an old-time hockey-style shoot-up with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flames dropped their 4th game of the road trip 8-6 to the home team in a game that looked more like a shinny game than an NHL game that could affect the Flames standings for the playoffs.
Toronto jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, but the Flames managed to come back to tie it 3-3 by the end of the first 20 minutes. Neither team played much defense, and the Flames that found themselves down 2 goals before Olli Jokinen narrowed the gap with just under 2 minutes to go in the 2nd period.
Toronto came out gunning again in the 3rd period, scoring three more goals, including an empty netter, to steal the 2 points away from the Flames.
After the game, the unthinkable happened. Flames coach Mike Keenan actually accepted responsibility for the loss, saying that he never should have played Miikka Kiprusoff after the game he played in Detroit. Someone will surely correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not aware of a single time that Keenan has ever accepted responsibility in a situation like this. While he may not come out and say it outright he usually blames the goalie, and a lack of defense when his team gives up so many goals.
Tonight, Keenan said, “He’d like to have a better game I’m sure, but I think it was probably my fault for even playing him tonight because of what he had to go through and the work he had last game (in Detroit). I take full credit for probably starting the wrong goaltender.”
Many of Calgary’s veteran leaders laid blame at their own feet, including Jarome Iginla and Robyn Regehr.
“It wasn’t that we didn’t have an effort,” Iginla said. “We were working. We just didn’t get it done tonight for whatever reason. I thought right until the end we were going to find a way.”
The outcome of this up-and-down roadtrip, other than 6 of 14 possible points, will be seen in the coming weeks as the Flames continue to battle for positioning in the playoffs. The team will hopefully use this as a learning experience and come out stronger (defensively!).
The Flames return home for games against Dallas on Wednesday, St. Louis on Friday and Detroit next Monday. Nine of Calgary’s next 13 games come against teams that they could potentially face in the first round of the playoffs. The race in the Western Conference is very tight and its anyone’s guess who will end up where.