Calgary Flames Round-Up: can Kiprusoff save the Flames from their inconsistency?

Miikka Kiprusoff Flames

Miikka Kiprusoff (Icon SMI)

THE STATS LINE

28-23-9 record [17th overall (in points percentage)]
2.33 goals-for per game [26th overall]
2.62 goals-against per game [12th overall]
16.8% power-play success rate [17th overall]
83.3% penalty-kill success rate [10th overall]
45.2% in the face-off circle [30th overall]

1 point out of 8th spot in the Western Conference
22 games left in the regular season
38% chance of making the playoffs (as per SportsClubStats.com)

THE WEEK THAT WAS

  • February 16: The Flames dropped a tight 3-2 overtime decision to the Dallas Stars on the road. The team played one of the worst games in recent memory, but got majorly bailed out by Miikka Kiprusoff and managed to eke out a point.
  • February 18: The Flames finished up their road trip with a 1-0 shutout victory over the Los Angeles Kings. For the second straight game, Miikka Kiprusoff stole points for the Flames, with Mike Cammalleri scoring late to give Calgary the win.
  • Feburary 21: In their fifth meeting of the year, the Edmonton Oilers shocked the world with a 6-1 ass-kicking of the Calgary Flames. In Calgary. The Flames played, quite simply, badly. They were not good. They gave up many, many shots and, for once, Miikka Kiprusoff could not steal the game.

CRASHING BACK DOWN TO EARTH? OR WILL KIPRUSOFF SAVE THEM?

From the minute the Flames returned home from their 9-0 loss to Boston on January 5, they seemed to find the consistency that they so sorely lacked for much of the season. What resulted from this consistency was a 10-3-4 run and the team going from the playoff desert to the cusp of a playoff spot.

And it’s here where Tuesday night’s 6-1 loss to Edmonton becomes a bit perplexing. The Flames, after being a dominant force at home and being otherwise consistent since the Boston Massacre, failed to show up for a game. Speaking with the Globe and Mail, captain Jarome Iginla characterized the team’s effort as “terrible.” Similar cracks in the team’s armour appeared in Dallas, where the team played fairly lousy but somehow (because of Kiprusoff) escaped with points.

The next handful of games will ultimately determine whether this is a harmless blip or a catastrophic return to previous inconsistency. The Western Conference standings are very, very tight (made evident by the Flames single regulation loss sending them toppling down the standings) and while Miikka Kiprusoff has been very, very good for the entire season, if the Flames continue giving up as many quality scoring chances as they did against Edmonton, even Kiprusoff won’t be able to keep them in the chase.

THE HOSPITAL WARD GETS BIGGER, MAYBE SOON SHRINK

Already missing six regulars, the Flames lost another in their 6-1 loss to Edmonton. Defenseman Chris Butler was cut on the thigh crashing the net on one of Edmonton’s second-period goals and did not return to the game. The Flames official site noted Butler as expected to be out for three weeks.

Before anyone starts writing the Flames off entirely and running out to the streets in panic, the Flames were also quick to note that both winger Curtis Glencross and defender Derek Smith are due to return to the team very soon.

The Calgary Herald’s John Down noted that both players practiced with the team on Wednesday and head coach Brent Sutter said that the players were “both 100 per cent health-wise.” A decision on each player’s conditioning is all that stands between them returning from the sidelines.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Sun’s Randy Sportak reported on his Twitter that centre David Moss, who has missed the vast majority of this season with a foot injury, is once again skating. He’s yet to join the team for full practices, though.

ROSTER/INJURY UPDATES

  • D Chris Butler left Tuesday’s game with Edmonton with a thigh laceration. He’ll be out for three weeks.
  • G Henrik Karlsson returned to the Flames following two weeks with the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat on a conditioning stint. Karlsson went 2-2-0 with a 2.26 goals against average over his stretch with the Heat. Leland Irving was returned to the Heat to make room for Karlsson.
  • F David Moss (foot) has resumed skating. D Derek Smith (ankle) and F Curtis Glencross (knee) are medically cleared and could return as early as Thursday’s game with Phoenix.
  • F Blair Jones (ankle), F Mikael Backlund (shoulder) and F Lee Stempniak (ankle) remain on the IR and aren’t expected back anytime soon.

DISPATCHES FROM THE FARM

  • Brandon Wheat Kings winger Michael Ferland was named both the Western Hockey League’s Player of the Week and the Canadian Hockey League’s Player of the Week. Ferland scored 7 goals and added 4 assists over the past week.
  • Ferland edged out fellow Flame prospect Sven Baertschi (of the Portland Winterhawks), who had 4 goals and 7 helpers over the week. Baertschi has been, to be blunt, very, very good since returning from a concussion. For the season as a whole, the Swiss forward has 81 points in 41 games this season.
  • Boston College freshman Johnny Gaudreau has quietly been having a very good season. With 28 points this year, he’s second among Hockey East conference freshmen and 3 points behind Penguins prospect Scott Wilson for the freshman lead.

Ryan Pike
A native of the Stampede City, Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and as Managing Editor of FlamesNation.ca.
Ryan Pike

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