The gearbox is broken

Well, damn. Just when I thought the Flames were set to “win ugly” and make my first attempt at a blog post look prophetic, Robyn Regehr loses track of Marek Svatos and that’s the ballgame. 4-3 Colorado. But worse things happened tonight than a slumping defenceman making a bad third-period play, because I came to another troubling conclusion: The Flames don’t have “another gear.”

Yes, “another gear,” the cliché that allows teams to “come through in the clutch.” It’s Matt Cooke finding a way to score in the last five seconds of Game 7 (though that ended well for us) or, more recently, the events of tonight in Ottawa that helped bring this to mind. It’s clear at this point that the Oilers are probably donesville, but they came back from two down in the third tonight against a damn good team, with a rookie-laden lineup and a backup goalie to boot. When they’re down one late in the game, you always get the feeling they have a chance. With Calgary, if they don’t make something happen before midway through the third, I’m pretty much starting to think about the next game.

I can only think of two exceptions to this right now — the Florida game in December and the late Tanguay goal in Chicago earlier this month. But neither of those were incredible, spirit-building victories. The Florida game featured the Iggy injury and a blown third-period lead that forced the comeback, and Tanguay’s late goal was followed by an OT loss because the Flames couldn’t handle Havlat.

Anyway, there was definitely not another gear tonight in the third period, although I will grudgingly accept they generally cleaned up their act after that horrendous, unacceptable, inexcusable first period. And another gear, like winning ugly, is an absolute playoff must.

Of note: It’s nice that he scored tonight (on a perfect feed from Primeau), but that doesn’t make Tony Amonte worthy of last-minute duty. I would have had anyone other than Marcus Nilson out there ahead of him. Speaking of Nilson: Starting with that stupid hooking penalty that started everything rolling in the wrong direction, I had a hard time figuring out what he was good for, again. Playfair showed a willingness to scratch him last week. Maybe it’s time again.

I also see Warrener played two whole shifts in the third after having Hejduk make him look ridiculous on the third goal. If he’s so hurt he can’t move laterally at all, and looks exasperated after every play, it’s time to sit him until he’s 100 per cent. (On the other hand, Hamrlik and Phaneuf were both great, and Andrea Susan had his second straight not-so-crappy performance.)

The broadcast: Roger Millions was actually not bad tonight, only declaring a player to have “partially fanned” once, and keeping his high-pitched homer tendencies to a minimum. Maybe it was because he had to be the knowledgable one on the broadcast. I was into Charlie Simmer in his first few PPV appearances this season, but he’s descended below Walter territory very quickly. Walter’s repetitive and his voice grates, but he knows his game most of the time. Simmer doesn’t even seem to be familiar with most of the players on the ice, and can’t analyze past the obvious.

And now I see the Canucks have come back to beat the Ducks. Four-point spread in the division, 7-15-7 on the road … it just keeps getting worse.

I swear, I’m not a negative bastard. Positive writing coming soon!

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~ by duncan on February 21, 2007.

6 Responses to “The gearbox is broken”

  1. Agreed re: Warrener, Amonte, Nilson and the “other gear”. The total lack of the latter is incredibly grating in that the Grease Balls up North seem to manage to score late period game-tying goals every other contest.

  2. maybe i’ve got my stats wrong, but why am i the only one who thinks that when godard plays, flames win. so put the guy in the lineup and watch the sparks fly. non ? D: i love your site…

  3. *nods*
    I’m so glad that you and MG can put into words what I cannot, yet again.

  4. I thought we found a second gear in that comeback victory vs the Canucks a couple weeks ago, but its ALL fallen apart since then.

  5. maybe i’ve got my stats wrong, but why am i the only one who thinks that when godard plays, flames win. so put the guy in the lineup and watch the sparks fly.

    I wouldn’t credit Godard with this trend — I’d credit his ability to fire the team up a bit. They display a frustrating lack of emotion most of the time. The exception was the run that restored them to first place in the division after that horrible October. Two moments ignited it — Ference fighting Barnaby in a Dallas game, and Ritchie going after a Columbus guy (Brule? Foote? can’t remember) after he knocked Ference into the boards from behind. Anyway, they’ve got to get that back, and if Godard’s the solution, so be it.

  6. […] San Josayers controlling most of the play for most of the game, I wouldn’t exactly call that another gear. But I would call it winning ugly, so that’s a somewhat pleasant step forward. I’m a […]

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