The better team won …

… and the best goaltender lost.

Red Wings 2 Flames 1 (2OT)
(Detroit wins best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal 4-2)

Mercifully, 2006-07 is over for the Calgary Flames. A lost opportunity with this roster, especially one enjoying the services of Miikka Kiprusoff in his prime, and hopefully we just witnessed the final condemnation of the Jim Playfair administration.

Outshot 55-21 on home ice in a must-win game? Ridiculous. Tonight was the final bit of evidence against coach Jimmy, and it was just a Kiprusoffian miracle that extended that to the second OT.

The Flames weren’t looking great with the 1-0 lead, but things were OK. Then Lang scores kind of out of nowhere, and the team’s composure was completely gone, never to return.

And that’s Playfair’s problem right there. I’m certain he’s not a bad hockey coach — he was running the defence in ’04, after all, and won a Calder Cup in the AHL. You don’t get an opportunity to run a National Hockey League team if you’re a bad coach.

But what Playfair clearly isn’t, at least not now, is an NHL coach. An NHL coach would have control of his bench to the point that his team could adjust to the game change at that moment. But as soon as Lang scored, the Wings returned to dominance, and it was just a matter of time.

If this was an isolated incident, that would be one thing. It’s not like momentum-shifts don’t hit every time at some point. But such immediate, wholesale changes in game flow — and Playfair’s inability to convince his team to adjust — were regular occurences all season long. And you can point straight to that failing as the key reason for the road record, the embarrassing playoffs, even the stalling development of Dion Phaneuf. It’s one of many failings you can point out with Jimmy, but in my opinion this is the most damning.

Darryl Sutter made a few missteps this year — hell, in the past two years — but none bigger than Playfair. Ken King likes to call Sutter a genius; how he reacts this off-season may well prove if that’s true.

But there are many days and many blog entries to come about the future. For now, a tip of my hat to the Red Wings, and at 1 a.m. eastern, it’s bedtime.

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~ by duncan on April 23, 2007.

7 Responses to “The better team won …”

  1. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog during this series and I hope for your guys’ sakes that Sutter does make some changes. Kipper was absolutely amazing. You guys are lucky to have him.

  2. I have to second Christy with regard to Kipper – I liked him before this series, but having the opportunity to watch him this much really settled it for me. I’ve said it already, but he deserved better than he got these last few games, and I hope he gets it.

  3. Kiprusoff-Luongo. Calgary-Florida.hmmm……

  4. […] at Flames Blog: Mercifully, 2006-07 is over for the Calgary Flames. A lost opportunity with this roster, […]

  5. Duncan,
    What is it with Calgary and hiring non-NHL calibre coaches? Gilbert, Hay, Playfair…I’m betting we pick up Habscheid next…

  6. we all know he won’t but DAMN would brent sutter look good back there… i say bring in a euro coach. just cause i’m sick of the usual suspects….

  7. Trent Yawney?

    Just in case you’re sleeping well, currently.

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