Canucks vs. Flames Game Day Preview: Flameout
Photo credit: AP
For GM Jay Feaster and the Calgary Flames, the NHL trade deadline resembled more of a fire sale than anything. In a span of a week, they dealt their long-time captain, Jarome Iginla, to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and their no. 1 defenseman, Jay Bouwmeester, to the St. Louis Blues. In return, the Flames received nothing more than some depth prospects, a couple of first round picks, and perhaps some hockey tape and a used water bottle. But don’t fret, Calgarians, this is all part of the rebuild, right? RIGHT?!
If Flames fans can take comfort in anything, it’s that the team has finally admitted it needs to gut its aging core and move forward. After years of denying it needed to rebuild – even Feaster admitted he should have started this process earlier – it finally made the moves to start stockpiling younger assets. And in today’s NHL, where 19 of the top 25 scorers are under 30 years old, that’s a good thing.
Of course, the Flames will experience some growing pains. Since Iginla was traded on March 27, they’ve lost all 4 games and have been outscored 20-8. Against the Edmonton Oilers on trade deadline day, they blew a 2-0 lead and ended up losing 8-2. Last night against the San Jose Sharks, they took a 1-0 into the second intermission only to let the Sharks score twice in the third period – one a couple of minutes in and the other with a couple of minutes left – en route to a 2-1 loss.
And it doesn’t get any easier for the Flames the rest of the way. 7 of their remaining 12 games are on the road, where they’ve won just 3 times all season (3-12-3). They’re a dismal 0-11-1 in their last 12 games away from the Saddledome, including 10 straight losses.
20-11-6, 46 points (1st in the Northwest Division, 3rd in the Western Conference)
The Canucks are 16 points ahead of the Flames in the standings, but the Flames did win the last meeting between the two teams. In that game, Alain Vigneault took a questionable abuse of official penalty in the third period, and while the Canucks technically killed the penalty, the Flames scored 2 seconds after it expired to break what was a 2-2 tie at that point.
Cory Schneider and company have won 4 straight games at Rogers Arena, outscoring their opponents 11-3. Schneider posted shutouts in 2 of those games.
The only things “hot” about Calgary right now are the flames coming out of their logo.
Chris Higgins has a 4-game point streak that includes scoring in 3 of those 4 games. Fresh from signing a 4-year/$10 million contract extension, he had a particularly good game on Thursday against the Oilers, and if that game is any indication, his line with Derek Roy and Jannik Hansen could be the perfect tonic to the Canucks’ scoring woes.
The Canucks finally connected on the powerplay on Thursday – they scored during a lengthy two-man advantage – but they still rank 28th in the NHL in powerplay efficiency (13.1%).
Likewise, their penalty kill has been better (81.7%), but ranked 15th in the league, it’s still quite average.
With just 11 games left in the season, the Canucks may want to start getting their special teams in order, especially if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs.