We are strangely drawn this week to the Ducks, so here we are again with the team we love to hate (and hate to love), taking on the Flames. Here’s hoping this one is a bit more interesting than the Ducks-Canucks were. It’s no mean feat finding the game, though, because our Center Ice is totally wonky tonight; we find the FSN feed on a channel telling us it’s airing “Upcoming: Bruins @ Lightning.” But of course!
We polished off a growler of beer with dinner tonight, in the hopes that killing off a few of our brain cells would make Hayward more palatable. So far… not so good. He furrows his brow and intones to us like he’s Nicole Kidman in “To Die For” that tonight’s the night a guy named Jarome Iginla (you may have heard of him) becomes the all-time games-played leader for the Flames. That’s kind of a surprising thing to hear – it seems like just yesterday Iginla was a young kid bursting onto the scene. Has he really been around that long, or are the Flames just a franchise that doesn’t keep guys for long?
18:27 What is it with Canadian rinks? Do they not consider lighting their buildings for television up there? The picture here, as it did in Vancouver on Tuesday, looks remarkably murky.
17:26 Pronger picks up where the Ducks left off in their last game, and takes an interference penalty. This sets Hayward back off into his comical peevishness about how the Ducks didn’t give themselves a chance to win by putting themselves down two men 600 times against the Canucks.
16:52 The Ducks still aren’t giving themselves a chance to win, killing penalties like this. Two guys go to Iginla as he powers down into the corner, and Iggy calmly drops the puck back to a wide-open Tanguay, who patiently outlasts an overcommitted Giggy and puts the Flames up 1-0.
16:32 We have a linesman down. After a delay to tend to him, Sutherby and Smith get into one of those premeditated, pointless fights where they swing wildly all the hell over the place and never really seem to hit each other.
15:50 Ahlers, speaking in a tone that is just below audible, appears to be saying something about Owen Nolan during a faceoff in the Ducks zone (after which Giggy was forced to make another good save). Pookie: “I. Don’t. Like. Owen. Nolan.”
14:07 The Ducks put together a very nifty sequence, moving up the ice on a series of short-range passes that results in a point-blank shot at the side of the net for Marchant. 1-1 Game.
13:47 We come back from a commercial to see that Iginla is playing in his 804th game for the Flames. Since when? What the hell? How did we get so old?
11:16 While the Ducks skate about with a lot more purpose, Hayward pointedly floats the comment that Phaneuf will be an RFA at the end of this season, and the Flames better watch it or they’ll be stung by a big offer sheet, and hint, hint. We would so love to see Burke go all crazy next summer signing all the RFAs to offer sheets just to get back at Kevin Lowe.
10:27 Hayward enunciates like he’s talking to small children, and says that Mike Keenan is known as “a high-pressure coach.” Pookie: “This just in.”
9:02 Moen gets a breakaway when the Flames aren’t able to stop a rolling puck in front of their bench because of a sloppy change. But he’s Travis Moen, and the game stays tied.
7:20 The Flames flit about the Ducks zone with impunity, but their idea of shooting is to whip backhand passes parallel to the goal line with no one on the other end to tip them into the net.
6:58 Ahlers lets us know a bit about the Flames’ third D-pairing; he mentions David Hale – drawing derisive snorts from us – and then sends us into paroxysms of laughter by naming the other guy, Tim Ramholt. Oh, Hale. How far you’ve come.
4:38 This game is now over for us – in a discussion of how cold it is in Calgary, Ahlers actually says the following words to Hayward: “You’re not the best color man in hockey for nothing!” We do not even know where to start with that.
1:55 The Getzi line swirls with some good pressure, but the play comes to an end when Conroy crumples to the ice at the side of the net, bleeding profusely. Replay shows Perry flung his stick around with reckless abandon and slammed Conroy in the face. Hayward is shocked and appalled that none of the officials saw the infraction, and is actually calling for the Ducks to be assessed a major on the play. We’re not about to say anything rash like “he’s not the best color man in hockey for nothing,” but we will admit that he’s right on this one.
0:40 Getzi decides he wants to show off he’s better than every Flame on the ice. He darts through a handful of Flames, then turns Phaneuf every which kind of inside-out before slipping a pass through another defender to Kunitz in front. 2-1 Ducks.
0:00 Our announcers are being surprisingly humble about the way this period played out, cautioning their viewers that the Ducks looked to be in good shape after one in Vancouver. Seriously, if this one ends up like that one did, well… we don’t know what we’re going to do. Just know it’ll be something drastic and terrible.
We don’t pay any attention to the intermission. Sorry.
Okay, we lied. We do pay enough attention to hear the joyous news that Lou’s reign of terror over the schedule is over, and the league will be abandoning the unbalanced schedule next season. Pardon us while we go party in the streets.
19:36 The period starts with us feeling like something’s horribly amiss about this game. Suddenly it dawns on us – there is no on-ice mic. That’s so weird. Just when we finally figure out what’s missing, the audio kicks back in. Hockey in an aural vacuum is so bizarre.
17:43 Butzi tries to do his Bobby Orr move, barreling around a defender and then going flying ass over teakettle when Kiprusoff calmly blocks his shot with his stick. Kipper, however, gets called for tripping on the play, and Hayward smarms that while it’s a shitty call, the Ducks are owed an even-up after the infamous Vancouver game. No, Brian, they’re not.
16:01 We get a prolonged video review because of a puck that wobbled along the goal line off a Perry bankshot from behind the goal line. Lombardi seemed to tug the puck back off the line at the last moment, and we feel the overhead pretty conclusively shows it didn’t go all the way in. The FSN guys, demonstrating that their little homer hearts were completely crushed by the Canucks, decide this should not be a goal. We admire their candor, and decide to see what the Flames announcers are saying. They are, remarkably, even more boring than the FSN guys, and are also, inexplicably, non-committal about the play. Isn’t it their job to have an opinion?
Weird! It turns out they rule it a goal. Hayward’s head mildly explodes, as he is torn between a sudden and unexpected desire to be the best color man in hockey (and therefore be flummoxed by this call), and his natural inclination to be an insipid homer. 3-1 Ducks
14:20 Ahlers declares, as Butzi powers toward the net for the umpteenth time, it’s “the best Bertuzzi has looked…” Pookie finishes for him, “In about 90 years.” Then, very quietly, “Zing.” (Ahlers actually finished, “…in a Ducks sweater”, in case you were wondering.)
11:47 Kipper collapses strangely, unfolding himself from his butterfly to cover a shot from Pahlsson. Pookie: “You know, from that angle, it looks like that went in.” Zing. (During the ensuing commercial break, we sit in TV-muted silence before Pookie announces, “I am so smart. I was just about to ask why we get so many Honda commercials during Ducks games.”)
11:13 BabyNieder gets called for holding. FSN doesn’t give us a chance to review the play because they’re too busy trying to get us to buy group tickets to Ducks games. The phone number to call is 877 WILD-WING; Schnookie pouts, “I wish that was my phone number.”
11:06 Giggy easily swallows up a Phaneuf pointshot, and Hayward sniffs at the quick, unscreened attempt, “He has a very good shot, but this is a bit of a mistake from the young defenseman.” Ahlers cautiously suggests that maybe Dion just “has a lot of confidence in his shot.” Phaneuf? Overconfident? Perish the thought!
9:13 That was… not a very interesting power play. Is it just us, or are the Flames crappy?
8:11 Godard and Parros have another one of those stupid premeditated fights off the faceoff. They do lots of punching and falling over and getting back up again, and Hayward delights, “That was a heavyweight fight!” Schnookie: “No, that was an ass-clown fight.” We really have no problem with fighting in hockey (we can take it or leave it), but these totally inorganic, staged bouts have so little value to add to the narrative flow of a game.
7:22 Perry looks like he’s getting a clear breakaway from the Calgary blueline, but Lombardi catches him from behind and delights us by making Perry look like a bit of an ass as he fails to really even get a shot on Kipper.
7:05 Trying to overcompensate for his shame for that breakaway, Perry decides to back into Kiprusoff and then fall over on top of him. The Ducks have the gall to complain about the penalty he receives.
5:05 The Flames fail to convert on the power play, but should have potted a goal when Nolan had a wide-open shot. Our announcers marvel, “It’s hard to believe Owen Nolan just flat-out missed his shot there.” Schnookie: “No it isn’t.”
2:44 Hayward is getting squirrelly that the Ducks are sitting back in the waning moments of the period. Since getting the power play, Calgary has pretty much had sole possession of the puck, and the Ducks defenders keep doing smart things like lying down in the middle of their defensive zone in an attempt to “block a shot” while the Flames skate around them and walk unimpeded to the net (Schneider, we’re looking at you). It is only the offensive incompetence of the Flames and the decent goaltending of Giggy that keeps the two-goal lead intact.
1:08 Are the guys in the truck having fun playing with the volume controls right now? Our announcers are talking about the GM meetings, and how they hope to have a phone interview with Burke sometime, or something, but they just keep getting quieter with every word. When Kate the Great was here for Thanksgiving she was stunned to learn that the announcers call the games from the actual, real-life venue, and Pookie remarks now, “You know, watching this I can really understand why KtG would be so surprised to hear they’re at the game, and not broadcasting from down a well.”
0:00 Well, if we’re going to see Anaheim losing as miserably as they did in Vancouver, the Ducks are going to have to do a lot of melting down in the next period, and the Flames are going to have to miraculously discover a significantly more competent team somewhere in their dressing room during this intermission.
You know when we said we weren’t paying attention during the last intermission, but then it turned out that we did? Well this time we really mean it.
18:09 Giggy easily gloves a soft point shot by Smith, and during the ensuing stoppage we get to see footage of kids enjoying the little fan fest-y games the Ducks have in their parking lot. One shot shows a little kid standing in a wee little goal, wearing wee little pads, and giggling while pucks just keep hitting him. We decide that kid is demonstrating the Giguere school of goaltending, standing utterly still and letting the shots just hit off him.
16:34 Marchant trips Iginla along the boards in the Anaheim zone, further opening the door for the ever-increasingly aggressive Flames. Well, it might not necessarily be that the Flames are better – perhaps it’s just that the Ducks have been playing like they decided this game ended when they got their third goal.
15:51 The play-by-play is suddenly SHOUTING AT US! Schnookie bellows: “Our volume is back!” Pause, while the color pipes up, faint as always. Schnookie adds, “And Hayward is still in the well.”
14:34 Fortunately for the Ducks, even when they’re playing like they think this game is over, are still stronger on the PK than the Flames are on the PP.
13:29 Pookie: “Whenever I look up [from my stitching], the Flames have the puck.” Yes. They do.
13:19 The play is whizzing up and down the poorly-lit rink, and the ebb and flow of the game rolls in waves of varying audibility in the play-by-play. Pookie remarks, “The commentary tonight is really enhancing the feel that this has been filmed in a murky aquarium. It’s like sometimes the fish come up to the surface and there’s sound, and sometimes they’re under the water and it’s silent.”
13:04 Perry gets another breakaway, and doesn’t do any better on this one than he did on the last.
10:50 Some Duck unleashes a long pass to Butzi to give him a semi-break, and he decides to drop a blind pass back to no one in particular. This comes at the end of a shift on which he failed to bury an easy shot over a prone Kiprusoff, and Butzi is shown looking very angry with himself at the bench. Hayward says it’s “good to see Bertuzzi frustrated, because that’s the good kind of frustration.” What? And since when is it good for anyone when Todd Bertuzzi is angry?
10:03 Pahlsson hauls down a Flame in front of the net to give Calgary another power play. We’re sure the Ducks are very worried.
8:03 The Flames looked less than inspiring on that man advantage.
5:57 The Ducks appear to have realized they’re going to have to actually play this game out, and get a few shifts of puck possession in the Flames zone. Calgary responds by repeatedly icing the puck.
5:25 Schneider decides to abandon his strategy of lying down in the middle of the defensive zone and letting the Flames skate around him, and instead opts for the “taking a cross-checking penalty behind his own net” approach to defense.
4:29 Keenan decides to reward the Ducks announcers for all their “Stop the presses!” snarking tonight about his propensity for pulling goalies in an unorthodox manner. Kipper is parked on the bench and the Flames take their ineffective power play up another notch by making things all six-on-four.
4:03 Baby Nieder demonstrates why most coaches don’t pull their goalies with four and a half minutes left in the game, and puts the Ducks up 4-1 on a long empty-netter. Ahlers exuberantly declares, “When there’s an empty net, Rob Niedermayer is money.” Pookie: “Well, there’s something to hang your hat on.”
1:38 The Flames’ spirits are as broken as you would expect. All the best scoring chances since the empty-netter have been by the Ducks.
1:00 The Flames fail to connect on a pass, and Ahlers tells us this is “one last icing call.” Well, we guess it’s outside the realm of possibility now that one of these teams will commit an icing during this last minute of play.
0:00 At the final buzzer, we are informed Giggy made 38 saves tonight. Really? When? We realize the Flames had the puck for pretty much the entirety of the second half of the game, but it never seemed like they were planning to score or anything. So there we go – a bounce-back win for the Ducks, and, um, a bad home loss for the Flames.