Flame Out

One night thing about the last game last night.  I was able to watch the entire thing live, which was pretty cool.  Unfortunately, I'd observed before that the Caps were showing possible signs of improvement.  Well, last night certainly put the kibosh on those thoughts.

They came out very flat to start, and Calgary pushed them into their zone hard, to start, and kept them penned in for the first minute.  And sadly, they did not get out on a controlled breakout.  They only made it out after the Flames had started the scoring.  Things didn't improve materially right away, and a minute and a half later the Flames had a power play.

The Caps weathered that power play, but it was a combination of very good luck and excellent goaltending by Holtby, as the Flames put five shots on net in those two minutes.  Things only improved slightly from there, as the top line put a very good shift in (including a terrible whiff by OV), but that was the only sign of life before Hudler put the Flames up by another three minutes after the power play expired.

Things still didn't look so great, until the second line got a nice shift in, getting all the defense to focus on Fehr and Grabovski while Chimmer cycled back behind the Flames net.  Grabo hit him as he came back out front, and Chimmer snuck it by Ramo to cut the lead in half.

But less than a minute later, Camalleri tipped in a shot by Wideman to restore the earlier deficit.  Oates decided to shake things up at that point, and put Neuwirth in (I assume it wasn't done as a criticism of Holtby, who had, I thought, looked pretty good, despite a distinct lack of support).

At that point, with seven minutes left in the first, things finally started to look a bit more even, but nothing else was put past Ramo.  Even a power play with a bit over a minute left was not enough to

In the second, play leaned slightly in the Caps favor, and Volpatti did score his first goal with the Caps, but that was the extent of the positives.

To start the third, things were looking better for the Caps.  Some of that was due to Calgary not seeking to press its advantage.  In fact, they seemed quite content to just play defense for about half the period.  And the Caps were generating some chances during that time.  But then Calgary got an offensive zone faceoff, and Camalleri put the faceoff win past Neuvy to bump the margin back up to two.  Oddly, Calgary started getting more offense after that, and scored again four minutes later to remove any doubt about the game result.

And that was when I turned it off, which seems to've been a good decision.

Overall, the power play was decent; seven shots in four chances is pretty good, although there were no goals.  The penalty kill got the job done, although it wasn't pretty (in particular, that first kill was wretched, although the other two weren't great, either).

But the even strength play was truly horrendous.  In fact, I think I'd rate this as the worst game of the season by the Caps.  Corsi and Fenwick, 5-on-5 close, were both really terrible (which was no surprise, after watching); Fenwick was about 29%.  It would take astoundingly good luck to win a game that way, so the final score was no surprise.

And it means that the game against Vancouver does not appear likely to be a close one (although I haven't looked to see if the Canucks are as strong a possession team with Tortorella instead of Vigneault).  Let's hope appearances are deceiving.

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