The Calgary Flames played a strong game in Detroit last night despite injuries to some key players like Daymond Lankow, David Moss and Ales Kotalik. They had a chance to beat the Detroit Redwings but Jimmy Howard made some timely saves in the first and third period to gain a 4-2 victory for his team.
Howard has played much better in the NHL than many scouts, including myself, had predicted. He has improved his positioning and control of movement. He’s playing a more “static” game, waiting for the puck instead of guessing, slipping and sliding away from his net. The most prominent improvement is the control of his rebounds. When playing with the Grand Rapids Griffins, his rebound control was atrocious to say the least. Some of the credit goes to the Redwings development process and to goalie coach Jim Bedard. He’s catching more pucks now and he’s able to trap the puck into his body so much better. His focus and decision making are improving as he gains more confidence.
Special teams were also a factor last night with the Wings going 1/7 and the Flames 0/11. But on most nights, if you’re going to beat the Redwings, you must shut down their top two lines or at least play them even. Calgary’s top lines failed to do that last night. Very few teams do, especially in Detroit. The Flames best line was their 3rd unit with Glencross, Backlund (2 goals) and Bourque. They outplayed the Modano line who doesn’t appear to have jelled yet as a line.
Same old Jokinen: neutral zone turnovers, lost a battle for the puck on the winning goal. Brett Sutter sat him late in the 3rd period, including a 5 on 3 power play.
Mikael Backlund scored two goals. He has good speed and great mobility. Very good hands, vision, offensive sense and play making. However, he will dish-off the puck early along the boards or in physical confrontations…to watch…
Whatever happened to the “physical presence” of Robyn Regehr? He was outfought for puck possession several times last night and didn’t use the physical dimension he has. He must play with more of an edge to be effective!
Miikka Kiprusoff made some good saves but should have had a couple of the goals. He was deep in the net on the point shot by Lidstrom and should have stopped Bertuzzi from a right wing rush on the insurance goal.
I like Mark Giordano’s competitive edge although he lost his man on two goals last night, he’s a keeper.
Why did Anaheim give up on Brendan Mikkelson so soon? He has some shortcomings, he’s prone to mistakes, I know, but he’s still young, he’s big and a great skater. Calgary, who picked him up on waivers should show patience with this kid and continue his development.
HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!