The Flames battled hard in the first period and managed to head into the intermission with a one goal led before things unraveled in the final two frames.
Nobody would confuse a healthy Calgary roster with the Stanley Cup contender Canucks, but expecting the Flames to overcome the injury bug was too much to ask for on this night. It’s tough to fault the Flames considering they were without Michael Cammalleri, Sven Baertschi, Mikael Backlund and most importantly, Miikka Kiprusoff.
The three forwards could very well be the Flames entire second line this season, while Kiprusoff has arguably been the team’s most valuable player the past several seasons.
Even though the Canucks are without Ryan Kesler and David Booth, the team still has much more depth than the Calgary roster that depends on Jarome Iginla year after year to lead the offensive production. With a trio of quality forwards out of the line-up, the pressure only mounted more on Iginla to produce and Vancouver knew it. The Canucks did an excellent job of limiting the Flames captain’s chances on the offensive end and Calgary didn’t have the pieces to step up around him.
Leland Irving got his second consecutive start after Kiprusoff hurt his knee and was placed on the injured reserve. He was solid in the first period before the Canucks began to create separation on the scoreboard. Although the stat sheet will say he let in five goals, the majority of them were hardly his fault. Alex Burrows lived up his reputation as a menace in front of the net, screening a pair of goals Irving never saw, while also chipping in one himself.
The Flames defensive effort in front of Irving needed to be better as they hung their goalie out to dry at times during the contest.
Then again, they were playing against one of the best teams in the Western Conference and most pre-season predictions had the Flames outside the playoffs at season’s end. So, perhaps it’s not fair to suggest Calgary hung their goalie out to dry when they clearly just lost to a better team.
Regardless, if the Flames can’t find players to step up given all the injuries, then those pre-season predictions will turn out to be accurate.