The Calgary Flames erupted for seven goals on Wednesday night against the Dallas Stars in a convincing 7-4 victory over a team in playoff contention. Mike Cammalleri added an empty-net goal to notch a hat trick, while Jarome Iginla produced two assists in the offensive explosion. Still, the Flames were sloppy at times, capitalizing on the fatigue of the Dallas Stars and the poor performance of their backup goaltender, Richard Bachman, to come away with a great win.
While it is nice to see the Calgary Flames offense produce, particularly when led by big-name stars like Iginla and Cammalleri, Wednesday’s win was far from perfect. The pedestrian offense of the Dallas Stars scored four goals on Leland Irving, two of which came on the power play. Despite scoring seven goals, the Calgary Flames let the Dallas Stars remain competitive through the third period. While Irving made 30 saves on the night, the goaltending struggles of the Calgary Flames continued on Wednesday, and the failures of the penalty kill kept the Stars in the game.
As Irving continues to fill in for an injured Miikka Kiprusoff, the Calgary Flames have an excellent opportunity to evaluate their 24-year old, 1st-round draft pick in 2006. If Irving is indeed the goalie-in-waiting to replace Kiprusoff, he must be sharper going forward. Still, in a gritty performance, Irving shut down a persistent five-on-five attack and held off the Stars in a shut-down effort through the third period, so there was good and bad in his start.
Obviously, the penalty kill needs to be sharper. Further, the Calgary Flames cannot afford to take seven penalties in a single game if they are going to battle back into playoff contention. With trade interest in players like Jarome Iginla at an all-time high, the Flames need to decide if they’ll contend this year.
Though games like Wednesday’s give hope for an unlikely playoff push, it still seems unlikely that pushing forward with the roster as it is currently constructed is in the best interest of the Calgary Flames.