I picked a good game to go back to the Saddledome, and to take a $200 flyer on a new lucky jersey. Me and my red No. 12 Iginla took in the Flames and Avs last night, and it was a hell of a time. And not just because I finally got to try a Pocketdawg, which was EVEN BETTER than WI made it out to be.
Now, it's not that I wasn't aware that things look different in person, but I was amazed just HOW different the Flames looked from Section 209, Row 25, than they do from the couch in my den. Granted, this was a special case, the 4-1 win over the Avalanche being the Flames' best all-around performance of the season and all, but here's what I saw:
1. The Flames can play the trap well. The old 1-2-2 was in fine form last night, and turning everything Avalanche into turnovers and offensive opportunities. I might not have seen an NHL game before where a team was so thoroughly dominated. The entire second period looked like a Flames five-on-four.
There may actually be room for improvement here. I liked the shoot-it-from-anywhere mentality, but Budaj got a lot of saves from shots straight into his breadbasket or pads. Fire more pucks, and more will go in, probably on additional rebounds as much as anything. The Flames missed a lot of close-in chances.
2. Todd Bertuzzi is mad worse than I thought. This man is the f'ing definition of a floater, and is allowed to skate around and just try whatever pops into his brain, which I'm pretty sure is also growing whiskers.
It drives me absolutely nuts when an observer points at his counting numbers, or one of his great passes, and declares that makes him a great player. (Sorry, Dave.) He loses most battles along the boards, bails out on checks, and tries several low-percentage passes on every shift that often lead to turnovers and scoring-chances against. It's no wonder he's such a minus player.
Worst part is, guy CAN stickhandle and pass, and hit. He just chooses to play like a chump, and it looks like it's because he's lazy.
It is absolutely baffling to me that Sutter-Keenan think this is a good player, and it killed me that he was on the ice when it was still 2-1 Flames late. During the second-to-last power-play, after he flubbed an easy play, I yelled at the top of my lungs "Get Bertuzzi off the ice!" then, when he did the same thing 15 seconds later, "You're horrible!" Both exclamations brought confused looks from surrounding fans, who obviously just get mesmerized at the sight of No. 7 on the ice from memories of Joey Mullen.
(While were on guys who suck: The Avs' Tyler Arnason shows a similar disinterest for the game.)
3. The fans have turned on Sarich. Booed during player introductions. Probably warranted. He looked pretty good hidden with Pardy, though. Perhaps he has a future as a No. 6 defenceman with this team. The Flames do seem to specialize in overpaid third-pairing guys.
4. As WI pointed out to me in a text, Mark GIordano does look better in person. Smart, composed, and a pinpoint passer.
5. Adrian Aucoin really did have a good game. Robyn Regehr tends to make players look better than they are, but I'm game for having a player with a tad more offensive talent hang with Regehr and generate a few more chances.
6. Curtis Glencross, named third star, was also great. He's just a catalyst — he uses his speed well, plays a smart positional game, and generates chances with his energy.
7. And, one final observation of an individual player: Brandon Prust has a place in this lineup, I think. He doesn't look overmatched, he's fast, and he brings it hard on every shift. I'm convinced that the more time he spends playing against NHL players, the more he'll be qualified to play against anybody. Eric Nystrom looks better as well ... it really is beginning to look like there's legitimate forward depth on this team.
As this is one game, and in my last entry I advocated for the firing of Darryl Sutter (and by extension Mike Keenan), I'd like to temper my enthusiasm in six of these seven points by saying that this kind of game is going to need to be repeated on a very regular basis now, and that as much as I'd be thrilled to eat my blog entry, it's not like I haven't been watching the past couple of years.
Anyway, since you're all very concerned as to my feelings, I'll say that was some good times, and a good preview for the VERY EXCITING Flames visit to Leafsville in March.