Calgary deserves their slot atop the Northwest Division. They have lots of skill, speed and know how to handle time and situation. We challenged them for 20 minutes, but failed to cash in on the opportunities and allowed Calgary to control the pace from the mid-second period on.
A bad omen when a normally harmless rebound is kicked by a falling player, bouncing right to Iginla. Down 1 - 0 45 seconds in. We then turned up the heat, and did a great job of possessing the puck in the offensive zone, but could not solve Kiprusoff or hit open nets. The Torres miss was a killer -- put that puck away and the whole game changes. Two goals that Mason had no chance on in the second, and Calgary went into shut it down mode. Game over.
Simply stated, the Jackets did not make plays when they needed to. Shots from the point did not get through. Pucks in the crease did not find our sticks. Defensemen were not strong on the puck and were slow to react. Calgary's second and third goals were the direct result of Hejda being slow to react. On Phaneuf's shot, Hejda is standing right there, ready to block it, and fans on it, succeeding only is screening Mason. The cross-ice pass to Cammaleri was the same thing. Hejda had his head down and was slow to react. Mase almost made a phenomenal save, but couldn't do it.
+/- for the night:
+ First Period -- We took it to them after an opening bit of misfortune, and dominated every facet of the game, although we were technically outhit. Umberger's goal was a gem, and we created a bunch of opportunities. We controlled the tempo. Even after the second period, we had more opportunities and had limited their shots.
+ Players -- Umberger, Huselius, Voracek, Russell, Methot, Williams all played consistently well. Russell and Methot were the only reason we could get the puck out of our own zone.
--Finishing -- We could have taken the game by storm in the first, but failed to take advantage. Need more shots from Juice and Voracek. Torres has to finish that opportunity. Dorsett, Boll, Murray, Chimera, Torres showed energy in spots, but are not consistently displaying the ability to finish.
--Defense -- For the first time in a long time, Hejda and Tyutin were poor. As noted above, Hejda had a direct role in the two second period goals, and was generally weak on the puck and unable to move things along. Tyutin was similarly weak on the puck in our own zone, and mishandled several pucks at the blue line on the power play. We gave Iginla and company way too much space.
--Special Teams -- We needed to take advantage of the penalties and failed to do it. We are spending too much time in moving our feet, and not enough time in moving the puck.
We lost to a very good team tonight, but we could have won it. We were not run out of the arena -- we just lost the battles.
No time for post mortems, as the two most important games of the trip lie ahead. We remain in 6th place, but now have only a 1 point edge over Anaheim, Minnesota, Edmonton and Dallas. All but Dallas have a game or more in hand on us. However, those teams also have brutal schedules down the stretch.
Our defense has to get back to playing Hitch Hockey, and our forwards need to show up across the board, for 60 minutes. If we do that, we will be fine.