No matter what adjective you use to describe the Flames' effort last night, there can't be any excuses or anything positive to come from their Game 5 pasting by the Blackhawks.
Mike Keenan admitted after the game that his team was not prepared, and took the blame for it. This game was certainly the same as every other game I have seen where I have been shaken my head at Keenan's coaching. Falling behind by three goals early and quickly? Check. Getting outplayed in every facet of the game? Check. Not calling a timeout? Check. His only coaching answer being to pull Miikka Kiprusoff? Check. I have seen this game too many times, and there is absolutely no excuse for keeping the outdated Keenan behind the bench if the Flames do not win Games 6 and 7. I could only laugh at the futility of Keenan calling a timeout in the third period, down 5-1 with a two man advantage. They followed the timeout with the powerplay which managed to disgust me a little more again, as they do every game. I would pay to see what horrific strategy Rich Preston maps out during these timeouts.
In all fairness, Kiprusoff was not good last night. He seemed slow on the second goal (may have been the third goal, correct me if I'm wrong) picking up a rebound bounce from the boards, and the fourth goal he allowed, which came just after Dustin Boyd had gotten the Flames within two, was an indisputable soft goal. But just like almost every other bad game by Kiprusoff, the team in front of him did absolutely nothing to show that they deserved the win either.
The Flames go into Game 6 at home with their season on the line. Losing this series means a lot of very serious questions in the offseason. One of them that should be addressed if they lose – the outdated and inefficient coaching – was highlighted tonight. It was the worst playoff game I have seen the Flames play since the slaughter that was the 2007 first round series against Detroit.
(It's not that I think the players are blameless. Jarome Iginla also admitted he was awful – 1 shot on goal and a -3 – and next to no players on the Flames could brag about their performance. It's just that, as I've said, I've seen this game too many times for me to blame it completely on the players. Mike Keenan's knee jerk reaction of yanking his goaltender, which has successfully rallied the team ONCE in two seasons – in that situation it was more a gigantic hit than a goaltending switch which turned around the game – is emblematic of his outdated coaching style, as is, in part, the fundamentally wrong power play. I wish Keenan could elaborate on how the team was unprepared for this game, considering the momentum they had going in. )
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Written by Alex Hamilton