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Monday, December 30, 2013

Flames History of Offensive Futility at Home

Calgary isn't in unprecedented territory quite yet. Being shut out twice in a row on home ice is something that has happened four times previously before the 2013-14 edition of the Flames completed the feat Sunday night with a 2-0 setback to the Vancouver Canucks.

However, having gone 125 minutes and five seconds since Mark Giordano's dramatic game-tying goal against the St. Louis Blues at 19:55 of the third period in Calgary's 4-3 shootout win on Dec. 23, they're certainly closing in on making some dubious team history.

Longest Stretch Without a Goal at the Dome

The record for offensive futility on home ice is 186 minutes and 39 seconds, a streak mercifully ended by Czech defenceman Petr Buzek on Nov. 21, 2002. As some longtime fans may remember, Buzek beat Edmonton Oilers goaltender Tommy Salo after being set-up on the play by Flames assistant coach Martin Gelinas. It was one of only four career goals for Buzek in his short tenure with the team.

If the Flames were to get shut out in regulation again by the Philadelphia Flyers on New Year's Eve, that would leave them less than two minutes shy of the record. Their chance at making history would then come against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.

Most Recent Stretch of Two Home Games Without a Goal

Interestingly, this one has a Miikka Kiprusoff angle to it. On Nov. 4 and 7, 2003, Calgary suffered identical 3-0 losses to Detroit and Minnesota. It was nine days after the loss to the Wild that Coach and General Manager Darryl Sutter pulled the trigger on a trade with the San Jose Sharks that brought Kiprusoff to the Flames and ultimately rejuvenated and changed the course of the organization.

At the time of the deal, the Flames were in 14th place in the Western Conference, ahead of only the Columbus Blue Jackets. They ended up sixth to make the playoffs where they beat the Vancouver Canucks to get out of the first round for the first time since 1989, and then went three more rounds before ultimately losing in game seven of the Stanley Cup to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Also notable about that Nov. 7 loss to Minnesota - the last home game before the Kipper era began, was that it was a time when fan interest in the Flames had become dangerously low.

It seems like a long, long time ago given the Flames have been announcing sell-out crowds of 19,289 seemingly forever, but back on that Friday night against Minnesota when Dwayne Roloson shut out Jamie McLennan, the attendance at the Saddledome that night was just 13,839.

Last Time Shut Out Two Games in a Row - Home or Away

These last two games is the first time in five years that the team has gone two games in a row without scoring a goal. The last time the Flames were blanked in consecutive games was Mar. 25 and 29, 2009. Coached at the time by Mike Keenan, both of those games were on the road. A 2-0 loss in Pittsburgh was followed up by a 5-0 defeat in Columbus.

Worst Stretch of Offensive Futility Ever?

Talk about your 'dead puck' era. How about this for a horrible stretch for the Flames. I wouldn't blame long-time fans if they have erased this two weeks from their memory banks. These 15 days of ugliness featured a meager three goals in seven games. It happened during the 2002-03 season with Greg Gilbert as head coach -- although he would be fired 10 days later.

Nov. 7 - 1-0 loss (OT) at NYR
Nov. 9 - 3-0 loss at Fla
Nov. 11 - 2-1 loss at Atl
Nov. 14 - 2-1 loss vs NYR
Nov. 16 - 1-0 loss vs Stl
Nov. 19 - 5-0 loss vs Det
Nov. 21 - 3-1 loss vs Edm

Another historic footnote to this stretch is right in the middle -- on Nov. 15, sandwiched after the loss to the Rangers and prior to the loss to the Blues, Flames General Manager Craig Button traded disgruntled centre Marc Savard to Atlanta for Ruslan Zainullin. Who?  Exactly. Zainullin never surfaced in North America although he will be forever remembered because of this deal in which he was acquired for a player that would go on to score over 500 points for the Thrashers and then Boston Bruins before injuries forced him into early retirement.

Back When Home-Ice Shutouts Were Rare

There's been two shut outs in the span of three days for the Flames. Compare that with the high-scoring glory days for this team in the late 80s and early 90s when in one stretch, Calgary went four full seasons without being shut out on home ice.

After Bill Ranford and the Boston Bruins blanked the Flames on Oct. 26, 1986, Calgary scored at least one goal in 224 straight regular season games at the Saddledome before Dominic Roussel of the Philadelphia Flyers pitched a zero on Feb. 27, 1992.

Recap: Home Ice Futility Streaks

Here is a closer look at the five sets of consecutive shutouts that have happened at the Saddledome, how long the shutout streak was and other pertinent information. Never before have the Flames been blanked in three consecutive games (home or away).

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Season: 2013-14
Dates: Dec. 27 & 29, 2013
Coach: Bob Hartley
Scores: 2-0 loss to Edmonton, 2-0 loss to Vancouver
Last goal before: Mark Giordano at 19:55 of third of 4-3 shootout win over St. Louis on Dec. 23, 2013
Goal that ended it: TBD
Span: Currently at 125 minutes and 5 seconds

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Season: 2003-04
Dates: Nov. 4 & 7, 2003
Coach: Darryl Sutter
Scores: 3-0 loss to Detroit, 3-0 loss to Minnesota
Last goal before: Shean Donovan at 17:41 of third of 3-0 win over Columbus on Nov. 1, 2003
Goal that ended it: Steve Reinprecht at 14:20 of the first in 3-2 OT win over Toronto on Nov. 18, 2003
Span: 136 minutes and 39 seconds

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Season: 2002-03
Dates: Nov. 16 & 19, 2002
Coach: Greg Gilbert
Scores: 1-0 loss to St. Louis, 5-0 loss to Detroit
Last goal before: Jarome Iginla at 19:21 of first in 2-1 loss to New York Rangers on Nov. 14, 2002
Goal that ended it: Peter Buzek at 6:00 of the second of 3-1 loss to Edmonton on Nov. 21, 2002
Span: 186 minutes and 39 seconds
Notes: Gilbert was fired less than two weeks after these two games -- with Calgary on four game-losing streak and having lost 11 of 12 (see above note). He was replaced by Al MacNeil on an interim basis. Later that season, Darryl Sutter was hired.

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Season: 2001-02
Dates: Jan. 24 & 26, 2002
Coach: Greg Gilbert
Scores: 2-0 loss to Colorado, 2-0 loss to Vancouver
Last goal before: Dave Lowry at 12:22 of first in 6-1 loss to Toronto on Jan. 22, 2002
Goal that ended it: Marc Savard at 18:21 of first in 4-3 win over Detroit on Jan. 30, 2002
Span: 185 minutes and 59 seconds

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Season: 2000-01
Dates: Mar. 29 & 31, 2001
Coach: Greg Gilbert
Scores: 1-0 loss to Colorado, 2-0 loss to Dallas
Last goal before: Valeri Bure at 1:30 of the third in 3-0 win over Columbus on Mar. 27, 2001
Goal that ended it: Oleg Saprykin at 15:57 of first in 3-2 loss to Los Angeles on Apr. 7, 2001
Span: 154 and 27 seconds
Notes: Head coach Don Hay was fired in mid-March and was replaced by Greg Gilbert. Gilbert had been on the job for only eights games when these two blankings too place.



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