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George Johnson, Calgary Herald
Published: Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Wikipedia informs us there many different types of thrashers.

The Pearly-Eyed Thrasher, for instance, is known in ornithological circles a margarops fuscatus, the Scaly-Breasted Thrasher, allenia fusca and the White-Breasted Thrasher, ramphocinclus brachyrus.

The species of Atlanta Thrasher spotted inside the Pengrowth Saddledome on Tuesday night has been tentatively indentified as the defensus screwupus.

Four shots, three goals past Kari Let-'em-in.

Three first-period Calgary power plays, an unassailable 3-0 Flames' lead.

"Awful, awful,'' muttered Bobby Holik. "That's the way we're playing now. Surprising? No. Nothing surprises us anymore. We knew they'd come out hard after their last game, in Detroit . . . and you saw what happened. Penalties, penalties, penalties.

"Right now, our complete game is non-existent. You do not have enough space in your column to describe how bad we are.''

Well, these little ditties usually ramble on around 850 words or so.

A morose shake of the head.

"No, no. That's not nearly enough.''

An ideal tonic, then, for the 7-4 Motor City mugging that had left the Flames' egos battered and bruised.

"We were bad on the road, and terrible in Detroit,'' said Calgary captain Jarome Iginla. "We wanted to get off to a quick start tonight, and we did.''

And, in doing so, the Thrash were trashed.

Not only did Atlanta take it on the chin figuratively. Eric Boulton tried to engage, but he wound up with strawberry jam oozing from his nose.

Then, at one point, weary of seeing Eric Godard's right fist in perpetual closeup and 3D, he actually motioned to the nearest linesman to step in and stop the carnage.

Jim Slater, meanwhile, judiciously declined Wayne Primeau's invitation to tango.

Yes, a long, hurtful night for the Thrashers.

"The game against the Oilers and this one . . . we weren't very good,'' sighed coach Bob Hartley. "Bad decisions, bad reads. Obviously, we didn't start the game the way that we were hoping for. The first three penalties were totally unnecessary.''

Ah, but to the Flames, they were like a drowning man breaking the surface of the water and pulling in three great gulps of air.

"Our power play moved the puck around really well in the first period,'' said Iginla. "Lanks made a great tip on that first one, but we set it up well, too. On his second, Juice makes a great play and on mine, it's all Connie. We put ourselves in good positions to make passes and take shots.

"And we were skating. When we skate, we draw penalties. We score that first one on the power play and then we draw the second penalty, and you can hear them grumbling on their bench. That's what happens. We've been there, too, believe me.

"I thought we also came out and set the tone physically. When we do those two things -- skate and hit -- we're playing the way we want to.''

Tellingly, Calgary's best players made mincemeat of Atlanta's big gunners.

Ilya Kovalchuk may have been listed on the lineup sheet, but nobody could verify that by anything he did on the ice. Marian Hossa skeedaddled behind Dion Phaneuf to test Miikka Kiprusoff on a short-handed breakaway try, but other than that was largely held in check. Vyacheslav Kozlov didn't get a sniff.

In contrast, Daymond Langkow hit for goals 23 and 24 of his career season. Iginla, his 25th and two helpers. The ever-patient, inexhaustibly creative Kristian Huselius, a couple of assists. Craig Conroy, too. And Alex Tanguay finished 1-and-1.

In building that first-period advantage, the Flames left Atlanta's confidence, already shaky having lost 5-1 at Skyreach on Sunday, in tatters.

Completely unnoticed two feet outside the blue paint, Langkow stabs a knee-high Dion Phaneuf shot behind Lehtonen at 2:59 with Jon Sim incarcerated. Calgary's first shot, naturally. Conroy, standing to the side of the Atlanta net, spots Iginla wedged between backchecking Brad Larsen and D-man Nicklas Havlid, and the captain's rapier-like release does the rest. Greg deVries condemned to solitary confinement on that one.

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