MONTREAL – Calgary Flames coach Mike Keenan didn’t seem overly upset with his team Tuesday after a 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, but he was definitely angry at the officiating tandem of Chris Rooney and Paul Devorski.
Keenan sounded off for what he felt was a missed call on star defenceman Dion Phaneuf, who was hit with what looked to be an incidental knee-on-knee hit from Habs defenceman Andrei Markov at 18:06 of the third period.
Phaneuf was skating along the boards in the Canadiens end when he cut toward the middle of the ice and Markov caught him with a knee.
Markov was jumped by Curtis Glencross and a general scrum ensued, and he was assessed a tripping minor for the hit on Phaneuf.
“That’s what’s so frustrating,” Keenan said. “They call a couple of lame penalties, for example like they did against Cory Sarich, and then they miss a flagrant knee. A flagrant knee. I don’t understand it. They’re supposed to be experienced officials who can’t or shouldn’t miss calls like that.”
Phaneuf refused comment on the hit, saying he hadn’t seen the replay. But his captain Jarome Iginla felt it was more than a simple trip.
“I’m not sure he meant to knee him, but from our point of view it was a little borderline,” Iginla said. “It definitely got the emotions going.”
Markov said he was simply trying to stop Phaneuf and it was the sudden nature of his move that led to the contact with the knee.
“I tried to make a good hit, I don’t know what happened,” Markov said. “He tried to go to the middle and I hit him.”
Phaneuf wasn’t injured on the play, and Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau cited his record of delivering crushing blows to opponents over the course of his career.
“Nobody wants to see injuries, but hitting is part of the game,” Carbonneau said. “The last time I saw some hits that Phaneuf put on guys, he doesn’t back down either.”
The game was the first time Canadiens winger Alex Tanguay was playing his former team, and when asked what he thought of the line he formed with Alex Kovalev and Robert Lang, Keenan was brief.
“Not much,” he said before walking away.
Iginla, however, credited the line for giving the Flames headaches throughout the game and producing three goals.
“Kovalev and Tanguay were flying with Lang,” he said. “They got some timely goals, they were going.”
The loss snapped a Flames two-game win streak to start this tough four-game road swing which finishes with a game in Detroit on Wednesday night, but it was still only Calgary’s fourth loss in 12 games.
That was of little solace to Phaneuf, who had trouble accepting the Flames level of effort.
“We played OK, but it wasn’t a good enough effort overall to win a hockey game against a very skilled team that can put the puck in the net when you give up opportunities like we did tonight,” he said. “It was a big game for our team and we did not get points that were very important to us.
“It’s such a tight race you’ve got to win hockey games or get points every night, and we did not do that tonight.”