Thursday, January 28, 2010

Flames Commentary and Other Notes

Well people, it's not getting any prettier. For those who may not follow along in the hockey world, my beloved Flames are mired in the worst losing streak in 8 years! We have now gone winless in 8 straight games and lost 9 of our last 10. Our offence has gone completely anemic and our players look like they have no confidence in themselves at all. So I know what some of you are thinking (at least the hockey fans). How could this happen? How is a team that should be among the leagues elite, on paper anyway; struggling so much. With our level of talent, how have things gone so bad?

Well let me give you my two cents on the subject. First off, this is not a problem with the coach, or the general manager. This is solely owned by the players folks. Brent Sutter is a good coach, and his system of play works, and produces winners. New Jersey was able to do it two years in a row. That team had players who had career years under Brent's tutelage. The fact of the matter is, there is a problem in that locker room and it rests in the minds of those players. It's unfortunate, because this year Mikka Kipprusoff is having a career year. His goal tending is the best it's been in years, and his teammates aren't taking advantage of it. They are hanging him out to dry night in and night out. Our defensive play at best has been inconsistent, and our offence, as I said before has gone stone cold. Now, I've heard grumblings that the problem is Iginla, he is our top scorer, and he's not scoring, and when he doesn't score, the team doesn't win. I have a problem with that train of thought. Iginla is a proven sniper, and still in my mind; the best power forward in the league. However, for the last couple of years he hasn't been given much help. This year, he is the only legitimate offensive threat the Calgary Flames have. He doesn't have any teammates who can step up and provide a real threat of secondary scoring. The other teams know this. They know that all they have to do is shut Iginla down, and they have the best chance at winning the game. That is why he was in an 11 game scoring drought (it ended last night with a goal in Dallas). He needs a top flight centerman to team up with, who can feed him the puck. A guy who can offer a bonified secondary scoring threat, to take pressure off Iginla. Langkow isn't it. He's a third line center, second line at best. Conroy is nearing the end of his career, and isn't effective anymore, and Jokinen? More like JOKE-inen. He's been a total bust for a $5 million price tag. He's a second line center as well. I've been hearing fans screaming for a trade, well if there was ever a need for the Flames, a legitimate first line center is really the only move I think needs to be made. That would however come at a price. You'll have to look at giving up one of your top defencemen to acquire someone like that. I'm talking a Phaneuf or a Regher. Neither of which I would want to give up. So it goes back to what I was saying before. This problem lies squarely on the shoulders of the players. They have to break themselves out of this. They need to get back to playing smart, effective, physical hockey. I know they are capable of it, I've seen it. Mentally though, I think they've lost their confidence, and I believe it's up to the leaders on that team to snap them out of it.

Now the hockey stats nerds, are forecasting that in the Western Conference, it'll take 93-96 points to make the 8th and final playoff spot. If Calgary were to achieve that in the 29 remaining games, it means we have to win 22, and at most lose 7. Can Calgary do it? Hey, it's been done before by other, less talented, teams. Here's hoping...