Saturday, January 10, 2009

Midway achievement assessments (because Achievement Awards are SO overdone)

Much was made of the Flames' 0-6 record against the San Jose Sharks, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks before the big 5-2 dismantling of San Jose this past week. And it was fair enough — the only other Flames win over another team in the league that would be considered in the elite was a 3-2 win over Boston at home on Oct. 30.

But for all those early troubles against good teams, the Flames have, primarily, done what they've had to in compiling a 41-game record that leaves them on pace for a 108-point season, and is seemingly still improving. This is a team that's overachieved — to the expectations of most of its blogging community, anyway.

So, to the halfway point, how has each member of the team performed against my expectations?

OVERACHIEVED
• Todd Bertuzzi
• Rene Bourque
• Curtis Glencross
• Eric Nystrom
• Brandon Prust
• Andre Roy
• Adam Pardy
• Wayne Primeau
• Adrian Aucoin
• David Moss

That's a big group of players to have played better than expectations, even if only two regularly play in your Top 6 forwards, and one in your Top 4 defencemen. (And if one, Bertuzzi, is playing against expectations that for me were perhaps at an historic low.) Aucoin has been a surprise revelation paired with Robyn Regehr. While perhaps not the perfect partner for the Flames' best defenceman, he's been anything but a liability in the position for the past 20 games.

ABOUT RIGHT
• Miikka Kiprusoff
• Dustin Boyd
• Daymond Langkow
• Cory Sarich
• Mark Giordano
• Mike Cammalleri
• Curtis McElhinney
• Robyn Regehr
• Craig Conroy
• Jim Vandermeer

For all the chatting we've done about other contracts this year, Daymond Langkow's ongoing excellence — and recent hot streak — have outed his $4M/yr deal as a crazy-ass bargain. For me, I didn't expect much different after recent years — he doesn't seem like the kind of guy to "slow down." It's unfortunate that we all basically expect an average performance out of Miikka Kiprusoff now, but fortunate that the Flames can play this well with that being the case.

UNDERACHIEVED
• Jarome Iginla
• Dion Phaneuf
• Matthew Lombardi

The fact that the Flames' two highest-paid, and best, skaters are on this small list may be perhaps the biggest reason for optimism about Calgary's second half. It's hard to believe that Jarome Iginla won't start taking over games that matter. At least, I haven't seen anything in the first 41 that makes me think he's anything but in a funk with his timing and without the right linemates.

As for Phaneuf? He's still a young player, he's still being asked to do absolutely everything, he's still wearing a letter for the first time as a pro and he's still being distracted by Kim Bauer. All these things will pass, and those big-old one timers and open ice hits will return.

When it comes to Matthew Lombardi, my expectations have now been diminished. This isn't, I stress, necessarily a horrendous thing. Would we all love it if he became a 70- or 80-point scoring centre? Yes. But what he's become — a reliable, fast, defensive forward who can occasionally chip in offensively — is a valuable asset as his price point. I'll take it.

2 comments:

awildermode said...

i had to google "Kim Bauer", since i have never seen one episode of 24. i though dion found a new 'linemate'

Rob said...

JACK BAUER!

Nice post Duncan, you really hit home the fact that many of our successes this season come from a plethora of young players that aren't paid outrageous sums of money. Lots of heart.