Sunday, November 29, 2009

About blogging from Toronto, then some actual Flames stuff on Jokinen and Phaneuf

The price I pay for being a Flames fan in Toronto is higher than the $229 per year I pay for Centre Ice. I also lose a lot of sleep, because games rarely start before 9 p.m. And, as a result of not having other fans to watch games with, I've taken to PVRing the things and watching late, late into the night, not live, and urging hometown friends like WI to NOT TEXT ME ANYTHING ABOUT THE RESULT. And, of course, because I'm not watching live, I'm not participating in the game thread over at Matchsticks and Gasoline, which is usually where I get my motivation to write.

Anyway, oddly, my motivation today is the Stampeders-less Grey Cup I'm sitting through. So, I'm here now, and I have a couple of thoughts past the rare nugget I throw into comments at the various quality Flames blogging locations that I frequent:

1. Four games ago, I yelled at the TV for the first time this year, and did it several times, always at Olli Jokinen. I went to bed grumbling, wondering how this was ever going to work out. Then, the last three games, it's like he realized he'd better mix some good plays in with the bad if he ever wants another NHL contract. (Perhaps WI should take credit.)

I still suspect this is a temporary dip into the pool of respectability, but something that has me quite chuffed is that his biggest improvement has been in the field of "vision." The pass to Boyd last night on the 3-2 goal against Columbus was, frankly, phenomenal. As was the rush on the play at the end of the Anaheim game (the one where I was yelling at him), where he knew Jarome Iginla was going to be in the slot on the tying goal, and found him with a perfect pass.

He's doing a lot of this in crucial moments as well. So: Keep it up, big guy! And, if you don't, I'll still get a kick out of calling you Sex Panther.

2. About a month ago, I noticed that Dion Phaneuf no longer had an "A" on his uniform, anywhere. Last year he had it at home and on the road, and to start this year he was wearing it at home at handing it over on the road. The guy wearing it now, of course, is Jay Bouwmeester. I can't say this is a surprise, given the clear division of skills and maturity between the two players, but I think it also says a lot about how the Sutters are seeing the future. And I think it's a lot like Matt sees it. (Update: The Flames say this is about expanding the leadership group, and Craig Conroy says Phaneuf is fine with it.)

I've long argued here that the Flames ought not give up on Phaneuf's potential, and I'm pleased that he's showed clear improvement this year under Brent Sutter and Ryan McGill. I also know that teams like the Detroit Red Wings do well with more than one star-level-paid defenceman. But I didn't know, till he got to Calgary, what a crazy talent Jay Bouwmeester really is.

He does make Phaneuf expendable.


walkinvisible said...

re: the "A" --

while iggy's C and regehr's A are permanent, brent had a chat with dion at the start of the season and they agreed that the second A would "float."

dion and langks shared it in oct. this month it's jaybouw & conny. sarich (if healthy) and olli will wear it in december... hopefully that brings some good juju to the joker.

ps: if i had any interest whatsoever in football, i would suggest that the end of that game was pretty exciting. i wonder who the extra man on the field was, and how bad he feels right now....

duncan said...

Well. Missed that altogether. Thanks. All the same, still think it's important that they decided to move it in the first place.

mikeH said...

As the third comment among "ourselves" (as I have recently qualified), I still need to fast forward through the game to see who screwed it up for the Rider Nation.

Three theories so far (from being at the game, and before watching tape or reading anything at all):

1) Some coach screwed up and sent an extra player in (ergo a coach gets fired),

2) The fans were so noisy that the special teams couldn't figure out who was supposed to be out there and couldn't get the communication straight, or

3) Gainer was the extra man on the field.

Personally, I saw Gainer at centre field well before the stripes had figured out the call. Still, I'd personally like to believe that the, "13th man caused the 13th man." Truth is very often stranger than fiction and rider fans are kind of asking for it.

Required hockey content: O.J. get's paid too much for his weak production. The "floating A" is a great idea, particularly because I don't think Dion deserves it. And now that football is over I plan to rehabilitate my liver by watching some sober hockey and possibly writing some sober posts.

awildermode said...

i am not qualified, but i want to be fourth in commenting. ;) you guys ROCK!