Saturday, March 28, 2009

flames v. wild: CRAZY

i'm pretty sure, by looking at the scores, that i picked a stellar week to be too busy with work to watch hockey. nary a goal for in two games ??! ouch. that is not a good stat for a defensively challenged team...

i think the thing that upsets me the most, though, is that keenan has proved himself to be technically insane. einstein defined crazy as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." i'm sure the textbook definition is more complicated but the bottom line is that playing kipper in both games of a back-to-back has not worked all year, and a different strategy is IMPERATIVE at this point. poor Qmac. he really needs to be given the start in game 1, instead of being expected to save game 2 once it's already well out of hand.

oh, and beyond goaltending, the highly-touted elite forwards need to put the puck in the net. AT LEAST once a game...

the team's identity is obviously faltering, and this is precisely what my fear was going into the trade deadline. i'm not sure why, but the calgary flames don't seem to deal very well with big changes. it happened after the ference/kobasew trade, and it seems to be happening now. i'm not sure how else to explain the plummeting productivity from all of the flames' top guys (iginla, phaneuf, regehr, kiprusoff). admittedly, they were all on the decline (regehr aside, of course) but they are now just another handful of guys in flaming Cs who are struggling game in and game out. i'm really not sure how we got here.

the bad news is that vancouver is a team on the rise, and i wouldn't be remotely surprised to see calgary lose its hold on top spot in the NW before the end of the weekend. of course, the good news is that the team that wins the NW will probably end up meeting columbus in the first round. currently, i'm thinking that's a death sentence....

anyhow. the flames play the wild at home in the tonight and i can't imagine a better matchup to help boost our boys' confidence. we've had our way with them consistently this season, and played well all year in the comforts of the 'dome. i expect a win.

fingers crossed.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

a love letter to the phoenix coyotes

(you knew this was coming....)

dear beloved desert dogs

i am writing to thank you and congratulate you on embarassing the vancouver canucks last night. you proved that they can be pretty decent in the garage but as soon as they don the whites, they forget how to play hockey...

that tikhonov goal was something of legend; letting the opposition think they're gonna gain some ground on a delayed penalty call (by getting an extra skater on the ice), then taking advantage of the empty net and the wording of the nhl rulebook? letter perfect... did gretzky come up with that play ??? also, that lombardi goal was mighty pretty... you must really love those new young'uns...

anyhow. i really appreciate your efforts last night. sorry about bryzgalov losing his shutout in the final frame.

anyhow, take good care this summer ---say hey to matty for me... tell him we miss him a ton up here in flamesville... especially on the PK....


Saturday, March 21, 2009

doomsday post: aka: i'm scared

i've been pretty quiet lately cause i keep thinking that all the things i want to say are negative and i don't want to be a naysayer... but here's a few things i've had rolling around in the ol'noggin for a while...

- the flames have been losing a lot of games they should be winning. it seems like all the folks around the streets and on the web want to think that bertuzzi and bourque coming back will magically turn this team into a stanley cup winner. personally, i'm not convinced... bertuzzi might add a bit offensively, yes, but his defensive skills (or lack thereof) have the potential of making the second line as liable as the first... this is NOT good news. as for bourque, sure the kid is GOOD, but are we perhaps expecting a bit too much from a first-time twenty goal scorer who will be returning from a major injury ?? while i look forward to his re-insertion in the lineup, i'm skeptical that he will be the instant saviour of a tanking hockey club...

- dion phaneuf has quietly looked "not quite right" all season. speculation has gone from possible injury to being overplayed, right down the line through big-contract disinterest, "EA coverboy" curse, and his starlet girlfriend being a chi-vampiress. currently, as duncan mentions below, he's looking not only like he's lost his fundamentals, but also his confidence, and his on-ice minutes are reflecting it. one can only hope there's a magic salve but realistically dion version 08/09 is here to stay.... which hardly bodes well for a lengthy playoff run.

- further examination of the blueline is as disheartening. at least last year, anders eriksson was the only real liability (with andrei zyuzin being the goat the year before). this year we have to put up with regular "bad nights" from any/all of the defensive corps. i honestly do not understand, for the life of me, why jim playfair still has a job. i mean, when the heck does he get taken to task for the six or seven players underperforming on his watch ???

- further examination of the coaching staff in its entirety is, possibly, MORE disheartening. with all the talk of this team having "secondary scoring," i was disgusted that mike keenan left jokinen, iginla, and cammalleri on the ice for nearly THREE MINUTES at the end of the toronto game. additionally, keeping vandermeer in the place of pardy (and on the ice in the final minutes when down a goal) seems like an overestimation of his skills, to me. there is a significant under-use of moss and boyd, and i'm still shaking my head about the dvdg demotion...

- has anyone else noticed how godawful the PK has gotten since the departure of lombardi ?? it might have been on a decline prior to that but i'm just sayin'....

the bottom line is that we are now, essentially, one point ahead of vancouver for the division lead. i would not be surprised whatsoever to have that margin usurped in the next day or two, and i think the current slumping flambés will be hard-pressed to get it back.

remember december ?? that was way more fun...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Whoops! Bit of a letdown there, eh?

Well-deserved boos from an uncharacteristically Montrealish crowd at the end of that 3-2 loss to the Blues. That's a hugely crappy third-period performance by the Flames against a team playing its sixth period in two nights.

Especially when the two breakdowns that led to your goals against in the final frame came off a horrible shift from your first line, and an embarrassingly bad goal allowed by your No. 1 goaltender. Kiprusoff has to have that puck along the ice.

Similarly, Keenan has to make sure Jim Vandermeer and Cory Sarich are nowhere near the ice in the last two minutes, and Jordan Leopold has to learn how to pass the puck along the blue-line when his goaltender is pulled in the final 60 seconds.

Other things I noticed tonight:

• Andy McDonald: What a player. The Ducks would love to have that guy right now.
• Dion Phaneuf: Still looking awfully sad for a $6.5 million player. Now he's lost his fundamentals AND his confidence.
• A one-off CBC show called "Easton Meets West": It's about "a Toronto-born family that moves to Calgary next door to tried-and-true westerners"? It's reverse Duncan — I totally PVR'd that shit after tuning in for a few minutes during intermission. Hilarious! Alas, whether it's good or not, it's done.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Good news, bad news

From Inside the Flames: Bourque, Bertuzzi skate

Good game last night, well-deserved win, looks like a team that's practised for a few days.

Also, Dallas: BORING.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

flames v. stars: pessimism v. realism

somebody told me the other day i'm a total pessimist. i prefer to think of myself as a total realist. the problem being that i KNOW the flames suck in the first period, that they can't seem to win a game with Qmac in net, they're awful in the back to backs and they've almost burned through a ten point lead in the northwest division; losing a bunch of winnable games while vancouver seems to have forgotten how to add numbers in the "L" column.

but i will admit that the only reason i think we're gonna lose tonight is because i'm being entirely pessimistic. dallas should, for all intents and purposes, be a tired squad after a very hard-played (and, i might add, hard-lost) game to the dirty 'nucks last night in the garage. add in some late night travel and/or lost gameday practice time, and the boys from dallas should probably get thoroughly destroyed tonight in the 'dome....

but i really don't think they will. i think they'll come out hard and score a couple in the first, and calgary will try but won't be able to rally back by the end of the third....

here's to hoping i'm wrong.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

tuesday practice: meh

i got up early today to attend the morning skate, when i realized that it wasn't until 2pm... so i set off doing a whole bunch of other stuff and ended up being late.... typical. ;)

i'm thoroughly amused by the fact that i've spent countless hours on the saddledome's second tier watching the rookies/prospects and training camp sessions but i've never bothered to attend an actual practice until today... well, now i know why: there was nothing really to note whatsoever...

i suppose that's a lie, i had my eye squarely on rhett warrener, who is not only practicing but giving and receiving hits (nothing major, but no third-colour jersey to dictate "hands off"). he's definitely a step behind, but i wouldn't be totally shocked to see him crack the lineup before the season's end (cap space permitting ---i don't know the rules after the deadline). as i've noted in the comments on various sites, this prospect does not make me a very happy WI. his current defensive play involves very little man-taking and a whole lotta stickwork (read: own-goals and tripping/hooking calls). not comforting...

other than that, vandermeer looks like the slowest guy out there, dion is hands-down the loudest, and everybody else seemed about as happy to be there as ME. i'm not sure why i find jordan leopold so totally invisible, or why every move jamie lundmark makes catches my eye. the drills they were doing seemed rote and without urgency, and included a heckuva lot of sloppy passes... keenan et al also seemed rather bored... perhaps it's because i have nothing to compare it to but this did was not the kind of practice i'd imagined would occur the day before a game, when there's a team on their heels in the playoff race...

it's scary, a little.

hopefully there was a lot of video-watching and Xs and Os on a whiteboard in the past couple of days, cause none of that was apparent here....


Monday, March 16, 2009

sunday feedback: monday again

i actually wrote this on sunday morning, but i didn't want anyone to miss duncan's entry (see below), since it's such a rarity to see him post anything....
[OF COURSE this is just an elbow to the ribs, duncan, you do good work man.].

so here it is: sunday feedback on monday AGAIN.

last week's poll was an attempt to gauge the general consensus about the jokinen trade, and i'm actually pretty excited about the results:
68% YAY / 31% NAY. what makes this exciting, of course, is that now i have comparison numbers for the season's end when i ask it again... or around this time next year when we adore him/can't stand him.

jokinen was the flames' best guy on saturday in the ACC, while the majority of the team (the defence, especially) took turns stinking up the joint. it was an embarassment, the likes of which i haven't seen in awhile ---and i watched the atlanta game !!! ;) i remember the days the flames could score six goals and win handily ???? these days, if the C's have six goals FOR, it's hardly the time for smiles and excitement... it's the time to sheepishly find out how many goals AGAINST....

but while the finger can be pointed at the coaching staff, all six blueliners, the forward corps, AND the goaltender (i give Qmac a 'get out of jail free' card on this one), apparently dion phaneuf needs a refresher course on what his job entails, as he commented on his team's erratic play in toronto:
“They’ve got a lot of skill up front. A lot of speed coming out of the corners. They threw pucks to the net all night. When you throw pucks to the net, it’s difficult to defend, and they came out on top.”

-dion phaneuf in the flames insider (calgary herald)

uhhh.... sorry, WHAT ????????

that is the biggest cop-out response to a media question i've maybe ever heard in professional sports.

allow me to debunk:

1. toronto absolutely does NOT have a "lot of skill up front". they've got a handful of guys with speed who can score ("fast and with moves" ?). and by handful, i mean that you can PROBABLY count blake, ponikarovsky, grabovski, and stajan (maybe) in that pack. beyond that, they've got the "burke blue collar guys" up front, one or two of whom might be considered to have a decent skill level (mitchell, mayers, stempniak). the remainder of the roster was filled with with AHL call-up/4th line plugger types.

2. the last time i checked, calgary's entire philosophy is based on hard work on the boards and winning puck battles in the corners. if toronto has "a lot of speed coming out of the corners" (i'll allow this to stand as a fact), it is DION'S JOB TO HELP SHUT THIS SPEED DOWN.

3. "They threw pucks to the net all night." uh hunh.... SO ??? perhaps this is more a criticism on mike keenan and defensive-specialist jim playfair, but i'm guessing that most teams' offensive strategy involves aiming the black rubber disc towards the goal. if it's so "difficult to defend" this M.O, i suppose i should get used to my beloved team giving up 8 goals/night. it's not like toronto had some sneak attack planned. they. threw. pucks. to. the. net.... GAWD.

which brings us to this week's sunday feedback poll:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Frustrated, but not concerned. Except about Vandermeer.

Well, a 3-4 record for that was-always-going-to-suck road trip isn't exactly anything to celebrate. But considering the circumstances, I think it's also fair to say it wasn't a disaster. Being on the road for seven consecutive is hard enough without:

• Your entire second line missing for most of the trip
• Two significant trades midstream
• Significant expectations about your potential following those trades
• A rotating cast of players from the farm trying to adapt to NHL speed

It would be easy to panic after losses to the likes of the Thrashers and Maple Leafs, but it's not like the Flames are alone among the league's elite teams in struggling, and struggling against lesser teams. The Devils, just before they beat the Flames, were hammered by the Islanders. Detroit lost 8-0 to Columbus Nashville. (It was just 8-2 to Columbus, as WI noted in the comments.) And as far as swoons go, Boston and San Jose are doing that, big-time. I'm aware the Flames are in a race for first place that is much closer than it used to be thanks to the Canucks' run, but that doesn't negate the effects that the points above have on a team.

As much as I expected the trouble on this trip and following the trades, I'm expecting a turnaround after this four-day break. I'm willing to accept the idea that the Flames' own-zone troubles have been a result of players learning the system, and that Olli Jokinen is a more responsible two-way player than Todd Bertuzzi. I know what Jordan Leopold is capable of being coached by Jim Playfair, and I expect his play to improve as well.

As much as Matthew Lombardi had established himself as a solid NHLer, and as much as I loved Brandon Prust's potential, Jokinen has aboslutely made this team more dangerous going into the playoffs. He's obviously an elite scoring option, and the full capabilities of what this team can be were displayed in the third period against Detroit.

That, among anything on the trip, is something to build on. Three good days of practice will have them ready for tough games against teams in Dallas and St. Louis that will be far more desperate than Calgary for points at this part of the season.

One real long-term issue with this team that came out of the trip, I think, is its insistence on considering Jim Vandermeer to be a good option as a Top 6 defender. I've wanted him to be better, and thought he could, but it just isn't happening. The third-period goal that Jamal Mayers scored yesterday defined his game to me. He laid a big hit against his player on the boards, but let that same guy get back into the play faster than him, because he couldn't read what was happening fast enough. Mayers deflects the puck past McElhinney, and that's the ballgame, really.

Adam Pardy needs to be back in there, fast, and the Flames have to start getting ready to stomach two years of having to eat the 2009-2012 version of Andrei Zyuzin/Anders Eriksson.

Friday, March 13, 2009

flames v. wings postgame: annoyances

it incenses me that, in their selected game highlights, rarely IF EVER include questionable hits or hits that lead to injury/suspension. it's beyond annoying because (i'm sure i speak for a lot of people) those are PRECISELY the plays that i want to watch... last night, for example, my nemesis cal clutterbuck took out adam foote in a play that saw the aging blueliner leave the game and not return. in retaliation, mccormick delivered a dave-brown-on-tomas-sandstrom-like cheapshot to the head. is that what it looked like ? i wouldn't know cause there's NO REPLAY FOR ME TO WATCH.... (that's how i imagine it, though).... mccormick gets a two-game suspension, clutterbuck gets off scot free (albeit with what i would guess would be an awfully sore neck)...

i'm also currently thoroughly annoyed by the dudes on NHL LIVE ! i've watched this show a few times before, but it's a classic case of eastern hockey pundits knowing pretty much nothing about what goes on in the western conference... the number of times that EJ whats-his-name admits "i didn't actually see that game" is totally embarassing for a guy working on a show about the NHL. i mean, he doesn't even appear to have seen the HIGHLIGHTS. i would prefer if this show was called NHL EASTERN CONFERENCE LIVE !... hell, it's not even live, it's telling me right there on the top right that the show has been previously recorded....

while the NHL LIVE! guys appear to know there WAS a game in detroit last night, i'm not convinced the referees were aware. absolutely SHOCKING... i realize that dion phaneuf's nudge on cleary might have looked like an infraction in real-time from where the ref was standing, but it was babcock's vocal displeasure and cleary's presumed injury that convinced the zebras to turn it from a two-minute minor to a five-minute major. this is unacceptable... furthermore, the scrums that were occurring in front of kiprusoff on the ensuing powerplay were entirely to be expected. this is not the first game in the history of the NHL that defenseman have pushed and shoved post-whistle, and i honestly wonder if the escalation to gloved punches (ie: vandermeer on franzen) had something to do with the fact that the ref's whistle was not working properly !!! i'm totally serious on this one: in the midst of the penalty mayhem in the first period, there was a shot of one of the officials swapping out their whistle... so imagine it: there's a loose puck and a bit of a scuffle in front of the net, the puck gets covered but no whistle is audible, what's gonna happen ??? well, the offensive team (detroit) is gonna keep shovelling at the puck and the defensive team (calgary) is gonna get... well... DEFENSIVE.

totally bunk. an absolute outrage, if you ask me...

either way, it was nice to see the flames dig deep and push on. if they came out in the first period the way they did in the third, this would have been a much different game. i'm also entirely impressed with kippy's newfound ability to play the shootout, and clearly i'm warming to jokinen (though i still think his "second goal" should have been credited to glenX).

toronto tomorrow: a game i'm devastated to not be attending... :( hopefully duncan's scored a ticket, and maybe ST will be going ???? it won't be a slamdunk, that's for sure....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

flames v. wings: where's that corner ? let's turn it....

every season, the calgary flames have a handful of "meltdown" games. there has been a lot of talk this season about the bay area blowout (november 2008), but i would probably consider adding last week's accident in atlanta if it weren't for all the injuries that partially excuse the team's terrible showing... a few years ago, the disaster game was the bloodbath in the motor city (february 2007): the flames waltzed into detroit and *ahem* got their behinds handed to them.... but still managed to score four goals, i might add...

the joe has never been a hospitable rink to outsiders, and the flames will definitely need to step up pretty much every facet of their game in order to pull out a W this evening against the elite wings. the special teams have been downright awful, after starting the season with a top-5 PK in the NHL. the forwards are losing their defensive assignments so regularly, it's a wonder what keenan/playfair are preaching in practice, and the blueliners spend a jaw-dropping amount of time in front of the opposition net. what was once a very tight grip on the third position in the conference has slipped to the point of concern, and vancouver (albeit not shooting up in the ranks) is slowly gaining ground. all of this is worrisome, to say the least.

in other interesting league news:

- it looks like we won't have to suffer from that horrible QC flames logo much longer, as it appears the baby flames will be moving in the off-season. abbotsford, bc is the long-rumoured destination (re-instating the vintage flaming A from the atlanta-era, if copyright/ownership of the logo isn't a problem ?), which would bring calgary's AHL affiliate significantly closer to the parent club...

- the rangers have been awarded a compensatory draft pick in lieu of their 2009 first rounder, alexei cherepanov, who died during a game in the KHL in october. not being a CBA genius, my understanding is that there's a clause that protects clubs in the case of career-ending injuries to first round selections. i don't believe any GM has ever requested restitution in a similar case: the only others i can think of are luc bourdon and george pelawa. bourdon presumeably played enough games in the NHL to forfeit eligability in this capacity, and pelawa's death in 1986 was likely long before the inclusion of this clause in the CBA. furthermore, the clause might insist on the injuries occurring in-game, which would have disqualified these two instances, regardless... no further details on the rangers' compensatory pick (draft year, draft position) have been released.

- tons of photos out today of carrie underwood and hilary duff catching a sens game... i bet the league could NOT be happier for the press... ;)


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I accuse Darryl Sutter of nepotism (UPDATE: Accusation changed to blindness)


I mean, it's great Daymond Langkow is back, but what the fuck? HOW DOES VAN DER GULIK GET SENT DOWN AND SUTTER STAYS UP?

It's like they want to lose these games.

UPDATE: Sutter sent down as well, hence the headline update. Would still rather have DVDG vs. at least Warren Peters, and probably Jamie Lundmark. And definitely Jim Vandermeer as a forward.

a love letter to the LA kings

dear los angeles royalty:

i just wanted to drop you a little note to say thank you for not allowing those pesky canucks to perform their patented third period magic last night. getting the puck past bobby lu is a challenge at the best of times, and doing it thrice in sixty minutes shows you're worth all those jewelled crowns and sceptres you probably have kicking around somewhere... i mean, even though you probably won't make the playoffs THIS year, your loyal subjects (read: rachel hunter) can look forward to certain success in the next years; it's exciting to watch all the princes step it up (kopitar, doughty, moller, quick). heck, even denis gauthier was able to regally keep his elbows at his sides long enough to notch a goal !!

much appreciated, my lords --honestly...

(but on april sixth we're still gonna try to burn down your palace).


Sunday, March 8, 2009

sunday feedback: this is not a joke

the liveblog from earlier today helped pass an otherwise boring and humbling game by the flames against the atlanta badjerseys, so thanks to all who joined in (brentG, ST, kent, robertcleave, matt)... also thanks to everyone for voting for me over duncan in the "who had a tougher sunday morning" poll; your empathy has not gone unnoticed...

it's becoming clear that the newly formed "story" line (iggy, olli & squid) is shockingly bad in the defensive zone and won't always score multiple goals in-game. infact, if you acknowledge that antero nittymaki had one seriously bad period, then the flames' top line kinda sucks... sure, it's still a small sample size but the keenan line blender is already looking for more effective uses of his healthy players, and i'm scared to death about the possibility of a jokinen-bertuzzi combination when #7 gets healthy... oh, how an opponent could violate them !!!! this could get really ugly before it gets better.

everyone was quick to point out that the calgary squad IS decimated by injury, currently, and moss got a bye in this afternoon's affair due to the death of his grandfather (condolences, mossy). so, yeah. we had a top line, a third line playing second line minutes, and two fourth lines. it doesn't explain why kipper let in a bunch of softies, and why our captain and highest paid blueliner aren't doing much of anything.. also, i must note that dumping an extra five minutes/night (one third more than he's used to) on jordan leopold does not appear to be a good idea....

lombo got a couple assists this afternoon, just for the record.... bless'im.

there IS, however, a bright light in the current doom and gloom, and that's david van der gulik. the kid is the only guy in a flaming C with any visible sense of urgency, offensively and defensively, and he appears to have been noticed by the coaching staff. he's hustling like it's going out of style, making smart plays (especially in the flames' end) and looks to have a bit of an offensive game in there somewhere.... oh, and this is the way he's been playing for ages, so i don't imagine it's a fluke...

last week's sunday feedback poll showed that most people (76%) think the flames need to step up their defensive game; a result backed up by the 23 goals allowed in the past FIVE GAMES !!! 14% of people were concerned about the powerplay, and a handful of others point out that the team's intensity is lacking (ie: the boys believe their own hype), they're not moving their feet (ie: the calgary bertuzzis) and other cliches that kerr, simmer, millions, loubardias, and the regular on-air staff like to point out...

Flames-Thrashers Liveblog: Let's share our misery

I've been silent since deadline day aside from a couple of comments here and there. But I have thoughts — ever-evolving thoughts — that come out best during a game. So it's time for the second Hit The Post liveblog of the year. Join WI and me for what's sure to be the best way to get through a typical Flames disaster of a matinee against one of the league's worst teams.

The fun starts with the game at 3 p.m. eastern for me, 1 p.m. mountain for most of you.

Good times!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

flames v. canes postgame: strategy

so... uh... THAT happened... ;)

i'm pretty sure i speak for most of us when i say that last night's game was sortof like what i expected to see the night before when i guaranteed a loss. it came a day late, and in front of poor curtis macelhinney (again) but it was probably the kick in the pants the flames needed right about now: an embarassing shutout loss at the hands of an eastern bubble team.

this is the kind of game duncan was talking about when he predicted a string of losses on this roadie.

i don't understand why keenan insists on playing cuMac on the second night of a back-to-back when the team consistantly plays terribly in that game. why not play cuMac in the FIRST game, leaving a capable kipper to pick up a point or two in the followup, all by his lonesome. i'm guessing it's because he wants ol'kippy to play both games, but kipps doesn't feel up to the second one (once the game rolls around). strategy, however, is a coach's job.

this annoys me to no end...

Friday, March 6, 2009

flames v. flyers postgame: nice fin(n)ish

at the end of the movie "dirty dancing," jerry orbach tells patrick swayze "when i'm wrong, i say i'm wrong." that's pretty much me today.... while i meant it straight up when i wrote it yesterday, apparently i made an alfredsson-style guarantee: one where i'm totally, thoroughly, and undeniably wrong. if i knew i'd get the same results, i would guarantee a loss on every flames game remaining... :P

as for olli: i think it's too early to retract all of my deadline day feelings but i'm hugely hopeful after that first outing. i will absolutely admit that after his first goal, a textbook 2-on-1 tap-in, my first thought was "nice finish... lombardi would never have gotten that one." on the other hand, niittymaki had a truly awful period... i will say that the chemistry issue has been addressed (it's all good), but the futures and $$/worth issues won't be apparent until after the cup run, and into the summer. there is no doubt sutter's put all his chips on 09 red, and i realize (a day later with a clearer head) that's his JOB.

other notables:
- leopold, as i'd imagined, was paired with dion. this was a seriously golden pairing in the first game, and it will be interesting to see if he can steady dion in the long term. also interesting, on the leopold front, was his position on the ice for his goal: DEEP. i'm curious what a defenseman is doing way down by the net in his first game with a new team. hell of a pinch, leo... ;)

- vandermeer should go the way of eriksson, i'm afraid. not quite as bad but not good.

- i have to commend the flyers fan providing the feed on at some point, he clearly decided there was other things he'd rather do than watch his team get annihilated, so he gave everyone a little metallica show. he turned it back to the game just after the knuble goal, but became quickly disinterested in it once again, instead providing the 1700-or-so (mostly flames) fans a lesson on the heyday of the broad street bullies. after conroy's third period goal, he switched it to *ahem* uhhh... porn... it was a big ol' middle finger to flames fans who wanted to see their "new" team celebrate a big win.... anyhow. funny.

- lombo had a tough night in boston, but the 'yotes still came out with a win.

- i can't find the comment thread (and trust me, i looked) but i'm pretty sure it was brent.G who suggested the flames should pick up steve downie and i'm definitely sure i lost it on him... this is precisely why...

- flames in carolina tonight. i'll probably miss the first period and then who knows what will happen after that... shall i guarantee a loss ??? :P

Thursday, March 5, 2009

flames v. flyers updated: GUARANTEED loss

the flames have re-called kris chucko, who will play his first NHL game, presumeably, in philly. i'm not sure who's out, then ---if vandy gets a scratch or peters spends the night in the pressbox (DVDG was already sent down this morning) but what i thought might be a joke of a game is now a punchline.

all the same, i would really love to be wrong, here. and i would love to see chucko light it up on the second line and prove that he's a bonafide, late-blooming first rounder... but i'm not counting on it. sutter is clearly gonna try out all the babies to see who fits the best and i must admit i like THIS idea quite alot...

thanks to ms.conduct for the heads-up....

[read below for the rest of today's thoughts]

flames v. flyers: loss

well, i'm not gonna lie: yesterday was a bit of a rollercoaster for me.

my brother woke me up with a text reading something-to-the-effect-of "nycholat for leopold ? i'll take that." while i'm not a fan of the bring-back [i always think to doug gilmour's second run as a leaf, where he crawled off the ice at the end of his first shift], that moment filled me with a certain GLEE... picking up leopold for, essentially, a sack of pucks (no offense to lawrence nycholat, ryan wilson, or whatever dude they pick up with the 2nd rounder we got from montreal on draft day) was pure darryl sutter magic: making something out of nothing in less than a 24-hour period.

i hadn't even finished my first trade entry below ("leopold") when the guys on tsn started insinuating that olli jokinen was a flame. my breath caught as i listened and was instantly devastated when i heard it was lombardi going the other way (no offense, here, to brandon prust or whomever gets selected in the first round of 2009 or 2010). like i said yesterday, i was in no way SURPRISED but i was certainly grief-stricken... and seeing lombo's farewell interview, taken in the bowels of the wachovia centre as he was presumeably saying goodbye to his teammates (and the only NHL captain he's ever known), was heartbreaking. he said all the right words, yes, but you could see the hurt in his (enormous brown doe) eyes.

a few hours later, as i struggled to find sleep, i imagined poor lombo in his hotel room in boston (where the new-look coyotes will take on one of the league's best tonight), staring at the ceiling, trying to comprehend how different his life would be. i wondered if andrew ference or chuck kobasew took him out to dinner, or if his departure from the flames' lockerroom in philly was tearful. i wonder if he lamented enver lisin for wearing #18 for the desert dogs (lombardi will take #15).

it didn't seem, to me, like the flames' staff made him take his own equipment off the bus and i'm guessing he didn't have to hitch a ride to the airport [though i'm not sure who would have been toni lydman in this situation.... derian hatcher ????].

BUT. onwards and upwards....

familiarizing myself with new players is a bit of a challenge, and i think the first thing i always tend to do is find them nicknames. leopold is easy: "leo" rhymes with gio (as kent said a day or two ago in his deadline day predictions) and is clearly the most obvious one... as for jokinen, i've settled in on "olli". i know it's kinda boring but i really like the sound of "iggy, olli, and squid;" it should be a children's book.

like the weather in calgary, that's about as warm as i'm gonna get today, methinks. i don't have a whole lot of hope for tonight's game. call me pessimistic but, while sutter added some depth to the blueline yesterday, i still see a bunch of really big holes up front. the flames sent DVDG back to the QC today, which means (as i presumed) vandy will return to the wing and leo will take his spot (or someone else's) on defense. the flyers are healthy and fast, and ---once you get past the flames' obvious first line--- there's a whole lot of pluggers. this one could get ugly fast... hopefully kipper's feeling good and is on his game...

as predicted, jokinen will take #21. leopold's second run with the flames will have him sporting #40 (rhett warrener, though not likely to play another game in a flaming C, still hangs onto lucky #44).

in other news, it was nice to get a shoutout on puck daddy regarding thoughts on our newest centreman. clearly he got the hit the post sentiment bang on... :P

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

trade deadline part 3: the outcome

well, now that the initial horror has passed (i say horror and not shock, because i've maintained that lombardi has been calgary's most tradeable asset for eons, now), i'm beginning to warm up to this jokinen for lombardi/prust/1st rounder thing. as far as i'm concerned, the leopold for nycholat/wilson/2nd rounder is a pure win, from a flames perspective. in a late move, sutter also dips into our glut of goaltender prospects, sending current QC backup kevin lalande to columbus for a 4th rounder.

some random thoughts:

1. my biggest concern on deadline day was chemistry. fortunately (??), the rash of injuries in the past few weeks has not only seen faces disappear from the lockerroom, but has also seen new guys come in (without any noticeable detriment to on-ice play). sure, the loss of lombardi will create a bit of a void for long-time flames (iginla, regher etc), but it shouldn't have the impact that the departure of a team-favorite like andrew ference had in '06. still, i hear that jokinen is a bit of a prima dona, which could be bad, so i'll take a wait-and-see attitude on this front.

2. my second biggest concern today was futures. in my conversation with duncan last night, all of the guys i was most worried about losing were high draft picks and young prospects/up-and-comers, such as boyd, backlund, aulie, negrin, nemisz, wahl, gio, and pardy. i also had lombardi on this list but, realistically, to make a move he was always going to be the guy to go. sutter commented in his post-trade presser that he spent the better part of the past month having a look at these young guys, and if he's comfortable that some/all of them have future potential, then losing a couple of high draft picks will not have much effect on the team's future. he needs to get boyd, pardy, and moss signed ASAP, however, and have a comprehensive plan on insertting AT LEAST one of those guys into next year's lineup.

3. my third concern was cap space. the reason i didn't believe sutter would move lombardi at the deadline was because his value far outweighs his contract. he plays a lot of minutes on special teams, and excels all-around. sure, jokinen will probably be a stronger first line centre, but he is worth twice what lombardi was making? will this work out in the end ? yes, if we can start promoting some of our obviously talented prospects. the acquisition of jokinen's contract makes it unrealistic that we'll re-sign cammalleri (no more unrealistic than yesterday, admittedly), and essentially a death-blow to any thoughts aucoin might have had to re-sign for next year.

4. while i don't really love darryl sutter's lies to the fans/media (as late as last week he insisted he wasn't looking for much of anything), i prefer his so-called poker face to a bryan murray style of blabbermouthing. i think a GM needs to keep his cards close to his chest in order to be effective in making moves and i do appreciate daz's obvious abilities in this capacity. if the guys running the other 29 teams know that you REALLY want to trade, you're handcuffed. so, yeah. hell, i'm just happy gio made it THIS far... we'll see if he makes it through the summer.... :P

5. the biggest winner today: phoenix. WOW. nice work down there, guys.... ;) they lose jokinen, morris, carcillo, and tellqvist but pick up lombardi, prust, dawes, khalinin, prucha, upshall, and a pocketful of draft picks. if coach gretzky can rally his troops and immediately implement his system, i would not count this team out of the playoffs just yet...

that's it from here for now.
philly tomorrow should, by all accounts, see a lineup that looks something like this:

cammalleri - jokinen - iginla
moss - boyd - glencross
nystrom - conroy - lundmark
vandermeer - DVDG/peters - roy

regehr - aucoin
leopold - phaneuf
pardy - sarich

[i realize that everyone, playfair/keenan included, probably see leopold back with regehr, but i'm not sure i buy it. aucoin has really stepped it up this year]

also, the flames have announced that bertuzzi has undergone arthroscopic knee surgery.... meh.

trade deadline part 2: jokinen

the really funny part, to me, is that so many of my hockey-loving friends around the country and all of the hockey pundits think this is a great trade. "jokinen plays so well under keenan !!" they suggest. hm. well, i guess it remains to be seen but i think lombardi + prust + a FIRST ROUNDER is far too steep, here.

i think i'm most afraid of the mathematics:
1. there's no way that we're still under the cap
2. our roster loses two starters, here, and gains only one.
3. sutter does not give up first rounders without getting first rounders back.

ie: sutter's not done. and that is what terrifies me the most.

this team might look alot different by the end of the day.

****UPDATE: is suggesting we're ever so slightly under the cap.... so maybe sutter IS done !!! ... we're still a player or two short, mind you.

deadline day part 1: leopold

well, i have to commend heir sutter on this one. he pretty much made something out of nothing: parlaying a draft pick and a low-level prospect (ryan wilson) + the guy we picked up off of waivers yesterday (nycholat) into a top four defenseman. nice work, daz.... painless, thus far.

as i said to duncan below, i'm most concerned about giving up lombo, boyd, gio, pardy, backlund, negrin, aulie, nemisz, armstrong & first rounders. add those to the roster guys that simply WONT get moved (iginla, regehr, phaneuf, bourque, glencross, cammalleri), or CANT POSSIBLY be moved (bertuzzi, aucoin).

2.5 more hours !!! lots of jokinen talk. lombo in the mix. it hurts me.... realistically, to get this done, we'd have to lose some serious cap space (read: aucoin). that move, in my opinion, drastically changes the chemistry of this team and seriously would piss me the eff off....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

a conversation between your hittheHOSTS on deadline's eve...

walkinvisible in italics
duncan in regular script.

5:01 - i'm scared... and I'm not talking about the sens...

5:02 - Roberts ?

5:05 - hope not. i picture him crawling off the ice a la gilmour in his first shift back with the leafs.

5:06 - I like the leopold idea, but they need an F as well now. That lineup tonight is B A D.

5:09 - i am not a fan of the return player, save for conroy (but that guy's got character, at least). i do not envy sutter today. He can't wait for waiver results, can he ?

5:12 - No, he can't. I thought I might like roberts till I saw those numbers for this year. He's done. Leopold is just cheap and cheap to get but I'd happily take equivalent. If Darryl's proven anything though it's that he'll deal for someone we never thought of.

5:15 - agreed. i was thinking a bit about his trading history, and he likes to prey on weaker gms. mostly eastern. ottawa ? we'll lose a prospect & a pick, minimum.

5:17 - As long as it's not the equivalent of kobasew/ference which I'm pretty sure he learned from. Hasn't done anything as stupid since, has he ?

5:20 - my concern is that he has also never been in as much of a bind... the problem being that 29 gms can see his urgency...

5:22 - I guess it depends on how hurt everyone really is, which only he knows. Gio and bourque are bad to lose but it's not regehr and iginla.

5:24 - true, but only he really knows how bad guys like langks and prust are. i hear 3 weeks on bert. sigh... so much drama. u watchin tonight ?

5:27 - Yep ! Love this early start time, feels like the olden days out west. You ?

5:30 - i decided to pay it, yeah. i've been sick and i wanna know just how dire this situation is... who do you think is the weakest gm in the east ?

5:32 - Snow. Maybe lawton. I forgot it's PPV you just get them for free out here with centre ice. Rob kerr is the funniest. This'll be more enjoyable that I thought. Hope there's a fight.

5:35 - ha ha ha. okay so who could fill our needs from nyi or tampa ?

5:36 - Crap, getting the boring ottawa sportsnet feed and their christoph schubert watch instead. On nyi/tampa question... Well, don't disagree with matt on halpern. In dreamland we could find a way to get st.louis without breaking the future. Suppose I'd take weight from nyi. What do you think ?

5:41 - schubert ? hahaha... i don't know. i'm honestly more concerned about keeping our losses minimal.

5:44 - God, those "sens" unis are horrible. What are you most scared of losing ?

5:46 - lombo, boyd, backlund, negrin, aulie, nemisz, armstrong, first rounders... nice pass by #18, btw

5:51 - No kidding. That's good lombo. The streak-down-the-wing-with-speed guy. Fair enough to fear losing most of those guys but I'm only worried about getting a bad rental for one. long-termish guy ? Maybe one of them going is ok.

6:00 - i don't like it. i'd prefer long termers to sign/trade for in the summer when there's no premium

6:02 - unless they already have a good value contract like your boy kaberle.

6:03 - fair enough...

6:17 - Also, I'm fine with Nycholat as the depth D-man. Not that I've seen him a ton, but saw him a lot as a junior and he was a responsible, smart, small guy with offensive upside. If he's stuck around this long, it's a good sign.

6:25 - which is why I think we should focus on forward depth... though i'm still concerned about a possible multi-player deal. peters just used the word "cliché-ish"

6:30 - I like clicheish. Sens broadcast is borrrrring.


7:45 - Sens announcers slowly backtracking after decrying "vintage" phaneuf "elbow" on Heatley.

7:48 - ha ha ha these guys hailed his old school clean open icer... ;)


8:00 - i like our fifth line ;)

8:03 - I know, not bad. Nothing like keeping it simple. Don't know if they could keep their heads above water with better qualcomp, though.

8:05 - agreed...


8:13 - I love how Kipper always spills his orange juice all over the front of his white jersey.


Monday, March 2, 2009

sunday feedback: monday again

well it was no contest last week, really. you all think that rene bourque is the guy we're gonna miss the most down the stretch at 65%. bummer, cause langkow (19%) is the most likely to come back before season's end, and gio (16%) looks the most like mr. bean. ;) i know that gio actually shows up as 15% on the poll, as it stands, but even my crude attempt at mathematics tells me that 65+19+15 doesn't equal 100, so i thought (since it's my poll anyways) i'd give gio that extra point. andre roy got no votes, even though he was the team-leader in goals after the first game and was putting in 6-8 good minutes of hockey a night. oh, and david moss wasn't actually injured when that poll started, but he tried extra hard to reach the IR again last night, blocking a shot on a shift that led to a goal anyways...

as for last night... well, uh... that happened. other than the flames powerplay going 3-3, and jarome getting all of those records out of the way at the same time, it was a total trainwreck. i'm not sure exactly why, but the PK was totally abysmal, the giveaways were horrific, and kipper was a disaster. let's hope that kipper comes back like he used to with a good ol' fashioned shutout following a textbook blowout.

if we're gonna continue to have problems with teams out of the playoff hunt like we did last night, tuesday's game v. ottawa could quickly become embarassing...