Saturday, February 28, 2009

wild postgame: weak

i've always had a lot of respect for the minnesota wild, and i'll be the first to admit that all the clutter-bashing that's been goin' on for the better part of a week is largely tongue in cheek (shhhhh... i kinda like the guy).

well here's what happened last night: at the first sign of physical play, cal went fetal behind the flames' net. a minute or two later, after some pushing and shoving infront of kiprusoff, c'buck crumpled to the ice "like he's been shot" (said martine gaillard, on sportsnet connected) and received a diving penalty for his efforts....

so he can dish it out but he can't take it ? come ON, i thought he was tougher than that....

i was pretty much bang on in this statement, "i would earmark prust for [a fight] if it weren't for his questionable jaw, and if boogard drew in he'd get murdered anyways.... i nominate vandermeer to be the guy to stand up and tell those dudes in christmas colours that we don't like it when their calder nom ruins our blueliners." boogaard clearly targetted prust with his best chris pronger impression in the dying minutes, nailing him with an elbow to the face (jaw ?). this was entirely behind the play when the game was clearly out of reach for boogaard's wild. while i'm not sure i agree he left his feet, he's probably got about 8 inches on prusty to begin with: an elbow is an elbow. watch for a 3-or4-game suspension later today.

and vandermeer was the 3rd guy in, sticking up for our brandon, who was clearly in some pain (did prusty have an underbite BEFORE the broken jaw ???)...

other than that, the flames played a decent hockey game: one of the best outings i've seen since the slumping started. it was really a team game, with keenan comfortably rolling all four lines. DVDG held his own, much to the surprise of rob kerr (who obviously didn't do his homework). the kid is a career shut-down type fourth line grinder and proved that his time in the flames' system was not in vain. keenan rewarded his hard play with over nine minutes of icetime, and a couple big-ol' smiles when discussing him in the post-game presser. if he continues like this (and lundmark continues fitting right in), langkow will be able to heal properly, and the troops are proving they can step up... awesome.

***UPDATE: prust must be really hurt, cause the flames have recalled warren peters... i guess now we get to see just how deep this team is....

see above for your daily clutterbuck roshambo: he does a mean turtle impression.

Friday, February 27, 2009

flames v. wild: payback

with this, the first matchup between my beloved flames and my nemesis (clutterbuck)'s wild, i expect at least one good fight. i'm not sure if the target would be cal or fritsche (for his slewfoot on bourque)... i would earmark prust for this if it weren't for his questionable jaw, and if boogard drew in he'd get murdered anyways.... i nominate vandermeer to be the guy to stand up and tell those dudes in christmas colours that we don't like it when their calder nom ruins our blueliners, by knocking a couple of cal's chicklets into the back of his throat.

(at least, that's how it goes down in my daydreams !!)

jarome is 2 goals away from 400 and 3 points away from surpassing theoren fleury's franchise leading record, so i presume he'll be absent from the scoreboard for weeks to come. while he's a notorious wild-killer, tonight will not likely be the night he overtakes much of anything... buuuut i just found out i'm a total pessimist. so who knows: maybe he'll get a hattrick and take both records right here, right now. it WOULD be preferrable to do it at home... the captain sure ain't gonna get an ovation in ottawa or elsewhere on the road... so go on, iggs.... just get'er done !!!

head over to ms.conduct's site to check out her take on how the rookie-of-the-year voting should proceed... aside from her accidentally putting clutterbuck at the top of the list, i have to say i like her voting criteria. very scientific... too bad the people who ACTUALLY vote probably won't look at "adorableness" or "badassness," but i honestly agree with factoring in "moment-making", "fan base adoption," and "team MVP status." all three of which will obviously still put steve mason at the top of the REAL list at the end of the year...

and that last statement right there, my friends, is enough to stand as your daily clutterbuck condescension. enjoy !!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

random thursday musings: hmmmmm...

- the flames have re-called david van der gulik. i'm honestly pretty stoked about this move, cause the kid is way overdue for his first NHL game (4 years in the NCAA and 3 years in the AHL). by all accounts, he's a defensively solid grinding RW. it's difficult to garner any further information about the baby flames in general (piss-poor website with very little above your basic statistical info), but my guess would be that --as an AHL veteran-- he gets a fair amount of minutes against decent competition.... and he's got a positive +/- [a rarity on the farm this year]. the most notable DVDG stat, historically was his +27 a couple of years ago, on a team that hovered around evens.

- a friend of mine asked me this morning, in an email, what i thought about primeau being done for the year. i have no direct confirmation of this news, but i can't say i'm surprised by it. clearly there's something wrong with his rehabilitation, or he'd be well into skating by now... buh bye #19.

- keenan had a few not-so-nice things to say about gio's injury. i can't find the article online (i read it in the ACTUAL newsPAPER at my folks' place) but my recollection was that it was somewhere in the range of "a hockey player's responsibility is to avoid getting hurt" and that gio was in a good position to take a hit until he took the hit. while i have no doubts whatsoever of the truth in keenan's statement, i do wonder if its' necessary to kick a guy while he's down...

i also wonder if gio's played his last game in a flaming C.

- in other gio news, i went to the hitmen game last week and struck up a conversation with some random dude in the beer line. we got to talking about the flames and i got to talking about gio (like, duh). with no prompting whatsoever, he says "i saw this thing once on the internet that was a side-by-side comparison between giordano and mr. bean." i think this was my proudest moment ever. cause as IF he wasn't referring to THIS little gem...

and, finally, your clutterbuck humiliation du jour:
actor andrew clutterbuck had to change his name to andrew lincoln before he got any good acting jobs (most recently playing keira knightly's unrequited love in "love actually").

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

flames v. CBJ: trouble on the blueline

there's really no way around it, now. the flames are going to be a different team down the stretch and we'll find out in the next weeks if that means outgoing players as well as incoming (trades/call-ups).

with gio done for the forseeable future (*sniff*), vandermeer solidifies his spot on the blueline next to dion, which cannot possibly be any more slopply of a pairing than it was on saturday against the greasers. the two were halfway decent together at the start of the year, so let's hope keenan finds a way to either massage him into that spot or straight up change the pairings. this would, of course, put pardy back with phaneuf: not ideal but probably better until vandy gets his game back...

what keeps me up at night is the "what ifs" on D if someone else goes down. the obvious first response is to re-call anders eriksson, who has admittedly put up really good numbers in the QC. the numbers don't fool me, though. the dude is not positionally sound enough to play on a "defense first" style NHL squad, and i think it would be a total disaster. it's possible that rhettro's ride on IR is closer to over than we think, and with such little time left this year, i presume that would make him the seventh guy in the eyes of his sutterness.

trade talk also increased when word came out that gio had undergone season-ending shoulder surgery, and the buzz on picking up a bouwmeester or a leopold started a-fresh yesterday.

my opinion ? with negrin and aulie comin' down the pipe, and with the "adam pardy experiment" looking like a total success, i say let's re-call brett palin, AHL allstar, instead of making big roster moves for rental players. let's bring palin up TODAY. right now, in fact. where's a phone... ? let's get that guy on a plane outta moline and have him start practicing immediately with the big club. let's give him a week or so to acclimatise, then start rotating out the #6 guy (vandermeer, pardy) to give him some gametime. the future is now. let's see how deep the cupboards are...

and finally, your daily clutterbuck indignity:
cal clutterbuck used to hold the title of "best name in hockey" but lost it last week upon discovery of cbj prospect john vigilante.... sucker.

Monday, February 23, 2009

hate mail to cal clutterbuck

dear cal:

this letter will probably come as a surprise to you, since only days ago i was hyping you as a guy deserving of a rookie-of-the-year nomination. well, you might be the league leader in hits (a statistic, i might note, that is rarely considered for year-end trophies like the calder) but i'm afraid it's this exact skill that has turned my veneration to vitriol.

the news today that mark giordano will undergo season-ending surgery came as a crushing blow to both me, my blogging peers, and my team ---a blow that probably feels an awful lot like the one gio experienced when you lined him up between your speeding body and the boards. even though it was presumeably a clean hit, and you were "just doing your job," the outcome has me reeling.

there is no question that your name and aggressive nature make you a crowd favorite, and the folks supporting your team can't help but adore your enthusiastic style of play... but this time you've gone too far. breaking my favorite player was simply not necessary... especially when that injury will likely initiate the return of the blueliner i most despise...

perhaps the awkward hit was born out of envy; i love gio ever so much more than i ever really cared for you. but cal, there was honestly enough adulation and respect to go around.

where once i got a good giggle out of you and your supporters, i now curse the ice you skate on...

watch your back, mister.


sunday feedback: L8

so it's monday and i'm doing the sunday feedback poll a day late because yesterday ended up being hella busy for me... SORRY !!!

last week's poll shows that most of us (74%) are concerned about the vancouver canucks erasing the eight point lead that the flames have built. not surprising, in that they've won eight of their last ten, and we've been struggling to win for a month now. minnesota finished with 12% of votes, and edmonton and colorado both got a couple of votes apiece ---ngthagg noted that he's not sure how the greasers have stayed in the running to this point, so why count them out ???

the injuries are mounting, now, for the flamb├ęs. along with the mysteriously still-injured primeau (foot) and the might-as-well-retire warrener (shoulder), we can add bourque (ankle) [probably out for the regular season, if not longer], langkow (hand), giordano (shoulder ?), and moss (knee ?) [who should all be considered day-to-day, i should think].

when sutter signed lundmark in the summer, i absolutely admit i was shocked and confused. now, it's looking like a great move: he's a good, hard-working veteran in the QC, and he's a hard, grinding forward who fits the profile of this team. pairing him with greentree seems to be a no-brainer, for keenan, and placing bertuzzi on that line (though horrifying at first glance) might actually cause the big forward to think about his positionning and passing. the line played a solid game in edmonton, and i look forward to seeing what else they can do. as the top two point-getters in the QC, keenan set them loose on the powerplay which, ultimately, seems sortof like a good move to me: the opposition would have no sense of their abilities and they would have a good sense of each other.

but on to this week's poll:

bourque, here, is an obvious answer but if langkow is gone for more than a few games, i think there will be a noticeable downturn both in production from the second line, and the defensive capabilities of guys like bertuzzi. additionally, i have to wonder if the re-insertion of vandermeer on the blueline (due to the loss of giordano) directly resulted in dion playing one of his worst games of the season... just musing, izzall...

UPDATE: apparently gio is now having season-ending shoulder surgery. perhaps this will influence voting above, cause the way i look at it sutter can re-call warren peters or brett sutter or my horse john armstrong to fill any further forward injuries**. the next blueliner to hit IR will be replaced by anders eriksson....

**or kris chucko, but let's be realistic...


Saturday, February 21, 2009

flames v. greasers: mysteries

answer me this:

wtf is the deal with wayne primeau ??? i mean, it's not really a matter of wanting a guy back in the lineup who's been out for almost three months, it's that i just don't understand how an otherwise healthy dude takes ten to twelve weeks to mend a broken bone ? perhaps it was a really terrible break, yes. it might be a long journey in rehab, sure... but why is there little-to-no information on his status ?!?!

personally, i think the current wave of injuries are probably my fault, due to a paragraph i wrote a few weeks ago about rich hesketh and his contributions to player health.... so uh... sorry 'bout that.

not only is langkow out, and bourque, and primeau (as well as warrener, who i don't even really count --sorry rhettro), but apparently my boy gio is also out with an upper body injury... boo !

in their stead, the flames have recalled both jamie lundmark and kyle greentree: another mystery for the average flames fan. lundmark's call-up was announced on the flames' website, and greentree's was announced on the qc flames website. thanks for the cohesion, website dudes... [the qc site also announced that the baby flames lineup will be bolstered by CBJ loan-out, john vigilante, who has the best name in hockey this side of cal clutterbuck...].

tonight's game should be interesting. i predict a tight matchup between two struggling teams... like ngthagg said last sunday in the comments, it's a mystery how edmonton got to where they are already this season (ie: debatably in the running for playoff contention) so you can't really count them out of any matchup; especially one against a team undeservedly winning games night in and night out...

while darryl sutter didn't intend on making any major moves when asked a month ago, ever since he made that comment the team has been lacklustre and, now, undermanned. to think that sutter will do NOTHING is now sortof a pipe dream, methinks, and it will be interesting/scary to see how he handles this latest set of hurdles...

i should think the flames will be buyers this season, a presumption confused only by bryan murray's moves this week: dean mcammond & a first rounder to the isles for mike comrie and joe campoli... once again, i'm glad i'm not a sens fan, cause this trade simply blows. i don't know that much about campoli but i think a year from now, the skeletal breakdown of that deal will look like him in exchange for a first rounder (albeit a low first rounder). the murray desperation is beginning to stink like the last days of employment for a recently sacked toronto GM...

ah well... like duncan proposed: at least carrie underwood now has another pop starlet girlfriend to hang out with in the pressbox in ottawa...

one final mystery for today: why are all the teams wearing road whites at home today (montreal, toronto) ???? it's good news for calgary, IMO. red in rexall... nice.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

flames v. wild: cal(der)

with nobody on the flames in the running for the rookie-of-the-year hardware, i have to say i can truly get behind the efforts of ms.conduct to promote wild forward cal clutterbuck as their candidate... the campaign slogan is as follows:

awesome.... :)
there's no way in hell i think he'll beat steve mason for the trophy (sorry !!) but i think in clutterbuck's case, it WOULD be nice just to be nominated...

at any rate, the flames have a couple of lineup changes tonight. out is daymond langkow and andre roy, and in are jimmy vandermeer and brandon prust.... i don't like our chances if we play anything like we did on tuesday... the wild are just too strong....

it's taken me all day to write this whilst babysitting a 6-month old, so that's all you get.

fingers crossed bertuzzi regains the form ha had in the last match v. the wild....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

canucks are ANIMALS: vol.1

it's something that's always kindof bugged me, but mid-way through the game last night i realized what it was: not only does he look a helluvalot like a ten-year-old, but kyle wellwood also looks a little like a squirrel.

i decided that it's been an awful long time since i did a "separated at birth," so i set off googling squirrel pictures and i just couldn't find a single one that looked like wellwood. "maybe it's not a squirrel," i thought to myself, and started searching for pictures of chipmunks... when those cute little guys didn't seem quite right either, i sought out photos of gerbils... heck, i was definitely getting closer, but i certainly hadn't nailed it...


kyle wellwood looks a little like a HAMSTER !!!!!
(be honest. you laughed...)

[this post is clearly a deflection entry cause the last thing i want to do is discuss how the flames couldn't hold onto a one goal lead for the win, or how GODAWFUL bootuzzi was in that outing ----easily his worst as a flame, with no impact whatsoever on his ice time---- and i'm not just talking about the pisspoor pierre-marc bouchard impression to finish the shootout (pmb would've scored, at least)...]

AND thursday's a freakin' PPV...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

flames v. canucks: fivehole

last night i went out on a rare excursion to the calgary centre for performing arts, jack singer concert hall, to see five hole: tales of hockey erotica. the stage show was adapted from musician/author dave bidini's book of short stories (with the same title), collaboratively, with the one yellow rabbit theatre group, for their 2007 high performance rodeo.

i actually remember the culmination of their writing process, when i ran into bidini, martin tielli & selina martin at the broken city social club on my birthday in december of '06... they were celebrating the completion of their work, and to be honest: they were all pretty hammered.... bidini's a nice guy and very easy to engage in any sort of conversation about our sport of choice: dude's a hockey story sponge.

as i watched the theatre fill up, just prior to 8pm on a holiday monday night, i saw a few notables walk in: the globe & mail's sportswriter eric duhatschek, the lead vocalist of legendary calgary punk band chixdiggit, kj jansen, and calgary flames stay-at-home blueliner, robyn regehr...

the performance itself was much how i expected it to be; a handful of anectodal takes on classic lockerroom situations. i think i laughed the hardest at the parts that seemed so effortlessly likely: for example, a big-named NHL'er on a roadtrip who's chatting with his cab driver, where the cabbie realizes (with both excitement and hatred) the identity of his fare. there was a little girl-on-girl action here, a good ol'fashioned puck bunny tale there, a rather ....*ahem* interesting take on the passion involved in a brawl (if you know what i'm sayin'....), and a hella long monologue about the definition of five-hole (delivered superbly by OYR staple, denise clarke, in goalie pads, fishnets & high heels)....

[note: one of the characters' nicknames was SQUID and i couldn't help but imagine the actor to be portraying mike cammalleri.... thanks for that, awildermode :) ]

in the theatre's semi-darkness, i took the occasional glance towards regehr, who didn't seem to really dig the homo-erotic stuff, but appeared to appreciate a good political crack or low-end poopy-humour type of gag... i wonder if he'll talk to jarome today about the last scene of the show: the one where bigshot character bobby wolf (apparently loosely based on bobby hull) acquires a magic salve to relieve him of a scoring slump... iggy could use some of that salve... i just won't tell you where bobby wolf had to put the fictional stuff....

it was an enjoyable production, one which made me nostalgic for the era where i would see the rheostatics play live as often as possible, in as many cities as i could. damn, can martin tielli ever rawk that double-necked guitar with the blue-and-red maple leaf motif....

and damn, can bidini ever spin a yarn about hockey....

Monday, February 16, 2009

Yeah, Jarome's a good leader, but is he enough?

Prior to what Kent appropriately called a "shinny game" between the Flames and Coyotes on Saturday night, the last hockey game I watched was live in Tampa Bay. That was the opposite: the Lightning defeated the New York Islanders 1-0 on a Gary Roberts deflection in the game's final five minutes. The teams didn't score because neither could execute a bloody thing. The Lightning's defence is horrifically bad at its execution, and managed a shutout only because the Islanders might have the worst group of 12 forwards I've ever seen live at the NHL level.

So, as sloppy as the third was in Phoenix — and, as concerned as it gets me that the Flames seem unable to maintain even basic concentration as soon as they get up by three goals — it was gratifying to see a team that, when it pays attention, still knows how to execute.

If the four-game losing streak that preceded the five-of-possible-six-points roadie brought me back to Earth (as I think it did a lot of us) about the Flames, the Canucks' current run of wins have now started dropping me in a pit of doubt. For some reason, the nine points separating the Flames' 71 and Vancouver's 62 seems much smaller now that it's in single digits. By no means do I think the Canucks are a playoff force to be reckoned with — not enough depth there — but they're a team that plays very well with confidence. And they're chasing the Flames, who've in recent history played terribly under the greatest of pressure. I fully expect tomorrow's game to make me even more frightened.

So here's the thing: I don't think the Flames need Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf to start scoring mountains of goals to make this thing work. What they DO need to do, what with their veteran status and letters on their sweaters and all, is keep their teammates calm and focused. The biggest danger at this point isn't losing position or missing the playoffs, because neither of those things are likely. It's about not preparing to be in the best position to win come the arrival of the post-season.

That said — and knowing Phaneuf is still all of: young, dating a starlet, spotted allegedly intoxicated at local nightclubs, and taking a step back this season — I'd like to see the Flames acquire a veteran, playoff-tested, depth player before the deadline. The Shanahan signing in New Jersey was so smart — he's cheap, a professional, guaranteed not to screw anything up.

And, sorry if you think this is heresy, but Jarome Iginla hasn't gotten the job done in this department for the past three years. I'm not saying he's a bad leader, or doesn't lead well by example, but he hasn't been a calming influence come playoff time since 2004. I think he wants it too much. The Flames don't have much on their roster in terms of actual cup winners: It's Cory Sarich, and that's it. And since Iggy seems to also be a guy who loves Todd Bertuzzi, it would be nice to have a guy who could stare down Bert when he starts taking stupid penalties in Game 1 of the first round.

I won't speculate or suggest anyone. Hell, I'm not even saying "The Flames must do this." What I am saying is, I think it would be a positive move. At worst, the guy doesn't fit in, and becomes a healthy scratch. At best, the Flames have another guy, one not named Jarome, to set the tone.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

sunday feedback: rearview mirror

last week's sunday feedback poll showed that iginla's 08/09 struggles (well documented this week over at kent's site) have made him the most disappointing in the four-game losing streak and, presumably, the undeserved wins that followed it. iggy took almost 50% of the votes, while dion (who is starting to show signs of coming out of HIS funk) was a close second at 40%. bertuzzi got a couple of votes, i'm guessing due to his penchant for taking untimely penalties. in the comments, other options for "most disappointing" were the team as a whole, and *ahem* harvey the hound, since he's "definitely the reason for the weak road record." no votes whatsoever for keenan, which signals to me that the fans are devoted, now, to his iron mikeyness.

this week has given us a southern three-game roadtrip, on which we deserved zero wins but managed to pocket (pickpocket ???) five out of six points. i like that the flames are showing signs of being a resilient team, but hate that they're quickly shedding the "elite team" status that they were just getting used to... i imagine we'll see a bunch more ugly games in the coming month, and hopefully we can see some beauties as well...

the next flames' tilt is tuesday at home against a desperate vancouver team (though pretty much all the teams in the NW, other than the flames, are in that "desperate" category). a flames' loss will make the pesky (ie: the cleanest adjective i could come up with) canucks visible in the rearview.... a scary prospect, if you ask me....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

flames v. kings: systems

after a potentially devastating run of horrible losses back in november, punctuated by what i like to refer to as "the bay-area blowout," coach mike keenan corrected the team's system which led to a couple of months of winning play.

the early season's game-plan was defined by a hard, aggressive forecheck that was being exploited by superior teams; calgary was winning the man-on-man battles, often forsaking the puck. this, obviously, led to too many turnovers which led to too many goals against...

the current system is a far more defensive-minded one. instead of going in for the huge hit, you now see flames players backing off in order to put themselves in a more effective defensive position. for two months this was working, for the most part, against the elite teams (ex: the sharks) as well as the basement-dwellers (ex: the isles).

the players' efforts have been questionned a lot in the past weeks, during the unfortunate four-game losing skid that seemed to have ended with the 6-2 stomping of a slumping habs squad on monday. jarome is clearly having a terrible year, and tertiary scorers like glencross and bourque are suffering from red-hot to ice-cold swings. i have to wonder if coaching might play a larger part...

if the opposition is analyzing our system, then it is feasible (if not likely) that they're creating game plans to break it down. while the current defensive-aggressive style was working for the favorable xmas/new years schedule, perhaps it needs to (once again) be adjusted.... ?

i'm just musing here.

game notes from last night's tilt v. the ducks:

- there is something seriously wrong with jarome. like i said last night in the comments at flamesnation, i'm about 99% sure that he's been hexxed. there is honestly no other rational explanation for our captain to miss a wide open net from two feet out like he did on the first powerplay in anaheim...

- gio gio gio... bless'im. he's still only playing +/-15 minutes a night, but showed up with two ENORMOUS hits and got an assist to boot. i called into the fan960 after the montreal game to point out how effective he's been, of late, and rob kerr (in all his know-it-all wisdom) insisted that when vandermeer is 100%, we'll still see a battle between him, gio & pardy for that 6th spot... i beg to differ.

- lombardi, while on an absolute TEAR offensively, of late, is struggling with his backcheck. twice last night he lost his man, ending both times in anaheim tallies. kent noted that playing him vs. getzlaf is probably not the smartest coaching decision, and i tend to agree... notch one there for randy carlyle and his last change....

kings tonight.
fingers crossed...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

flames v. ducks: you're on your own, boys...

if i've said it once, i've said it a million times: i'm SERIOUSLY superstitious.... obviously this applies to my jersey(s) but it also applies to the pocketdawg...

enroute to the game on monday, after inhaling a bag of free mystery-flavoured doritos that were handed to us outside erlton station on the +15, i told my dad that i was gonna probably wait to eat anything else until i was hungry for a pocketdawg, reasonning that "we always win when i have a pocketdawg..."

during the pre-game skate, my pops got a pulled pork sammy from the concourse deli and, while it looked insanely good, i opted to hold out. mid-way through the second period during a tv-timeout [and moments after receiving a text from the habs-loving strombo which read, "Say hi to your dad for me :) I wish I was there having pocket dogs (sic) with y'all"] i went and got me one of those bacon-cheddar numbers packed full of cheesy-ranchy goodness....

i was literally about 5 bites in when lombardi (!!!!!!!) got an undenyably sweet and timely shorthanded goal to tie the score. 30-or-so seconds (and about 4 bites) later and dion potted his seventh of the year, pulling the flames ahead where they would stay for the duration of the game...

as the fire spitters erupted and the crowd hit mayhem levels, my dad pointed to the remainder of my dinner and said something to the effect of "good call..."

so tonight the flames will skate into anaheim with a hugely unfavorable recent record on the road (not that the pond has ever been overly hospitable to the flames). with any luck, the win against montreal has given them back some of the confidence they were exhibiting prior to the 4-game skid, and they can pull out a win tonight... but they'll have to do it without me partaking in my arena-treat of choice...

good luck, boys.

Monday, February 9, 2009

flames v. habs: just askin'...

the norm in writing about injured players is to put their injury behind their name in parentheses. like, if i were to write about rhett warrener (shoulder) skating on his own, or brandon prust (jaw) being back on solid food.

why is nobody talking about sean avery (mouth) getting put on waivers ???

just curious...


Sunday, February 8, 2009

sunday feedback: disappointment

each part of last week's sunday feedback poll, curiously, ended up with a different number of voters. there was a clear "winner" for the worst trade in flames history (the ten player deal where cliff fletcher picked doug risebrough's pocket, sending gilmour+ to toronto for leeman+) at 56%, but the masses were divided when choosing the best trade. in the comments, it was noted that trades can be judged by how they look at the time, and how they look down the road ---which could be why the kiprusoff trade was the overall "winner" with 31% of votes. here, darryl sutter essentially picked up a vezina trophy winner for a 2nd round draft pick; good at the time, and still good now five years later. niewendyk for iginla took 27% of votes, and gilmour for parts (just before the '89 cup win) took 24%. interestingly (well, to me anyways), nobody voted for the deal that sent future hall-of-famer brett hull to the blues for a backup goalie and 2nd pairing defenseman, and nobody voted for the deal that sent the team's flames leading scorer (kent nilsson) to the stars in 1985 ---a move which gave us two generations of captains.

just over a week ago, darryl sutter al-but proclaimed that there would be no major trades this year. this came, of course, well before the current team decided to throw in the towel. i watched the PPV with my buddy mike and at the end, when the team was doing the whole "jersey off my back" ceremony, he said "don't they usually do that at the end of the season ?? hm... maybe they HAVE given up !!!"

like i said in the comments over at flamesnation: i feel bad for keenan. with the team pushed up against the cap, the option to bench guys is sortof absent. i think dion could use a game in the pressbox for random bad play, pardy could use a game in the rafters for occasional REALLY bad play, iggy could use a rest to possibly gain perspective or something (this would obviously never happen), and if bertuzzi takes one more g***d*** offensive zone penalty, i'm a-gonna scream.

which brings us to our sunday feedback poll:

the good news is, gio has had a string of great games, and lombardi is still creating great plays and scoring opportunities. at one point in the third period yesterday, it looked like gio was gonna try to tie the game all by himself. he might've gotten somewhere, except that there was nary a soul in red in front of the net. major issue, there. apparently the only time the flames are competant in that capacity is in front of their OWN net (read: pardy on the bobby ryan goal).


montreal tomorrow. i would think that an eastern conference team is just what we need right now. though this one is gonna be a tough win.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Returning to the scene of the greatest crime: Me

My relative silence around here lately has been entirely due to an unusually busy winter, which I'm going to blame on THESE TOUGH ECONOMIC TIMES. (Have you noticed that everything can be blamed on that?)

Anyway, there have been a couple of fringe benefits to this lack of free time. One has been that I've actually completely missed the last three Flames games, so I've only had to experience the agony of the loss for the moment I learned the score, rather than three hours of watching the game.

Another is that, in desperation to relax, I impulsively decided on what I call an "emergency vacation," which has landed me in Central Florida ... home of the Tampa Bay Lightning. And so, tonight, I will attempt to negotiate the crowds and debauchery of the Gasparilla Pirate Fest and enter the St. Pete Times Forum to watch the Lightning take on the New York Islanders in perhaps the most nondescript NHL game of the season.

I find it funny that I've ended up seeing a game here. For all my hockey love, and having been to more than 20 CHL arenas, this will only be my sixth NHL rink (Saddledome, Pacific Coliseum, GM Place, Air Canada Centre, Scotiabank Centre). It's just worked out that way ... been to plenty of NHL cities during the season and the timing hasn't worked out.

But of course, entering that building isn't just like walking into any old arena. That's where that old bastard Dave Andreychuk (whose bar, by the way, I'll be eating my pre-game meal at) raised the Stanley Cup as the Calgary Flames looked on back in 2004. The most crushing moment of my adult life.

I'm going tonight — at the insane price of $59 for a pair of tickets, two hotdogs, two beers and parking — to exorcise those demons.

I will wear my Flames hat, lay my hands on the foundation and absorb the badness, then cheer for the Lightning in the game.

Because, well, how can you cheer for the Islanders?

Friday, February 6, 2009

further musings following 3 no-shows

after three terrible outings leading to three terrible losses, i finally have some stuff to say about the flames. i guess my head ain't totally into the blogging arts, currently, cause i'm feeling like doing another point form entry, here.


1. first and foremost, something has GOT to be done about dion phaneuf. kent pointed out that pardy was getting targeted by the opposition, and dion was in no position to help out (that the duo needed to be re-paired ---haha). well, apparently someone reads his stuff, or someone is on the same wavelength (i presume the former) and dion started the night with gio, while pardy was paired with sarich. obviously, this didn't stick. phaneuf still ended the night with a mind-blowing 26 minutes (HOW DOES HE GET 26 MINUTES OF ICE WHEN HE'S STINKIN' UP THE JOINT ??!?!) while his rotating door of partners all ended with less than twenty minutes apiece (gio: 15, sarich: 18, pardy: 14). obviously aucoin and regehr picked up most of the slack.

the solution ?

well, kick me if i'm wrong but i think it's tomas kaberle. i'm not sure what the flames can safely give up to bring the guy in but i'd effin LOVE to see it if the outgoing damage was minimal. as a defensively sound player with amazing puck distributing skills, pairing kaberle with dion would both steady the youngster and revitalize his pointshot. also, with the pending (presumeable) departure of aucoin next year, it maintains a veteran blueliner at similar cost. i realize he's not cheap and i'm aware that he's got one of those pesky no-traders, but who the heck wants to stay in toronto ?!?!?
kaberle does ? hmph...

2. is it really just damn good luck, or should rich hesketh be credited for the (touch wood) lack of injuries to the flames players ? i've been pondering this for quite some time, now, and with each passing day i have to think it's the trainer. i use both owen nolan and todd bertuzzi as examples, and when comparing games lost due to injury, there is a stark difference between flames seasons and non-flames seasons (both before, and with nolan, after). also, if you look at the past few years of flames' injuries, most --if not all-- are in-game afflictions (broken bones) or residual, lingering injuries (warrener's age-old bad shoulder). most notably, to me, are the lack of pulled muscles, strains, groin injuries...

so, like getting "GIO" on the back of my jersey all-but guarantees he'll get traded, the previous paragraph all-but insures a debilitating muscular injury to one of our top players (you know who i mean but i can't bring myself to write his name here).

3. the OSS line sure has been quiet, hunh ?

that's pretty much all i've got.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

ya ya, i GET it !!!

i only have a couple things to say about tonight's loss in dallas:

1. there were a few games where i actually started thinking bertuzzi wasn't useless... now i'm back to where i was in the first 20-or-so games: watching him float, glide, and suck. taking penalties in the offensive zone is straight up dumb...

2. speaking of penalties, my boy gio has been taking a crapload of 'em lately --but for some reason, he has become the reigning king of the mysterious infraction. the winning goal was scored tonight while gio was in the box for... well... the refs called it holding the stick but i think he was just guilty of bad angles and clumsy play... at least tonight his penalty wasn't called in make-believe time like it was during that game v. the wild....

moving on...

at madison square garden tonight, the new york rangers retired adam graves' #9. i know this because i follow the rangers. i know this because i read i know this because i watch sportsnet and sportscentre and the score. but unlike most of you, i've actually known about the adam graves jersey retirement ceremony since mid-december because in 2005 i ordered a pair of rangers tickets online. in the past month, my inbox has been innundated with junk mail on the subject:

so congratulations, adam graves ---i was totally bored with the news of tonight's ceremony a month ago, thanks to e-harassment from your former team. giddyup.

also congratulations to leafsnation for proving (yet again) that former players just can't win.... first you take mats to the gallows for refusing to waive his no trader (cause the captain wanted to stick out his commitment to the team), then boo bryan mccabe, in his first game back to the ACC as a panther, because he did. i still maintain that all the tomato throwing should be saved for JFJ, and not the guys that took advantage of his idiocy...

random musings on a gameday

i wasn't gonna post today cause i didn't feel like it, but then i started thinking about all this stuff that's going on in the world of professional hockey (and beyond) and decided to just do a random list of thoughts. a few of them are just so timely on a day that the flames play the stars; the first meet-up since the day sean avery took his career in his own hands and essentially flushed it down the toilet....

- "repeat offender" sean avery got a six-game suspension for shooting off his mouth a couple of months ago; inquiring publically why other NHLers insist on falling in love with his "sloppy seconds..." this week, "repeat offender" denis gauthier got a five-game suspension for conceivably ending josh gorges' career. for the layman: although he's been suspended thrice for dirty on-ice hits causing serious injury to other players, gauthier gets a lesser penalty than a guy who insists he's "not an asshole all the time," but went on camera with some pre-game ribbing that undoubtedly went too far... the nhl disciplinary department definitely needs some more specific guidelines, cause that just ain't right... apparently all the talk about "getting tough on headshots" is just that.

- "sloppy seconds" herself is guest judging on project runway canada tonight at 10pm on global. my roommate met her and dion last week at the 2nd theory of a deadman show (my roommate was getting paid to be there, fyi) and said that dion was really nice guy and elisha was "superhot." he also said they were completely intoxicated and pretty funny... remind me sometime to privately explain why he was in such close proximety...

- before the preds game, i was concerned with the law of averages; that the flames can't win every night and perhaps the preds would get our number. well it came a game late, but it seems it's the avs who have the ability to stick it to our beloved Cs. budaj and mcleod should be considered bonafide fire extinguishers. ZING !

- i didn't feel like wearing the gio jersey last night but when it looked grim i put it on (about halfway thru the second period). usually that's good enough to provide overtime AT LEAST, but not yesterday.... nope. ie: my #5 is freshly washed and ready to go for tonight.... bring it.

- speaking of gio, he looked pretty awful last night. still, i was exceptionally proud that he fought laperriere (and lost). joking with a friend of mine post-pugilism, i said "gio should probably stick to fighting guys in his class." my buddy says "i don't think there is anyone." i, of course, suggested one of the sedins (but not both)... i love gio, but i also love making fun of gio.... ;)

- one of my favorite rants this year is about the sens, and it came as no real surprise that craig hartsburg, not brian murray, got the sack yesterday. this would have been an absolute outrage to me if i was a sens fan, but thankfully i'm not. according to my mole in the nation's capital, it sounds like most people calling in to ottawa radio were similarly put out (which makes me think that not everyone who lives there supports imbeciles at the top)...

- alot of people hate steve ott. i still can't effin' stand mike ribeiro.

- mike brophy referred to aucoin as "adrian phaneuf" twice before being corrected by his co-hort. like, wow.

mmmkay ?

go flames

Monday, February 2, 2009

flames v. avs: IT'S GROUNDHOG DAY !!

mark your calendars for mid-march cause all of the groundhogs (punxatawney phil, wiarton willie and our own balzac billy) have apparently seen their shadows, so we've got six more weeks of winter comin'... though it sure won't feel like it in cowtown THIS week !!!!

today felt like groundhog day, the movie, to me as i spent the entirety of it (as i did yesterday) looking forward to tonight's matchup with our division rivals from the american rockies. with any luck, the game will also be a repeat of the nov 18th contest, where the flames played their best hockey in years, dominating their opponent to a 3-0 final.

what i noticed at the nashville game last week was that the defensive pairings TOI is starting to even out; gio/sarich are clocking in around 17.5 mins, regehr/aucoin around 21 and phaneuf/pardy around 25. this is a far cry from a month-or-so ago when dion was literally playing half-games and gio was only getting about 12 minutes of icetime. special teams are also, obviously a factor.


go flames !

Sunday, February 1, 2009

sunday feedback: tradebait

last week's sunday feedback poll, which seems totally boring to me at this point, showed that the five superskills events are pretty equally liked, with the exeption of fastest skater which showed poorly in the poll. *yawn* i'm so over it, i couldn't be bothered to elaborate further... if you're so inclined, scroll down to see the exact results for yourself.

moving on to this week: a double shot poll.

the more goals he scores, the more people talk about mike (michael ??) cammalleri's upcoming free-agency, and what darryl sutter should do about it. with the trade deadline just over a month away, and our GM's penchant to pull the trigger early, everybody's favorite water-cooler conversation these days involves who we'll pick up, and what we'll give up to get him (check out the comments on some of kent's recent posts for a variety of interesting trade predictions)

and, while duncan suggested separating these two polls by a week, i've decided that they truly belong together.....

[info from some guy with far too much time on his hands]

the flames face the colorado avalanche tonight, a team with whom we've made a handful of trades over the years, that didn't quite make the cut for the above polls (even with players like leopold, fleury, regehr, and tanguay all switching sides). i expect nothing short of a win.

[note: uhhh... the flames don't play the 'lanche till tomorrow... which totally explains why i can't find it on the radio or the television !!!!]