Tuesday, September 26, 2006


An Off-Season look at...The Calgary Flames

Last season, I jumped right on the Calgary Flames bandwagon and picked them to finish first overall in the conference. While the Flames did quite well, they didn't fully adapt to the New NHL and struggled to score some goals during the season.

Thanks to great defence and goaltending, the Flames finished with a 46-25-11 record and 1st overall in Goals Against. On the down side, the Flames finished 28th out of 30 teams in Goals For, and the much hyped Jarome Iginla slipped to just 67 points in 82 games.

It seems the Flames learned their lessons and went out this off-season to get some offence into the fold, mainly Alex Tanguay. Other than that, the roster remains fairly stable and the Flames will, once again, be a team nobody wants to face in the playoffs.
Calgary Flames

Goaltending: Miikka Kiprusoff, who shows less emotion than a borg drone, proved the few remaining skeptics wrong as he basically carried the Flames on his back with a Vezina-winning performance. He's gold. Behind him? Jamie McLennan. His nickname is 'Noodles'...and...yeah...

Defence: I expected some big hits and a few goals from Dion Phaneuf, but 20 goals and the ghost of Scott Stevens? Unfortunately for him, he got buried under the Crosby/Ovechkin avalanche of hype and his awesome season went fairly unnoticed. I'm not sure he can duplicate his 16 Power Play goals, but he leads an exceptional defensive group that makes Kiprusoff's job that much easier. It will be interesting to see how Andrei Zyuzin will fit in. Coming from a defensive-minded Wild team, he should be OK in a 3rd line role.

Offence: Alex Tanguay is one of those players that is great with other great players, but just a good player on his own. We'll see how much he'll dip without Joe Sakic. Jarome Iginla, for all the hype about him, is much the same way. Iginla struggles to create offence for himself and really did need the help. Together with Daymond Langkow, the top line could really gel with a blend of size, skill, and grit.

Behind them, Kristian Huselius is a name to watch. He was treated like crap by Mike Keenan in Florida, but finally got the chance in Calgary and did alright with 39 points in 54 games (compared to 8 points in 24 games with the Panthers). If Jamie Lundmark can continue the form he showed after a late season trade (10 points in 12 games) and Chuck Kobasew or Matthew Lombardi can make the leap, the Flames should be able to get enough secondary scoring from them and Tony Amonte, who's now reduced to third line-ish duty and is still a decent producer for his limited role.

Overall: The Flames will still have some concerns offensively, and they'll have to hope that Kiprusoff stays exceptionally healthy and plays 70+ games again. I'm not sure what kind of style new coach Jim Playfair will have the Flames play, but this is not the type of club that can afford to open it up TOO much. I expect the Flames to win the Northwest Division and finish Top 3 in the West.

We agree, the Flames should rebound and be the team to beat in the Smythe, errr, Northwest Division
Dean Lombardi is/was the Sharks GM...Matthew Lombardi is the Flame
I think it's unfair to say that Iginla can't create any offense. Opposing teams were able to key in on him and take away any available space because they didn't have to worry about the brick hands he had playing with him on his line.

If you play on a line with guys who can't score and who can't get you the puck, then it's pretty easy for the opposing team to smother you everytime you touch the puck.

Will Tanguay open things up for Iggy? Who knows. But I sure as hell hope so because the Flames are painful to watch.
1. Thanks for catching the error. It's been fixed.

2. As for Iginla, you could say the same argument for just about every offensive star in the league. The top guns always get the attention. From Iggy's numbers and what I see with my own eyes. I see a good player, but not a player who elevates the players on his line to a much higher level. That's why Iginla NEEDS somebody like Tanguay. I don't think the Flames will be an exciting club to watch...and it hurts that their uniforms are so ugly. Black on Red? Ouch.
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