Flames Game Day: Crisis? What Crisis?

 


Honda Center

6 PM MT

Opposition: Anaheim Calling

TV: Sportsnet West

Are we having any fun yet? It's another period of introspection around the Flames, as the inability to score, which has really been an ongoing problem since about game 10, is the only thing anyone is discussing. I don't mean to be harsh, but these were questions a few of us were asking as far back as the Bouwmeester acquisition, so I'm not a fan of the sudden increase in attention being paid to the matter, even accepting that attention spans are what they are.

 

There appeared to be a certain level of fantasy, or hubris, take your pick, that was at the heart of this team's construction. First, the sense that Olli Jokinen was going to be an effective scorer in a hard minutes role was a complete flight of fancy. The move from East to West has exposed him for what he's always been, IMO. In his last three years in Florida, he averaged around 4.23 shots a game. In a year and a half in the West, 2.74 shots a game. His goal scoring is tracking in that fashion as well. If a team thinks they can use him as the number one center in a P v P set-up, well, you get what you deserve, sometimes. As a PP point man and soft minute guy, he has a chance to be more productive. Even the soft minutes in the West aren't as soft, so he still might be off his totals from Florida, but I'm not so sure the drop would have been so stark. 

With that in mind, I wasn't against the move to split him off from Iginla. I'd be correctly referred to as a leading advocate for that very deployment, to be honest. What that arrangement does show, however, is the lack of forward depth the team has at the moment. If you have an AHL lifer and a waiver wire pickup in your top-six, you can make all the qualifications you might like regarding the team's play of late, but I'm more inclined to revive my belief in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus than to begin accepting that a team in that fix has enough up front to be anything more than middling.

 

As a consequence, it's a team with no margin at all. That always seems to magnify mistakes made behind the blueline, and the goal that sealed Friday's encounter fits into that category. There were a parade of mistakes on that play, with Regehr's poor choice to chase Sullivan behind the goal being the clincher. That happens to every player now and again, so I'm not going to run the guy off the road or anything. It's just unfortunate that play is enough to end a game. The overall defensive play has been quite acceptable, although Cory Sarich has possibly had better nights than Friday.

 

I'm doing this fairly early in the day, so I don't know who's in net. McE might get a run, and with Anaheim's injuries piling up, this could be a spot for him. That noted, he wasn't overly solid against the Blue Jackets, and the Flames do have a few extra days off in the next week, so we could well see Kipper x 2 in California. 

 

The Ducks were starting to make a move, winning five straight before being shut-out by L.A. Thursday evening. That might get stalled, though, as Selanne and Koivu are now both out, so whatever secondary scoring they might have expected in the next few weeks has likely been shelved. That means even more will be heaped on Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan until at least the Olympic break. In net, they're still riding Jonas Hiller, with one of J.S. Giguere's few good games of note coming in the last meeting of these clubs. Hmm, Calgary making a slumping goalie look good. I can hardly comprehend that. 

 

Game wise, with the Ducks even more of a one line team than usual, playing as much as possible 5 v 5 is imperative. The Ducks are thinner than the Flames, but their top end has been better than Calgary's this season, so a game decided on the PP is likely in Anaheim's favour. To put it another way, if there's any evidence that the Calgary PP will be the positive difference maker in a Flame win, it's in short supply at the moment.

 

Game time is 6 MT on Sportsnet West.

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