Ron MacLean and Don Cherry had a back and forth on Jason Spezza this past HNIC, talking about how his increased shot rate has led to his current goal scoring run. The truth is, I tabbed Spezza for a rebound many weeks ago in my weekly fantasy column for fanball. Not based on any future increase in shots on net, but based on a career low SH%. Since his return from injury, Spezza has scored on 22.9% of his shots. Prior to that he was in single digits. Good ol' regression!
Anyways, the Flames are currently a coin flip to make the post-season, a slight improvement since the last time I looked at the odds. Of course, while simply making the post-season remains priority one, a close second should be trying to avoid playing one of San Jose or Chicago in the first round - meaning, finish 6th or higher. That'll be a tough nut to crack and the Flames will need quite an improvement or run of luck to pull it off.
Other stuff to consider:
- Rene Bourque is out of the line-up and that's bad news. Really bad. As in, aside from his poor penalty differential, Bourque is currently the best forward on the team. He's the most efficient ES scorer, has the best relative corsi rate and is the most dangerous penalty killer. With all apologies to Jamie Lundmark, the Flames don't really have a worthy replacement right now.
- That leaves Jarome Iginla to carry the mail up front. He's got some help thanks to all the new faces, but his performance hasn't measurably improved since Jokinen's exit. In the absence of Bourque, Iginla will need to take at least a step or two forward to help the team get over the hump.
- Brian Elliot has usurped Pascal Leclaire in Ottawa this year. How's that Vermette for Leclaire trade looking now, Mr. Murray?
Here's hoping the reffing is semi-competent tonight...