With the Flames in action tomorrow, the week's roundup of assorted items drops this morning. After the jump, the Flames' extra defencemen bide their time, our long national nightmare ends, and The Coyotes' saga grinds toward some sort of denouement.
The Flames' lengthy stay in Cowtown will be interrupted by a hockey game Wednesday night against Colorado. In the interim, the boss notes that the penalty count is a bit higher than he might like. Given that the Flames have killed penalties on home ice at a rate of 69.2 percent., that seems like a good area to target.
One area that hasn't been a public area of concern as of yet is offence, with Calgary leading the way in league goal scoring. Randy Sportak's story from yesterday credits depth. Does anyone in the media ever consider shooting percentage at all? This is old news around here, but the best teams in the NHL shot around 11% last year. If the Flames were shooting at that level, they'd have about 28 goals so far. Calgary's currently shooting 16%, so they have 40 goals. Does anyone really believe that sort of number is sustainable? Does the question ever even come up? The good news for me is that the Flames have the EV shots against total headed in the right direction, and that they finally out-shot another team on Saturday, weakened as the Oil may have been.
One number I've decided I'll track in this space is Kiprusoff's 5 v 5 SV%. 5 v 5 numbers are often used to assess skaters, and I don't see why a goalie needs to be an exception. Through 10 games, Kipper has allowed 16 goals on 217 5 v 5 shots. That's a .926 SV%. Gabe Desjardins' looked at the 07/08 and 08/09 numbers here. You'll note 34 put up a nifty .899 SV% last year, and .914 in 07/08. If he finishes within hailing distance of his current mark, it'll be a very good year.
Elsewhere with the Flames, the extra D are waiting it out, but in all honesty, why Pardy sits at the expense of Johnson still seems a bit odd to me. Eric Nystrom's good play has been rewarded with more ice time, and snark about the SH% aside, it's a good thing the Flames aren't relying on Jokinen and Iginla for offence so far, because they'd be in the glue if they were.
The opposition tomorrow is riding on goaltending and good shooting as well. As well, I watched the first period of the 'Lanche-Wings game Saturday. Colorado was short-handed for 4 minutes near the end of the period, and Ryan O' Reilly played 2:50 of that 4 minutes, on purpose. He's a nice young player, but I'm not sure that's really sustainable. Beyond the work of O' Reilly and Matt Duchene, Craig Anderson has been the story in Colorado, which hasn't been a complete surprise to former team mate Jay Bouwmeester. Or me, come to think of it. Anderson was a Flames' draft pick in 1999, but the Flames chose not to sign him out of junior. Despite being a Chicago native, Anderson wasn't a Hawk fan growing up. Why? No games on TV. Every time someone makes a snippy remark about all the new Hawk fans that have come out of the woodwork, I always think about how damned hard Bill Wirtz made it to care about the NHL game in Chicago and realize that I'm not sure I'll ever think poorly of anyone for not wanting anything to do with that team while he was alive.
Ray Ferraro's weekly bit at TSN includes a comparison between Ryan Kesler and Shawn Horcoff, with Ferraro siding with Kesler. My question would be, if Ryan Kesler didn't have Henrik Sedin soaking up all the attention in Vancouver, would he look so good? Horcoff doesn't quite have the same quality of help, and hasn't had anyone else trustworthy to take a D zone faceoff since the Oilers traded Jarret Stoll. It really isn't a fair comparison. Kesler's very good, but when the Canucks are paying him 4 million dollars or thereabouts next year, he won't seem quite as good, I'm guessing.
As mentioned up top, the suicide watch in the center of the universe ended last night, with the Leafs taking advantage of Anaheim's penalty trouble to notch 5 PP goals in a 6-3 win. From a Duck POV, the Orange County Register's game story from last night describes the team thusly:
the Ducks are an unqualified mess at the moment.
Everyone's favourite ex-Flame Sparklepants is apparently happy in Detroit. Good place for him, IMO. The Wings can keep him as long as they want. That said, George Malik pretty much wants everyone's head after the slow start. That's a fan base who's younger members know very little in the way of adversity. I wonder how they'll react to a season or two where their team isn't considered the gold standard.
Ilya Kovalchuk will be out approximately a month after suffering a broken foot over the weekend. Bird Watchers Anonymous is more optimistic than I might be if my team's best player by a wide margin was headed to LTIR. Evander Kane will be yet another 18 year old who gets heavy responsibility this year, by the sounds of it.
Off-ice, David Boclair has a lengthy interview with David Freeman of the Predators, discussing the two years since they rescued the team for the city. This line should surprise exactly no one:
"The bottom line is: This is not a good financial investment,"
Hockey in Nashville is always going to be a tight fit. I wish them well.
Finally, the Phoenix Coyotes are a step closer to being the NHL's to control. Jerry Moyes has agreed to sell the team to the league, largely because the losses are eating at his share of the sale price. Ice Edge appears to be the buyer most likely for now. Enjoy some NHL hockey in 10/11, Saskatoon. I'm guessing they'll draw more than 10,699 a night. That number is an interesting one to me as an old Jets fan, btw. The Jets were officially a lame duck franchise in August of 1995. They drew 11,000 a game in 95/96, and they sure as hell didn't have the NHL buying the franchise to keep it in the market while they looked for an owner, or publicly brow-beating local government for massive handouts to make things fly for said potential owner. Phoenix has those things in their favour, and they're charging bupkis for tickets, so it's all on the local fan base now. Draw, or be gone.
I'm done. All yours in comments.