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December 9 News and Notes

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Time again for another look at the Flames and a few items of note around the league. Today, the Flames return home in search of a few goals, the neighbours do their fans a solid, and that goalie controversy we mentioned in Philly last week? Solved by the scalpel.

Flames:

Calgary dropped a 2-1 decision to the Kings, and as easily as one could look at Regehr's absence for answers, it's long overdue to start asking a few questions about the long term offensive prospects. Kent's made his case for one more forward, and now that reality has set for Calgary vis-a-vis SH%, scoring may well be the primary area of concern. There was talk in the summer that Jokinen's full-season work would alleviate the loss of Cammalleri, and that the only offence needing replacement would be that of Lombardi. I'm not sure that's going to pan out. The boss is blaming execution, but after the hot start, the Flames have scored 45 goals in their last 19 games, and to be honest, this is exactly the type of team I expected from the get-go. They aren't cap-screwed like last year, so I do see potential for an addition in March. Of course, not having a PP in the crapper might be of assistance.

Injury-wise, the Flames went down another body Monday, as Craig Conroy appeared to hurt his wrist on an attempted check. Brent Sutter advised Rob Kerr and Dean Molberg yesterday afternoon that both Conroy and Regehr were OK, but I did note that when Sarich's name came up, Brent deferred to Darryl regarding an update. Hmm.

Kipper 5 v 5: Phoenix 2-20, San Jose 1-26, L.A. 1-12, season to date 34-569, .940% The guy could use more than a goal or two a night, don't you think? 

Not-yet-Flames:

Nice story regarding '09 pick Ryan Howse, and the kick in the pants he got from coach Marc Habscheid. Since that friendly chat, Howse has taken a major leap in terms of his overall play. It's still a long way from Chilliwack to the bigs, but the pick was regarded as pretty meh in June, and Howse's work this season should make somebody in the amateur procurement side of the organization feel pretty good about themselves.

 

Elsewhere:

The Canucks have had a lackluster roadtrip so far, with losses to the Hurricanes and Predators following good wins in New Jersey and Philly, the latter of which lead to the dismissal of John Stevens, which I'll get to in a bit. Off-ice, one of the Canucks' prize prospects, Cody Hodgson, is still suffering back problems that have lead him to withdraw from World Junior consideration. It looks like a lost year for the young man, who impressed me in his short stint for the Manitoba Moose during last year's AHL playoffs.

 

The Wild, after righting the ship somewhat, lost to Phoenix 2-0 Monday night, and Mike Russo notes that the flu has hobbled them, like many other teams this season. The Flames have been strangely exempt from that malady. Why would that be? Ah, I kid because I care.

 

The big news of the week is the dismissal of John Stevens as head coach in Philadelphia. The Flyers went big in the off-season, acquiring Chris Pronger in the belief that it was their chance to make another deep run.  Broad Street Hockey asks a few questions, although one name that they didn't mention was Mike Knuble. He's been a useful add for the Caps, and I'd guess that The Flyers miss him a hell of a lot more than Joffrey Lupul

The Flyers did get Peter Laviolette his first win last night against the Islanders, but they'll have to lean on Brian Boucher in net for the next several weeks, as Ray Emery has an abdominal injury that will require surgery. There's been talk that the Flyers were already tired of his act, and that may be, although it sounds like he's tried to gut it out, playing with this ailment for the last few weeks. 

Of course, losing, as always, brings talk of dissension. Chris Pronger was quick to deny any rift in the room, or the rumour that he might take over as captain:

Those were bloggers, Internet-ers. If you want to follow bloggers around the world, you're going to be in trouble.

That's why the Internet is a very dangerous thing, gentlemen. A lot of that stuff is...

 

Very true, Chris. I mean after all, think about the rumour that went around after your trade from Edmonton about disgruntled fans burning your kids' crib. Oh, wait, it was you that spread that BS, not any internet hero. I'm not anything remotely resembling a religious person, but I do seem to recall reading a bit about motes and beams somewhere along the line. 

 

Jonathan Willis has a look at Rick Nash's sub-standard +/-, and points out that he isn't getting much help from Steve Mason. The subject of EV SV% behind skaters is one that comes up around these parts on occasion, and PDO numbers (EV SV % + EV SH %) are usually a good way to have a quick read on a player's or team's chances of sustaining performance over time.  

 

The Bruins resigned Marc Savard to a contract that has the NHL's CBA police sniffing about. Stanley Cup of Chowder asks the pertinent question:

What the hell is the "spirit of the CBA"? Is that Gary Bettman's new expansion team in Mobile, Alabama or some sort of Hockey-themed casino?

 

 

Yup. As an aside, Canadian Airlines used to name planes in its fleet in this manner. I remember working in Regina a number of years ago and seeing a Fokker F-28 named 'The Spirit of Hay River" pull up to the gate. Kinda glad I never had to get on that one, is all I have to say. SCoC is right on the merits, of course. I suppose the other question a cynical person might ask is, "Does the NHL head office scrutinize potential owners to the same degree?" 

 

In other New York doings, Brendan Shanahan has made a soft landing, with an appointment as the league's new VP of Hockey and Business Development. Figurehead? Serious Player? Overmatched? Who knows? Tom Benjamin has a dim view of the move, implying it's a make-good for Shanny's assistance in getting people onside during the last CBA negotiations.  

 

Mark Messier is going to be in charge of Canada's World Championship squad this spring, and it sounds like he might be asking an old pal to coach the squad. Uh, Mark, you have noticed the difference in performance between last year's Coyotes and this year's, right? 

 

Gare Joyce has a look at the effect that being among the last cuts for Canada's World Junior squad can have on a player. Disappointment is part of life and all that jazz, but getting that early AM wake-up call and then having to face this country's hockey-obsessed media to discuss your failings would tax even the hardest-edged teenager.

 

I make fun of the Oilers, because, well, why not, right? That said, I give credit to the organization for their handling of tonight's game in Tampa. It wasn't going to be televised, so the Oilers will show it on their website for viewers in the normal Oiler TV footprint, and include the fans via Twitter questions for the broadcast crew and players. The Flames has a similar situation pop up in early November, and those of us sans Centre Ice were compelled to resort to, ahem, other means to witness the game in St. Louis.  I hope the Flames can respond in the same manner when this situation pops up again in the New Year.

 

Finally, it wouldn't be the season without John Buccigross' re-working of Adam Sandler's ode to the chosen people, made with a Flames' twist. 

 

That's all for this week. Link 'em if you got 'em in comments.