- Probably couldn't have asked for a better opening night from the new additions. Jokinen went 2-0-2, +2 with 4 shots in 20 minutes of ice while Leo was 1-0-1, +2 in 23 minutes. The only Flames player to play more than Jordan last night was Dion Phaneuf.
- Lots of positive buzz about the newly formed Jokinen line this morning (naturally), but I'm going temper the expectations somewhat: that trio looked dangerous at both ends of the ice to me and I ended up holding my breath whenever the puck crossed the Flames blueline. After the first period I noted that the Conroy line looked like the most dominant in terms of possession and outshooting at ES (despite the 7 points by Iggy et al) and that's how the evening turned out. Iggy, Joke and the squid were underwater in terms of possession while Moss and Glencross were a combined +45! (If that line had theme song, it would be "Smack my Bitch up").
Now, the good news is the first line generated a lot of high quality scoring chances (which they also finished) and it's not like they were playing against nobodies (Carter, Hartnell, Lupul while Richards, Gagne and Knuble split time between Conroy and Iginla). Still I'd like to see these guys in the black by the corsi metric. They generated opportunites last night, but also benefited from some nice bounces and pretty soft goaltending. A line that strong - and that expensive - should be spending more time in the good end of the ice most nights. Especially because Keenan is no doubt giving them the bulk of the offensive zone draws.
- On that front, Jarome Iginla has exploded out his doldrums with 15 points in his last 6 games. Ironically, his corsi rating via behindthenet has sunk to just +6.9/60 over the same time frame, which is near the bottom of the barrel on the club. It's about time that pucks started going in for Jarome, however, because he was a victim of some pretty terrible percentages through January and February. The bounces couldn't have picked a better time reverse themselves either, because the Flames would be struggling mightily without Bourque and Langkow if Iginla wasn't suddenly on fire.
- Is there any question that Giordano is a superior player to Jim Vandermeer? Not in my mind. Prior to his shoulder injury, Gio's ES stats were +21.4 corsi, 1.09 ESP/60, and +5 against nominal opposition (-0.02). Vandermeer has slid into Gio's spot in the line-up and his outcomes are nowhere near as good. Last night we was in the red by the shots (-5) and he was probably the most sheltered defender on the back-end. His ES stats for the year lag well behind Gio (+3.7 corsi, 0.1 ESP/60, -2) and he gets paid 3 times as much. Sutter had a good off-season last summer, but the Vandermeer contract was a misstep. Hopefully he does something to correct it this July.
- Staying with "replacement level" and outshooting, Kris Chucko spent 5 minutes last night swimming against the current. He played against other fourth liners and had the worst corsi number on the club (-9) in that tiny slice of ice time. He also took a needless neutral zone penalty. Prior to being sent down, David Van Der Gulik was +37.6/60 in terms of outshooting in his two games and he also managed an assist and a handful of quality opportunities.
Now, we're talking tiny sample sizes against different adversaries here, but both my eyes and the numbers tell me the latter is the better player currently. Which, to be fair to Chucko, is expected - VDG is 4 years his senior.
That said, I hope Chucko takes the flight back to QC after tonight's game and VDG gets another stab at the big league. I liked everything I saw out of him.