Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Flames Game Day

The Flames head into Nashville tonight for the first of a 5-game roadie. By his own account (he comes on Calgary radio fairly often), former Flames coach and multiple Cup-winner Terry Crisp is loving life as the colour guy on Predators TV broadcasts.

I'm having trouble figuring Nashville out. Are they good? Well, they have 31 points in 21 games; they have a top-10 NHL goalie; and they were full value for their 8th-place finish last year. Are they mediocre? Well, they've only scored 6 more goals than they've allowed (63/57); their team net plus/minus is -4; and their marquee offseason addition has less than 1 PPG (20 in 21 games, 12 of which are on the PP) and is a team-worst -8.

They have 3 wins over St. Louis, and haven't yet faced Detroit, Vancouver, or Calgary. Colour me unimpressed, I guess. They're probably a playoff team, though: the number of intradivisional games on the schedule just about guarantees that two teams from every division will finish Top-8 in the conference, and the Hawks little run of late hasn't convinced me that they'll be the #2 in the Central.

As for the Flames, even with that little bump in the road on Friday night, they're still on an excellent roll. They have one regulation loss in their past 13 games (10-1-2), and a win tonight will give them sole possession of 1st in the Northwest.

Their attack in the shootout loss Friday, both even-strength and on the PP, left a lot to be desired. They won't be successful going forward if they create so few scoring chances. And yet, sometimes a team gets held to one, or zero, goals. It happens to all teams, and except for the rare 50-save masterpiece by the opposing goalie, you never come away from one of those games thinking the offense looked good. It'll be better tonight. But they could sure use Lombardi...

Speaking of which, here's the tough-love quote of the day from Darryl Sutter (my emphasis):
As for who'll be Calgary's top centre in the near future, nothing is set in stone.
Sutter admits he doesn't know the answer yet, especially with Matthew Lombardi still on the shelf with an ankle injury.

"Daymond's a proven 20-goal, 30-assist guy, so that's what we expect of him ... When Rhino's on, he's really good and when he's not, you can't use him."

Ooof. Bonus Sutter quote: "There's only about seven or eight actual No. 1 centremen in the National Hockey League." This statement is a lot more plausible when you look at the list of #1 centres (statistically), c/w numbers, at the bottom of the article.

Puck drops at 6PM MST, PPV and FAN960. Go Flames.


Lord I hope Calgary can do something in the offensive zone this game. It was almost painful to watch them bumbling around in the Oilers end last game.

Oh and...anyone want to hazard a guess as to the number of "Andrew Ference maddening giveaways" that will occur?

Only eight #1 centres? OK, let's assume Sutter wanted us leave out Lemieux, and list some obvious ones: Thornton, Sakic, Modano, Koivu, Forsberg, Weight, Lecavalier, Sundin...

There might be a certain dropoff in elite quality after that bunch, I guess, but shouldn't there be room in here somewhere for Slava Kozlov? Pavel Datsyuk? Marleau? Spezza? Yashin? Brendan Morrison? Staal? Eric freakin' Lindros?

That's a decent list that I'd only quibble with slightly.

Maybe he's trying to cover his ass a bit, because if the guy he let go to L.A. isn't a #1 centre, he's doing a pretty compelling impersonation of one right now.

Hey, if you take Conroy you have to give us Horcoff.

I wasn't trying to make an exhaustive list--I was just poking fun at Sutter, because I think almost all the guys I mentioned are obvious number ones. He can get away with saying "there are only seven or eight #1 centres" because we romanticize the past, but when you follow the statement to its consequences it falls apart, like a lot of offhanded stuff coaches say.

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