Thursday, April 06, 2006


Today's sunshine and puppies

*With the win over Phoenix last night, the Flames' magic number to clinch at playoff spot is now down to 3; equally encouraging, their magic number to clinch the NW is 8, thanks to Colorado's loss to San Jose.

*Huselius and Phaneuf each scored their 19th goal of the season last night. One more each would give the Flames five 20-goal scorers, something that only 5 NHL teams can boast of right now (one of which is the Oil, the others being Detroit (7), Carolina (6), Buffalo (5), and Tampa Bay (6)). You may recall that last season, Shean Donovan's 18 goals was good for 2nd place on the Flames.

*The Flames' special teams have somewhat quietly improved a whole hell of a lot over the season. They're presently 9th in the league on the PP (18.8% - they're also T4th in SHG against w/ 6). They're 10th in the league on the PK (83.9%). There was a so-ridiculous-it's-funny moment back in the 1st period of Game 4 this season (vs. Colorado) when the Flames were at 5% on the PP and 50% on the PK, good for 30th on both counts.

It's an open question as to how important Special Teams Play will be in this year's playoffs relative to last time (best vague guess being "somewhat more important"), but regardless, being solid in both areas sure can't be a disadvantage.

*McGuire's 2nd-most dubious assertion last night was about Jarome Iginla. (The 1st, by-the-way, was after noting Kipper stopped 41 shots against Detroit: "Wow - when was the last time the Flames gave up 40 shots!" Well Pierre, it was way back on March 18th. They also allowed 39 on March 9th, 19th, and 21st. Anyway...)

So... he asserted that the Flames were not near as good on the road as at home (OK so far) because the home team can matchup Iginla, and that pretty much takes care of things. Just looked it up: Jarome has 19 goals at home this season and 14 on the road. I suppose you could use those numbers to support either side of the argument, depending on how significant you find that 5-goal discrepancy. (This season, home teams in the NHL score 10.7% more than road teams, so if you had to guess how 33G broke down between H/R for a Mystery Player, your best guess would be 17/16 or 18/15.)

I predicted during the Olympics that Jarome would be Large over the remainder of the schedule. That hasn't really happened, statistically, but damn, he does look good out there: I'm still of the mind that we're heading into the playoffs with the best forward and the best goaltender.

*With last night's win, the Flames exceeded last season's point total of 94, with 6 games left. Only 2 of those points have come from shootout wins, so we're definitely ahead of pace.

The bad news, of course, is that because Martin Gelinas is +24 with 16 goals in Florida, and Chris Clark is playing a poor man's Warren Young in Washington, "the Flames are not as strong, personnel-wise, as they were in 2004, when they went to the Stanley Cup final."

Duhatschek's statement there is non-disprovable. Winning the Stanley Cup, the only way the Flames can improve on last season's performance, is incredibly tough even with the undisputed top roster in the league. And even if they do, someone could (and would) argue that it was on Kipper's back, in spite of the weaker skaters.

But I like the way things are going.


Its like Pat Quinn always says (and he should know) "last time I checked, the goalie was part of the team".

So players leave Sutter's systems and go point crazy on another team.

Reinprect, Clark, Gelinas being the names most often bandied about.

But that translates to Coyotes, Capitals and Panthers; none of whom will make the playoffs.

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