Thursday, December 07, 2006


Flames Game Day

The Flames are in St. Paul tonight to face the Minnesota Wild for the first time this season (6PM MT, RSN West). Calgary played the Wild pretty tough last year, winning all 4 in the Dome and splitting the two in St. Paul (one of the losses being that ugly season-opener).

Considering the Flames' road record this season, I'm probably tempting fate by pointing this out, but Did You Know: since beating the Canucks at home on November 2nd (that's 5 weeks ago today), the Wild have a total of ONE WIN playing quote-unquote real hockey. One regulation win (home v. PHX), no overtime wins, and three shootout wins (@LA, @NSH, v.CHI).

When their 9-1-0 start to the season included 2 OT wins and 3 SO wins, you knew their position in the standings flattered them a bit, but they aren't actually this bad, are they? Gaborik is still out (Demitra is expected back tonight), but if they don't pick it up soon, they're going to get left in the Western Conference dust... which of course suits me just fine.

The other relevant question at this point is, How Good Are The Flames? Since that brutal 3-7-2 start, they're 10-3-0: 8-0-0 at home, and 2-3-0 on the road. The table at the left is for all games, though, and is hard to believe.

It's Even Strength Goals Against per Game, not per 60minsES, but the results would be pretty much the same (there's at most a 10% variation in ESmins per game over the 30 teams). The Flames are so far out in front of most of the pack here, there's not much to say except that there's a lot of room to falter and still be excellent -- and probably continue to improve their record if the special teams improve. (In ESGF/gm, Calgary is 20th in the league; 9th in the WC; 7th in the WC in 5-on-5 GF/gm.)

Speaking of improvement, one guy on the Flames who can still definitely play better is Robyn Regehr. Metrognome had a good post the other day on the Big Guy; he's just not as rock-solid as in the past two seasons. His PK numbers are the worst of all the regular Flames penalty killers.

He's at an impressive-looking +10 right now (and I'm not sneezing at it myself), but he and Warrener have mostly been playing with the Iginla line (against the top opposition) and 12/22/40 have just been crushing all comers lately.

I see also that one of the running Battle of Alberta subplots -- Stoll vs. Lombardi -- took another twist last night. In case you don't know what I'm talking about here, a brief primer:

Both Jarret Stoll and Matthew Lombardi were drafted in 2000; Stoll #46 by the Flames, and Lombardi #215 by the Oilers. They were not signed promptly, and went forward and were extremely productive their next two junior seasons.
Obviously then their prices went up; they couldn't agree to contracts; and they went back into the draft in 2002, where Stoll was picked by the Oilers (#36) and Lombardi by the Flames (#90). Since then, it has often looked like one team got the far better end of that turnaround -- but which team seems to change by the month.

As we saw with Phaneuf last year, high praise from Pierre Mcguire tends to reverberate through the hockey world, and as Andy phrased it, Stoll was getting quite the reacharound from Pierre last night. You think Kevin Lowe is familiar with the phrase "Buy Low, Sell High"?

Right, so, who are we playing tonight? Oh right, the Wild. The Flames have got to be tired of answering questions about why they suck so bad on the road, so I anticipate a strong performance tonight, reflected on the scoresheet as Calgary 4 (Lombardi, Lundmark, Phaneuf, Iginla with #300) Minnesota 1 (Mark Tinordi). Go Flames.


Matt, just a quick question to confirm or deny my suspicions as of late: which pairing of Phaneuf/Hamrlik and Regehr/Warrener has been seeing the tougher matchups at ES as of late?

My SUSPICION is that it's Regehr/Warrener, but I can't say for sure because I don't pay attention to the Flames that close.

Also, I noticed Phaneuf is putting up a pretty impressive +/- number, but I seem to remember him having a slow start. How low did he go?

I tend to disagree. I look Wild 2 (Demitra, Rolston), Flames 1 (Plett).

Scary to think where the Oil would be ES wise if Roli wasn't having a very good season. As it is they're in the bottom half.

As a rule, 28/44 and Iginla's line play the other team's #1 line. It's been this way pretty much since Sutter came to Calgary (except Leopold was in 44's spot).

hmm, 2-0 - the curse of Mark Tinordi.

Oooh, Martine Gaillard.

To Matt and everyone else;)

I believe I'm the one who made famous the practice of listing players numbers instead of their names so let's all remember that shall we;)

And McGuire can save his BJ's for guys like Weapons Grade Ugly Phaneuf.

Oilers fans know who's valuable and 16 doesn't deserve all the praise heaped upon him last night

Again with the frickin' PK!! It may be time to trade for some PK help. Is it possible to have a PK specialist dman?

Dennis, I wasn't trying to Bigfoot you there. They're human beings, Dammit!

When the newborn is in the one hand, though, it saves enough keystrokes to be worth it.

Ok, I watched bits and pieces of this game, but specifically the OT and shootout, and I didn't know what was a bigger "are you fuckin' kidding me?" moment:

1) When Garrett and Millions were convinced the puck was in the net on Tanguay's shootout attempt

2) When Iginla wasn't one of the three shooters for the Flames

I hate when divisional foes go to OT with one-another....grrr.

When Iginla wasn't one of the three shooters for the Flames

Iginla is terrible at shoot-outs. Flames fans have been waiting for the day he'd be dropped from the top 3.

Three point games suck and one of those days Playfair will have a bowel movment and then he might cheer up just a little bit.

I remember one time Yvan Cournoyer almost killed Cesare Maniago from about where Rolston took the slapper in the shootout.

That's got to be a frightening sight for a goalie. Wonder if Cesare suffers Vietnam-like flashbacks.

I want to remind everyone that I made famous the internets

"a bigger "are you fuckin' kidding me?"

Here's one...

How the hell doesn't everyone and their dog know the EXACT move that Koivu does in shootouts? Same move every freekin' single time.

Nice to see Freisen on the PP again. Gag.

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