Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Flames Game Day

The Flames go back to the scene of the crime this evening to play the Red Wings at the Joe (530PM MT, Flames PPV). You may recall that they played a few games there in April without much success.

If not, let me refresh your memory. They were utterly dominated from the opening puck drop in Game 1. Game 2 wasn't quite as bad (call it dominated, but without the utterly), and the score was closer until partway into the 3rd. Everyone then stressed that the key for the Flames was to get off to a better start, and to stay out of the penalty box. In Game 5 they did exactly that -- excellent 1st period, 3-1 PP advantage -- and then got blown out of the building in the 2nd and 3rd, concluding with Jamie McLennan's bizarre 18 second appearance where he pulled a Butch vs. Maynard with his goal stick.

But! It's a new season. Keenan's thoughts on last season's road record:
It wasn't on his watch. He is not particularly interested in being sullied by it.

"Don't know anything about it. It's all foreign to me," says Keenan. "You don't really know unless you're in the locker-room and you have a feel for what's going on. It doesn't matter to me and it shouldn't matter to this group."

It'll take some time to know if he has the mojo to push the Flames up a level or two, but as I mentioned after Game 1, I'm pretty bullish on him based on early impressions. Alanah talked about his appearance on HNIC's After Hours and had the same general impression as me ("...somewhat pleasant, engaging, entertaining and even likable. (God, that was disturbing.)")

There was one exchange that stood out to me, though. I noted in April, after listening to a post-elimination interview with Playfair, that when someone talks about learning from their mistakes but doesn't acknowledge having made any, they're probably full of it (that or deluding themselves). When Scott Oake asked Keenan about past mistakes, he was fairly specific: while he didn't want to apologize for being emotional per se, he needed to react better to losing and be a better leader. That is, he echoed nearly exactly what MacT said the other day:
Keenan, the new coach of the Calgary Flames, can bring a lot of energy and leadership to a practice or on the bench, but he sometimes let his hatred of losing get the best of him, MacTavish says. "Sometimes yesterday's loss would seep into the next game.

"His biggest weakness was his inability -- and it might be his biggest strength -- to rationalize defeat. ... It's hockey, and there are times as a team that you play well and you lose, and he had a hard time differentiating that from the times that you played poorly and lost."

A negative atmosphere would pervade, with the coach ripping into players. "I hated that as a player, just the negative energy, like everybody is walking on egg shells. You can't prepare for a game like that."

If he really has learned this lesson, it's an excellent, excellent sign.

Somewhat Less Excellent Sign?: Look who's a heartbeat away! Interesting article at
To characterize Keetley as a lightly regarded player doesn’t begin to describe how far off the radar he was. He played in a bantam house league at age 15 -- as a forward. By his own description, he was just trying to plow guys over.

"I really didn’t know what I was going to do in hockey at that point," he said.

What a leap: at 18, he went 21-5-3 (1.66 GAA, 0.933 SV%) in the WHL, turned 19 in April, got drafted in the 5th round (2005), then led the league in Wins twice and won the MVP. Looks like when we're talking about Flames' prospects with unknown ceilings, we should probably include this dude.

Word is the David Moss will be back in the lineup, which is great news. Scott Cruickshank has the 2nd/3rd lines as Huselius-Conroy-Nolan and Lombardi-Yelle-Moss. I quite liked Lombardi and Yelle together in Game 1; if ML is going to be on the nominal 3rd line, this seems like a solid combination. And having Moss going to the net adds an element that was a bit lacking top to bottom in the first two games.

Trivia: in my debriefing of the preseason BoA, I said, "...Adrian Aucoin simply does not look like a good powerplay defenseman. I sincerely doubt he's next to Phaneuf on the #1 unit by October 15th." As it happens, Aucoin stayed on the #1 PP unit for a grand total of one shift. Since then, they've been putting Huselius on the LW and Tanguay at the point. Maybe there's something to this "live scouting" business after all.

Tonight's prediction: the PPV will have lousy production values and some agonizingly puffy features; Godard will not be missed in the lineup; Roger Millions will make us all fall in love again; and special teams will boost Calgary to a 4-3 Win. Go Flames.


Word is Wasgood is in net tonight with Hasek resting an injury.

Chances of a Flames victory just went up ever so slightly.

the PPV will have lousy production values and some agonizingly puffy features

You too? Do any of these teams know how to put together a decent show? Can they not hire out a Sportsnet truck for the night, with what they're chargin?

pretty modest prediction, there, matt.

me? i have faith in the flames and keenan and am calling a stunning 6-2 victory for the flames. flames will finish the job that the coilers could not do.

I don't think last season's performance will have a big impact. Last season our first meeting against Anaheim (after them knocking us out 3 - 0 in game 7) we beat them 3 - 0, ending a pretty long streak.

I'm looking forward to seeing Moss again. I have nothing against Godard, or checking lines in general, but having someone who will never break 4 minutes of ice time per game is pointless. We can do better. Oh, and Moss is a good player is his own right. His crashing the net style is a nice change from the sudden breakaway plays (Lombardi, Iginla) or the fancy passing plays (Tanguay, Huselius) that we get from our star forwards.

It won't take much for us to become a winning team. We've come back from two goal deficits in both our losses, so we know we can outplay teams, at least over a short stretch. And neither of the winning goals were the result of long stretches of dominating play by our opponents. Just the opposite, in fact. As long as we don't have a lopsided period to overcome, we will beat Detroit.

I'm happy with a start. Getting scored on on the first penalty kill is lousy . . . but we came back with an ES goal. We can win this if we don't write off a period.

Converting a powerplay would be nice.


man, that guy is going to pot 40 goals this year, i can taste it.

Awesome! Now we just need to keep the pressure on Detroit and take a lead.

My team is winless since sometime in April and it is not giving me joy. I thought Keenan was supposed to help us with our bad Octobers? Now we have Dallas Friday where we always lose followed by Nashville, where we always lose.

At least the Oilers got skunked tonight. It's cold comfort, but it's some comfort.

Go Flames.

If they turn it around before 4-7-2, that's good, right? There's still time... if the Colorado game is the pivot point, I'm really going to start believing my own voodoo.

Yes, anything bigger than 4-7-2 through 13 is an improvement. But 0-2-1 is not the best way to get there.

Matt, I've got tickets to Thursday's game (the Kings I think) if you're interested.

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