Tuesday, December 04, 2007

 

Flames Game Day: This Land is Your Land

The Flames host the St. Louis Blues tonight (7PM MT, RSN West), in the first of about 55 consecutive must-win games. The Blues are presently the 3rd-best team in the NHL by Win%, and the hottest to boot (8-1-1 in L10).

Nothing to do with hockey, but at left is the hour-by-hour weather report at the Lethbridge airport from last night & this morning. The old, "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes" was literally true twice within 8 hours. (And yes, in fact it is rather icy underfoot this morning.)

Adam Pardy (from Bonavista, NL) has been called up from the QC, though it's not clear whether he'll be dressing tonight. Jean Lefebvre is describing it as "a hedge in case veteran blue-liner Adrian Aucoin [...] is unable to go", but I'm fervently hoping that even if Aucoin is cleared, Pardy will get the nod over Hale.

Pardy, I saw him good (very good in fact), while Hale has been, approximately, worse than useless. For obvious reasons I was in a mood to be sarcastic while watching the BJs game Saturday night, and boy, did I say, "Nice play Hale!" an awful lot. The turnovers at the Flames blueline were a treat, and the tripping (slashing) penalty taken 100 feet from the puck was simply the cherry on top.

Which brings us to the defense in general. Before the Anaheim game on Thursday, I went over the Flames' defensive numbers, and noted that the simplest (and thus most likely) explanation for Low Shots Against + High Goals Against = Poor Goaltending. And while it's still clear that Kipper needs to start stopping more pucks, jeeeeez... the quality of the scoring chances against really have been high. You can hack on the goaltending all you want (and I have no problem with Keenan doing so, he tried soft-pedalling it for a long time), but one-timers from the edge of the crease are high percentage shots.

Two Jackets goals on Saturday (Glencrossed is the new Stempniaked) happened because Phaneuf and Anders Eloranta (aka Marc-Anders Bergeron, aka Zyuzin 2.0) were completely aimless in their own end... same goes for the Getzlaf-to-Kunitz goal on Thursday. Tanguay's own-goal to put the BJs up 3-2 happened mere seconds after Eriksson turned a good clearing opportunity into a flip pass to Kris Beech. Todd Marchant's goal on Thursday happened when Hale was indecisive about who to check, and Tim Ramholt -- in his 2nd and quite possibly final NHL shift -- left Marchant alone and made an atrocious read on Bertuzzi.

A lot of time and statistical discussions around here this year have been devoted to reinforcing the ideas that (A) the best thing you can do to outscore the other guy is to have it in his end a lot more than yours, and (B) the forwards affect this more than the D. What I've been reminded of the past few Flames' games, though, is that no matter how well you do that, sometimes the puck is going to come back the other way, and your defensemen have to make some plays. And they haven't been.

The Pens are in Calgary on Thursday. I can tell you almost definitely that Iginla will be matched up against Crosby; I can also predict with some confidence that Iginla's line will get plenty of chances, and in so doing limit the number that Crosby gets. But I couldn't predict with any confidence that Iginla will outscore Crosby, or that the Flames will shut Sid down, because at least a few times Sid will get the puck and head north. And based on recent events... then some bad shit will happen.

That said, the Blues are probably a good opponent for getting some confidence back in the D corps. They've been good this season, but almost entirely thanks to preventing goals. They don't score much and have a poor PP. Their only player with more than 7 goals is Brad Boyes, who's doing it with mirrors (25.4% Shooting%). It figures to be a low-scoring game, which probably means it'll be 5-3.

Calgary 5 (Huselius x3, Nolan, Aucoin)
St. Louise 3 (Federko, Paslawski, W. Babych)

Go Flames.

Comments:

I can't believe you so boldy dissed the Blues in that last paragraph. This is a Stempniaking waiting to happen. One thing I've learned since the lockout: don't fuck with the hockey gods on a night your team is playing East St. Louis.
 


I can't understand why Keenan continues to play Eriksson so much - Sure, he hasn't been the horrible F-U machine he was in the first 10 games, but that's a pretty low standard to judge by. Playing him with Phaneuf, who has slid back from his step forward in October (thanks in no small part to playing with Eriksson in front of a .880 save percentage for 30 minutes a game) borders on the ludicrous.

I know, I know...injuries, Hale sucks...but, Jesus, play Dion with Sarich and give Eriksson to Regehr to babysit.
 


I played slo pitch against Pardy this past summer. Bonavista has a pretty good team and him and Daniel Ryder would fill in when some of their regulars would have to miss a game or two.

Pardy's a beanpole, man. Not sure what he's weighing heading into this season but he's got a big frame that he can pack some muscle onto. He also seems like a really nice guy and my GF is from Bonavista and her father's one of those guys who knows everyone and the word is that young Adam is a hard worker and has his head on straight. Sort of like Micheal Ryder was, and maybe still is, but he's even strenght poison so there;)

BTW, Adam Pardy's a bad third baseman, though;)

On to Kipper, I was waiting for you to mention him and Keenan because I've got some thoughts on it.

Years ago, it would drive me nuts that Salo would continously shit the bed and no one would say anything about it. It was driving other people besides me bonkers though because the day he was dealt, Ethan Moreau basically came out and said what I figured everyone was thinking. Then Conkkanen got hot down the stretch and we almost got into the playoffs.

Anyway, the point is that macT and co knew that Salo couldn't handle criticism so they didn't give him any. Now, Keenan's a newbie with the Flames so does he have enough of a handle on Kipper's personality to be able to call him out like this? I'm not saying that Mikka's a mental midget but if I'm a new guy like Keenan and I don't know the lay of the land, I'd focus on things like Langkow only having two goals in 17 games or Huselisis going back to his old ways. There's no bloody way I'd undermine a guy who, along with Iginla, has carried this team for years and has just been signed longterm.

So, it baffles me but overall I'm glad that Keenan has perhaps elected to do the Oilers fans bidding:)
 


I certainly understand the point, Dennis, but the questions are:

1) Are we sure Kipper can't handle criticism? I don't know what the evidence of that would be.

2) Even if Keenan's not sure he can handle it, how long do you wait? The fact that MacT waited so long on Salo probably cost the Oil the playoffs -- I don't know how you could argue that he handled things well.

Timing is arguable, but at SOME point, the coach has to do something to light a fire rather than cross fingers and wait. Next step is giving Curtis McE more starts, maybe even a string of them... I hope it doesn't come to that, but I'll understand if it does.
 


Yeah, good points for sure.

I called for Lowe to buy out Salo's contract and after the way Tommy played in the '03 playoffs, until I die I will see that Boucher goal going in very early in the first period of G6, there was no excuse not to. He was done, plain and simple. Everyone thinks the end of Tommy was the Belarus goal in '02 but check out how he played down the stretch that year and he was damn good, despite the fact he gave up an even worst goal to Vitali Yachmenev in the first or second game after the Olys.

In any case, after '03, he was done and the Oilers didn't move and it cost them a playoff season.

So, no, the Oilers didn't deal with Salo in the right way but at least they knew not to call him out in the press. Now, like you say, maybe Kipper can handle it and maybe he can't. I just think it's a big gamble.

Anyway, I'm gonna watch this one tonight to see what kind of lines Murray's going with and how he's running his bench. So maybe that means they'll be five posting in a Flames game thread as opposed to the usual four;)
 


We really did miss the playoffs that year because of Salo. But we got Gilbert Gilbert back for him, well after his expiry date, so I've forgiven him.
 


Re: Andrea II... could he be getting so much ice time because we're ahem, trying to market him? Though, yeah, he's actually improved, the more time we've given him...
 


0:36 into the first and STEPNIAKED already!????
 


0:36 in! Apparently Stempniaked shouldn't be retired lexicon just yet.
 


Stempni...!

Oh. I've been beaten to it.
 


I don't know anyone who performs better when regularly publicly criticized. Hockey players are different from the rest of us, but are they that different?

Simple human decency says that you praise in public, criticize in private. Is there evidence that the opposite approach works for hockey players? I mean, it stretches my brain to think that Mikka doesn't know that he's got an 0.880 sv%--you think that reminding him makes a difference?

Regarding Dennis' point, I too would have felt better if Salo had had a finger pointed at him, but I'm also pretty sure that it wouldn't have make a difference in his performance.
 


Is it just me or has the officiating standard completely relapsed? I saw 5 or 6 plays which would have been called hooking a month ago.
 


beauty win by the flames tonite. truly stunning, and in a word... inspiring.

great job boys pick it up and the COILERS will be eating our tail pipes once again in short order.
 


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