Friday, March 21, 2008


Friday Baseball Standings

**East: Winning the Atlantic (for PIT/NJD) or the Northeast (MTL/OTT) would seem to offer considerable rewards. Firstly, you avoid meeting the other 2nd-place team (or possibly the Rangers) in the 4v5 series. Secondly -- at least at the moment -- you get Boston or Philly in the 1st round, who are a clear tier below the other 6 playoff teams based on some of the underlying numbers. (If Buffalo and/or Washington makes it in, they'll be no bargain, but they're still a preferable opponent to the Penguins.)

**West: So Detroit is hosting the 1v8 series, the Sharks are hosting the 2v7, and today's top 7 teams are all making the playoffs -- these are statements in the pretty solid bet category. "Ducks host the 4v5" and "Avs are the guest in the 1v8" are less solid, but still more likely than not.

**Mike Keenan and the Flames: verrrryyyy interesting night last night from a bench management perspective.

For starters, the scratches were all the younger guys: Nystrom, Moss, and Boyd. Tanguay was back from his broken toe, and Mark Smith drew back in.

Most interesting, though, was the use of Huselius. He had 7 shifts last night. Four were as the LW on the #1 PP unit (as usual), where he picked up an assist. One was at EV early in the 1st, and the other two were in the middle of the 2nd (all with Iginla/Langkow).

The mantra from both Keenan and Sutter since before the deadline has been (roughly), "We have 15 forwards, 8 defencemen, and 2 goalies, and we're going to need them all to accomplish what we want to accomplish." From another coach or at another time, this could be balderdash, but Keenan obviously believes it as he's been behaving as though he does: inserting everyone into the lineup at different times, using guys in varying roles, etc.

Sometimes that means that, in my eyes and the eyes of many other Flames fans, they're not icing their strongest possible lineup on any given night (or giving themselves the best possible chance to win). But with the benefit of hindsight (knowing they're 3.5 games in a playoff spot, not out of one), it seems like a smart enough thing.

On the other hand, the Huselius/LW thing could be nothing more than a snap reaction to Tuesday's game where Rick Nash & Co. annihilated the Iginla line in the power vs. power matchup (see left).

I don't think so, though. I think Keenan has closed in on his favoured lineup (not that I know what it is), and is just tinkering a bit more with lines and roles. Developing!

Go Flames.


vandermeer opening the night at LW was a bit of a surprise, admittedly.... (until he beat the pants off laperriere)

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