Apparently so. Who knew?
Kudos to Mark Giordano and Hnat Domenichelli for winning that other Christmastime tourney.
We'll keep it short today. Boo Canucks, go Flames. Let's see the team play a full 60 minutes without falling asleep on their feet, and maybe let's slip Luongo some tainted eggnog. It's getting past the best before date of that stuff, y'know.
49-1 Calgary (originally it was going to be an aping of MG's infamous 4-1 prediction, then my fingers slipped reaching for the hyphen. And why the hell shouldn't I leave it that way? What? Oh. Happy thoughts! And Happy New Year! )
Monday, December 31, 2007
Apparently so. Who knew?
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Let's not talk about the first half of last night's game, shall we? The most entertaining part was the girl sitting behind myself and Dave. Over an hour and a half, she turned out such gems as "SLAPSHOT!" (used anytime a Flames player touched the puck), "HIT HIM, LOMBARDI!" (used anytime Matty came near any Duck... doesn't she want him to keep his pretty face?), and "AIM IT AT THE NET!" (used anytime the Flames dumped the puck in the opposing zone).
Her male companion was mystified that no icing was called when the puck was dumped down the ice during penalty kills. I'll...just leave it at that.
At least Dave and I were still laughing, rather than angrily demanding our money back or ripping our eyeballs out of their respective sockets. The Flames were, simply put, terrible through the first half of the night. Slow. Clumsy. Awkward.
The crowning moment seemed to be when Dion doffed the gloves to fight, only to step on his own stick and fall on his ass.
I have to admit, at that part, I was still laughing. Hysteria, you know.
But the game had a phenomenal finish despite all the gaffes and skating through molasses and not doing jack of the first half. Eriksson (of all players!) had a nearly decent night, with one nice play that took away a breakaway even without a stick. Aucoin played a smart game - no mad skillz here, but enough experience to know where to be. And that takeaway by Huselius was just sick.
One can expect the league's two leaders in fighting majors to be all scrappy and such, and the night didn't disappoint. Nolan got in a couple of shots against Bertuzzi which were enjoyed by all.
And the score? Damn fine. Just like the game.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
First off, thanks to everyone who came to the Flames blogger meetup earlier this week. Was great to put a face to the name of everyone there. I took a few pictures that I'll post if they're any good when I get home in Toronto.
Right now, I'm watching Canada collapse spectacularly against Sweden in the world juniors. I'm not especially superstitious, but by the 100th time the commentators marveled at the shutout streak and subsequently the winning streak by Canada I was thinking "you know, you're just asking for a jinx". Lo and behold...whatever.
The Flames! Back on home ice, which isn't encouraging, but against Anaheim, which is somewhat encouraging. I'm leaning towards a Flames win tonight, if only because they owe me a win for a game I actually attend. It's been brutal, especially since the last game I was at was Sunday's vs the Devils (enough said, I'd hope).
I'm going to predict a 3-2 Flames win with goals by Iginla, Lombardi, and Nilson.
Edit: At least Backlund set that play up. ;)
Sunday, December 23, 2007
If this were any other coach, we'd probably look at the goaltending battle? Kipper? Yes. Marty? Oh, yes. Bring it on. Bring it ON, I say!
We'd look at their young kids. Zach Parise is quietly having a darned good season (or he better be, given how many fantasy teams I've got him on). And don't forget Travis Zajac. And not stellar, but notable is Johnny Oduya, probably the only black Swede in the league.
We'd look at their solid veteran corps. Elias, Gionta, Lagenbrunner... darned decent.
In short, we'd be looking at a team that should be a pretty good match. They're still prone to playing a stolid, defensive style, so the hometown boys will have to crash and bash and keep skating hard to get through it.
And Coach Sutter? Welcome home. Hope you don't mind if we don't set out too fancy a welcome mat.
4-1 Flames, as the Devils fall victim to altitude sickness, or something.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I can't resist posting a link to this blog entry about Ovechkin's recent terrorizing of Washington DC on a Segway:
They went down 14th Street, over Pennsylvania Avenue, around the tourists, past the souvenir vendors, with a brief stop by the anti-nuclear protester in front of the White House, who gave her spiel to Ovechkin.
"I'm from Russia," he said. "So, well, have fun."
"No, you have fun," she said, adding something about saving humanity.
"I don't have any money," he said.
"She said 'humanity,' " Green said.
"What does it mean," Ovechkin said.
Ovechkin was easily the loudest Segway rider. He rode the thing backward until it started making grinding noises; "when it makes that noise it's telling you it's not happy," one of the guides told him. He loudly shouted out "anybody wanna ride with us????" to a crowd waiting at a bus stop. He said "Whooooo hooooo" and variations thereof maybe 50 or 60 times. He rocked back and forth incessantly when we stopped to regroup. He yelped "Let's Go Caps" at random businessmen. He attempted to ride without the use of his hands, wrapping his legs around the steering column.
Additionally, it's come to my attention that David Hale now holds the NHL record for consecutive games without a goal: 178. He's never scored an NHL goal, period.
There are 4 active NHL goalies with more goals than David Hale:
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Six in a row. On the road. The Playfair demons have clearly been banished. Tonight we even got a great performance out of Kiprusoff, and Huselius added another 2 points. Iginla narrowed the gap with Lecavalier in the chase for the league scoring leader. Good times, good times.
Am I thrilled? While it's clearly exciting to win six, several of them weren't very convincing wins for me and had more to do with the opposition playing poorly and the Flames playing passably well. I'd argue that -- with the exception of the large shots on goal against -- the Flames played one of their better road games tonight.
I still need to see consistently Kipper-esque performances out of Kipper to move me up into the "thrilled" category. Keeping this up for another month would also help in that department. Don't look now, but the Flames are a couple points out of #1 in the division (as I type this, the Flames are 1 point back of Minnie for the division lead, but with 2 more games played). Things are looking up from a rather gloomy start to the year.
On an unrelated note, is the Flames blogger/fans meet at
KilkinnyKilkenny (in the suburban depths of Brentwood) on December 27th still on? Bring it on!
PS: Iggy! Iggy! Iggy!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
It's been a pretty good road trip, hasn't it? I asked the boys to go big or go home, and they went big! And how.
Added to the list of amazing accomplishments is Huselius' 5 pt night today, which rather makes me wonder if, um, Dave remembered to start him. Dave? Dave?
We'll find out.
I think what's impressed me most about this road trip is that we've heard the "YEAAAAAHHHHH BAAAAABY" twice on the radio. Twice. In a single road trip. In the middle of the season. Who would've thunk? First time for the Flames' barnburner in Tampa (I think Peter Maher wanted to do it in Tampa once, because he didn't get to do it in '04). Second was for Keenan's 600th win tonight, which is quite the milestone. Yupyupyup.
I don't think all is rosy with the team. Clearly a number of players have got their groove back...there's still a pile of others who haven't. It's just as well we've remembered how to score, because Kipper hasn't always been dead on.
And I have this other burning question, which is, whether last year's Road Flames (BOOO!) have become this year's Home Flames.... I haven't really squinted at the numbers (I'm supposed to be pounding out a paper right now), but I think the team has been much more confident on the road this year than at home. Whatever.
Stay tuned! We get to arm-wrestle Columbus for a playoff spot next. It'll be a gooder.
Update: Is ... that.... the NHL Three Stars of the Week? And, OMG! Is that, Iggy, #1 man in the league? Well, #2 doesn't matter, that's just the first loser, hahahaha, but who's that in #3?
Life is good.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Welll... last time we were headed into Tampa, we were either far more optimistic, or far more pessimistic, that's for sure...but, time passes, and that was what, nearly three seasons (and a fourth that never was) ago.
Does anybody know whether we won two whole games in a row last year? The good news is, we just did. The bad news is, it wasn't terribly convincing.
The beginning of last game looked good. Really good. And then... the heady joys of being in lush Miami must have got to them, because then they started way less good.
AND they scratched Nilson :(
(To make room for Yelle, but still...)
Fortunately for us, Kipper seems to have got back from summer vacation finally. Not so fortunate has been The Dion's recent drop in play - maybe he was all nervous about the premiere of Cabbie All-Stars (Yes. I watched that yesterday. Erm. That's a lot of man-love for just a half hour. Who knew he had trouble talking up the ladies? That's according to Iggy. I would never, ever, spread baseless rumours. Right?).
Well. Let's go with the tried and true. 4-1 Calgary. We bottle up Vinny, the Big 3 for Tampa bless their lucky stars we did not have #3 back then, and... the winning goal comes on an extended 10 min replay. Jammed in courtesy of Owen Nolan.
IT WAS (AND WILL BE) IN.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Unfortunately from last year's performance, I'm more than a bit apprehensive about road trips.
And this upcoming road trip has all the hallmarks of a disastrous, season-killing gong show.
Jet Lag? Check.
Teams who have your number? Check.
A marked lack of confidence in your own play? Check.
Marginal, pseudo-injuries? Check.
Shaky goaltending? Check.
The first installment features our boys against those crazy Chicago kids again. Treachery and old age? Or speed, youth, and energy? I still think these games are gooders, especially now they feature Martin Havlat, on his two month vacation between injuries.
Predictions? Nothing today. We've been jumping up and down on the sidelines saying that the Flames should be able to do better. Now it's time for them to show it.
Go big or go home, guys. Let's have at 'er.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Apparently every citizen in Calgary is happy that Christmas came early, and SIDNEY CROSBY(!!!!!) IS GOING TO BE IN TOWN. Or something. Sure, it's cool, but we got our television now so most of us have actually seen Crosby play before. It's not like we're a talent-deprived team, we've got all kinds of hockey studs that are comparable to the Fernando Pisanis and Sidney Crosbys in the world. Let's take our own Marcus Nilson.
While Nilson's hockey prowess is well-known throughout the NHL as being slightly below that of Sidney Crosby, Crosby lacks the inherent marketability and personality of our Swedish stud. Leanne herself has had the above picture tiled across her various monitors as desktop backgrounds for over a year now. She describes his body as the pinnacle of human creation, proof that there is a God (and Nilson created him). In her words, Nilson has the "pecs of a Nordic chef, the biceps of a seasoned Golf player, and the butt of an Algonquin park ranger".
While Crosby dazzles us with amazing plays and 3-point 3rd periods against some of the most loaded teams in the NHL, Nilson warms our hearts and moistens the -- well, you get the picture. While the media (in particular, the Crosby-centric TSN) tells us to be excited about Crosby's visit to our quaint little village somewhere west of Toronto, the real question is what does Crosby think about playing against Nilson? I spent the entire day crawling teh intarwebs to find an article discussing how this is the first time Crosby had to face the Marcus Nilson on Marcus Nilson's own hallowed grounds, but to no avail. Everyone was so hypnotized by Crosby's hypetrain that the real stars and studs of our game -- the Fernando Pisanis and Marcus Nilsons of the world -- go unnoticed. I have full faith, however, that tonight Marcus Nilson's 3 shorthanded goals, 3 powerplay goals, and 3 even strength goals (hereafter the famed "Marcus Nilson Hattrick") will propel him to the top of the league, dethroning Crosby and warming the hearts of girls and confused men everywhere.
Long live Nilson!
9-0 Flames (Nilson, Nilson, Nilson, Nilson, Nilson, Nilson, Nilson, Nilson, Nilson)
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Oh. December happened,and I barely noticed. And a bit of distraction is in order. These are the standings from the Flames blogosphere league:
- woolly brained (me)
- The Pant Weasels (Dave's brother)
- The Hopelesses (MG)
- Flaming C (Paul-Marc)
- Craig Conroys (Duncan)
- Completely Hammered (ST)
- The Pantless Pirates (Dave)
MG has had a strong month - I've only recently managed to take the lead from him, while Dave's brother and Mr. Flaming C have been hard on my heels the entire time.
I don't think Dave wants to talk about his month. He's getting completely hosed by injuries...at least that'stheexcusehe'sstickingto.
Flamesland is not looking so good lately. Ramholt has been sent down pretty unceremoniously, and Pardy is up, well, at least for the night. I'm looking forward to seeing what Pardy can do - of all the Ds at the prospects camp I thought he was the most solid.
Elsewhere, Dark Mutterings abound, and the Blues are here, just waiting to Stempniak us. Well, not much we can do about that, I suppose. Just hope that we can turn the corner. Ish.
I'll settle for Ish. How about a 2-1 game tonight, for the guys who need the win?
Monday, December 3, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Ohhhhh, it was Western night at the Saddledome last night. Harvey was wearing his best flannel shirt, country music was blarin' off the speakers (I take a moment here to whimper, slightly), and the ice girls... probably have never looked hotter, in their mini-denim skirts and... whatever. They're not my type anyways.
Game was amazing.
What, we lost? Yes, but I was sitting in the second row behind the Flames' bench. We could have gone the way of Carolina last night, and I might not have minded. That said, I started off the game real well behaved...
The game saw Iggy do his superhero captain act again, singlehandedly jolting the team (and 20 000 bystanders) awake by scoring a goal, picking a fight, notching his 700th point and throwing the team on his back and letting us enjoy the ride.
Overall, I thought we played just as well as the Blue Jackets - the one major flaw in our game was goaltending, really. Kipper did let a couple of them go which should have stayed out. And as a result of his recent play, you can see the entire team tense up in the defensive zone. I wonder if this might be why the defense has been leses than stellar lately - the difference between confidently playing ahead of an amazing goalie, and wondering if this time, it's going to bounce off you makes a lot of difference.
In the offensive zone? Can't really blame that on Kipper. But the guys are second-guessing themselves out there too - cycling the puck way longer than they have to in order to get the perfect shot. Which means they run out of time or turn the puck over before they get any shot of any sort away.
Quick notes from the game:
We lost Moss to a leg injury of some sort, and Huselius went into the boards a bit hard, from a hit in behind, though he stayed on. Huselius, for that matter, looked a bit more engaged this game than he has for a while.
Phaneuf and Nash were a matched pair the entire game. And they're both HUGE. Jaw-droppingly so from my vantage point.
We're not the only ones frustrated by the Flames' ineffectual special teams. Rich Preston did this spastic thing where he smacked the glass behind the bench during a power play which wasn't working. Twice.
Kris Beech (of ex-Hitmen glory) had a real strong night in his old barn. Hope he gets to stick around for the Teddy Bear Toss later this afternoon.
I haven't been that wide-eyed with delight at a game since I saw the Kings in town when I turned 11 (I was sitting about 15 rows up, sigh). I should have brought a damn camera, but I'm in the habit of not doing so, since I'm usually way at the top of the upper bowl with the rest of the unwashed masses.
I still don't understand the point of banging on the glass. I really don't.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
It's been a disheartening couple of days, as the volume of those dark mutterings gets louder and louder.
Time is going to be a factor, as the boys work on winning games. The Western Conference is much more ridiculously competitive than it was last year, with the recent resurgence of the Central Division, as teams like St. Louis, Chicago, and Columbus have started to kick ass and take numbers. Good for them but, um, we have to play Columbus tonight.
The Blue Jackets won't be in a good mood. This is Part 3 of their swing through Western Canada, and so far, they're 0 for 2. They'll want to head back with one win.
Given as much time I spend talking to Bethany (of Bethany's Hockey Rants fame), I really should know more about the Jackets, but I confess I don't really. We won't be seeing Leclaire in net tonight - something happened to him in Edmonton, but that's fine. I'm not sure I can handle seeing an awesome goalie in net right now. Rick Nash has improved rapidly under Hitchcock's regime - something about how being responsible defensively will lead to more offensive chances. And ice time. Rings a bell but I can't quite put a finger on it.
As for our guys... hmmm. Ramholt had a pretty dismal initial game the other night, with only 45s of ice time, I'm hoping they'll start him again, and he'll redeem himself. 'Sides that, I can run through the usual litany of things we'll need to do right, I guess. Um, solid defense, decent special teams, goaltending, etc etc etc blahblahblah.
I'm not going to hold my breath for any miraculous improvements in our situation. It's going to be baby steps all the way.
I will be at the game tonight, so it'd better be a, hmmm... 4-2 win.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
804 games is a hell of a lot of games.
And one thing I've taken away from those is that there is always a way to stay upbeat and positive. It seems appropriate that on a milestone-setting night for Mr. Positive himself, I plug my fingers into my ears and sing "LaaaalalaladodododododooooICAN'THEARYOU" somewhat loudly, in response to all sorts of dark mutterings elsewhere, it's all good!
I don't know if there's anything more that can be said about Iggy. Go check out what we've had to say before, we've had some gooders.
It's the 804th game for Iggy, it's the first NHL game to one Tim Ramholt. Welcome to the circus, guy. Hell of a way to get tossed in.
I'm not expect too much that's amazing tonight. The extras are pretty injured, with a groin strain to Yelle, shoulder problems for Aucoin, and five golden... no, hip issues for Nolan. And there was something about Nilson and a concussion...
No matter what the Ducks have been up to (go check out Sleek's take at Battle of California), I expect Iggy not to be embarrassed, Ramholt to be hung out to dry once (well, they're not allowed to haze him anymore, right?), and Kipper to be better than last time.
Um. 3-2 for us, the Ducks will have to wait another game for a win, sorry.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
According to TSN.ca, Kurtis Foster of the Wild has a "broken face". That's perhaps one of the more bizarre injury descriptions I've seen. Maybe a bit insulting as well, at least if it were applied to Ricci or Smyth. He'll only be out 3 to 5 days, so apparently it's just a minor break in his face.
In one of these awesome 2 degrees of separation examples, Krys Kolanos has been playing a damn fine game in Quad-Cities for the baby Flames. 6 points in 6 games since he joined the team. He was my brother's friend's friend from school back in Calgary. A 1st round draft pick of the Phoenix Coyotes, he had a decent rookie year in the NHL before injuries set him back. He attended the Flames training camp this year, and states he'd love to play for his hometown team, but was sent to Q-C -- which he promptly didn't report to, reportedly over salary issues. Sutter recently called him up, worked something out, and presto-changeo he's on an AHL contract and doing decently there. If he keeps this up, I reckon it won't be too long til he lands a contract with the big boys.
Shock and Awe: Hiring JFJ was a mistake. But a mistake the Leafs will apparently stand by until he makes a huge mistake*.
* (Huge mistake is defined as a monstrous mistake more massive than signing McCabe on his long-term, huge-salary, no-trade, no-movement contract)
Flames play Detroit tonight at the Joe. Brings back bad memories of last year's playoff run, every time we play there. My brother and I made the pilgrimage all the way to the land of Ford (which, if memory serves, was about a 40 hour drive from Toronto when you include the lineup at the border and the way time stands still in Windsor). The locals were enamored with the beauty of the new stainless steel urinal troughs they had installed at one of the two (I think there's only two!) bathrooms in the entire place.
Will Phaneuf start as LW again? No, probably not. That was pretty funny though. Nice work, Keenan.
Will the Flames win? No, probably not. Detroit's a great team right now and the Flames are wishy-washy flippy-floppy.
Will the Flames score a goal? I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict Yes. At least one. Probably with Iginla getting a point.
Will Kiprusoff have a great game? I'm thinking yes, yes he is. He did well against Detroit in the playoffs, anyway. Besides, there's no talented players on that team, right? Just some no-name Swede who probably wishes he played on a talented team like Vancouver or Phoenix.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
So, just WHO, in all their marketing wisdom, in the Calgary Flames organization thought it would be a good idea to put a PPV game on Grey Cup Sunday?
Game has started (both of 'em)... off I go.
Deep thoughts for another day.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Exacerbating the team's recent problems, the Flames suffered a 10-9 loss yesterday to the kids at the Alberta Children's Hospital. How bad is it? The Flames haven't won a single one of these in my lifetime. That's a lot of sick kids. Evidence from the scene of the crime is here.
Man, when your star d-man bags a hat-trick, and you still can't win...
Fine, back to the kids we actually should be worrying about.
Chicago is the new Nashville. Like Nashville in years past, they're going to be a fast, physical team that just leaves you gasping for breath. There are some weak spots - young players can be exploited for their mistakes after all. And Khabibulin is no Vokoun. Not these days, anyways, we'll forget about the spring of 2004...
That said, there's some good things happening on the Flames. I don't pretend that the win the other day solved all our problems. However, it's nice to see Nolan developing chemistry with at least a couple of other players: Lombardi, over the weekend, and now Conroy and Nystrom. Speaking of Lombardi, the guy is playing some of the hottest hockey of his career, and that's not just due to the dimples. His play has matured tremendously over the last year or so, and he has earned that spot on the first line - provided, of course, we see him playing on it tonight.
It'll be interesting to contrast Lombardi against Chicago's kids. While they won't be conducting footraces all night long, the crazy bursts of speed coming from both ends will be a treat to watch. So hang on tight tonight. There's been some amazing changes in Chicago since the last time we played them, and if both these teams bring their A game, it'll be a gooder.
I don't think the rollercoaster is over quite yet, though I won't be complaining that we're not playing a divisional rival. There's going to be quite a few things we're going to have to see before I'm convinced we've totally turned the corner. Special teams will have to be solid, with sustained pressure whenever anybody's kicking around in the box. I'm going to have to see that third line be plausibly dangerous again. And our d-men will have to look like, well, they left the wheelchairs at the hospital. Stuff like that...
Calgary's still going to win, course. 4-3 for the good guys.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
So the Flames are...(whips out calculator)...about a quarter of the way through the season. Interim Report Card: D-. MG and Matt have some detailed posts to hammer down the specifics, but I'm of the opinion that basically there's nothing unfixable on this team, and they just need to learn to play their A game with more frequency, and all at the same time. And also, not suck on the special teams. Who is (are) the special teams coach(es) anyway?
Regehr is, thankfully, not seriously injured from the puck-to-the-head incident against Vancouver. Nilson's out with a concussion. Why is it that Vancouver keeps concussing our boys?
It's time to stop this slide. We need a decisive win. Not a win where the puck deflects off every possible skater in the net for a 8-7 win, but the 5-1 plastering variety. (Please?)
Monday, November 19, 2007
Not too many surprises this weekend...
The Flames played the who-are-they-now? Oilers on the weekend, generally outplaying them. It was pretty close until Kipper stole one, some guys who haven't been scoring lately managed to hit the twine, and presto! All was well with the world.
Less than 24 hours later, the Flames were in Vancouver to play the Li... sorry, the Canucks, and unsurprisingly, looked like a team playing their second game in 24 hours. Lackadaisical is probably the nicest word to describe their play. Despite coming out ahead in the shot clock, genuine scoring chances were few and far between, and that turned the game into a loss. It definitely didn't help to have Regehr and Moss gone for parts of the game (is it just me, or does Vancouver have horrible karma injury-wise?) It was a bit disappointing given that the Canucks' D is sorely lacking... well, players, at present, and a chance to capitalize on the Manitoba Moose's simplistic defensive scheme was squandered. I don't think the schedule is an adequate excuse for last night's performance - if they can't do this every so often, how legitimate a playoff team do you expect them to be?
There's just a couple of things I'd like to get out there, as well:
Rumours: Let's just get this clear, hey? If we didn't change the coaching at this point in the season last year, it's not happening this year. Take any muttering that says "Keenan," and file that next to the UFO sightings and the alien abductions. Also, I hereby pre-emptively cancel the Flames' incessant search for a #1 centreman - between Langkow, Lombardi and Conroy, we average out to a 1.352-center*, and will probably be just fine. You're jokin' if you're thinking about Jokinen. Marleau is also highly unlikely, given the Flames' cap situation.
*(Yes - I know that if you take 3 whole numbers and average them, you're going to get a x.0, x.333333, x.666666. And?)
Things I like: Oh. This is harder than I thought. Kipper had a good game Saturday? That's the goalie I remember the Flames having. Um. Lombardi's really good, as of late. He might not be ready for the toughest minutes yet, but I like his work on the PK, and well, that goal that Nolan set him up for was a beauty. Won't see a better one.
Things I would like to change: Special teams. The PK has been terrible, and that's no secret. One of the key points in yesterday's match were the powerplays (three minors which translated into two overlapping 5-on-3s, essentially) which the Flames enjoyed early in the second period. Shortly after nothing happened there, we got dinged with a penalty and Vancouver never looked back. Uh-oh.
Also, the D. They've just looked awkward this year. I'm not sure whether it's the rotating pairings, but...argh. With a D-corps so supposedly stacked, losing Regehr should not be so glaring a gap.
The big thing is the three (or has it been only two? Sadly, I'm losing count) weeks of squandering divisional games. I think I'd be ok if we lost a pile of games, as long as they were against the Eastern Conference. Remember that at the start of this stretch, the Flames were, in the eyes of many, off to a great start. Not so much anymore. And losing to divisional opponents sucks, and it just sets a bad precedent for the rest of the year.
Anyways, that's enough for now. If you want more, look to MG and Matt for much more (and much more fantastic) detailed analysis of the way things have been.
Look for another divisional tilt tomorrow... I hereby nominate Dave to do the pre-game. And it'll be amazing. Right Dave?
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Can Calgary build together a 2-game winning streak in the face of tremendous talent of the injury-ridden suspect-even-without-injury Edmonton Oilers? I sure as hell hope so.
I'm refraining from blasting Keenan as much as I did Playfair last year, but it's getting harder to resist. I just don't know what's wrong with this team sometimes, and it's frustrating on so many levels. They display all of the components, just individually and on different nights. Kiprusoff is clearly better than what he's shown us so far this season, and I can't really explain why he's not on top of his game.
Iginla and Phaneuf are perhaps the only two players that I see consistent efforts out of. It's time for everyone else to "step it up" or "bring their A game" or other shit. Edmonton's not a very good team, but hey, neither are we right now. And Garon is playing like he actually enjoys the game. Who knows?
I do! Prediction: 4-3 Flames win, with goals from Iginla, Phaneuf, Huselius, and Lombardi.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Game night again!
After that embarrassment Sun...
Oh, this is a Flames blog? Well...I don't want to talk about the Stampeders anyways.
Um. Not much to say...gotta win soon...Minnesota's weaker than we'll ever see them the rest of the season, what with Gaborik and Demitra out with groin injuries (matching? No, don't think about that), Backstrom having had a pseudo-groin injury over the weekend, and Walz being out.
That said, we're still going to have to take care of things on our own end. Secondary scoring, blah blah, penalty killing, yadda yadda, and something I think doesn't get emphasized enough for the Flames (but which I heard plenty of for the Stamps), which is to avoid penalties. Easier said than done, I know, but ... then we don't have to worry about the PK, right? Right?
I think that concludes today's wrap up. I don't want to dwell particularly on how we've lost the last four to division rivals, but keep that in mind for future reference. Um, that could be kind of important. Not that I'm going to lower the boom on the boys yet, but, yeah, that could be kind of important.
Look for Calgary to bounce back in a big way. 5-3 Calgary (worked for us the first game vs them...)
Monday, November 12, 2007
Who else is sick of the whole Regehr / Hemsky debacle in the blogosphere? I know I am.
You've all seen the hit. The observant people among us have watched it about a dozen times or more. So let's get this out of the way.
Is it suspension-worthy? No.
Why? Because it was a battle for the puck. It looks to be an unfortunate set of circumstances that ended up in a fortunate manner, with no injuries to anyone involved. It's a scenario that happens dozens of times a day in the NHL, two players jockeying for the puck as they race down the ice. In this case, Hemsky comes up from behind, gets the position on Regehr. In most cases, Regehr would simply pin Hemsky along the boards as they jam at the puck at their feet. In this case, Hemsky's skate picks the ice, throwing him off balance as they approach the boards and Regehr's attempted pin sent Hemsky flying face-first into the boards.
Yes, it looked scary. Really scary. But is there anyone here to blame? Sure. I think the boarding call on Regehr fit just fine.
I'm bored of this story. What else can we talk about? Oh! How about the Flames are sucking? I really don't know what to comment on, though. Truth be told, last week was brutally busy for me and the only thing I saw was period 3 of the Oilers game (which didn't look too bad -- but Garon isn't that good). It's time for Keenan to return the Mr. Nice Guy costume to Walmart and whip out "Iron Mike".
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Errr... Dave did say I was allowed to be lazy.
I don't have much to add to last game's pre-game. We saw a lot more of Eriksson than I feel comfortable with, though it was easily his best game for the Flames so far. Sarich's ice time was cut significantly down which I found interesting, but inexplicable. Injury?
Anyways, we need a win. It's been like a week. Go Flames!
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Geez. It's been forever since we've seen the boys win... loss after frustrating loss...
Oh. This is a Flames blog? I thought we were talking about the Hitmen?
See, the big boys are nowhere near abysmal yet. It's been a depressing couple of the weeks for the Hitmen, who started the season with a hot streak, and well, have been nowhere near that good since then.
So, back to the montony of division rivalry-time. At least this isn't as bad as last year, where we played Colorado back-to-back-to-back...
The good news is, somebody has to win tonight. I like Calgary's chances a bit better than Vancouver's. We're healthier, and at least our big guns are scoring. Every so often. And our d-men have been mostly been untouched by crazy freak accidents.
There's been some fantastic discussion by MG, Kyle, and Duncan about problems with the team. I'm not going to add much to this, I'm afraid, I'm supposed to be using my computer to breed cyanobacteria...but, I will pointedly ask everybody which assistant/associate coach is supposed to be working with the boys on their PK. Ahem. Is that a canary yellow shirt I just spotted? So really, I'm disappointed but not surprised (also correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I'm off base here). But hang in there, guys! Winter is coming. Then the season actually starts ;)
Predictions? It had better not be 4-1 again, that's all I'm going to say...
Monday, November 5, 2007
It's funny. Over on HLOG, we're talking a lot about superstitions, what with Halloween and all.
Then, today, we spent all class talking about a technology called Avalanche.
Not gonna read anything into it, nuh-uh.
Anyways. We're into the big two weeks of nothing but divisional rivalry. Last year, the Northwest Division was without a doubt the hardest one to play in. This year, it looks as if the balance has shifted to others. I'm thinking specifically of the Central Division, which, though consisting of a great number of inconsistent teams, are a damn bit tougher to play than in years previous (... and that is NOT because we just lost to Detroit yet again...)
Um. I honestly don't like our chances tonight, but we'll pop a couple of extra goals in there, just because Theo Fleury is doing the colour on the PPV broadcast I don't get to watch. 5-2 Calgary.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
It's the first intermission, we're down 2-1, and yes... we have been paying attention. Datsyuk and Zetterberg, sigh, what else can you say, really? At least it's a close-ish game.
Though... it's November! Which means it's time to deliver an update for the Open Ice Fantasy Hockey League. Remember, this is the rotisserie league Dave set up at the beginning of the season.
If I don't post the standings, they'll never appear, since Dave is currently languishing at the bottom... so, without further ado, let me present the standings for the Open Ice Fantasy Hockey League, as of November 1 (not including tonight's stats, of course):
- The Hopelesses (MG)
- Woolly Brained (me!)
- The Pant Weasels (Dave's brother. Hey there!)
- Flaming C (I'm sorry, I don't actually know who you are, except your name is Paul-Marc on Yahoo. If you'd like to fill us in, go ahead...)
- Craig Conroys (Duncan)
- Completely Hammered (who else but ST?)
- The Pantless Pirates (DAVE!)
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Yup, I'm sure most people barely noticed we have a game tonight. For some reason or another... Yes, it's good news. I'll breathe easier (or start hyperventilating, whichever comes more naturally) once I have a better idea what's in store for the rest of the team. The newly reno'd version of nhlnumbers.com (great job, guys), shows pretty clearly that we aren't over the tough spot yet...
Given I spent the last one mewling in pain (I had a flu-induced headache, had nothing to do with the blown lead, really...), I've been looking forward to this tilt for a bit.
The Preds have been easy prey lately. Mason hasn't looked like the starter material he did last year - in fact, Dan Ellis has started the last couple of games for them. They've got some key injuries in Steve Sullivan and Shea Weber (believe me, we're in much better shape with only Primeau in sick bay). It's definitely interesting times for the team though - it's got to be tough to be put in the spot where everybody is interested in the team, but certainly not for its performance...
Chalk up another win for us...I'm hoping now that those so-distracting contract talks are over, we'll be treated to a preview of in-the-zone-Kipper. Even if it isn't quite November yet.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I just came home to some amazing news. Sutter has managed to lock Kiprusoff up for 6 years at a cap hit of $5.8M per. That's an amazing deal, I think. I was starting to get a bit worried, what with the logical meanderings of Matt, but this certainly brightens my day.
Next up is Phaneuf. Given how much the Sutter family wants his man-children, I'd say it's as good as a done deal. The question is, how much? Exciting times for Calgary.
What a solid core this is: Iginla (top forward), Regehr (top? d-man -- he'll pick up this season, don't worry), and Kiprusoff locked up for at least 5 years. It's a good time to be a Flames fan, ladies and gentlemen.
K-Lowe -- are you taking notes?
Friday, October 26, 2007
Nothing angers me more than incompetence. No one seems to be more incompetent than Mister Magoo, on a more consistent basis. I hear he's retiring after this season -- why take so long? And how can he possibly still be employed by the league?
On the game itself, it was mostly okay. I liked a lot of what I saw. Most of the time. Maybe when I'm not enraged I could write something more coherent, but for now I think I hurt my teeth by grinding too hard. Note to self: Next time McGeough refs a game, wear a mouthguard.
In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy this clip of more McGeough excellence from last season:
(PS: how awesome is Aucoin? Hale continues to not-disappoint=impress.)
(PPS: I notice I already had a McGeough label. Man, how many refs have their own blog labels?)
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Iginla is on pace for 49 goals, 82 assists for 131 points.
Langkow is on pace for 66 goals, 49 assists for 115 points.
Tanguay is on pace for 16 goals, 74 assists for 90 points.
Huselius is on pace for 49 goals, 33 assists for 82 points.
Phaneuf is on pace for 25 goals, 49 assists for 74 points.
Aucoin is on pace for 8 goals, 41 assists for 49 points.
Now, I'm not saying they're going to keep this up. I sure hope they do. But how unreal is this? We're not so far removed from a time where all the talk was on getting Iginla a playmaking centre and we were winning 1-0 games and proud of it. Now we're scoring goals like it's going out of style, tied with Detroit with most goals scored in the Western Conference.
This does come at the expense of defensive excellence, as we've seen. Normally I'd be upset that Kiprusoff's stats are suffering like this, but the timing really could not be better. A statistically sub-par season will do wonders in bargaining for a lower wage for him, which means good things for the team and a better chance of keeping him and Phaneuf.
I'm not one that thinks you have to choose between strong defensive play and strong offensive play. I'm not seeing anything systemic with the Flames' system that is inherently poor defensively (with the exception of the 4-forward, 1-defense powerplay configuration we've seen on occasion), just lots of little brain lapses, puck hops, and some poor puck control defensively. I think that given the time for our defense to find its groove (and to be fair, half of them are new to this team), this team will become even more of a force to be reckoned with.
Looking at the shift chart for last night's game, the defensive pairings at even strength are as follows:
Sarich - Regehr
Phaneuf - Aucoin
Hale - Warrener
I've been slightly impressed with Hale as of late -- he's better than I expected, and certainly better than Eriksson has been. The biggest surprises for me this season has been the play of Aucoin and Sarich. I was less than thrilled to hear about either acquisition initially, but Aucoin and Sarich have both greatly exceeded my admittedly low expectations. The pieces are all here for a very solid defensive corps, they just need to work with eachother. Every single pairing is a new pairing, and it does take time to slip into that groove and work well together.
Our forwards in the last game were arranged in the following lines:
Tanguay - Conroy - Iginla
Huselius - Langkow - Nolan
Moss - Lombardi - Nilson
Smith - Yelle - Godard
Conroy was also initially as suspect choice for a top line centre for me. But distributing the scoring power across two lines is clearly working, and who am I to disagree? I also think Lombardi and Moss can work some magic together, though Nilson's more of a dud on that line (but decent defensively).
I'm also liking the grit the team seems to have compared to last year. Both the intangibles (like last night's come-back victory with five unanswered goals) and the tangibles (Flames are tied with the Ducks for most fights this season with 10). [Sidenote: The top 10 teams in terms of number of fights are all Western Conference teams. Real hockey!].
I can see big things for this team if and when they find their groove and start firing on all cylinders. The inconsistency (period 1 last night and the entire SJ game) is a bit upsetting, but not at all unexpected at this point in the season. As Leanne has pointed out, the passing is suddenly "crispy" as opposed to "crunchy" rather suddenly in the 2nd period last night. Maybe Keenan is getting through to the boys.
Clarification from Leanne: I actually didn't have an opportunity to watch last night's game, but the crisp passing is something I've observed in several games this season, already. This is something Keenan's specifically been working on in the team - recall all those statements about "muscle memory" early on. I rather like this - work on the simple things, like making clean passes, and suddenly the hard things aren't quite so hard.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
(Or my theory about what happened last game. Somebody must've been "celebrating" Nolan's 1000th game early... )
Sooo...Minnesota tonight. Not too many expectations here - after all, Minnesota's played strong all season, and haven't lost yet. And the game's not anywhere I can watch it. We did stink to high heaven last game. I'm not sure what it was, but the Sharks had a much easier time of the Flames Monday than when I saw them play during the pre-season. And that's all I'm saying about that.
Anyways! McElhinney's out in Quad Cities, Keetley's back in town. I suspect they want to give McElhinney actual ice time which was a bit nicer than the other night so he can properly work his lower body (Note: Also a useful term when you can't remember which body part is broken).
I do expect Calgary to come back strong, even if they have not been put through the bag skate. They are professionals, after all.
Count on a low-scoring game. I expect we'll be pretty stingy for once, and Minnesota always is.
Monday, October 22, 2007
And the third has not yet happened. But "HOLY MACKINAW", what the hell was that. Is Edmonton contagious? Abysmal. Can't clear the puck out of the zone on EV play, brutal penalty killing and powerplays, miscued pucks all over...I can't even watch this crap. This is a team that's night and day different from what we saw Saturday night, its not even the quality of the opposition that is mattering...the players themselves just can't touch the puck without it careening to an opposing player or skipping over their stick.
I'm also somewhat stunned to see Kiprusoff pulled after a goal he couldn't even see. I know he wasn't pulled for being Cloutier (he was actually pretty good tonight), it was to "shake up the team" or "rest Kiprusoff", but I'm also not convinced the best way to break in a rookie goaltender in the NHL is to throw him to the wolves as was done here. And Nilson on the powerplay? I'm not sure I agree. If things aren't working, the last thing I think should be done is put people on special teams they're simply not good at. It's a sure-fire way not to improve.
There could be some miracle. Some tear-jerking, emotional, bone-rattling speech in the locker room that results in a 3rd period Flames team ready to kick some ass and take some names. But at this point, I'm not very confident. Neither are the Flames.
On the plus side, I thought Sarich and Aucoin (and Hale?) were very good from what I've seen.
On the minus side, (insert everything else here).
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Not bad, not bad at all.
Is it kind of funny that the kid-ridden Oilers have a Raffi and a Penner (Dustin, not Fred, sadly) on the roster?
I won't comment much on the Oilers. Sam Gagner's first NHL goal coming in an arena where he practically grew up is definitely a feel-good story. The rest of the game...not so much. The kids seemed to be doing just fine for the Oilers, but the absence of vets in general to mentor this kids has got to be hurting the team.
On our side...it was an overly expensive win, losing Primeau to a busted ankle and Moss to Raffi Torres. I may comment on that some more later. Right now I'm kind of guiltily thinking about my musings before the game that so far, Calgary's been pretty lucky injury-wise. I thought Torres' hit was questionable at best (Translation: That punkass was effin' dirty), and can only give up kudos to Nolan and Warrener who made it clear that nobody on our side liked it.
That said, I liked most of what I saw this game. Kipper made a couple of jaw-dropping saves, tough to do with as much quiet time as he had during the game. We saw Eriksson checking out the view from the press box for the first time, and Hale was definitely a marked improvement, with a strong physical presence and no glaring game-losing giveaways. With the top two pairings in particular, I love what's going on with the D this year. I like that Phaneuf is taking more chances in front of the net (and being smart enough that this isn't a defensive liability of McCabe-like proportions), and that Regehr is actually shooting at the net.
The forwards were decent too. The top two lines had another, mostly consistent game. Even Godard, who got more time thanks to the absences of Primeau and Moss, seemed to capitalize on his extra ice time (though I had to laugh as he chased down a puck to try and prevent an icing call...wouldn't that make the guy ahead of him skatefaster?)
Oh well, it's all good! Next game against San Jose.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Er...this is a bit late, but here goes.
Basically, I'm expecting nothing but good from this game. The boys are clicking in ways we never saw in the pre-season, when they did play Edmonton, they've been winning recently, so there's no headgames the way we know they're all so prone to playing...
This isn't to belittle Edmonton, who haven't been as terrible as they could have been since the start of the season. There is light at the end of the tunnel, if all their prospects turn out to be as promising as Gagner and Cogliano have been. BUT... remember that one of those guys is also Schremp. So....not so much.
But whatever! There's a chill in the air, I've got popcorn ready to go, and I've been snickering at the Leafs' awesome ability to maintain a lead. It's Saturday night, and things are going to be just dandy.
Flames. Win. That's all I got.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
(Kudos to Dave for running a fantastic during-game-not-liveblog last game. I saw what I needed to - 4 goals by the good guys - and left due to last minute commitments before I could see the debacle of the finish)
I'm in a good spot right now, hockey-wise (we'll ignore the state of my fantasy teams, ok? Just forget them....). While the road trip has to be looked upon as having had mixed results, it was a hell of a lot better than anything we saw on the road last year.
Back to the home barn then... it would be kinda nice to actually pop in a win at home, especially given the pure awesomeness of our record there last year. But the road trip was good. The pressure is off to get that first win, I'm sure they've had some time to gel and bond and get some quality time with Coach Keenan(/sarcasm), so now they have a nice long homestand to get that home-cooking going.
So tonight we've got the Kings. Good news is, they had that long road trip to start their season, though understandably they're not quite as badly affected as the Ducks were. We'll see some hot young talent, with faces like Kopitar and Cammalleri. Pity we just missed Bernier, then again, perhaps it's just as well.
Look for Kipper to shape up - I imagine his game-by-game stats will look a lot better by the end of the homestand than they do now, Phaneuf to keep on playing his monster game with his monster minutes, and the Flames to clock in a win.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
9:00pm eastern, 7:00pm mountain, the showdown begins: the Calgary Flames (2-2-1) face the Colorado Avalanche (3-2-0). My prediction is a high-scoring, high octane affair with the Flames coming out on top 6-5. Our defense has yet to really gel to be anything to be supremely confident in, Kiprusoff still looks like he's sitting just outside of "the Zone", and Colorado's defense will never gel to be that great.
But this will definitely be a game I'll watch carefully tonight. If the Flames can pick up another consecutive road win, it'll go a long way to burying the main weakness from last year and hopefully allow everyone to move on with a clear head. I was getting real tired of whining about the road woes and the evil twins. Perhaps the fact that Keenan actually has a spine will impact the rather fragile mental situation of the team last year.
Speaking of Keenan, is it too early to make any judgments? Yes, yes it is. But I do like what I see so far for the most part, and I've no major complaints yet. Maybe in a month there will be more room for criticisms and praises, but for now I'm curious to see how this all plays out.
And, forgive me for saying this, but I love Paul Stastny. He is my sugardaddy in a few of my fantasy leagues. If Colorado is to score, may that gentleman be blessed with points.
(Side note: The following photograph made my day)
Friday, October 12, 2007
Well, that's it kids! This feels better than the last time I did this. Or the time before that. And Duncan, we missed you. You gotta watch the games, apparently.
Back to school, sigh.
9:10 PM: Oh, Dave. You're opting for Master Chief, over thissss? Lombo just gunned it and put in the net! We win! I hear "You can put it in the win column!" for the first time in a long time. Sucka!
(Yes, Dave, I'm calling you a sucker. Hasn't been the first time, has it?)
9:08 PM: Good shift for us... but it's back in our end now. Then they took it back...good chance for Aucoin and Langkow there. Sounds like, as usual, a run and gun kind of OT...
9:05 PM: We got a point! We got a point! Wait, why am I cheering? I don't know why the guys on the radio are talking shootout stats. Don't we have to survive OT first?
9:03 PM: A minute left... let's keep it clean...20s...a whistle with 2.4s left in regulation, but the faceoff will be in our zone. No pulling Kipper this time! 2.7s left, actually. And another hard shot at Kipper just as the buzzer goes. Whew.
8:59 PM: No goal there. We continue to keep the puck out of the net...
8:56 PM: I wince as they scramble for the puck in Kipper's crease. While we're on the PK. It stays out. How about getting the lead for once? Geez. They're reviewing the scramble now. Boo. Urns.
8:49 PM: Tanguay with a good chance. I was just woolgathering over the last little bit, and it feels to me at least that overall, this is a mostly consistent game. They've been almost-good all game, as oppposed to goodbadgood or some combination thereof.
8:43 PM: I am home alone, and I just yelled out loud. That's right, kids! Lombo. Short handed! Woohooo! Actually, it's even strength, just barely. I love it when Lombo remember to bring his jet pack.
8:38 PM: I am envious that kids nowdays get to be the Flames Jr. Reporter(TM). Discipline, discipline, discipline. Sarich is off again.
That almost rhymes.
8:34 PM: Great shift by the first line just now. But like I yelled at them repeatedly at points last month, just SHOOT! Dammit... muttering to myself that the period is young yet. Yet.
8:29 PM: Ummm...third period is underway? Nothing too interesting? I'm going over the stats page nhl.com has put up for this game. It's interesting. You can see quite clearly Phaneuf is having a monster night, as is Iggy. This is as it should be.
8:17 PM: Curtis McElhinney on the interview for the intermission. He talks like a robot, but mentioned he'll be back soon from his injury, and discussed his note-taking skills. This is almost school-related! (Er. Almost.)
8:07 PM: It didn't work, but I like this. With 1.2s left in the second, Keenan pulls Kipper. Awesome.
8:05 PM: Speaking of powerplays, Modano's in the box right now. It happened while I was musing about the labour market here. And speaking of squandered PPs... though the period is nearly done now.
8:01 PM: Another great Iggy chance. This was after a squandered PP... I love Calgary, where every radio commercial is a help-wanted ad. Anybody know how to work with steel?
7:57 PM: No goal. And three minutes.
7:54 PM: Oh, the plot thickens. Langkow has a fantastic chance, dings the post, and the light goes off. Incidentally, seems like some Dallas player has landed in the box. I wonder how long it'll take Peter Maher to mention Game 6...
7:47 PM: Hagman. On the PP. Fifth goal of the year. Sigh. The good news? We're about halfway through the game. As a side note, Zyuzin just notched an assist for Chicago. Oh, happy days...
7:43 PM: Warrener goes off. Or doesn't. That's Phaneuf in the box (the radio guys are convinced it should have been Warrener. I'd rather have him sitting than Phaneuf). I think I've mentioned my misgivings about discipline before, can I repeat myself? Curled up in a corner and twitching now... (Not really. But I can pretend.)
7:40 PM: I can't believe we killed all those penalties off. Especially given MG's recent misgivings. Can I curl up in a corner and sob for a bit?
7:37 PM: Sarich goes off. Gawd.
7:34 PM: Oh. Karma, huh. Or something. Dallas sends another player to the box. I wince as Lundqvist gets out of the box...and gets a breakaway. Happy thoughts, kids, happy thoughts!
7:33 PM: Bah! Iggy gets a double minor for interference...and unsportsmanlike. This takes away our PP. Yeah we were on the PP. Why didn't I tell you earlier? Dishes. So looking forward to living in a house with a dishwasher that doesn't have two legs again...
7:11 PM: I can't believe I just delivered snaps for that. But. Iggy. Oi! Oi! Oi! 1-1. With about 21 seconds left in the 1st.
7:05 PM: In other news, Andrei Zyuzin has collected a holding and a hooking minor for Chicago. We hardly missed ye. Oh, the game? Iggy had a breakaway. Couldn't convert. This Ctrl-S thing is driving me nuts. Good pressure this shift though.
6:59 PM: Jere Lehtinen gets hit. Hard. How come damn Ctrl-S doesn't work to save a post the way it used to? I sigh and resort to the mouse.
6:57 PM: Peter Maher points out how Atlanta is the only other team in the league who hasn't won a game yet either. How...appropriate (given where we moved the Flames from). A good attempt by Stu Barnes gets steered away.
6:51 PM: Peter Maher decides now is a good time to point out just how long it's been since Calgary's won a game in Dallas. What were you doing six years ago? The colour guy blames the defence. He might have a point, at that.
6:47 PM: Damn Stastny. He's killing me in various fantasy leagues.
6:44 PM: Modano. Sigh. We're down 1-0 already.
6:43 PM: I finish labouriously jotting the reference for the paper in my notebook. Having to stick to American spellings is going to kill me one day. Yes, I know we can do this electronically these days. And oh, we had some decent pressure in the Dallas zone.
6:38 PM: Puck drops. Interesting note - Phaneuf is paired again with Aucoin. Huh.
6:32 PM: The broadcast crew is re-iterating the obvious. I am looking at upside-down A's and backwards Es and a bunch of other symbols, and bitterly remember that once upon a time, this was supposed to be gibberish.
Well... here we are. I'm going to be reading some papers for school the same time as the game goes and during the liveblog...if you're here, welcome, but understand that you need a life about as badly as I do. Maybe more.
So, even though this is hardly an unexpected start to the season, I have to confess I'm a little annoyed that we haven't got a win yet. That Derek Morris scored a goal this season before Iggy did. That piling on the Philly bandwagon seems more of a sure-shot method to fantasy hockey victory than putting your chips behind Kipper.
I know we'll pull through, but I also understand what the Herald reported Keenan as having said this morning as well. As an outsider coming into the team, it must be completely flabbergasting to see your captain not quite ready to turn the jets on, to see your unflappable goalie...well... as unflappable as always, sigh. So far, this is one of the qualities I like about Keenan - no one will be too complacent, with him around.
So tonight! A visit to a rink where it seems like we never, ever win. Remember the last visit? That was a liveblog wasn't it? In keeping with tradition, maybe I'll liveblog this...
(Yes, it's a Friday night. But this is a PPV, and ... I have no life... lucky you!)
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tonight, in The Joe, the Flames will the Wings. A rematch, I guess. I must confess that I haven't yet watched a full Flames game this season. First my excuse was I'm out in Toronto where I couldn't find the pre-season games on TV. Now, my excuse is I'm too busy. In reality, I just do not like watching teams that aren't ready for prime time. Historically, October Flames are not ready.
All I know is what I've seen on the scoresheets (tangent: I loathe the new scoresheet -- where's my goalie stats? -- need two sheets for the same information now...). Also, the collective views of the blogosphere.
While the Flames haven't been blown out 7-1 or anything like that, I'm not convinced that they're playing to win so much as they're playing to impress Keenan. A lot of overly fancy plays and simple bungles with the puck cost several games. I'm hopeful that during the few days they've had off, they've gone back to basics (and maybe -- please -- worked on the powerplay), but only time will tell.
I'm still tentative about this team, but the pieces are certainly all there for a contender. I think if there's any coach out there that can break the bad habits Nervous Jimmy gave this team, it's a hardass like Keenan. But it takes time (hopefully not too much).
The Flames need a win against a good team to inspire confidence and get the ball rolling. Tonight might just be the night.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Uh...nothing new tonight. Go Langkow. Go Lombo. Go Phaneuf. Boo Eriksson. Let's try not to lose the next one with mere minutes/seconds to go. Penalties. Officiating. Um. Come out and play. For 60 minutes, damn it...
On the other hand, it could have been worse. On After Hours, Keenan indicated (shocking Kelly and Scott in the process) that McElhinney injured his knee during warmup. According to Iron Mike, we could have seen David Hale in net, kids! Or Warren Peters...
Doesn't that warm the cockles of your soul?
(Ok, what the hell does that phrase mean, anyways?)
From the rest of the league: There seemed to be a rash of SHG all over tonight. Don't get it... Also, everybody should find a pop tart to buy expensive cars for, if Mike Comrie can keep this up. I mean, everybody. Let's empty out the Disney Channel.
Next game: myomy. Road game. In Detroit. This could be very good, or very ugly, take your pick. Take my advice and focus on the goaltending drama.... I guess we'll see Keetley come up, if McElhinney turns out to have a bona fide knee issue.
Friday, October 5, 2007
So... due to other commitments, I only caught the second and third periods, really, but that seems to have been two periods more than Dave, so I'll just chime in with my thoughts on the game.
Craig Simpson was wasted on the Oilers: Seriously, what was this guy doing coaching? He produced much better colour commentary than we ever got from Drew Remenda last year. It was well timed, he knew when to shut up, and if you listened to him, you might even learn a thing or two. Huh.
Discipline: This is going to be a big one this year, and something that was nagging at me through the post-season. The refs do seem to be calling more things, and calling them consistently, so if we don't shape the hell up, it's gonna hurt.
Line Juggling: My head was spinning with all the line rotations this game. Looks like Langkow was battling hard to stay on that top line - based on the second goal, he just might stay there.
Day late, dollar short, blah blah: Seems to me that if the 3rd period Flames had shown up a bit earlier in the game, I wouldn't have to be surreptitiously optimistic. Still, at least they showed up...I was afraid before the game that we'd have to coax them out from under the stalls in the dressing room.
Next tilt is Saturday vs Vancouver...we'll see how that goes.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Yep, it's been a long six months. Bring on the lame fire-themed puns.
Tonight, we play the Flyers in a relatively rare matchup. In fact, the Flyers have not played in Calgary since October 12, 2002 (Wikipedia is amazing, I would just like to emphasize). Remember then? Roman Turek was our starting goalie, Flames fans were just starting to be abuzz about their most recent 50-goal scorer, and ...what? Only him and Conroy and Regehr are left from those days? Time flies, kids, indeed, it flies...
To finish up, Greg Gilbert was still the coach, the roster was dotted with illustrious names such as Scott Nichol and Blake Sloan, and...oh, you get the picture. Maybe we should invite the Flyers out to have tea and pancakes more often.
As an aside, it was the last time I actually lived in Calgary during the start of a regular season. But I digress.
Back to tonight!
I think many of us are anticipating a slow October. Well... it doesn't get any better than this. We get to start the season with a home date, against a team that was decidedly weak last year. I mean, they fired their coach (and purged most of their front office) long before most of us started grumbling about the sartorial misdeeds of one Jim Playfair.
That said, Philly's done some major renovations over the summer. We'll see some familiar faces like Lupul and their captain, Jason Smith. We'll see some old Flames like Denis Gauthier and Jim Dowd (will they be factors? Um, probably not...). We'll get to see Briere and Gagne hooked up for the regular season for the first time. And they have been smokin' hot. (Shit! About the lame fire-themed puns...).
And what about us? Flames fans, have, as a whole, psychoanalyzed the entire team into a rubber room. We know about their insecurities, their self doubts, their phobia of THE ROAD. We know about the coach's schizo personality, Dion's need for a security blanket (preferably named Hamrlik) and Iggy's inability to see a stormcloud in a hurricane. We know Juice and Tanguay will crumble like feta cheese the first time they're scolded in public.
The game doesn't get played in our heads after all. Time to forget what we know, and to just sit back and enjoy. Are we ready? It's too late to find out.
It's hockey time! Go Flames.
(Um, Calgary in a run-and-gun 4-3 win. I'm expecting to be entertained.)
Friday, September 28, 2007
What kind of world is this? The Oilers have a winning pre-season record, the Flames have a decidedly AWFUL losing record (worst in the league, I believe). Yes, yes, it's only pre-season. And next week, it'll be "yes, yes, it's only October".
But damn, kids, what the hell? What. The. Hell. What I would give for a team that didn't suck in the first, oh, 25% of the season...
I have to say, my faith in Iron Mike was wobbly to begin with and he is not earning my confidence. Call me a pessimist, but I'm wondering how a team with so much talent can be so decidedly blah -- against teams like Edmonton, even.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
So to follow up Dave's fantastic pre-game...
(What? Oh. There's no pre-game? Ok. Um. There was a game. Tonight. Against the Sharks. Which makes it the ex-Sharks vs the Sharks. Exhibition. Go Flames! Moving right along...)
...pretty sweet game all in all. I was worried when Kipper let in the first two shots he was faced with (not that it was necessarily all his fault), but Huselius saved the day. They were handing out lots of stuff with his autograph on it, so I guess he had to made it look good.
Speaking of Good:
Regehr. Most solid game I've seen from him from some time. Was paired with Phaneuf through the last part of the game, and unlike last season, they looked really damn good together.
Kipper. Really crunched down after those first two shots, and was clearly more focused than last game.
Nolan. Really noticed his hockey sense today, and in a good way. He was just always where he needed to be. Er. Most of the time. Well...enough times for me to notice.
Huselius. He just put the puck in the net. Again, and again, and again. Screw all the whispers about him being in Keenan's doghouse come December. He keeps this up, there's NO way that's happening.
Shootout. Huzzah! We win another shootout! Pinch me.
And sigh, there was the Bad:
Eriksson. See my whining and bitching about Andrea from last game. He was paired up with Regehr, Sarich, and Hale through different parts of the game, and only succeeded in making his various defensive partners look better. Sloppy puckhandling, bad positioning, and one giveaway resulting in a goal where neither my dad or myself even had to guess whodunnit.
Officiating. You know that Subway commercial? We didn't get the compensating penalty for no good reason in the second half. Unimpressed. (Ok, I'm biased, and it beats talking about our PP at midnight).
No Lombardi. 'Nuff said. Um, from the vets, also no Aucoin and Tanguay either tonight.
And of course, the Ugly:
Sharks jerseys. Now I keep on confusing them with the Blues (somebody else has made this observation, it's just bloody late and I'm too lazy to properly cite it).
Flames jerseys. I'm just being fair. They're growing on me, but the socks...yeah...the socks.
Wayne Primeau starting the game with Iggy and Langkow. I know they were short wingers tonight (this configuration had Iggy at centre), and Primeau did earn his way up last game, but yeah...some things just ain't meant to be.
Jim Playfair Fashion Police notice: Brown suit, matching tie, white/off-white shirt. Finally inoffensive.
Youngster Alert: The only young'uns playing were Boyd and Sutter, matched up with Moss or Yelle through the night. They got limited play in the second half of the game, as they were looking a bit bewildered at times early in the game.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Welllll... it was Craig Conroy Promotional night at the Saddledome, but no sign of him at all...maybe they had him locked in a room in the back signing jerseys?
Also no Huselius or Lombardi or Yelle. So faced with a team like Edmonton which is young and fast, the outcome wasn't too surprising...
Here's what I noticed:
Aucoin: Besides firing the shot that lamed Ethan Moreau, he exercised a calming influence on a Flames PP which later in the game, seemed unable to settle down
Eriksson: Of our new acquisitions, Anders is my leading candidate to become this year's Andrea. Awkward on the puck, and really shy with the hits. Oh, my.
Tanguay: Made a pre-emptive strike on the doghouse this year by making a pile of hard hits early in the game - with speedier playmakers to go to, he might have made a game of it.
Kipper: Spotted with a bowl of popcorn hal...no, not really, but he's in no rush for the season to start.
Jr. (Sutter): Needs to bulk up a bit, and then we'lll see him around on a more consistent basis. I imagine right now, his dad has got him signed up for boarding school in Quad Cities.
Boyd: Like a smaller Chuck Kobasew. Good points, and bad.
Stevenson: Turned out a solid game with a ton of minutes. I'd expect him to stick around
Nervous Jimmy: Still nervous, except when Keenan tells him to stick his hand in his pockets. Managed to find some nicer shirt and tie combos.
There were a pile more roster cuts since Wednesday night's um, effort in Vancouver. What we're seeing now is the final roster, pretty close to completion. Edmonton's got a lot of zippy young 'un's in camp - expect our defense get tested. Often.
I do expect a better outing tonight than we've seen from them before; for one thing, the Stampeders had a terrible night in Hamilton, resulting in Burris being injured, and swinging the Stamps/Flames mojometer back to favour the Flames.
(For those of you who care little about Canadian football, there appears to be a trend with pro sports teams in Calgary. Namely, either the Flames do well or the Stampeders do well, but never both at the same time. Such an event would likely indicate the end of the world, before lunchtime the day after. Scientific? Naw. Does it work? Just you wait...)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I had an awful suspicion while looking at Mirtle's post about scoring leaders in the preseason.
That's right kids! I'm having a Brennan Evans moment!
(And for those of you non-believers, look at that sweater he's wearing in the pic. That definitely ain't teal. Yet.)
As Dave noted, it's a bit early, but I have tickets for Saturday and Tuesday (thanks to the best parents ever, and their season-ticket-owning co-workers), and I want to send a good report card for you to HG?
I'm just saying.
(not worried yet. YET.)
Will this be a real game? Or another AHL scrimmage?
I want to see a real line up soon. I want to see chemistry forming. I don't want to start another season unprepared like the last seasons in recent memory. Maybe it's time to stop playing players like Chucko and let the real pros lace up for a game.
What better time to do that than against Vancouver?
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Um, I got nothing.
Tonight's game's in Saskatoon, of course. Hopefully we'll get to see more of the youngsters on the squad come out...I suspect Irving will get a start.
Honestly, until I am at the game watching(see: this coming Saturday, or next Tuesday), I'm pretty sanguine about the pre-season in general. One thing to watch for will be whether Keenan starts upping the tempo with the vets - the Flames are notoriously slow starters every season, so maybe he'll, um, encourage them to pick it up some more as the pre-season progresses.
Florida will be playing their third game in three nights - even with an expanded roster, that's pretty rough. Look for our boys to take this one.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
A new season brings new joys, new pains, and new rants.
Tonight, the [relevant adjective] Flames take on the [relevant adjective] [opposing team]. The outcome is [dramatic adjective] to the Flames' season. I can't wait!
Tonight, the brand new Flames take on the consistently pathetic Florida Panthers. The outcome is meaningless to the Flames' season. I can't wait!
This post is dedicated to our friends at Pepsi, who sent us a beautiful form email to ask us to do free advertising for them.
Friday, September 14, 2007
While I completely missed the early session today at training camp (um, overslept), I was able to make the second session, which consisted of our vets. While they were all in practice jerseys which severely limited my ability to figure out who was doing what (er... Dion has a big green stick. Iggy is darker than everyone else. Kipper... oh, you get the idea...), it was an interesting session nonetheless.
As far as I could tell, this was the first practice for the team under the regime of Keenan. Given that it was public, and his first time skating with the team, of course there wasn't anything dramatic happening. And as far as practices go, it was pretty lighthearted. While you could see Preston or Keenan barking at the guys to work a bit harder or to keep their legs moving from time to time, overall, the tone of the practice wasn't too serious...exactly as you'd expect for the first one of the year.
(What would I call lighthearted? How about - my dad identified him as Tanguay, but what the hell do we know? - beating Kipper then riding his stick while getting some one-on-one drills done? It made everybody - on the ice and in the stands laugh...)
I didn't see a lot of summer rust on any of the guys. As soon as I found a seat I could tell the difference between this and the intrasquad game the other day - today, these guys are pros. The tempo was a lot faster and overall much more intense, though in the scrimmages there was less mushing and crushing along the boards.
All in all, I'm getting more and more psyched for the regular season. Not sure how my schedule next week will jibe with seeing more practices, but I do have tickets for a couple of pre-season games, and I can't hardly wait...
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Entering a code in NHL 08 unveils what appears to be new uniforms for all the teams, including those who have yet to unveil them.
Let's start with Edmonton's ugly threads. The orange striping looks mildly awkward, and I'm sure the fact that player numbers are to be appearing on the biceps will not help.
Next up is San Jose.
And Phoenix's jersey somehow became slightly less ugly:
Source: Calgary Puck.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Many of you may be slowly realizing that I've returned to the
slacker student life, and now possess the schedule to match. Most relevantly, I don't have much to do on Tuesdays till 3:30.
Which gave me plenty of time to check out the rookie intersquad game. I managed to fit in two periods and about five minutes of the third, so I had lots of time to check out the kids and to chat up some of the other fans.
At present, the rookies are divided into two groups, "A" and "B." For the purposes of the game, there was a Red team and a White team (duh), WEARING THE NEW JERSEYS, and which consisted of players from both groups.
Um, they're tearing out some of the seats in the Saddledome too, and putting in new ones. (Lower bowl, the non-club seat end) Probably about damn time - I'm sure they uncovered the remnants of the cotton candy I dropped there when I was six and we went to see the Ice Capades.
For the time I was there (though they were perking up in the third, from what I saw, scoring a goal to tie the game 1-1), Team Red (featuring Sutter Jr, Backlund, Maki, Chucko, Watt, Aulie, amongst others) was badly dominated by Team White (starring Boyd, Germyn, Van der Gulik). Irving started for Team Red and was replaced halfway by Keetley, while McElhinney started for Team White and was replaced by Lalande.
Notable absences included Daniel Ryder, Krahn (injured again, meh) and Brandon Prust (also injured).
So here's what I noticed for team Red:
And for team White:
I notice I haven't said much about our prospects on the D. Nobody really stood out, in good ways or bad. We've got several solid but unflashy guys like Aulie (Red), Ramholt (White), Hambly (White), Negrin (Red). Adam Pardy was probably the most physical of the bunch, and I could see him filling in for a (please!) injured Warrener, while Negrin actually managed a one-timer, which is a skill sorely lacking amongst the Flames' defensive corps. Are any of them ready for the big dance? Well... er....let's not go there.
The guys who showed the most hustle are the ones who are fighting for a spot even in Quad Cities - in particular guys like Cam Cunning and Devin Didiomete. A lot of fight there.
All in all, the rookies are what you'd expect the Flames to stock their farm team with - nobody too flashy, guys with decent fundamentals, the kind of guys who will do fine as spare parts as injuries start to mount up during the season.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Registration is now closed for the Open Ice Fantasy Hockey League 07-08. The rule type will be Rotisserie.
Positions: C, C, LW, LW, RW, RW, D, D, D, D, Util, G, G, BN, BN, BN, BN, IR
Stat categories: G, A, +/-, PPG, PPA, SHG, GWG, W, GA, SHO
Those are all up for negotiation until the draft starts...please hold such discussions on the League Message Board: http://hockey.fantasysports.yahoo.com/hockey/6571
In addition, we need to decide if we're to hold a live draft, or offline draft. I'm up for either, there aren't too many people in our league to hold a live draft -- perhaps we could agree on a date? How about sometime in the evening of Sunday, Sept. 23rd? If not, then we'll do an offline draft. In such a case, we need a random draft order (that hopefully an impartial observer can provide for us), and I will notify people via email when it is their turn to pick. If we're doing that, we should start soon to have it complete by the time the season starts.
Please let me know your preferences via the League Message Board. Henceforth, all these administrative messages will be posted there.
Sooooo... the new jerseys have been released. Not too different from the old ones - I could have hoped for black ties on the road jerseys which I think would have improved the look, but that's nothing a quick stop at the dollar store couldn't fix.
Thank goodness the flags are supposed to only be there for a year. For now. Let's hope it stays that way.
Not much else going...training camp is around the corner, and then the real fun begins. Perhaps I'll take advantage of my new life as a starving student to check out the various stages of camp. I'll have to see...
Sunday, September 2, 2007
The deadline to join the Open Ice Fantasy League is monday (tomorrow) at 7pm EST. There are still spaces available, so come join in. Newbies very welcome -- if you've never done a fantasy league before it's a very entertaining way to augment the hockey season.
The league ID is 6571.
The password to join is "berube", the best Flame of all time.
And barring any additional votes, the league type will be Rotisserie. As such, the new stat categories are as follows (and are up for debate/discussion):
Skaters: (7 stats)
G, A, +/-, PPG, PPA, SHG, GWG
Goalies: (3 stats)
W, GA, SHO
I found the stats difficult to choose -- I'm usually a fan of sv% and PPG/PPA as just one stat (PPP), and GWG is kind of lucky...but then there'd be a massive emphasis on goaltenders. So I added more skater stats and removed sv%.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Oh, bear with me, and let me blither.
I've spent most of this month moving from out east back to Calgary, so I actually haven't worked worked in front of a computer for the last three weeks or so. But I got bored with unpacking, so I decided to gnaw away at something Dave and I have been planning for some time.
I'm testing out a new format for our soon-to-be-expanded blogroll...if you asked us to link to you and we've mysteriously disappeared you, try clicking on random stuff in the sidebar.
Oh. Hockey? Well...I tried to get tickets for the unveiling of the new jersey on Tuesday, but they were gone before I got there. Also wishing that Brandon Sutter was the one we'd managed to draft, instead of his two other cousins.
So far 7 people have voted, 4 for Rotisserie and 3 for Points (but there's oddly only four people in the league right now).
So if you haven't already, join up. The deadline to join will be Monday night at 7pm EST. After that point we'll randomly determine the draft order and begin the drafting process.
The league ID is 6571.
The password to join is "berube", the best Flame of all time.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Yes, I'm indecisive. I decided to put this up to a poll. To view the poll, visit http://openicehits.blogspot.com and view the top right of the screen. The poll question is: Which fantasy league system should we use: Points, Rotisserie, or Head-to-Head. Please vote which one you're prefer if you might join, or if you did join already.
What's the difference? Click on the links above. If you have more specific questions, try this page.
I've never done a Rotisserie league before, but that's what I'm leaning towards now. Your thoughts, ladies and gentlemen?
Due to feedback from the last post, this new league will be Points style (unless people really want Rotisserie). But what we need to do is decide on a bunch of settings. I'd love for everyone's feedback on the following:
Max Moves: No max (max roster moves in the season)
Max Trades: No max (max trades in the season)
Trade deadline: n/a
Post-Draft Players: Follow waiver rules
Roster Changes: Daily (take effect next day) [other option is Weekly]
Min. Goalie Games per Week: 3 (# of games your goalies must play each week)
Left Wing/LW: 2
Right Wing/RW: 2
Utility: 1 (this can be any player)
Injured Reserve/IR: 1
Goals: 6 points
Assists: 3 points
+/-: 2 points
Powerplay Goal: 2 points (in addition to goal's 6 points)
Powerplay Assist: 1 point (in addition to assist's 3 points)
Shorthanded Goal: 6 points (in addition to goal's 6 points)
Goalie win: 15 points
Shutout: 10 points (on top of 15 point goalie win)
Goals against: -2 points per goal
Please note: This is my first time setting up a points league, so I'm in no way offended by changes or any kind of suggestions. They're more difficult to set up than head to head. Feel free to make 'em.
The draft will be done manually. I'll email people, as discussed in the last one. Livedrafts are impractical for many of us.
To join! (and yes, settings can be changed anytime before the season starts) Go here: http://hockey.fantasysports.yahoo.com/hockey/register/joinprivateleague_league_select?.scrumb=
The league ID is 6571.
The password to join is "berube", the best Flame of all time.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Who all is interested in a blogger-and-blog-reader fantasy hockey league for the '07-08 season? Yahoo Fantasy Hockey will begin taking signups on August 22nd, and it's good to start these things early to get past the overheard and drafting process.
Over the past few years, I've participated in many different types of leagues, but the ones I've always found most fun are the Yahoo Head-to-Head leagues with people you actually kinda-sorta know, rather than randoms.
How do Yahoo Head-to-Head leagues work? Here are the rules:
We would utilize a draft process to pick which players we all get. The drafting order is random and is a snaking draft (eg, if I draft 2nd last in the first round, I draft 2nd overall in the second round, then 2nd last in the 3rd, etc.). Yahoo can host a live draft where all players would be online simultaneously to do this, but that's seldom very practical (it's hard to coordinate so many people). So what I usually do, and what I'm comfortable doing, is hosting a manual draft. I'll maintain a webpage that shows the current drafting results, and when it's somebody's turn to draft, I'll email them the current draft picks. They then reply with their pick, the website is updated, and the next player notified. We set a maximum-reply-time of about 2 days, and if a draft pick isn't made within those 2 days, we use Yahoo's "best-player-not-yet-drafted" feature to automatically give you a reasonable one.
In a Head-to-Head League, your team squares off in a weekly matchup against another manager's to see who can compile the best stats across a number of different categories.
A new weekly matchup begins every Monday and consists of a set number of games based on your league's statistical categories. Each stat category counts as one game, with the win going to the team that finishes the week with the highest total in that category (the cumulative total after each Sunday's games).
So, if in a given week, your team scores more goals than your opponent's, you would be credited with a victory. However, if your opponent's team ended the week with a better save percentage than your team, you would be charged with a loss. If the two teams end up tied in a given category, each receives credit for a tied game.
This weekly win-loss total is added to a cumulative season record where each win counts for two points, each tie counts for one, and each loss counts for none. The total of these points is used to determine standings and playoff seedings.
This process happens over several weeks (all before the season starts). The amount of players we draft, and what positions we draft for (eg, do we do 2 LW, 2 C, 2 RW or do we do 4W 2C or do we do 6F? etc) is something we can discuss before the draft starts. When the season starts, you can choose for each day which players will play in which position. That sounds like an awful lot of work, but in reality it's not: you only have a few more players than you do positions, so only a few swap out here and there. For example, I usually draft 3 goalies but the teams typically have 2 goalie slots. Most of the time, only 1 or 2 play per night, so which I decide to play is easy. But sometimes, like on many Saturdays, all 3 goalies play and I need to make a judgment call (eg, I'd play Kiprusoff vs Edmonton, Giguere vs Columbus, but bench Raycroft vs Buffalo). The settings you make the day before carry over into the next day's default lineup, so only minor tweaks are needed. Plus, you can do this for weeks in advance...I typically take a few minutes sunday night and set my lineup for the entire week.
The main cool thing I enjoy about the Yahoo Head-to-Head is it's got a real-time tracker that shows how you are doing as games are playing. So it shows your scores from all your players as they are occuring (like 5 mins delayed from the real game), and your current matchup with your opponent.
Of course, this is a completely free league and there's no prizemoney involved. Just fun and pride. Newbies welcome.
I probably did a thoroughly crap job explaining this. So if anyone's got any questions, comments, or suggestions, reply via comment. Once Yahoo opens up registration I'll sign create our private league and will post the joining details here.