Monday, December 31, 2007

Jeff Shantz and Rico Fata are still alive?

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! )

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Oh, Kippy

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

Pre-Game: Anaheim @ Calgary

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

Brother to Brother Battle Royale.... or yeah, whatever

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:
Brodeur: 2
Nabokov: 1
Osgood: 1
Theodore: 1

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's cool to be hot

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

Ok, everybody. Back on the bandwagon we go....

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.

Stupid PPV.

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

Back to the scene of the crime

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.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

The kids have got to be alright....right?

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.

Long? Check.
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

Women Want Him, Men Want to Be Him

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

Fantasy Standings! (and maybe a game I won't talkabout much)

Oh. December happened,and I barely noticed. And a bit of distraction is in order. These are the standings from the Flames blogosphere league:

  1. woolly brained (me)
  2. The Pant Weasels (Dave's brother)
  3. The Hopelesses (MG)
  4. Flaming C (Paul-Marc)
  5. Craig Conroys (Duncan)
  6. Completely Hammered (ST)
  7. The Pantless Pirates (Dave)
I think we're being fair hosts. I've got the lead, while Dave's bringing up the rear. All good!

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 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

You're On Notice

What does it even mean, that the NHL put the Flyers 'on notice'?

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

Last Minute

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.