Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Back in Action

Eight days is WAY too long, though surely, we've already mentioned this.

So... San Jose is a darn decent team. We should beware, especially with as much rust as I anticipate seeing, after a very slack two or so weeks. I don't expect that their acquisition of Jody Shelley changes things much for us, except that Godard probably gets some time away from the press box.

It's important for us to come out of the gate hard, even with Eriksson apparently all better now. The schedule doesn't get a lot easier over the next couple of weeks, so it'll be good if we can build some momentum.

I had the good fortune of watching the Hitmen at the 'Dome last night (for free!), and it was a one-sided affair against the Kootenay Ice. The Hitmen just spanked the Ice. They built a 3-0 lead within the first five minutes (resulting in the Ice's starter getting yanked after four shots), and stayed ahead the rest of the night.

Particularly cool on the scouting front was getting to watch John Negrin (now with Kootenay) play in a real game setting. He'll be... fine. Obviously he's a bit more at home halfway through the season in the WHL than in an NHL training camp, but he was much improved from September. He seemed to show some good sense, made a bunch of smart plays, (not surprisingly) isn't afraid of the physical stuff and was the Ice's go-to guy on special teams. He definitely needs some more time to grow, but I could see him being a third or fourth D-man in a couple of years, with an eye to moving up the depth chart. I do think for now he needs another season at least of development, whether it's still in the W (he's only 18, after all) or in the AHL (my preference).

Anyways, that was good times. It's been a long while since I last went to see the Hitmen, and it was a lot of fun. Hopefully the Flames can make it two nights in a row for good times in the 'Dome...

(Superstitiously NOT making a game-time prediction. But... go Flames.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Anyone have a toddler and a box of crayons?

Flames not playing games watch: We're about halfway through our eight day break. Just DYING of boredom here (if not for things like school and work and getting on with our actual lives, such as the all-weekend Lost marathon, and watching foreign movies only two other people have heard of...)

So we did some looking about the intarweb, and have come up with some things by which you can entertain yourself. But! Don't forget the AllStar game!

(Now that we've pimped the game for Versus, our mugs are in the mail, right? Right?)

What else can we do? There's video fun, from MG and the ole CBC.

And speaking of video fun, and the CBC, if you haven't amused yourself enough, check out this handy dandy time-waster. I've never been so glad somebody has used my tax dollars to harness the power of Web 2.0. See?

Wednesday cannot come soon enough.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Vacation was LAST month...

I'm left cursing the NHL schedule again. Curses! What do you mean there's exactly one Flames game a week from last Friday till next Friday? I'm not disputing the guys need a break, but really, we should pack in as many games as possible before Eriksson feels better.

I'm not kidding!

I meant to do a post-game about last night's tilt a bit earlier, but alas, alas...

It's amazing how much better Matthew Lombardi looks (not that he isn't already lookin' good, heh) when he's not babysitting Boyd or Nystrom. Simply amazing. Though I was a bit surprised that he and Yelle turned out to be such a good combo offensively. I would have put them as strictly a PK tandem...

And Tanguay. I understand the mathematics of the salary cap, but I don't think there was a better cogent argument against trading him than seeing him all pissed off and afire last night. He's usually much more chill than's nice to see him pour it on.

(Note to Fletcher: No, we're not giving him up for Gary Leeman. No! Not even Gary Leeman AND Doug Gilmour...)

And no, I didn't miss Eriksson. While the D was by no means air-tight, it was much improved.

This was the sort of game I think I needed to see the Flames win again. Tight, low-scoring, boring as all hell. Lately, these sorts of games have been the ones that have eluded them, whether they're being hypnotized by the Isles or flat out asleep against Nashville. We've seen more than enough this season already though - we're not out of the woods yet.

Overall, I'm feeling pretty good headed into the All-Star Break. Team looks good, team is mostly healthy, Kipper is in fine form again (hopefully he doesn't spend a week in Aruba and lose his edge over the break).

Hopefully Huselius will continue to show us some fine fine moves. How about that off-the-leg-and-into-the-net-trick? YES?

I have a few plans to keep us all entertained while we wait for the games to start again.

For one, Dave and I usually do a Sporting News fantasy league or two to while away the season. A new season starts up after the All-Star Break, and any of you who are interested in joining up should drop us a line soon, in return for an invite. Yes, WI, that's you! And Kyle? And anyone else...

As the league stands...let's say I can guarantee you guys won't come in last. Dave already has a lock on that, right?


Saturday, January 19, 2008


It was instructive last night watching the U of C Dinos men's volleyball team take on the U of A. (Bear with me, I know this isn't the right sport for most of our readers quite yet)

When we got there, you couldn't really tell (I'm by no means a skilled spectator of volleyball) which team was going to win. Drills were the same, stretches were the same...

Then the game starts (the match is best of 5 games), and the U of C takes a respectable lead. Then shit starts happening. The U of A battles back, wins the game (which the U of C had a good chance of winning) 23-25. A nice close one. (Seeing a pattern? Let me draw it even further...)

Next game, it's clear the Dinos are rattled. Mistakes start piling up. Individually, they're trying a lot harder. They're swinging at the ball harder. They're taking more chances. But as a team, they're falling apart, because they're not really depending on their guys anymore. Now they lose 19-25. (See what I'm getting at now?)

Next game, there's no way the Dinos are winning. The U of A easily secures a six point lead that turns into an eight point lead that the Dinos just aren't going to catch up to. And the mistakes are getting worse. They're missing serves. They're hitting balls out of bounds. All of this due is the extra pressure they're putting on themselves, as individal players. This results in less creativity as a team, because you no longer trust your teammates to put together an elegant play that p0wns the other guys. YOU'RE going to be the guys who hauls your team's bacon out of the fire.

Why, if they were hockey players, you might even say, you've seen that game before.

Haven't we all?

I was startled by how similarly the Dinos last night and the Flames in the last week past reacted to adversity. As soon as the other team didn't roll over and play dead, they fell apart. They looked fragile. It struck me, how much of sports, at that high a level, is about what happens in the head as much as it is on the court or on the ice.

Stuff to think about, at any rate.

Anyways! When I went to check out some volleyball action, it seems like I missed a gooder of a game! Mind you, it wasn't exactly against the toughest competition this year has to offer...

What struck me, listening in on the festivities intermittently, is that our special teams were good. Especially the penalty kill. I've been meaning to bring up the number of PP chances we've been giving the opposition in weeks past... you can't do that and win the game. No way.

Anyways, good job, good job, and now we have an ENTIRE WEEKEND without the Flames playing. I believe they're doing their skills competition tomorrow (anyone going?), but with that and the All-Star game next week (a second ENTIRE WEEKENDwithout the Flames playing), who the hell designs the schedule?


In other news, looks like we will not be able to complain about Don Wittman's play-by-play come playoff time. Rest in peace, all that good stuff.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Sorry about that. My bad.

Sooooo...who wants in on some lottery ticket action? :)

I'm going to just go over a few positives I saw in the game. I'm sure the negatives will be more than adequately covered later on.

David Moss! My, how I missed him. I thought he put a bit of extra jump into the Boyd/Lombardi combo which Keenan seems dead set on. Not that they were flawless tonight by any stretch... but nobody was, really, tonight.

Aucoin This means no Rhett Warrener for now. Do I need to explain this? No? Didn't think so. Moving right along...

McElhinney This is one of the few times this year I've been able to watch McElhinney objectively (the Columbus game where he sat two rows ahead of me doesn't count - he could have brought his PSP and a six of beer for all it mattered to the game), and I have to say I'm encouraged. He's really damn fast, and also kind of catlike, which is strongly reminiscent of Kipper's first days in Calgary. That said, he's a bit too eager to play the puck, has occasionally awkward positioning and is really small for a goalie at this level. Like, Theo Fleury small. But he's young and will fill out... if he can improve his puck handling and positioning, maybe this time next year we won't have to dial-a-Turek.

Tomorrow's another game day...Minnesota this time. Good god, the thought of Gaborik and Demitra unleashed on our ever-potent D does not a comfortable night's sleep make.

What is bigger than Chicago and smaller than Columbus?

Answer: Nashville*
(*This is an actual attempt I made at getting people to guess Nashville while playing Cranium Hoopla. You know, I named two Central Div teams, one of which doesn't have a franchise in any other majors leagues, and put them in the standings. I should have been playing with hockey fans...or even people who know Columbus and Nashville have NHL franchises. Alas.)


Everybody take their flying leap off the bandwagon? Obviously the Flames still have some issues. Namely, with momentum. They will take any kind they can get, and magnify it a gazillion-fold. When we're winning, we're unstoppable. When we're losing, FORTHELOVEOFGOD JUSTFOLDTHEFRANCHISENOW!

And these same issues with momentum seem to play headgames with us especially when we're losing. The Phoenix and Edmonton games were so similar in terms of the guys not having the confidence to score (much less potting a goal anytime before the third period).

So... that means... we gotta... come out strong. Play a full 60 mins. Make sure our defence made it off the bus. Y'know, all that stuff.

Nashville has been doing pretty good even with some obvious injury issues. Radulov has been an emerging star, and the goaltending has stabilized to a large degree. Their weak point might be on defence, where Weber and Ryan Suter (I think) are still injured, but they're hardly the cornerstones of the Preds' d-corps anyways.

Oh. It was 7-4 last time we were in Nashville... let's say it's 3-0 this time.

By the way, I was looking over the YoungStars roster, and besides not containing any goalies, I have a random question: Who the HELL is Tyler Kennedy? And is he older than Sidney Crosby?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cujo lives!

Sources, ranging from the Fan 590 in Toronto (I hate them) to ESPN (I hate them) have all-but-confirmed that Curtis Joseph has signed with the Flames.

My thoughts are this: I like it. Kipper's started 22 straight games, and let's be honest, he could use a day off. I loved Cujo's performance in the Spengler cup, it shows he's still got it. Probably not as a workhorse, but as a reliable backup? You betcha.

Plus side is, the kids get to play more in QC, rather than being an expert door operator and bench warmer extraordinaire.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


What else would you call a 17-0 win?

Oh. That wasn't an NHL win? They were girls? Oh well. Props to the U-18 goodness that happened in Calgary this week. Never fear. I think those feisty Finns will have a more potent response come next year. (Or the year after that or at some point in the future. You know.)

Also without this tourney, I would have never learned the following:

Atlanta rookie Tobias Enstrom, besides having a sister (the youngest of them all) named Tina, also has brothers named Thomas and Tommy. They're all good hockey players, apparently, but is there a dearth of first names for boys in Sweden, beginning with 'T'?

Also, Phil Kessel's sister is our David Moss' cousin. Which, unless given some sort of sordid bizarre family connection, means that Moss and Phil Kessel are cousins. Cool, huh?

(I know...useless, but still cool)

So tonight brings us to a team I actually care about playing, unlike, oh, the last two or three teams. Edmonton. Good times, yes?

It's kind of a shame that the contests over the last couple of years (blame the schedule, like I do) have been dropping in terms of intensity. It might be due to the disparity in terms of the performance of both teams, who knows? (blame the schedule!)

We've been losing, and they've been winning, but I don't think either streak will last. Mind you, Edmonton has improved their goaltending significantly since they started using Garon regularly, but of course he's no match for the almighty shot of ummmm....y'know... Godard and Yelle and Warrener.

On our side... geez, has anyone mentioned that the defence needs to improve? No? Well...they do. No giveaways, no standing around, nobody doing their best pylon imitations. And most of all, no lazy.

And the outcome? Even though the Home Flames of 2008 are determined to scuttle our plans for sleeping well at night, we're on the road, heh. Kipper gets his first shutout of the year. Unfortunately, it's not a 17-0 outcome like the girls managed - but I think 2-0 is doable.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

All stars

I'm not actually going to talk that much about the all star selections - Dave was really miffed that Iginla got as few votes as he did, but hey, whatever.

Congrats to our boys for making it to the hyped up shinny game of little importance.

What I want to know is, can Dion race luggage trolleys with the kids like last year? Can he?

No? Oh well.

I've been digging around and tripped on this dandy of an interview from Andrew Ference. There's Africa again, he talks about his scrap with Crosby, the fantabulous Cup run of '04, and makes this observation, which jibes well with all the Give-Iggy-the-Hart rumblings:

Jarome in my books is a better hockey player than Crosby because he does those things. He will fight, he will lay his body on the line and take the hit and not complain if someone hits him and stuff like that. The superstars of the league should have to do that because they're hockey players, they're not ice-skating princesses.

(Not that here, we don't love Sidney Crosby. Just there won't be a lot of love forthcoming while he isn't on any of our fantasy teams, and if we've said it once, we've said it a dozen times: He ain't no Marcus Nilson.)

Which brings us to tonight. Oooooo. Phoenix. While they're not quite as irritating as they were back when they were the Jets, this year's edition of the Coyotes is nothing to sneeze at. They're a pretty respectable 11th place, not even last in their division, and with scoring threats like the dangerous Derek Morris, and the superb Steve Reinprecht...


Oh. Um. Well. Where was I?

There will be no cakewalk tonight. I still expect our boys to come out ahead. Somewhat. Expect Lombardi to go minus (again), and Phaneuf as well. Warrener will improve from the outing in LA (he'd better!). And the winning goal will come from the Iggy/Huselius/lucky bystander line.


Saturday, January 5, 2008


After a full week of the world juniors, I'm kind of tired of that word.

However, congrats to Team Canada, in all it's man-loving glory. (By the way, if you haven't yet checked out Kyle's coverage of the tournament, get thee there and read away. Good stuff).


Not a word that really applies to this week's edition of the Calgary Flames, either. The wins continued to come in San Jose (a game which sadly I missed), and I'm kind of expecting them to keep on showing up. It's definitely a far cry from a month ago, and let's not go back there again?

LA has not been a good team this year. In fact, checking out m'girl kms2's blog (yes, link usually stealthily hidden on our sidebar), you can see that while the Kings have been winning recently, it hasn't been happening nearly often enough.

Easy prey? I don't think so. They've got to want to collect some momentum right now. They have some guns in Kopitar et al., and some real experience, in guys like (he's still alive??) Rob Blake.

This will be a tight one where our guys will have to be pretty aggressive against their scorers, and just play a nice simple road game.

Uhhh... 3-2 for us. Lombardi is long overdue, so him, um, Eriksson gets one for slowly peeking into my good books, and Nilson (because he's been scratched for a while so let's see if he can score one from the press box).

Thursday, January 3, 2008

That time of month again

Thought I'd missed the beginning of the month again?

Hardly. Here's how the rotisserie league looks. And no, I don't actually wait till I'm on top again to post. Though it probably does add to my motivation to do so.

  1. woolly brained (me: ahead by 4 points!)
  2. The Pant Weasels (Dave's brother, whom some of you have met now)
  3. The Hopelesses (MG)
  4. Completely Hammered (ST)
  5. Flaming C (Paul-Marc)
  6. Craig Conroys (Duncan)
  7. The Pantless Pirates (Dave, now proven to not be invisible)
To be honest, the Pant Weasels have been problematic for me all month - I've been battling them as well as MG's Hopelesses for first the entire way.

But the real story this month is ST's meteoric rise from just ahead of Dave all the way to just behind MG. Well done!

Now tonight, we have the Flames taking on the Sharks in the lovely Bay Area. The Sharks have improved their play of late, though they're still as wildly inconsistent as anybody else in the West (minus Detroit, boo). Their young guns have been fighting off sophomore slumps for the most part, and Marleau has been widely bandied about in trade rumours.

On our side, I've expressed my love for the Nystrom/Lombardi/Boyd line, though it was plain scary to watch last night. The top six guys will continue to be juggled, Eriksson will continue to incomprehensibly get loads of ice time - though lately as his TOI has increased, his play has improved. I don't wince every second of every shift now... just every minute. And Kipper... while I'm not ready to say that he's back in top form yet, he's at least kept us in the last couple of games at those times while the guys in front have been their boneheaded worst.

I don't expect much to go on tonight - it's the second game in two nights, blah, blah, blah.

Let's say that Huselius will get a hat trick, and make it 3-1 for the Flames.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Andy and Steve Traveling Road Show

I don't know how many of you had the opportunity to spend today malingering on the couch with TSN going all day long, but I did!

Trust me, after these holidays, it's been much deserved.

The morning started off with watching Canada advance yet another round. And despite the Flames' long record of draft busts from Europe, I like Puustinen. He definitely stood out today, moreso than I ever saw at training camp.

Let me fast forward about three or four hours, to a special documentary produced by the league, about the adventures of Andrew Ference and Steve Montador in Africa, from last summer, as they visited tons of places for Right To Play.

I'm so proud of those guys. While it's pure marketing gold for the league, the show did highlight why it's so important that players get involved in things outside of the scope of their own normal lives. Just heart-breaking and happy, all rolled up in one.

Though, there will be hell to pay, if Ference's demonstrated goal demonstrations ever catch on. (He showed the kids what players do after they score: Ride a stick, hopping up and down, while miming a lasso throw).

And kudos also to Steve Montador for making a commitment to go on damn short notice - the story is Georges Laraque was supposed to go, but couldn't due to an offseason injury. Though I'm sure Georges would have been a massive hit.

Damn, I miss Ference.

So tonight! The Rangers. Who have not been here since 2002. And it is now (barely) 2008. Do the math.

I have nothing. They have a lot of snipers firing blanks. And a darn good goalie. We have a lot of guys who can skate fast (hint), forecheck hard (hint) and are trying to play consistently (hint).

Um. 5-2 Flames, with Sean Avery left dangling over the glass after he scampers up there to evade (a puzzlingly enraged) Dion and Iggy.