Sunday, January 25, 2009

Burning Quesitons about the All-Star Game

Will Tilley become the next recession-proof headgear company?

Does anybody remember the days when both teams played the trap for 60 mins, then went for interviews?

Can I call Mike Komisarek "Rory Fitzpatrick" now?

Does Ovechkin twitter from the bench?

Why am I watching this?

When do the Habs run out of old hockey players?

PS by Dave: When does the game start?

How do I enable PiP so I can play Xbox and have this on in the corner?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back to the scene of the crime

And what a difference our next visit to San Jose makes.

Our previous visit is already the stuff of local legend - the stinking up of the Sharks' barn, the cancellation of the wine tour in Napa (Guys? Just sayin'. You coulda had a fabulous time there. And unlike me, you can probably afford it...), the bag-skating over the weekend following, then, miraculously, the Flames playing like contenders.

Simply miraculous.

And we saw results. Last week the Sharks came to play, and unlike the rest of their Western Canada road swing (a swing, which, this year, seems markedly less intimidating than in years before), could not leave the Saddledome with a win.

I don't expect the same type of game we saw last week, since particularly, we'll be the visitors. The Sharks are coming off a 7-1 pasting of Tampa Bay, but they'll know the Flames are not the sadsack Lightning (for one, we already traded our Francophone star to the Habs). Expect a fantastic game. It should be fun!

In other news! I was in the Saddledome Sunday to watch the Hitmen (with a ridiculous 38-6-1-1 record) take on the Swift Current Broncos. And was startled to see no other than Flames prospect John Negrin play for the Broncs, having just been traded there the night before. I will chalk up his unremarkable play (well, he DID get an assist) to having been traded the day before, plus travel. But it was a good game. For the home team at least.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It is what it is, but it is not a cliché

What a crazy season this has been. We're at the half-way mark already? That can't be right. I'd like to apologize for the infrequent postings to this blog, but the real world cannot be PVRed and life goes on. But in the meantime, Kent, WI, and Matt have all been prolific and analytical and highly entertaining.

I'm not sure many people predicted that by the midpoint of the season, the Flames would be a "top six" team in the league. And if they did predict that, they probably changed their mind after the infamous events San Jose beat-down on November 13th. They've pulled it off, somehow. The team has simply looked consistently good since November 13th, and even our 3rd and 4th lines are looking good.

What is notable about this season is how little our "top three" guys are contributing to this. In most years, Iginla, Kiprusoff, and Phaneuf are all-stars and there's a dropoff from there. This year, all three are arguably underperforming: Kiprusoff is getting wins, but he's still not performing like an elite goaltender in my eyes. Iginla has been good, but he hasn't been exceptional. Phaneuf needs to work on his aim and still work on his defensive coverage -- I don't think "lazy" is the correct word but on many goals, I see "#3" skating well behind the player that scored. The Flames' success has come from the hands of the team as a whole, and it's a great thing. The work ethic, speed, and skills of Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross have, in my view, inspired this whole team -- I believe they supply additional motivation to the rest of the team. It doesn't have to be the Jarome Iginla or Dion Phaneuf show each night, and these guys keep proving it. The effort and consistency from everyone on the team, and the continued underrated efforts of Daymond Langkow, are ensuring that this team is ferocious and firing on all cylinders each night. Even Todd Bertuzzi, oft lamented by my fellow bloggers, has been playing fairly well all season. I still stand by my assertion that he's not even close to being the "biggest disappointment" on our team this year, in fact he's overperforming if you take into account his salary in my estimation...things are looking good.

But now we've had a break. The Flames have been sitting idle since Thursday, and now we're facing off against St. Louis tonight. It'll be all too easy to underestimate St. Louis (especially since they've lost their one-man-army in Lee Stempniak), combined with potential overconfidence from their recent record and 5-2 wins and the challenge of getting back in the saddle after a long weekend, this may be a bigger challenge than is expected. In a lot of ways, I'm looking at tonight's game against lowly St Louis as a barometer for future near-term success. If the Flames can shake off the little bit of rust, play competitively, and put in a solid game tonight I think we'll be okay. It's about forming those good habits again.

We can't forget that Vancouver isn't too far back. With Loungo back and Sundin on the team, they will get better. I'm glad we've extended the lead as much as we have with Loungo out and Sundin playing like a Maple Leaf, but that can be short-lived. Vancouver's a one-man show, and that one man has returned.