Saturday, October 3, 2009

Flames off to an odd start

The opener against Vancouver was a bit of a roller-coaster.  That first period is the way a hockey club should open a season -- relentless, quick, drawing penalties, finding the back of the net...and all in those amazing retro jerseys.  But it was downhill from there -- the Flames kept the foot on the gas, but switched the gear to neutral in the second and reverse in the third.

I can't say that I'm surprised, but I'm definitely disappointed.  If there's one thing that drove me nuts last year (and the year before) it's the alarming inconsistency -- from game to game, and sometimes period to period.  It's, of course, way too early to make any substantive judgments but I'm hoping the structure and discipline that Brent Sutter brings to the team will transform it from the wildly-inconsistent team of the past to a consistent, defensively-sound team.  It's what we're all hoping for, I'd expect.

I'm still thrilled about the J-Bo acquisition.  He's such a calming presence on the ice, and the tandem with Regehr is going to be one of the best -- if not the best -- pairing in the league.  Phaneuf's new-found spot in the 2nd pairing is much more appropriate than the 1st pairing, he still has a lot to learn about defensive coverage and responsibility -- and perhaps just a little bit of humility.  I thought both Phaneuf and J-Bo acquitted themselves well in the opener and I hope it continues.  Phaneuf's thunderous check of Daniel Sedin in the closing seconds of the 1st was a fantastic reminder of the kind of play we should expect from him this year.

I don't think we could've asked for anything more from our 4th line -- they were outstanding.  Grinding it out, putting the puck in the net, doing everything that was expected of them and more.  Please, please...hopefully McGrattan stays far, far away.  I see chemistry in this line and they should not be bumped.

Speaking of chemistry, there was none to be found on the first line.  That has to change, and I suspect it will tonight.  Edmonton's first defensive pairing is a notable dropoff from Vancouver's, which will help, but I'm mostly counting on a rebound of effort from Iginla, Jokinen, and Moss (who honestly, probably shouldn't be on that top line).  The talent is there, but there's a nagging feeling I have that Jokinen and Iginla just aren't going to click.  I think the Flames would be served putting Jokinen on the second line and Langkow back on the first.  It'd spread out the (theoretical) scoring potential on the team a bit more, but I think it couldn't do anything but help the team at this point.  Iginla and Jokinen never really clicked going back to when they first were put together, and some players just won't have that spark.

As for Kiprusoff?  That was a pretty impressive game.  What else can we say?  Hope he keeps that up, we'll need him to.

I'm going to predict a (narrow) Flames win tonight, 4-3 on goals from Iginla, Glencross (x2!), and Phaneuf.

(Also: I've updated the blogroll links on the right.  Added some, removed some dead sites.  If I've omitted a great NHL site or Flames blog, please let me know)

1 comment:

  1. Well that was unexpected! Good call on the score... you missed giving one to Khabibulin though.

    Makes sense - if they get throwback jerseys, then surely we get a throwback Steve Smith.