Flames' age not cause of road woes
The Flames are a dismal 8-14-4 on the road this year. With strong board play and a good base of two-way players, Calgary should be a tough team to play against in any rink, not just their own.
A recent Calgary Herald article said this:
“this is an aggregation you’d think would be ideally suited to handling the particular challenges of the road; stockpiled, as it is, with old warhorses savvy in the ways of survival in hostile environments, in tight situations. Equipped to overcome an obvious disparity in talent with wit, guile and experience.”
Reading comments and articles like this online, I get the impression people want the old fogies of the team sold and replaced by young up-and-comers. They believe doing this will improve the road game.
I would agree, if Calgary had a lot of old fogies.
The Flames have the eighth oldest team in the league with an average age of just over 28. Safe to say that unlike the Oilers and Avalanche, they can grow facial hair. But unlike Detroit, they need mouthguards and can’t just take out their dentures before games.
Brendan Morrison is the geezer of the dressing room at 36, but he's still injured and has only suited up for 26 games this year. Surely people aren’t referring to him when they’re talking about the old-timers.
Are they referring to Jarome Iginla? I hope not. Despite being 34, Iggy is usually the best Flames forward in any given game. He hasn’t missed the 30 goal mark since the ’99-00 season and is on pace for more than 30 this year. If you watched the Sharks game on Tuesday Jan. 18, then you would know that he also likes to dummy defensemen with his shoulders.
The other old farts that people must be talking about are Cory Sarich and Olli Jokinen at 33 years old (33 is not old but, for the sake of arguing, I’ll address them).
Rumours have swirled around Sarich being traded, but nothing has come of it yet. It would be difficult to move Sarich as he has a cap hit of $3.6 million, which may be the only thing keeping him in Calgary.
Jokinen hasn’t been dreadful by any means. His 35 points hasn’t quite lived up to his $3 million price tag but there are far worse third-line players in the league than Jokinen. Ovechkin, at $9 million, only has 36 points, FYI.
The real reason for the Flames’ deplorable road record isn’t because of their age, it’s simply because they make too many defensive mistakes. Neutral zone turnovers and missed assignments in the defensive end have killed the Flames in away games.
Looking at only regular season HOME games, Calgary is ranked sixth in the league in Goals Against with 49. Not too shabby. Looking at only regular season AWAY games, the Flames are ranked 28th in the league with 81 Goals Against. Yep. Third last.
How are they so much worse on the road? They’re still playing the same game, right?
There is an obvious mentality shift when the Flames leave town. Something there needs to be remedied. Maybe Captain Jerome needs to hook his team up with Nyquil so they can sleep better in the hotels they’re staying in.
What the Flames-fan huffing and puffing really comes down to is they want to see the Taylor Hall-ish potential for the future. They’re okay with losing 5 straight on the road as long as the team looks fast and skilled. They look at teams like Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Edmonton and say, “Hey! We should do that!”
No one wants the Flames to lose three straight seasons and place their future in the hands of a bunch of unproven teens. Sure Pittsburgh and Chicago worked out, but have you seen Columbus? Hey, watch Moneyball and then tell me if you want to risk your future on prospects.
Plus, Calgary isn’t far from having a playoff team. The acquisitions of Cammalleri and Jones add a little more quickness up front. If Glencross can make a speedy recovery from his recent lower body injury then he would be key in getting the Flames’ road game on track.
If the Flames can’t turn around their ugly record, then those early first-round draft picks that fans are chanting for may not be so far off after all.