Let the Games Begin?
So if that wasn’t the most exciting, intense, stressful, awesome, amazing, breathtaking, edge of your seat hockey entertainment, I am not sure what is! This tournament provided some amazing hockey and one of the best finishes ever! You could not write a story better than that! Sidney Crosby scoring the overtime winning goal will go down with Paul Henderson’s goal in 72, Lemieux’s in 87 and the gold medal win in 2002, as one of the greatest moments in Canadian sports history. It was miraculous and it was a lot of fun to watch!
Unfortunately, the Olympics had to end sometime. But do not fret hockey fans as we have a very exciting couple months ahead of us. Here is a look at the Calgary Flames.
With 20 games left on the schedule the Flames must play well above .500 hockey to even think about playing in the post season. They sit with 69 points in 8th position and most would think they need to get to at least the 95 point mark to clinch a position. That means 13 wins out of a possible 20; or a combination of ties and wins to get to that mark.
The schedule ahead is not for the faint of heart either. With games, literally, every other night the Flames better be well rested and ready to go. The thing that scares me the most going into March is the Flames MVP to date, Miikka Kiprusoff. With 20 games to be played and every one of them more important than the last, Kipper is going to be worked like a dog in order for the Flames to come up with the most wins. Kipper has just come out of an intense Olympics where he went through some serious highs (Leading SV % coming into the Semi Finals and a Bronze Medal) and lows (The first period against the Americans). He did not get to rest like a majority of the goaltenders in this league. This includes a bulk of the goalies the Flames are chasing; besides Bobby Lu and Nabokov, but the Flames will not touch the Sharks. That being said, McElhinney will have to provide adequate relief work when Kipper is given the night off. This is yet another reason, I believe, why the Flames are going no where if and when they reach the playoffs. The ‘Mac’ has played decent in relief for Kipper, when called upon, yet is still not good enough to carry any sort of workload. This means Miikka plays more and more and eventually loses steam. This could possibly cause a move for a more experienced back-up this week.
The Flames have put themselves in the precarious position of 8th place going into the break; due in large part to the massive slide they took in January. Coming out of the break, the schedule is not any easier.
The first three games back this week will be critical for this fragile group that has lost 3 of its last 4 games. In these first three contests, they have two match-ups versus the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are one of the numerous teams chasing down the Flames for that last playoff spot in the Western Conference. Until this year the Flames have owned the Wild, but this season hasn’t been the same. The Flames are 0-1-1 against them this season and have been outscored 6-2 in those two games. The Flames face the Wild four times total in the next month and a half; which is 1/5 of their entire schedule. The Flames play against the Wild will be a telling sign as to whether or not the Flames reach the post season.
Are the Flames going to make another move?
With only a couple days left until the trade deadline hits, many Flames fans are anxious to see whether or not D. Sutter will make another move. Given the Flames stock pile of forwards under one-way contracts, you might surmise that a move is imminent. The player to be moved might come from the long list of soon be UFA forwards. A list that includes: Conroy, Higgins, Nystrom, Stajan, McGrattan and Mayers, with Boyd being an RFA. Conroy is pointless to move as he will not bring anything back. Higgins, Stajan and Mayers are unlikely candidates seeing as they just arrived here a short month ago. This leaves Nystrom, McGrattan and Boyd. Boyd has the most upside and would clearly bring back the most in return. The other option would be Langkow who garners a $4.5 million dollar cap hit for the next two seasons. In my opinion, if the Flames deal Boyd, they only give up on yet another up and coming player to early in his career. Like St. Louis, Giguere, Stillman, Lombardi and most recently Phaneuf, Dustin Boyd is a Flames draft pick who is starting to show signs of his potential. Trading another one of our young guys for an older more experienced player (Jokinen last year, Stuart a couple years back, etc.) only sets this franchise further back. I just don’t see a bigger move coming, period. If something happens it will be a player being waived or a smaller deal that opens up more cap room down the road.
That being said, something I do see coming is moving Cory Sarich who has become expendable. His price tag is far too high ($3.6 Cap hit for the next 2 years) and players like Johnson and Kronwall can fill his role at a fraction of the cost.
The Flames have an extremely tough and an exceptionally interesting road ahead of them to finish the season. If the Flames meander about and find their way to get into the playoffs, do not expect a long run as younger, hungrier teams like Chicago and San Jose will crush the Flames in a seven game series.
Kiprusoff is the Flames only hope for success and my guess is that his tank will run out of gas before the season is over.
Realistic? I think so.
This has been,
Newman on the Flames
Read more at: http://calgaryontheflames.blogspot.com