Gameday Preview: Mirror

Robert Cleave
January 14 2011 05:56AM

               

 

It isn't often that the Flames get to play a team that is clearly in a worse spot these days, but that opportunity presents itself this evening in Kanata when they meet the Senators. Ottawa is a team going nowhere and likely headed for a teardown, with near term prospects for the Sens appearing a bit bleak. Why does that sound familiar?

Ottawa  was already in tough before Jason Spezza got hurt, but their offence was going nowhere even when he was in the lineup. Even with a PP that has been productive when they actually get a chance and a six goal outing last night on the Island, the Sens are second worst at scoring goals, and third worst at EV. Some of that is driven by a poor team SH%, but they've really struggled to get shots on goal over the last couple of years. They're in the bottom ten in EV shots for and against, in fact, which hints at a team that tries to keep things as low-event as possible.

 

The player that's carried Ottawa over the last several years is Daniel Alfredsson, and he's begun the decline in earnest this year, taking on water against middling comp. Between his slide and Spezza's injury, it's hardly a surprise that the Senators can't throw it in the ocean most evenings. They have almost no depth of scoring at all from their forwards, with only Spezza and Alfredsson reaching the 20 point mark through the mid-point of the season. Players like Fisher, Michalek and Kelly have given them nothing in terms of secondary production and the ageing Alex Kovalev has lived down to his reputation. That contract was about as bad a gamble as any GM has made over the last couple of years.

 

That leaves the backline to pick up the pieces, and although Karlsson and Gonchar have decent point totals, they've had a time of it at EV. Karlsson is Ottawa's all-star rep, but that's more an indictment of the team than any excellence on his part. Gonchar has had his issues as well, even if his -20 isn't entirely his doing. The two of them do look good when Ottawa is up a man, but since the Sens are wallowing near the bottom of the league in PP attempts there are limits to what they've been able to contribute.

 

                

 

There's also been a fair bit of talk that Brian Murray might start unloading pieces at the deadline, and I don't doubt that Chris Phillips would attract some interest. He'd make a decent 3rd-4th D on a competitive team and he's UFA this summer, which would add to his value in a league where few teams want to commit to extra years when acquiring a player.

 

As scratchy as Ottawa's skaters have been, their indifference has been matched by equally questionable goaltending most of this season. The Sens' collection of keepers had a .906 5v5 SV% entering last night's affair, which is likely why they've decided to give rookie Robin Lehner some run. Based on what's gone on over the last couple of seasons in the Senator net, I'm not sure there's any downside risk to giving him the chance, although he looked like a standard issue Senators goalie last night in allowing 4 goals on 24 shots.

 

This really is a game where the Flames should be the better team at EV, but I think we're past the point of expecting anything at all from them in terms of results. The Senators did manage to rouse themselves last night in order to drop half a dozen on the Islanders, so I suppose that it's possible that they've awakened just in time for the Flames' visit. Still, Calgary is a better team than Ottawa, and a loss to the Senators, even on the road, would be another nail in the coffin of a Flames team that's already likely residing amongst the walking dead.

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Robert Cleave is a perpetually grumpy Winnipegger.
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#1 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 07:30AM
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Your title says it all. Flames West vs Flames East. Glad im not the only one who draws parallels mostly between these two teams. Horrible contracts, poor primary scoring, poor secondary scoring, poor 5 on 5 and special teams...poor poor poor....I've heard some people saying they dont expect all the Flames to be on the return flight, though personally I cant think of a single deal there I'd want to see made.

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#2 PrairieStew
January 14 2011, 08:30AM
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Alfie now 38 years old and still their best player. Not good.

Like the Flames - things don't look so good for next year either, though they have considerably more cap space to work with. Moving Phillips and Jarko Ruutu should help them stock the stable a bit - but this team needs to find a goalie and some forwards to put the puck in.

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#3 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 08:48AM
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@icedawg_42

I mostly agree, except the Flames are a fair bit better than the Sens at ES. And I'd take our depth over theirs too.

As much as Sutter deserved to get the axe this year, Murray should have been fired lone ago. He's been a blight on that org for awhile.

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#4 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 09:06AM
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Also - word is Regehr might be out with a knee injury. I'm sure Pat will update us this afternoon.

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#5 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 10:00AM
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Steve MacFarlane has twitted/tweeted that Kipper is sitting tonight.

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#6 Gange
January 14 2011, 10:03AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Also - word is Regehr might be out with a knee injury. I'm sure Pat will update us this afternoon.

Well that's bad news for this game but if he's out for an extended period of time you can pretty much officially stick a fork in them.

That being said, I don't believe these Flames are as bad a team as their record shows. The truly maddening part of it all is the inconsistency. When they play well they play REALLY well (see the Detroit game). However even consistent they're a middling team not a basement team.

If we're tanking this season, do it right, get in the draft lottery!!

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#7 negrilcowboy
January 14 2011, 10:16AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I mostly agree, except the Flames are a fair bit better than the Sens at ES. And I'd take our depth over theirs too.

As much as Sutter deserved to get the axe this year, Murray should have been fired lone ago. He's been a blight on that org for awhile.

Indeed, Murray has made more than one questionable move while on his watch. Player as well as coaching gaffes, the Hartsburg fiasco, Cory Clouston? Wonder how much the hiring of Clouston was influenced by Big Ed. Clouston's days in Cranbrook were not earth shattering. Oh I see he is from Viking,surprised he isn't employed by the Flames. Ottawa's woes summed up in one word Chara.

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#8 Kent Wilson
January 14 2011, 10:20AM
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@Gange

No, the Flames certainly aren't 14th in the west bad. They are competent at ES in terms of at least capturing possession. The goaltending, special teams and bounces have hurt them a bit this year. I'd say their "true" talent lies somewhere between 7th and 10th in the WC currently, obviously trending downwards if nothing changes.

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#9 funkyjaman
January 14 2011, 10:27AM
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looks like Reggie and Kipper both out tonight. Mikkelson in for Reggie and Karl gets the start according to MacFarlane via twitter.

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#10 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 10:34AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

No, the Flames certainly aren't 14th in the west bad. They are competent at ES in terms of at least capturing possession. The goaltending, special teams and bounces have hurt them a bit this year. I'd say their "true" talent lies somewhere between 7th and 10th in the WC currently, obviously trending downwards if nothing changes.

Hopefully we can 'trend down' to a lottery pick *grin*

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#11 Gange
January 14 2011, 10:42AM
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Well I think that, if you're practicing Mr.Feasters intellectual honesty, you admit that the playoffs are out of reach this year. Once you're at that point you can start trading some pieces which will, in the short term hopefully, further tank your results but give you some keys moving forward.

30th place is out of reach but if we're low enough a trade up isn't out of the question.

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#12 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 10:47AM
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Yeah - tough catfight for last overall for sure. But 25th still puts you top 5 in the draft. *doublegrin*

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#13 negrilcowboy
January 14 2011, 11:14AM
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If the Flames lose both games this weekend in Ottawa and the big smoke does the fire sale begin?

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#14 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 11:19AM
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negrilcowboy wrote:

If the Flames lose both games this weekend in Ottawa and the big smoke does the fire sale begin?

I've been holding my breath on the fire sale for a while now!

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#15 mikeecho
January 14 2011, 11:27AM
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Worst fear...Flames win both games and the "we're still in the hunt" philosophy returns.

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#16 Scott
January 14 2011, 11:33AM
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@mikeecho

The team is stilling thinking they are in the hunt, even after the 2 overtime losses, the players were saying, " right on schedule, win the game in ottawa, and then back to 4 out of 6 points."

The point will come, where this team loses 3 straight(no points) and then all hope is lost for season, thats when players will be up for auction.

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#17 negrilcowboy
January 14 2011, 11:40AM
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Scott wrote:

The team is stilling thinking they are in the hunt, even after the 2 overtime losses, the players were saying, " right on schedule, win the game in ottawa, and then back to 4 out of 6 points."

The point will come, where this team loses 3 straight(no points) and then all hope is lost for season, thats when players will be up for auction.

Eventually the mathematical probably gets slimmer and slimmer. 9 points out could be a dozen come Monday. So when is the time for a realty check, or is that intellectualy honesty check. Kotalik in or out tonight.

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#18 otto
January 14 2011, 11:45AM
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With our luck we could finish last and still not pick first,I was surprised to see how often it actually happens.

http://www.nhlscap.com/draft.htm

"WINNERS" OF THE PREVIOUS DRAFT LOTTERIES 1995 - Los Angeles (was 7th, moved to 3rd; Ottawa retained 1st overall pick) 1996 - Ottawa (retained 1st overall pick) 1997 - Boston (retained 1st overall pick) 1998 - Tampa Bay (was 3rd, moved to 1st)* 1999 - Chicago (was 8th, moved to 4th; Tampa Bay retained 1st overall pick) 2000 - NY Islanders (was 5th, moved to 1st) 2001 - Atlanta (was 3rd, moved to 1st) 2002 - Florida (was 3rd, moved to 1st) 2003 - Florida (was 4th, moved to 1st 2004 - Washington (was 3rd, moved to 1st) 2005 - Pittsburgh (all 30 teams had a chance at #1) 2006 - St. Louis (retained 1st overall pick) 2007 - Chicago (was 5th, moved to 1st) 2008 - Tampa Bay (retained 1st overall pick)

* San Jose was selected in the 1998 draft drawing, but Tampa Bay held the right to swap 1st-round picks with the Sharks and exercised that right to go to 1st.

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#19 funkyjaman
January 14 2011, 11:46AM
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I think that if they lose tonight it's over. The team needs to be honest with themselves at this point and the calls need to start happening if they haven't already. I believe they have a chance to make some good moves right now with teams like San Jose, LA, Wash, Philly looking to either add depth for a run, bolster a blueline, add a solid tender and even just add fresh faces to stir things up and get back in it(thinking Sharks here). In return, picks, prospects...whatever will help.

Now I know it's not ideal to trade within your conference or divison but at this point we can't be picky. If teams are willing to take contracts, vets or whatever, then lets chat. The sooner this starts the better understanding we will have in the off season on what needs to be done. No sense waiting until the last minute and risk missing out. This also opens up a chance for kids with the heat to get their feet wet a bit with the parent club.

No rock should be left unturned!

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#20 Jarom
January 14 2011, 12:47PM
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Let's not just make trades for the sake of doing something though. Make trades if they are a good deal for us. We dont need to be sending away players like Reggie, Iggy or Kipper and getting iffy players and high salaries back the other way.

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#21 T&A4Flames
January 14 2011, 01:26PM
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Jarom wrote:

Let's not just make trades for the sake of doing something though. Make trades if they are a good deal for us. We dont need to be sending away players like Reggie, Iggy or Kipper and getting iffy players and high salaries back the other way.

I agree. However, I think there are some trades that could, and maybe should happen (if that's all that is available) just for the sake of doing it. Iggy, Reggie, Kipper and JBo (and possibly Bourque) should be handled very carefully. Guys like Jokinen and Kotalik and possibly even Stajan however, should be moved just for the sake of dumping there contracts. As long as we don't have to give anything else to move them, dump them for whatever you can get.

On the same note, most of our FA's like GlenX, Mo, Pardy etc. should be moved with patience. We have to get something but hold out for the best deal possible.

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#22 icedawg_42
January 14 2011, 03:09PM
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@T&A4Flames

"Guys like Jokinen and Kotalik and possibly even Stajan however, should be moved just for the sake of dumping there contracts. As long as we don't have to give anything else to move them, dump them for whatever you can get."

I agree with your philosophy here, but I dont think anyone is going to take on any of those contracts without lobbing a grenade right back over the fence. Those contracts are just plain bad.

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