Postgame: You Gotta Beat the Man...

Pat Steinberg
November 18 2011 10:29PM

As the immortal Ric Flair says: "to be the man, you've gotta beat the man."  Well, in this case, they did at least half of that, knocking off the NHL's top team, the Chicago Blackhawks, 5-2 on Friday night.  It was one of, if not the, best efforts of the season for the Flames as they were full marks start to finish.  The most important thing is they were rewarded for playing their game start to finish.

What Happened

This one looked like it might go south in a hurry on the home side, as the deadly Blackhawks racked up thescoring chances early on only to be stifled a few times by Miikka Kiprusoff in net.  And it was the Flames getting things going on the prettiest goal of the season; it was authored by Lee Stempniak at 5:41 of the opening frame.  Lee danced by Duncan Keith at the blueline and sniped his fourth of the season and fired things up at the Saddledome early on.  But just 64 seconds later this game was tied thanks to Viktor Stalberg's fifth, converting a nice Jonathan Toews pass knot to this thing at one.  Scoring chances finished tied at six, as the Flames really reigned things in the second half of the period, setting them up nicely for the final 40 minutes.

Just 40 seconds into the middle frame, Rene Bourque finally got number six on the season, beating Corey Crawford on one the Chicago goaltender would like to have back; just 17 seconds later, a Niklas Hjalmarsson giveaway ended up on the stick of Paul Byron who snapped a backhand past an unaware Crawford for a two goal lead.  The Blackhawks would go on the powerplay shortly thereafter and score on the 4-on-3 portion of it, with Keith feeding Marian Hossa for a laser of a one-timer good for his ninth on the year, and you thought maybe the Hawks would start to turn this back in their favor.  But Calgary did a nice job guarding against that, and at 11:04 they helped a young gal win a car; a nice Jay Bouwmeester slap pass to Curtis Glencross helped Glencross tap in his sixth of the season.  Chicago kind of geared down following that, while Calgary kept things going, finishing the second with a two goal lead.

They'd score once more in the third, with Glencross scoring on a partial breakaway; his seventh came at 6:46 and was another fairly pretty one, despite him fanning on the inital shot.  What impressed me?  Against an elite team you'd think would be chasing, Calgary still won the scoring chance count; they won the game as well, going on a four game road trip on a winning note.

One Good Reason...

...why Calgary won?  Because they played a solid, start to finish effort.  Sometimes you lose games where you play really well because the other team is just better than you.  While tonight, Chicago was decent for times, but had some shoddy, shoddy moments in their own end while not getting world class goaltending like the Flames did.  They got rewarded for playing a nice, steady, solid game and it was good to see.

Red Warrior

Lots to like on this night, but I really liked Curtis Glencross, mostly because of the situations he was put in.  Glencross, along with his line of Olli Jokinen and Bourque, played against Toews and Hossa for a good majority of this hockey game, and did a fairly nice job.  Those guys are going to create their chances, but I was very much impressed with that trio and Glencross had the two goal night, so, there ya go.

Sum It Up

If you play the way the Flames did tonight, you can win some hockey games.  This is what they're capable of, and it's not always going to be successful for you.  But at least playing this way gives you a chance to play for victory; get a few bounces or get a shot through that maybe shouldn't, and all of a sudden you've got a two goal lead.  Good stuff for Calgary, they were full marks for the win.

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Pat Steinberg can be heard daily on the Fan960 in Calgary at can be read at the FAN 960. Born and raised in Calgary, Steinberg considers himself a huge fan of all sports including the CFL, MMA and 13 round bare knuckle boxing matches. Follow Steinberg on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Fan960Steinberg.
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#1 T&A4Flames
November 18 2011, 11:04PM
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The best thing about this game is that the kids are playing well. The best case scenario for this season would be Calgary making the playoffs but on the play of the young guys. This could render guys like Bourque and Moss (even though I like him) expendable without management thinking they are giving up on the season if they trade those guys. Plus, with the team playing well, that usually makes trade values go up.

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#2 Jeff Lebowski
November 18 2011, 11:18PM
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The Flames scored 5 times but the real story (again) was Kipper. I've never understood the replacement level argument and repeat that Kipper is the best in the league. He makes all the saves the other goalies make plus saves only he can make. Most athletic goalie in the game. However he isn't perfect and stats don't show his ability. To watch him is to admire him. He and Iggy should never be traded (unless they ask).

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#3 NLR
November 18 2011, 11:27PM
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I'm getting to be a big fan of Byron. He is so fast and aggressive. That third line has gelled very nicely in my opinion.

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#4 Captain Ron
November 18 2011, 11:42PM
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@NLR

Yeah that third line is showing some promise for sure. I'm wondering if we will see that from the first line this season...or ever.

@Jeff L

Thats the thing with Kipper. When he's on he has the ability to hide the flaws in an average team. I'm a huge fan of his and consider myself fortunate to have seen such a great talent playng live on many a night. Trading him would likely end up in a trip to the cellar pretty quickly I figure.

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#5 NLR
November 18 2011, 11:47PM
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Ya Ron I would like to see the first line play like that too. It seems like they are always starting and stopping were as the other lines play more straight ahead movement hockey. I wonder if Backlund ever gets frustrated playing with Tangs and Iggy as opposed to more straight forward, less skilled guys?

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#6 Franko J
November 18 2011, 11:49PM
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What a goal by Stempniak. Great goal by Glencross. Finally a couple of players on the Flames who can actually beat someone one-on-one and score. Many nights this what the Flames lack. The team played well enough tonight to reward Kipper with a win. Probably the most entaining game at the Dome this year. Only negative on the night is another stint for David Moss on the IR. Too bad, good role player, however prone to injury way too much.

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#7 Kevin R
November 18 2011, 11:56PM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

The Flames scored 5 times but the real story (again) was Kipper. I've never understood the replacement level argument and repeat that Kipper is the best in the league. He makes all the saves the other goalies make plus saves only he can make. Most athletic goalie in the game. However he isn't perfect and stats don't show his ability. To watch him is to admire him. He and Iggy should never be traded (unless they ask).

Jeff, I would totally whole heartedly agree with you if the performance we saw tonight was the performance this team showed in 75% of the games. Honestly, this was the best game this team has played in 17 games this year. Even the previous wins were questionable. Kipper has been the best player on the team this year & I have often wondered if we just rebuild with him keeping games close. There is a case of Keeping him no doubt about it. On the flip side, the kids have been so much fun to watch, I really think we need to really look at what Iggy actually can bring back versus allowing him to age & unfortunately depreciate during our transition of our team. Horak Brodie & Byron are the first wave. We will be seeing a second wave next year.

Right now it was just so nice to watch this team show talent/skill/some speed and to win a game against a very very good team & an early favorite for the Cup. There is such a fine line between winning & losing in this league.

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#8 Captain Ron
November 19 2011, 12:03AM
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NLR you might be on to something with that assessment. I also don't see Backlund as the weak link on that line, and since he will probably be with us for a while time will tell how good he can become. There often seems to be a lack of flow with those three. I hope they find their groove but I'm not holding my breath. Backlund might be better off with two younger guys to work and grow with.

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#9 Kevin R
November 19 2011, 12:03AM
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Thats the thing. I dont know what expectations we should have for the 1st line. Maybe we expect too much & the reason why we are disappointed after most games. If we can get some incredible performances for a good run of games from the kid line & the 2nd line, if they can score the goals we need to win, maybe that will take some pressure off the 1st line & that line will start to steal some headlines (good headlines) for a change.

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#10 T&A4Flames
November 19 2011, 12:10AM
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Captain Ron wrote:

NLR you might be on to something with that assessment. I also don't see Backlund as the weak link on that line, and since he will probably be with us for a while time will tell how good he can become. There often seems to be a lack of flow with those three. I hope they find their groove but I'm not holding my breath. Backlund might be better off with two younger guys to work and grow with.

I actually thought that line played ok tonight. They generated several chances but just couldn't bury them. Hopefully it will come. Backlund has looked pretty good considering the time he missed.

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#11 T&A4Flames
November 19 2011, 12:15AM
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Kevin R wrote:

Thats the thing. I dont know what expectations we should have for the 1st line. Maybe we expect too much & the reason why we are disappointed after most games. If we can get some incredible performances for a good run of games from the kid line & the 2nd line, if they can score the goals we need to win, maybe that will take some pressure off the 1st line & that line will start to steal some headlines (good headlines) for a change.

I think we all expect too much from that line and in particular from Iggy. Let's face it, despite coming into the season in great shape each year, he's in his mid 30's. His ice time should be a little more limited I think. The problem is that we just haven't had that player that was ready to take over the heavy minutes. Bourque should have been that guy but, so far, it hasn't quite worked out that way.

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#12 Captain Ron
November 19 2011, 12:18AM
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I was in Montreal a couple of weeks ago and went to the Bell center for the Bruins/Habs game on a Saturday night while we were there. Had a great time both before the game, and when we were at the game. In talking with the many fans in and around Montreal about the Flames and hockey in general I can tell you that Kipper is held in very high regard by the fans in that area and undoubtedly other cities around the league. People in that passionate hockey market still see him as a top goaltender in this league and rightfully so.

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#13 Captain Ron
November 19 2011, 12:27AM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

I actually thought that line played ok tonight. They generated several chances but just couldn't bury them. Hopefully it will come. Backlund has looked pretty good considering the time he missed.

I didn't see the game tonight as I am staying at the monster in laws right now just north of WPG and they have Bell's version of poverty vision with no sports channels. I only caught a bit of it on the internet Fan 960 feed. Good to hear they played well.

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#14 Nolan Moore
November 19 2011, 12:30AM
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Different team out there tonight. I dont get it. Friends and i said, "watch this, they'll be shut out 3 of the next 4 games." who knows. What i did see was a solid effort all around and the game that is NOT a typical Sutter game. Guess it proves that Sutter hockey is dead. Brent wants to stay in the NHL he has to realize it.

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#15 jeremywilhelm
November 19 2011, 12:39AM
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This team is an enigma wrapped in an anomaly, surrounded in a cloud of make believe.

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#16 Kevin R
November 19 2011, 12:53AM
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Captain Ron wrote:

I didn't see the game tonight as I am staying at the monster in laws right now just north of WPG and they have Bell's version of poverty vision with no sports channels. I only caught a bit of it on the internet Fan 960 feed. Good to hear they played well.

Whats the occassion, passing by on a business trip or is it a spousal required fast from sports?:) Yeah it was actually a fun game to watch, even Sarich had one of his better games, Butler didnt get into too much trouble & look very poised at times. I'm liking Horaks game the more I watch him & Byron is showing speed we arent used to in Daryl Sutterville. Was watching some of the Brandon Med Hat game & Ferland looks pretty darn good. We just may have two aces coming up in him & Bears.

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#17 Scoring_guru
November 19 2011, 01:06AM
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We are 2 points behind Vancouver after 18 games??? Who woulda thunk it.....

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#18 Willi P
November 19 2011, 01:38AM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

This team is an enigma wrapped in an anomaly, surrounded in a cloud of make believe.

Thanks Jeremy,

I just choked on my red wine and it went up my nose while reading that. Ouch...but priceless quote.

Any way "WOOOO" for the Rick Flair pic and the Flames win. To bad games like this are so few and far between for this team.

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#19 Dave
November 19 2011, 07:09AM
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What I liked about this game was that the offense actually manufactured goals. There were a few that were just bad giveaways on chicago's part. But I felt like most of the goals were created by the flames in the offensive zone by hard work, and good creative plays.

In previous games I've noticed that the flames general score garbage goals. It's ok to get those every now and again but in this league the goalies are so good that they are few and far between (ergo the flames having problems scoring). It was nice to see them step away from that.

Another thing I liked is how aggressive they were on the puck. The quicker you take away time and space the better chances of creating a turnover. They were aggressive in the right spots and making good reads. That is good to see.

I was also impressed with byron, backlund, horak and Brodie. They still have lots to learn but it's looking like they can all play in this league at some level.

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#20 Kent Wilson
November 19 2011, 08:49AM
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@Jeff Lebowski

Kiprusoff had a .906 SV% last year, good for 23rd amongst starters with 40+ appearances. He had a .903 SV% three seasons ago and a .906 the year before that one. That is average to below average save rates in three of the last four seasons.

It's great that Kipper has been excellent so far. But pretending he has somehow been consistently elite is a lie.

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#21 RexLibris
November 19 2011, 09:05AM
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@Kent Wilson

Hey Kent, awhile back you had put together the numbers to show that the Oilers were producing at an unsustainable level (no arguments from any Oiler fans here) but perhaps you should do one on the Flames's bad play being mathematically unsustainable as well. I just thought it might cheer everyone up.

It seems the mood here has improved a little. That's good, it was starting to feel like a crisis hotline.

Btw, I asked if the Flames could beat the Hawks, not beat UP on the Hawks. Thanks guys, the Oilers play them tonight and I'm sure they will all be in such a terrific mood! ;)

Good win last night, congratulations.

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#22 VK63
November 19 2011, 09:11AM
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Dunk was so bad he evoked references to some of Lurches ugly Saddledome performances. Plus minus is a joke but Dunks neg4 was well earned, too bad 4 others on the ice suffer for that much indifference in a supposed perennial Norris candidate.

ugh.

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#23 schevvy
November 19 2011, 09:54AM
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If someone had told me before the game that Duncan Keith would be a -4 and play as bad as he did, I wouldn't have believed you and would've laughed. Unbelievable

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#24 Captain Ron
November 19 2011, 11:35AM
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schevvy wrote:

If someone had told me before the game that Duncan Keith would be a -4 and play as bad as he did, I wouldn't have believed you and would've laughed. Unbelievable

About time we made Keith look bad instead of the other way around. Had a chance to see the highlites now and there's no doubt Kipper was really good for us tonight.

@Kevin R Yeah its a business trip of sorts. Wife has some clients in the area that she sees every couple of months. I'm just the driver and moral support technician. Good thing I have the dog to lean on.

@Jeremywilhelm Thanks for putting it all in the proper context for me. Laughing and crying at the same time feels wierd though.

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#25 RKD
November 19 2011, 11:38AM
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Excellent win, I think the Hawks were still thinking about their win over Vancouver two nights ago.

What a goal by Stempniak, that's the guy I remember in Phoenix barreling down the wing scoring a nice wrister.

The youth infusion on this team is great, Byron scores again with Horak getting an assist. Bryon once put up 99 points in a season. I would like to see Backlund to start getting it going.

Glad Bourque and Glencross scored, Kipper was solid. Another 2 assists for Jokinen.

Which Flames team will show up next game? Hope it's this one.

P.S. Ric Flair rules, he executed the figure four like nobody's business.

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#26 Kevin R
November 19 2011, 12:53PM
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Anyone seen the Lacrosse style goal highlight that Marcus Granlund did on NHL.com today? How sweet. When was the last time we saw that with a Flames prospect?

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#27 otto
November 19 2011, 01:03PM
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Wow,nice to see whats possible when you put in some effort and stick to a game plan.

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#28 SmellOfVictory
November 19 2011, 01:31PM
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Kevin R wrote:

Anyone seen the Lacrosse style goal highlight that Marcus Granlund did on NHL.com today? How sweet. When was the last time we saw that with a Flames prospect?

That specifically? Maybe never. Offensive creativity? Backlund would be the best example post-lockout.

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#29 Jeff Lebowski
November 19 2011, 03:05PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Kiprusoff had a .906 SV% last year, good for 23rd amongst starters with 40+ appearances. He had a .903 SV% three seasons ago and a .906 the year before that one. That is average to below average save rates in three of the last four seasons.

It's great that Kipper has been excellent so far. But pretending he has somehow been consistently elite is a lie.

I suppose the axiom is "numbers don't lie" but I also think they don't tell the entire truth.

I think you have to look at it from an ability standpoint. I admit it's hard to justify this quantitatively but I look at someone like Bryzgalov (It is unfair to compare a goalie who is slumping but hear me out) and he has had some very good numbers the past few years. However I never felt he was elite nor did he justify the huge salary, which was commiserate with his "numbers". To me he was always a big blocker who athletically (speed, power, reflex) couldn't hold Kipper's jock.

Using the stat paradigm Bryzgalov is elite so are guys like Rask, Osgood, Howard etc. I just don't see the elite ability in their games.

So how to explain Kipper's numbers? Is there stat that measures quality of scoring chance (not just how many scoring chances)? Even when the Flames had teams that put up high goal for totals they have always been a team that doesn't have the puck a lot. They grind down low and really battle to score goals. That style is open to the quick counter strike-high quality chance offence. It's open to odd man rushes against by Calgary forwards caught deep in the offensive zone trying to dump, retrieve and lug the puck from behind the goal line.

Even this year, they are consistently outshot and in games they've won it was because of Kipper. Why has there rarely been a Calgary backup goalie that has a winning record? If Kipper truly were replacement level it shouldn't matter who is in net. The win loss should be equal. Why does Kipper have 260+ wins in this league?

I just don't see Kipper consistently letting in bad goals. Does it happen sometimes? Sure but I see a lot more amazing saves than bad goals. I see a lot of high quality scoring chances against Calgary. It's this ability that leads me to my position.

Even to this day Calgary is built around Kipper. However up until recently the philosophy has been build the team from a pre lockout perspective. Big lumbering defencemen and forwards. The rise in Kipper's number are a reflection of the game being played and officiated in way that makes it difficult for Calgary to compete (let alone thrive).

Last night Calgary got some good bounces, their offence is predicated on giving up the puck (dump and chase). Teams that are skilled and possess the puck (ie don't rely exclusively on dumping it) expose Calgary and usually outshoot, outchance them. This has been the case since Kipper's been here. If not for Kipper...

The new regime recognizes this witnessed by who they drafted. Calgary has the inverse of what most other teams employ. A load of older grinders sprinkled with some youthful talent.

Until they increase the skill I say it's gonna be tough for Kipper to have the elite Osgood numbers quants love to use as justification. I'd like to see a stat that measure how many passes a team completes in a game. That might indicate how much possession they have and how many plays they make. I would not consider a completed pass where a player dumps it in and his forward retrieves the puck. It's really the Detroit style of game, the Russian 5. They put 5 guys between your forwards and D and make a ton of plays. That's what the league is now. Remember that series against them where they completely outplayed and outshot Calgary. Kipper was the only reason Calgary had what resembled a chance. It exposed Calgary for what they are. It highlighted Kipper for who he was, is and from what I can see, will be. With respect,

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#30 SmellOfVictory
November 19 2011, 03:56PM
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@Jeff Lebowski

By the numbers, Osgood is most certainly not elite. His save percentage is basically dead average for his career; Howard, until this season, has been pretty average as well. Rask is certainly above average, and Bryz has been above average, although whether or not he should be defined as 'elite' is questionable.

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#31 Jeff Lebowski
November 19 2011, 04:45PM
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@SmellOfVictory

Point well taken. I used poor examples as I was thinking of recent goalies who either had good seasons (not career numbers) or who played in the Detroit system and that environment influenced their stats.

Last three years for Bryzgalov were good statistically and the justification for his contract. Yet I stand by the point that these statistical wonders really didn't explain their actual ability. However it's not fair to cherry pick.

To me, the argument boils down to this: Does Kipper have average or replacement level ability? I say emphatically no.

Traditional stats ascribed to determine the talent and value of a goalie are deeply, deeply flawed especially for comparison. There are too many confounding variables chiefly the goalie's own team's style of play.

You have to somehow quantify what a high quality chance is more than from where on ice (was it odd man, how many defenders between shooter and goalie etc).

Show me stats that factor theses things and I'll consider the empirical argument.

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#32 Wanyes bastard child
November 19 2011, 09:24PM
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"anything you can do I can do better" (music playing)

Oilers up 6-1 on Chicago early in the second :P

Thanks for softening them up for us guys :)

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#33 Wanyes bastard child
November 19 2011, 09:48PM
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Just an update, 8-2 now for us after 40 and im working on a pretty good drunk :P

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#34 Quintana
November 19 2011, 10:26PM
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We want 10!!! We want 10!!! oh wait wrong nation..

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#35 RexLibris
November 19 2011, 11:34PM
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This is for Kevin R - I guess we were wrong in declaring Alberta to be easy pickings for the Blackhawks after all. I think both cities got pretty much what they needed from Chicago. I feel like I should send them a fruit basket or something, just to say thanks.

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#36 Kevin R
November 20 2011, 11:41AM
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RexLibris wrote:

This is for Kevin R - I guess we were wrong in declaring Alberta to be easy pickings for the Blackhawks after all. I think both cities got pretty much what they needed from Chicago. I feel like I should send them a fruit basket or something, just to say thanks.

No kidding, how often does that happen where a team gets just butt kicked in Alberta.:) Pretty nice game from your boys last night, I dont think there was an Oil fan out there that saw that one coming. That was a big win for you, had to stop the bleeding. You guys still need to pull the trigger on a trade for a good dman. I just think ST tends to ask too much & just even make a bit of an overpayment for a prime time Dman. I know this sounds sacrilege, but I think JBO for Gagner & Parjarvi would be a perfect fit. Maybe slight overpayment for a dman you think you already have in R Whitney, but that kid is starting to be as fragile as Hemsky. JBO is healthy, logs the minutes, from Alberta so would probably accept the trade. You guys would not miss Parjarvi or Gagner in your forward group & the addition of a JBO would be huge. I know I'm going to get scorched on both sides for that suggestion & shipped out to Viking to spend time on the Daryl farm.:)

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#37 RKD
November 20 2011, 11:59AM
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Just saw the Granlund lacrosse goal on Youtube, pretty sweet. Makes you wonder why more players don't use it during games.

I know international ice has more room than behind the net, but I'm sure the skilled players could pull it off.

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#38 the-wolf
November 21 2011, 06:39AM
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I see people are back on the bandwagon, especially the one labeled "Kipper."

Calgary's best effort of the season vs Chicago stinking. Has Keith ever had a worse game? Kipper very solid again.

This team is not a contender and most likely won't make the playoffs and has yet to show any real determination to make significant changes that justify any real hope.

I refuse to be fooled by the odd victory over a Detroit or a Chicago as having any meaning that this team is suddenlt goign somewhere.

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#39 Kevin R
November 21 2011, 09:40AM
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the-wolf wrote:

I see people are back on the bandwagon, especially the one labeled "Kipper."

Calgary's best effort of the season vs Chicago stinking. Has Keith ever had a worse game? Kipper very solid again.

This team is not a contender and most likely won't make the playoffs and has yet to show any real determination to make significant changes that justify any real hope.

I refuse to be fooled by the odd victory over a Detroit or a Chicago as having any meaning that this team is suddenlt goign somewhere.

All those negative waves Moriarity! Always with the negative waves. Cmon, you cant tell me Kipper hasnt been one of our better players this year, probably why we even have 8 wins this year. Thing is, Karlsson's last game, I thought he looked like vintage 2004 Kipper against Buffalo. He was great & hasnt got a whiff of another game, which is kind of ashame. This team is consistent at being inconsistent, so dont worry. Yes, I have seen Keith have a worse game, it was Saturday against the Oilers.

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#40 the-wolf
November 21 2011, 10:41AM
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@ Kevin R - I noted that Kipper was very solid again.

Good point re: Keith vs the Oil - in fact, I'm sure that was probably the worst game of their careers for a lot of that team.

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#41 Kevin R
November 21 2011, 10:53AM
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the-wolf wrote:

@ Kevin R - I noted that Kipper was very solid again.

Good point re: Keith vs the Oil - in fact, I'm sure that was probably the worst game of their careers for a lot of that team.

Yeah, I think right now Chicago fans would entertain a JBO for Keith trade at the present moment. :) I think we are going to have to wait until the end of the year to see the big trades start to develop & by then I'll be beating the same drum you are. Just saw Kelly's Heroes on the weekend so I had to bug you.:)

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#42 RexLibris
November 21 2011, 11:23AM
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@Kevin R

The Bouwmeester for Gagner + Paajarvi trade has come up at other points on various sites. It would never be endorsed by Oiler fans because there is still a debate about Gagner's trade value and after moving a player like Gagner the very first question asked would be "where do we find a 2nd line centre?". Paajarvi is far too young to be moved at this point in the rebuild. I understand the idea of it being a good fit, but also, I doubt Bouwmeester waives his NTC to come to Edmonton (he has shied away from his hometown after seeing what other local prospects have suffered at the hands of fans here, Lupul and Comrie as examples). His dollar hit would be out of the question too as we'll be seeking to minimize the cap hits we take on over the next 4 years in order to balance and retain all our forwards.

In looking for a defenseman I think Tambellini would prefer to move someone like Hemsky, in part because of his contract status and injury history, and he's outside the age-range of the majority of our core. If this team is being built to hit it's stride in 4 years Hemsky will be 31-32 and in likely begin to decline. That's why he's the player most often mentioned as possibly being moved.

I like Tambellini's approach thus far in using the circumstances to test the organization's depth with short-term call ups. I also don't see many teams offering up an affordable, good-fir, d-man this early in the season without asking an exorbitant amount.

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