STOKING THE FIRE - JANUARY 17TH

Vintage Flame
January 17 2012 10:14AM

 

It has been quite the exciting week for the Calgary Flames. After an embarrassing 9-0 loss to the Bruins, the Flames started a four game home stand that was going to define who they were as a team and how far they were willing to go for each other. Were they going to just play out the season, or make a serious run at the playoffs? Were they going to play for their Captain, who was one goal away from his 500th? Or, were some, playing out their days until the season was over and they hit free agency?

As is usually the case with this team, questions surface faster than they can be answered. This past week defined that trend, at least temporarily. Instead of the typically expected rollercoaster of emotions, the fan base was treated to something they needed, and frankly, something the Flames really needed, if they are serious about what direction they want to pursue in the second half.

 

There could not have been a better way for Calgary to kick off their four game home stand then to see Iggy score his 500th goal in a win over a division rival. It may not have come in the typical fashion that we have come to see the captain score - in fact, earlier in the game Jarome came close and ripped one of his patented shots off the crossbar. So technically speaking, when Iggy finally got the goal, it was his first shot on net. As George Johnson of the Calgary Herald describes, it was mostly a frustrating night for Iginla; one that luckily ended in celebration, and a sigh of relief.

Sometimes you take them where you can get them and fortunately Iginla carried that into the next game against the Devils. In a game where the Flames were frankly lucky to win, the captain and his troops took full advantage of a team with struggling goaltending. Despite the fact that the Flames beat the Devils 6-3, they were massively outplayed and what Brodeur and Hedberg lacked inside the blue paint, Kiprusoff more than excelled at. Having your goalie stop 35 of 38 shots, while the team scores six goals on 14 shots is nothing short of luck, and by no means a recipe for success. But hey, don’t look a gift-horse in the mouth, and if nothing else it gave the fans something to talk about.

Does anyone even remember what happened during the Ducks game? Probably not, and with good reason. The true story of the night was what happened before the puck even dropped, and didn’t even happen in Calgary, it was in Boston. During the third period of the Canadiens/Bruins game, Mike Cammalleri was pulled from the line-up and told to go back to the hotel. Immediately the speculation was that he had been traded, but where? As the Flames were taking to the ice against the Ducks, many fans on twitter and on the live chat at FlamesNation were quickly scanning the ice during the pre-game warm-up. Was there anyone missing from the line-up that should be there? Everyone seemed to be there, but wouldn’t it be cool if Calgary could somehow find a way to retrieve Cammalleri after he slipped away from the club two years ago?

It was no surprise that Mike was being dealt after he publically ripped the Habs for being a bunch of “losers”. The fact that a deal for a player with a six million dollar cap hit for the next two years had closed so soon after incident had transpired, that caught a few people off-guard. With no information, everyone was scrambling to find out the destination of the now former Hab; one link on twitter even showed Cammalleri appearing on the roster of the LA Kings. That however was quickly put to rest when it was confirmed that Mike had indeed been traded to the Calgary Flames. The return, along with some other pieces, was Rene Bourque.

Cammalleri was pulled off the ice as to avoid any chance of injury, which would jeopardize the trade. The reason the deal wasn’t announced immediately was because they had to wait until the Flames game had gotten underway, thereby burning one of the suspended games Rene Bourque was serving.

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the Flame dealt Bourque either. He has been the topic of almost all prospective trade talks when it comes to Calgary. A few months ago there were rumours that he could be on the move, only to have him remain in the Flames line-up night-in and night-out. Apparently the deal with Montreal had been in the works for a while now. After being suspended twice since then, it may have been the deciding factor in Feaster pulling the trigger.

That’s fine with Cammalleri. Upon news of his destination and a phone call from Jay Feaster, it was obvious Mike was happy about returning to Calgary.

"When I called him and said who it was calling," said Feaster, "the first thing out of his mouth was, 'What are we? Four points back?' He said, 'Saturday night, it's the Kings, right? Hockey Night in Canada?' He told me, 'I can't wait to get there.' I'll tell you - there's an excited hockey player coming to Calgary and a guy that's anxious to jump into that playoff race."

That has to be a bonus for the Flames. On the surface it looks like Feaster traded one underachieving forward for another, but what is more attractive about this deal is that the Flames are shipping out a guy that just doesn’t have his head in the game and is going through the motions, collecting a pay check, and now suspensions. Cammalleri s bringing enthusiasm and sniping ability back this way. Am I saying that one guy instantly puts the Flames back into the playoff picture? No, but it certainly gives them a sporting chance in the hunt.

Let’s not forget the other player to come over in this deal with Mike either. Karri Ramo began his career as a back-up in Tampa Bay, playing 22 games before being sent down to the AHL. He was less than impressive and as a result, rather than remaining with the Norfolk Admirals, he left to play in the KHL. Ramo flourished with Avangard Omsk, and quickly became a fan favourite. Last year he posted a record of 33-6-4 and a 1.97 GAA. That’s some pretty impressive stats.

Upon hearing that his NHL rights had been dealt to the Flames Ramo immediately contacted his agent. He is apparently excited about the deal and looks forward to making his return to the NHL someday. However, knowing the situation in Montreal was what it was with Carey Price, Ramo figured his best option was to sign a two year extension with Omsk. So the Flames are going to have to wait until the end of next year before we can expect to see the Russian in a Flames uniform. The good news is he is still only 25.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?... GOOD!

There was much discussion when he arrived in Calgary as to what line Cammalleri was going to play on. Many people thought that the natural fit was to put him immediately on a line with Jarome Iginla and see how fast they could rekindle the magic of Mike's first tour of duty. Others were also emphatic about not breaking up the club’s top scoring line, and that Cammy should take Bourque’s spot on the second line. The result of course was Cammalleri started on the second line with Backlund and Stempniak.

For as long as Iginla has played with Glencross and Jokinen, our own Kent Wilson has said that despite the points the line continued to put up, they were constantly being dominated by the opposition at even strength, or as Kent puts it more eloquently, “they were getting their teeth kicked in.” Saturday night was a tale of so many stories with Cammalleri’s first game back, to him wearing #93, in pseudo homage to Doug Gilmour, to the Clash of the Sutters, that no one really paid too much attention to Cammalleri not playing with Iginla. Or was someone paying attention? By about the mid-point of the game, Iginla was moved to the line of Backlund and Cammalleri. The move was due to the Flames not being able to generate offense of any kind, so Brent went to the toss-the-dice method and started mixing up the lines.

Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald broke down the various combinations that the Flames deployed during the Kings’ game and explains why line juggling was inevitable for the Flames. Are we going to see Brent stick to what has been working, or are we going to see him try to move the Flames away from a one dimensional offense and move towards a more diversified top six unit that can both score and handle the heavy minutes against the opposition.

Brent Sutter now has the means to deploy his lines in a manner that Kent has been advocating for...well forever. Cammalleri is an offensive zone starter, so should be Iginla. Having Backlund center those two should complete that portion of the puzzle and get Iginla out of the situations of starting in the Flames own end.

We’ve all seen the numbers, it just doesn’t work. No one would advocate the splitting of Glencross and Olli, so don’t do it. Move Stempniak to their line, or as Steinberg even reported in practice, Blake Comeau. Why not? The Flames have gotten pretty good play out of Blake, he’s fast and has shown he can play the physical game. Now they want to see the elevation of his offensive production.

I like this move. Glennie and Olli got Iggy’s game in gear; it is plausible that the high tempo duo could fire up Comeau. He doesn’t have the scoring touch of Iginla by any means, but he is faster and can take more physical liberties than Jarome. He might just fit right in, and pick up some points along the way.

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Vintage Flame is a Calgary based sports junkie that prefers to call hockey a "religion" rather than an addiction. He believes there are two types of hockey fans. Those who cheer for the Flames, and those who don't understand the sport yet. Follow Vintage_Flame on Twitter
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#1 icedawg_42
January 17 2012, 11:14AM
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As much as I like Cammi, and I applaud Feaster's ability to move Bork for (IMO) a far more valuable player, the fact that they've done this is a LITTLE disturbing: in that, this signals that management feels the roster is "close". Nothing says "CLOSE" like being destroyed by the Bruins 9-0. In any case, Feaster has fixed another Dutter mistake, albeit at the cost of an extra 1.5 million~ish in cap space above what Cammi could probably have been a current Flame for. As for Rammo, I'll wait and see...his numbers the last 2 years in the KHL are pretty stellar, but his entire career up to that point have been pretty MEH...thats a serious and sudden step up. Still - that would be awesome to be able to bring in a new starter.

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#2 xis10ce
January 17 2012, 11:26AM
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@icedawg_42

we saw the same thing happen with Gio in the KHL in just one year, so who knows? it's known that Goalies have a larger dev. curve than Dmen, so that has to be considered also.

I think the biggest thing to come from the Cammy trade is (as far as I can tell) that without explicitely stating it MGMT has more or less come out and said they are commited to winning now and we shouldn't expect a full scale rebuild anytime soon.

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#4 Graham
January 17 2012, 12:08PM
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Cammalleri called the Canadien's a bunch of 'losers. I wonder what he will call this team when they go on another one of their inevitable losing streaks?

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#5 John F
January 17 2012, 01:09PM
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icedawg_42 wrote:

As much as I like Cammi, and I applaud Feaster's ability to move Bork for (IMO) a far more valuable player, the fact that they've done this is a LITTLE disturbing: in that, this signals that management feels the roster is "close". Nothing says "CLOSE" like being destroyed by the Bruins 9-0. In any case, Feaster has fixed another Dutter mistake, albeit at the cost of an extra 1.5 million~ish in cap space above what Cammi could probably have been a current Flame for. As for Rammo, I'll wait and see...his numbers the last 2 years in the KHL are pretty stellar, but his entire career up to that point have been pretty MEH...thats a serious and sudden step up. Still - that would be awesome to be able to bring in a new starter.

For the record it was Sutter who brought in Camelleri at $2+ million (don't exactly recall) and for that amount received 39 goals and 82 points-excellent value.He chose not to match a $6 million contract which turned out to be a good decision as well and for that $6 million the Habs got 2 years at 47 and 50 points and were projecting similar numbers for the 3rd year.

That looked like a pretty good non signing.

While Bourque was underperforming on his $3.5 million contract there is no question he still has great potential.

One of the problems with long term contracts is if the player does not lose their long term motivation they can be very good.If they become satified and lose their hunger-not so good.

There are examples of them on every team.

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#6 Kevin R
January 17 2012, 01:40PM
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Still hearing some talk & not just from that goof Eklund on HB, but Iggy is wanting out. VF, has Pat caught any kind of wind of this being the case? Maybe the Cammi trade might have a two fold purpose, 1st off, getting value for Bourque before it totally was gone with each HNIC Kelly Hrudey session. But also, it might spark some chemistry to get Iggy excited about even having a whafer sniff of playoffs.

Also agree that Kipper will likely be traded at some point this year. The performance of the team in the next 30 days will have a huge bearing on how this team looks by June. A .500 record will not cut it, nothing short of a run of last years 2nd half is mandatory. A top line next year of Tanguay-Backlund-Cammi may very well be in the cards.

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#7 icedawg_42
January 17 2012, 01:58PM
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@Vintage Flame

"Bah.. You're grasping now. What did you expect from the Boston game with all the injuries, the call ups and Irving in net? Yes Irving has been far more impressive than Karlsson [and that's putting it nicely], but it is what it is and the Flames got rolled by the best team in the league. Nothing more than that."

Really? a 9 ..NINE...NEIN goal differential is a couple injuries and a backup goalie? ...really?

If I could make my text bigger, I'd put the word NINE in HUGE letters.

and as for Rammo - like I said, I'll wait and see.

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#8 icedawg_42
January 17 2012, 02:01PM
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@John F

Everything I've heard was that Cammy would have extended his stay in Calgary for 4.5 mill..or in that area, which is what I mean by we got him back at a cost of an additional 1.5 - Sutter could have made that pitch WELL in advance of Cammi testing free agency and netting 6M. Bork has great skill, but his 'potential' is greatly diminished by his seeming unwillingness to 'bring it' consistently.

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#9 icedawg_42
January 17 2012, 02:02PM
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@Kevin R

Hmmmm - interesting.. Like you say..maybe the Cammi move was as much about trying to placate Iginla for the time being.

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#11 Scott
January 17 2012, 02:19PM
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@icedawg_42

I think an important consideration for that Bruins game, was that no one wanted Iggy to score the 500th goal in that game. Listening to the game after Iggy scored the goal, they all said, better tonight than last game.

To me, this sounds like the team gave up about half way through the 1st, which allowed the score to go from 4-0 to 9-0. Yes the Bruins are a good team, but a physically beaten flames team turned to an emotionally beaten team, that "didn't" want Iggy to score. Not a recipe for success!

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#14 Captain Ron
January 17 2012, 04:40PM
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@VF

Thats exactly what I thought while listening to that interview with Sarich. With Cammy I think were getting a player that will play with a much more consistent effort. Not having to watch Rene dragging his arse around will be a relief.

@icedawg_42

I gotta go with Scott and VF on this one. The Bruins game is best forgotten. They have done that to other teams including Van in the cup final last year. It happens once in a while in pro sports. The Packers/Giants game on the weekend is a recent example. Maybe not a complete blowout but an anomoly just the same. Different in that the underdog won the game.

@Kevin R

I really believe bringing Tanguay and Cammy here has a lot more to do with Iggy staying than going. Otherwise it would make even less sense to me having those two on the team.

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#15 John F
January 17 2012, 06:03PM
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@icedawg_42

That was pure speculation with no valid source.

It was created to feed the anti Sutter hysteria at the time.

He wanted $6m and got it-and was a salary level which thankfully the Flames passed on.

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#16 wawful
January 17 2012, 07:08PM
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Goalies often develop slower than other skaters, but some of them seem to age slower too. As good as Kipper has been this year, the case can be made that Tim Thomas and Nikolai Khabibulin have both been even better at the ages of 37 and 39. Kipper is certainly performing better than last year, but what will his next few seasons look like?

In order for Kiprusoff to be moved before the end of the season Kipper would have to waive his NMC and the Flames playoff hopes have to fall off a cliff. I doubt either of those will happen before the trade deadline, so Kipper is here until summer at least. Ramo is in the KHL for another season unless somebody buys out his contract (I assume there is a way to do this, but it would be expensive!). That means we would have Irving and Karlsson as our two goalies if Kipper were to be shipped off. Karlsson is a backup goalie. Asking him to be more is not going to turn out well. Irving looks like he might be ready for #1 duty, but we've got such a tiny sample size of his NHL play that it's by no means assured. The team has tried to throw him under the bus a couple times now, and one of those times he really went under without much resistance. Shipping Kipper off this summer is a risk, and I doubt he's worth a big enough return to take that risk.

Unless the Flames lose the next 10 straight, go into tinker mode, and give Irving enough starts to really see if he's ready to be #1, I predict Kipper will still be with the team next October. Karlsson is the guy I'd expect to see shipped off sooner rather than later. Once he gets healthy he's going to be a waste of cap space, and Irving is probably going to require a raise (RFA at the end of the season.

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#18 Kevin R
January 17 2012, 08:32PM
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@Captain Ron

Hey Capt Ron! I agree but if we crap the bad in the next month, that may change & Cammi & Tangs are good wingers & could form a pretty good line. A lot of stuff at the crossroads. I would say we'll just have to wait & see how much success we see with Iggy & Cammi.

Every team has a few stinkers that you have to just over look & throw out of the data base sort of way.

Pretty cold walking those puppies eh. Good thing they have all the spoiled insulation to keep them warm. :-)

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#19 the-wolf
January 18 2012, 07:45AM
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As far as the moving Cammi goes I can tell you I heard it from Darryl's own mouth at his last 'townhall' meeting at Flames Central. He basically said they chose Jokinen over Cammi and that if you watched the playoffs it really highlighted the problems of a small player in a big man's league.

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#20 Kevin R
January 18 2012, 09:00AM
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the-wolf wrote:

As far as the moving Cammi goes I can tell you I heard it from Darryl's own mouth at his last 'townhall' meeting at Flames Central. He basically said they chose Jokinen over Cammi and that if you watched the playoffs it really highlighted the problems of a small player in a big man's league.

Bad judgement by Darryl. Like Joker, Cammi didnt get a lot of playoff games in LA, if any at all. So against Chicago, maybe he just wasnt mentally ready to go 1st time around. Not sure if you watched any playoff games when he went to Montreal when they went to the Conference finals but he played pretty good in the playoffs in the mans league that year. Personally I dont buy that argument. If they can play to a high level in the NHL, they can compete in the playoffs.

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