January 25 2012 12:47PM
1. Tanguay's back
So that means no more excuses.
I think I'm finally starting to deal with the team's resolution to 'Go For It' again this year, though that is likely helped in no small way by the fact that they've won five of their last seven with a shootout loss mixed in. And with Tanguay having returned to the lineup last night, the team officially has very little reason to hang whatever poor performances may come in the next few weeks on anything but the fact that they're not very good.
Alex Tanguay's return to the lineup means the only significant forward missing now is Curtis Glencross (and I guess David Moss if you want to go that far, but he's been out since November and I'm not even sure he's alive at this point).
So this, more or less, is what Jay Feaster decided to push all-in with, to steal the Lightning's catchphrase last season: A squad that wasn't good enough to make the playoffs the last two seasons, plus Mike Cammalleri, who we'll get to in a minute.
Will it work? Only time and about 32 more games will tell.
2. Oh, but about Glencross
All National Hockey League franchises ever would like to remind you that there has not yet been a season in the history of the league where a team has lost zero man-games to injury (unless it was back in like the 1912 season when they played six games and if you didn't play you were shot dead in a snow-covered field no matter how much blood was leaking out of your eye before puck drop).
Glencross being out between six and eight weeks is bad news for the Flames no matter which way you care to look at it, but they've perservered through worse this year.
Glencross who, while he has as many goals as Jarome Iginla (a team-leading 18 headed into last night's game), is shooting at an absurdly high percentage of 24 percent. Only Paul Byron (25) is anywhere close to that on the team. In fact, the next-highest guy on the team is the now-departed Rene Bourque at a little more than 14 percent.
I don't think it's a coincidence that Iginla has continued to produce in the last two games without Glencross' involvement and hopefully the captain can rekindle some of connection with Alex Tanguay over the long haul.
The issue is, and probably always was, one of depth scoring. With Glencross on the top line, he largely didn't play into it anyway. So that's the real problem the Flames face going forward.
3. A strong road trip
Last week I said the Flames would have had a strong road trip if they'd take three points from their three-game swing through San Jose, Los Angeles, and Edmonton.
They'd done it by the time things wrapped in the shootout at Staples Center.
The San Jose Sharks were a dominant hockey team headed into last week's date with Calgary and they got all they could handle from their visitors. Now, I'm not ascribing any sort of deeper meaning to that. I don't think the Flames are suddenly on the same level as the Sharks or even anything close to it. But results are results and the Shark Tank is, as ever, a difficult place to earn points. In 25 games there this season, the Sharks have given away just 18.
I thought perhaps the tougher draw for Calgary was the game in LA, played so shortly after a long and not-especially-easy affair in San Jose. The Kings had just crushed the Flames the week prior and have been playing very good hockey under Darryl Sutter (not that anyone should be surprised) but they remain, it seems, given to fits of offensive ineptitude and the Flames were lucky to capitalize on that even as their defending and goaltending remained strong.
And if you didn't think they were going to win in Edmonton after all that, well, turn in your badge and gun and pack your things.
4. Cammalleri is at least trying
I mentioned Cammalleri earlier and I just want to say here how impressed I've been with him since he came over from Montreal. I know, I know, he hasn't been producing apart from the one goal in that first game.
But as I said on Nations Radio over the weekend, he is at least trying hard again. Living out east as I do, I necessarily see more Eastern Conference games, and any time I caught the Habs getting their lunches handed to them by someone, Cammalleri was very much the passenger.
It's totally understandable why the Habs wanted to offload him: He floated. He never went to the corners or the front of the net. He rarely made any attempt to keep up with the play.
But while his production back in Calgary has closely resembled the stuff from Montreal, at least he's upped his "competition level" or whatever a coach would call it. He now goes to the greasy areas and seems at least partly willing to pay some sort of price.
Hasn't worked out for him yet — he's been a little unlucky and hasn't played soft competition (though his zone starts have certainly been favorable) — but it's a step in the right direction.
5. How good was Blake Comeau on Saturday?
Very good. Probably his best game as a Flame, regardless of the number of points he generated (there were three, tacking an extra 50 percent onto his production since being claimed off waivers).
That, too, is a step in the right direction. Even if it was only against the Oilers