Flames have a bone to pick

Just a few random notes on the Calgary hockey club in the midst of the most drawn-out homestand (five games in 21 days?) in franchise history.

  • Even if you’ve been following the Flames from only a distance so far this National Hockey League season, you’ve probably gotten a sense of their bizarre start fash-finish slow M.O. Well here is the phenomenon in statistical form — in the six games in which the Flames have scored first, they’ve built leads that combine to 18-1. In those same half-dozen contests, they’ve been outscored 19-6 the rest of the way. That’s just plain weird.
  • Daymond Langkow fans rejoice, your man is no longer dead last in the NHL plus-minus wars. Langkow (minus-8) has climbed all the way up to 628th-place tie with teammate Nigel Dawes and is now ahead of both Brent Burns of the Wild (minus-10) and Brendan Witt of the Islanders (minus-9). Witt, by the way, was minus-34 last season and is now minus-82 for his career.
  • Now it’s true that the Flames have had a busier schedule than any other club to date, but it’s nevertheless interesting that despite pre-season vows to lighten Miikka Kiprusoff’s workload, the Calgary netminder leads the league in games (seven, tied with Craig Anderson and Evgeni Nabokov), minutes played (423:02), shots faced (235) and goals allowed (23).

And now, to give you a break from the neat, orderly and logical items that appear in this space (i.e. when Kent and TLP are at the controls) we present an out-of-left-field observation. During an address to the media this week, head coach Brent Sutter at different times referred to his club being old dogs learning new tricks, as needing to behave like junkyard dogs and being in the process of developing a pack mentality. Had the conversation gone on any longer, he undoubtedly would have reminded everyone that he hopes the coaching staff is not barking up the wrong tree, that his bark isn’t worse than his bite, that every dog has its day and that any player who didn’t follow instructions would wind up in the . . . well, you know.

Perhaps the canine references should be no surprise coming from a man nicknamed Pup, which derives from the fact his older brother Duane was known as Dog. Shouldn’t Sutter be coaching the Coyotes or something? Failing that, we present the doggone best team in NHL history.

Curtis (Cujo) Joseph
Cesare (Mutt) Maniago
Pascal (Snoopy) Leclaire
Bernie Wolfe
Duane (Dog) Sutter
Brent (Pup) Sutter
Bob (Hound Dog) Kelly
John (Mad Dog) Madden
Andre (Poodle) Lussier
John (Marmaduke) LeClair
Lindy Ruff
Jay Beagle
The Hound Line (Russ Courtnall, Gary Leeman, Wendel Clark)
Jannik Hansen (he’s a great Dane, doncha know)
Mascot: Harvey the Hound
Home rink: Purina Checkerdome (St. Louis)

So who’s missing?