One of these things is not like the others…

Flames Hockey

…one of these things just plain sucks.

Im going to forgo talking about the Ducks in this pre-game; we saw them just a few games ago and little has changed since then. Watch out for Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan (in that order). Don’t worry too much about Selanne at even-strength. etc.

No, this post will be pure navel-gazing.

Originally, I was going to talk about Lombardi in the wake of his fantastic performance versus the Habs. I looked at his underlying ES stats recently and realized they were almost all better than Iginla’s, so I decided to look at Lombo’s CORSI and percentages from Jan.1 till now to see what’s been going on. The look yielded a lot of interesting stuff, so let’s go through some of it.

– Lombardi has done well both in terms of driving possession (+75) and by the bounces (PDO of 103) since the calender turned. That is a healthy, healthy corsi number for Lombo and it’s shown up in his play, especially recently – the puck seems to be in the offensive zone and around the net a lot more when Lombardi is on the ice these days. Clearly he’s taken my claim a few weeks ago that he was “the most expendable” center on the club as a personal challenge. As a unabashed Lombardi apologist, it’s great to see.

– Earlier in the year, Todd Bertuzzi was abysmal. His corsi ratings were blech and he got scored on a lot. He put together a respectable stretch in January, though, and has chiseled away at the previous team-worst plus/minus stat.

You know what? It’s a mirage (PDO = 105). Dude still sucks. The only three forwards in the red by the corsi metric are Andre Roy, Dustin Boyd…and Todd Bertuzzi. That’s a kid still finding his footing on the 4th line, a goon, and a “power forward” who regularly plays with some of the best guys the club has to offer. What’s more amazing is that Todd is underwater even though his regular linemates (Langkow, Bourque and recently Iginla) aren’t. I mean…how the hell does he accomplish that.

– Jarome’s fortunes have been poor in 2009 (4.5% personal SH%, PDO of 98) but he isn’t driving possession like I expect: +46 isn’t terrible, but it’s well behind team leaders like Moss (+92) and Glencross (+96). To be fair, Iginla is likely facing a lot tougher competition, but I dont think my expectations are out of line with what he’s accomplished in the recent past. He also doesn’t look terribly effective out there recently, both at ES and on the PP, where he seems to struggle to win puck battles in the offensive end: lots of periphery play from the big guy and it’s limiting his output.

– Keenan has clearly seen Iginla struggling recently, thus the line-mixing the last couple of games. Of course, moving Bert up to play with Jarome isn’t exactly going to kick-start the Captain. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Iron Mike needs to keep his pet on the 2nd line away from the tough sledding as much as possible. If he wants to give Jarome more capable linemates, pretty much any other winger in the Flames top 9 would do.

– Given the success of the prior game, I would expect to see similar line combinations this evening:

Bert-Langkow-Iginla
Cammalleri-Lombardi-Bourque
Glencross-Conroy-Moss

What was interesting to me was the fact that the Gio/Phaneuf pairing played behind Jarome most of the time versus Montreal (previously it was Reggie/Aucoin). That signals to me that Keenan is really pressing to pull Iggy out of his funk. Ironically, however, the move failed completely (even though the team won) with Jarome collecting zero points and getting scored on twice. I think it’s a sound theory overall (excepting the Bert part of it of course) and can only hope that we see Langkow stick with Iginla, with some other piece (Bourque?) on the left side going forward.

– Not sure if we’ll see Gio/Phaneuf behind Iginla against the Ducks. If Carlyle goes power v. power, Im sure Regehr will be back behind the Flames #1 line for the evening.