Well the good news is Calgary’s season has come to a merciful close, and the better news is I’m almost done having to think about it. But until that wonderful, sunny day comes, I am here considering what has become of one of the better franchises in the Western Conference.
It’s fair (and incredibly easy) to say that Calgary had an absolutely terrible season by any standard. In a league where more than half the teams in each conference makes the playoffs, not making the playoffs, especially for a team like the Flames, is totally inexcusable.
But it’s unfair to say everyone had a bad season. Sure, there were the obvious stinkers, but several players were excellent and deserve recognition for their play.
(Please note that all players are listed alphabetically, and that each had to have played 33 games, or 40 percent of the season, to get what I consider a fair grade. Except in the case of goaltenders and players traded to the team, in which case they’re all getting a grade because I don’t care.)
A warning: most grades are either mediocre or poor.
Player: Jay Bouwmeester
Stats: 82 GP, 3-26-29, minus-4
Summary: Despite a fairly down season by his own standards, he was still very good, and some of that could have been the growing pains that come with adjusting to a more difficult conference both in terms of quality of competition and travel. Or it wasn’t. In which case that contract is gonna be pretty awful for a long time. But regardless, this wasn’t the season anyone wanted from him by any stretch. Some defensive ratings have him barely in the top-40 among league defensemen. This was almost a total failure.
Player: Mark Giordano
Stats: 82 GP, 11-19-30, plus-17
Summary: Gio was by far the best Flame of the season and was an immense value in terms of his contract. He had the season Bouwmeester should have, practically out of nowhere. You honestly can’t say enough good things about his performance this season. Team MVP outside of Miikka Kiprusoff, no question about it.
Player: Adam Pardy
Stats: 57 GP, 2-7-9, minus-3
Summary: Well unlike last year’s Pardy, he wasn’t completely useless in his own zone. Offensively? Still useless. But defensively, not so much! His CORSI stats were also very good. This is progress.
Player: Dion Phaneuf
Stats: 55 GP, 10-12-22, plus-3
Summary: While it wasn’t in line with his up-trending stats of years past, he was still a very good offensive contributor when he put his mind to it. That 10 goals is more than most guys had all season, let alone through 55 games, and at times he didn’t look lost in his own zone, which was a marked improvement from last season. Too bad he was such a divisive prick. Allegedly.
Player: Robyn Regehr
Stats: 81 GP, 2-15-17, minus-2
Summary: Not a good season for Mr. Regehr. When you’re a defense-only defenseman making a bunch of money, you’re kind of expected to be really really good at defense, and he was merely okay. Also I honestly don’t remember him absolutely obliterating anyone this season, do you? There’s nothing wrong with okay, normally, but like I said earlier, there were too many "okay" performances across the board this year.
Player: Cory Sarich
Stats: 57 GP, 0-6-6, plus-4
Summary: He is grossly overpaid and only looks good because he spent almost all of his games playing alongside Giordano. Get him off the team.
Player: Steve Staios
Stats: 18 GP, 1-2-3, minus-8
Summary: He’s just too old to go any more. There’s no nice way to say it. I dread his being on the team next season and I have to believe that Steve Tambellini is giggling with glee at having unloaded his contract.
Player: Ian White
Stats: 27 GP, 4-8-12, plus-7
Summary: He was outstanding upon coming over from Toronto. Never looked out of his depth, never did anything that I recall being especially unpleasant. Hopefully Sutter can lock him up for something affordable, because he’s going to be viewed, unfairly or not, as the replacement for Phaneuf. I like this kid, and I think he can be a good one for the Flames for years to come.
Player: Miikka Kiprusoff
Stats: 73 GP, 2.31 GAA, .920 save percentage, 35-28-10
Summary: Were it not for Kipper, this season would have been a Hindenburg-type disaster, with people running screaming from the Saddledome after every game and weepy radio announcers telling us with a sob that this once-great team has drifted into some high-tension wires and there were no survivors.
Player: Curtis McElhinney
Stats: 10 GP, 3.23 GAA, .885 save percentage, 3-4-0
Summary: It says a whole hell of a lot about one’s performance when Vesa Toskala is a far superior option at backup goaltender.
Player: Vesa Toskala
Stats: 6 GP, 2.26 GAA, .918 save percentage, 2-0-0
Summary: Nothing more could have been expected of him. Why he’s on the team in the first place is anyone’s guess, but if you want a goaltender for six games, and he puts up the above stat line, you have to be happy with that. Especially because it was Vesa freaking Toskala.