Red and White Game Observations

Calgary Flames' Olli Jokinen skates with the puck during an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Calgary in this January 13, 2010 file photo. Flames general manager Darryl Sutter announced on July 1, 2010 that Jokinen has been signed to a two-year contract with the Flames starting this September. REUTERS/Todd Korol/Files  (CANADA - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)


I managed to catch a large portion of the Flames intra squad game this afternoon. Here are some of my thoughts and obseervations in no discernable order:

– The speed and intensity for what was a largely meaningless scrimmage was up there. It was, for example, far more interesting than the NHL all-star game (but what isn’t right?). Nobody was taking a day off this afternoon and that included the vets.

– Kids and veterans were mixed liberally throughout both line-ups, but the matchups tended to follow what one would expect. For example, the trio of Stajan, Hagman and Bourque mostly faced off against Iginla, Jokinen and Tanguay.

– The format for the game was interesting. Each period was segmented between a long 5-on-5 portion to start, followed by alternating 2 minute PP’s for each team (about 5 each). Then a 6 minute 4-on-4 before the flood. The format allowed the coaches to see guys perform in their various roles.

– Regular readers of this space will be glad to know that Jokinen did indeed get some reps on the point during the PP.

– The "big three" spent some time in their own end during the ES segments, particularly when they were facing Bourque’s group, but managed to lead the entire afternoon in terms of scoring chances. Tanguay and Jokinen combined for the first goal of the game on the PP – a cross-ice pass by Tanguay through the box for a Jokinen one-timer that snuck under Karlsson’s arm. The second goal was a Tanguay pass to Jokinen during a 2-on-1. Tanguay tickled the twine himself when Adam Pardy mishandled the puck in the slot, leaving Tanguay all with poor Matt Keetley.

– Out of the goalies I witnessed, Karlsson was perhaps the most impressive. Though he allowed the Jokinen shot to sneak through him, he also made several eye-popping saves, including a glovehand snag on a Glencross SH break-away, a pad save on a Tanguay deke and another glovehand save on a rebound off the back boards. Very big guy with decent quickness.

– TJ Brodie was paired with Sarich during the ES portion and mostly played with Gio during the PP parts. He seemed a little more tentative as can be expected and struggled occassionally during board battles in his own end. He displayed patience and poise with the puck on his stick however.

– Mitch Wahl played mostly on an all-kids line. He was quiet, but stood out occassionally with his efficient game. Crisp, smart passes, good positional work, etc. I don’t think I saw him make a mistake.

– There was a play today that nicely sums up the difference between prospects and NHL players. The puck came to Bourque in the defensive end with Bryan Cameron in pursuit. Instead of skating away or dumping the puck out, Bourque resolutely leaned forward and put his shoulder down. Cameron bounced off him like he was a brick wall.

– Lots of active defenders, jumping into the rush and down low in the offensive zone. Bouwmeester was very active in particular and even spent a couple of PP shifts as a "forward".

– I didn’t notice Nemisz at all. In fact, I assumed he was sitting the game out until I finally read the name on the back of his jersey in the second period.

– Matt Pelech looked like he was in game shape. He’s a big dude and was active during board battles. He even made a nice little deke at the offensive blueline during an entry which was a pleasant surprise. He was mostly paired with Bouwmeester at ES.

– Old man Conroy also looked good to me. Still a capable skater, he was also sure with the puck on his stick. He didn’t get any reps on the PP, but was out there a lot with the PK unit.

– MIkael Backlund was visibly one of the better young players, although he was also played more than many of them. That said, he skated mostly with Raitis Ivanans during the ES segments, so it’s not like the coaches were giving it to him easy.

– Jokinen was his usual mix of impressive raw tools and annoying decision making. He still likes to take long, inefficient routes when rushing the puck up the ice and still occassionally loses it in bad positions. That said, he was party to creating several scoring chances in the offensive zone.

– Not sure what happened to Alex Tanguay last year, but he looked like the guy I remember from a couple of years ago. Smart positionally, good stick, slick passing, nice vision. He was probably the best guy on that line in my opinion.

– A lot of the decision makers were in attendance today. Ken King and Brent Sutter took the game in from the stands and I saw Jay Feaster walking through the concourse during an intermission.

That’s about from me. Anyone who attended show feel free to add their own thoughts in the comments.

  • Great update Kent!
    Good to hear about Tanguay and hopefully he can step it up and play that way when the season starts.
    It sounds like Tanguay and Jokinen had a bit of chemistry, Hopefully they can continue to develop that!
    If the big three dont work out, how long do you guys think Brent will stick to that trio?

    • MC Hockey

      Well sounds like the Flames are close to being ready to go, if it doesn’t work out give them until december. But they’ll get until mid november to see if it works though.

  • MC Hockey

    Nice comments Kent. I saw just parts of the first period, mostly the powerplay stuff. Jokinene looked good, as did Tanguay. I thought Brodie struggled with the board battles also, too bad. Pelech looked good and BIG and mean. Too bad I missed most of it.

  • MC Hockey

    I thought Hefty Henrik looked pretty good today, but many of his flashy saves were a result of poor positioning to begin with. As expected I suppose, while he gets used to North American ice. Good to see those recovery saves nonetheless! Quick for a big guy

    I heard on the radio today that Bouwmeester scored the first goal off the cross-ice pass from Tanguay…? But I agree with you, I thought for sure that was Jokinen. Regardless, the Tanguay-Jokinen connection was impressive today. Oddly enough, Iggy was least noticeable of the three today, in my eyes. Let’s hope today was a sign of things to come

    Nice to see the powerplay finally click, at least somewhat. For once in a year we saw some movement and energy on the PP… rather than just throwing the puck around the outside aimlessly

  • I forgot to mention Giordano, who was pretty much outstanding today as well. He was also cruel to the young’uns. At one point, Gord Baldwin rushed the puck through the neutral zone and Gio made a point of standing him up (and knocking him down) before the offensive blueline. It was a clear “cut that out, kid” signal.

  • freshpotofcoffey

    They say a man can’t serve two masters. Tanguay should be on a line to set up either Iginla or Jokinen, not both. Hopefully they get split up and don’t have to share Tanguay.

    • Your cliche doesn’t compute. One passer and two shooters is a pretty good formulae.

      I watched the R&W and the players that stood out for either steadyness or offensive flash were were Geo, Bou, White, Regher, Staios, Kronwall, Pelech, Negrin, Tanguay, Jokinen, Iginla, Bourque, Stajan, Hagman, Backlund, Kotalik, Glencross, Sutter, Karlsson, Kippy.

      Wahl, Bouma, Sutter, Armstrong, all looked good and Cameron for what it’s worth is a Cammaleri double. Here’s hoping in one-two years he’s half the man Cammy used to be….

      Of note, this team has a togetherness that could never happen with 2-10 DoubleDoucheDion in camp.

      If they gel sooner than later Sutter’s a genius at reclaiming a team after it was torn apart by the ultimate Jerk. Too bad the media doesn’t have the ability to share the truth of last years debacle instead of using management as it’s scape goat. I guess that’s why the media are not managing teams and never have, save Milbury. The only exhonoree would be John Davidson. He’s always been above board and was awarded a great NHL job.

      But I digress… I’m usually more docile in person.

      Roger Millions is awesome and I love

  • Great to hear they’re back at it. Glad Tanguay looks like the Tanguay of old. And great news that Pelech appears beastly – that’s just what’s needed. Thanks for the in-depth summary, Kent – it’s the best read I’ve found on the scrimmage so far.