The Dance of Jokinen and Iginla


It wasn’t too long ago Darryl Sutter acquired Olli Jokinen to be the Flames vaunted "#1 center" – you know, the mythical White Whale the org has been fruitlessly searching for since Sutter took the helm.

We all know how that went (or continues to go if you will). Now the team is searching for ways to balance one against the other since together they are the equivalent of two anchors on a rowboat.

Randy Sportak wonders if Iginla is ready to roll in his article this morning. Jarome has been outchancing the bad guys recently even though the pucks haven’t been going in and it’s probably only a matter of time before his current 4.4% SH% jumps back up to career norms.

“The last couple of games, it feels like it’s coming,” said Iginla, whose struggles have been a major focus the past couple of weeks. “That’s probably the most scoring chances I’ve had in a long time.

“Our line, we had a ton of scoring chances, and the only thing we can do is just stick with it.

“If you get enough chances, they’ll go in.

I would just like to have had them gone in already.”

That’s from the article. And fair enough, Jarome is sitting in the black in terms of both possession and scoring chances thus far. The flack he’s catching is only marginally related to his on-ice play. There’s no question that, with a few more bounces, he’d be a PPG player and there would be a lot less anger towards his play around here and on messageboards.

Of course, one of the reasons that Jarome is generating some nice underlying numbers is Jokinen, Bourque and Hagman are getting fed to the wolves to give him the high ground every night. Jokinen talks about his new role as a checking center in a Scott Cruickshank article this morning.

"I try to score every game, but the biggest thing is playing in a team concept," says Jokinen, who, with six points in 13 dates, sits sixth on the Flames’ charts. "I just want to win. For me, it doesn’t matter if I score 10 goals or 40 goals, I want to be part of a winning team. I’ve never been part of a winning team in the NHL. That’s all we care about in here, you know.
Blah, blah, etc, etc.


1.) Jokinen is in this role by default. With him and Jarome consistently sucking together, that forces Stajan to be Jarome’s pivot against other second lines. Backlund is a 21 year old kid and certainly not going to face the big boys. Craig Conroy is a 4th line, 7 ES minute per night guy (in the eyes of the coaching staff, even though I don’t completely agree). There’s nowhere for Olli to go.
2.) I suspect that Rene Bourque is actually the guy being matched against other teams big lines, with Jokinen being his usual center. Both Sutter and Keenan rated Bourque as a hard minutes option previosly and I Jokinen is simply along for the ride (see above). 
I’m unsure how long the current state of affairs will continue. On the one hand, the Flames have more than $9M in forwards – all of whom were expected to be "scoring options" on this club – getting killed on a nightly basis. All of Jokinen, Hagman and Bourque are underwater in terms of possession and scoring chances, with each subsequent evening adding ballast to the downward spiral. So yeah, Jokinen et al are the shut-down line currently, but they aren’t really shutting anyone down.
On the other hand, I don’t really know what the alternative is. Iginla was struggling against the big boys previously and the new assignments seem to at least be freeing him up (although the results aren’t there yet). Brent Sutter’s options absent Daymond Langkow are limited: unless he wants to move Conroy up the rotation and push one of Backlund or Jokinen to 4th-line like role (unlikely), the team is more or less stuck at where it is currently.
Anyways, here’s hoping pucks start going in for Jarome. I have a feeling it’s going to be a mercilessly long season for Bourque et al, so it’s imperative that Iginla start taking advantage of things sooner rather than later.
  • BobB

    As well, our STC is 98.3% so it’s not exactly killing us in games.

    Granted, we’re not the Bruins at 114.3% STC or the Lightning at 112.6%


    we’re also not the Oilers at 87.3% or Devils at 88.3%

  • BobB

    …Backlund, Moss, Glencross, Conroy, Jackman, Sarich, Mikkleson, and Regher don’t fit into the Flames powerplay equation. Glencross and Conroy, Backlund and Moss, and the aforementioned defencemen work nicely into the PK role. I especially like how Glencross and Conroy work on the PK.

    …there is plenty of PP time to go around, especially for the players that equate into the #1 unit.

  • BobB

    Lawrence sed…

    Hey, we’re all just trying to understand what’s up and what’s down, and why the Flames are not a playoff team, when many think they should be.

    When the discussion has drifted to “Olli was awesome once” and “damn the goals per game worry me” then I’m afraid you might not get there.

    Want to know the one of the biggest differences in JarMoe’s 08/09 and 09/10 point totals. Starts with “P” and ends with “P icetime”.

    Same with Lanks, same with Eastern conf and Western conf Olli, same with a ton of players.

    • BobB

      Fair enough. This is true. But, you cannot just tell the players to go out and take more penalties.

      You can tell them to keep their feet moving, but they only have an indirect influence on penalty calls.

      What I want to know is what happens with the things we can directly influence. ie. lines, match-ups, trades, etc.etc.

      Cause what we’ve got ain’t working, and saying well…just give em more PP icetime is a good theory, but how does that translate into practice?

      Especially when our PP (12.9%) isn’t winning us many games right now.

      Last year we needed more shots. Now we’re getting more. Still no better. (28.7-31.1) and we have less SA/g (28.9 – 28.3)

      We have more ‘complimentary’ players. Worse powerplay. (16% – 12.9%) but more goals overall (2.45/g – 2.62)

      We had a back-up goalie with great potential. Well, back to having the worst backup in the league .837ev sv% (granted its 2 games)

      If you’re telling me to be patient. Well, thanks, I hope you’re right.

  • BobB

    …Morrison should get a shot at the #1 job. He is on pace for 70 points playing on a jambalaya of lines. Give Jokinen #1 PP time on the point and put his shot and speed on the wing. Taking some of his defensive responsibilities away will give him more energy/focus for offensive endeavours.

    Suggested lines:

    Tanguay Morrison Iginla

    Jokinen Stajan Borque

    Hagman Backlund Moss

    Glencross Conroy Jackman

  • BobB

    OK I think I figured it out. It’s Nystrom.

    The guy had grit and heart, we’re really missing that from our bench warmers.

    Plus Karlsson’s a Swede, so can we really count on him when it matters? I mean the line changes have been atrocious and I can only attribute it to the Tower’s inability to open and close the bench door in the clutch.

    • BobB

      Hey, we’re all just trying to understand what’s up and what’s down, and why the Flames are not a playoff team, when many think they should be.

      It sounds like you’ve got it all figured out, but the rest of us don’t, including those who ice the team.

  • BobB

    What I want to know is when will Olli Jokinen finally become our first line centre. And when he will be reunited with Jarome.

    I don’t want to break up the Finnish chemistry but I think we could experiment with a little shooter’s chemistry. I know in the summer we talked about making sure that every line has a passer and a shooter but I really think confidence is the answer.

    What I’m not sure of is whether confidence and chemistry will gel. Not to mention the leadership factor. Crap, no wonder the coaches are finding it so difficult to coach this club. Not enough leaders and mental games. Too much emphasis on skill.

  • BobB

    There is no end of talk of whether Iginla is #1 winger anymore (I think few would debate that he was a premier winger).

    Well, what constitutes being a first line winger? What is the criteria? Goals & points? Corsi & EVSC%? There are a lot of top line wingers who don’t score 30 goals. There are a lot of wingers who have favourable scoring chances but have a disproportionate zone start ratio. Do you look beyond just stats and say it is the guy who visibly takes a game over, or just seems to score the timely goal?

    There seems to be no shortage of opinions, some believe he is the root of all problems for this team, others still believe he is infallible and will soon leap tall buildings in a single bound if only he could find his phone booth from 2002. There just doesn’t seem to be any consensus on what constitutes being that #1 guy.

    • BobB

      He was the 7th highest scoring right winger in the league last year and the 12th highest by PPG. 5th highest in goals, and a -2. That’s top winger numbers for sure.

      Maybe I’m too hard on him. Perhaps it’s just the 4 goals in 30 games that gets me down after the Mar.7/10 hat trick. And the 8 in 30 prior to the hat trick.

      That’s a stretch of 15 goals in 60 (.25GPG) games to date, and 12 in 59 (.20GPG), with the Minny hat trick as an outlier.

      He’s at (.15GPG) this season, which is my concern as we brought Tanguay back to help. If he shoots the high-point of the previous 60 (.25) he’ll finish this year with 20 goals. That may not happen, but I have my doubts that he’ll shoot 30% again this November.

      I mean, Iggy had an ‘off’ year last year with 32 goals in 82 (.39). Going back 82 games to date, he’s at 27 goals (.33), there is more to hockey than goals, but with Iggy, on the ice, there isn’t much more.

      Sure, he’s in a slump, cause no way he finishes with 12 goals (the pace he’s at). But we may be in serious trouble if we’re paying 7 million to a guy who likely will finish under 30goals.

    • BobB

      There seems to be no shortage of opinions, some believe he is the root of all problems for this team, others still believe he is infallible and will soon leap tall buildings in a single bound if only he could find his phone booth from 2002. There just doesn’t seem to be any consensus on what constitutes being that #1 guy.

      Obviously the answer is somewhere in the middle. Which is one of the main problems that pervaids most media, you either have to form an extreme opinion or it gets lost in translation.

      Any stat could be used. In Iginla’s case, he has been the Flames #1 goal scorer for many years. Keep in mind that you need to keep information in context, if Iginla scores 15% of the Flames goals again this year, he is probably our #1 guy.

  • BobB

    Past statistics dictate that Oli is a #1 centre. Ever since he left Phoenix he has had ZERO confidence. He was on pace for another 30 goal season before he was traded to the Flames. He needs to play the point on the power play to regain his “mojo”.

    Iggy is still a #1 right winger. He has always been a streaky scorer and he takes a while to warm up. Stajan is a #2 centre and Borque is a #2 right winger. Honestly, asking either of those guys to play against top competition isn’t fair. Honestly, the only 2 centres capable of playing the #1 role are Jokinen and Morrison.

    The Flames PP is bad. To me, this is clearly the reason for 90% of the Flames issues. A team that can’t put the puck in the net with the extra man can’t go far. These should be the PP lines.

    Tanguay Morrison Iginla

    Jokinen White

    Hagman Stajan Borque

    Giordano Bouwmeester

  • BobB

    I’m gonna keep hammering on this, I’m sorry to say.

    The 1. and 2. read like this:

    1. Olli + Jarome is bad. Connie and Backlund exist. Olli has no spot, except where he is.

    2. Olli is a passenger, and is only in that spot because of point 1. Olli is useless.

    You had me nodding away for most of the article, but then it still swings back to the denial about the Iggy-reality at the end.

    Jokinen and Stajan could be 3.0mil, number 1 centers, on a team with number 1 wingers. Maybe not a cup-team, but a playoff team.

    The paradigm we’ve been in for years is:
    Jarome is held back by a lack of a good centre.

    The reality is:
    Jarome will hold back anyone but the most elite centre (ie. Crosby) one which will never get gift-wrapped and given to us, cause people don’t give away Crosby’s.

    If I’m an opposition coach, I’m putting out my first line against Jokinen, Hagman and Bourque because I can win that battle. They are not first line quality, it’s not because I’m isolating Joker. And Sutter is happy to comply.

    Then I’m putting my second line out against Iggy et al. because I’m targeting Iginla, because I can win that battle with second, even third, tier forwards, and first-tier “d”. I leave Iggy to the outside and out-skate him, just play zone d against him.

    The biggest conceptual error that has been made with the Flames in the last two-three years, is not the money invested in the goalie, it’s not the lark of a ‘stacked defense’, it is assuming Jarome is still a top line RW. It’s denial.

    If, two years ago, we didn’t ignore this, and slotted Iggy in the #2 spot, I think we’d never have made some of the ‘problem’ acquisitions we did.

    In conclusion. Iggy’s fall-off has made any line he plays on a “second-tier-comp-line” That leaves opp-coaches the luxury of sending out their first line against any of our other trio. And..they get their heads kicked in, by the Datsyuks of the world.

    AND what can you do if you can’t trade Iggy? Fire the coach? tried that. Get new centres? tried that. Shuffle the deck? Tried that, by by Phaneuf. uhh.. Fire another coach? Stay tuned…

  • SmellOfVictory

    I like that line up and they could hold their own. I kind of wonder how long you utilize Bourque in this manner before we acknowledge that maybe he should be sheltered to try to free him up offensively? I think that its time that the team leans on someone else to put out offensively and RBQ wants to be that guy. They need to create those match-ups for him. Maybe try a

    I don’t really like Moss on the 4th, and I’m not loving Backlund on the second, but Iggy and Olli are like pesto & anti-pesto. They just don’t work together.

  • Boyd was released today, I hope Sutter plucks him off waivers. Would probably help the farm this year and develop in to a solid player next year after we’ve traded iggy, made jokinen flee to europe & are in rebuild mode.

    • SmellOfVictory

      I think it’d probably do about as well as the current ‘checking’ line, or perhaps only marginally better. I don’t think Glencross would be an upgrade over Hagman against heavies, although Moss would likely be better than Jokinen.

      I agree with R O and Kent: replacing Jokinen with Conroy would probably be most effective. I actually think Jokinen would do well in a 4th line role, as well. It might seem stupid to have a 3 million dollar player in those kind of minutes, but I think he could potentially eat 4th liners alive and would produce some solid offence in terms of shots/goals per 60.

  • Madden and Langkow aren’t remotely comparables. If anything we got the best Langkow lookalike in Tanguay. Or Conroy.

    I think we can all honestly acknowledge that any GM would have been torpedoed by what happened to Iggy and Langkow. And Sutter made a smart bet on those two, wins it more than half the time imo.

    The problem is and will always be stupid bets made elsewhere. Trading Tanguay the first time. Getting Jokinen (TWICE!), who imo is worthless, but some people see nice things in his game. Still he’s a pretty bad hockey player. Staios is an abomination. What was the point of trading for Higgins if you don’t make a serious effort to re-sign him. A retarded contract for Phaneuf, followed by a retarded contract for GIordano. Both good hockey players who stole or will steal money needed elsewhere.



    • I’ll give Sutter a pass on Higgins. From what I’ve heard he made a concerted effort to re-sign the guy. Problem is, Higgins wanted to be on the East Coast.

      As for Madden, I wasn’t comparing him to Langkow. I was comparing to $3M of Olli Jokinen. At 1.25M, Madden is the preferable player, particularly in light of his new role.

      • Normally you could say hindsight is 20/20, but then Darryl resigned Olli, when they knew what he was about. Like Roughneck said, the plan was to reunite him with Iggy, but I don’t know what Darryl thought would be different this time around. There was no back-up plan like “well if it doesn’t work with Olli & Iggy, at least he’ll slot in here because he is an excellent defensive centreman…” that couldn’t have possibly passed through his cranium. Apparently Darryl needs glasses even when looking in hindsight; maybe then most of all.

  • Of course, when Jokinen was re-acquired, it was part of a scheme to re-unite him with Iginla and have Tanguay feeding them sweet passes off the wing in a sort of “See! I told you all!” triumphant Darryl Sutter fantasy.

    bwahahahaha! thats gold Kent…. sad but true. Hey Slats…. U have company in the accountability department.

  • PrairieStew

    Of course, the search for the mythical white whale is because Captain Ahab wants to kill the beast. Which may sum up how some fans feel about Olli on some nights. Moby Dick is, among other things a novel about obsession and sanity. We will see how this thing turns out, and whether Ishmael gets traded to another whaling vessel.

  • Let’s call it what it is, the roster has been designed badly. The guy who designed the roster last year was allowed to stick around and design it this year.

    I actually like Olli Jokinen. There, I said it. I like him because it takes a lot to come back into this situation. Obviously he isn’t bad for the room, and may even be good for it. The last game I saw live was Detroit, and he had a good first period, and was going to the net.

    The problem is he just isn’t very good. And this club needs him to play minutes.

    Darryl is a good man, good father, husband, but Olli Jokinen is going to effectively end his career as a GM. If he knew Langkow was hurt, he should have got a player in Langkows mold, you guys point to Madden and that would be one, and not tried to fit a square peg into a round hole like he is trying to do with Olli.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Hanzal. What a player, and to be on a cash strapped team no less.

    Would have been a nice year to have the next year’s 2nd rounder. A simple x2 on his current salary would probably have been enough. And he’d still be worth it.

    • True, but those guys are pretty damn rare and their teams don’t give them up.

      What would have made more sense: Madden or even Belanger – I don’t know if they’d be doing the job any better, but at least they’d be half the price.

      Of course, when Jokinen was re-acquired, it was part of a scheme to re-unite him with Iginla and have Tanguay feeding them sweet passes off the wing in a sort of “See! I told you all!” triumphant Darryl Sutter fantasy.