The dog days of the season are here in full force, especially for those of us that cheer for Calgary. I would guess that for most fans the initial burst of interest brought on by the GM’s removal has been replaced again by the familiar feeling of ennui that watching this team causes on most nights.
There’s still news to be had, though, and on this week’s review of matters near and far, the Flames fall on the Coast, the Habs drop another D man, and Jamie Langenbrunner’s days in Jersey appear to coming to an end.
Last night’s effort needs no more rehashing from me except to say that when a team can ease off the gas as early as Vancouver did and still never look troubled, that’s not a good sign for the team chasing the game. The haplessness that the Flames exhibited in the last couple of outings might well encourage Jay Feaster to only draw up one plan for ownership over the next few months, i.e. one that wouldn’t concern itself with the results for the rest of the year.
I will add that if anyone thought that simply removing Darryl Sutter’s dark presence would allow the team to play a better brand of hockey they can forget that, because you can lighten the mood all you want, but if the players are inept, you won’t win.
Brent Sutter spent this morning engaged in the normal fruitless activities that a coach feels compelled to attempt in dark times, shuffling his lines in the vain hope that he can find a combination that turns this group into the ’78 Habs. Actually, I doubt he’s that deluded, since he benched Joker in the second period after a few more errant passes, then removed him from Iginla’s side in the third.
It also appears that he’ll have Niklas Hagman exchange a press box seat with Ales Kotalik tomorrow evening when the Red Wings alight at the Dome. That shouldn’t be a surprise. Kotalik’s doing very little, and the Flames are the wrong team for a player with one plus skill (PP shooting from the point) to flourish on, as we’ve also seen with Jokinen.
One matter that might strike a few people as odd was Sutter airing out Kipper after last night, but he’s not completely without reason. Most of Miikka’s dropoff in SV% is because the Flames couldn’t kill penalties against house league bantam teams most nights, but Kipper isn’t quite where he was last year, and the Bieksa goal was not good by any standard. He’s still a fair ways down the overall list of evildoers for this season, though.
An interesting side note to the Flames’ termination of J.D. Watt’s contract was this comment from Jay Feaster. It’s never bad to have a spot on your roster available just on the off-chance that a deal hinges on taking back an extra player and it isn’t like Watt was adding anything of value to the organization, so that’s prudence on the part of the boss.
The farm team could use some sort of help, though. They, like the big club, can’t score a lick, and they’re likely hoping that Mitch Wahl can get his year going after returning from a broken face. Wahl played his first game in six weeks on Monday, and as with so many Flame prospects, he hasn’t been able to translate junior production to the AHL. It would be good to see him stay healthy enough to develop over the rest of the year, if nothing else.
The Oil play the streaking (?!?!?) Islanders tonight without the services of Jordan Eberle, and it isn’t just his wonky ankle that’s a concern after an emergency appendectomy earlier today. The visitors have their own injury issues, of course, and Rick DiPietro’s adductor strain means that Calgary product Nathan Lawson will have an outing at the Rex. As I mentioned in the preview on Monday, the trade of Dwayne Roloson was no big deal, since the Isles have no interest in success this year.
Roloson has had a mixed start in Tampa, as the veteran was chased by the Penguins one night after shutting out the Caps. He’s still seems like he might be an upgrade on the Lightning’s incumbent ‘tenders, Smith in particular. Last night’s stinker by the Bolts was really mostly notable for Steve Stamkos’ wipeout and the Penguin that was hurt during the evening’s proceedings.
Sidney Crosby was rendered hors de combat for this evening’s match in Montreal after suffering some sort of upper body malady, although his coach says it’s not a significant problem.
If Sid were a defenceman, I’d advocate avoiding Montreal just for precautionary reasons. Josh Gorges is the latest victim of the curse infecting the Bell Centre, as Pierre Gauthier announced today that the Habs’ rearguard will miss the rest of the year due to a knee injury, joining Andrei Markov on the surgically unable to perform list. The trade for James Wisniewski makes more sense with Gorges’ injury news, since they’d be expected to fill the same type of 4th-5th D role.
In happier injury news, the Blues, currently playing the Leafs in T.O., will likely welcome T.J. Oshie back to the lineup in the coming weeks. The feisty winger is recovering at a faster than expected clip from his ankle surgery, and Jeremy Rutherford hints that a late January return is possible.
David Perron’s coconut is an ongoing problem, so the news that St. Louis might be a potential destination for Jamie Langenbrunner isn’t that much of a surprise. They have the cap space to take his ticket without sending any money back.
ON THE MOVE?
The rumours surrounding the veteran winger have ramped up this evening, as he was asked by Loophole Lou to waive his NTC in general terms today so that the Devils can attempt to make a trade. Dallas has also been mentioned of late as a possible destination for the 35 year old UFA to be and the Flyers have tabled an offer of draft picks, according to Anthony SanFillipo.
The Devils can’t exactly take a pile of salary back, and if they do take any dollars back I’d guess that the player in question will be in his early 20’s. Picks and/or prospects are the most likely return of choice.
Like most of you, I watched Canada’s pratfall of a third period last night in Buffalo, although I have a very hard time getting too bent out of shape over the matter. Canada has a pretty astonishing grasp on the hockey world, but no team or nation wins them all, so losing a major tournament on occasion isn’t the end of the world and shouldn’t be considered some sort of national disgrace for these young men.
That’s it for this week. If there’s anything you’d like to see get some attention, post a link in comments.