January 12 News and Notes



The Flames have another lengthy break in the schedule, permitting them an opportunity to enjoy three glorious days in Canada’s sump hole for tax dollars wonderful capital city. Lucky them. FN doesn’t rest, though, and it’s once again time for a look at a few matters of note around the league. In this installment, Kipper is under the microscope, the Sharks look very ordinary and the Yotes and Rags make a swap.

Calgary’s three days of leisure should permit them a fair chance to stew over last night’s second period, yet another sleepy display in an apparently never-ending series. When you have one openly terrible period virtually every game, it isn’t just poor fortune holding you back. There were plenty of culprits last night as the Canes built that 5-2 lead.

Still, poor goaltending is certainly a large part of the Flames’ most recent stretch of poor results. Kipper ‘s had a lousy week, with no way to sugarcoat it. I don’t disagree with Lawrence’s contention that the Flames’ D stunk at various points last night, with the Ruutu 3-2 goal a prime example, but this is a team that isn’t allowing that many shots in general, and for those that put stock in shot quality, Chris Boersma’s numbers don’t exactly suggest that the Flames are leaving their goalie vulnerable.

As a result, we’ve seen Brent Sutter mention Kiprusoff in a negative way for the second time in six days, and although I think he’s blowing smoke when he hints that Kipper isn’t his number one without qualification, the prospect that Miikka might not play 70 games this season is starting to seem much more plausible that it might have a month ago.

Kipper’s situation as a bargaining chip is pretty tricky, since he needs to play well enough to be attractive to others, and should he do that, the Flames should likely keep him in town. Sadly, last year’s return to excellence seems like a blip. His EVSV% since 07/08 reads .919, .907, .928, .914, which does sort of remind me of a Sesame Street song in a way, and not a happy one. 

On the farm, the Heat have struggled to score as well, so it’s no surprise that their AHL all-star rep is defenceman T.J.Brodie. The 20 year old had a brief stint in Jim Playfair’s doghouse earlier in the month, but he’s been the best of a pretty poor lot of skaters in Abby this season. The AHL’s best convene in Hershey at the end of the month.


Next up…




As mentioned, the Flames are in Ottawa for a Friday affair with the slumping Senators. They can’t score and certainly have iffy goaltending, but they’re in an even worse state than the Flames, sporting a -39 GD thus far. Jason Spezza is gone with a bum shoulder, leaving a team that would have scratched for goals under ideal circumstances in an even more precarious state. An injury to Pascal Leclaire has opened a spot in the cage for Swedish prospect Robin Lehner to start in the Sens’ game against the Islanders tomorrow evening. 


The mighty Leafs are also on the docket this weekend, fresh off a pair of wins on the West Coast. Toronto has finally scored a few goals over the last few outings, with Kris Versteeg a prime contributor. He’s headed for a 60 point season against some pretty good comp, with his -11 mostly built on bad bounces. I know his name gets tossed around in rumours, but even though the Leafs are still a ways away, he, MacArthur, Grabovski and Kessel are at least decent and Burke really shouldn’t be moving those sorts of players as of yet.


The Leafs’ victim last evening is one of the league’s puzzling teams through half a season. San Jose has lost 5 straight, with their offence scuffling for goals. They’re barely better than Calgary in that regard, and they’re worse than the Flames at EV, which few people would have thought likely starting the year. If not for a still-lethal power play, the Sharks might be in a real pickle. Joe Pavelski’s off and on injury issues have hurt the Sharks’ secondary scoring, and Logan Couture’s collision last night with Colton Orr’s knee has left them even thinner at forward.

San Jose has never really filled that hole in their defence’s top four either. Boyle, Vlasic, Doug Murray and … then what? Doug Wilson is a well-regarded GM, but he’s left the bottom half of his roster in absolute crap order. They’ve fallen to 11th in the conference with a negative GD through 44 games, and although they look like they’re outshooting by a big margin, almost all of their overall differential occurs when up a man. They just look like another team otherwise.


Head Games:


I don’t doubt that a fully healthy Pavelski would likely have the Sharks in a better spot, but injuries are part of life in the NHL, and even the best teams have moments where things don’t go their way. The Penguins, though, might be a team that has done themselves no favours. It’s pretty hard to take seriously the club’s contention that Sidney Crosby was healthy until he was hit from behind by Victor Hedman given the video evidence from the Winter Classic. Pittsburgh is saying all the right things now with their meal ticket’s return to the line up still TBA, but they’re giving the impression that they might have taken DGB’s latest as gospel rather than satire. 


An actual trade of respectable players? Who knew?




Finally this week, an enigmatic player changed addresses this week, as Wojtek Wolski moved to the Big Apple on Monday. He’s a player that might end up with a Huselius career by the time he’s done, in that he’s a undeniable talent that drives his coaches nuts on occasion and ends up moving around as a result. His acquisition fills a spot on the Ranger roster left by Frolov’s season ending injury and opens a bit of cap space for Slats to work with this season and next.  

From a Phoenix POV, Dave Tippett seemed to have had enough of Wolski’s act after less than a year in the desert, and the acquisition of Michal Rosival is one where they spend a lot less real money than his cap hit would imply while filling a hole on the back end. The Yotes might be in the market for a forward if they’re in the race at the deadline and Phoenix could be a landing spot for a Glencross or Hagman if the Flames are so inclined in the next six weeks. Just a thought, though. There’s no rc(3) implied by that last sentence, believe me.


That’s all for this time. 




  • Good stuff.

    Re: The Sharks. It looks like Thornton has begun an Iginla-like slide from being an elite forward to merely a good one (with the added bonus of still being excellent on the PP). Heater isn’t a heavy hitter at ES anymore either (and one wonders if he ever really was. Alfredsson plus some cherry circumstances seemed to have been the real drivers in OTT).

    Good news for Sharks is Pavelski is the real deal and sounds like Couture is as well. That said, they’re probably going to have to start making some hard decisions when comes to their depth and “the big 3” money forwards. Can’t have that much tied up in guys who aren’t knocking it out of the park…that’s when the rest of your roster gets exposed. The Flames would know.

    • Robert Cleave

      The big three, Boyle and Pavelski are signed through 13/14. I’m guessing at least one of the expensive three forwards and Boyle don’t finish those contracts in San Jose. If they don’t make a deep run this season, those moves might happen this summer, because I don’t see them getting any better as they’re currently constituted and I don’t expect Wilson to stand pat.

  • Thornton and Kipper are absolutely killing me in fantasy not to mention Gonchar’s -20.

    On a less selfish note:

    -I think this ends any kind of debate (if there was one) for Crosby as MVP.

    -Looks as though that trade has the benefit of helping both teams and maybe even the Flames. Listening how Ranger fans regarded Rozival sounds eerily similar to Sarich in Cow town. Perhaps there are other teams like Phoenix that can handle a decent D that may flourish in different circumstances. Is that last part a reach?

  • Excellent news, if 54 points can be mustered up in the next 39 games there is a chance flames will get 8th spot. Although – Van would embarrass the hell out of the boys.

    I am surprised Feaster isn’t looking for a top pick right now. If the Flames don’t get a top 6 pick there isn’t a lot of depth beyond that.

    I guess we can just hope for another miracle season through free agency frenzy this February 28th.

      • BobB

        Agreed, but it would be typical of the Flames to on a run, still miss the playoffs and finish in 10th.

        Ottawa almost seems to be leaning in the direction of a rebuild moer than we are and since Feaster seems to lack the stomach to want ot make any big trades (ie. Iginla) I wouldn’t put it past this organization to trade away our first pick anyways (along with Backlund) for Spezza.

        That way we can have a ‘#1’ centre to play with Iggy next year and keep our traditiono of “being competitve every year” going.

        Re: the draft, IMO there’s great depth in the top 15 and anyone taken in that range could end up being the best player from this draft year. Some real solid prospects, but no one close to approaching Hall or Tavares levels.

  • icedawg_42

    “Sadly, last year’s return to excellence seems like a blip. His EVSV% since 07/08 reads .919, .907, .928, .914, which does sort of remind me of a Sesame Street song in a way, and not a happy one.”

    I hope you’re not right about this but time will tell.

    3 Kiprusoff starts ago that stat line read .919, .907, .928, .924. So the outlier would quite convincingly look like the .907 and the average of the other three somewhere around .924 (only .002 off his career pace.)

    3 games against high powered offenses like DET (1st), VAN (2nd) and CAR (9th) with a few bad bounces and a stinky rotten poor week of goaltending and things sit where they are.

    Three games does not make a bad goalie, but… lots of bad goals against make a bad goalie, so it’s got to stop… uhh… yesterday.

    Kipper’s career in Calgary evsv% still holds strong at .926 to date and according to my own weighted evsv% calculations for goalies (which is very very simple) he’s performing as a career .924 goalie today trending down, leads me to believe he’ll rebound from this. But who knows?

    Other issue: That quality shots table leaves a lot of questions. The Flames are ranked 9th for QSFor!, that seems impossible. The Canucks are 18th, also seemingly impossible.

    Living in Vancouver and cheering for Calgary all my life is a good recipe for building an unhealthy hatred for that team. It also provides me means to see a lot of their games. Which, results in me seeing how stomach-wrenchingly good they are this year. There is NO way Calgary generates better quality shots than the Canucks. NO way… and in any metric it shouldn’t even be close. I imagine that is heavily weighted by number of shots per game?

    • BobB

      I imagine that is heavily weighted by number of shots per game?

      Answering myself here… it doesn’t look like it is. Interesting, I’d like to see how it’s calculated, because they Canucks create very very good chances for. I cannot fathom how any metric would have them 18th in the league.

      with the Ruutu 3-2 goal a prime example,

      Forgot this… Didn’t Cole score the 3-2 goal? Ruutu’s was the 1st goal, no? Both were bad in my eyes, but which are you referring to? Probably the JBO hug…the third. Everytime I see a play like that, I see a spinning, laughing Mike Peca head. Defense is like goal, 1 bad play can erase the memory of 10 great plays quite quickly.

      • Robert Cleave

        I think you’re right. At any rate it was the goal where Reggie made a soft pass up the wall, Olli had his stick on the wrong side to defend the pass and Bouwmeester trailed Cole to the front of the net. Yuck all the way around, and Kipper had bugger all to do with it.

        Edit – Eric Cole indeed. Here’s the goal I had in mind.

    • Lawrence – re shot quality, my impression isn’t that different from yours, but I think there is probably some playing to the score effects in there. The Flames have had a lot of games where they have generated more shots, and ones closer to the net, when they are chasing or when the game is well out of reach.

  • wattree

    Ryan Nugent Hopkins/ Sean Couturier/ Gabriel Landeskog would look really good right now. Btw, Max Reinhart’s looking pretty good for Kootenay right now. I watched the game on shaw yesterday and he had 4 points.

  • wattree

    Maybe we’re too quick to run Iginla out of town for picks. Look at Tampa, they went right to the bottom with guys like St. Louis and kept them around. Now you can’t tell me that Stamkos would be doing what he is without that Veteran pulling him along. A young guy might be the thing to rejuvenate him for a while.

    As long as we’re even willing to play our young guys. 3 or 4 loses in a row right now might be the best thing that could happen to this org. Instead of fighting for the playoffs every night, they can switch into development mode. Throw Backlund out there with Iggie and see what happens.