Don’t Panic



Okay. So the first couple of games have been, uh, underwhelming. The Flames have been outscored 10-5, have the worst shot differential in the league and have looked for all the world like a hopelessly outclassed collection of overpaid stiffs.

Coming into the season, FlamesNation detailed some noteworthy concerns with the club: Kipper’s poor season(s), the lack of truly elite forwards, the club’s bad record against high-end teams in the etc. I think those are still realistic anxieties and ones the Flames organization will have to continue to assess and address.

All that said, let us all take a collective breath here. Any team in the league can stink for two games. Human performance is variable. I once saw the Red Wings lose to the Blue Jacket by 6+ goals (and they were fill value for the suckitude that night). Sometimes performance doesn’t equal ability.There are games when the bounces go against you. There are others where you just play well below your ceiling. It happens.

We can safely say the Flames first two losses probably aren’t accurate reflections of the team we have. Whatever faults there are on the roster – and there are a few – the Flames simply aren’t this bad. They’ve come out of the gate rusty and snoozing for whatever reason. I’m not sure how long it will take for them to get back on the horse be it another few games or another month, but things will turn around.

I’m not usually one to play pollyanna and I certainly think fans are certainly entitled to be skeptical of the Flames given the last couple of non-playoff seasons. That said, I think there’s been a few bright spots:

– Curtis Glencross is having a decent strart to the year. I think he’s been one of the more dangerous Flames forwards thus far.

– Mark Giordano looks like he’ll be able to carry Hannan or whoever he skates with. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him get an all-star nod this year.

– As evidenced by the Babchuk scratch, Brent Sutter is obviously not intimidated by contract status. Clearly the upper office isn’t dictating coaching strategies anymore.

That’s a few dim bright spots in the murk for now. Feel free to chime in with your own.

As regular readers know, I’m not an apologist for this club (quite the opposite) and I will certainly be unflinching in my criticism should the Flames continue to flounder as the season moves along. Right now, though, we’re just two games in – less than 3% of the season as a whole. And just as no one would be etching the Flames name on the cup if they dominated the first two contests of the season, no one should be writing their obituary quite yet either.

It’ll get better folks.

    • Vintage Flame

      I’m sure once Morrison is back, he will be centering the top line, but until then, who is the option to center Iggy and Tangs. Are you going to put Stajan there? Horak?

      Until Backlund is back, Moss is still the best choice.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        “Until Backlund is back, Moss is still the best choice.”

        But, if he’s getting crushed (and he is) what’s the point? At least on the OMG line he and the line were productive.

        • icedawg_42

          yeah Chinook – this was kinda my point – they need to shelter Iggy and Tangs a lot right now, so much so that I think Stajafail could fit – let OMG do the yeoman’s work against the heavies until Backs makes his return. Maybe by then Iggy will have found some rythm and they can start doing some real damage.

      • TheCalgaryJames

        I agree… But, it’s a hard spot to be in with Morrison and Backlund out who do you promote up to play along side Iggy and Tangs? Horak? The guy’s played solid enough to be sure but not well enough for that kind of promotion. The idea of Jokinen moving up is laughable in lue of his history with Iggy. That leaves Stajan as the only real choice to take the center position on that line… Yikes!

        I hate to beat a dead horse here but the flames depth (or lack thereof) up the middle is their real Achilles heel. It should be painfully obvious to everyone. Until that turns around this team will be looking up at a playoff spot this year.

  • Vintage Flame

    Also, please take Moss off the top line. I’m a big Moss supporter, but this simply isn’t a good fit for him. Iggy and Tangs are not effective when they are standing still. Guys like Backlund force them to move their feet, get the play moving North quickly. Iggy is very predictable when his feet aren’t moving, and Moss just doesn’t have enough speed through the neutral zone to get the puck moving in the right direction as a C. He is an effective two-way, complimentary player, but Moss in the middle puts even more pressure on Iggy and Tangs to carry the play, which is difficult when they’re primary targets as is.

    This top line will never excel defensively, so why bother trying to improve their two-way consistency with Moss at C? The top line needs to score, and I don’t see Moss fitting in to improve this aspect.

  • RexLibris

    Oh yeah, Kent I love that picture, how perfect.
    If we win the next 2 games you need to put a picture of Joe Pesci off of Goodfellows titled “Dont worry. You worry too much”

  • xis10ce

    As expected, I have been very annoyed with Sarich out there. As a “stay-at-home” D man, you would expect the basic elements of defensive play to be evident. The first St.L goal was a poor rebound from Karlsson, but what was Sarich doing? In the neighbourhood, paying no attention to the Blue standing two-feet away, stuffing the rebound into the net. I don’t understand the Sarich support to this point. His speed doesn’t match up, his puck skills are very average, and his salary is just gross. The combination of Sarich and Babchuk in game one? Really? Sarich was serviceable last year because he played alongside Giordano. Sarich makes 3 impressive, highlight reel body checks a year, that’s it. How does this impact the win column? It doesn’t. He can sit.

    The defensive awareness from our wingers has been suspect as well. I understand that our D corps took a hit with the loss of Regehr, but these guys are still NHL defenders. “Team defense” was a major factor in the turn-around from last season.

    Watching the first two games here, there is a complete lack of back-pressure from the forwards. As a result, opposing players have the ability to stroll into Flames territory, and our D men are forced to a) go after the guy, potentially leading to an odd-man rush against, or b) back-up, in order to keep pace with the oncoming forwards, thus creating more time and space for them. Without back-pressure from the forwards, any D corps will make mistakes and look awful. Once our D finally gets possession of the puck, our wingers are *standing still* in high-traffic areas, waiting for a pass. Either the pass is easily picked off and the puck is turned over, or these wingers receive the pass with *no speed* and are easily knocked off the puck.

    Wingers need to back-check to create pressure, make themselves available for a relief pass from defenders, move their feet, and get the puck moving north. Until then, we will continue to see what we’ve been seeing. It’s easy to blame D men for turnovers and goals against, but look closer at the big picture, and you see just how difficult their job has been to this point.

  • Please someone in management wake up and see this team needs to rebuild , trade iggy,kipper,boumeaster and get fresh young hungry talent , please do something , I have watched this team go from a powerhouse in the 80s to ajoke in the in 2000 and up , Ken king hit the road and take the rest of the sutter clan with you , boumeaster is not worth 6 mill for sure , signed devastated fan

  • icedawg_42

    I can handle watching the Flames lose games, I can’t handle watching them skate around like they are carrying mom’s fine china! or at public skate with their 7 year old daughter… WTF was Bork doing out there? It was like he was in a heroin trance. will get better, and we’ll see plenty of wins.

    when I said I expected the same results without the peaks and valleys, I didnt mean I expected the team’s emotion to be a flatline.

    • RexLibris

      It’s funny I know you are joking but other than firing Sutter I do agree with that post. I was listening to the fan 960 post game show and people were jumping all over JayBo. Honestly that guy has NO DRIVE AT ALL! There is a reason he has never been to the playoffs because he is apathetic. To me I would rather have a team of pluggers who care a lot than some highly skilled guy who just doesn’t give a $hit. I suppose he got used to his long summers and really learned to appreciate them. To me, I agree with the callers on the Fan 960, they traded the wrong $7 million defenseman in the Phaneuf trade. Simply put, good players make their team and players around them elevate their game, JayBo doesnt necessarily impede other team mates progress but he definitely doesnt enable it either. Trade him now while the rest of the league is ignorant to his apathy and uselessness.

      BTW, this has nothing to do with the points he doesnt put up. I appreciate he is an important member of this team but just how he plays out there really irks me.

      • RexLibris

        That’s funny. I knew he was joking and the only thing I agreed with was firing Sutter. The guy just seems like he loves repeating the same mistakes at the start of every season.

  • But Kent, you’re missing one thing. Yes, they’ll get better at some point, but it HAS to be immediate. They cannot fall behind the 8 ball like they did last year, because they’re NOT going on a crazy two month stretch.

    So while, yes, it’s stupid to panic now, the Western Conference is going to keep winning, and Calgary needs to stay somewhat in line.

    • No that’s understood Pat. The Flames are a bubble team so that urgency is always there. They definitely how to figure things out sooner rather than later.

      My post was more aimed at settling down the idea that the Flames are suddenly a horrible club talent wise. They aren’t, the evidence from the first two games notwithstanding.

    • icedawg_42

      Pat, that is what’s giving me churning sounds in my gut as well. Everyone else has improved their team & if they havent, they were way better than us before. Columbus is going to kick our butts if we play like this. St Louis is going to rebound from a horrendous year last year & the scary thing is we actually swept them in all the games last year. I’m a little scared next time we play even the Oilers. My God, if we lose the next 2 road games & then lose to Oilers on our first home game back, oh oh! The boys will be gripping those sticks so hard, we’ll be able to get fingerprints on the wood shafts. these next 2 games are going to be huge or I’m going to start feeling like Bill Murray on GroundHog Day.

  • Well if they continued to play this bad there would be nobody in the dome besides the players come December. I think that they will turn it around, I mean, not even the Oilers are this bad. The year Detroit won the Cup they lost something like 8-0 and 8-2 within a week, it’s just what happens to a team throughout a season. For the Flames it’s happened at the start. I’m not saying the Flames are anywhere near the Red Wings of 2008, but they aren’t nearly as bad as they have been these first two games.