This week consider the Flames aspirations for the playoffs, Brendan Morrison’s refusal to go away and I have become a hesistant fan of Blake Comeau.
1. Ready for a run?
Saw in the Herald the other day that Iginla thinks the Flames are primed to go on a run and reestablish their contention for a Western Conference playoff spot.
This was based on his belief that the team is really rounding into form in the last few games, as they had skated past their last few opponents with relative ease. And certainly, it’s hard to argue with 13 points from the last eight games (not including last night). But shockingly, the cynic in me says, "so what?"
These haven’t exactly been the world’s greatest wins, wins though they may be. Minnesota, Nashville, Edmonton (twice), Colorado and Carolina ain’t exactly the Boston Bruins, and in that period they’ve also looked pancake-flat against Columbus and, especially, Vancouver.
So the real question, I guess, is whether the Flames have enough bad games left on the schedule that they can put together a good enough case for their playoff contention. So far, 14 of their points have come against Colorado and Edmonton. That doesn’t tell me a whole lot, quite frankly.
2. Then there’s this other thing…
And really the issue isn’t and shouldn’t be beating bad teams more often than not, but beating good teams about half the time or so.
Calgary has demonstrated next to no ability to do that. The Flames have beaten Detroit and Chicago and (if we’re really stretching the definition) Minnesota, all fairly convincingly at the time, but in most other games against "Western Conference Playoff Contenders," they’ve lost and looked bad doing it.
The teams that are Top-8 in the Western Conference as of Wednesday morning have played the Flames 14 times (though to be fair they’ve not played the Sharks) and Calgary has taken just 10 points from those games. That’s not good enough, obviously, and it’s also bad news given that the stretch from this Friday to next goes Florida, Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit and Vancouver. It’s entirely possible that Calgary goes 0-5 in that stretch given that it’s five games in seven days on both sides of the continent, with three of those games on the road.
If Calgary wants to have any pretentions of making or even competing for a playoff spot, they’re going to want to win at least three of those games. The issue is that there’s potentially a big difference between "can they?" and "will they?" these days. This loss to Nashville can’t have been encouraging.
3. So what’s the deal with Brendan Morrison?
Since December started, Brendan Morrsion has more or less been a house of fire. Last night was his first game without a point, and in the three games before that, he had two goals and five assists. Strong days at the office, but why is it happening?
And okay, yes. It’s almost certainly tied to the scoring surge from Jarome Iginla, and he’s been getting a bit more looks on the power play these days, but the real question I think the team has to start asking itself is whether Morrison can continue producing at anything approaching this level. Obviously he’s not a seven-points-in-four-games player, but what’s a reasonable expectation for him going forward? And more to the point, the team must at least be kicking around the idea of bringing him back if he puts up another 40 points like he did last year (as long as he’ll take another cut-rate deal).
Certainly, he seems to work well enough with Iginla — who you’ll remember is officially Part Of The Solution — and that has to count for something, since so few other guys do. How much does that count for when you’re like 58 years old? Right now I’d bet a good amount of money we find out this summer since Jay Feaster is bad at his job and stuff.
4. I’ve become a reluctant Blake Comeau fan
You know me, I look for any opportunity at all to be skeptical.
Perhaps this folds a bit into the previous entry, but even though he’s not setting the world on fire production-wise, I think he’s been a pretty good player for what he cost (nothing. Not anything.). Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s not a coincidence that his arrival with the team coincides with the reemergence of Jarome Iginla as an offensive force.
Yes, I’m well aware that they play together approximately never, but his presence as a minor goalscoring threat certainly must affect how teams game-plan around Iginla. Before Comeau, the depth chart of Guys Who Could Theoretically Put the Puck in Net was as deep as a shot glass, but at least now there’s the vaguest of guys who could at least make it appear like he’ll do that once in a while.
Obviously the scoring has to start soon or other teams are going to go back to not caring and quintuple-covering Iginla with their best defensive players on every shift, but for now, he’s had a fairly positive influence, don’t you think?
5. Hey when does David Moss come back?
Because, like, any time would be pretty great in my estimation.