Five things: Look who’s back

1. So Kiprusoff is back

Miikka Kiprusoff returned to the Flames crease last night and somehow this was treated as some sort of cool and great news. Finally, the team had its starting goaltender of the last nine seasons back and everything was going to be fine.

Except two things were wrong with that. First of all, before his knee injury, Kiprusoff had two wins in seven games, and only one of them coincided with the two times he actually posted an in-game save percentage of more than .900. I’m writing this on Wednesday night before the game, so I don’t know if he stood on his head (yup) or mailed in another 16-save stinker, but it seems to me the ideas both of starting Kiprusoff on a nightly basis once again and trying to squeeze into the playoffs, as the team clearly wants to do, are dichotimous. He’s bad now, small sample size be damned, we’ve seen this decline coming for a while now, and no matter how good he was last year (rather) that doesn’t excuse how bad he was in all but two of his first seven games.

A 36-year-old man with an .870 save percentage. That’s what’s coming back into the Flames net now. Let’s not act like this is in-his-prime Ken Dryden or, hell, in-his-prime Miikka Kiprusoff riding over the nearest hill. Unless you’re like me and think they should be tanking every one of the remaining 27 games on the schedule in pursuit of a lottery pick, in which case this plan could work out great.

2. Has the world gone mad?

Speaking of the team’s goaltending situation, what is all this talk about the Flames’ backups doing an admirable job "keeping the team afloat" in Kiprusoff’s absence. They conceded 42 goals in 13 games, and I’m no math expert, but that sure looks like more than three a night to me. Of the three backups Bob Hartley used in Kiprusoff’s stead, Joey MacDonald was clearly the best, with a .899 save percentage and 3.04 GAA.

I’m sorry but in which version of the National Hockey League is that, like, anything better than "dreadful?" You have to reach way back into the 1920s to find seasons in which 3.something GAAs were considered elite, and that’s so long ago they didn’t even track save percentage. I swear that’s true.

I suppose it’s technically possible to stay afloat just below the surface instead of sinking deeper, so in that respect those who would praise the team’s terrible backup goalies are correct. But those people seem to be operating under the assumption that the Flames’ original position under Kiprusoff was in some way enviable, which it was not.

Again, this team should be trying to lose, so keep playing these guys by all means, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that being an improvement over Miikka Kiprusoff this year is in any way noteworthy.

3. More college updates

Switching gears, I just have to say I’m very proud of myself. I finally did it, you guys. I actually saw Mark Jankowski play hockey live and in person.

It came on Saturday afternoon when Jankowski and Jon Gillies and Providence College traveled up Interstate 95 to play Johnny Gaudreau and Billy Arnold and Boston College in a crucial Hockey East tilt. BC had defeated the Friars down in Providence the previous night and could, with a win, pretty much crush their opponents’ hopes of winning home ice in the Hockey East playoffs, which begin a week from today.

Instead, BC was total crap on their home rink, as they were the previous Tuesday against Lowell. They lost 5-1, and apart from one noteworthy moment, which I’ll get to in a second, the Flames’ four prospects in the game did little to impress me.

The first thing I noticed about Jankowski is that it looked like a stiff breeze, let alone a college hockey defenseman, could have sent him flying. I tweeted while at the game that he looked like 5-foot-10 worth of clay stretched to 6-foot-4, which is to say he was reedy and looked totally out of place. And I don’t even mean physically among the better-built players that usually litter the NCAA; he put no shots on goal at all in 60 minutes despite getting pretty regular shifts and, had I not been on the lookout for him every time he came over the boards (he was the one that looked and skated like a giraffe) I would hardly have noticed him at all. He finished the game minus-1 but had a secondary assist on Providence’s third goal, which came on the power play.

Arnold and Gaudreau were far more active and noticable, as you might expect, but despite combining for seven of BC’s 18 shots they only managed one good scoring chance, on which Gaudreau beat a defenseman to the outside and tried to squeeze his famous backhander past Gillies at the left post. To be fair, though, he had a pair of assists the night before.

Arnold was once again solid, as I’ve come to expect, and tried to get into the game with some borderline play, but had little influence on the outcome overall.

As for Gillies, he was perfectly fine but rarely tested by an injury-riddled and oddly-dispirited BC team that should have been able to crush a mediocre Providence squad, and stopped 17 of 18. Also he made this save:

4. Just getting around to this

I can’t believe all that Ryan O’Reilly stuff shook out just a few hours after this column published last week. How unfortunate. Oh, the laughs we would have shared. As the Flames themselves have noted, the whole thing is now moot, an academic exercise in incompetence at best. But let me just ask you this question and be done with it:

What other current NHL GMs beside Feaster would you have expected to offer sheet a player from a division rival, lose two picks including a high first-rounder, and then lose the player on waivers as well?

The correct answer is "none."

(I think you are forgetting about the T-bone and K-Lowe up north – ed.)

5. Shipping out Bouwmeester

Interesting that this is being bandied about now, and reasonable too. Which is why it won’t happen.

  • Kent I’m not forgetting about anyone. I don’t think even those two idiots would make a mistake this big. Did you see 30 Thoughts this week? Elliotte Friedman had other GMs calling him saying he didn’t attack the Flames hard enough for this mistake. That’s how colossally dumbassed it was.

    • Stockley

      The stooges in Calgary’s management have to be doing back flips in excitement that the team is on a modest winning streak. Deflects some of the attention away from their delusions, arrogance, and of course their boneheaded offer sheet failure. Those in the rebuild camp must be praying the team falls apart on this road swing through Cali. If they go even .500 on this trip watch Feaster make some sort of stupid trade for some spare parts other teams are shedding in an effort to ‘go for it’. There is no way in hell this club should trade ANY asset that is young. Same can be said for their draft picks. If they can trade some spare parts for other spare parts to just shake up chemistry; fine. They want to take a run at the playoffs? That’s fine too; just don’t mortgage the already uncertain future for a few rentals that won’t make a difference.

      • Stockley

        I was somewhat amused at an article or tweet I read last week analyzing the moves made by the Oilers at the last few drafts. What looks better… Hall/Nugent-Hopkins/Yakupov or Seguin/Landeskog/Galchenyuk?

        • jeremywilhelm

          Jokingly mentioned that before…..did I ever feel the wrath.

          But, in all fairness, Hall on Boston or Seguin or Galchenyuk on the Oilers, where would they be?

          On the other hand, if you believe in size……

          Oilers needs another top D, but what they really need is true #1 goalie and not a 1A pretender. And some vets that bring leadership and skill and that aren’t 35+ years old.

          The talent base is there, but like most others, I think they’re too dumb to rearrange the pieces into a winner.

          That said, I am surprised they aren’t doing somewhat better. “What is their major malfunction?”

          • Oilers ES SH% right now is bad, probably just rotten luck. They’ll score more as the season goes along.

            They still suck though. Fifth worst possession rate in the league. The kids need to mature, they need a better blueline and the bottom end of the roster needs more than Brown.

          • Parallex

            I disagree with that (that what the Oilers really need most is a #1 Goaltender). What they have isn’t great but it’s not awful either. Edmonton is currently last in the NHL in shots allowed per game… what they need is better D. I’m still flabbergasted that they kept the #1 pick last year and used it on Yakupov. Were I they I would have tried to trade down a few slots and selected a defenseman.

          • jeremywilhelm

            Well, I did say they need that too, but fair enough, I did prioritize the goalie. A lot of my reasoning for that is due to their youth, they’re going to need to be bailed out every so often.

            But, is it all D? When I look at the Oilers D the have some very good D, but lack one more true top pairing D to go with Schultz, J. I think a lot of the Oiler’s issues come from a lack of a 200′ game from their forwards.

            I agree about Yakupov, a flashy winger was not really a priority.

          • Parallex

            I wouldn’t say “very good” D. I’ve never been as impressed by Schultz as some people… I think he’s good but I think he’s Jordan Leopold good not Paul Coffey good. Other then him I like Smid but beyond those two I see a whole lotta meh. I’ll take the Flames D over the Oilers D every day and twice on Sundays.

          • Parallex

            Nothing wrong with N.Schultz. And Petry I find very comparable to Brodie in terms of skill set, style and career progression. Brodie is the better of the two though.

            Schultz is far better than Leopold, but obviously not Paul Coffey. But when you lack at the point she put in the minros and NHL as a rookie d and the way he can skate and still play pretty decent D and that he’s essentially their #1D as a rookie, I’m impressed.

            Whitney- injuries, that’s really hurt Edmonton.

            Fistric – great #6 D.

            That’s what I mean – 1 more legit top pairing D and better goaltending and the Oilers are far better off. Probably a solid 7-9 team.

            Still a ways to go before anymore than that though.

            I’ve always thought that both Edmonton and Minnesota (after all their additions) would really take off next season.

            That said, I still thought Minnesota would be a little better than they are this year (I’m talking like 4-6 points better).

            And I predicted the Oilers would pass Calgary this year and that, obviously, may not happen. They still might, but I could well be wrong on that one.

          • Parallex

            … and I would consider Brodie to be better then those two as well, I also consider him to be our 4th best defenseman. So basically if you accept the premise that Brodie is the best of the trio then the Oilers D are Schultz, Smid, followed by a bunch of #5-#6 Defensemen… that is not very good that’s not even good. They need at least two legit top 4 defensemen IMO.

            As far as their forwards go I actually think they just need more seasoning they have a surplus of potentially high quality forwards (which was why I was flabbergasted that they took Yakupov they addressed something that didn’t need addressing in lieu of something that did).

          • beloch

            I agree with that with one minior quibble. I’d put Brodie as a #3 and Petry as #4, with both being 2nd pairing D.

            Their forwards have immense talent, no doubt there. But they need to learn the 200′ game and I think that hurts as much if not more than their actual quality of D-men.

        • Parallex

          Which I’d believe if he had denied it prior to the waiver issue coming to light. Post-hoc denial carries no weight with me because he has incentive to deny it and no way for anyone to prove otherwise.

          O’Reilly’s agent said that he had multiple offers and I see no reason to believe that isn’t true, we had a media report that Vancouver made an offer, we have an incentive for anyone to deny they made an offer later, we have no denials prior to the incentive making itself known. Putting all that together I’m going to go ahead and maintain that the answer isn’t “none”.

  • jeremywilhelm

    You can see alot of nice things with the Oilers, Taylor Hall is a very good player. Schultz seems to have powered out a bit, but wow, the kid is pretty amazing.

  • I found it very interesting that Taylor Hall came down with an injury right before the game versus minny but was fine the next game. I wonder about his character Sooner or later he will need to answer the bell for his cheap shot and stupid comments after

      • Parallex

        Yeah, I think Hall is going to battle injuries all his career. Comes with the territory when you play a style of hockey that is best described as “kamikaze”.

        • beloch

          This is what happens when you say to a rookie, “Hi! Welcome to the NHL. You are now our #1 forward. Score.” They never really gave Hall a chance to learn how to keep himself safe on the ice. Fortunately, Hall seems to be a tough hombre and just keeps coming back for more, although I can’t see his career extending much beyond 30 at this rate.

  • TheoForever

    Kipper is a great goaltender and has been for many years.
    Like many fans I find it hard to criticize him even if he has a couple of bad games.
    The guy earned the right of benefit of doubt.
    His stats in the last 4 season show no slide, just normal ups and downs.
    No doubt with age he should decline but he hasn’t yet.
    Anyway, lots of excellent goalies struggled out of the gate this year for obvious reasons.

    Turning on Kipper shows lack of loyalty to a player that has given so much to the city and organization. Listening to this kind of talk makes one think we are in van-city.
    The way those jokers have treated Loungo is disgraceful.

    The camp that wants to trade him often admits that Kiprusoff would not fetch much of a return. So, if that’s the case why would you trade him?
    In order to tank? So, if flames will tank without Kipper then he must still be good so any criticism of him is idiotic.

    Ramo still has to prove that he is good enough to be a backup in NHL before he can be anointed a starter. If by any chance he could challenge for the starter job then Kipper would be a great backup. This could keep Flames goaltending situation afloat until the youngest goalie prospects we have show they are ready for NHL.

    • beloch

      Totally agree with your sentiments. I used to be thinking of trading all of our old core to get recharged, was how we acquired Iggy & Regehr. It’s the cycle of Hockey life. But I too agree, Kipper & Ramo sharing the goaltending would be perfect & possibly the key to shortening any rebuild if we do wind up trading Iggy & maybe Cammi & JBO to reboot this thing & have credible talent waiting standby in case of injuries. The Sutter era really put us in a deep pit. Brossoit & Gilles are 2-3 years away. Resign Kipper for a 2 year extension at 1,5-2.0 mill & let him & Ramo keep a young new Flame core in games & even win a few while these kids get their game at the NHL level. I think Feaster learned his lesson from his Tampa days of how valuable the goalie is. Iggy/JBO & Cammi should bring us enough 1st & high end young almost NHL ready futures to skin the rebuild cat many are craving. Things go right & look at Ottawa & Montreal, lottery picks to playoffs in a very short time. JMO

    • jeremywilhelm

      It comes from the widely-held, though obviously not 100%, assumption that Kipper won’t reurn next year for only 1.5 million. In that case, if the team is out of it, why not try and get something back.

      On the other hand, if the team has assurances he will come back, I tend to agree, for 1.5 you keep him and ease Ramo in.

      Lots of things get said on here with the assumption that most posters already get the angle that you’re coming from.

  • beloch

    “Of the three backups Bob Hartley used in Kiprusoff’s stead, Joey MacDonald was clearly the best, with a .899 save percentage and 3.04 GAA.”

    Taylor’s sv% was 0.912, so no. Just… no. Why does everyone seem to like MacBackup so much? I don’t get it. The freakin’ BJ’s passed on this guy before Feaster snapped him up. What does that say about a goalie?

    As for Kipper, I’d be willing to bet he was injured early in the season and was playing injured. By trading Karlsson, Feaster bet it all on Irving getting into game shape before a back-to-back came up. If Kipper was slightly injured when Irving was clearly not ready, he would likely have been told to suck it up and get back in the crease. How Kipper left is telling. He quietly finished a typical period in which nothing dangerous seemed to happen to him. In the dressing room he probably said something like “Enough. I’m bad out there and not healing. It’s sink or swim for Irving.”

    The real proof is how Kiprusoff performs from here on out. Something tells me we’re going to get a pretty good sample size…

  • Legend of Weevil

    two things.
    #1 i realize Jay bo takes up alot of money. but he is one of the flames best players right now and eats up a heck of alot of minutes. the flames really need him right now.

    #2 people really got to stop saying that the flames playoff chances are nill. they are two points out right now and they have a game in hand on every team they are trying to catch up too. two games on some. if they win their next game their tied for 8th.

    • Stockley

      So if the Flames do make it, then what? Likely out in 4 or 5 games against a Chicago or an Anaheim team that overmatches them in every aspect of the game. Then the Flames are another year older, the streak of playoff futility is essentially still very much alive. It’s time to at least switch up the deck a little bit. Anyone thinking this bunch can go on a run like the Kings last year needs to lay off the paint fumes. They don’t have the personnel or consistency. If the team can’t make some legitimate noise in the playoffs what’s the point of going for it? I’d love to win another cup but these guys aren’t there yet, likely will never be there with a core of players who are well passed their prime. It’s a sad reality that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

      • Kevin R

        Doesnt matter how much Crown Royal is consumed, this team has very little NHL ready young players ready to step up & play in the bigs. Playoffs are a battle of attrition & I cant imagine how many injuries playoff bound teams are going to have to endure on the way to the Cup in this shortened season. Its almost unthinkable. We can whine about our injuries to Kipper & Backlund but really, we have been fairly fortunate. If we get an injury run like we did last year & almost 1/2 our lineup was from our inadequate AHL team. This team needs everything. It needs more bluechips like Sven, it needs solid young players chomping at the bit down if Abbotts of not whether they will make it to the NHL but when will they get their chance to make it to the NHL. Kipper & Iggy are fan favorite idols we all love and brand this team by. But time has marched on & we need to restock the future before we start tweaking in anticipation of a long playoff run. So really, it doesnt matter how well we do tonight or on the California road trip, the moves have to be made regardless. Thats if you are a fan & want to win a Cup. If you just want to go to the dome & pay $300-$400.00 to watch Iggy & Kipper play until their 40’s, well I guess thats OK too, just count me out.

      • Legend of Weevil

        oh, i don’t think the flames are going to win the cup, but just seeing the C of red again and having players like jay bo and sven some playoff hockey would be great. all i’m saying is, alot of people( even on this sight) are saying there is no way the flames are going to make the playoffs, which is not true.