1. The homecoming
Nice to see the big, long ceremony for Jarome Iginla, who deserved bigger and longer if anything. If that standing ovation before the game lasted all night and they didn’t play the game, that might have been fitting. You really can’t say enough good things.
But as to the game itself, it couldn’t have ended more Flames-ily. Calgary dominated most of the game in terms of possession, which you wouldn’t think would be the case even against a Bruins lineup depleted heavily by injury and suspension. They ran it for the first 40 minutes but even still couldn’t sneak more than one past Tuukka Rask, which I guess is par for the course given that he is the best goaltender alive.
Then there’s the two goals against less than two minutes apart in the third period, and you have to say it was inevitable. Score effects and all that, maybe, but Boston had nine shots on goal in the first two periods and then 15 in the last one. Calgary, meanwhile, had just five. Shelling up against a team like the Bruins, when you’re as bad as the Flames, is not going to be a good idea.
In the end I guess everyone got what they wanted, though, didn’t they. The result never really seemed to have mattered for Flames fans, because losing to the Bruins was always in the cards. Everyone just wanted to clap for Iginla again, and they got to do it, and the Flames kept it respectable. Had it been a blowout, everyone might have had a different opinion, but this was the best possible outcome. Perhaps the only logical one.
It’s two more wasted points, but the Flames can’t put a price on that given that third-star celebration.
2. Some stuff on Hudler
Jiri Hudler was, of course, the only Flame to score in the game, and it really must be said how good he’s been this season. Obviously he’s received the benefit of some very selective deployment from Bob Hartley, but he’s also using it more effectively than anyone else on the roster who is receiving similar treatment.
The fact of the matter is he has almost double the points of anyone else on the roster, and that’s pretty amazing if you think about it. You have to think that he’ll come back to earth a little bit, given that he’s shooting 18 percent right now and his shot volume isn’t all that considerable, but nonetheless, credit where it’s due. He’s been pretty impressive.
And on that front…
3. When does the sell-off start?
It was recently revealed that, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Flames would indeed adopt Brian Burke’s silly self-imposed pre-Christmas transaction freeze. Because it’s occasionally shrouded in some amount of secrecy, it might actually be in effect already.
Hudler is a guy you’d like to hope would be made available after this freeze period comes to an end (because you’re essentially never going to have him carry this high a trade value again) and if you can get rid of a 30-year-old with two-plus seasons left on his deal in exchange for some quality prospects or picks, doing so would be extremely judicious. With the cap about to skyrocket, any team that can squeeze him in at what would be a prorated $2.25 million or so as of mid-January might be more willing to take on a contract that is, frankly, not all that great going forward.
This is also true of Mike Cammalleri, who’s been producing well enough given the circumstances, and best of all is a UFA this summer. The high price tag probably pushes back the date on which he becomes a tradable asset, but that’s not so much the case with Matt Stajan or Lee Stempniak.
In recent weeks it seems more like maybe they shouldn’t try to move anyone from the back end, but if they don’t move at least two of the above-mentioned forwards, it would be shocking and, of course, idiotic.
4. Some recent success
With that having been said, it is important to note that until that Bruins game, which most observers reasonable and otherwise had written off as a loss long before it happened, that the Flames had won three of four, and really kept the goals against down in the process. Maybe that’s just percentages balancing out because you can’t go giving up three-plus forever, and certainly the scoring still isn’t there at all (11 goals in the last five games) but it’s not nothing, especially because two of those teams were the Kings and the Coyotes.
(Here’s where I note, by the way, that this is counterproductive to what the Flames should be trying to do and you all get mad at me, but this is counterproductive to what the Flames should be trying to do. They’re currently fifth from the bottom. They need to get lower. Period.)
5. Not that it has anything to do with the Flames, but…
I found this Boston Globe story on the way the NHL’s Department of Player Safety works to be very interesting indeed.
Getting to look under the hood at the process, which involves emailing like a dozen people a brief summary of every incident league-wide that could rise to the level of supplementary discipline, was fascinating. This quote from Brendan Shanahan also really piqued my interest:
“I just think it’s a hard thing to change a culture even when the players ultimately want that culture changed.”
Fighting and so on is of course a thing the players do not want changed, but the idea that you have to deprogram veterans from trying to murder each other with headshots is so strange to me.
Also – Don’t Forget to get your Gaudfather and GRITCHART Shirts
As mentioned when we launched these puppies, both the Gaudfather and Gritchart shirt options will be around for a limited time only. We’re approaching the last few days of availability before these two designs go away for along time (like, forever). So snag ’em now if you haven’t already.