Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Focusing on the Positives


4-0-0! Could we ask for more?

So after 4 pre-season games we are still undefeated and Kipper has only played 4 out of 12 periods not including the OT frame against Tampa. Actually, Karlsson who has played 5 periods has been better! Not that he would become the #1 but it’s at least a positive start. After beating Phoenix 3-1, we learnt that Brodie is not slowing down anytime soon including scoring a goal without actually putting the puck between the 2 red posts! So what is next for him? Flames sent down D-man Gord Baldwin to the Heat and in my personal opinion, although Pardy was noticeable (for the wrong reasons), against the Coyotes, he looked sloppy and one dimensional. I still do not see Brodie cracking the line-up but tough decisions are looming for the management team.

On a sour note, Jokinen left the game in the second period with what looked like a lower back or hip injury that forced him not to return. Although Brent Sutter was quoted saying Jokinen’s injury does not seem too serious, as Flames fans we are still worried as Langkow, Stajan and Stone are all already out, making Backlund our #1 centre man. A lot of fans are assuming if the injuries are very serious the Flames will look to trade Regehr to bring in a top 2 centre man. Darren Dreger states Regehr will move his NTC for the right team… I could see some crazy rumours surfacing!

Now for the forwards, I think it’s safe to say Conroy will get his 9 games to reach a 1000 games played thanks to his play and the help of the injuries. Hagman’s speed and quick shot will be a massive asset and hopefully provide the scoring the Flames lacked most of last year! Rheault, Nemisz, Meyer, Sutter and Cunning all remain with the club but out of the 5 I think Sutter and maybe Rheault have a shot at filling a 4th line spot. Overall I have been impressed with what I have seen from these guys including Backlund and I feel more at ease in case some new injuries happen to occur. I am assuming some cuts could come tomorrow but I doubt Irving will be a part of those cuts as he will be kept around to give Karlsson and Kipper breaks with the remaining pre-season games to keep them fresh for the season.

It is hard see a whole lot of negatives but hey, we had a crazy off-season right? Being 4-0-0 and having Brodie and Karlsson playing the way they are, Flames fans and media can’t help but focus on the positive! A nice change.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Has Kotalik already changed your mind?


After 3 preseason games where are we at?

It is no secret that majority of Flames fans are eager to see how this team gets under the cap. Most feel it will either be Staios or Kotalik’s demotion or both that will bring this club to where it needs to be. But has Kotalik already done enough to change some Flames fans minds? It sure sounds like it! I have read comments from Flames fans saying they now want him on the team and some even saying; “how can you send Kotalik down now?” He has played 2 pre-season games… Yes he has scored 2 goals, 2 assists and the shootout winner but let us be honest, the game against Vancouver in my opinion he was lucky to have even gotten that goal because he played a poor game! Ask Tortorella, Kotalik had some good games last year but that didn’t cover up the rest of his issues and I guess I still feel the same way! I believe Kotalik will be on this team come opening day but it is not because he will have changed his mind but because injuries will allow Sutter to keep him up and see what he can do. Brent was quoted saying that the team believes in Kotalik but if Stajan and Langkow were healthy I do not believe he would be talking up Kotalik. It is all about confidence and if he is going to be on your team in meaningful games come the season, you better make sure you do everything you can to make Kotalik feel welcome and hopefully have him play with some determination.

How about TJ Brodie? This kid has impressed everyone! What he lacks in size he makes up in positioning/skating and the calmness and collectiveness from this guy is outstanding. But I still do not believe he makes the team but he is making a serious case to be the 1A call up d-man. His two goals last night were great but finishing the game a -1 is still a concern to me. Can Brodie continue this and perhaps beat out Pelech, Pardy and Staios for the 7 d-man spot? I think if he plays great and the Flames management and coaching staff want him on the team it will have to be for the 6th spot; having him as a 7th defence man is not the route I would take as I feel playing every day in the AHL would do better for his confidence and growth!

Injuries are starting to hit us and as much as the Flames keep saying Hagman is just having maintenance, I am starting to believe there is an injury or a serious illness. Stajan, Langkow and Stone continue to be out and no real date to return is set for either of the three. Injuries are changing everything but the strong play of Brodie, Sutter and Backlund still leave plenty of competition in this camp. In the end, for me, not much has changed with my thoughts to the opening day roster except that Conroy will make the team. Still a long ways to go before the season and I am sure lots will change.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What did we see


What do we know now and what did we see?

After the first 2 preseason games yesterday a lot has happened and perhaps changed! First thing is injuries; Langkow, Stone and Stajan. 3 centre men down and for how long is unknown right now. But we know Backlund, Moss, Wahl, Armstrong, Patterson, Conroy and Sutter have to be licking their chops as it looks like all could be contending for the temporary 2nd 3rd and 4th line centre spots. Last week everyone was saying we had too many centre men and it would be tough for even Conroy to make the team. But now we could have Backlund as a top 6 forward come opening day showing how fast things can change. Also the injuries could prevent a major move by Flames management before the season’s start, as the injuries could get us under the salary cap until those players come back. So Kotalik may be saved, although he scored last night I still didn’t see a guy with a “chip” on his shoulder!

Next thing I want to talk about is the defence. Flames have 8 d-men on a one way contract but I do not believe that means much at this time. Kronwall in my opinion will not be here come opening day. Regardless, Kronwall had a good showing last night and hopefully it opens up the eyes of Eastern conference teams to maybe take this guy off our hands! After last night I really see the decision the team must make as to who gets the 7 spots available with the big club. Pelech looked good; he made himself noticeable especially for a guy who didn’t play in the young stars tourney like a Negrin and Brodie. Pelech looked like he had his feet under him and was ready to go. Talking about Brodie he is definitely getting a good look by the Flames coaching staff, he is on the 2nd power play unit in practice. In the end I still believe a spot or 2 are available and up for grabs on the back end, regardless of how many one way deals we have.

Last thing I want to touch on is some prospects and what I saw last night. Chucko will not become an NHL player! He is an AHL’ER for life, this guy shows no improvement and for being a big body he does not know how to use it and with his limited ice time, he got pushed around like a 14yr old peewee player. Cameron was not visible even against a “C” Canucks team. Nemisz played well. Like I have stated before, he is not a crafty player but he sure knows how to use his body and he showed that last night. I do think he needs to get stronger on the puck but overall I felt he played alright. Between Negrin/Pelech/Meyers, I felt Negrin was the weakest of the three, but all three played an alright game with Meyers and Pelech making themselves noticeable. Wahl from what I heard played well and probably earned himself another pre-season game! Karlsson gave fans something to be optimistic about in net as he stopped all 12 shots and looked good in his debut and Irving played great after allowing a weak goal right after he came into the game. Last thing I want to touch on is John Armstrong, this guy cannot catch a break as he got a puck in the face and was forced to leave the game. I hope it is not serious and that he can continue in camp and hopefully show us what I believe is a solid 3-4 line player who can play at the NHL level. Injury news and cuts will be announced in the coming days all this can change again!

And on a side note Vanouver goaltender Eddie Lack looked fantastic!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quick scan of some of the prospects after YST


After a 1-2-0 record at the “Young Stars Tourny” We give you an updated look at some of the Flames prospect based on what we had seen in the 3 games: Flames did go without their European prospects like Erixon, Bjorklund and Ortio.

Joey Leach- Smart hockey player, Joey showed he could become a good solid d-man at the NHL level with some proper guidance!
Chris Breen- decent I expected less. I was never a big fan of him but he showed he can play. I still don't view Breen as a quality prospect
Mitch Wahl- Came to play, I didn’t like his attitude during games in the past (juniors) but there is no doubt he is a solid prospect!
Greg Nemisz- Nothing spectacular but is a very sound positional player; he won’t flash and dash you but he uses his body very well. Greg had an ok “young stars tourney”
Jon Rheault- Had a phenomenal first game. Showed he will be a key player for the Heat this year.
Lanigan/Keetley/Irving- all 3 goalies did not look that good but that was expected in this tourney- personally Irving was the best of the 3. I do not believe Lanigan will receive a contract by the Flames.
Patrick Holland- could be a steal! Played well and made himself noticeable. Excited to see what he can do in the WHL this coming season
Bryan Cameron- I was the first to doubt him and complain about his skating- but he impressed me the most out of anyone! His skating still needs lots of work but this guy has a nack for shooting the puck. The Heat should benefit from his nose for the net.
Keith Seabrook-Best d-man for the Flames he is a very steady player. I expect him to make some noise come camp.
Max Reinhart- Clearly a playmaker and for being one of the youngest on the team he had a great tourney.
Giffen Nyren- Nyren will be invited to main camp!
TJ Brodie- Very solid prospect and had a great tourney. Very offensive minded and this kid can play! Needs some fine tuning on his defensive side. Flames management couldn't praise TJ enough!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Us Versus Them / BOA Oilers vs Flames LIVE TweetCast at 8:30pm MST

Welcome to another fine TweetCast.

The Oilers take on the Flames at 8:30pm MST.

Add the hashtag #YST or #YoungStars to any tweet and the LIVE TweetCast will pick it up.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

NORTH WEST DIVISION PREDICTION


NORTHWEST DIVISION PREDICTION:


Calgary:

Key Departures: Jamal Mayers, Eric Nystrom, Chris Higgins and Nigel Dawes. Nystrom’s character and presence will leave a hole and could be a costly loss.
Key Additions: Olli Jokinen, Alex Tanguay, Henrik Karlsson, Tim Jackman, Raitis Ivanans and Ryan Stone. Tanguay’s new hunger should ignite the flames goal scorers and hopefully put the scoring questions to rest.

Keys to success: The powerplay must be alive and affective! Play strong defensively, and Bouwmeester must rebound. Forwards must find chemistry quick; hopefully the goals will come as Calgary has plenty of capable goal scorers.

’10-‘11 Seasons’ MVP: Jarome Iginla! He proves to be more motivated than ever

Prediction: 2nd in NWD, 5th in the Western Conference. This team has enough depth and talent on the backend. If Kiprussoff stays healthy, they could have the best goalie in the West. Iginla will bounce back and the Jokinen of old (2007) will arrive. Calgary draws the Kings in the first round of the playoffs.

Colorado:
Key Departures: Marek Svatos, Darcy Tucker and Tom Preissing. 3 guys who never did much for the club were let go.
Key Additions: Daniel Winnik. No real significant additions, Avs continue to build with the young guys.
Keys to success: Depends on how many games Anderson can win with 40+ saves and keeping the young guys up beat during slumps. A hot October I feel is a must for this club.
’10-’11 Seasons’ MVP: Chris Stewart, new power forward in the West.


Prediction: Reality year, 5th in the NWD, 15th in the Western Conference. Colorado had a magical ride, can that continue? Their defence is nothing special and how many forwards will have their “sophomore” slump. Scoring will be limited for this young team. The Avalanche will have the year they were supposed to have last year!

Edmonton:
Key Departures: Fernando Pisani, Ryan Potulny, Mike Comrie, Aaron Johnson and Robert Nilsson. Hillary Duff will no longer be a regular at Rexall.
Key Additions: Taylor Hall, Kurtis Foster, Jim Vandermeer, Colin Fraser, Steve MacIntyre, Alex Giroux and Martin Gerber. Taylor Hall will give the fans something to be excited about. but can he really carry this team already?
Keys to success: Keep the Souray/Khabibulin/Cogliano drama to a minimum! Lots of distractions will be with this team early into camp and the season. Build chemistry with the future players and see if Hemsky and Penner fit in. Play a fast offensive style game.
’10-’11 Seasons’ MVP: Ales Hemsky, don’t forget about me!


Prediction: 4th in the NWD, 11th in the Western Conference. Overall with Hemsky back and with all the young talent up front on this team the Oilers will compete for a playoff spot but fall short. This team is a couple years away.

Minnesota:
Key Departures: Petr Sykora, Owen Nolan and Shane Hnidy.
Key Additions: Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom, John Madden, Brad Staubitz and Nick Schultz. Will Cullen be the centre the Wild wanted and needed?
Keys to success: Havlat and Bouchard have to be healthy and be offensive factors. Play a pesky grinding game ALA Nashville.
’10-’11 Seasons’ MVP: Brent Burns, puts it all together and stays healthy!

Prediction: 3rd in the NWD, 8th in the Western Conference. With Backstrom, Burns and Mikko Koivu leading this team they may just have enough to earn a playoff spot if the cards fall right. They make the playoffs on the final day of the season!

Vancouver:
Key Departures: Steve Bernier, Pavol Demitra, Ryan Johnson and Michael Grabner. Canucks sacrificed some offence to build the back end. A scoring winger could be on their grocery list come trade deadline.
Key Additions: Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Raffi Torres, Manny Malhotra and Jeff Tambellini. Hamhuis and Ballard will provide a more physical defensive core and that should result in Luongo having fewer opponents crashing his crease.
Keys to success: Secondary scoring, this team needs guys like Burrows, Kesler and Raymond to put up big numbers! Samuelsson must repeat his last season. Defence will be solid enough where you can play Corey Schneider enough to keep Luongo fresh for a long post season.
’10-’11 Seasons’ MVP: Henrik Sedin, shows everyone why this is his team now!


Prediction: 1st in NWD, 2nd in the Western Conference. Scoring could be a small area of concern coming down the stretch. But with the upgrades on the back end and adding depth to their 3rd and 4th lines, this team is one of the teams to beat! Vancouver will fight for Western conference supremacy!


That is my prediction! What`s yours?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Is it what you expected?


What do you expect?


The Calgary Flames did not make sweeping changes! Many expected to see more changes than we made…. So what happened? I think our roster was fine…


Looking back at the start of the summer I remember thinking what can we really do? Free agency looked weak; salary cap situation limited us and what were we going to pay Ian White. I, like many, expected change. I expected us to get a top 6 forward that would change the look of the offensive core such as a Jeff Carter, Marleau or Setoguchi. But as the off season started, I kept realizing that trades like that are hard to make and need to make sense for both teams and the Flames did not have a real asset they would be willing to deal. Instead, we got Tanguay and Jokinen back and kept Ian White for another year at a reasonable price! So has the team changed enough to get a different outcome this coming season? I think so, let me explain why…

For me it’s easy- call me an optimist but this roster was not bad at the start of the off season. Our defence was good even with an off year by Bouwmeester. I think we can expect a better year out of Jay, and Ian/Gio will continue to grow into a solid 2 way d-men. Regehr and Sarich are how they are; physical stay at home d-men that provide us a lot of heart! But like most will tell you, our issues are upfront. It is no secret that we need Iginla back at his best and I believe Tanguay and (believe it or not) Stajan are key to him being productive! Jokinen will be a more selfish player and he’ll worry more about his offensive zone game than his defensive zone game, unlike last year. Trust me fans will be upset, but I believe that it’s how it will have to be for Jokinen to be the offensive force he can and will be! You will either love or hate Jokinen come 20 games into the season! But I believe his “offensive” stats will be better.


I believe if this team is going to score more goals they need to shoot the puck! Sounds simple but the power play was terrible and that was because the puck travelled the boards more instead of at the net. Like I have stated before we have 9 players who have scored 20+ goals in a season but when you try to make all those players “2 way shutdown” guys they will not be successful. Let the guys play and I agree you need to be defensively responsible, but to what extent? Clearly the chains need to be lengthened. Your top 2 lines should be defensive by creating offensive pressure and putting the puck on net; not by clogging the “neutral zone” So I guess I am calling out the coaches more than I am the players.


In the end I expect this team to challenge the Canucks for top spot in the NW division. Call me crazy but my expectations have not changed much from the start of last season.
Flames Jambalaya is in no way, shape or form associated with the Calgary Flames Hockey Club or the AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Heat. This is a fans blog for fans. We just happen to love the Flames, so we write about it.