Some angry Flames fans really want solutions, and you know, who can blame them? For the third year in row, the Flames were a bust down the stretch. Where were Iggy, Glencross, Olli, and Tangs? At times in the second half, Matt Stajan was our best forward. Truth be told, this team were better when the kids were up.
Seriously, we can't rely on Kipper, who is forced to play over 70 games a year. He just cannot carry that kind of load year after year. Someone please explain to me: Why does our backup get benched over a month because of one bad game? Whether it was Irving or Karlsson, the Flames were equally bad in front of them.
As for the defence, this team could not hold onto a lead if their lives depended on it. The Flames would instantly change their system; it's like they went from playing to win to playing not to lose. They became too tentative, too nervous with the puck. Sutter started this system to block a lead, which basically means forget the offence and hold on for the win.
We do not have the defence to be able to play perfect. They are just not skilled enough to go mistake free. Every game, you can bet the Flames will make 2 or 3 deadly giveaways, and frankly they are not good enough offensively to make that up. Their defence is too young. Butler should only be fifth or sixth on the scale, not a three. Hannon was often to slow and cannot make up for a bad pinch in. Jbo was very inconsistent. Jbo has to learn to pinch at the right time and get back in time. Butler has to be given less responsibility. It should not be put on him to play the minutes he did.
Iggy, Glencross, and Olli disappeared down the stretch. Glencross looses his temper on a whim. The Flames need a first line center. This should be their top priority. Backlund really has to start figuring out this game. No third or fourth line. There was no offence outside of the top two lines. In fact, at times there was no scoring outside the first line.
Penalty killing got fixed late in the season. Matt Stajan was very good down the stretch. They were one of the best teams in the league. The problem is that they were basically awful at times, and you just cannot do that and expect to win. Hannon and Jbo were outstanding down the stretch on the penalty kill.
The powerplay was awful, and basically nonexistent the whole year. A team that could bring in Cammy, Iggy, Olli, Glencross, and Tangs should have been ten times better. There was just not any system. Basically, no imagination, and no powerplay quarterback on the back end of the powerplay.
Let's get to the grades of some of the top players.
12 Jarome Iginla
The grade usually depends on the time of the year. As usual, we got the Iggy slow start. I wonder if he forgets when hockey starts. Too many times, he took the game off. He needs to be more consistent all year. Better yet, maybe it's time he turns it over to younger Sven next year. Still, he led this team in goals; he was their leader most of the year. He just cannot lead a team like he used to.
13 Olli Jokinen
For most of the year, Olli was our best forward. I was disappointed with his play at the end of the year. When he was good, he was a pure sniper and very smart. The problem Olli's speed. We need him to be faster and more consistent.
20 Curtis Glencross
Glencross is a terrific skater who plays with a edge. He was a force for most of the season. The problem with Curtis is that he took too much time off. I hardly even noticed him on the ice. Curtis' main problem was taking stupid penalties, making selfish penalties, putting himself above his teammates. Granted, his penalty killing and speed were awesome this season, but he faltered down the stretch.
20 Mikael Backlund
Backlund has to be considered a disappointment. Even when he was healthy, he did not live up to his record. Basically, he has been a bust. He can't stay healthy, and when he does, he is a third line or fourth line centre. Whether it's the system or Mr. Backlund, he gets the same grade.
40 Alex Tanguay
Tanguay is a terrific playmaker, who was often on the great passes to Iggy. Alex was outstanding at being able to find Iggy at the right time. The main problem is that he does not shoot enough. He has to take the initiative to shoot, and stop being so unselfish. Too many times, he was looking to pass instead of shooting.
Generally awful all year. Stajan is an underachieving fourth line centre who makes $3.5 million a year. I said generally, but at the end of the year, Stajan was getting it, maybe playing the best hockey of his career. Stajan pretty much saved the penalty kill at last part of the season, getting in front of every shot he could. He finally got his role, and embraced it. The problem is the $3.5 million price tag for doing it.
57 Lance Bouma
I love this kid. He knows his role and is good at it. I love his speed. He has been alright with his role, scoring the odd goal. Lance is a young kid who has tons of potential. He is great on the third line. He is here for good. He has the potential of being a solid third line winger, capable of scoring 10-15 goals.
10 Blake Comeau
Comeau is not good enough. I love his speed, but he does not get it done offensively. Too many times, he did not finish. He seems to have no finish. He does not fit well in the system. Ray might fit in with a new coach and a new system.
15 Tim Jackman
Jackman is what he is; a fourth liner. He had a rough season, and yet the Flames signed him to a two year contract. I just do not know why. He does do his job, but if we bench him most of the time, why are we re-signing him? It just does not make sense to me.
19 Blair Jones
I have loved this kid. He was outstanding and might have become our best centre on the team, after being acquired from the Bolts. Well, not skillwise, but doing his job. He did everything he was asked.
16 Tom Kostopoulos
Tom was alright, but he really needs to get more support offensively. He was a great spark plug and a good role player. The problem with Tom is that he has to be more of an offensive punch. The team needs more support in offensive scoring.
93 Michael Cammalleri
Cammy was very good when he played. He unfortunately got hurt, and the Flames could not make up the loss. Cammy's speed is his strength. If he can use it to his advantage, he is one of the best players on the Flames team.
20 David Moss
Dave was hard to grade, as he was injured most of the season. So it's really hard for me to get a really good read on his season. At times, he was really fighting the puck. He really has to get more consistent to help in the offence. David really needs to get back to his 20 goal season. He is capable of being a great two-way player.
22 Lee Stempniak
Lee was very good when he was healthy. The main problem with Lee is that he is a streaky scoring forward. The problem with that is that he is either very good or very bad. He has great wrist shot, and is very quick with it. He is one of the few UFA’s that I would like to offer another contract.
4 Jay Bouwmeester
If you base his play on his cap, there is no doubt that Jay gets a failing grade. But in all fairness, it is not his fault that he makes almost $7 million. The main problem I had with Jay this season is his lack of offensive skills since becoming a Flame. There were times Jay made some silly plays in his own zone. But defensively, he was pretty solid. His lack of offense really hurts the Flames.
TJ may very well have the best offensive skills on the team. He knows when to pinch. He knows when to shoot and when to pass. He is smart up and coming defenseman, who hopefully will be a Flame for many years to come.
Babchuk is what he is. He is a powerplay specialist, fifth or sixth dman. The problem is Anton is a $2.5 million defenseman. Anton is one of the higher paid, misused defensemen in the game. He was benched most of the season, which bugs me. We need to play him more or let him walk. We cannot afford to have a $2.5 million bench warmer.
4 Mark Giordano
Mark is the best all around dman on the Flames. He is the best around dman in the defensive zone. He is the best shot-blocker. He is very good in his positional play. Offensively, the only player better might be Brodie, but that is debatable. He was outstanding all year, by far the best dman on the team.
44 Chris Butler
At times, he was terrific young dman, being a stud. At other times, he has made a silly mistake which just caused a goal in his own net. But with a young dman, there will be growing pains, the problem is he is a top four dman with the Flames.
33 Scott Hannan
Hannan is a solid dman he is a solid defenseman in his own zone. The main problem I had with Scott is his speed. There were a few times he was caught from behind from a speed forward.
6 Cory Sarich
Sarich was terribly misused this season. I have no idea why he was in the doghouse most of the year. He is the best hitter on the team. He is my favourite underdog. Cory probably won’t be back, and I think that is a shame.
27 Derek Smith
“Derek who?” was my comment when he joined the team. By the end of the season, I knew who he was. He was solid in his own zone. The Flames missed him this season.
Miikka frankly deserves the gold medal for putting up with this team year after year. I have no idea why he puts up with this team without demanding a trade
35 Henrik Karlsson
Karlsson may very well be my most favourite Flame. He was just not consistent enough to help the Flames. The Flames have to find a backup that can give Kipper a rest. Henrik was not the answer last season.