The Flames dropped their fourth in a row tonight, losing to Nashville 3-0. For the second straight game in a row, the team was outright hard to watch, as the best scoring chance the Flames got all night was a clanger in the first period by Dion. The only good part of the game was seeing Calgary product Curtis McElhinney play a fine third period in what will likely be his last NHL action for awhile with the signing of CuJo as Kipper's new backup.
Not so coincidentally, with the Flames losing streak comes a cold streak for the top-line combo of Jarome Iginla and Kristian Huselius. Iginla has just one point and Huselius zero in the past four games. Therein lies the problem with Calgary that I see: they just aren't deep enough. I've said it for three years, but the Flames need at least one or two more natural goal scorers. Above all, I've always felt they also need to get a new top line center. While I'm not entirely sure the Flames can get Sundin (at least, not without trading Mikael Backlund, which Sutter has apparantly said he won't do) I keep hanging on to the Olli Jokinen rumor that has been floating around for three years. If not, maybe Marleau? Surely a deal can be worked out involving Alex Tanguay and Matthew Lombardi?
Everyone likes to talk right now about the excellent December the Flames had (9-1-4) but taking a closer look at the last two months shows a pattern of inconsistency. Following the Flames' six-game winning streak in December was a 3-game losing streak. After that was a five-game win streak, which was followed by the current four-game losing streak.
Also of note is the eight overtime/SO losses the Flames have. The only other team in a playoff position with that many OTL are the Canadiens. The standings in the West right now are so tight that only two points separate the seventh place Flames and division leading Wild (against whom the Flames can overtake if they win their game against them tomorrow.) While Montreal can get away with a position of fifth in the East with their 8 OTL, the West is so tight that those eight lost points should prove crucial down the stretch. Even if the Flames had won two of those overtime/SO games, they'd be on top of the division. Again, here lies the need for more goal scorers with speed. This was not more apparent than last Friday, when Mike Keenan made the stupid decision of putting out Owen Nolan as his third shooter against the Islanders. (Note to Mike: you're supposed to put your best shooter in the third spot.) The shootout is one of the few areas where Iginla can't consistently help a situation for the Flames, as well; he was never big on deking, as a result he is inconsistent in shootouts as he shoots pretty much every time.
The past two years, Darryl Sutter has shaken up the Flames with a late-January trade. Last year it was the ill-fated rental deal for Brad Stuart (which damaged the team chemistry to a point it has still not fully recovered, and which I curse every time I see Wayne Primeau play), the year before that (technically February 1, according to TSN) he made another ill-fated deal, trading Steve Reinprecht and Phil Sauve to Phoenix for Mike Leclerc and Brian Boucher. Only time will tell if he'll pull the trigger on another big deal this year, but the rumours seem to indicate the Flames are looking to be buyers this year. While it's certainly clear to me that the Flames need more goal scorers, plain and simple, I hope that if Sutter pulls another deal it doesn't end up like the last two big in season trades he's made.
But hey, I'm just armchair GMing again.