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Calgary, AB • Canada • 31 Years Old • Male
The Calgary Flames dropped their fourth regulation loss in a row at home this afternoon in a frustrating 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Despite the Flames generally having control of the game possession-wise following Bobby Ryan's opening goal, Curtis McElhinney was yet again denied his first NHL win. Even though I am always at least a little pessimistic, I am still not that worried about the Flames' worst week since the season turnaround midway in November.

This afternoon's game was the Flames' best effort of the week, at least. Though some of the turnovers, much like the Chicago game, were as bad as any the Flames have had, I am confident that the Flames would have won this game if Miikka Kiprusoff had started. (Oddly enough, I had a long conversation on the forums last night about Kipper potentially playing too much - similar to one I had before the last McElhinney start. Eerie.) While it was a horrific giveaway by Adam Pardy, I felt that Kipper probably would have stopped Corey Perry's game winning breakaway goal late in the second period. JS Giguere had what I'm estimating was one of his best games of the season (he has been frustrating me all year in fantasy hockey) but he did not steal the game. Anaheim played a tight checking game, generally preventing Calgary really good scoring chances. Calgary's passing game was generally off, reminiscent of their early season disasters in that department. And for the second straight game, the Flames' biggest weakness - the power play - caused them to lose. From a waste of two minutes early in the 3rd period that rightfully recieved boos from the home crowd, to the Flames' failure to even get in right position on a 5-on-3 in the final minute that could have tied the game, this game yet again proved that the power play is the single most likely weakness to kill the Flames.

This brings me to my thoughts on the last week in general. I am still not worried, because if the Flames are going to be having 4-game losing streaks now is the time to do it, with a 9 point lead on the division. As long as Edmonton still blows games 8-3 and Vancouver continues with their ways, it simply is not a worry. (Don't take that to mean I think the Flames can coast the rest of the season). The reasons the Flames have lost the last four have been uncharacteristically sloppy defensive play, lack of a secondary scoring effort and their typically horrific power play. With the exception of the last reason, I am still confident these are short term issues until I'm proven otherwise. I really think this losing streak has been blown way out of proportion by the Calgary media because of Darryl Sutter's lecture on road play in Dallas and Mike Keenan smashing his stick in frustration in practice. The only really worrying thing is that Dallas, Chicago and Anaheim are all very probable playoff opponents for the Flames.

Again, I don't think it's acceptable for the Flames to coast the rest of the way, but the Flames still have a nine point lead in the Northwest Division with 30 games left in the season. If they went two games above .500 - 17 wins - they would finish with 98 points, and that doesn't even count any overtime/shootout losses. For comparison, Edmonton would have to win 21 of their final 30 games - a .700 winning percentage - to equal the Flames in that situation, and without overtime losses they still fall one point short. In short, it would take a choke of epic proportions, even for the Flames, to lose the division. The key is obviously not peaking too early; my expectations are the same as they were at the start of the year when I expected Edmonton to win the division. I'm still not nearly as worried about a potential collapse in the divisional race as I am about a potential collapse in the playoffs.

Some other thoughts. I read an interesting rumor on Spector's Hockey today regarding Matthew Lombardi. Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun suggested Lombardi to Nashville for Dan Hamhuis. What do you think? I get as frustrated by Lombardi's lack of offensive skill as anyone so I think it might be a good move. The cap numbers fit - Lombardi $1.8M with a year remaining, Hamhuis $2M with a year remaining. Hamhuis has been a 20-minute a night defenseman but has had a really bad +/- the past two years (coinciding with the Predators' decline since 2006). He also provides some offense. I don't know whether this trade would be realistic, just asking for discussion on a rumor from a legitimate source. Curtis McElhinney allowed a weak game winning goal, and could not keep the Flames in the game in his last start, but I still think Miikka Kiprusoff should get more rest down the stretch, especially if they expand their lead on the Northwest substantially. Really, playing him just so he can get 50 wins is silly. Still, the team seems to play with more confidence when Kipper's in the net...it's a difficult scenario. I'm still working on a post about the chances of re-signing Mike Cammalleri, but I still think it's an absolutely necessary move, even if it means weakness in other areas.

The Flames' schedule doesn't get any easier after this. They host the Habs on Monday, then go on the road to Anaheim, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Filed Under:   flames   ducks   skr  
February 7, 2009 7:25 PM ET | Delete
Didn't get to catch the game, had no access to ppv, but from what it sounds to me through the grapevine is that Mac had a solid game but let in goals at the worst opportune times. Letting a goal in on your second shot is not a good way to start playing for a team that has zero confidence in you. Then letting another go in in the dying seconds of the second, just when some life was coming back to the flames is even worse. What i'm scared about is that it seems as the weeks go on the chances of curtis Mac ever getting a NHL win in dwindling, and I feel for him.On the lombardi trade, I personally believe Hamhuis is not a great asset to our team, he would be a good replacement for Aucoin or perhaps Sarich (I put him inbetween the two). He is cheap, but I believe your nasty opinion that you love to share about how talentless Lombardi is has clouded your judgment a little on this one. IMHO we could get more than Hamhuis.
February 7, 2009 7:29 PM ET | Delete
I watched it online and yes that is true, not blaming him for the 1st goal but the second one was really the worst possible time. I agree on Hamhuis, it's possible he could be a replacement top 4 defenseman next year as we need to fill that hole...still don't watch him enough to know for sure though
February 7, 2009 7:37 PM ET | Delete
Ya i'm not too sure either, hopefully a nashville fan comes across this blog and can give some insight from that side
February 7, 2009 9:32 PM ET | Delete
However good Hamhuis is, i think he would be a more valuable player on our roster than Lombardi. No offense at all from this kid.. at least with hamuis we'll have more depth at the back. I'd do it in a heartbeat!
February 7, 2009 11:45 PM ET | Delete
Agreed. I would move Lombardi for Hamhuis. Allow us to part ways with Aucoin in the off season and free up two mill for Cammalleri. I would re-sign Aucoin but not at the 4 - 4.5 mill he's at now. I too am not panicing. This is the time for a little adversity. Teams come together and are stronger when they face something like this. Correct me if I'm wrong but was it not in the 03 04 season that Iggy went down for about a month? It was his injury and the adversity that faced the team that brought them together and all the way to the cup. If I'm wrong then it was the following season and we won the division, either way teams need this once in a while to keep them grounded.
February 8, 2009 12:03 AM ET | Delete
No Iggy went down in 06/07 but the 04 adversity you are talking about was our goalie adversity when noodles played with a broken sternum and still played the best hockey of his career. It is good that we are facing a bad streak, i just hope that it doesn't reach 6 or 7 games ( i'm really expecting a loss against montreal, just cause we won't really have home ice advantage at the saddledome, at least 6000 hab fans will show up). If we lose past montreal, I expect a trade coming up soon. I just hope it helps the team
February 8, 2009 1:07 AM ET | Delete
I still see Sutter completely standing pat, not even a Vandermeer type deal. If he makes a trade it MIGHT be like the Lombardi-for-Hamhuis rumor, roster player for roster player. Nothing really major though, they don't have the assets.
February 8, 2009 9:52 AM ET | Delete
i'd be a bit worried. Iginla has been avg at best this year, and not showing signs of breaking thru.our PP is absolutely terrible.offense has simply dried up.in all 4 losses thus far, a goal has resulted from a Phaneuf mistake.I'd rather have pardy play 25 mins, than seeing phaneuf on the ice for more than 20.
February 8, 2009 12:54 PM ET | Delete
I'm a little concerned about Iggy too, but if he's contributing by setting up Cammi and playing hard, well, ok then... what's this team gonna look like without Cammi next year???... Lombo for Hamhuis would be a good move, I'm really not impressed by Lombo's back check, and honestly, do we lose much (do we lose ANYTHING) by moving Lombo and inserting Dustin Boyd?? All said and done though, we're still in good shape... and yes, if we can get Aucoin for say $2M, I say keep him, he's been a rock back there this year... I will continue to beat the "see what we can get for Sarich" drum, still not a fan... Cheers All!
February 8, 2009 3:32 PM ET | Delete
Not sure how you could even hint this loss was because of Mac. Let in 2 goals on 25 shots? Flames only score 1 goal? Why can't they ever help this kid out? Frustrating as heck. Now Kipper will start the next 20 games. Sigh.
February 8, 2009 4:01 PM ET | Delete
not necessarily ENTIRELY because of him but they would have won if Kipper had been in net...doesn't excuse the lame offensive effort though. Like I say, they play with a lot more confidence when Kipper's in net; the Herald's article today on how little help they give Mac really summed it up well. at the same time, Mac conceded that he should have stopped the Perry goal. I'd say the blame is about 60% offense, 40% horrible turnovers and mac.
February 8, 2009 6:43 PM ET | Delete
I don't understand how anyone can lay blame upon a young, inexperienced, goaltender who didn't stop a clear break away by one of the premier young talents in the league (Perry). Break awyas are most always the result of ghastly defensive errors... this case is no different... it wasn't a weak goal... it was a friggin' break away!! Arguing that Kipper would have, could have saved it is absolute garbage! I mean you know offence Kaspar... just seems your grapsin' at straws to legitimize this loss. You are an incredible writer... and even though you blog for a team that I have been raised to despise... I will continue to read your post with great interest.
February 9, 2009 1:08 PM ET | Delete
I think Lombardi could fetch a decent return and it seems that Sutter will make a move for d every year but thjis year might be different. Vandermeer is already depth and we still have (gasp) Eriksson in the A which doesn't hit the cap in the playoffs. If he moves lombo I am invlined think it will be in a package with picks and a prospect (possibly Aulie) to bring in a legit #1 or #2 Center, Conroy can not be the guy they keep going to, Langkow is a great #2 and a ,low level #1. I guess we'll see. Also with Aucoin gone next year, assuming he doesn't sign for 1.5 mil, they will be able to afford Cammy but there will be other free agents for 7 mil too... Good blog man.
February 9, 2009 1:39 PM ET | Delete
well said oilderek I aggree i have seen kipper let in a few breaaways in the past from lesser scores so in saying that u can't really say kipper would have stopped that runaway neither the flames couldn't score with two man advantage and still every one wants to lay it on the goalie come on it was a bad game for production. If u want to put the blame game lets blame iggy or anyone of the other forwards that couldn't produce the last games.
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