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Okotoks, AB • Canada • 27 Years Old • Male
Just a little warning... if you're on board with Keenan and Sarich and Nolan and the new faces of the Flames you may want to stop reading right now.

Pre-season hockey is a chance for us to look at the questions our teams face heading into the season. We get a chance to share our usually high and lofty expectations for our own teams.

When I look at the Flames this year, I'm a little scared. There are too many questions that need to be answered in order for me to enter this season with confidence. I'll start with the positives. I like the hiring of Mike Keenan. I'm on board with that. I'm one of the guys who was calling for Playfair's head at the end of the season, and I still think it was a huge mistake not firing him then. The extensions to Iggy and Regehr were great and a huge part of the puzzle, long term contracts at bargain prices. I fully expect both Dion and Kipper to sign extensions during the season. That's where the positives end for me.

When Darryl Sutter was hired as coach and GM I could barely contain my excitement. It was clear that Flames management was committed to building a long-term winner. And Sutter made an immediate impact. He's built us a power-house team that was a bad video goal review away from a Stanley Cup and are now an annual Western Conference favorite. But he made bad moves at the deadline and followed that with an offseason, that aside from the positives I already mentioned, was frankly brutal.

Giordano and Taratukhin both belong on our team. They bolt to Russia because they get no respect. Now, we have to count on Anders Ericksson as a regular contributor on D? Are you kidding me? Rhett Warrener clearly can't skate, oh right, he took a power skating course in the off-season. Phew, I'm sure he'll skate like Dan Boyle now. Aucoin will play 50 games if we're lucky and Sarich is at best a 5-6 on any Western Conference team that thinks they're worth a damn. Our D got slower and less offensive, exactly the opposite of what we needed. Our D will probably lead the league in penalties as we chase around all the younger faster teams.

So, the questions heading into this season that plagued us late, and in the playoffs against the Wings are still there. Can we win more faceoffs? A lot of times we win faceoffs and the players on the wing fly in and steal the puck due to a lack of hustle. Are we going to cover the point? Sheldon Souray's 2 goals against us in his 1 game he played against the Flames are all you need to think about. Kipper was extremely vulnerable on shots from the point all season long, and nothing was ever done about it. Can we win on the road? I think Hamrlik was a big part of that problem as he never ever played well on the road and he was an underrated member of our team.

The questions are still there but the good news we should have a good idea of how the season will go for us. If we get out to our usual 4-9-2 mark; our typical slow start; that should tell you to expect much more of the same.

In my opinion, the teams that are doing things right in the post-lockout era are those that address two things. Puck-moving, smooth skating defense, and youth who can contribute. Sutter did the exact opposite. If we were starting the 2003-2004 season over again, I'd be hanging the Western Conference banner in the dome right now. But its not 03-04, we never won the cup then, we haven't won a playoff series since, and I don't believe it will end this year.

The Flames will battle for a playoff spot, not the division title.
Filed Under:   Flames   Sutter   Keenan   prediction  
September 23, 2007 9:40 PM ET | Delete
good blog but I think you underestimate the flames
September 23, 2007 10:12 PM ET | Delete
I would disagree on two counsts, Sarich is a great d, a really solid pick up and Eriksson was the only columbus d to have a positive plus minus on a horrible team but I do agree that Giordano and Taratukhin should be here and were perhaps not given the chance they deserve.As far as Kipper, he ALWAYS starts slow, don't let a couple souray point shots get to you, when the games mean something a lot of those won't get through. I'm very confident we will beat Philly Oct. 4th and we'll see what these guys offer then. I liked your take though, it was really well thought out.
September 23, 2007 10:56 PM ET | Delete
Taratukhin was expected to make this team this year. The flames bent over backwards to get him (and his family) here. He didn't leave because he was disrespected he left because he got a new agent who told him he could make more money in Russia. As for Gio... yeah... I don't understand how Sutter just lets him walk away over a 2-way contract. This guy had huge potential and I don't understand how you don't fight to keep him here.
September 23, 2007 11:34 PM ET | Delete
hmmm.... Can't say these thoughts haven't crossed my mind. the flames are trying to get grittier and tougher to play against. let's face it, the flames would have been a lot tougher competition against the wings in the playoffs if we had our "grittiest along the boards" dman in regher healthy. sarich brings another, strong shutdown, and crap to play against dman. i think the organization is expecting phaneuf to step it up, as his second year was ok, but not all that much growth from his first year. i will not be surprised a complete overhaul of our 3/4 lines by mid year via a trade and some callups. the forecheck was almost non-existent last year. If the flames can get a hard forecheck in, it makes the opposing breakout tougher, resulting in less pressure on our d to have to face a top speed rush. the pivotal question mark for this year will be aucoin, his play on a competitive team and his health. with the amount of leadership on this team (iginla, nolan, regher, warrener, conroy) i'm curious how this team gels.
September 23, 2007 11:38 PM ET | Delete
Great points from all of you. I know I'm being a little harsh here. I miss the days when teams hated playing us because they knew we would outwork them every night. I'm hoping Sarich proves me wrong, but I really don't think he will. Let's just hope we see a little improvement here in the pre-season from the boys for now I guess.
September 24, 2007 4:23 AM ET | Delete
Calgary had no problems scoring last year, so we do not need scoring help from the D men, we need them to stop the pucks going in, and to let Kipper see the shots coming. Sarich is a big boy and is a Regehr type, Aucoin still needs to prove himself, be he is coming cheaper then Hamerlik and if her plays all year is a HUGE improvement. Rhett is a PK guy who blocks a lot of shots and is great in the locker room. Phanuef should be enough on a scoring threat along with Aucoin settin him up. Taratukhin bolted for better cash and Flames took their time with him, brough his whole family over and were expecting him to play. He is a center on a team overflowing with NHL ready and proven players. ( Conroy, Langkow, Lombardi, Yelle) who do you take out, and now Boyd who has a HUGE offencive upside is in the mix.. Giordano played ok for the flames but was offered a nice raise in russia and took off, he would have barely cracked the line up. Flames still owe rights on these guys for 2-3 years so they aren't gone forever, if they prove themselves overseas they can come play real NHL minutes for the Flames. Keenan is known for prefering veterans over young guys, so I wasn't a bit surprised.
September 24, 2007 10:18 AM ET | Delete
I stopped reading at bad video goal review
September 24, 2007 4:11 PM ET | Delete
Can always count on the typical, well-thought-out response from up north!!
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