So finally the Flames get a win in what seems like an eternity and it comes against the Oilers. Getting a win against the Oilers is like getting three wins normally for us fans but even in winning the Flames looked really poor. The Oilers are a team, who like the Flames, have been struggeling lately and on paper the score should have been what it was. The only problem is that the Flames are once again not playing well and Kipper is having to be a circus preformer to win games. If he lets a bad one in (see the Vancouver game with Raymonds 50 footer) then the team loses. Edmonton played better than Calgary and lost, this hapens but it raises a lot of questions about the Flames too.
So what has to change?
Brent Sutter has preached a forecheck game with resposibility, in other words... skate a lot! The issue lately is that it appears the Flames are dreading to play that mode and only show up for half the game to conserve their strength.
The Flames finally have a #1 center who has incredibly bad chemsitry with almost everyone on the team!
They have what should be a #1 Defenceman who is often not very aware of plays that are developing around him and off the ice is starting to be reviled... depsite his hollywood girlfriend.
They have one of the best defences in the league on paper but as a unit show very little heart in terms of blocking shots and making sure guys don't get by them.
Their scoring depth is still pretty good, almost everyone on the team has a decent or at least expected goal total with the exception of Craig Conroy. Conroy doesn't have a goal yet but has somehow, in spite of that, now has become a fan favorite, evertime he shoots we all cheer.
So what does that leave us with? Well we know that Sutter can coach at this level, his record in Jersey proves that. The Flames have two glaring spots right now that seem to be anchoring them down, that's Dion Phanuef and Olli Jokinen, ironically two great players! They simply don't fit with the team though, Dion has not been the terror he once was to play against and only makes a difference once every while reminding us of how great he can be when playing like he was supposed to. The problem is that those games are too far between to make him part of the team anymore.
Jokinen has played really well lately and you might be tempted to think it's going to last but the reality is that it is the prime time to trade him, he's UFA next year so for a team that is in cap trouble but wants to remain in the hunt this year he is perfect. The player who comes to mind is Jeff Carter, Briere and Richards are simply not movable due to massive contracts (not that you'd want to trade Richards anyway) and they have two defenceman taking up a ton of cap space with players coming up after next year that will need a big raise, in addition they have to get a goalie next year AND get some defenceman. In short they need to shed some salary and since Carter doesn't have any kind of movement clause he seems to be the most likely. Gagne could go as well but he is a huge risk for teams due to his health issues.
Anyway that's just a thought but obviously the Flyers faithful would HATE to have Carter go anywhere and Sutter (Daryl) always pulls off trades you never saw coming I doubt that will happen.
Regardless of what moves are made with whom it seems that until something changes to the heart of this team the result will be the same as years past, a great team on paper who didn't have enough heart to make it past the first round.
As an aside how much of a raise will Bourque get??