Camp Notes for the Week For the Flames
The Calgary Flames are 2-1 on the season losing to the Panthers 2-1 and beat the Coyotes twice. But overall, I think you have to be really impressed with the team as a whole. The Flames have surprised me this week by mostly using a veteran line-up.
The real battle is on defense, as Warrener, Erikisson, Pardy, and Vandermeer are all fighting for the last two spots. You have to figure that Dion, Aucoin, Regher, Sarch, and Giordano have spots on the defense. So in reality, the defense openings are 6th and 7th spots. It has been really fun to watch the battle on defense. If you were to ask me who has the inside track, I would say Warrenner and Pardy. But it could go any way, as all four men have played very well. To add further notes, I have been really impressed with how well Eriksson and Warrener have played all week in camp. Pardy has been very good. He uses his size, and is faster than Eriksson and Warrener. Vandermeer: I really like his physical play; he has an excellent shot.
I have talked to quite a few media people at the camp. Most are of the opinion that the Backlund decision will be right down to the wire on whether to keep him or not. The feeling on Backlund is that he will be with the first two lines, or not play. The Flames are really trying to give him a chance, putting him with the top guns. In tonight's game, he will be with Cammy and Bert. Well, at least he was this morning. Three media representatives told me the decision has not been made yet on Backlund. One of them went on to tell me that he does not expect it to happen until the end of camp.
The third and fourth line spots are up for grabs. There is an interesting battle going on with Bourque or Glencross on who is going to be second line forward. I think Bourque is a little ahead right now. Bourque is getting the 2nd line duty most of the time. Lombardi is losing steam, it seems, and Backlund and Langkow are getting the two spots tonight. But that could be explained by the fact that they are trying to see how Backlund does. I expect that come the end of camp, Lombardi will be the second line center or wing.
The basic feeling, one of the players told me, is that one line is set: Bert, Iggy, and Langkow; every other line is up in the air. To put this camp in a nutshell, I will tell you what Conroy told me when I talked to him: they are "playing me with everyone". Conroy is with Preems and Prust. Warrener and Erickson are playing tonight. Kipper and McElhinney are mending the pipes tonight; Kipper is expected to get the start.
There seems to be general consensus that there are 5 forward spots locked up, and I think you can add Conroy and Prust, and Primeau with a a good shot. Bourque and Glencross are fighting for the second line spot forward. So Iginla, Bertuzzi, and Langkow as line one. You have to figure Lombardi and Cammalleri with Bourque/Glencross . But you also have to add that Boyd is having one of his best camps. So that throws another twist into the works. Then you have to add Eric Nystrom; I love his grit and determination. Roy also has to be in the mix. David Moss has played very well. A healthy Moss would add greatly to the mix for the Flames.
The goaltending picture seems to be marked. Kipper's backup seems to be McElhinney, even though I feel Keetly has outplayed him. I am pretty sure the picture for goaltending has been penciled in since Cujo left.
I have not gotten into any of the prospects names yet, such as Cunning, Cracknell, Chucko, Carpentier, Watts, and Sutter, who are getting closer and closer. I really like Watts and Carpentier I wish I could see them more. Watts is a big grinder and Carpentier has a makings of a future solid two way center. Keetly and Irving put on a show yesterday. They were nothing short of spectacular at the practice. Keetly made the save of the Camp, doing a split and making a glove save. Irving apparently has a slight groin pull and will not start before he goes to Quad City. Pelech has arguably been the best dman in camp, but will undoubtedly be sent to Quad City. Armstong has had a good camp. I expect big things from this kid. He has had some action in the games. Sutter is, well, a Sutter. He again has showed a ton of grit and has speed to burn.
If someone was to ask me what I thought the lines for the Flames would be, I would laugh at them and tell them go see a psychic. It is really too close to call, but I suspect there will be a deal soon to make the picture just a little more clear.