Everybody raise your hand if you thought that the 7-1 beat down on November 19th against the Chicago Blackhawks would be low point in the season? I would venture to guess that most everyone’s hands would be in the air. Well, the Flames have shocked us once again with their ability to look like a minor affiliate. 9-1…was that a rouge we scored? Was that a football game? Who allows an opponent to hang 9 on them? Maybe the Leafs, but definitely not the Flames, right? According to Rogers Sportsnet this was a match-up of two of the top teams in the Western Conference! Clearly they thought the Sharks were playing the Blackhawks, and not the lowly Flames. What, if any excuse can the Flames have for their fans? “We failed to convert on a couple of chances.” “We made one bad mistake on defence and it cost us.” Or maybe, “we were asleep and let monkey look a likes play in our place”…possibly the only logical explanation.
Losers of 5 in a row and 7 of their last 8 games, the Flames are in a serious tailspin with no recovery in site. If this isn’t rock bottom, I do not want to see what is. Maybe they just do not want to play for a hard nosed Coach. A team with this much talent does not lose this badly, this often. Something is seriously wrong. No more excuses about how it’s almost there, and if they “keep at it” things will start going right. Something has to change and it has to change quickly!
Someone in that dressing room has to step up and take charge, and it should be no one else but the man wearing both ‘C’s’ on his chest. Jarome Iginla is in the midst of his biggest scoring slump since 1997. Granted he did tally one assist against Anaheim, but he still remains goalless in 9 straight games, and only 2 points to show for in that whole stretch. What happened? What has changed? Since December 3rd, he has scored 4 goals in 24 games. Is this really the guy who scored 50 goals twice? What is different this year than in years past? Well, for starters he has nobody to pass him the puck. In years past he has had playmakers like Tanguay, Cammalleri, Huselius, Lombardi and two guys still on our team in Langkow and Conroy. Now I know that Conroy is a third/fourth line guy, but in 2002, he fit quite well with number 12. All in all, we have had a slew of Centremen/Left wings come through this town that either were not good enough or had a good year and chased more money because the Flames were unwilling to give it to them. Over the past year we have watched Keenan and now Sutter try and force the chemistry between two bona-fide goal scorers in Iginla and Jokinen. It simply has not worked, so please give up the dream. As much as I despise Jokinen though, I still think he can be a valuable asset, but possibly on the 2nd line and at a much cheaper cost. That being said, Iginla should have enough skill to lead this team on his own, until they come to their senses. People say he is one of the great leaders in the game today; well now would be an opportune time to show that skill.
The defence is another whole issue that I have picked at time and time again. The Flames D-Core for the past 5 years has been too slow to compete with the quicker forwards on all of the other teams. Darryl Sutter compiled what was supposed to be the best defensive units on paper, yet results have shown otherwise. Regehr, Sarich, Pardy, and throw in Kronwall while you’re at it, are all too slow. Phaneuf is also slow, but not on his skates; it’s the 6 inches between his ears that he lacks. The game is fast paced now, if you have not noticed, and puck moving defensemen are very in fashion right now. If Sutter has yet to realize this, I doubt he ever will, and if that is the case, the Flames are in a world of pain as teams like San Jose and Chicago are going to continue to steamroll them every single time they step on the ice!
This has been,
Newman on the Flames
P.S. Congrats to Robyn Regehr on his first goal in over 2 years...a little bittersweet I am sure
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