By Aakash Gulati
One game into the season. Hockey is back and the Flames are here.
Having previously looked at the flames centre depth, it is time to look at who will be flanking the Flames centres. A consistent theme with all the flames wingers is their consistency issues.
With over 900 points and flames top leading scorer for the last 11 seasons, Iginla has been the one consistent star for the flames franchise. A notoriously slow starter, Iginla had one of his usual starts last season. With only 3 goals in his first 17 games, people started doubting if the captain still had it in him to play at an elite level. Many fans were even thinking that it might be better to trade him before his stock fell. And as a phoenix rises from the ashes, Iginla blew the gates wide open and finished with a mad dash ending the season 3rd in the league for goals and 6th for points almost leading the flames to a playoff spot.
Now, Iginla was able to bounce back last season, but at the age of 34, there is a likelihood a time will come wherein he will not be able to score at a point a game clip. I still think that season is a couple of years away and Iggy will continue his play from last season. He missed all of the preseason games and it will take him a few to get game ready. He was physically active last night which is always a good sign for the captain. Having his preferred player on the opposite wing, my prediction for Iginla will be that he ends the season with 46 goals to have a 93 point campaign in the year 2011-12
Signed by Sutter to a one year 1.5 million contract last summer, Tanguay was out to prove he is still a premier passer after a failed year playing on the lightning. And prove it, he did. With a successful comeback campaign Tanguay earned himself a contract extension with Calgary. He finished 25th overall league wide in points last year. 2010-11 was no fluke and Tanguay will still be the linemate that our captain needs. Every team needs at least two top forwards and Tanguay is the second to Iginla on the depth of the Flames for skill. He was making plays against Pittsburgh last night, both on the powerplay and five on five which hopefully promises to a big season from No. 40 . I see him having a 21 goal season to go with 52 points to get him to 73 points.
An issue with the flames wingers is the lack of consistency and a perfect example of that is Bourque. When on his game Bourque is a pretty darn good power forward muscling his way through opposing defense and finding the spots to shoot from (as can be seen by his back to back 27 goal seasons), but when off his game (which can be for quite some time) he can seem like a lazy disinterested player taking unnecessary penalties. A highly capable PKer Bourque should see some time on penalty kill once again. He kicked off his new campaign with a goal last night but his lack of control on his anger was pretty apparent when he took a roughing penalty against Letang in the last minute of play. Bourque plays well with a chip on his shoulder but also ends up taking completely avoidable penalties upon losing his temper. I see another 25 goal season in the cards. I will go ahead and predict a 29 goal and 30 assist season to end the year with 59 points.
The breakout player for the flames last year, Glencross was awarded with a significant increase in his salary in the off-season. So far he seems to be continuing his style of physical and motivated play going on the pre-season games as well as the home-opener. He scored the goal to open the season and the flames faithful hope that there are many more to come. A common trend with most flames wingers is their inconsistent and streaky play. When Glencross is on his game (as he was for a decent part of last season) he is unstoppable, scoring goals, hitting bodies, making plays. But when he is off his game, he is just like Bourque. Takes lazy penalties and appears disenchanted. Everyone is hoping to see a more consistent Scoreface this year. I predict a 23 goal season to go with 21 assists for 44 points spread out more consistently throughout the year. Depending on what sort of minutes Glencross sees, there is a potential for him to cross 50 points this year, but with Glencross, being conservative is a better idea.
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