nhl trade rumors

#blog-pager { display:none; }

Flames - road and injury woes, Mikkelson trade and other notes

By: Aakash Gulati
With 42 games in the bag and the flames 5 points out of the playoff spot, what can be made of the flames season so far? Is it time to pull the plug? Does this veteran laden team have another push left before the rebuild/retooling that will be the case next summer?
Road woes
Sporting a 10-5-1 home record, the flames have been good at home. The team has been terrible on the road. The team has gone only a miserly 8-14-3 away from the dome. As can be the expectation from any playoff bound team, road wins are of the utmost necessity. What is it that doesn't click for the flames?
The flames have played 6 games on the road over a period of 10 games. From Nov 28th - Jan 1st, a period of 4 weeks, saw them play the most number of games in the league (18) out of which six games were played on back to back nights. A tiring schedule of this sort takes its toll on any team and even though it isn't an excuse for their lackluster showing over the last few games it can explain to an extent, why the team appeared out of sorts.
Injury woes
When Mark Giordano got injured, the team was worried, but the following games resulting in wins got the loss out of our minds. The way the previous few games have gone, how much we miss Giordano is truly apparent. Another loss has been in the form of Derek Smith. He had fit in as a decent replacement to Gio's minutes in his absence.
Scoring has been dependent on only the top line over the last few weeks. It can be partially blamed on injuries to Tanguay and Stajan that has forced players to be moved around trying to find chemistry with new linemates which has resulted in more hits than misses. The teams inconsistent play can also be attributed to number of rookies on the team (though this doesn't shift the blame from the veterans). This month saw the likes of Byron, Nemisz, Brodie, Piskula, Smith, Irving and Horak seeing considerable playing time with the big team. The injuries also saw the likes of Jackman, Kostopolous and Sarich playing more than they have become accustomed to and with greater responsibilities which makes these players prone to mistakes.
The play of the top line
With Brent Sutter, one thing is certain, that the lines keep on changing. Iginla, though has stayed consistently with Glencross who has a team leading 16 goals, and Jokinen who now seems to be a bargain at 3 million with him regaining his scoring prowess as well as honing his 2-way play. Glencross is making his contract extension look pretty good right now.
Iginla's Elusive 500
With 499 in his career, Iginla will most probably be itching to get his 500th out of the way. At home, this Saturday against Minnesota will be the opportunity to get it. How much ever anger and frustration, this season and the past few have provided to the flames faithful, the excitement of this milestone is waited for by one and all.
23 year old backup, Irving, got his chance due to the unfortunate injury to Karlsson. Leland Irving has not disappointed (with exception to letting in 6 goals in the 9-0 drubbing against Bruins) He has faced 30+ shots in his other three games and was sporting a respectable save percentage of 0.942 and GAA of 2.23. Even though three games is a very small sample segment, Irving seems to be ready to handle NHL. When Karlsson gets back from injury, Irving will probably be sent back to the minors to see more playing time, but he should be ready to make a full-time jump next season.
As one of my earlier blogs on the flames wingers, I had mentioned how inconsistent our power-forward, in the form of Rene Bourque can be. At one stretch he is busy finding the back of the net and the next minute he is taking lazy, reckless penalties. Lately these penalties have found him called to the carpet and being handed suspensions. This is not the best timing for losing him due to it coinciding with other injuries. He has always had the potential to become successful but if he keeps playing recklessly, I do not think the Flames should keep him on the team. Get yourself going the right way Bourquey.
Mikkelson traded to TB for Blair Jones
Mikkelson who was picked up from Anaheim last year, was playing down in the minors. He was seeing considerable minutes and was sporting 15 points in 33 games with the Heat, but he had fallen quite a bit lower on the defense pecking order. With Boumeester, Giordano, Hannan, Butler, Sarich, Babchuk being over him and Smith, Brodie, Piskula, Carson and Wilson all having surpassed him, it made Mikkelson expendable. With Blair Jones, we get a centre, a position definitely valued. At 25, Jones is still a young player who played at a ppg clip in the AHL last year and will be a valued addition in the minors as well as serve as a capable and potential call-up.
Hagman - the enigma
I was not too happy when the flames decided to put Niklas on re-entry waivers since he had shown promise in the few games the coaching staff had dressed him. As expected, he was grabbed at half his salary. Since he has been picked up by the Ducks, Hagman has been seeing quality minutes having played over 16 minutes in 10 of his last 12 games and collecting 7 points over that period. Considering that Anaheim is the last in the NHL with 88 goals, Hagman has done quite well for himself. Would he have worked for the Flames had Sutter dressed him for more games is a question mark, but for now Hagman seems to have found a temporary home in California collecting pay from two different teams.
Darryl Sutter
The new coach of LA, Darryl has seen a good start at the helm of the kings. Backstopped by stellar play of goaltender Jonathan Quick Darryl sports a record of 5-0-3 behind the bench. Sutter, as known to us flames fans, is a hard driver and I hope him all the best with the kings. I was a bit disappointed when he was let go, but the moves he had made in his last season (highlighted by the Phaneuf and Jokinen trades) made it imperative that the plug was pulled.

No comments:

Post a Comment