It’ll be interesting to see how the 2009-10 Calgary Flames season is viewed in the future by team historians and hockey talk aficionados.
If the Flames miss the playoffs, the foremost hallmark of the team will be its inability to score goals. “Oh yes, that was the season the Flames couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn,” fans will remember. “The goalie, Kiprusoff, was phenomenal, runner-up for the Vezina I believe, but that wasn’t enough to even get the team into the playoffs. They barely scored two goals a game.”
Jarome Iginla was pretty good, people will remember, and was vital to Canada winning a gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics. But again, the Flames didn’t give him a center to play with.
So what of Matt Stajan, the latest center who’s not really meshing well with Iginla? Why is there no sustained chemistry between the two?
From what I’ve seen so far, Stajan isn’t nearly talented enough or intense enough to polish visors for anyone on the top line. He has three goals and eight points in 14 games playing next to Iginla. That’s just not good enough. I think I’d rather have Olli Jokinen. Even Matthew Lombardi.
Stajan is more responsible defensively than Jokinen, but hasn’t shown any offensive creativity in Calgary. So if the skill isn’t there, then the level of compete has to be absolute top shelf to warrant time on the top line. A hard-working family like the Sutters must become aghast when they watch Stajan simply blend into the woodwork.
Now in do or die time of the season, maybe it’s time to make what’s old new again. Didn’t Daymond Langkow have a breakout 33-goal, 77-point season centering Iginla in 2006-07? And another 30-goal season the next year? And didn’t the Flames sign him to a four-year, $18 million deal ($4.5 million average) because of that? So why is he producing like a checking line center – three goals in his past 36 games?
Put Langkow back with Iginla and see if the magic returns. They were re-united a few games mid-season, but were broken up too quickly. Langkow hasn’t been the same offensively since getting his bell rung in a huge way by Washington’s Tyler Sloan early last season.
Now, with few cards left in the deck, it’s worth a final shot.
This article also appeared in the Calgary Metro newspaper.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can find his blog each weekend.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.