Some news and views on the slumping Calgary Flames, losers of seven games in a row.
NEWS: GM Darryl Sutter and coach Brent Sutter vow to “stay the course” and not alter from a defence-first team system and, as a result, the Flames have fallen to 29th in team offense.
VIEWS: A system that doesn’t get a team into the playoffs is a flawed system, especially where it’s expected in Calgary. There has to be a compromise. Keep the system, but trade from a position of personnel strength – on the blueline – in order to acquire a player or players more offensively inclined.
NEWS: Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has been spectacular this season, worthy of Vezina Trophy consideration.
VIEWS: How much further down the standings would the Flames be in their defence-first system if Kiprusoff was simply good or very good rather than game-saving outstanding? Well, they’re four points ahead of 13th-place St. Louis now, so I guess the answer is 13th or 14th in the conference.
NEWS: Jarome Iginla is goalless in 11 games and almost a non-factor in many recent games.
VIEWS: I refuse to believe Iggy is washed up at 32. Sure, he may have slowed imperceptibly, but have you noticed he no longer has the space in the offensive zone to dangle or uncoil his wrist shot? Could it be defences are zoning in on him because there are no other legitimate scoring threats on the top line?
NEWS: The Flames rank 27th in shots, averaging 28.1 per game. They were eighth in the NHL last year at 32.2.
VIEWS: Are the Flames not scoring because a) they don’t have the gifted snipers to generate consistent offense, b) they’re simply snake-bitten around the net, or c) they’re not shooting enough? Remarkably, 11 of Calgary’s 19 regular skaters have a shooting percentage above their career average, including Iginla, Rene Bourque, Daymond Langkow, Nigel Dawes, Curtis Glencross and Mark Giordano. They’re not snake-bitten, so it has to be either a) or c) or both.
NEWS: The Flames have fallen to 30th in team faceoff percentage at 47 percent.
VIEWS: What’s up with that? They were sixth last year at 51.3 percent with pretty much the same group of centers. Didn’t coach Brent Sutter used to be one of the top faceoff men in the game during his playing days?
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.
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