The Calgary Flames
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|The Finnish Superman|
Previous Year's Team Stats
40 wins, 32 losses, 10 OTL, 90 points,
Things have gotten progressively... weirder over the last few years in Calgary. This strange hockey ride culminated in the ultimate bad trip for Flames fans last season. The Flames just missed the playoffs finishing in tenth place amid controversy and a strongly dissatisfied fan base. Flames general manager Darryl Sutter seemed to be the exact opposite of King Midas last season as many of his moves were considered questionable. Darryl Sutter brought in brother Brent Sutter to be head coach, traded controversial premiere defenseman Dion Phaneuf, traded Olli Jokinen amid strong rumors that he was a cancer in the locker room, waived talented winger Nigel Dawes, re-signed Olli Jokinen in the off-season, all while saying some very strange things and having some pretty heavy rumors coming out of Calgary. However Sutter did make a good move hiring veteran hockey mind and former Stanley Cup winning GM Jay Feaster to be his assistant. The Flames have a strong core of players and will look to be a playoff team this season.
The Flames offense in a single word last season was "anemic." The Flames have been blessed to be endowed with arguably the best player of the last decade in Jarome Iginla. Iginla has been the very definition of elite and has been Gordie Howe reincarnated since arriving in Calgary. However Iginla began to show signs of age last season as the Flames relied on Iginla to carry the offense. Iginla was only able to score 69 points and looked like the Manchurian Candidate at times for the Flames last season. The Flames badly needed to get talent to play with Iginla. This need led to the controversial trade which sent Dion Phaneuf to the Maple Leafs in a seven player deal which saw the Flames get Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman and Jamal Mayers to fill our their forward group. This also led to Sutter signing free agent Alex Tanguay this off-season. Matt Stajan was brought to Calgary to be Iginla's pivot and add depth down the middle. Stajan is a good two-way center and will have an excellent opportunity to define himself as a top-six forward this season. Look for Stajan to be paired with Iginla again by mid-season. Niklas Hagman provides a gritty antagonizing game for the Flames and will add solid scoring depth... a phrase I'm sure Flames fans aren't sick of hearing. Hagman will likely be shifting between the second and third line and will pop a point every other game. Jamal Mayers was asked to gather his things and leave quietly. The Flames brought in re-tread Alex Tanguay on a moneypuck contract with the promise of top line minutes. Tanguay is prime to have a bounce back season and score 50 points playing with Iginla. One of the bright spots for the Flames last season was the emergence of versatile forward Rene Bourque. Bourque will likely break the 60 point ceiling on the second line if he can stay healthy for 82 games. Olli Jokinen has been the substance of much e-ink over the past few years. Going from potential savior, to judas, to destroying the Rangers post-season hopes, to returning to Calgary in one of the biggest head scratchers of the off-season. However Jokinen looks to be in a good situation as he will be a fixture in the Calgary top six and have depth to play with. If Jokinen can stay low profile, look for him to have a respectable season. The Flames also will look forward to the full time debut of much heralded prospect Mikael Backlund. Backlund has been on several top ten lists and will likely be looked at to anchor the third line and provide some offensive punch. The Flames also feature dependable center Daymond Lankow who's faced some injury concerns this off-season but will look to slot into an offensive role. Curtis Glencross enjoyed finding a permanent role late in his career in Calgary as scoring depth and a solid two-way player. Filling out the Flames up front is veteren center Craig Conroy, youngster David Moss, tough guy Raitis Ivanans, middle-weight Tim Jackman, and Czech Brick Ales Kotalik.
The Flames boast one of the better defensive cores in the league. The Flames signed elite defenseman Jay Bouwmeester last season to a large 6.7 million dollar contract last season. However Bouwmeester's numbers disappointed with just 26 points. Bouwmeester will look to have a bounce back season this year as Calgary's number one man and silence his critics. The Flames also received surprise stud defenseman Ian White in their trade with Toronto. White absolutely broke out in his 83 games between Toronto and Calgary scoring 38 points last year. White will look to build on these numbers and establish himself as Calgary's number one offensive option on the back-end. Robyn Regehr doesn't get enough credit around the league for being one of the best defensive defensemen in the game. Regehr plays some of the toughest minutes in hockey will be the de facto shutdown man in Calgary once again. Playing on the second pairing this year will be Mark Giodano who had a career year last season scoring 30 points. Giodano remains a solid fantasy option in deep leagues. On Calgary's bottom pairing will be venerable defensive-defenseman Cory Sarich and world class golfer Steve Staios. Adam Pardy will again look to fill in as Calgary's seventh defenseman. Also look for rookie Matt Pelech to get injury replacement time in the Flames line-up this season.
Just about every word of praise that could be said about a hockey player has been applied to Flames Goaltender Miika Kiprusoff. Kiprusoff who was acquired from the Sharks for a 2nd round pick in what might have been the steal of the century has defined himself as a top three goalie in his time in Calgary. The Flames would have been a lottery pick team last season if Kiprusoff didn't carry the team through stretches where the team's offense was non-existent. Look for Kiprusoff to again be an elite goalie tending Calgary's net this season. Backing up Kiprusoff will be Swedish import Henrik Karlsson. Karlsson received rave reviews from SEL fans last season playing for an under-achieving Farjestads club. However Karlsson will largely be a non-factor with Kiprusoff getting the bulk of games.
The Flames have added significant scoring depth and look to be a good team on paper. However this team has significantly crashed and burned down the stretch the last few years. Also there's strong questions among the Flames faithful about the quality of head coaching and the integrity of the organization. While the Flames are one of the more talented teams the questions this club needs to answer this season are about their mental toughness. I personally think there's enough talent in Calgary to get this team into the playoffs. Look for the Flames to come in somewhere around 13th-16th in the league.
BVB Projected Opening Night Line-Up
Jarome Iginla - 39 G/40 A 79 P
Matt Stajan - 18 G/45 A 63 P
Alex Tanguay - 15 G/40 A 55 P
Olli Jokinen - 27 G/34 A 61 P
Daymond Langkow - 17 G/30 A 47 P
Rene Bourque - 25 G/30 A 55 P
Niklas Hagman - 20 G/23 A 43 P
Mikael Backlund - 14 G/25 A 39 P
Curtis Glencross - 14 G/20 A 34 P
Craig Conroy - 2 G/10 A 12 P
David Moss - 10 G/11 A 21 P
Raitis Ivanans - 0 G/3 A 3 P
Ales Kotalik - 9 G/12 A 21 P
Jay Boumeester - 9 G/30 A 39 P
Ian White - 10 G/25 A 35 P
Robyn Regehr - 2 G/16 A 18 P
Mark Giordano - 8 G/21 A 29 P
Cory Sarich - 2 G/12 A 14 P
Steve Staios - 0 G/6 A
Miikka Kiprusoff - 38-26-6 | 2.38 GAA | .922 Sv%
Henrik Karlsson - 4-6-2 | 2.95 GAA | .900 Sv%
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