Friday, January 8, 2010

Game day musings--Stress city, etc.

Here is your collection of miscellaneous thoughts for the day:

- Theo Fleury has taken down a blog entry slagging the NHL and the Flames organization, saying it "wasn't worth the headache." Write this one off as a classic case of Theo being Theo. He's always been an emotional guy and says he didn't mean to hurt anyone, but clearly he didn't think before he blogged. It happens to the best of us.

As for Craig Conroy, the one targeted in Fleury's tirade, he says he's "disappointed" in his former teammate, but acknowledges that he has the right to express his opinion. It's no secret that Conroy is likely near the end of his career and is not producing as much as he would like, but he's accepting any role given to him--whether it be suiting up on the first line with Iginla or grinding it out on the penalty kill--and he always does it with class. There's no need to criticize a man who has done everything this organization has asked of him and more.

Fleury goes on to admit that he doesn't think his body would have held up over the duration of another eighty-two game NHL schedule, which many fans and pundits speculated during training camp. Eric Francis kind of goes the extra mile in pointing out Fleury's flaws in the article, which I don't agree with, but he certainly clears the air.

Apparently Theo is quite the thespian. Why am I not surprised?

- Darryl Sutter sounded off on the Phaneuf trade rumours yesterday in his typical gruff demeanor, referring to said rumours as "crap." Dion himself also shoots down any scuttlebutt, saying, "I've never asked for a trade and I'm very happy here."

- Is it just me or does there seem to be an unusual amount of negative energy surrounding this team so far this season, what with the whole Phaneuf saga and the tragic Dan Ryder news?

It appears I spoke too soon on the Flames' defensive brilliance, as they laid an egg the other night in Minnesota, allowing thirty-five shots on goal in a losing effort. Things weren't much better on the offensive side of things, as Olli Jokinen's early tally was all the Flames could muster on twenty-six shots directed at the Wild keeper. The Flames are now 0-2 against the Wild this season.

I spoke to the importance of overcoming fatigue during this Olympic-induced condensed schedule in my last post, and it appears that was lost on the Flames' personnel. Having also played the night before, Minnesota was able to bounce back from an early deficit and carried the play for the remainder of the game.

The ability to play with the same level of energy and determination on the second night of back-to-backs has long been a weakness of the Flames, and they're going to have to find a way to change that if they hope to remain in contention for top spot in the Northwest, with games against two teams breathing down our freaking necks for the division lead coming up on Saturday and Monday. As of now, I am not confident in the possibility of positive results in Satuday's match-up, in fact thinking about the game makes me squirm uncomfortably. So does thinking about upcoming games against Colorado, Pittsburgh, San Jose, and Chicago; or any game, for that matter.

Aright, one game at a time. Let's focus on the task at hand: the Columbus Blue Jackets (7PM, Sportsnet). Jamie Lundmark has been called up in place of the injured Craig Conroy (foot), and will skate on the first line with Langkow and Iginla. Glencross will share second line duty with Jokinen and Bourque. McGrattan, Kronwall, and Johnson will sit this one out while Curtis McElhinney will get the start in goal.

The Jackets are a basement-dweller, much like the Minnesota Wild. They are coming into Calgary on a high, having beaten the Oilers last night and earning their first road victory in two months. Not to mention Kristian Huselius and Anton Stralman, who always seem to have it in for their former mates. They could very well pose a threat to a rested and complacent Calgary team.

The Flames learnt not to take desperate teams lightly the other night, or so I hope. They have been playing relatively weak opposition recently, with the exception of the Kings and Predators, and they haven't exactly made it look easy. Every game has been close with the exception of that pseudo-rout against the Oilers back on December twenty-eighth. I can't remember the last time the Flames really dominated a game on the scoresheet; probably that 5-0 win over the Predators, one which still stands out as their best effort of the season thus far.

There are no easy games. There are no safe leads. Every game is a playoff game, competing for that all-important division title and that coveted home ice advantage.

TSN thinks that there is no way the Washington Capitals could possibly blow a fourteen-point lead in the Southeast division. We beg to differ.

Go Flames Go.

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