Sunday, November 09, 2008

New year, same team

Okay, it has been 15 and most of an ugly 16th game and I think it is safe to say that despite the changes the Flames made, the results are no different than last year.

To review, this team started 1-3-1 and Miikka Kiprusoff was at his early season craptacular best, his GAA hovering over 4.00 and his save percentage well below the .900 level. The Flames then rattle off 6 straight wins, most of them in dominating fashion. Kiprusoff's numbers were down in pre-lockout territory during this stretch. As I write, barring a miracle of gigantic proportion (down 5-1 with 6 minutes left to the Hawks), the Flames will have lost 4 of their last 5 and their record a very familiar 8-7-1. Not good enough to be considered anything but an annoyance, not bad enough for them to be completely witten off, and frustating as all hell for the fans.

I'd like to note that I am not of the opinion that Kiprusoff is the main reason the Flames win or lose most games, rather his numbers are reflective of how the team in front of him plays. For example, anyone who did not watch this game tonight would think Kiprusoff had a bad game, yet he has made amny spectacular saves and the Hawks could really have 10 goals. The Flames have been THAT bad.

On nights when things are going well, the Flames truly look like they can be serious Cup contenders. Nights like these last two, you wonder how they even win games.

I do not believe that the talent level is lacking, in fact I would argue that on paper there are not many teams in the NHL that can compare man for man. So what does that leave? It has been 3 plus seasons since the Flames magical run in 2004, when they won games on effort and strong team defense. Every year since then, this team has gotten more offensively talented and seems to have forgotten more and more what made them a team that was a controversial non reviewed goal away from being Stanley Cup champions.

Keep in mind this team has seen three head coaches during this time. Darryl Sutter coached them following the lockout. He felt he had lost the team, so he promoted Jim Playfair to take over. That did not work, so he brought in his old buddy Mike Keenan and the results have been similar. What has stayed the same are the assistant coaches. How has it not occurred that maybe it's time to scrap the guys who the players get most of the messages from? Mike Keenan is more of a motivational/head game coach, not much in the way of X' and O's. Instead they listen to Rich Preston, Jim Playfair and company. Is that really enough to coax the effort needed from this team to play consistantly?

I think the Flames are running out of options and if that doesn't work, you either clean house in the front office, GM + Head Coach, or you make a BIG time roster shake-up.

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