Hmmm where to start, considering I’ve spent the past week in an academic haze preparing for exams.
It has been interesting to watch the drama unfold in LA, first with the firing of Terry Murray and the instillation of an interim head coach John Stevens (who held the position all of two games) before being replaced by Calgary’s own Darryl Sutter. It’s hard to imagine Sutter, a hardened, old fashioned, hard hitting kind of guy in a town such as LA. No disrespect to LA, but it’s not exactly Hockey Town, USA. I don’t care if you managed to win Cups with Wayne Gretzky, to me you’ll always be flash and glamor before hockey. And don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see Darryl go. As long as he was in Canada, unemployed, I had a fear that he would make some grand return back to Calgary, and that part of history should never be repeated.
Friday night marked the first game of the next page in Flames goal tending. Leland Irving made his debut against the Florida Panthers, and while he only walked away with a point, he managed to hold his own against the third place team in the Eastern Conference, for 3 periods, overtime, and a shoot out. With a weak defense in front of him, I consider this quite the accomplishment. It is nice to see Feaster preparing for life post-Kiprusoff. This should have been done two years ago, seeing as I can’t visualize Henrik Karlsson being a starting goalie ever in Calgary, but at least steps are being taken to replace Kiprusoff before his retirement. What I don’t understand, why wasn’t Irving started before Friday night? Why the hold up? Start him once or twice a week, Flames are playing enough games a week to warrant more time off for Kiprusoff. Just take a look at the past week, 4 goals against the Chicago Blackhawks, 5 goals against Tampa Bay, and 2 against Nashville. 11 goals in a week, that’s not the Kipper everyone expects to take the ice, but that’s who the Flames are putting out night after night. Yes, not all of those goals are on him, but all the blame can’t be put on the defense, his job is to block the shots. Give Irving a chance. His debut wasn’t awful and he can’t be any worse than Kipper is on an off night.
Taking a look at the week ahead, the Flames do not have an easy week leading up to the Christmas break. With tomorrow being the deadline for the holiday freeze, it doesn’t look like the Flames will be making any last minutes deals before they face the Minnesota Wild at home on Tuesday. Currently placed first in the Western Conference, there isn’t much left to be said about the Wild that hasn’t been said in earlier posts. They play the trap, for the first time in a long time, this has been an effective way for them to win games (ignoring that slight slip up the other night against the Islanders). The Flames stay in Calgary for their match up against Detroit on Thursday before they head west for the last game before the break against the Canucks.
With that, it is my Christmas wish to have the Canucks start Roberto Luongo on Friday and let him have one of his patented meltdowns. Normally I wish for a white Christmas, but the way the Flames have been playing, a nice win against a Division rival before a 4 day break would be a nice way to spend the holidays. Don’t you think?
Go Flames Go!