Are the Flames any different this Season?


The Calgary Flames roared out to a 4-0 start this season, tying the franchise record for the best start to a season. They topped the NHL standings a few games into the new season, but surely everyone knew that it wouldn’t last. While some fans may have fooled themselves into believing that this fast start meant that things for the club had completely turned around, it is now evident that this is not the case.

The team that held so much promise after the lock-out, after being named by Sports Illustrated as “most likely to win the Stanley Cup” in 2006, is still exactly where they’ve been for the past 4 seasons. Though they’ve picked up some big name players in the past few years, the Flames still have problems putting the puck in the net, they still take stupid penalties at the worst possible times and they still can’t hold a lead. In short, they’re one of the most frustrating teams for their fans to watch.

Sure, the Flames have shown that they can make it work every now and then. They occasionally bring us out of our seats and dream of Stanley Cup glory. Take Monday night’s game, where they scored 5 goals in the first period. Five goals in one period is pretty amazing, even if a couple of them were softer than Daniel Sedin’s broken foot. But their problem is consitency. It always has been, and it appears as though it always will be. They followed up their 5-goal period by setting a record for allowing the biggest comeback in history.

That’s not the sort of thing the Sutter brothers can be proud of.

Exernal moves made by Darryl Sutter don’t really seem to have much effect. The Flames made some off-season moves last summer, picking up Jay Bouwmeester, Nigel Dawes and Freddie Sjostrom, but the core of the team remains the same. The same guys that have had the same problems for the last 4 seasons are still there, and it appears their bad habits are wearing off on the new guys.

While the leaders are doing nothing, the rest of the team have been stepping up and filling the gaps, and that’s what has saved the Flames so far this season. Jarome Iginla has been pretty much invisible so far, and has been replaced by Rene Bourque who now leads the team in scoring. Robyn Regehr

About Greg Hounslow (558 Posts)

Greg is the founder of Red Mile Blog has been following the Flames through good times and bad since they arrived in Calgary in the early 80s. He has written hundreds of articles on the Flames since 2005 and considers himself an expert on hockey inconsistency and frustration. He shoots right and usually plays defence, but has been known to jump up in the rush. He is a 2-time CAHL men's league champion and knows the sweet taste of beer from a Cup.

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    So far the 2009-10 edition of the Calgary Flames continues to fall back into some of their old habits every time they get into a little trouble.

    In past years they've relied on trying to fire the puck out of their own end, which usually resulted in an opposition defenceman firing a high hard-one back at Kipper. If they succeeded in getting it past their own blue line it meant they had to try and regain possession again (if the futile clearing attempt didn't result in an icing call). And how many times did Dion try to hit someone with a break away pass that ended up in an icing call or an interception of a pass that was far too long. He seems to be making better decisions in his own end, however, he stills falls back into some bad habits when the pressure is on him.

    In past seasons when the Flames were successful at gaining possession in the offensive end, it drove me nuts watching 3 Flames playing with the puck along the boards within a 6-foot circle, so close that it only took 1 or 2 opposing players to fight for the puck with them. The other opposing forward, that wasn’t involved, merely stood back and waited for it to come loose and easily gained possession.

    It's such a simple game when you spread out and pass the puck around inside the opposition's blue line wearing down the opposition until there's a decent shot on net.

    This year's successes came when they skated and brought the puck out of their own end using short crisp passes. But when things get tough they quickly fall back into their old bad habits

    It's going to be a very long season if Brent can't break them of some old, very unsuccessful ways of playing the game. He’s done it in the past in Red Deer and New Joisey, so I’m sure he’ll get his way with this year’s Flames …or else.

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