While many Flames fans were disappointed in the lack of activity by the Flames on trade deadline day, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Jay Feaster made no moves. While Feaster hinted there were a couple of potential deals that almost came to pass just before the 3:00pm ET deadline, it is hard to believe that the Flames had the flexibility or assets to make them. Feaster made his splash earlier in the season with the acquisition of Mike Cammalleri, Blake Comeau and Blair Jones. He also made it quite clear that the Flames weren’t going to be sellers. There were rumblings early in the day that there were offers for Flames forward Tim Jackman but those rumours were squashed when it was announced that Jackman had been resigned to a two-year contract extension.
One of the circumstances that supported Feaster being so quiet on the deadline day was the fact that the Flames had many regulars returning to the lineup. Curtis Glencross, Derek Smith and David Moss have all returned to the lineup over the past couple of weeks. It sounds as though Chris Butler and Lee Stempniak could also return in the near future. Unfortunately for the Flames it seems that as they get one or two players back from injury they lose another player. Over the past week the Flames have added five more to the injury list. The list includes Cammalleri, Comeau, Bouma, Jackman and Brodie. The extent of these injuries are not known, but any length of time lost by these players is critical to the Flames who may only have a few weeks of game action left. The injuries suffered by the Flames has become the main storyline of the season as the number of games lost ranks in the top of the league. With the game against Montreal last week, the Flames passed the 300 games lost mark on the season and that total will only continue to grow. Even with the recent return of players to the lineup, the Flames currently have nine regulars out with injury which includes seven forwards (two plus lines!) Only Jay Bouwmeester, Jarome Iginla and Jokinen have the potential to play all eighty-two games this season.
Is there a point when the injuries for the Flames become a legitimate excuse? The number of players out of the line-up is staggering and it has become so bad that media and fans are almost expecting injury revelations to continue after each game. I don’t believe it can be used as an excuse for the Flames this year as they have been fortunate enough to have their core players play the majority of the season. Iginla, Jokinen, Kiprusoff, Tanguay have all escaped major injuries (knock on wood!). Currently the Flames are lucky to have two of their top players in Mark Giordano and Curtis Glencross back for the stretch drive. There is the question that some of the top end players will be over-played and be more prone to physical and mental fatigue but I believe these players love the situation they find themselves in. First and second line players want to play twenty plus minutes a night and be put in all types of situations. The biggest reason the Flames are continuing to be in the middle of the playoff picture is the performance of their top players. Finally, younger players and veterans who have been accustomed to smaller roles have become an integral part of the Flames.
- The Flames have scored the first goal in the last eleven games but surprisingly that has only led to a 5-3-3 record.
- The Flames continue to have very poor second periods where they have been consistently out-shot and outscored which explains why they have blown so many leads over the past few weeks.
- Glencross now has scored in seven straight games which is one short of a Flames record shared by Gary Roberts and Kent Nilsson. He has seven goals and three assists over the seven game streak.
- Iginla now has a four game goal streak of his own and has six goals and five assists during a current six game point streak.
- Alex Tanguay also boasts a six game point streak and has notched four goals and ten assists in his past nine games.
Are the Flames Teasing Fans With Another Modest Winning Streak?
With the win in Minnesota the Flames have now won three games in a row and have a record of 4-1-1 in their past six games. The recent surge has put them temporarily in the top eight for the second time this season. The last time the Flames vaulted themselves into the top eight they followed it up with a 0-2-2 home-stand where they were beaten handily by their provincial rivals and blew 2-0 and 3-0 leads in the two extra time losses. The Flames took care of business this past week beating the teams they should beat. The next two games come against the Sharks and Coyotes, two teams that are stuck in the logjam with the Flames. The Flames have managed to get points against the teams just above and below them in the standings but have struggled to win games in regulation. Three point games are the last thing the Flames need if they hope to stick in the top eight and gain ground on the teams close to them in the standings. At this point in the season one year ago the Flames were in sixth place with eighty-one points but struggled down the stretch just missing out of the playoffs. The Flames are going to have to scratch and claw for every possible point and it won’t come easy but it seems as though they are more resilient than they were a year ago. The adversity they have faced with injuries and a slow start to the season just might make them fit to succeed down the stretch.
- The Flames have seven upcoming potential UFA’s if you include Tim Jackman but also have eleven players with some form of no-trade/movement clause.
- Jackman signed a two-year deal worth 1.225 million. Jackman has struggled this year after scoring ten goals and twenty-three points last season. He only has one tally and six assists to go along with a minus 19.
- The Flames recall of Guillaume Desbiens, Krys Kolanos and Greg Nemisz from Abbotsford was done on an emergency call-up which means the Flames still have the ability to make three call ups before the end of the regular season.
- Sven Baertschi has now played two games and has not disappointed. He scored his first career NHL goal in Minnesota and has not looked out-of-place. The nineteen year old has incredible skill and skating ability and is already showing the poise of a veteran player. He understands that his current stint in the NHL will be short but he is allowing himself to enjoy the experience and that can be easily seen in his demeanor on the ice.
- The Flames are 3-1-5 against the Kings, Ducks, Coyotes, Sharks and Stars over the past month and a half.
- At the same point last year, the Flames were 36-24-9 compared to the 32-25-12 record the Flames currently sit at.