Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Matthew Lombardi - "Lombo"

After a wild first ride in his first season with Calgary, in which he was severely concussed by Derian Hatcher during the playoffs, Lombardi has steadily increased his hockey sense and found ways to use his overwhelming speed to his advantage. Needs to become a better passer and needs more than one move on the penalty shot and shootout (forehand-backhand-fivehole, here’s hoping opposition goalies don’t take note…). Was Canada’s 2nd best forward in the 2007 World Championships playing next to Rick Nash (who was Canada’s best forward), thereby proving he has 1st line potential.

Monday, August 27, 2007

What the Super Series Means to the Edmonton Oilers

I've been meaning to get to this post idea for a while because there are a lot of (at least) short term implications of the Super Series for the Edmonton Oilers. First up, the direct impact of Sam Gagner.

I've had the opportunity to watch Gagner in one live Team Canada u-20 camp tryout and all the World Jr. Hockey Championship games, and I got to see him briefly in the game today (although I wasn't able to watch too closely due to being at work and all). His goal today was pretty nice, and his assist was nice as well. He was drafted by the Oilers this June 6th overall and by all accounts is a very good hockey player with a high degree of leadership potential. I wanted the Oilers to select Karl Alzner, but I'm as liable with draft errors as anyone, and Alzner wasn't available by that point in the draft anyway. He was named player of the game today so odds are it was hard to go wrong with either of them.

Gagner's play in this tournament could have a big effect on his future. If he continues to look like he did today, Oilers fans will be very happy with Lowe. Even if he turns out to be a crap NHLer, it'll be difficult to accuse Lowe of misfiring - Gagner just looks good right now period. But if he has a very bad tournament, it will look bad on Lowe. Another player seemingly picked on a very small sample viewing with an outlier performance.

The one that got away could make Lowe look pretty bad over the next two weeks as well. Alexi Cherepanov has had comparable numbers (better actually) than Kovalchuk, Malkin and Ovechkin in the RSL. Kevin Lowe actually had two gauranteed opportunities to draft him in June's entry drafft, but as Pierre Maguire said at the time, Kevin Lowe isn't going to pick a Russian (xenophobia perhaps? Sorry Kevin...). Brad Marchand claimed that "When we were in the World Junior Championship, he didn't step up at all. All we had to do was play our game and he was a ghost out there. Any time anyone has a chance to hit him, we have to hit him," and maybe that's why Kevin Lowe didn't bother picking Cherepanov, although one suspects it had more to do with the transfer agreement problems. Either way, if Cherepanov steps up and is the player many believe he is, Kevin Lowe will look terrible. He's dodged the bullet a few times this summer but one has to wonder how many more rounds are in the chamber and how much jump Kevin has left.

Finally, the tournament is featuring one defenceman named Drew Doughty and one forward named John Tavares. Those are two guys that could have been Oiler's property if Kevin Lowe hadn't offered Dustin Penner that outrageous offer sheet, giving up his first rounder next year. Now Tavares' draft eligibility is in question, so that may become a null problem. Doughty however, is a sure fire early first rounder for next year. He is a top notch defenceman of which the Oilers desperately covet. The odds of the Oilers actually being eligible for the spot necessary for Doughty was low, but now it's zero.

I think Canada can and will win this mini Summit Series tournament. The real question is whether Kevin Lowe will come out a winner or loser.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Daymond Langkow - "Lanks"

Langkow apparently played hurt for most of his first season in Calgary and was not good enough in the first quarter of last season. Once he got going, Langkow was a very good 2nd line center and certainly a very passable first, although he’s never the best player on the line. Still, him and Huselius looked great together, and Langkow’s playoff cheap shot showed he still had some life left in him, even if the team didn’t. Will have to fight with Lombardi for the 1st line spot this season.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kristian Huselius - "Juice"

Kent Nilsson’s true son. The slick Swede may just be the best stickhandler in the league, owns quite the wrist shot as well. Most talented Flame. Agile and calculating, reads offensive plays tremendously well. Was on for an important goal against in the playoffs, but I feel he wasn’t responsible. Potentially in the Keenan doghouse. Should receive more ice time. Not physical at all. Has a very high chance of at least starting the season on a line with Owen Nolan.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


For a bunch of reasons (mainly I'm paranoid about my job), I've decided to take down my picture and my name and replace it with a blank space and a pseudonym. Regardless, it is still the same guy writing this blog, and should still have the type of information. In addition, from time to time I may get an inside tidbit of what's going on in the NHL, and I advise you take what I say with a great degree of seriousness (although it's impossible to prove my sources are legit). Anyway, now back to our regularly scheduled blog...

Craig Conroy - "Craigers/Conny"

Left the team after FA negotiations with Darryl Sutter fell apart in the summer of ’04, but seems ecstatic to be back. Was inconsistent in his return with the Flames in the spring, occasionally taking bad penalties. Either he has good chemistry with Iginla, or Iginla is so good he makes it look like he has chemistry with Conroy. Can be physical, but isn’t, or at least not often enough. Most talkative Flame.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

'The Hockey News Top 50' - Flames

Italic is my own comments, in the style made famous by Lowetide.

Jarome Iginla - 06
"The Flames were the NHL's most disappointing team, simply awful on the road, but Iginla was a warrior night in and night out. He consistently demonstrated why he is one of the league's most complete and determined performers."

I don't think there's anything more anyone could have expected out of Iginla last season. Iginla's numbers were great, but now that he has consistently competent linemates his best may be yet to come.

Miikka Kipprusoff - 13
"Last season, we anointed the Calgary goaltender the top player in the league. His response? His play slipped. That said, we believe he has the potential to challenge for the honor of best goalie."

Only the hockey news could have viewed Kipper's last season as a 'slip.' Sure statistically he had 2 less wins, and sure he had 30 or so more goals against, but he was behind a much weaker group in a team defence sort of way. In fact, many times last year I felt Kipper was steadier than the year before.

Dion Phaneuf - 17
The Calgary defender is known for his hard hitting, but did you know he has scored the same number of goals as Hall of Famer Paul Coffey did in his first two seasons?

That really is quite an unbelievable stat, and for all the static he takes for not 'developing' we need to remember he's still quite the defenceman. I'm not sure he's the 17th best player in the NHL, but I fully believe he will be 17th best (or better) sooner rather than later. We'll see this season if he adjusts his game to be a bit smarter and a bit less rambunctious. Hopefully he's just smarter.

'The Hockey News Top 50' - Oilers

Chris Pronger -05
Ryan Smyth - 34

oh wait....



but Dustin Penner is listed as a 'Top Young Gun' who 'should grow alongside his youthful linemates.' Let's hope they're referring to Hemsky and Horcoff and not Perry and Getzlaf.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rhett Warrener – “Rhetzky"/"Rhettro"

Arguably has more heart than anyone else on the team, playing through various (and obviously painful) potential career ending injuries. Played his best hockey of 06-07 in the playoffs but is not capable of playing a top 6 role with injuries anymore. Needs a speedy defence partner to be most effective, but tends to read the play well. Can still dish out punishment. Lack of speed is a big issue.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Get Fuzzy

At this time of the year, I still consider this to be a valid Flames news release.

Robyn Regehr - "Reggie"

Calgary’s best defenceman, he uses his size and positioning to punish opposition forwards. Calgary was simply a worse team when Regehr didn’t play. Offensive upside is limited, but managed to crank out 4 points in 7 games against Anaheim in the playoffs of 05-06. Is committed to the Flames and to winning, signing a below market value extension in the summer of 07.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dion Phaneuf - "Dion" / "Double Dion"

Had an up and down season in 07-08. Opposition began to compensate for Phaneuf’s presence on the blueline, but he still managed 17 goals, 4 game winners. Destroyed Denis Hamel early on in the year with a thundering check, but was quieter than his rookie year. Did not mesh well with Robyn Regehr. Ice time increased. Asked to play a pure shutdown/containment role for Canada in the World Championships, Phaneuf was nothing less than spectacular.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mark Giordano - "Gio"

Playing the role of Calgary’s 6th defenceman in 06-07, Giordano was nothing but stellar. He has good wheels, good hockey sense and has shown he can step it up in pressure situations. Ate up softer minutes. Was not favoured by Jim Playfair.

August 15: Marc Giordano is unsigned (Battle of Alberta)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Player Profiles

As the weeks of summer drag on, I'm starting to invest time in a project I've been dreaming up for the last year. Right now I'm working on player profiles for all the current high profile (as in, guys that will most certainly make the team) Flames and Oilers. More obscure players who make the team will be added to the list as the season progresses. I will have links to all player profiles on the side bar navigation menu, so if you want to know my immediate opinion of a current Flame or Oiler (eventually some past Flames and Oilers) all you have to do is click on the sidebar. Quotes that intrigue me will be added to each profile, or just general updates to the player's style/progress etc.

First up are the Flames, and then the Oilers closer to the last of August, early September.

Miikka Kiprusoff - "Kipper"

Probably the best goalie the franchise has ever had. Miikka appears to have a very calm on ice demeanor and does not seem to worry about press or stardom. Has excellent positioning and is a tremendous athlete. Kipprusoff occasionally gives up a bad goal, but that is far outweighed by his consistently high save percentage, his more than occasional spectacular saves, and his workload capacity. Might have a blocker side weakness. Kipprusoff’s contract expires at the end of the 07-08 season, although it is almost certain Sutter is looking to extend Kipper’s contract.