Not Bad, If a Little Confusing
The Calgary Flames have done okay in the last two weeks. Coach
Sutter is probably pretty happy with seven out of 12 points. He
is, however, probably more than a little surprised at who his
charges beat and who they lost to.
Losing to the Penguins was a possibility, but you had to think that
the team with no visible means of support might be ripe for the
picking. They must have got their paycheques that day. Tying the
Caps was predictable. Is there a less interesting team in hockey?
Sure they've got Bondra, but these guys are dull, dull, dull. A
win in the Windy City is always in the cards since the Hawks left
their old sardine can of a rink. The Young Guns were lucky to catch
Detroit in their "Dead Thing" mode as they were in the midst of
dropping four in a row for the first time since 1993. So, after
that highlight, the Red C comes home and plays a dull 2-1 loss to
the Nashville Cats. That was followed by a stellar win against the
You could forgive the Flames' brain trust if they can't figure out
what to do with their team. One night they look like an okay
hockey team, the next they look like doormats. How do you go 1-3-2
at home and 4-3-0 on the road? Their most important feature is
still Theo Fleury. He's potting goals regularly and sparking the
team in the dressing room. Their greatest liability is youth and
inexperience. They look a lot like the Edmonton Oilers of a couple
of years ago only with less upside potential.
First Star in First Home Win
With goalie Ken Wregget nursing a sore back it was time to throw
youngster Jean-Sebastien Giguere to the lions. The feline foes in
this case were the Colorado Avalanche. It was Giguere's first game
as a Flame and he was literally on fire in the net. He face an
avalanche of 40 shots, including 20 in the second period, on his
way to backstopping the Calgary to a 3-1 win, their first at home
this season. He was named first star of the game.
Colorado snipers Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg were left shaking
their heads as Giguere stoned them on their combined total of 11
While the Flames did allow the 40 shots, they played very calmly
down the stretch in the third period. They covered their men and
the defence stood up and made the right plays. This is less than
easy when Forsberg, Sakic and Kamensky are buzzing, bobbing and
weaving. An especial standout was the venerable Steve Smith, who
is rapidly turning into the rock that the Flames need on the blue
line. He was named second star.
Hindsight is 20/20
Check out this flaming sequence of events... First you trade goalie
Mike Vernon, who the team feels has seen better days, to Detroit for
Steve Chiasson. Vernon proceeds to backstop the Red Wings to the
1997 Stanley Cup Championship. Then you trade Chiasson for youngster
Hnat Domenichelli, who winds up in the minors. Then all four young
goalies you were counting on to fill the Vernon gap, Trevor Kidd,
Andrei Trefilov, Jason Muzatti and Dwayne Roloson, fail to pan out.
What do you do? You bring in Ken Wregget who is only one year
younger than Vernon to play goal. What do you do next? Bang head on
desk...prepare for draft.
Fata Fits In
Rico Fata, the Flames' top pick in last year's draft, is sticking
around the big league. After suiting up against the Red Wings in
the Flames' 5-2 win he had played 10 games in the NHL. That means
he can't be sent back to junior hockey with the London Knights of
the OHL. He's still scoreless, but the Flames are happy with his
progress. They haven't put a lot of pressure on him and have
scratched him from a few games. Against Washington he was told to
sit in the press box and watch Peter Bondra for the night. Sounds
like a good plan. GM Al Coates does not want to see a repeat of
Boston's Joe Thornton fiasco of last season.
A couple of weeks ago the Flames coaching staff was making "ticket
to the minors" noises in the direction of Jarome Iginla. He wasn't
getting his nose dirty enough for a coach like Brian Sutter. He
was outside the action and not playing the scrappy game that made
him an impact player as a rookie.
Well, it would seem that Iggy was listening. He has turned his game
around. The goals are starting to go in and he's involved at all
times. Against Colorado, Sutter had him out in the last minute as
the Avalanche pulled Patrick Roy for the extra attacker. Iginla
took a lovely pass out of his own zone, cleared the red line and
placed a delicate backhand square into the net for goal number six.
Looks like Coach Sutter will be holding onto that ticket to the
Who was that playing the skins with a local Calgary rock band last
week? Why it was former Flame and current Nashville Cat, Joel
Bouchard. Seems Joel is serious about the drums and was renewing
some old acquaintances with the band Relish at the 17th Ave. pub,
Morgan's. Bouchard exhibits a solid kick drum and holds the beat
well, but he lacks fluidity on the snare. Some of his rolls and
fills sounded a little wooden. Must be gripping the sticks a
little tightly. Come to think of it, wasn't that why he was left
open in the expansion draft last year?