My oh my how a week can change things around a hockey team. After the Flames had lost 6-0 to the Minnesota Wild, I like many thought that that game would be the breaking point this. And like a couple of times already the Flames have managed to claw their way out of certain demise. Calgary has now won four games in a row against some fairly tough opposition to put themselves within 2 points of the San Jose Sharks and Chicago Black Hawks for 7th and 8th place respectively in the Western Conference.
Calgary has gone 10-3-3 in their last 16 games to bolt up the standings and say yes we are for real to the rest of the league, but I wonder how this came to be? To be honest until the last couple games Miikka Kiprusoff hadn’t been his usual steady self but the team found ways to get points. Miikka’s last two games have been very good with last nights game against the St. Louis Blues being his best performance in months and the first time in quite a while where I sat watching and thought wow Miikka looks confident.
The team has managed to score more goals recently, and most importantly score goals at key times in games like last night when Calgary used a power play to stretch their lead to three. The old Flames would have never gotten that goal, and would have laid back and waited for the inevitable comeback to arrive against them. Again it boils down to confidence.
So why is this team feeling better about itself and showing it on the ice? I think it comes down to Jay Feaster and Brent Sutter encouraging a much more positive atmosphere in the locker room. The Flames players are enjoying winning games and it sounds almost silly but that psychological boost can make the difference. Are the Flames good enough to keep going at a pace to make the post season? If you asked me two weeks ago I would have said no chance. Now I’m not so sure. I honestly didn’t think a change at the GM position would resonate through the locker room so quickly. So now yes I believe this team has a chance. It’ll be a tough sled of course but I am starting to think this team may have the horses to do it with a couple of changes.
Speaking of changes Craig Conroy passed through waivers with no one claiming him. I honestly thought the New York Islanders would snatch him up to work with their young team. So it leaves Craig two decisions. Either go down and play in Abbotsford with the Heat and potentially be a late season injury call up, or hang up the blades and call it a career. If you ask my opinion I’d say it’s time to retire and take a job with the Calgary Flames which has been offered. But there is something to be said for him going to BC for a couple months as a player coach as well. Whatever Craig decides he should be honored and thanked for his years with the Flames. Not to mention that he is the nicest guy in pro hockey today. Thank you Craig Conroy!
With Conroy clearing waivers Ales Kotalik got placed on waivers as well today. If he clears which I suspect he will the Flames could be primed to bury his salary in Abbotsford for the rest of the season. Between his and Conroy’s cap hits being off the books it would put the Calgary Flames in a position to make a couple moves during the all star break as well as leading into the trade deadline. I am starting to wonder if Jay Feaster has something large going on the burner. The usual Regher for Semin talk has heated up again with Semin signing a one year extension with the Capitals. The other possibility that I think is possible is something along the lines of Jay Bouwmeester in exchange for Zach Parise from the Devils. Obviously more parts would need to be added to that trade, but it isn’t impossible as I’m not sure Bouwmeester is a guy that Jay Feaster wants to build around.
And I didn’t forget about you Winnipeg Jets fans! As most of you know by now Bob McCown reported on his radio show yesterday that the Glendale $100 million dollar bond failed in the public market. The NHL has denied that but take it for what it’s worth.(Which is slightly less than you paid to read this blog.) Obviously the NHL’s deadline for the Phoenix sale to be completed of Dec 31st has passed with no word from the NHL. Now the popular story going around is the NHL desperately wants Phoenix to work because of the lease agreement etc. Which would then lead to the Atlanta Thrashers being sold to the Winnipeg group, as the Thrashers are not bound to their lease, and are up for sale. Essentially solving the NHL’s two biggest problems and making Gary Bettman look good in the eyes of the board of governors, not to mention tossing Canada a bone with the Thrashers relocating. If you love conspiracy theories then you have to love the NHL right now. With all that being said I am pretty much convinced that the NHL will return to Winnipeg by the start of the 2013 season. And I also believe that Quebec City will eventually be awarded an expansion team by 2015.
Have a good one!
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About the Author
Written by Shane Hoopfer
Die hard Flames fan since 1980, and a closet baseball junkie. Also a big Dolphins, and Stampeders fan!