The Flames are fresh off a lucky win against Minnesota and are currently the healthiest team in the West. But, as we approach the quarter point for this year’s season there are unfortunately more questions than answers surrounding a team that’s supposed to be a cup contender with more fire power and experience. From top to bottom, the players are making fans scratch their heads in bewilderment wondering what it takes to witness 60 minutes of solid NHL hockey. Since none of us can actually go in and make changes, let’s comment and rant together as we practice our arm chair GM skills.

Changes to be Had After the First Quarter

1. Limit Phanuef’s ice-time. Many people will disagree saying he’s a monster and he’s the greatest thing since Chris Pronger. I beg to differ. He’s only in his third season. Instead of 30 minutes a game chop 5 minutes off and save the one bad penalty and one bad defensive mistake he makes a game. Eventually he’ll be a Pronger I’m sure, but for now, let’s not make it the Dion show. Plus, it the guy plays hard, 30 minutes, and is getting dinged pretty good. Wouldn’t want him to go down to big injury.

2. A top centerman. I’ve been ranting on Craig Conroy for a while. Maybe it’s undeserved, but maybe not. He’s not a young player and he’s not going to hit his 2004 stride again. Face it, if Jarome is off to his best start but Conroy can barely put points on the board, makes you wonder about our centerman situation.

3. No dumb penalties. Tanguay, Conroy, Huselius. At least two will be in the box each game for terrible penalties.

4. Better PK. What are we ranked? Bottom 5 I’m sure. Why not a bit of a change if the aggressive PK doesn’t work?

5. Better PP. We rant on the PP like we did last year. Truth be said, we weren’t THAT bad. I suspect things will come together for the PP (it does have flashes of brilliance). The poor 5v3 PP times need major improvement.

6. What’s with benching vets? You think Smith, Moss, Nystrom, who have 1 goal between them are really a great third line? I know you have Godard on the forth but seriously, I’ll take a few more minutes from Nilson at the moment. Although, none of them really shine.

7. Kiprusoff stops his one goal a game softies. Enough said. While we’re on goalies, a back-up would be nice too.

8. Double shift Iginla. The man is on fire yet only plays on the top line. A bit of a system thing though here too.

9. Second line scoring. Enough said. This has been terrible this year. We know it, everyone knows it, the players know it. More goals from people other than Iginla, Langkow, Lombardi, and Tanguay.

10. Iron-Mike has to bring out the Iron-fist? Has he been too soft? Why aren’t the players responding? I think Flames fans expected more public crash and bang from the coach. What’s needed from him and the rest of the coaches in unknown since we aren’t behind the closed doors.

11. heart and grit. Shift in and out it’s gotta be hard fore and back-checking. Lately the Flames have done little offensively to crash and bang which doesn’t help get the crowd into the game. Overall, better efforts are needed on a team that should know better.

What’s needed for the next quarter? Simply put, the Flames are a great team on paper. We have an old team with experience. We should be better, much better. The solution is consistency with the vets and some secondary goals. This team could switch from night to day but as of right now it’s only haze in the horizon. The future looks hazy Flames fans, the next quarter will tell us all we need to know about the team.

Your thoughts? Post them in a comment here.