Calgary began the second half of their 2008-09 season against St. Louis with a win for their 26th W of the year. In total the Flames have accumulated 54 points before St. Louis, on pace for 108 which would quite the achievement and a far cry from the team fans saw in the first two games of the season.
So half way through what can we say and what should we expect? Will the Flames remain atop of the Western Division? Will they make it through the first round of the playoffs? Are they contenders for the Stanley Cup? Here’s our thoughts…..
Player Report Cards: Half-Point
Jarome Iginla – B
The thing with Jarome is although he’s on pace for less points than last year, although he’ll probably still crack the 90 point mark, is that he’s struggling to find the net. With a couple empty netters this year is a bit more challenging for Jarome to dominate downlow and blast pucks into the net. To compound problems he’s without a bonafide number one C. Cammalleri could do it, but seriously, Conroy is not the answer and the Flames need someone to feed the ‘man’ the puck on a regular basis. Quality passes, not, “where’s Jarome let’s force the puck”. I think his game would improve with a better C.
Mike Cammalleri – B+
He’s going to do better than Tanguay last year barring injury, but then again, Tanguay is doing way better too :P. Cammalleri is finding his game as of late and scoring some timely goals. If it wasn’t for a slow start we’d have him in the A range. Hopefully he continually improves and contributes for the team in the playoffs.
Daymond Langkow – A-
Langkow is one of the few Flames on pace to exceed his point total from last year. That’s a bit weird since his ice time early on was down, and since he’s on the second line this year. Nonetheless, he’s money on the defense and is starting to regain his scoring touch. Benefactors of his game are his main wingers Bertuzzi and Bourque.
Todd Bertuzzi – B
Certainly an upgrade from Nolan, and cheaper, much to the delight of Flames fans. You can still hate him but let’s admit, we’re all surprised he has the points he does. If he can stay healthy he’ll contribute in the playoffs as well. let’s see if he chases money at the end of the year or re-sings with the Flames. The downside for him is his terrible +/- (worst on the team).
Rene Bourque – A-
Just under 30 points before the halfway point one of the surprises this season is Rene Bourque. Touted by us to be a third line winger, Bourque fits in nicely on the second line and controls the game with his electric speed. Nobody really thought this guy would score 15 goals (on pace for 30) so credit the Flames’ fortunes to him and other secondary scorers.
Dion Phaneuf – C+
Certainly underachieving this year, only three goals, less hits, less fights, less grit? His minutes have gone down from earlier in the season as he tries to both improve the quality of his shifts and improve his defensive game. One can’t expect him to underachieve for the second half so expect a nice Dion run of domination.
Curtis Glencross – A-
23 points but eight goals, many of them big game-winners. Glencross has mildly exceeded expectation. I say mildly because he was expected to contribute as a third liner, but if he can get just under 50 points in a season, that’s an A grade for a third line winger. He’s also the fastest skater on the team–move over Lombardi.
Craig Conroy – B
I’m not going to grade Conroy’s performance on the top line which is probably a D. He shouldn’t be there but the coaches line him up beside Iginla. As a third line C and a penalty killer he’s doing a great job.
David Moss – A-
Only 21 points, a career year actually, but 14 goals. FOURTEEN GOALS?! David Moss with 30 Goals? Unheard of and unexpected. It may happen, but unlikely. I for one hope he doesn’t get 30 cause then we’ll have to pay him way more. However, he’s a nice surprise and a good example of gritty Flames hockey.
Adrian Aucoin – A-
Starting to play a bit more on the PP and with Regher on the top D line, Aucoin is contributing close to his price-tag of 4 million. One can only hope that he resigns with the Flames, but for less cash.
Matthew Lombardi – C
Another disappointing season for Lombardi who can’t find a home on any line and can’t score with any consistency. Trade bait perhaps?
Mark Giordano – B
Since coming back from Russia Mark has put up OK numbers and continues to improve his game. He has an offensive touch and continues to contribute with moves on the PP. He’s a puck moving D man and valuable to the Flames so long as he continues to shore up his defensive zone play.
Dustin Boyd – B+
Only 12 points but eight goals. We should expect Boyd to eventually graduate to the second line but for now he’s always stuck on PK or fourth line duties. He’d get way more points somewhere else, however, his size is thebig problem If he gains 20 pounds in the off season then he’ll be a force for the Flames next year.
Cory Sarich – B
Throw Sarch off the bus, that’s what many have said. He’s crappy on D…..I think he’s OK. Being used currently as a 5th Dman, Sarch is a stay at home Dman who has the skills to be a stay at home Dman. Criticism emerged after some junky defensive plays, and for a while he was a minus player. However, as of late he’s been steady at back, albeit his minutes have declined. Expect him to turn a better second half and come up big in the playoffs.
Eric Nystrom – B+
Fourth line duties for this fourth line plugger. He fights, he hits, he kills penalties, yea pretty much what you want from this guy.
Adam Pardy – A-
Only 28 games into the season and Pardy is another surprise for the Flames. When Vandermeer went down Flames were wondering if the rookie could step up. It took a few games but he managed to fit in with the defensive corps. Pardy will give the Flames options next year as he’s proved himself to be capable on D.
Robyn Regehr – A
Regehr is Regehr. He won’t score, but he won’t be scored upon. Playing against other teams top lines he’s still plus 7. That’s great for the best defenceman/money spent in the league. Keep on trucking Robyn.
Wayne Primeau – N/a
Primeau has been hurt for almost a quarter of the season. He was doing great on the fourth line and killing penalties before he was hurt. We’ll see where he fits when his foot heals.
Andre Roy – C+
Although he has two goals, Roy has 22 games, a few fights, and that’s about it. He doesn’t even win fights. Really disappointed with his contributions. Should have kept Godard if it’s just to fight….but he is a better skater.
Brandon Prust – C+
Not sure why we paid this guy 1 million to play on the fourth line and do nothing other than fight…. He’s supposed to be antagonistic, and he’s not.
James Vandermeer – B
While he was playing he was mostly solid on D. He’s back now so we’ll see where he fits.
Miikka Kiprusoff – A-
People wanted to trade him! He leads the league in wins. He plays tons, and he’s starting to make timely saves. It’s not the 2004 Miikka but he’s still dominant and can steal games. would like to see McElhinney play a bit more though just in case.
And that’s that. The half-way report. What can we take? Basically the stars in Phaneuf, Iginla, aren’t producing as they should. But the Flames are better off this year. Why? Better defensive play and definitely better secondary scoring. Since the stars will eventually find their way, we can expect a better outcome in this year’s playoffs IMO.
GO FLAMES GO! Away to the next 41 games (40 are left).