Coming off two away losses Calgary returns home for a brief three game homestand. The last time they came home from a road-trip win versus San Jose, a number of media types were floating the idea around that the Flames were becoming an elite hockey team up in the area of Detroit, San Jose, and Boston. This, however, is premature and simply not the case.

Here are some reasons why the Flames, although very good this year, are not an elite team and may not be an elite team this season….

Top Missing Pieces to the Calgary Flames

1. Dion Phanuef. The man (he’s only 23) makes 6+ million a year and has 5 goals. Yes, he’s 6th on the team with points, but lately he’s had his ice-time reduced and has become a defensive liability sitting at a -8. You’d think he’d work harder and try to hit people and make some plays, but alas, not hitting, fighting, scoring, or defence from number 3. When he turns it around the Flames will be a force.

2. Speaking of start players, where is Jarome Iginla? Well, not quite, where is Jarome’s scoring? Only 20 goals (can’t believe we’d pick on anybody for only 20) is not his usual pace. His game has changed away from driving the net to more perimeter play. If he’s going to kick it into another gear let’s see him operate in the slot a bit more.

3. In order for Iginla to score he needs someone to get him the puck. The current set up of Craig Conroy in the middle is NOT the answer. Conroy is a good addition, don’t get me wrong, but he kills penalties and is a third line C, NOT a first line centerman. Bring Langkow in the middle, or heck, find someone.

4. Finding a C. That’s not going to happen, but, but maybe next year. Why? There’s at least 7 million bucks tucked away in players NOT playing for the Flames. That’s Nilson (1 Mill), Warrener (2.5Mill), Vandermeer (2.4Mill), and Primeau (1.4 Mill), not a bad chunk of change to improve the Flames.

Considering there are only four that I can think of (add your own please) it’s a pretty good situation for the Flames–they aren’t THAT far away and have improved from last seasons.

With those aspects tied together with stalwart goaltending and great team defence, the Flames will have a chance to loss games occasionally–as in winning will be a normal expectation and occurrence. Of course, there remains a major component, the consistent application of the Flames game plan. When any team gets away from their plans it’s going to be a long night regardless of how good you are.

Your thoughts?