The puck drops on another hockey season for the Calgary Flames. A lot of red in the stands and a new look Sportsnet for fans watching at home. The starting lineup includes a couple of new faces, especially on left-wing and in goal.
Calgary opened the season against the league’s most hated team the Vancouver Canucks who themselves are trying to right the ship after an abysmal season. With the Sedins anything is possible simply through their skill, but we can expect Vancouver to crash and burn (or we can at least hope) as they did last year.
Calgary on the other hand will try to build on their rebuild and their record from last season. Sure, they competed every game, but fans and management and players want wins–nothing less. To do that the team needs to improve, and on paper it seems as though they’re better. On the ice? Well it looks pretty much the same.
Flames 2 – Canucks 4
When you look at the opening day lineup and what was happening on the ice, some coaching moves left you scratching your head. Yea, it’s game 1 and Hartley is ‘figuring things out’, but there were some eyebrow raising changes. Alright, I’m a couch coach and what I see is irrelevant, but here are some thoughts anyways.
1) Preparation on game day. You’d think attention to defensive detail would be high, but wow defensive zone coverage was shaky? Backlund’s line, the #2? line was terrible. Backlund himself, not strong on the puck and always hemmed in. He gave up the puck twice for goals.
2) Everyone seems to hate Wideman, and I’m beginning to see why. Poor defensive zone coverage, weak on the feet. Guy needs to compete a bit more. But, he’s also a right-handed shot. We needed him on the PP, especially the 5v3 where Calgary barely generated a shot. Say what you want about him, for his money, he can contribute on that PP, and if memory serves correct, he did play lots of PP time a year or two ago and faired well.
3) Why start McGrattan? Does this team want to win or just sit in the stone ages? Maybe McGrattan needs to play tomorrow against the Oilers, but that’s really all about the game-day lineup. If Sestito isn’t playing then McGrattan doesn’t need to play and David Jones or Devin Setoguchi can play. They pose a threat on offence, Mcgrattan is one-dimensional.
4) Why is Bouma on the second line?!?!? Bouma should be on the fourth line where he belongs. He’s a checker not a goal-scorer. That experiment was tried last year and it didn’t work, so why bother wasting that spot? See #3 above, I hope after re-thinking this starting lineup we get something a bit more balanced especially against teams that don’t have a hired goon.
With the new stats department in the Flames front office maybe their tactics will shift, albeit that’s a coaching decision at the end of the day.
Calgary did not look good. It was very clear tonight, since they lacked effort, that there’s nothing beyond a semi-good second line player. Sedins have skill and they burned the Flames tonight. Calgary? Well they seemed quite lost. They’ll pull things together, obviously, but fans were expecting something better in Game 1.