The Flames tanked another game against the Wings last night. Much of that had to do with another disappointing match by Kipper and the Flames defense.
On paper, the Flames should be able to match up to the Wings in most categories—but once again they proved that whats on paper doesn't always reflect reality on the ice.
The Flames have been having a couple major problems this season. The first is bad goaltending, as Kipper still hasn't been able to get into his old form, though he has shown shades of his old shelf.
Which begs the question: is he past his prime?
The second problem is bad team defense. The Flames have one of the worst G.A.A. in the league at the moment, and key defensive break downs aren't helping.
Thirdly, the combination of one of the highest ranked PIMs in the league with one of the worst PK% in the league is costly. The constant parade to the penalty box isn't helping anyone on the bench.
The bright spot, of course, is Iginla and the offensive help he has been getting from his 2nd and 3rd lines. The Flames are ranked in the top ten in goals for per game, and Iginla is once again in the top five in the NHL for points. Iginla has been a bright spot for the team again, and is proving that he is the soul of Calgary.
So where do the Flames go from here?
Well, it isn't all bad for the Flames, as they are much better on the road then last year—and since it is very early in the season, the team has a lot of time to turn things around. If the team D can gel and give Kipper an easier time in net, he should be able to get back into his groove. Allowing 30+ shots on goal and too many odd man rushes is hurting both him and the team at the moment.
That said, Calgary is only three points out of 8th place, and a small hot streak could push them into playoff position. With both Colorado and Edmonton ice cold as of late, the Flames need to push past them into a higher ranking in the Northwest Division. The more they loose to NW division rivals, the harder it is for Calgary to make the playoffs.
With a four game homestand coming up starting Thursday, the Flames need to turn it around at home. There is no easier way to do that then when the crowd is on your side. With the way that the Saddledome has been buzzing since 2002, a win against the Ducks Thursday could turn their season around.
What I would do? Simply sit Kipper for a couple games!
I know that Keenan loves to play his goaltenders (as is evident when he played Grant Fuhr in 79 games a few seasons back), but Kipper hasn't been known as an endurance goaltender. They need to get into a nice playoff position early and rest him down the stretch so he doesn't blow a gasket in the playoffs.
I would also put more emphasis on home games; the Flames had the best home record last season, but one of the worst road records. If they can return to their dominance at home but keep up their current .400 record on the road, a ten win road record turns into a 16 win road record.
Six games is twelve points for the Flames—but in addition, is also twelve points taken away from other teams. You turn six divisional losses into wins and twelve points is in reality 24 points, as you are also taking points away from your potential opponents.
The time to turn it around is now, before it is too late!