Season Preview: Calgary
By Spike Coffman, TheFourthPeriod.com
Another disappointing year in Calgary, where the Flames fizzled out and missed
the playoffs, left them with more questions than answers. The question that has
been bugging many is: Is it time for GM Jay Fester to pull the plug and trade
away some of his veteran players and start looking towards the future? But does
anyone not have a no-movement clause on this team? Can Bob Hartley, in his first
NHL head coaching position since he got fired six games into the Atlanta
Thrashers 2007-08 season, fix the Flames' problems and put them back into the
Will Jarome Iginla still be able to keep up his play after the lockout? Iginla
will be expected to lead the offense in Calgary; in the past 11 seasons Iginla
has at least 30 goals per season and hasn't slowed down. It would be unexpected
if this is the year that Iginla starts to show some sort of decline. Aiding
Iginla will be Mike Cammalleri on his second stint with the Flames; his
chemistry with Iginla lead to his career-high in points during his first time in
Calgary with an 82 point season. Jiri Hudler, who was signed as a free agent
will be expected to produce, and may come out of the playing shadow of Henrik
Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk.
Denis Wideman got how much money? Feaster took a chance when he acquired the
rights of Wideman and then signed him to a humungous contract. Wideman should
improve the powerplay, but he can still be a liability in his own zone. Then
there is the enigma that is Jay Bouwmeester and will he finally be able to get
the monkey off his back. Bouwmeester has now played 717 NHL games without
appearing in a single playoff game. He needs to be the impact player that he was
supposed to be when Calgary traded for his rights from the Florida Panthers.
While his assist total has stayed the same in Calgary he has only averaged four
goals per season compared to the 14 goal average his last three years in
Will Miikka Kiprusoff still be one of the most overworked goalies in the NHL?
While being one of the premiere goalies in the league, Calgary has over worked
Kiprusoff year-after-year. After the 2004-05 lockout, Kiprusoff has appeared in
at least 70 games per season. We are now seeing a common thought prevailing in
the NHL where starters should lessen their starts during the regular-season to
preserve for the playoffs. Now in a shortened season it may help if Henrik
Karlsson can take a couple starts to save Kipper down the stretch.
The Flames believe they have two solid lines to compete in the Western
Conference, thanks in large part to the signings of Roman Cervenka and Jiri
Hudler. With Jarome Iginla in the last year of his contract, he's going to want
to battle for a playoff spot -- anything less will be a huge disappointment.
General manager Jay Feaster feels this team can compete, but it will be
interesting to see how the blueline helps out its goaltending. Jay Bouwmeester
really needs to step up in a huge way, at both ends of the rink, this season.
He's never played in the playoffs, and taking advantage of the shortened
schedule could get him there.
3 Players to Watch
Who is this Roman Cervenka guy? Cervenka has played his last two seasons in
the KHL with Avangard Omsk putting up impressive numbers including being
third in league scoring two seasons ago. Feaster did have to pay to bring
Cervenka across the ocean to the NHL(1 year, 3.775 with bonus money). If he
does make it over here and is healthy, of which currently he has some health
issues, heâ€™ll be expected to score.
It will be interesting if Cammalleri can return to his scoring prowess after
a disappointing couple of years in Montreal. He never really fit in during
his time in Montreal, and being back with Calgary may be the catalyst behind
a better season.
Hudler will also have to have a big impact in his first season as a Flame.
Will Cammalleri and Hudler be able to play under the system of Bob Hartley?
These three forwards all need to bring their best this season.