I was off enjoying the long weekend on a boat, so today I’ll catch up by having two previews for you. First, the Calgary Flames 2012 preview by FanSided’s Flame for Thought site, followed later this evening by the Carolina Hurricanes. And definitely be sure to check in tomorrow when it’s my turn at bat with the Chicago Blackhawks season preview.
Although they missed the playoffs for the 2nd straight year, the Calgary Flames had a very respectable 2011 season. New GM Jay Feaster chose to tweak the roster instead of making any major moves over the summer, so to the casual viewer the team looks pretty much the same. In my opinion, that’s likely to leave Calgary on the outside looking in yet again in 2012.
Two major factors that could hurt the Flames this year are lack of organizational depth and a dependency on aging stars, namely captain Jarome Iginla and goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. After a slow start, Iggy ended the 2011 campaign with 43 goals; good for 3rd in league. Can the 34 year old repeat that kind of production? I wouldn’t put it past him. The bigger concern is their soon to be 35 year old netminder.
Since the lockout, Kiprusoff has played in over 70 games every season. Except for an above-average 2010, his numbers have steadily declined annually since 2004. The Blackhawks also had a goaltender last year who turned 35 at the start of the season, and we all know how that turned out. Based on his heavy workload and subsequent decline, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kipper finish with a Sv% below .903 for the first time in his career – and that spells doom for the Flames.
Ryan Patrick from Flame for Thought gives us his take:
If you don’t follow the Calgary Flames that closely, you’d probably be hard-pressed to recognize the differences between last year’s team and the team heading into 2011-12. Not to say freshly announced GM Jay Feaster hasn’t done anything, in fact he played an absolute perfect hand in a very tight salary cap situation.
He shipped away guys like Ales Kotalik, Robyn Regehr and Daymond Langkow, all who had large contracts they weren’t performing up to. He also locked up Curtis Glencross and Alex Tanguay to long-term deals and brought in a mix of youth and veteran presence on the blueline. In the end, the Flames now have a little over $3.6 million in cap-space heading into the season, and Feaster has made it abundantly clear he’s willing to spend that money to improve the team. Whether or not Calgary’s off-season roster tweaks can push them into a playoff spot in the insanely competitive Western conference remains to be seen.