Flames’ Defense Burning Out
March 10, 2009 by Big Tony
The Calgary Flames acquired Olli Jokinen at the trade deadline and many put them as the new Western Conference favorites—or at least up there with San Jose and Detroit—as a result. There is no doubt that acquisition of Jokinen will help Calgary’s chances of winning both the west and the Stanley Cup. However, since the trade deadline the Flames have gone 1-3 including losing three in a row by a combined 14-5. Granted, Calgary is on a long east coast road trip which is really hard for any team let alone a team from out west. That said, losing is one thing but giving up 14 goals in three games is pathetic. The Calgary Flames needed more help on defense than anywhere else and Jordan Leopold is a fine player but not enough to make a big enough impact to give Calgary the defensive improvement it needs (you heard that first here on sportsroids right after the trade deadline). So where does Calgary go from here? They are eight points ahead of the closest team in their division and it is doubtful this losing will continue once they leave the east coast so the playoffs are almost certainly in their sites. But as many fans, observers, etc. will tell you Calgary was not built to just make the playoffs but to be highly successful once they qualify. Size, offensive fire-power, and goaltending are all important aspects of what makes a successful playoff team; the missing part of that equation is strong defense. Limiting scoring chances takes pressure off of the goalie and the offense because if you don’t the offense cannot always outscore the other team who will net many pucks if a goaltender—no matter how great—is peppered with puck after puck. The Flames have a lot to figure out in the next few weeks because being outscored 14-5 is the sign of a team headed an early round exit, an abject disaster for Flames fans everywhere.
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