Robots given new assignments by Coach Keenan
I’m not a hockey coach, but I’m troubled by the Flames’ practice-time line combinations today as reported by the Herald’s Scott Cruickshank.
But? It should be noted that RW Eric Godard was off the ice with the regulars and Moss stayed out late (typically a sign of not playing).
So, let me get this straight:
- For five of six periods, you play your best hockey of the last month, in competition with the hottest team in hockey.
- Your forecheck is as active as it’s been all season, with David Moss leading the charge
- You only score three goals in two games, but you also hit three posts and crossbars and have two sure goals stolen away when the opposing goaltender makes unbelievable and unlikely saves
- You manage a split in San Jose that most said was not going to happen
- Craig Conroy, working through an injury, is ineffective, even a liability, through those first two games
- Alex Tanguay, working on your top line, is ineffective, even a liability, through those first two games
Therefor, Mike Keenan’s solution looks as though it’s going to be:
- Keep Tanguay on the top line, and add Conroy to the mix
- Scratch David Moss and break up this new energy line
- Move Matthew Lombardi, your second most dangerous offensive player through two games, back onto a checking line
Sorry, don’t get it. Don’t get it either that Godard will again play, and again will not fight the man with two ladies’ name. Well, maybe I “get it” — this is almost certainly a reaction to the three-goals-in-two-games issue … but splitting everyone up looking for better living through modern chemistry doesn’t seem to work for this team. Not to mention that, if that’s the goal, you maybe ought to think about reuniting Huselius-Langkow-Iginla, which was for a time the most successful grouping of the season for this team.
Now, Keenan has been more than willing to shake it up mid-game through the series so far, and if Nilson is back in that’s good news. But that doesn’t make up for Ball And Chain Godard’s presence on the bench, nor does it mean good things if you’re having to make mid-game adjustments because your game ain’t working.
One other thought before tonight: I was on YouTube the other day and spent a half-hour or so watching highlights from 2004. What struck me most about it was the sheer joy and passion the Flames showed playing the games — guys like Shean Donovan and Ville Nieminen and Martin Gelinas were crazy out there, and it rubbed off on the whole team.
The lockout, the all-business tie, Nervous Jimmy, Andrei Zyuzin and Anders Eriksson later, and you have a group of robots who STARE DOWN THE GAME and often forget that you play better WITH emotion than without. I was heartened when I saw the fauxhawks, because it reminded me of the ’04 moustache-growing competition in its goofiness. Iggy even said: We’ve been too serious, we’re trying to loosen it up. In Game 1, it looked like that had happened: The hits, the blocked shots, the celebrations all said to me that the Flames wanted to be there. But after the penalty parade in Game 2, it was gone.
If they’re going to win, it has to come back.