The Wings are in Calgary looking for a win. The Flames are also in Calgary looking for a win. Meanwhile, we're on this blog looking for some answers from Hayley Mutch of Matchsticks and Gasoline to help introduce us to Flames fans' coverage of tonight's matchup.
1. The Flames are halfway through the season. What are their midterm grades like?
Considering the Flames have lost three straight games, have been out-scored 13-3 in those games, and are currently in last place in the West, they're not great. Poor goaltending and inconsistent scoring is mostly what has sunk this team halfway through the season. Player who were on fire to start the season like Lee Stempniak and Curtis Glencross have fizzled out or are injured. Mike Cammalleri, Alex Tanguay, and Jarome Iginla oscillate between occasional flashes of brilliance and futility, and I'm pretty sure Bob Hartley has mistaken Roman Cervenka for Blake Comeau, who keeps getting ice time for some reason while the former gets saddled with the Flames' disaster of a fourth line. The few players who earn solid passing grades halfway through the season would probably have to be Matt Stajan, Mikael Backlund, and yes, Jiri Hudler.
On defence, young TJ Brodie has blossomed into a promising talent who would probably be better served on a team with half-decent forwards to play behind and Jay Bouwmeester has been the team's best defencemen as per usual. Dennis Wideman is surprisingly not the local whipping boy whereas former fan favourite Mark Giordano might be starting to wear out his welcome with his less than spectacular play as of late. Goaltending has been below average all around, but I'm not sure that I envy the Red Wings having to face a pissed off Miikka Kiprusoff tonight. He hasn't played well this season to be sure, but you can never quite be sure when he's going to turn it on.
2. I have to keep asking about Jiri Hudler. Last time we talked, fans liked him through a small sample size. With more time to look at him, how are fans liking him now? (note: we still love him).
Hudler was riding a nice point streak with six points in three games before the Flames' most recent losing streak, and like the majority of the team, he has been held off the scoresheet lately. He's been shifted around the lineup a lot these days, especially with Glencross out, so he doesn't really have consistent linemates, but he continues to be one of Calgary's most creative offensive players and he eats up a significant amount of PP time. I'd like to see him play more with Backlund and Cervenka but Hartley's bizarre hockey crush on Comeau reigns supreme.
3. The Flames are constant targets of trade talk. Do you see Feaster makign any big moves? What kind of trades do you think the team needs to make?
There are few players on the team's current roster that can really be deemed untouchable right now. I think practically everyone outside of the Flames organization has come to the conclusion that Iginla has to be traded. He's the only player on the team that might still fetch the type of return the Flames need based on the perception of him around the league. I'm just not sure fans trust the current management team to make that move in a way that will benefit the franchise going forward.