The biggest problem with last year's team has to be the powerplay and penatly kill. These are two aspects of the game that have gathered great importance over the last decade. Every team needs to be efficient in these aspects of the game. The powerplay last year was ranked 21st in the league and the Flames also allowed 15 shorthanded goals. With Bowmesster and Phaneuf on the point and Ignila and Jokinen down low I think the powerplay will be much better than last year and maybe top ten in the league. They will also have to limit the amount of shots that Miikka Kiprusoff has to face every night. Kipper cannot be allowed to play over 75 games this season or the playoffs exits of the past will be repeated. Kipper needs his load lightened.
He may be in the best shape of his career and has hired a trainer for the first time in the off season, but he cannot be ask to carry this load night in and night out. It's not fair to him or the team. His numbers have been slowly declining since his masterful display of agility in 2004. So the question now becomes can Curtis McElhinney play 15 to 20 games this season and be productive. I think the Flames need this question answered early in the season so they can make the right moves to acquire a backup goaltender. I hope McElhinney can show that he can be the backup for a Stanley Cup Champion contender, but the Flames need to either give him a chance or find someone they trust. If Kipper is fresh in the first round you can expect the second round to be his redemption.
Having the best defense in the NHL is great but who will score goals for this group you might ask. I could mention Jarome Iginla and 8 straight 30 plus goal seasons but that's too easy. Iginla will have a great year and will be knocking on 50 goals come April. Olli Jokinen will have his first chance to play a full season with the flames. His chemistry with Iginla maybe the biggest question mark for this offense. These two men are extremly talented and I think an 82 game season playing on the same line will prove to be devastating for opposing teams.
Moss is rumored to be on the first line after scoring a career high 20 goals last year. Whoever plays on the first line will get their chances and what they do with those chances will be important to this offense. There are three players on the 2009 Calgary flames roster that I think will have great seasons and help pick up the load from some of last year's scorers. Rene Bourque, Curtis Glencross and Nigel Dawes will be key to the Flames having any success in the regular season or the playoffs. Each man has the potential to score 20 plus goals this season. Don't forget that Dawes scored 50 goals in the WHL but his consistency will be his biggest obstacle. The Flames need this scoring from the second and third lines to have a chance at competing for the Stanley Cup.
The Flames have made some dramatic moves in the off season that may help them reach their ultimate goal as 2009 Stanley Cup Champions. The biggest move was the acquisition of a new head coach. Although Mike Keenan is a great coach I feel he was the wrong piece on a puzzling Flames roster. With Brett Sutter now holding the rains as the bench boss this team will now have the structure that has been lacking in previous years. This structure was seen in the preseason. Sutter will play a different system and will hold all players accountable for their actions. Not just by chasing the puck but controlling the ice.
The hockey season is just a few days away and the Calgary Flames are looking to reclaim the Northwest division title. The 2009 Calgary Flames are ready to wash off the disappointment of last years early exit. Since the 2004 playoffs the Flames have struggled to make it pass the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. With a Calgary Flames hockey fan base awaiting to explode the Flames may finally be ready to lift a city to new heights. In their 30th anniversity of winning their only Stanley Cup, the Calgary Flames may have their best chance to suceed in 2009. With a country starving to see the Cup raised on Canadian soil this team might be our only chance. Vancouver may make a run but with their schedule in this olympic year it may be too much to ask.
Making sure all players are in the right place including forwards and defensmen. This will be a tough transition for some players but Sutter will show admiration for the players that play hard and follow the system he now has in place. If you work hard then you will be rewarded. Ice time is yours to have if you can play his style of hockey. The other big acqusition was aquiring Jay Bowmesster from Florida. Bowmesster is maybe the best all around defensmen in the NHL today.
He has lead the NHL in TOI the last two seasons and scored 15 goals last year. His skating ability is matched by few in the game today. He will be joined by the best defensive defensmen in the league, Robyn Regehr. Combine these two men with the young Dion Phaneuf and you have three men who could wear Team Canada jerseys in 2010. Three men who will control the ice and anchor the best defense in the NHL. I just hope the Flames can give these men a rest and still show the city Calgary Flames playoffs at its best.