Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Habs Flames

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Ahead of tonight's match-up with our once arch-rivals (well in my Panini sticker world they were, anyway) Calgary Flames, I spoke with Kent of the Five Hole Fanatics (member of The Score Sports Federation) about the game and some hockey stuff.

He asked me some questions of his own, the responses to which you can read (and agree/disagree with, if you want) at their blog.

Q1) We look at your team as foreign fans and think Iginla, Kiprusoff, Phaneuf... Can you tell us from a Flames perspective who the players to look for tonight will be?

Kent: The stars are the obvious ones, although the Flames have some support guys making waves this year as well. Keep an eye on Glencross, Moss, Bourque and Boyd (who returns from injury tonight). On the back-end, watch the contentious sophomore Mark Giordano.

Q2) By the same token, who are the players you as Flames key on when you think of a match up with the 2008-09 Canadiens?

Kent: When I think of the Canadiens this year, I worry about Koivu, Tanguay and Kovalev (on the PP). I also think you have one of the best defensemen in the league (Markov) and one of the best young goalies (Price).

Q3) We have an interesting history between our teams. Recent additions for the Habs have included two well-paid one-time Flames: Hamrlik and Tanguay. In a line, how do you feel about Tanguay?

Kent: I was a big supporter of Tanguay when he was in town. I think he has tendencies than can be annoying for the average fan (SHOOT THE PUCK ALEX!), but is a valuable even-strength producer.

Q4) Mats Sundin is stirring again. Do you want him on your team? Do you need him?

Kent: I'm sure everyone WANTS Sundin, because he's still a difference maker.

Sundin isn't an option for the Flames though. The club is right up against the cap and has centers coming out of every orifice (Boyd, Langkow, Lombardi, Primeau, Conroy). In short, there's no room cap-wise or on the roster for Mats in Calgary.

Q5) In Montreal, we like to think we are extra hard on our players. Obviously, we are only following in the best Canadian traditions (In a recent post Five Hole Fanatics had said):

Iginla has more empty net goals (3) than even strength goals (2) through 25 games this year. Bourque, Glencross and Moss all have better ESP/60 rates - and a couple of them have faced tougher competition according to behind the net. That's not the difference maker we've come to know and love 'round these parts. Iginla has been beating up on the opposition for years at ES, but that dimension has been severely lacking through the first quarter of this season. Maybe he's injured, maybe he's not getting the bounces, maybe it's an issue of chemistry - whatever it is, I still assume that Iginla will get things going eventually. Sooner rather than later would be preferable though. As in, starting tonight.

Do you think Calgary is a harsh hockey market? How tough ae you on your stars? How long can a scoring slump go before criticism? Booing?

Kent: Expectations are fairly high in town, although I wouldn't call this market overly harsh. Most of the heroes are worshipped, although sometimes guys get run out of town on a rail if they have a rough go of it (*ahem* Tanguay). My recent criticism of Jarome Iginla probably isn't typical of the Calgary market, just to let you know.

Q6) The curse of EA Sports. How much do you want to burn all the EA NHL 09 boxes out there? What's up with Dion?

Kent: Meh. Dion has been good and bad so far. The guy is still just 23 years old and laboring under a new contract and lofty expectations. The coaching staff has gone on record recently to say that Phaneuf is simply trying to do too much every time he steps on the ice. I think he'll settle down as the year progresses.

Finally, I thought it would be fun to have a look at some players, people and places that mean something to either side. That's why I asked both Kent from Five Hole Fanatics and our own Tobalev to state whatever came to mind (in a word or two) when they read the following list (the answers are good):

Rob Ramage, Doug Riseborough, Doug Gilmour, Patrick Roy and Turku

a) Rob Ramage
Kent (Flames): Great defenseman
Tobalev (Habs): Moustache (and car crash)

b) Doug Riseborough
Kent (Flames): Gary Leeman
Tobalev (Habs): Bust

c) Doug Gilmour
Kent (Flames): Local hero
Tobalev (Habs): Hated Him then Loved him more than any other player before or since

d) Patrick Roy
Kent (Flames): Arrogant wind-bag
Tobalev (Habs): Cocky, Show-off (glove-hand), was on great teams, despite all that was a winner
e) Turku
Kent (Flames): Goaltending
Tobalev (Habs): Saku

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