FLAMES TRAINING CAMP
|Grrrrrrreat! Toni Lydman looks ready for a break out year
Training Camp Notes
It's only hours now before the Calgary Flames make their first significant cuts of this still young training camp and last night's 4-3 loss to Minnesota no doubt helped coach Greg Gilbert and his staff with their decisions.
Minnesota Wild 4 Calgary Flames 3
September 24th, 2002
The loss itself isn't particularly important - unless you're Rollie Cyr trying to sell tickets - but a number of individual performances stood out for better or for worse.
Jeff Shantz - All but written off as a salary dump by most fans, Shantz seems to have rediscovered himself with an extra step in his stride. He's a classic NHL fourth line checking centre and may be playing himself back into the lineup.
Blair Betts - The resurgence of Shantz might be bad news for his much cheaper clone Blair Betts who also turned in a decent performance last night. Betts showed the extra offensive touch that Shantz doesn't have, however, pushing a quick split-second against the seam pass from behind the net to Scott Nichol for an easy tap-in. A major league play all the way.
Mattias Johansson - The Flames are in dire need of penalty killing help and this guy clearly knows what he's doing even if his teammates don't. But if you're looking for much offence it may not be there. And that's exactly the scouting report Haken Loob gave the Flames. Johansson also blocked a couple of shots last night as well.
Jamie McLennan - Not necessarily overworked but played a solid, confident game. No surprises and you can bet that's exactly what Gilbert is hoping for after last year's up and down and mostly down year from Mike Vernon.
Martin Sonnenberg - didn't play himself off the roster although he showed more energy in the second half of the game. It's usually a lack of consistency, which keeps players like Sonnenberg forever on the fringe. They have the speed and skill level to play in the NHL but coast too often. These days, that isn't good enough.
Matthew Lombardi - A nose for the net and not afraid to go there and get involved. He'll help Saint John this year but definitely a good prospect with a future.
Steve Begin and Scott Nichol - Among the few NHL veterans playing forward for the Flames this game and neither hurt their chances. Nichol in particular stood out with energy all night. Ronald Petrovicky got whacked early in the game and re-appeared with a full face shield but was otherwise unnoticeable.
Jordan Leopold - It's only two games into the exhibition season but Leopold might already be getting the reputation as the second coming of no-hit Tom Poti, another much-talked about college defenceman. Everything else that might be right about Leopold's game is rendered virtually unnoticed given his spectacular penchant for avoiding physical play. He'll take a hit but passed on virtually all opportunities to punish opponents. On another note, he is still adjusting to the speed of the game at the NHL level, even though this wasn't a NHL level contest. Unless something changes, he should start the year in Saint John.
Paul Shmyr - He was badly clubbed and cut by Minnesota's resident monster Matt Johnson, the latter putting Shmyr to his knees and sending his helmet flying with an over the shoulder hay-maker. On a later shift Johnson went out of his way to cream a Flame into the boards, earning a two-minute minor but Shmyr didn't respond to a clear challenge.
Robert Dome - Floating, floating, floating . . . . . The size, the speed, the talent, its all there. But he plays a perimeter game. You are the weakest link. Goodbye.
Levente Szuper - Sure Sergei Zoltok and Jim Dowd had some great chances but a major league goaltender would have stopped one or two of them. It's that fine line separating those who earn the big bucks and those still learning their craft at low pay. Back to Saint John for this crowd favourite. Stopped Hnat Domenechelli on a breakaway after a Petr Buzek flub.
Robyn Regehr - It was encouraging seeing Regehr working over Zholtok's ribs not once or twice but three times in one penalty-killing shift in the second period. The gentle giant has to bring a more aggressive game to the plate if he's to become the Adam Foote clone peole are forecasting.
Derek Morris - Seemed to be double-shifted at times and had a furnace face going as a result, in spite of his much-ballyhooed off-season conditioning program. One shot on net out of all those power-plays isn't good enough and beaten by an inside-out move - just like all the other years - early in the game. And bad penalties late. Probably not the advancement up the development ladder GM Craig Button was looking for. But it's only one game, and a meaningless one at that.
Toni Lydman - Should I commit a heresy and declare Lydman superior to Morris now. Plays a confident game and is clearly moving up the ladder of NHL defencemen. The downside? No shots on net in spite of all that power play time. Like Morris, he needs to get the puck through to the net.
Petr Buzek - Seems to commit that one Gary Suter-like error per game, which sets up a spectacular chance the other way - this time Domenechelli's breakaway. Otherwise a fairly solid game. Right now, you'd take Buzek over Leopold.