5 Flames 3
goaltending morass got even more twisted as the
Calgary Flames fell 5-3 on the road last night to
the Canucks in Vancouver.
The loss dropped
Calgary's pre-season record to 3-1-1.
The battle of the
backups between incumbent Jamie McLennan and
challenger Dany Sabourin didn't get any closer to
being solved as the former, carrying a one-way
contract, continued shoveling his own grave with
another less than riveting pre-season performance.
Coach Darryl Sutter
is also still waiting for Oleg Saprykin, whom he had
told had a roster spot before camp opened, to step
up and earn it.
This was probably a
game which broke the back or saved the day for a few
rookies and veterans as the Flames begin to wind
down their exhibition schedule.
With only two games
remaining, it figures several cuts will be announced
before the Flames play next in Edmonton.
Could it be that
Mike Commodore is figuring to impress Sutter by not
playing at all? Commodore was tossed from yet
another game for a third man in violation, logging
only 5:57 in ice time and 10 shifts. Commodore is in
a duel to the death with Steve Montador and Jesse
Wallin for a single spot - unless GM Sutter clears
out a veteran defenceman to open another place at
With 27:49 in ice
time and 36 shifts, Wallin was played to exhaustion
last night as Sutter obviously wanted to get a full
read on the former Red Wing. There was great hope
that Wallin would come into camp flush with the
experience of playing with the imposing defencemen
in Detroit but he hasn't distinguished himself from
logged another 27:12 in ice time through 33 shifts
and was on in the final minute of the third period
as the Flames tried desperately to tie the game.
Through five exhibition games Ference is getting the
most ice time of any Flames defender by far and is
the single defenceman benefiting the most from
Sutter's command that his defenders become more
involved in the play on the offensive side of the
Jordan Leopold is
light years ahead of where he was at this point last
pre-season and seems poised to take another step
forward. He collected two assists and logged just
under 20 minutes in ice time.
Robert Dome's heart
and intensity were questioned before training camp
began but there seems little doubt his play with and
without the puck is strengthening the closer we get
to opening day. Yet his ice time was again limited
to 13:52 - still the most he's logged in a game this
pre-season - which defies analysis as it puts him at
the bottom of the heap compared to the people he's
competing with. Does he already have a spot locked
up or is Sutter seeing something he doesn't like and
limiting Dome's opportunity? Scored his third of the
This was probably
the best game of the pre-season for Oleg Saprykin
but he's still far away from justifying the
confidence Sutter placed in him when the Calgary GM
told him a roster spot was locked before training
camp began. He logged 15:04 in ice time through 22
play is also strengthening the closer we get to
opening day but with Craig Conroy, Steve Reinprecht,
Stephane Yelle and probably Blair Betts ahead of him
on the depth chart it would seem likely Lombardi's
ticket to the AHL is soon to be punched. However,
the kid is looking like a shoe-in to return to the
NHL as a fill-in or full-time employment within the
next year or so. Lombardi logged 17:42 in ice time
through 28 shifts.
There is little
doubt Blair Betts has a headlock on the fourth line
centre job. He had 18:32 in ice time over 30 shifts.
At this point its
difficult to see Matt Davidson making the cut. He'd
been outshone earlier by Josh Green and Shean
Donovan while turning in a non-descript,
unnoticeable training camp and exhibition schedule.
Jason Morgan hasn't
hurt himself in this training camp and one could
easily picture him as a call-up in the event of
someone like Betts being injured. He had 17:05 in
ice time and 29 shifts in another dependable
Jeff Ewasko enjoyed his cup of coffee in the NHL
last night. Did he earn a contract? We're not seeing
Chris Clark seemed
in danger of falling into the pack of wingers
competing for a slew of jobs but has probably
rescued himself in the last few exhibition games.
Clark left the game with an injury last night, a
factor that may prolong one decision up front if he
can't start the season. Time will tell.
The scariest thing
happening in Calgary's camp is the guy many had
openly targeted for the ECHL, Brent Krahn, is the
player making the best argument to be Roman Turek's
backup in the NHL.
continues to submarine while simultaneously kicking
the door open for both Krahn and Sabourin, although
the latter has also been having his highs and lows.
allowed only a single goal last night he also was
fortunate to have two shots ring the goalpost,
saving him from ending up with three behind him as
A trouble for
Sutter in the evaluation process is the Flames have
actually been so dominant that their goaltenders
really aren't getting many shots, the Canucks last
night limited to twelve.
But scoring on five
Tickling the back
of Sutter's mind must be the horrifying thought of a
Turek injury - similar to last year - and turning
the season over to a veteran who can't stop a beach ball
right now . . . . or two rookies.
Sutter told FAN960 in the pre-game show he wasn't
patting himself on the back just yet over a power
play that's scored nine times in only five games,
ascribing the success to a combination of tepid
competition and young players eager to make their
indicated the evaluation process at the moment is
not only centering on roster spots but also on
evaluating potential call-ups, suggesting he's
likely already made decisions on someone like Jason
Morgan as an example.
Waiver draft is