Calgarypuck Predictions: January

January 2, 2002 Staff


Roller-coaster seasons are murder on prognosticators.

Who are the Calgary Flames? The 13-2-2 team from the first six weeks of the season, or the stumbling, offensively anemic bunch witnessed in the month of December?

January will go a long way in determining answers to those questions.

With the season three months old, and three prediction pieces in the archives, it's interesting to see how the writers have faired to this point.

The table below shows the point variance for each writer on a month to month basis as well as a season to date total.


























Aaron McCracken has had two wildly mistaken months but has the season to date point total exactly correct.

Both D'Arcy McGrath and Rick Charlton have landed three points to the pessimistic side, while Marc Ciampa in one month of work has been proven three points optimistic.

Where will each writer sit for the month of January?

Related Articles: October || November || December

Rick Charlton

Monthly Record: 7-4-2-0, 16 points

This might be the last great opportunity of the year for the Calgary Flames to rebuild their once formidable playoff cushion.

Calgary plays only 13 times in the 31 days of January with opponents that are more middle of the road than was the case during their pratfall of the last six weeks.

Then again, losses to Tampa, Anaheim and Phoenix did little to give us confidence that an easier schedule is actually a help for this team.

Through the ebb and flow of a season, however, hot periods where everything goes right are inevitably followed by dry spells where the only luck you have is usually bad.

The Flames have been showing signs in the last few games that they might be pulling out of their tailspin. While Calgary is not the 55-win team they looked like earlier, neither are they the 13 win team they were showing through the last month and a half.

But now will be the time to rack up points - as most observers are pointing out - given the huge amount of road time coming up later in the year.

Key injuries to Derek Morris and Denis Gauthier, one logging close to 30 minutes a game and the other near 20 minutes, will be the primary obstacles to overcome this month. The likes of Toni Lydman, Petr Buzek and Igor Kravchuk have to step up their play to substitute for Morris while Robyn Regehr in particular will have to pick up the slack left by Gauthier.

The regurgitation of the new and improved Marc Savard must also continue.

I wasn't particularly hopeful in the month of December, assigning the Flames a .500 mark on the assumption that Anaheim and Tampa would at least fall under the Flames heel although even that prediction proved overly optimistic.

In January, assuming the momentum of bad play and bad luck is beginning to turn, I'm a bit more optimistic and am looking for a 7-4-2 mark, although tailing off badly towards the end of the month.

There are no easy games anymore in the NHL and the Flames are certainly not a team, which is going to overwhelm opponents on talent alone. But teams like Buffalo, Montreal, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and yes the Islanders are certainly within their wheelhouse. The Flames also seem to rise to the occasion against superior opponents and a few of those will be sprinkled into the schedule as well.

January should be a successful month for the Flames, keeping the dogs at bay for at least a while longer.


Derek Morris returns to the lineup on Jan. 24 against Colorado ... Savard is reunited with Jarome Iginla but Craig Conroy and Dean McAmmond continue to put up points while giving the Flames a second scoring line ... Clarke Wilm adds another two goals ... Roman Turek generates two more shutouts .... Rob Niedermayer becomes the de-facto checking line centre ... Kevin Sawyer and Craig Berube get in a fight on Jan 19 (how easy is that one) ... Scott Nichol does not spit at anyone the entire month .... Steve Montador is back in the minors by the third week ... Flames tour the World Trade Centre site on their swing through New York next week. They come away emotionally shaken ... Calgary does their fans a huge favour and shuts out the Leafs at the Saddledome, thus stifling the blueshirt multitudes in the stands ... Come to think of it, they probably shut out the Habs on Saturday night for the same reason.

Aaron McCracken

Monthly Record: : 6-5-2-0, 14 points

Remember in November when everyone was talking about how the Flames had virtually wrapped up a playoff spot? Those were the good old days, weren't they? Now it's January and the Flames are holding on to the 8th and final playoff spot by the skin of their teeth.

December was indeed a tough month for the Flames. The team lost more than their fair share of games, plus blueliners Denis Gauthier and Derek Morris. Mike Vernon was impressive in a win over Detroit, but destroyed any creditability that he gained with a sub-par performance against Minnesota.

While January's schedule isn't overly challenging, the month will be a test of the Flames depth. Roman Turek will carry the load for the majority of the games, while the young defenseman like Toni Lydman and Robyn Regehr will see significant amounts of icetime on a nightly basis. Up front, the team will likely try to split up the four offensive stars (Iginla, Savard, McAmmond, and Conroy) to form two productive scoring lines.

With 9 of the 13 games are at home and just one back-to-back game, the Flames should be able to have a winning month and hang on to their playoff spot, at least for the time being. I look for the Flames to beat teams like Anaheim and Vancouver, who are both coming off back-to-back games, as well as wins over Atlanta, the Islanders, Buffalo, and Minnesota. The Flames will continue to challenge elite teams like Detroit, Colorado, Toronto and the improving Devils, but won't be able to pull off any major upsets.


Individually, Jarome Iginla will relinquish his scoring lead during the month, but will still be the team's offensive leader. Linemate Marc Savard will average over a point-per-game and rescind his trade request. Oleg Saprykin will be recalled in an effort to generate additional offense, taking Jeff Shantz's roster spot - Shantz will be traded for futures or waived during the month. Mike Vernon will see action in two games, playing well enough to keep his job, but not well enough to warrant additional playing time. Jarome Iginla will be named to the North American All-Star team as the Flames lone representative.

D'Arcy McGrath

Monthly Record: 6-4-2-1, 15 points

The Flames survived the month of December.

On paper the month looked to be an uphill climb ... take out Derek Morris and it was near impossible. When you look at it, finding 12 points without a powerplay was a miracle in itself.

January is the quintessential "or else" month on the Calgary Flames schedule.

An average January, despite a plethora of home contests, will likely finish the squad with the tough schedule ahead in February and March. They need to pad some space between themselves and the Phoenix Coyotes.


The Flames started the season getting more bounces than they likely deserved. The last 40 days have seen the complete opposite as anything that could go wrong did go wrong on a nightly basis.

Blown leads in Phoenix, Edmonton and Vancouver ... lackluster efforts in gimme games against Anaheim and Tampa Bay both contributed to a disappointing month that could have been excellent given the victories over Detroit and Dallas.

During the month of January the Flames are likely due for a bounce or two again, and they'll need it with Denis Gauthier and Derek Morris both on the shelf.


The rejuvenation of Marc Savard will continue through January, with the diminutive pivot finding 13 points in the 12 games playing primarily on a line with Jarome Iginla. Dean McAmmond and Craig Conroy will continue to produce without the star right winger, but will see their production fall off. ... Roman Turek will catch fire again and be solid on a nightly basis, but the Flames powerplay will continue to plague them until the return of Derek Morris. ... Petr Buzek, who recorded his first point as a Flame against Edmonton on New Year's Eve, will continue that trend by scoring four more in the month of January. ... Another injury up front will see the promotion of Blair Betts for a short spell in the show. ... Roman Turek will start 11 of 13 games in the month. ... Oleg Saprykin will continue his hot hand in Saint John, sending the Baby Flames on a winning streak that gets them back into the playoffs. ... Canada will win gold in overtime in the WJC Final. Flame prospect Jarret Stoll will be in on the goal. ... Both Roman Turek and Jarome Iginla will suite up in the league's all star game. Iginla will notch his first all star goal against his Calgary teammate.

Marc Ciampa

Monthly Record: : 4-5-3-1, 12 points

The Flames will have some major injuries to overcome, but as was shown when Savard was out for a lengthy period of time, this is a group of players that responds well to adversity. The players know that without Denis Gauthier and Derek Morris they're going to have to keep things simple and do whatever they can to help the team be successful.

The season moves in cycles, and the Flames have shown signs of slowly coming out of their losing stretch that plagued them throughout the entire second quarter of the season. This month will start off slow, the team will build momentum throughout the middle parts of it and then there will be another losing streak to bring the Flames back down to earth again a little bit.

When February 1st rolls around will the Flames be in a playoff spot? If they are, they'll be clinging to it for dear life. January will not be an overly spectacular month, despite the abundance of "beatable" teams. The Flames should remain close to the .500 level, though.


Jarome Iginla will be named to the North American All-Star Team and will win the hardest shot in the skills competition. He'll also play a great game and gain consideration for the MVP honours. Marc Savard will emerge as a scoring threat once again while at the same time, Craig Conroy will struggle without having Iginla on his line as regularly. Conroy will only get 4 points this month and Savard will notch 15. Dean McAmmond will also go into a slump, as he will not get a goal for the entire month of January. Steve Montador plays well enough during his three months to warrant the Flames sending Jamie Allison to Saint John (he clears waivers). The Flames begin to slump once Gauthier and Morris return to the lineup due to the team chemistry shake-up. It will be a short slump, though, as they conclude the month with a solid effort against the Red Wings.



January Calendar (small)

January Calendar (large)










Please Take our Survey