Calgary Flames: Is It Already Time to Write off the Season?

Jim FlanneryAnalyst IFebruary 3, 2013

CALGARY, CANADA - FEBRUARY 02: Andrew Shaw #65 of the Chicago Blackhawks scores against Miikka Kiprusoff #34 of the Calgary Flames in the third period of a game at Scotiabank Saddledome on February 2, 2013 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Blackhawks beat the Flames 3-2 in a shoot-ou. (Photo by Dylan Lynch/Getty Images)
Dylan Lynch/Getty Images

After dropping a 3-2 shootout decision to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Calgary Flames are dead last in the Western Conference and in a tie for fewest points in the NHL with the Florida Panthers.

In a lockout-shortened season, where every game counts that much more, this is a terrible way to start.

Just six games in, the Flames are already five points out of a playoff berth and, although they have games in hand on the contenders, that's a long way to climb in a short period of time.

The fact that they're scoring fewer than three goals a game is also discouraging. If they were losing high-scoring affairs, you could at least hope that the defense might come around and they could pick up some wins that way.

But asking 36-year-old Miikka Kiprusoff to suddenly start playing like he did a decade ago is asking too much.

In fact, age is a big factor in what is wrong with the Flames this year. Their current leader in points is Alex Tanguay, with six, which puts him in a tie for 71st in the NHL scoring race. While it's possible that he might maintain a point-per-game scoring pace, at age 33 and five years removed from the last time he scored at that rate, it seems unlikely.

The other veterans tasked with leading Calgary's offense are down in the middle of the pack among Flames' scorers.

Jarome Iginla, at age 35, has just four points, none of them goals. Mike Cammalleri has just two points and has been in decline since the 2008-2009 season.

At age 30, Curtis Glencross is probably already as good as he'll ever be and his best output was 48 points last season.

Jiri Hudler is capable of rounding into a 60-point guy this year and Mikael Backlund's strong performance in Europe during the lockout suggests that he's capable of getting into the 60-point range as well.

But a handful of 60-point scorers aren't enough to win a team a Stanley Cup, even with the coaching skills of Bob Hartley guiding the ship. Let's face it, when Hartley won the Cup in 2001 with the Colorado Avalanche, he had a team loaded with talent.

There are no Joe Sakics, Peter Forsbergs or Patrick Roys on the Calgary Flames this year. Tanguay is back with Hartley, yes, but he's 12 years older now and not the athlete he was then.

At the end of the day, the Flames need to come to grips with the reality of what they are. And what they are is an also-ran. General manager Jay Feaster needs to blow this team up, dump some of the aging veterans, and get his hands on a few more prospects and draft picks to give this team a chance to win somewhere in the future.


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