I have had this game circled on the calender ever since I knew it was there! The homecoming of Jay Bouwmeester, and prior to being traded to the New York Rangers, Olli Jokinen. Because of that trade, only half of that tandem will be here, and with the recent bodies that have been shipped in an out of Calgary, the Flames will certainly have a new look to them tonight.
The Flames will have former Panther Niklas Hagman in their lineup as he was part of the blockbuster Dion Phanuef trade with Toronto last Sunday. Also new players Ales Kotalik, Chris Higgins, Matt Stajan, and Jamal Mayers will be in the lineup for Calgary.
The Flames have been going through a terrible time lately which has prompted general manager Darryl Sutter to make sweeping changes to the roster. The Flames are 2-6-2 in their last ten games and currently sit in the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. The entire game plan and style of play may be changing for the Flames as the loss of Phanuef and Brandon Prust makes them a little less aggressive, and softer. I have been a casual fan of theirs for years and feel that captain Jarome Iginla and goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff are a couple of the top players in the NHL. Also, I like their logo.
The return of Jay Bouwmeester presents the biggest attraction tonight as the graceful, yet soft spoken defenceman returns to South Florida for the first time since being traded last summer. From a points standpoint, Jay is having an off year. Two goals and nineteen assists are a far cry form the numbers we’re used to seeing, and there are a number of factors involved. He still however plays over 26 minutes a night which is on par for his ice time. That being said, I am not looking for Jay to receive a warm welcome. Remember, he did not want to be here, and it wasn’t like we traded him to get equal or better players in return. Combined between Uncle Jack’s refusal to deal him eighteen months prior and Randy Sexton’s inability to work a better deal, Bouwmeester was virtually given away. No offense Jordan Leopold, but not the return I was looking for.
The Panthers who have been struggling to score goals are in the 9th spot in the Eastern Conference with a battle among 3-4 teams for the final playoff spot. With the recent acquisition by New Jersey of Ilya Kovalchuk, I would think that that move will make other teams do some wealing and dealing as well. Except of course the Panthers, who I firmly believe will do nothing.
The Panthers are 6-3-1 in their last ten games and have been off since Monday after losing 3-0 to Anaheim in a game where they showed little hunger. These are desperate times my fellow readers (both of you :)), and Florida needs some players to find their scoring touch and pick up their pace.
I commend and congratulate Tomas Vokoun for his stellar play in goal, but as we have seen, as good as he has been, we cannot keep pace with teams like Washington, New Jersey, and even Ottawa for that matter who has been playing some spectacular hockey. Hmmm, wonder if DeBoer would be having the same success with them that Cory Clouston is. That’s another conversation.
Tonight will be interesting. Will the Panthers come out with some energy from their few days off? Will they be all soft and cuddly because Jay is back in town? How will the crowd react to Jay?
I say Boo him every time he touches the puck!
I’ll be there, and I will!
Also, tonight before the game, the Panthers will be holding another Town Hall Meeting. Can’t wait to tell you how that goes!
Thanks for reading.
P.S. thought you might enjoy this photo of Don Cherry with his Calgary headress on: