Have you been wondering what's up with Dutchie? Trying to figure out the goalie that the Blues're probably up against tonight? Here's your chance -- it's time for Three Questions, this time with Hayley from Matchsticks and Gasoline!
1. Leland Irving. God love him, he's getting a trial by fire and is still an unknown quantity despite so much time in Calgary. I know he's been hiding behind Kipper for a while -- do you guys have any opinion on him that can educate the rest of us?
Irving is something of an enigma for most Flames fans too, but I think the consensus is that he's likely more of a short-term solution and that his time in the organization may be limited with goalies like Karri Ramo and, longer term, Laurent Brossoit coming down the pipes. This is the first time the Flames have been put in this situation since 2003-04 when Kipper was last out for an extended period of time with an injury, and so far Irving's performance has been so-so, but it sort of helps his cause that Kipper wasn't necessarily playing his best hockey before he got injured. Thursday night's game wasn't his best showing and neither was the game in Vancouver, but that was partially due to defensive lapses by the team in front of him. If the Flames can score enough goals like they did on Thursday night to give Leland more room for error, then they might win more games in the next couple weeks before Kipper gets back. If not, they'll be in trouble.
2. All of this "Trade Iginla" talk has to be tiring for your fanbase. Do you think a rebuild will ever happen? Should it? Will the Flames just wind up holding on to Iggy?
I'm probably one of the only Flames fans without a real opinion on whether or not Iggy will be dealt or the team should blow it all up and go for a full-scale rebuild. I don't see Iginla getting traded for a couple of reasons--I think that Flames fans overvalue him and probably wouldn't be satisfied with the return garnered in a trade unless it was some combination of a number one centre, a top-five pick, or an NHL-ready top prospect (which seems unlikely), and even though his point totals don't show it, many people have commented on how he looks like a younger version of himself this season. I don't know if that's because of better quality teammates like Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka or because Bob Hartley is giving him more favourable circumstances (which I doubt since Mikael Backlund got injured), but my best guess is that the Flames will re-sign him to a one-year deal before free agency. As for the rebuild, the Flames have some decent prospects like Baertschi, Gaudreau, (Markus) Granlund, Brossoit, and Wotherspoon coming up in a few year's time. TJ Brodie has emerged as a top-four defenceman, and although they're not winning every game this season, they are a better team than they have been in recent years. There is work to do and I'd still like to see the team get younger, but it's not all bad. My point of view may change depending on the outcome of this season though!
Lee Stempniak was very good for the Flames when they acquired him in the summer of 2011 for Daymond Langkow before he went cold and got injured, and this year he's definitely experienced a bit of a resurgence with nine points in 11 games. He's been bouncing around the lineup a little bit with all the injuries the Flames have had, but having him on the third line has been great for us because that can be a weak spot for a lot of teams and he pretty much dominates the opposition. He's a very opportunistic player and always seems to be able to sneak out in front of the net without being noticed by opposing defecemen. He's been great on the powerplay, which has been an area the Flames have struggled in in recent years, and he plays shorthanded too. I like Stempniak a lot, but if he keeps this up maybe the Flames can leverage some trade value for him. It would be better than overpaying him when his contract is up at the end of 2013-14 and he's 31 years old.