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Through the 5 Hole


February 2, 2010 3:12 PM

Panic mode for Flames?

I actually thought the Calgary Flames could be a Stanley Cup contender this season.
Now I'm wondering if they'll even make the playoffs, especially after dealing Dion Phaneuf and Olli Jokinen.
Sounds like panic moves to me on the part of general manager Darryl Sutter.
Then again, the Flames have been so awful lately that a shakeup was in order, not that the spare parts Calgary received from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Phaneuf deal helped the team get out of its funk while making their debuts in a 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

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"I think it's unfair to judge them so quickly," Flames coach Brent Sutter told reporters of newcomers Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Matt Stajan and Ian White. "They met a whole bunch of new guys, a new coaching staff, tried to get an idea of what our systems are like, how we want to play.
"I don't think it's right to judge them on their performance tonight but the reality is that we can't have players, new and old, take too long getting used to each other because we have no time for that. We need to win hockey games."
The Flames have lost 10 of their past 11 games while being shut out three times and held to one goal in three other contests.
You have to feel a little sorry for goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, who already has been in goal for 17 of the Flames' 21 regulation losses despite posting a 2.24 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.
Calgary's latest trade -- sending the underachieving Jokinen and rugged Brandon Prust to the New York Rangers in exchange for underachieving forwards Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins -- isn't likely to fix their offensive woes much, either.
Jokinen, who has only 11 goals in 56 games, is expected to center the Rangers' top line with Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaborik. Maybe he'll do a better job skating with Gaborik than he did with Flames star Jarome Iginla, who has just three goals in his past 15 games.
Jokinen is probably a rental; he'll be an unrestricted free agent July 1.
But Kotalik, who had eight goals in 45 games with the Rangers, is in the first year of a three-year, $9 million contract and he isn't the typical hard-nosed forward that Sutter covets. He also was scratched for eight of the last nine games he was on the Rangers roster.
Higgins, who has six goals in 55 games, will be unrestricted this summer.

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