Last night, I had the opportunity to watch the Flames play the Coyotes at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. First off, I’d like to thank Scott Brown and Christina Caligiuri of the Manitoba Moose for providing me with the opportunity and granting me a press pass. The idea of bloggers in the press box has long been debated and I will touch on that after I write about the game from the Phoenix perspective, but that issue aside, it was a very enjoyable experience.
Now onto what I saw from the Flames last night.
Van der Gulik-Lundmark-Greentree
Players that stood out:
Dion Phaneuf: Watching Phaneuf in person is quite an experience. He is a tough terrific skater, has an unbelievable shot and makes a great first pass. Maybe most impressive last night was his intensity for a seemingly meaningless pre-season game. However, you can see why Phaneuf is just a step below the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom. His talent is without question but he forces the play sometimes when it isn’t necessary. Really, it seems like he is so talented that sometimes he makes the game more complicated than he has to. With time, there is no reason he can’t be the best defenseman in the NHL.
Mark Giordano: You can see why the Flames brought him back after a year in Russia. He is a slick-skating defenseman who is very, very good with the puck. That is precisely what the Flames lacked on the back-end last year and I think some may be understating the importance of his return on the blueline.
After last night’s game, I asked Mike Keenan what he thinks about Giordano considering he did not coach him last season. Here was his response: “Mark had a good night tonight. He’s got a lot of energy and a lot of speed and adds something to our team to get us some back-end speed which I think is going to help us.”
Wayne Primeau: The biggest thing that stands out in Primeau’s game is his work ethic. He continually skated hard last night and was almost always the first guy in on the forecheck. Considering his speed and versatility, he is a nice player to have around on your depth lines.
David Van Der Gulik: Admittedly did not know much about him heading into the game, but he demonstrated some soft hands and generated a couple of good scoring opportunities.
Jamie Lundmark: Lundmark does not stand out with the style game he plays. Rather, he relies on finding open spaces and excels on the power play. He made a very nice seam pass in the early portion of the second period which could easily have resulted in a goal. Overall, it appears that if Lundmark makes the team he will probably be utilized in a fourth line role with some power play minutes sprinkled in.
Dustin Boyd: Played very well, especially considering he had played the night before. Made a gorgeous pass on the game-winning goal by Langkow and looked very comfortable on the ice. “Dustin had another good game, he played well last night and responded and came back tonight with a lot of energy,” said coach Keenan after the contest.
Rene Bourque: Having not seen Bourque play much in Chicago, the 6’2 winger impressed me with his skating and was around the net all night. He demonstrated a willingness to go to the net and has pretty solid hands.
I asked Keenan what his thoughts were on Bourque’s game last night and here was his response: “He skated really well. He’s probably getting a better feel for his game right now. Having played back-to-back games, the people that played back-to-back games tonight had about only four-five hours sleep; so, he responded pretty well with the travel and lack of sleep.”
Matt Keetley: Getting his first start of the pre-season, Keetley seemed a little on edge in the first period which led to a couple bad rebounds. However, he settled down after the first period and played a really solid game.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.
**Observations from a Phoenix perspective are soon to follow**