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Farewell 2015/16 NHL Season, I hardly knew thee

11 Apr

It’s the end of the season and what have we learned?

The Flames can score

The most positive thing I’ve heard about this year’s Calgary Flames is that they have more scoring from players under 22 years old than any other team in the league. Calgary finished 10th in goals for per game (how does that work?). Johnny Gaudreau finished 7th as an individual.

The Flames cannot prevent others from scoring

The Calgary Flames were the worst team in the whole league in goals against. They allowed 3.13 goals/game. That’s awful, the league average is 2.56. Also, Calgary had the worst penalty kill in the NHL at 75.5%. So the secret is really no secret. If you get a goalie who is average, and clean up the penalty kill, you’ll be a playoff team next year.

Individual accomplishments do not equal team wins

Last season there were a lot of players with career years and that was often cited as the reason why Calgary did so well. However this season we had just as many players – if not more – that had career years and Calgary wasn’t even close to the playoffs. They were 10 points out of the playoffs and an amazing 20 points worse than they were last year. Ouch.

It’s fun to begin and end on a high note

The first game of the year and the last (home) game of the year were as good as it got. In the first year the team is undefeated and the fans are all on board. Throughout the season you could notice the bow of the boat getting higher and higher as more and more fans jumped ship. By the end of the year the community had accepted the dismal season as reality, and it was just enjoyable to see Backlund get rewarded with his first career hat trick in a 7-3 drubbing of the almost-as-awful Canucks.

Blog like a champain

The last thing I’ve learned that it was too much for me to update a blog about the Flames every other day during the month of March. You’d be surprised how difficult it was to find 5 minutes, 3 times per week. I think that had the Calgary Flames been destined for the playoffs this week rather than polishing up golf clubs, things may have been different.

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Calgary Flames and Sharks Preview, Road Trip Recap, Draft Pick Update

07 Mar

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything, I have no better excuse that it’s taken me a while to catch up with all the games I’ve PVR’d. What I can say overall is that the scenario of being in a came and losing it in the final 5 minutes, or being behind by one goal and not being able to score with the goalie pulled — and losing — is the best possible outcome for the Flames and our rebuild.

Race for the draft pick lottery

First of all, Sports Club Stats has the odds of the Flames making the playoffs this year at 0.8%. So let’s move right to the conversation on tanking.

Calgary is second last in the league, one point below both Edmonton and Winnipeg. However Calgary has three games in-hand on the Oilers, so unless they lose all three, chances are we’ll be ahead of Edmonton before too long.

Since last-place Toronto is six points below Calgary, there is little chance the Flames are going to ‘catch’ them for the best shot at the first overall pick. However even if you finish last, your odds of picking first are just 1-in-5. Then the odds for teams 29th through 20th overall begin at 13.5% and go down to 5%. So really your odds of getting that pick are similar if you finish in the bottom handful of teams.

If the season were to end today, Calgary has a 11.5% chance of winning the pick.

Here are the projected top-five picks, according to Sportsnet:

1. Auston Matthews, C, Zurich (Swiss) 6-2, 195 lb.
Passed on the NCAA and the WHL to go to Europe and has six goals in first eight games.

2. Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL) 6-2, 194 lb.
Has recovered from off-season shoulder surgery. Is a physically dominant player with offensive talent.

3. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London (OHL) 6-1, 188 lb.
Just like his dad: A prototypical power left winger. Chose the Knights over the University of Notre Dame.

4. Patrik Laine, LW, Tampere (Finland) 6-4, 210 lb.
Has an NHL shot now and scouts are already talking about how he plays with an Esa Tikkanen-like edge.

5. Julien Gauthier, C, Val d’Or (QMJHL) 6-4, 221 lb.
Seven goals in 10 games to start his third campaign in the “Q”. Had 38 last season.

San Jose Sharks at Calgary Flames preview

The San Jose Sharks are 2-1-1 against the Calgary Flames this year, who won 6-5 in a shootout at SAP Center on Feb. 11 in their most recent game.

After a 4-2 home loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday ended a three-game winning streak, coach Pete DeBoer is hoping the Sharks can bounce back against the two teams with the fewest points in the Western Conference – San Jose plays Edmonton afterwards.

Goaltender Joni Ortio is expected to start after he got his first NHL victory since Jan. 19, 2015, in a 4-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. Ortio has allowed 13 goals and has a .914 save percentage in his past five games.

Let’s recap the trip

Calgary Flames 4 – Pittsburgh Penguins 2

Calgary ended a 7-game losing streak when they fought back from two one-goal deficits to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 at Consol Energy Center on Saturday. Ortio finally won a game this year, Joni Ortio made 29 saves to earn his first win in 10 appearances this seasons (1-6-2).

Buffalo Sabres 6 – Calgary Flames 3

The Buffalo Sabres are 10-0-2 against the Flames since Calgary’s last win in Buffalo since 1996. Marcus Foligno had a goal and two assists and Jack Eichel scored his 18th goal of the season to help the Sabres to a 6-3 win against the Flames at First Niagara Center on Thursday.

Boston Bruins 2 – Calgary Flames 1

Patrice Bergeron scored a tie-breaking power-play goal with 3:24 remaining in the third period to give the Boston Bruins a 2-1 win against the Calgary Flames at TD Garden on Tuesday.

Calgary was assessed a bench minor for having too many men on the ice with 4:07 to play. The Bruins’ power play had been 0-for-4 and hadn’t scored in a goal in Boston’s previous four games. But Bergeron capitalized on Boston’s fifth chance of the night when he beat Joni Ortio with a one-timer.

Philadelphia Flyers 5 – Calgary Flames 3

Brayden Schenn got his first NHL hat trick, and Claude Giroux had four assists to lift the Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-3 win against the Calgary Flames at Wells Fargo Center on Monday.

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Calgary Flames win Trade Deadline 2016!

29 Feb

It’s a big day for the Flames. For a long time we’ve had trouble admitting we were sellers. Then for the first year after we formally admitted to rebuilding, Calgary made a miracle run with some kids and made it to the second round of the playoffs. However this year is different, we’re sellers, we’re out of the playoffs for sure, and we have some players that we’d love to part ways with (if we can find someone to take them).

Update: Treliving managed to get rid of Jones, Russell and Hudler and got a good return for all three. Also a pretty good prospect in Hunter Shinkaruk earlier in the week. Also got a goalie that used to be good, kind of like how Hiller once was.

Let’s recap.

Most likely to be moved

May be moved

  • BRANDON BOLLIG – Tough playoff-bred player who helped the Blackhawks win a Cup.
  • MATT STAJAN – At 33, this may be his last kick at the cat. I’m sure a team wouldn’t mind renting him for a few weeks, he’d likely come back to retire a Flame.
  • DERYK ENGELLAND – Good 5-6 defenceman, and you need depth at defense in the playoffs.
  • JONAS HILLER – Anyone need a backup goalie with playoff experience? We certainly do not.
  • MARKUS GRANLUND – Traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Hunter Shinkaruk.

Probably not going anywhere

  • LANCE BOUMA – Just 25 years old, he’ll likely not be moved.
  • JOE COLBORNE – Joe is finally coming into his own as a bottom 6 forward.
  • JOSH JOORIS – Has little value anyway, and could surprise you with a future you saw glimpses of last season.
  • JAKUB NAKLADAL – The 28-year-old rookie may be being showcased for trade deadline day.
  • TYLER WOTHERSPOON – We’re probably not trading any 22-year-olds during a rebuild.
  • JONI ORTIO – After sustaining a serious injury that will probably keep out until after camp next year, and he’s a UFA, way too much could happen between now and late 2016. No one will touch that.
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Calgary acquires Hunter Shinkaruk from the Canucks

23 Feb

Markus Granlund is no longer a Calgary Flame. Hunter Shinkaruk is — or a Stockton Heat anyway.

The Flames were able to swap the 22-year-old for a former 1st round pick in Hunter Shinkaruk. I’m not sure what Vancouver was thinking in this instance, since they are a year behind Calgary in their own rebuild. I guess they figured that they needed some depth at centre, and that they had enough prospects with scoring ability to trade one for a bottom six forward?

Obviously both players still have their careers ahead of them but at this point it seems like Granlund projects to be a middle-6/bottom-6 forward while Shinkaruk’s productions leaves reason to optimistic about his future as a top-6 guy at the NHL level.

It’s not all roses for the Calgary Flames though, at least one Vancouver blogger feels that Granlund may turn out to be a long-term NHLer where Shinkaruk will not. Even though he raises a couple good points, I still like our chances of winning this one long-term.

A Calgary native, Shinkaruk was drafted by the Canucks in the first round (24th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft. The 21-year-old has 21 goals and 18 assists in 45 games this season with the AHL’s Utica Comets. The winger made his NHL debut this season on Nov. 16 for Vancouver against Montreal.

Granlund is a 22-year-old forward who has gotten off to a respectable start to his NHL career tallying 14 goals and 28 points in his first 86 NHL games.

Anaheim Ducks 5, Calgary Flames 2

Hey guess what? The Flames lost a game in Anaheim! I know right? It’s shocking that the Flames — who haven’t won in Anaheim in more than a decade — lost another one on Sunday.

Ryan Kesler had two goals and an assist to help the Anaheim Ducks to a 5-2 win against the Calgary Flames. Patrick Maroon, Ryan Getzlaf and Kevin Bieksa scored for the Ducks (31-19-8).

The Flames (26-29-3), who got goals from Mark Giordano and Mikael Backlund, have lost 22 straight regular-season games in Anaheim. Their last win was Jan 19, 2004.

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Wideman gets 20 games (seriously), Flames defeat Carolina 4-1

04 Feb

Dennis Wideman and the Players Association appeal the 20-game suspension

I understand that the NHL wants to make an example of Wideman. I understand that the referees and linesman are not to be touched, under any circumstances. I would be okay with Wideman getting fined, or possibly a game or two for running over linesman Don Henderson. You have to be in control of yourself on the ice, right?

But 20 games? For an inadvertent hit that had not intent or malice? Come one, that’s a little ridiculous. You’re talking about a player who’s played over 800 games in the NHL and has never been suspended for anything until now. I find it unfortunate that the media can make something out of nothing which leads to the NHL changing how they operate. This is the second time you’ve seen this happen this week, we all remember that John Scott character.

This is wishy-washy management of the league, with unclear operational processes that can be heavily influenced by social media. Pathetic. I can’t believe they extended Bettman for seven more years.

Calgary Flames 4, Carolina Hurricanes 1

After the rigmarole, the Flames had a game to play.

I don’t know if you can really make the Wideman thing into a motivator, but maybe it was something to rally around. Whatever it was, Calgary came out strong for the first time in a long time.

The biggest thing for me as I watched this game wasn’t Monahan’s four points, or Ramo’s 1-goal outing; it was T. J. Brodie’s knee. I’m going to have to go watch the replay, but I was there at the game sitting on the blue line and that play was offside. It should have been blown dead and we shouldn’t be talking about Brodie being injured while blocking a shot he shouldn’t have had to.

Recap of the game

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Dennis Wideman, the All Star Break and another home loss

29 Jan

Wideman suspended

Dennis Wideman

I saw the hit, and yeah I think there was a bit of a cross-check there. But I do think it was unintentional and Wideman was probably not really thinking about what we was doing, I certainly don’t think it was malicious. That said, you have to always be aware of what you’re doing so I agree he should be punished.

Dennis Wideman has been suspended indefinitely pending a hearing for checking and knocking down linesman Don Henderson on Wednesday night. Wideman will have a hearing Tuesday with the NHL’s department of hockey operations.

I can’t imagine there being more than a game or two suspension out of this.

Gaudreau and Giordano off to the All Star game

I’m not really a big fan of the All-Star game, but with Gaudreau in the 3-on-3 format I’ll probably tune in for a little bit. Lord knows I haven’t been able to watch any talented hockey players lately with only the Flames games on the tele.

Full schedule for the All Star Weekend

Captains make picks for All-Star Skills Competition

John Scott ready to have fun in All-Star Game

Nashville Predators 2, Calgary Flames 1

Oh goodie, we lost another 1-goal game.

And in the same fashion as all the others. The Flames got behind early, then tried to rally back in the third as seems to be their game-plan. Only this year it hasn’t been working for them.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames (21-24-3), who lost the first of a three-game homestand split around the break after going 1-3-1 on a five-game road trip.

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Mayor Nenshi yells at Bettman, Regehr retires as a Flame and it was also a game night!

12 Jan

Wow, busy night last night. Let’s begin….

Nenshi yells at Bettman

Okay, maybe ‘yells at’ is a slight exaggeration. Based on Eric Francis’s comments on the Flames broadcast last night, you would have thought Nenshi was too busy hoping Calgary could film more westerns to make time for the commissioner. That seemed to be a strange comment to make, as I don’t think it’s up for debate which industry has boosted the local economy more – Hollywood vs. Hockey.

Since it didn’t pass the sniff test I figured I’d check out exactly what was said.

“I’m in council and I suggested that unless he’s got some new information that’s different than the last time we met him, it’s probably not worth his time,” said Nenshi.

I guess that makes sense to me, both as a Calgary Flames season ticket holder and as a tax-paying citizen. Maybe Eric Francis just missed this comment? Oh wait, he dictated that comment.

Francis then goes on to write that ‘speaking to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Bettman said Nenshi and the rest of city council need to embrace the CalgaryNEXT proposal for it to move forward.'”

Well I think we can all agree on that, that is literally one of those things that ‘goes without saying.’ Council doesn’t embrace paying for a huge chunk of the project, and the Flames refuse to embrace paying for it themselves, then I guess it doesn’t happen. Until perhaps some rich Flames owner dies. No, they know better than to leave their money to a depreciating facility – you don’t get to be rich by making bad decisions!

So as much as it pains me to say this, both Bettman and Nenshi are correct. Unless the league has more information to share with the City why bother meeting? Unless Council realized that they’ve been wrong this whole time and wants to now “embrace the CalgaryNEXT proposal.” But I doubt it, that could be a billion dollar mistake.

Conclusion?

Eric Francis continues to be a moron. None of this should have surprised anyone. If you want to read an article from an actual journalist, read Eric Duhatschek’s (aka The Smart Eric) take on the comments.

“If your attitude is this has to be all [privately financed], it’s not going to get done – because it’s not an investment that’s cost-justified,” said Bettman. “What you need is an understanding of how these projects can generate revenue that not only pay for themselves, but spur other economic activity that can make a city stronger.”

True that. If the economic activity it spurs in the city is more than then cost to the City, let’s do it. If it doesn’t, then the Flames are going to have to find some more money somewhere. If the projects will never recover the cost in revenue for the Flames or economic growth for the city, then don’t spend money you’ll never get back. No-brainer.

New headline: Francis yells at Nenshi

Robyn Regehr retires as a Flame

I don’t understand why teams do this. Maybe for a franchise player, actually no. Maybe for a Hall of Fame franchise player . But for someone who wasn’t (or isn’t)? I don’t get it. Same argument goes for retiring a number, or the lesser-accolade of being ‘Forever a Flame.’

Hey, I liked Regehr. I thought it was one of the best unnoticeable players to ever lace-up with the Flames. But why didn’t we do this for Gary Roberts? Why didn’t we do this for Al MacInnis? Is it because he had a better relationship with the Blues organization? (same goes for Joe Nieuwendyk and the Dallas Stars). Did we do this for Regehr because he didn’t get any recognition from the Kings? Only the Calgary Flames know for sure…

Anyway, the Flames are typically a classy organization and they treat their alumni well. So I’m going to give them kudos on this move even though I don’t understand it.

San Jose Shares 5, Calgary Flames 4

On top of it all, there was a game to be played.

This one got out of control rather early, but the Flames made a good game of it by the end. San Jose was up 2-0 before the first period was half over, and were up 3-1 by the half-way point of the game.

Then the Sharks got into some penalty trouble. A high-stick on Matt Stajan led to a 4-minute powerplay for the Flames on which the Sharks took another penalty, giving the Flames had a 5-on-3 for two full minutes. Calgary scored twice on that poweplay to tie the game.

However San Jose – being the great road team that they are – came out in the third and scored two more. The Flames were able to score another powerplay goal to draw within one goal (net empty and four minutes to go in the game), but the Sharks were able to kill off the remaining time.

The positives from last night is that Sam Bennett scored (finally) and Micheal Ferland looked great on the top line. I hope that sticks for some time.

A negative? Karri Ramo let in 5 goals on 18 shots. Absolutely atrocious.

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Micheal Ferland moves to the top line with Gaudreau and Monahan

11 Jan

I think this is long overdue. Ever since Jiri Hudler was hurt earlier in the year, coach Bob Harltey has been looking for someone who would fit with the top pairing of Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

David Jones was there for a while, and he seemed to do okay for a brief period. However that eventually dried up and Jones was moved to the second line (then the third). After some more line juggling, Joe Colborne was put on the top line, and he just couldn’t do anything while there.

The current line combinations have been updated, now that Ferland moves to the top line against San Jose on Jan 11. Hopefully Hartley gives this experiment more time to mature than just one game.

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Jonio Ortio put on waivers, what does it mean?

26 Nov
Brad Treliving

Brad Treliving

The Flames have put 24-year-old third-stringer goaltender Joni Ortio on waivers. The three goalie “system” the Flames found themselves in has finally bitten them in the ass, and even a fortunate injury timing-wise to Hiller can’t save them now.

A few things may happen because of this:

  1. Because Calgary hasn’t played him, and the three games he did played in were bloody awful, he may clear waivers and go help out in the AHL. The Heat recently lost their starting goalie. This is the best case scenario.
  2. He’s a 24-year-old prospect with NHL experience. Twenty-nine other teams won’t let that go by without action. He is claimed by another team and we see him again in four years as a starter. Let’s call this the worst-case scenario. Although it’s also likely we’d never see him again.
  3. He clears waivers, is sent to the AHL and we never see him up in the bigs again. Another goalie prospect ruined. Let’s call this (unfortunately) the most likely scenario.

If I may go out on a bit of a rhetorical rant for a moment…

If we’re rebuilding, then why is Ramo here? Wait… why is Hiller here? Is it for their leadership? I doubt it.

Let’s stop fooling ourselves. Put in the rookie, trade your veterans in Wideman, Hudler, Russell, before they lose all value. Keep your leadership in Giordano, groom Monahan to be the next leader.

Come on Brad Treliving. It’s hockey, not rocket science.

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Ferland returns, some stability in the lineup

10 Nov

We’ve won a couple games, which means something is working. And if it ain’t broke, don’t shuffle your lineup.

The current lineup page has been updated to reflect the line combinations that we’ve seen in the last couple games. Also this guy is back!! so he’ll take Raymond’s spot on the fourth line as Hartley tries to ease him back into the game.

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