The 2012-13 Flames - The Good and Bad

Kent Wilson
January 11 2013 11:43AM

If you click around the sports books you'll find the Flames aren't being favored by the odds makers to win anything this year. The only team in the West consistently given worse odds to win the Stanley Cup is the Columbus Blue Jackets.

So the people who make money off this stuff are giving Calgary a big, wet raspberry. That's what three consecutive years outside of the playoffs and a doddering, expensive core will do I suppose.

Still, the Flames certainly aren't the Islanders or Edmonton over the last half decade bad (yet). Calgary's point total never dipped below 90 in the eight years between the lock-outs and they never finished lower than 10th. The club also has a number of bounce back candidates and they went out and spent some dollars in the off-season in an effort to shore up both the forward and defensive depth.

On the other hand, we all know the obvious question marks: the core is old and getting older, none of the signings from the summer addressed the Flames need for a player who can drive possession and there are significant question marks on the roster, such as Roman Cervenka and the Flames back-up position.

What Can Go Right

Rebound! Backlund, Comeau and Cammalleri

A big portion of the Flames roster suffered through unusally bad dry spells last year. Most obvious was Mikael Backlund, who despite taking a step forward in quality of competition, ice time, difficulty in zone starts and on-ice shot generation couldn't hit the ocean from beach last year. The 23 year old center was one of the few Flames players who consistently outchanced the bad guys, but a personal shooting percentage of just 4.7% (!) really sank his numbers.

Blake Comeau scored scored 24 goals on 182 shots for the Islanders in 2010-11 (13.2%). Then he managed just five goals on 137 shots last year (3.7%). The prodgious dip in SH% allowed the Flames to grab him for nothing and suggests he should be in-line for a very real regression to normal levels this year.

Finally, Mike Cammalleri and the Montreal Canadiens suffered a terrible cold snap on the PP to start the season last year. They were generating a good amount of shots, but pucks just weren't going in. The team stumbled, Mike blurted something something about a losing culture to the press and he was back in Calgary mid-season.

Unlike Backlund and Comeau, Cammalleri's fortunes actually did change after a slow start. As a Flame, he fired 11 goals over 64 shots for a 17.1 SH%.

For what its worth, all three guys are capable of putting up better numbers. In Comeau and Backlund's case especially, all they need is a bit better grip on the stick and a lot more love from the hockey gods.

A Better Blueline

Feaster's Dennis Wideman contract was critically panned when it was announced. For good reason - Wideman is a decent offensive rearguard, but with the dollars, time commitment and NMC added to the fact he isn't a truly premier guy in his own end, it means a lot of risk for the Flames in the long term.

In the short-term, though, there's no question the club's back-end is better on paper this year. Scott Hannan was a cheap, low-risk signing in the previous off-season, but he proved to be on his last legs as an NHL defender. He dragged down the second pairing with Mark Giordano terribly, leaving Brent Sutter with the unenviable option of putting Chris Butler on the top pairing with Jay Boumweester - a duo who saw some of the most difficult minutes in the league last year.

This time around with the addition of Wideman and the progression of Brodie (more on that soon), the Flames have a more legitimate top-four rotation. Bob Hartley has the option to mix and match the four veterans to his preference and whatever combination he comes up with should be superior to JayBo - Butler, Hannan - Giordano.

The Kids are Legit

Newcomers Roman Cervenka and Sven Baertschi are question marks thanks to their limited exposure to the NHL, but with the right usage and a bit of luck, both could prove to be quality supplements to the Flames previously limited attack. Cervenka's NHL equivalency during his previous two years in the KHL worked out to about 50 points over a full NHL schedule, which isn't quite all star quality, but would put him in about the top-35 in scoring amongst centers in the NHL last year.

Baertschi put up about a 45 NHLE in junior and has been, by far, the most dangerous looking forward on the Heat this season when he's been healthy. He will probably be a bit rougher around the edges than Cervenka given his age and limited pro experience, but he has all the tools to be a 40+ point winger right off the bat.

Finally, as mentioned, TJ Brodie is poised to take big step forward this season. A sheltered, third pairing guy last year, Brodie has been dominant as Abbotsford's #1 defenseman in 2012-13 so far. The 22-year old has played in the Heat's top pairing and in all situations, averaging nearly 30 minutes of ice on some nights.

Even if there isn't any room in the top-4 for Brodie yet, his progression means he should be able to carry the third pairing handily, whoever his partner may be. It also means the Flames don't risk a huge step back if one of the incumbents ahead of him gets injured (aside from Bouwmeester).

The Bob Hartley factor

I am agnostic on the effect of most coaches in the NHL. My feeling is that outside a few outliers at either end, most of them reside in a a big, squishy middle area. Meaning, I have low expectations for a Hartley induced turn-around.

That said, the guy has a good resume, has said all the right things in the offseason and there is definitely a few things he could improve upon over Brent Sutter. It's impossible to know if Hartley will be able to squeeze new life out of this roster, but for now we'll assume it's at least possible.

What Can Go Wrong

A Kipper Regression

There is no question the reason the Flames were in the playoff hunt last year was because of Kipper's heroics in January and February. The disconcerting part is he's unlikely to be that good again.

Here is Mikka Kiprusoff's even strength SV% over the last five seasons:

  • 2011-12: .928
  • 2010-11: .916
  • 2009-10: .928
  • 2008-09: .907
  • 2007-08: .919

Two years above average, two years below average and one right on the line. All of which comes out to exactly .920 even strength save rate. Which is, of course, bang on average in the NHL.

Also, as you can see, Kipper hasn't once put together back-to-back above average seasons over the last five years. Oh and he's 36 years old.

It's certainly not impossible that Kiprusoff stands on his head again, but I think it's safe to say it's improbable.

An average goaltender is a challenge for a team that gave up the 7th most shots against in the league last year. A below average goalie (as he was in 2010-11 and 2008-09) would be a catastrophe for Calgary and a ticket to a lottery draft pick. Particularly because the club has nowhere to turn if variance or time decides Kipper can't be a game stealer this season.

Hemmed In

This one is simple and related to the above issue - Calgary spent a lot of time in their own end last year.

Here is a list of regular forwards on the Flames who had positive possession rates in 2011-12:

  • Mikael Backlund (+1.97/60)
  • Lee Stempniak (+4.62/60)
  • David Moss (+6.85/60)

Moss, of couse, signed in Phoenix in the off-season, leaving Backlund and Stempniak. Of the two, only Backlund faced top-6 opposition (when he was in the line-up). Nobody amongst the club's top guns spent more of their time in the offensive zone. In fact, Iginla, Jokinen and Tanguay were pretty much double digit negatives in terms of shot differential at even strength. 

Now, here's the number of established, reliable possession players the Flames signed in the offseason:

 

...

 

Savvy?

The Hudler Gamble Craps Out

I've gone over this one in detail before, but it bears repeating: Jiri Hulder is a good bet to fall on his face in Calgary. His linemates will be worse than in Detroit, his circumstances will almost certainly be more difficult and he's coming off a year where he scored 25 goals on just 127 shots for a personal SH% of 19.7. He has never matched that goal rate before in his career. His overall average of 13.7% is a much more accurate reflection of his abilities.

Hudler has spent his entire career in Detroit being more or less and highly sheltered, middle-tier forward. The Flames seem to have higher aspirations for the 28-year old given the contract and press they gave him in the summer, but a step back is more likely than a step forward.

This Thing All Things Devours

This issue was referenced in the Kipper section above, but it goes beyond the goaltender. Jarome Iginla is 35 years old and will turn 36 in July. For most NHLers, this is typically the age at which their performance really starts to falter. Alex Tanguay is 33 and Mike Cammalleri is 30.

All told, the Flames have more than $22M in cap space invested in guys who average 33.5 years old, none of whom have played during the extended lock-out. If one or more of Iginla and company yields to the merciless march of the clock this season, it could cripple the team's chances of doing anything of note.

The Kids struggle

While Cervenka and Baertschi have a lot of arrows pointing in the right direction heading into camp as noted above, the truth is you never know if a guy can hack it in the show until he steps on the ice with the big boys. It's entirely possible one or both of Roman and Sven falter in the glare of the big lights, which wouldn't be unusual for a 20-yer old rookie or European who has never competed on NA ice.

If one or both guys has a tough time acclimating, it will cut down on the Flames options and offensive depth up front.

Conclusion

As usual, the Flames have a lot of entries on both sides of the ledger. If everything falls into place, Calgary will definitely contend for a playoff spot. On the other hand, if the dice consistently land on snake eyes the Flames will amost certainly be making their first top-10 draft pick in June since they took Dion Phaneuf 9th overall in 2003.

Now we can only wait and see which way it goes.

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 beloch
January 11 2013, 12:29PM
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Brodie is one of the best bits of unexpected good news I've seen this season. Moving to the top pairing in the AHL would have been good development for him in a normal year, but doing so in a lockout amped-up AHL is even better. Hopefully he'll be a solid third pairing option this year, but if he could challenge for a top-4 spot it would really open up some trade options for the Flames.

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#2 T&A4Flames
January 11 2013, 12:58PM
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One of Sven's comments in Johnston's earlier article that I found interesting is about passing. He said in junior the passes were a lot crisper than in the AHL because guys were getting hit more.

Sven could be one of those guys that is better in NHL than in the A. The passing should get better for him again since it is all the elite players of the world that are making those passes, regardless of hitting.

One can only hope.

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#3 icedawg_42
January 11 2013, 02:43PM
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Frankly I think the season is a wash for the team. I'm more interested in watching how the young'ens play the game. I'll be watching for flashes of promise. I think they'll end up in the middle between a playoff berth and a lottery pick...much like the last couple years. I don't think they're playoff good and I don't think they're lottery bad.

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#5 jeremywilhelm
January 11 2013, 03:20PM
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My favourite line "aging core". So easy to fall back on as a narrative, so very wrong.

3 players on this team are 33 or older. 3. that's it, not half the team, not even a single member of their top 4 dmen and only 2 of their top 6 forwards. When did 3 players constitute a teams whole?

Bouwmeester, Giordano, Wideman, Cammalleri, Glencross are 30 or younger. These aren't bit players, especially Gio, Bouwmeester and Cammalleri.

I would like us all to move on from the antiquated and simple minded idea that Jarome and Kipper are the be all and end all of the Calgary Flames.

Maybe the media can't get off this stupid story line, because even the fans, yes, even the knowledgeable fans, can't seem to get away from this thinking themselves.

Calling the flames a doddering old team is just lazy Kent.

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#6 ChinookArch
January 11 2013, 03:54PM
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@icedawg_42

Agreed. Way more interest in watching the future for me too.

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#7 Tach
January 11 2013, 03:55PM
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@jeremywilhelm

The point is not that the Flames are "old" in that they are too old to play well. The point is that they are old enough that it is becoming increasingly unlikely that any one, never mind the group, are unlikely to improve their performance over last season. They are too old to get better. And they weren't good last year.

Team out of playoffs for 3 seasons + group of aging players unlikely to play better than prior seasons + additions of dubious improvement from players departing = more missed playoffs.

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#8 the-wolf
January 11 2013, 03:58PM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

My favourite line "aging core". So easy to fall back on as a narrative, so very wrong.

3 players on this team are 33 or older. 3. that's it, not half the team, not even a single member of their top 4 dmen and only 2 of their top 6 forwards. When did 3 players constitute a teams whole?

Bouwmeester, Giordano, Wideman, Cammalleri, Glencross are 30 or younger. These aren't bit players, especially Gio, Bouwmeester and Cammalleri.

I would like us all to move on from the antiquated and simple minded idea that Jarome and Kipper are the be all and end all of the Calgary Flames.

Maybe the media can't get off this stupid story line, because even the fans, yes, even the knowledgeable fans, can't seem to get away from this thinking themselves.

Calling the flames a doddering old team is just lazy Kent.

I respect your right to an opinion, but I'm not sure what you're getting at here exactly.

Where do the Flames fall in average age in the league (I ask becuase I don't know)?

But Jarome and Kipper have long been their 2 best players. So their best offensive player and the only reason they weren't a lottery team are over 35.

The second best offensive player is 33.

The third best offensive player is coming off a couple of poor seasons and is 30. Now, 30 doesn't mean the end of the road by a long shot, but note that no team has won the Cup with their best players 30 and over in a long time. The last time Detroit won Datsyuk and Zetterberg were still 29. That's why Vancouver won't win now. The Sedins are over 30. Seems weird, but it's true. Every Cup winner's stars are in their 20's.

So are there other impact players on the Flames in their 20's? I suppose that depends on your definition of 'impact,' but Calgary has no one under 30 outside of maybe Glencross (is he 30 now too?) that can compete head-to-head against any other team's 1st line.

I think the difference between the 2 main camps of Flames fans are those who want the team to win the Cup and therefore evaluate the team against that standard and those who are content with them challenging for a playoff spot and feel that 8th spot is an ends to itself. Just making the playoffs then, becomes a Cup equivalancy.

Personally, I aim higher.

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#10 SydScout
January 11 2013, 04:10PM
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Got me thinking, are they blowing this team up in front if our eyes without anyone the wiser? There is possibly backburning going on from the inside, but we can't or arent seeing it.

So the owners want to keep revenue, thus need an ok team to keep their corporate mates buying those over allocated corporate seats full (or at least paid for - there's too many for the dome to ever be a true fortress but that's a gripe that is truly an economically poor decision for another time). The corporates keep handing over a revenue which insulates the team from falling revenues from fans not turning up and buying merchandise from a team in rebuild.

Iginla - will never be traded (franchise player - business needs a respected face of the organization) Kipper - keeps the team competitive most nights so won't be traded (hence the dumb number of games played each season - give the backup a good run if you want them to learn!) Cammi - twilight player, good for the young developing players Hudler - will help Cervenka (they're best mates after all) Cervenka - perfect bloke to take a chance on. One year contract - he fails no long term contract. He succeeds - Flames have a legitimate centre for peanuts Wideman - sorry, that's just a really dumb move. Jbo, Tangauy - passable workers who fit the bill of mediocrity for the time being

The next two years will be rough, but if this conspiracy theory is somewhat near the mark, we'll have the young guys coming thru and draft picks not far behind. That is assuming we do the smart thing and tank this season. And the next.

Major problem with this theory are the NMC... Still haven't figured this out but then again we can always blame Daryl!

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#11 jeremywilhelm
January 11 2013, 04:11PM
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@Kent Wilson

I called you lazy. Not simple minded. Not that it makes the statement better. :P

It's the beginning of the season, you'll have to forgive my venting. It's been a full week of being told how terrible the Flames will be this season. I get a bit tired of being told I should hate my team before they've even played one game.

Probably shouldn't take it all out on you.

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#12 the-wolf
January 11 2013, 04:17PM
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SydScout wrote:

Got me thinking, are they blowing this team up in front if our eyes without anyone the wiser? There is possibly backburning going on from the inside, but we can't or arent seeing it.

So the owners want to keep revenue, thus need an ok team to keep their corporate mates buying those over allocated corporate seats full (or at least paid for - there's too many for the dome to ever be a true fortress but that's a gripe that is truly an economically poor decision for another time). The corporates keep handing over a revenue which insulates the team from falling revenues from fans not turning up and buying merchandise from a team in rebuild.

Iginla - will never be traded (franchise player - business needs a respected face of the organization) Kipper - keeps the team competitive most nights so won't be traded (hence the dumb number of games played each season - give the backup a good run if you want them to learn!) Cammi - twilight player, good for the young developing players Hudler - will help Cervenka (they're best mates after all) Cervenka - perfect bloke to take a chance on. One year contract - he fails no long term contract. He succeeds - Flames have a legitimate centre for peanuts Wideman - sorry, that's just a really dumb move. Jbo, Tangauy - passable workers who fit the bill of mediocrity for the time being

The next two years will be rough, but if this conspiracy theory is somewhat near the mark, we'll have the young guys coming thru and draft picks not far behind. That is assuming we do the smart thing and tank this season. And the next.

Major problem with this theory are the NMC... Still haven't figured this out but then again we can always blame Daryl!

That theory has been bandied about lots, but here's my issue with it:

Our current prospects are still not talented enough or deep enough to simply take over in a year or 2 from now and be a contender. The age gap alone between our current best players and assuming even half our prospects make an impact at the NHL level is huge.

Therefore, the Flames will indeed go through serious pain. The inevitbale has only been delayed.

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#13 beloch
January 11 2013, 04:30PM
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One thing that people aren't discussing for some reason is injuries. If I recall correctly, last season the Flames were one of the very top teams in the league in terms of man-games lost to injury. Injuries are a part of the game, but the sheer amount of injuries the Flames sustained last year was phenomenal.

Injuries hurt a team in multiple ways. Units that know how to work together are broken up. The replacements often aren't very capable. Finally, players returning from injuries often don't perform anywhere near their normal peak level for a long time because they're still healing.

Feaster may say they're not an excuse, but injuries are undeniably an explanation for why a team does poorly. Yes, some other teams had a lot of injuries and performed better than the flames. That's partly luck and probably also partly having better replacements available.

A big question is whether or not the Flames were just unlucky last year, whether they have an injury-prone roster, or whether there is some flaw in their conditioning and coaching system that is leading to injuries. As dubious as I am about the Flames chances, if they somehow manage to remain above average in terms of health (instead of far below average) they will likely be competitive.

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#15 RKD
January 11 2013, 04:43PM
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Some things to consider, the Calgary Flames lost 382 man games to injury in a full 82 game season which equates to about 224 in a compressed 48 game schedule.

This team really struggled with injuries, for brief period guys like Comeau and Kolanos were way up on the 2nd line.

Backlund was injured twice and never got into a groove, Cammy was already having a poor season with the Habs. I think Cammy will bounce back and hope Backs can get it going.

Wideman is an upgrade on defence because 1) it removes the ultra soft pairing of Butler and Jay-Bo 2) Wideman compensates hopefully for Jay-Bo's lack of offense. 3) I don't think Wideman is softer than Jay-Bo or Butler. I think Brodie and Butler will benefit from last season quite a bit.

We don't have a big center like Jokinen down the middle or Moss in front of the net. Moss was strong at driving possession, but I see Hudler as an upgrade.

Kipper may not have above average save% numbers, but if I'm not mistaken the Calgary Flames are extremely poor when it comes to blocking shots. The Flames ranked 24th in shots against, tied with CBJ. Bring that number down, prevents a few more goals going in which could translate into some more wins.

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#16 jeremywilhelm
January 11 2013, 04:45PM
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@Kent Wilson

Yeah. I have a knack for saying the wrong thing the right way to make a situation worse. Mostly without thinking about it. Haha.

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#18 jeremywilhelm
January 11 2013, 04:53PM
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@Kent Wilson

But maybe 2.5 wins better?

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#19 suba steve
January 11 2013, 04:53PM
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jeremywilhelm wrote:

I called you lazy. Not simple minded. Not that it makes the statement better. :P

It's the beginning of the season, you'll have to forgive my venting. It's been a full week of being told how terrible the Flames will be this season. I get a bit tired of being told I should hate my team before they've even played one game.

Probably shouldn't take it all out on you.

I won't tell you "how terrible the Flames will be this season". They will not be terrible, but they will probably not be great, or good either. THAT is the big problem. History is often the best predictor of future events, and the Flames history says they don't make the playoffs, and they also don't get the advantage of a top 5 draft pick. My complaint is, if you aren't going to the dance at the end of the season (repeatedly), then the BEST you can hope for is a sweet draft position (not the #13-14 overall picks this team has earned each of the last 3 seasons). Enjoy the weekend.

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#20 Vowswithin
January 11 2013, 04:57PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Fair enough. I did fill half of the article with positives I'd like to point out.

I take issue with being called lazy, however. I'm lots of stuff - pedantic, obsessed, arrogant - but lazy? Not when it comes to this stuff. You more than most should know I don't tend go with a line of analysis simply because it's easy and conventional.

Couldn't agree more Kent, you do one hell of a job here and I know you have so much stuff going on behind the scenes that we don't realize. FAR from lazy!!! That being said it has been a little hard to get excited for hockey again with the painted picture we get from some of the blogs.

Sure hope we get a bunch of positives to go forward with, or fail miserably and grab a good pic.

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#22 jeremywilhelm
January 11 2013, 05:36PM
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@Kent Wilson

I meant last year minus injuries. Maybe half those man games would be worth 2.5 wins? That would have been playoffs right there.

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#24 Chad
January 11 2013, 05:41PM
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Hi Kent

So what would be the best second/third lines combination that the flames could come up with to shelter Iginla at this point in his career and best avoid being hemmed in?

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#25 Alt
January 11 2013, 06:35PM
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There has to be a way to reboot this team without a 5 or 6 year term on the bottom.I,am hoping they do well enough to have some choices at the trade deadline, and go after proven prospect,s in the 20 22 age range.I don,t think many teams will give up there first picks 2013 and we need other teams 09 10 picks anyway

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#26 ChinookArch
January 11 2013, 06:47PM
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God I hope Backlund lights it up this year, I'd love to hear the Resident Fan960 dumb dumb (aka Walker) eat his words.

The big question for me on whether this team gets into the playofffs this year or not will rest squarely on the shoulders of Kipprusoff. It looks like they have enough fire power, but will the goalie stand up at +92% save percentage.

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#27 Alt
January 11 2013, 07:10PM
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ChinookArch wrote:

God I hope Backlund lights it up this year, I'd love to hear the Resident Fan960 dumb dumb (aka Walker) eat his words.

The big question for me on whether this team gets into the playofffs this year or not will rest squarely on the shoulders of Kipprusoff. It looks like they have enough fire power, but will the goalie stand up at +92% save percentage.

I,am counting on Backlund to show he belongs.Yea i cross fingers every year that this year won,t be the one that Kipper becomes ordinary.Wish they,d sign Taylor and let him Or Brust compete for backup

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#28 Scary Gary
January 11 2013, 07:43PM
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Flames are going to be in a dog fight for a playoff spot but I'll be cheering for them all the way. However, I'd feel better about their chances if more than a few of them had been playing meaningful hockey this winter. Saddle that with Iggy's traditionally slow start and you've got a recipe for 8th, 9th or 10th.

I look at Colorado's line-up and I can't help but think to myself, man what would it be like to have three legitimate young centerman like Statsny, Duchene and O'Reilly, not to mention Landeskog on the wing.

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#29 Ryan Pike
January 11 2013, 08:38PM
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I'd observe that the Flames have the problem of depth in the wrong places. They have a lot of good second-line options and third-line options, but not a heck of a lot of strong first or fourth line options.

That's a big problem, as this means you'll have guys playing over their heads or playing checking roles for which they aren't well-suited.

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#30 Kevin R
January 11 2013, 08:48PM
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Kent, I know a lot of us have been dumping on the Flames & assuming the worst. The stats that you point out just confirm the negativity, I just dont know how you can get around that. It is what it is. Thing is, miss the playoffs for 3 straight years & its hard to understand why any fan would be content with this & not have a bit of a tainted outlook. Change is happening on the Flames, it just not going to result in instant benefits. It also doesnt help when our hated rivals have scored 3 1st's overall in a row & do have something to get excited about. Oh well.

The 3rd line I think would be awesome & would like to see Hartley give a chance to would be Sven-Backlund-GlenX.

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#31 loudogYYC
January 11 2013, 10:43PM
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I agree with Pike here, the Flames can put together of the best bottom 6 and 2nd pairing D in the league. The issue is the prime players being well out of their prime. In the best hockey league in the world, Calgary is perfectly mediocre.

Something interesting on Hartley, I had a chance to talk with Chris Snow not too long ago and his take on this coaching staff compared to the previous one was very interesting. That coach Sutter was a guy that would talk and try to motivate, "go get em" kinda thing but he wasn't much of a communicator as to how to do it. Apparently Hartley's crew are sticklers for detail and use lots of video in their teaching. This is probably good as the Flames are one of 5 teams to have the PUCKS system used by coaching staff. Snow said he believes Hartley's ability to bring more out of the players will make a difference in the standings. I guess we'll see how the more stubborn players on the team like it.

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#32 MC Hockey
January 11 2013, 10:55PM
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Well...interesting comments trail and nice balanced article Kent. And NO you are certainly NOT lazy. I think somebody needs to go to "anger management" classes LOL (and say Hi to Sean Avery while there). At the end of the day some unpredictable factors (luck?) in terms of shooting percentages, injuries, and even the schedule may just help the Flames enough to get in to 7th or 8th. Superb play may get them up to 5th but bad play to 11th or lower even. I agree with the idea that Flames have too much depth at lower forward lines and also they need to put players in roles suited to them. Sven should play first or 2nd line LW depending on where Tanguay and Cervenka play I think....he's a gunner not a checker. Meanwhile Backlund might be more of a versatile checker with a bit of O talent, so 3rd line is likely OK with possible jumps up to 2nd line C. Cervenka, Iggy, Tanguay, Cammi, Sven should be top 6 while 3rd line players who could go higher would be Stempy, Backs, Glencross, and even Stajan due to his decent face-off percentages (only better player on team was Iggy among those taking at least 67 faceoffs last year).

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#33 Legend of Weevil
January 11 2013, 11:06PM
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i'm actually really excited for the flames future and i think the flames will make the playoffs this year. really funny story though, today my view of sports illustrated went down considerably, they placed edmonton as the 3rd best team in the league they also had detroit at 10th. edmonton has good offence but any team with good forwards will rip through their horrible back line and mediocre net-minding.

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#34 Captain Ron
January 12 2013, 12:01AM
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Kevin R wrote:

Kent, I know a lot of us have been dumping on the Flames & assuming the worst. The stats that you point out just confirm the negativity, I just dont know how you can get around that. It is what it is. Thing is, miss the playoffs for 3 straight years & its hard to understand why any fan would be content with this & not have a bit of a tainted outlook. Change is happening on the Flames, it just not going to result in instant benefits. It also doesnt help when our hated rivals have scored 3 1st's overall in a row & do have something to get excited about. Oh well.

The 3rd line I think would be awesome & would like to see Hartley give a chance to would be Sven-Backlund-GlenX.

As a fan with a pair of season tickets I certainly wouldn't say that I'm content with the Flames as a whole. But there is improvement and I do see reason for a little bit of optimism over what I was watching last year. There was a stretch last year where it seemed like every game some one else would get injured. Surely they can have some better fortune this season. There is a new coaching staff in place that should to bring a much more positive vibe around the team. The addition of Wideman and growth of Brodie should allow for more desirable defensive pairings. Cervenka is an unknown but how much of a stretch is it to say he could get 25-30 points in 48 games. Same for Hudler. Backlund will probably improve but we'll have to wait and see to what extent that is. Baertschi and Horak have already shown us they can play in the NHL. Comeau could easily improve on last year. The power play has to be better than last season.

My optimism is not cup contender deep by any means but I see a team that could make the playoffs. Nashville, Phoenix, and Detroit won't be as good as last season. The Flames should be able to compete with the others in the west that have improved.

There is a lot of work to be done long term but at least for now there is some reason to believe we will see more exciting hockey than we have in the last couple of years.

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#35 Kevin R
January 12 2013, 11:06AM
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Hence the reason why there are some who are really optimistic. I think Hartley is the right guy as we go younger & younger. He does seem like a stickler for detail & does teach. The Sutter boys only taught hard work & some tricks of the trade they successfully developed during their careers. My concern is that Hartleys teachings may not mesh with some of the veterans & therefore this year is really more of a cleansing to see what parts will move on into the new Hartley era. I want want to see how they do after 15-20 games. If everyone buys in, including Iggy, then I'm a happy man & that should equate into some success. But, I dont care who it is, if they dont buy in, Feaster must make the deals accordingly. I will not be upset if they suck this year, I will be upset if Management doesnt deal with it properly.

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#36 Captain Ron
January 12 2013, 11:34AM
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If the veteran players on the team don't buy in to the program the coaching staff lays out then they should be shown the door sooner rather than later no matter who it is. I am really curious to see how Hartley handles the team vs the way Sutter did.

What may be a little bit unfair for the evaluation of the new coaching staff is how much the mini camp and shortened season will have an effect on the overall performance of the team. Especially in the early part of the season.

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#37 Kevin R
January 12 2013, 01:07PM
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Captain Ron wrote:

If the veteran players on the team don't buy in to the program the coaching staff lays out then they should be shown the door sooner rather than later no matter who it is. I am really curious to see how Hartley handles the team vs the way Sutter did.

What may be a little bit unfair for the evaluation of the new coaching staff is how much the mini camp and shortened season will have an effect on the overall performance of the team. Especially in the early part of the season.

Yeah & no. Its going to create scenarios that will show character & response quicker than it would in a regular season. Urgency will be needed quicker & for the haul of the season, & these are two things I think everyone felt was lacking ie. pisspoor starts & then the nothing left after our usual Jan /Feb pushes. We know Feaster trusts Hartley implicitly & what Hartley & Snow & the coaching staff pick apart & diagnose, Feaster wont have time to chew & debate it. This is going to be like a Few Good Men, "Have you ever put your life in the hands of another man son" "and they put their life in another mans hands" :)

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#38 Kurt
January 12 2013, 09:36PM
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Several people have pointed out the problem being a lack of top line talent. I read a season preview for the Flames the other day (can't remember which, perhaps Hockey News), and it pointed out that the Flames lack 1 single true elite talent both currently on their team or anywhere in the system except for MAYBE Kipper (at 36 yrs old).

I tend to agree... We have a LOT of good 2nd liners. As much as we want to hope Sven is elite, at this point I'd say the markers point to him being good, but not elite. I mean truly elite. Tavares, Stamkos or possibly even like a few of the guys up north (cringe). Iggy used to be elite, but who are we kidding.... He is just a fading memory now.

So we have a mediocre team capable of hopefully, maybe, if all things work out perfect, grind into the playoffs. Either way we are on the decline with some great prospects who likely can fill in holes on the 2nd line (or a subpar 1st line). We have zero elite talent on the team or coming up.

Its just depressing really. How can you get elite talent if you always draft 13th-15th. Hope for a flukey pick or two and just keep cheering for 8th place. Arg, what a depressing state of affairs. I know everyone loathes the torched earth Oilers plan, but seriously how else will we ever replace Iggy? I honestly see 10 years of pain ahead.

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#39 KingJafi
January 13 2013, 10:36AM
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All in all, this team will not get better until it has management that knows what they are doing. Until then...we should continue to expect mediocre results. Hopefully a bad enough season this year (since it is practically all wasted anyways) will bring Flames fans one step closer to a change at the top.

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#40 Captain Ron
January 13 2013, 01:58PM
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KingJafi wrote:

All in all, this team will not get better until it has management that knows what they are doing. Until then...we should continue to expect mediocre results. Hopefully a bad enough season this year (since it is practically all wasted anyways) will bring Flames fans one step closer to a change at the top.

Didn't they just do that? New GM, assistant GM, scouting staff changes, new coaching staff this year. More skilled prospects in the system.

1st year without any meaningful Sutter influence.

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