Matthew Tkachuk: Calder winner? Probably not, but

Ari Yanover
December 29 2016 08:00AM

Disclaimer: Matthew Tkachuk's chances of winning the Calder are probably about as likely as your chances of finding a picture of him with his mouthguard actually in his mouth. In other words, not likely.

He'll get some consideration, I'm sure. Maybe a particularly strong back half could see him end up a finalist, but aiming to be top five in voting may be more realistic.

Whether or not Tkachuk does get a trophy at the end of the year, though, keep in mind that approaching the 40-game mark of the season - the very one that will determine Tkachuk hitting unrestricted free agent status a year earlier - he is, without a doubt, one of the best rookies in the NHL this season.

I'm going to go so far as to say you could make a case he's actually the best one.

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The airing of Flames grievances

Ari Yanover
December 23 2016 08:00AM

If Seinfeld has taught us anything - and I have been led to believe it has - then today is a very important day.

Today is Festivus, and with it comes a key tradition: the airing of grievances.

What better a subject for that than a professional hockey team hoping to escape its rebuild?

When the season started, it was rife with grievances. The Flames were unwatchable, the entire season was lost because the new coach had no idea what he was doing, the abhorrent special teams only furthered that point, the kids that were just signed to big contracts turned out to be terrible after all, then the steady veterans we thought we could trust were also terrible, the new goaltending was bad, and we were going to have to start doing draft profiles in October.

But then the Flames started winning some games - some on a streak, even! - and things got less bad. Maybe the team started adjusting to that new coach, the special teams stopped being the worst ever, those kids started scoring and veterans started looking like their old selves, at least one goaltender rose from the ashes, and now, they're probably at least going to be playing meaningful games in March. At least. We hope.

There's still plenty to grieve about, though. Let's go for it!

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Was the Flames' winning streak for real?

Ari Yanover
December 17 2016 02:00PM

The Flames have lost two games in a row.

It's not the end of the world. It's not even the end of their playoff chase. They're on the outside looking in once again, but they're still in the conversation.

Except it took them a six-game winning streak to get back into that conversation to begin with, to pull themselves up to a respectable record. The leeway they've earned with that has almost run out; that's how far back they set themselves with their dismal start to the season.

So let's take a moment to look at the Flames' winning streak. Was it for real? Or was it just a one-off?

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How much does Dougie Hamilton contribute to the offence?

Ari Yanover
December 10 2016 08:00AM

Dougie Hamilton scored his fourth goal of the season in dramatic fashion. The recipient of a fantastic pass from Johnny Gaudreau, he was able to then split two Coyotes en route to the net before deking out the goalie and scoring in overtime for the Flames.

All in all, it was an extremely cool goal: the Flames' 73rd of the season. Unfortunately, as it would so be right now, the Flames aren't a particularly high-scoring team; their 2.43 goals per game is only 20th in the NHL. 

This is a team that, point blank, has to start scoring more. Gaudreau's return should help things, but Hamilton is probably going to be a massive part of any offensive resurgence, too.

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Comparing the Flames' two RW UFA signings: Troy Brouwer vs. Kris Versteeg

Ari Yanover
December 04 2016 08:00AM

The Flames had a number of needs heading into this past summer. Some young players needed new contracts; they needed to get goalies under contract, period; and the only player of note who could play the right side was Michael Frolik.

The various contracts were signed. Alex Chiasson was acquired for Patrick Sieloff, somebody who probably isn't going to be an NHL regular any time... ever, really. And Troy Brouwer was picked up on July 1, too.

And then, one day before the season started, so was Kris Versteeg.

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