Everything Else

@BookofLoob is yet another creature we’ve unearthed from the darkest depths of the internet. We asked it questions, but don’t ask too many questions about it. 

The Flames are still in first. This thing has to be real now, right?
 
Nashville is finally being undone by their “I love domestic abusers and a 36 year old Finnish Mike Smith” GM, and good things are never, EVER allowed to happen to Winnipeg, so yeah, this is real. You get some goaltending and you let the fake goalie ride the pine, mix it in with a top line that’s scoring at will, plus you throw in that, aside from Garnet Hathaway, you essentially have a top to bottom roster with real, functional players, the results are going to roll in.
Power play still sucks.
 
Johnny Gaudreau is fourth in the league in scoring. And yet he doesn’t seem to get the press of McDavid or Kucherov or the Colorado kids. He should blow past his career high of 30 goals with 23 already. Why the breakthrough?
 
If we’re calling this a breakthrough, it’s only because the breakthrough has been going on for about three or four years now and progressing as Johnny H enters his prime. Gaudreau and Sean Monahan could always rack up the points together, but it used to be Gaudreau carrying his line while Monahan got the vulture goals, but in recent years, Monahan has added a few dimensions to his game as well. Having a legitimate number 1 RW on their line with Elias Lindholm doesn’t hurt either.
Or maybe it’s because Johnny doesn’t get black out drunk at Cowboy’s anymore. But it’s probably not that, because Johnny absolutely still gets blackout drunk at Cowboy’s.
 
What are the Flames going to do before the deadline?
 
If you ask Leafs fans, it’s trade Rasmus Andersson to them, but if you ask anyone rational, it’s probably just a depth move here or there. As good as the Flames have been, they’re probably not Tampa Bay Lightning tier just yet, and unless they can swing Mark Stone, not many of the rental players out there are going to bump them up to that level.
I think they’d like a backup goalie in case anything happens to Big Save Dave, because you don’t want to have to rely on Mike Smith for anything other than wearing cool hats on the bench. Ideally, if you could murder him or trade him somewhere or something, that would help. One of the big mistakes the team has done this year is bury a really effective Michael Frolik, to the point where I see him being traded sooner rather than later. Maybe there’s something there.
But goddamn how cool would it be to get Mark Stone?
 
Let’s have you bitch about James Neal some more…
 
How about something nice? He’s the first overpaid, underachieving, head scratcher of a Brad Treliving acquisition that isn’t an ex-Hawk.
At least not yet 😉
 
Finally…do you want to walk with Elias?
 
I have bought so many scarves, floral shirts, and a Fender guitar. I want everyone watching the game to silence their cell phones, hold your applause, and shut your mouths. There is one universal truth, a tenet I hold above all else. You see it when the top lines rolls over Brent Seabrook, and you feel it when you look into Cam Ward‘s eyes, his terrified, self aware that he is Cam Ward eyes. It becomes a part of you when the game is over and it’s 5-1 for the Flames and the Hawks are salivating over Jack Hughes while Calgary looks to wrap up home ice throughout the playoffs, and that truth is…. WWE STANDS FOR “WALK. WITH.ELIAS”.
Say it with me now Sam.

 

Game #45 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

Some creatures fascinate science in how they came into being. And then some are viewed with the feeling, “Some questions are best left unanswered.” That’s the category @BookOfLoob falls into. Don’t ask, just let be.

What has new coach Bill Peters changed from Glengarry Glen Gulutzan last year? And why should it work better than it did in Carolina?
Outside of the team being able to do anything on the power play, effective players being frequently scratched for reasons like “shrug” and “felt like it”, goaltending ruining any chance of anyone ever dying happy, and being constantly reminded by his presence in the lineup that Garnet Hathaway is in fact a real person, everything is different.
It was nice to see Peters shed the mantra of “Old Ass Idiot Hockey Man” by actually making expensive, shitty Michael Stone ride the pine in favor of both Jusso Valimaki and Rasmus Andersson (who is perfect), and the team is generating so much sustained pressure offensively that Mike Smith really has to try hard to lose the game for them.
Which he is absolutely doing.
How’s that Dougie Hamilton trade working out?
You invited me to do this just to ask me that question knowing it would make me cry. Rest assured I will get you for this. (We feel it’s important that Floob express his emotions. -ED)
The short answer so far is “Mixed Results.”
Noah Hanifin, it turns out, is not that good, especially relative to what I believe is a Top-10 defenseman in the NHL in Dougie, but at least he’s not, and this is off the top of my head, Brent Seabrook. Everyone’s kinda hoping he can turn this around soon, and seeing as he’s 21 and it’s still early, he probably can, but underwhelming has been a word I’ve had pop into my head a lot whenever he’s on the ice thus far.
I will not make a museum joke. Much like most Calgary Flames, I’ve never been in one so I wouldn’t know where to start. (What about Amsterdam? -ED)
Elias Lindholm, however, I will walk with that guy forever.
Why does Peters hate Michael Frolik?
I don’t know, but give me two minutes with him and I’ll make him see the light.
There’s a weird thing going on with both Frolik and Austin Czarnik. Both are quality players. Both players have been scratched or benched frequently by Bill Peters. Both have last names that end with “ik”. But when either of them are in the lineup and getting a regular shift, they are on the ice with Mikael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk, who are heavily relied upon to play the toughest minutes every game, and both Frolik and Czarnik thrive on the 3M or MMA line, whichever it happens to be that game.
Essentially Peters trusts them entirely, or not at all. I don’t really care, he’s not Bob Hartley, so they aren’t benched in favor of Kevin Westgarth and Brian McGrattan at the same time
James Neal, on pace for 12 goals.  So that’s going well. 
Do you guys want James Neal? You still owe us for Brandon Bollig.
Would the Flames be a playoff team if David Rittich took over the starting goalie role?
The only goalie I trust less than Mike Smith is Cam Ward, and he died 16 years ago, so I never have to worry about seeing him in a Flames jersey. I made a joke earlier this season about everyone being afraid of Mike Smith’s save percentage, because .789
Everyone had a good laugh at that because there’s no way an NHL goaltender in this day and age would ever be that bad. Then he let in four goals on like three shots the other night against Colorado and for a good chunk of the game it was literally .789. Life is hell.
They say if you have a good team, you only need league average goaltending to make any noise. David Rittich is my hero and I am building him a house on top of Mike Smith’s car, but he hasn’t played enough for us to know if he’s a league average goalie yet.
But I think this team looks good enough to win a bunch of games if the goaltending is only kinda bad, so even if that’s the bar Rittich needs to clear, I’m willing to retire his number right now. Best goalie since Chris Osgood.

 

Game #15 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

Everything went just about pear-shaped as it could for the Calgary Flames last year. Coming off a playoff berth and having two supreme lines and maybe the best blue line in the conference, the Flames watched Mike Smith be hurt and bad, every other goalie be terrible, every d-man who wasn’t playing with Dougie Hamilton or Mark Giordano turn into baby food, and simply had no scoring beyond their top six.

So they decided to rectify that by trading away Dougie Hamilton, adding a forward the forward-starved Canes didn’t want while at the same time hiring their coach who couldn’t find the playoffs with a GPS and a sherpa, and doubling-down on Mike Smith with a coach famous for a system that makes it impossible on a goalie. It’s…a choice.

2017-2018: 37-35-10 84 points  218 GF 248 GA 53.4 CF% 52.6 xGF%  6.7 SH% .919 SV%

Goalies: Do you think going back to a starting goalie who is 35 and hasn’t been anything above league average in seven years is a good idea? No, you don’t, because you didn’t put paint chips in your coffee this morning. Well, that puts you ahead of the Flames, though paint chips in coffee is an Alberta tradition BECAUSE IT’S RUGGED AND GRINDY AND GRAB YOURSELF AND SNORT.

It’s not that Mike Smith was a disaster. His .916 overall and .923 at evens are almost exactly on the average line. It’s just nothing more than that, and he’s unlikely to improve on that at his age and with a defense shorn of Dougie Hamilton, however good Noah Hanafin might be. More worryingly for the Flames is that Smith was absolute toast in February and March last year, when he was healthy which wasn’t a lot, which is when they would have liked to be moving for a playoff spot and instead got the ol’ mud in the tires. Smith went .883 in 13 starts after Feb. 1st, which is definitely getting put in the bin marked, “Used Diapers.” And he’s also not going to get more durable now that he’s closer to 40 than 30.

Backing him up is David Rittich, which is not the name of an antagonist in an action movie who used to be a green beret but has now gone rogue even though it definitely should be. He was bad last year, but has one decent season in the AHL before that. Let’s just say the Flames have way too many eggs in the very achy-breaky Mike Smith basket.

Defense: It was a weird season for the Flames’ blue line. Before the season, most in the know thought that T.J. Brodie was a down-ballot Norris candidate every season. Then he spent last season following Travis Hamonic around with a bag or two, and that illusion has been scrapped.

If Dougie and Giordano weren’t on the ice, the Flames got slaughtered. Hamonic was a complete disaster, for reasons no one has really been able to identify. And now Dougie is gone, which means Brodie gets to go back playing with Giordano which apparently masked all of his problems, and the rest can figure it out. But if neither Hamilton nor Brodie could make Hamonic anything other than a toxic waste site, what chance does Hanafin have? Hanfin comes from getting some hammock-y (get it?) shifts in Carolina as Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin did the heavy lifting there. He’ll get the same treatment at The Saddledome, but it’s a major step down from Justin Faulk to Hamonic.

Rounding out the third-pairing is Michael Stone and Brett Kulak. They keep telling me Stone is good for something. I keep waiting. We both keep not getting what we want. The cosmic ballet goes on. There are two kids who could make a splash in Oliver Kylington and Rasmus Andersson. They had better hope so. If one or both do then the Flames could have a real mighty look on the blue line. If they don’t it’s the top pairing and duck.

Forwards: The Flames picked up Elias Lindholm in a bid to have anything beyond their top six. Now if you’ll excuse me for a second…

WHO WANTS TO WALK WITH ELIAS?!!!

Thank you. Lindholm is a pretty nifty little player, as long as you don’t ask him to do too much. Slotting in behind Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund seems just about perfect for him. He put up 45 points in Raleigh last year over-slotted on their top six. He might not have the talent around him with Derek Ryan and and whoever else, but it might work as well.

And it might be Michael Frolik, as the Flames just might break up the 3M line, at least to start. That line was simply a silly-successful unit, as it took the dungeon shifts in both zone and competition and crushed whatever was out against them. The Flames signed James Neal to play with Johnny Gaudreau and Monahan, and even though I think Neal is massively overrated and an ass-rash he’d have to go out of his way to not score with those two. Michael Ferland managed it and he’s basically a thumb.

Austin Czarnik seems to be a player who could carve out a role after being a point-per-game in the AHL for a few years in the Bruins’ system. But he’s a high-motor, try hard guy and the Flames need less of those. Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski seemed destined to anchor the fourth line.

Outlook: The Flames are lucky that they’re in such a crap division. If Hamonic isn’t doing performative dance to represent Three Mile Island again, and one of those young kids pop, they have the best blue line in the division, non-Sharks category. If Lindholm can provide a little more spark on the bottom six and not make the Flames so top-heavy, they have more depth than most.

We’ve always liked Bill Peters around these parts, and secretly suspect he’s who Stan Bowman wanted to coach the Hawks a while ago if possible. His struggles in Carolina were pinned on goaltending. But after a few years it started to look like he wasn’t helping his goalies out much with his d-men shotgunning all over the ice and a talent-short crop of forwards.

Well, Mike Smith isn’t going to bail him out. He’s got more talent at forward than he ever had with the Canes here, but the defense is no better, and probably worse, than the one he had in Raleigh. If his possession-heavy ways can result in more goals with the Flames than it did with the Canes, who had a massive finish-deficiency, they can eye a wild card spot. If it doesn’t, they’ll be in the abyss again.

Previous Team Previews

Detroit Red Wings

Buffalo Sabres

Boston Bruins

Florida Panthers

Montreal Canadiens

Ottawa Senators

Tampa Bay Lightning

Toronto Maple Leafs

Carolina Hurricanes

Columbus Blue Jackets

New Jersey Devils

New York Islanders

New York Rangers

Philadelphia Flyers

Pittsburgh Penguins

Washington Capitals

Anaheim Ducks

Arizona Coyotes