Everything Else

It would seem odd that the Flames would want to detract from the strength of their team, which is their blue line. However, with $14M in cap space, and a now very expensive Garbage Son Tkachuk to re-sign, the Flames might be looking to jettison either Travis Hamonic or TJ Brodie to make room. Especially with Oliver Kylington and Rasmus Andersson both up next year and big parts of the future, if everything works out. There have been rumors the Flames are kicking the tires on what they can get for each. And because they’re looking only to get rid of money, they’re probably a little more open to just getting picks and/or prospects back and not too worried about something that can go straight on the roster.

We’ll start with TJ Brodie. Seemingly he is more of what the Hawks need than say Ryan Murray or Jacob Trouba. He has feet, can push the play, and is left-handed. Generally though he has preferred to play the right side, as he did all of last year being paired with likely Norris winner Mark Giordano.

And that’s the rub with Brodie. It’s kind of hard to know what he is because generally, he’s sucked when away from Mark Giordano and been really good with him. So yeah, his metrics from this year are pretty glittering, when he was paired with #5 all season. The season previous, when it was Dougie Hamilton with Giordano and Brodie with Hamonic, very much less glittering. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 2015-2016 to find the last season Brodie had where he was above the team-rate in possession and expected goals, and wouldn’t you know it that was the last season previous to this one where he was paired with Giordano for most of it.

I hate to break this to you, but there’s no Mark Giordano here. The Hawks might think there is, they might even think that Duncan Keith is still Mark Giordano, but he’s not. Now, perhaps Keith can claw back some of his faded glory with a mobile partner who can clean up the greater amount of messes he leaves around these days, and Brodie is certainly mobile. But Brodie hasn’t responded well to doing most of the puck-carrying in the past, when paired with Hamonic or Big Money Wides, as he was in the past. Keith doesn’t really handle the puck up the ice, or at least shouldn’t, preferring to try and make plays happen at the line still (which he can’t do nearly as well but we’ve had that talk). So Brodie is an odd fit.

Hamonic is clearly a different player. Much more stationary, much more the road grater, and even more of what the Hawks probably don’t need. He had a much improved season last year in Calgary, but he still was behind the team-rate in the metrics we look at. He was paired with Noah Hanifin, who everyone agreed has a very rough season in Alberta, but Hanifin’s numbers improve away from Hamonic, so you deal with that. Hamonic’s metrics are always going to suffer because he’s been used in the defensive zone the most of any team he’s been on for the most part, and he’s not a puck-mover. Neither is Hanifin, but Brodie was supposed to be in ’17-’18 and that didn’t go well for anybody. Then again, the Flames were coached by a moron then in Glengarry Glenn Galutzan, but Hamonic has been around now for a while and we know what he is.

If you could put a left-sided puck-mover with Hamonic, it’s just crazy enough to work. Again, the Hawks might think that’s Keith, and Hamonic would be an improvement on Seabrook in that area, but that’s also a pairing asking for a ton of trouble. He’d be the perfect partner for Gusatfsson if Gus actually had feet, which he does not. He’s basically slower Connor Murphy, which the Hawks don’t need.

Still, there are appeals. One, both are on the last year of their deals and neither are very expensive. Brodie clocks in at $4.6M and Hamonic at $3.8M. Given their contact status, and age, they really wouldn’t be that expensive in a trade. Maybe a lower round pick and a non-Boqvist prospect is enough to get it done. Then you get a year to see what it looks like, if you’re not really planning on doing much this year anyway (which the Hawks still might be), and if it doesn’t work you send them on their way with the cap space in tow.

But again, these are middle of the road moves that don’t address the top of the roster which needs addressing. The Hawks don’t have the pieces that would help Brodie or Hamonic maximize their usefulness, which is now why I totally expect this to happen.

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

Everything Else

We don’t know what it is Mike Pfeil does. He claims he works at Hockey-graphs.com but we’re pretty sure that’s a front. We do know he lives in Edmonton, we’re sure we don’t know why, and we’re more sure he doesn’t know why either. Anyway, he’s a Flames guy, further proving just how lost he is as a human. But he found the time to answer our questions, which doesn’t say much for him either. 

It’s been a disappointing first half for the Flames. What has been the problem(s)?
Luck, the lack of stolen vaccines from the provincial government, and some roster/usage issues. Hitting post, after post, after post is exhausting; Mike Smith letting in some weirdo goals (that he’s known for) can be tiresome; a lackluster power play at times; a penalty kill that cratered (and made my PK project difficult); and some awful roster management have been factors. All that said I put more stock on the lack of stolen vaccines being provided.
 
Did moving to Calgary give Travis Hamonic brain worms?
Are we so sure he didn’t get them while he was in Long Island? I’m pretty sure most drinking water in New York state is contaminated given the cretins that exist out there. He’s also from Manitoba originally and that place has lots of mosquitoes so maybe they laid mosquitoes in his brain, too.
He’s getting better though and I think “adjustment” period of playing with a guy like TJ Brodie has been hard. Brodie loves to skate and jump up in the rush while Hamonic prefers more conservative means to being involved. Part of the improvements have come from Gulutzan’s deployment of the pairing (more on-the-fly usage versus actual zone starts) which has helped immensely. Plus you know hockey terms like poise, confidence, composure, tenacity, pugnacity, all the nacities, and his shaft is firm.
 
Jaromir Jagr, seven points in 19 games. One goal. Can you believe signing someone closer to 50 than 40 hasn’t worked out for the Flames?
Injuries, no training camp, and playing along side Hawk alumni member Troy Brouwer will do a number on your counting stats. Still, I’m worried that a gust will break his hip and we’ll have to send him to the nursing home up north. From a fan perspective – whatever is left of that in me – I want him to succeed, but the cold number-loving analyst has made me question whether or not it’s best to play him every night he is available.
Every time we watch the Flames the broadcast mentions how much they miss Kris Versteeg. That can’t really be true, can it?
It’s tricky because on one hand I love the dude, but it’s a bit of a media-driven narrative. From a locker room/glue guy/intangibles angle yeah he’s missed. The tangible aspect he brings was from a power play perspect; Dave Cameron and Gulutzan used him on the first unit as a zone entry guy and half-wall option in the 1-3-1. He’s nowhere close to where he was last season or even during his prime but he has value even if he’s fast approaching Martin “Pelvic Mesh Imploding” Havlat territory.
 
Why is Matthew Tkachuk such a shithead? Typical rich kid stuff? Or did Dad teach him “well?”
He’s the equivalent of the Dreaded Laramie from the Clickhole quiz “Which One Of My Garbage Sons Are You?” He’s out on the ice yelling “Saab demolition” at every opposing player and spray-painting ISIS on their cars. There’s definitely that reputation established, but every team  wants someone like him. Tkachuk is really fantastic blend of shit heel antics and legitimate hockey skill — anyone who tells you he’s a passenger on the 3M line is a cop. If he keeps it up and his point production continues to improve he could be a top-end winger in this league.

 

 

Game #38 Preview

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

evil empire at The Flame

Game Time: 9:00PM Central
TV/Radio:  WGN, Sportsnet, WGN-AM 720
Learn How To Wear A Tie, You Fat Sloppy Irishman: Flames Nation, M & G

After four days off for everyone around the organization to prattle on about urgency and jump and turning on the switch and whatever other nonsense they can spew, the Hawks now take to the road in the northwest not to salt away a division, but to keep themselves out of a wild card position thanks to their own ineptitude.

Everything Else

eternal flame vs evil empire

Game Time: 7:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, SportsNet 1, WGN-AM 720
Rodeo Clown Convention: Matchsticks & Gasoline, Flames Nation

The Jack Adams Award for the best coach during a given season has in recent vintage gone to numbnuts coaches who have helmed teams who drastically outscore their woeful posession numbers. Last year’s winner, Bob Hartley, proved no different as the Flames made a surprise entrance into the post-season and actually won a round against the hilariously mediocre Vancover Canucks. But as so often proves to be the case, a new season provides a violent market correction, and this year’s iteration of the Flames is not an exception.

Everything Else

flames scorch vs oldschool

Game Time: 7:00 PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, SportsNet, WGN-AM 720
Burkie’s Fightin’ Barn: Flames Nation

For the first time in like 58 meetings or some unholy number, the Flames actually marched into the United Center last November and emerged with two points thanks to Kris Russel’s seeing-eye overtime point shot that eluded Corey Crawford, one too many points left on the table by last year’s Hawks team. Both teams are in similar positions nearly a year later, with the Hawks maintaining championship aspirations, and the Flames still figuring out how to be competitive in the post Iginla era.

Everything Else

flames scorch vs oldschool

Game Time: 7:00 PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, SportsNet, WGN-AM 720
Burkie’s Fightin’ Barn: Flames Nation

For the first time in like 58 meetings or some unholy number, the Flames actually marched into the United Center last November and emerged with two points thanks to Kris Russel’s seeing-eye overtime point shot that eluded Corey Crawford, one too many points left on the table by last year’s Hawks team. Both teams are in similar positions nearly a year later, with the Hawks maintaining championship aspirations, and the Flames still figuring out how to be competitive in the post Iginla era.