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

Tonight’s game was quite a throwback—to stupidity, dirty hits, pointless fights, everything you remember from the bad old days! This marks two games in a row where the Blackhawks have had a player thrown out, which tells you nearly all you need to know. Let’s get to it:

Box Score

Corsica

Natural Stat Trick

–The Hawks actually made it over 10 minutes without giving up a goal in the first period. This is where we’re at now, when going half of the first without falling behind is a major step. Putting aside the blackness of that reality, not only did they avoid giving up multiple goals early, they even answered the Flames’ first goal with a classic forehand-backhand by Jonathan Toews, which just de-pantsed Mike Smith. So the game didn’t get off to TOO terrible of a start, although it must be said that the Flames outshot the Hawks 18-6 in the first. Think about that for a minute. They gave up 18 shots in one period, which is bad enough, and that was a full three times the number of shots they themselves managed. What does this tell you? One, is that they barely clung to life in that period. Two, is that the only reason they did so was because Corey Crawford is unreal. He had multiple saves in the first that kept the game from getting out of hand early, including after Forsling had a bad giveaway, and also on the PK after Kunitz took Dumb Penalty #1 (more on that later). Crawford hasn’t exactly been lights out in his last few games, but none of the goals tonight can be pinned on him as bad or soft ones. He was definitely back to form.

–And man did we need him to be. The level of stupidity tonight was really something to behold. After getting out of the first tied at one and with a tenuous hold on things through 4-on-4 to start the second, Chris Kunitz went full-on Neanderthal and elbowed Travis Hamonic in what can only be described as a dickhead play. Hamonic’s head was down, but Kunitz went high with the elbow and he was getting rid of the puck so it was both foolish and dangerous. Kunitz fully deserved the major penalty and game misconduct. And of course, the Flames scored twice on the ensuing extended power play. Those goals made the difference in the game, and they were entirely because of Kunitz being a stupid asshole. If he isn’t stapled to a chair in the pressbox for the rest of the season that will prove once and for all that the Hawks’ brass is incompetent, doesn’t understand how to win, and doesn’t care to figure it out.

–In an attempt to not be outdone in the stupid asshole department, everyone’s favorite dung heap Brandon Manning got in the most useless and wimpy fight possible with Garnet Hathaway (which btw is NOT an actual name). The two skated around each other with fists brandished like old timey boxers, and hit each other far less than that. It didn’t “change the momentum” or “send a message.” In fact, the only upside was that Manning spent most of the rest of the game in the penalty box and thus unable to offend our eyes with his playing.

–Clearly I’m not one for fighting, but I will say this: in the second period when James Neal basically stomped on Corey Crawford and Crawford came after him and nearly punched him, I was cackling with delight. If Crow wants to hit someone because he’s frustrated with this shitty team and the defense allowing him to get curb-stomped, I’ll set aside my issues and I’ll be here for it.

–The power play…it’s just so bad. And on paper it really shouldn’t be: Toews, Kane, Saad, DeBrincat and Jokiharju…this should be a functional first power play unit! But they can’t make a zone entry to save their lives. Seriously. They cannot get out of their own zone, they cannot get through the neutral zone, and they most certainly can’t get across the offensive blue line. It’s like a god damn force field, and that stupid-ass drop pass in the defensive zone has lived on in the Colliton era like a recurring nightmare. There are too many issues to cover in these bullets, but suffice it to say that the clown shoes are still firmly entrenched.

–Alright, enough doom and gloom. What was good from this game? Toews’ goal was pretty and we need the top line to keep scoring. The Kahun-Kampf-Kane line may be something that works. Their 43 CF% didn’t bode all that well but they were certainly fast (and besides, the entire team was underwater in possession). Dylan Strome had a nice goal. And once again, for the cheap seats in the back, Crawford finished the night with a .927 SV% and an assist, and had to face 41 fucking shots on goal.

Tonight was ugly, dumb and frustrating. If the Hawks had gotten blown out it would have made sense and been deserved. The Flames are playing much better, but again this could have been a winnable game—Mike Smith is Mike Smith which means there’s always a chance, and the fact that it came down to the stupidest of penalties is downright painful. But, there’s no rest for the wicked with three more games this week. Fire Chris Kunitz into the sun. Onward and upward.

Photo credit: Chicago Tribune

 

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

Maybe a week ago, I would have told you that I was pretty excited to see what the Calgary Flames have in store this season. It has one of the most exciting young players in the game in Johnny Gaudreau, even if he’s a MAGA dipshit. He plays on a very entertaining line with Sean Monahan (is there a chance he could bend?). They have Michael Frolik whom I adore, who’s on a line with fellow hockey Zobrists Michael Backlund and Matthew Tkachuk. They have three #1 d-men, and just added Travis Hamonic who could be one of the better #2-3s in the game. And VERSTEEG! is here!. They look poised to make some serious noise in the West since 2004.

And then their owners started bitching about their arena deal not getting done and now I hope they go 0-82. Because fuck those guys. And wear the fucking throwbacks all the time, dillholes.

Cal And Gary Flames

’16-’17 Record: 45-33-4  94 points (4th in Pacific, torqued in 1st round by ANA)

Team Stats 5v5: 50.5 CF% (10th)  50.5 SF% (10th)  49.9 SCF% (18th)  7.6 SH% (16th)  .920 SV% (22nd)

Special Teams: 20.1 PP% (12th)  81.5 PK% (12th)