Friday, December 29, 2017

Same old, same old

The Calgary Flames looking for a way to lose is becoming comical. What makes it so frustrating is that they keep losing the same way.

Think of the special teams as the Titanic. Think of the coaches as captains steering the ship into the iceberg. Think of the players as the passengers kicking and screaming, having no idea what to do. There are so many holes; no one has a clue which one to fix first.

The Flames have developed a system to get the puck and keep the puck in the zone. But the system is not working. They are throwing the puck in blindly and getting outworked. They are having trouble just getting into the zone. They have to start learning what to do with the puck. There is no thought to their system; they are working as individuals and not as a team.

I am still confused as to which players the Flames are using on the powerplay. They are putting players in a position to fail instead of to succeed. This is all on the coaching staff. Knowing the players is their job. They need to use players' strengths. This has to stop.

The players have to start looking for each other. Be on the same page, if you will. They have to start shooting the puck. There is too much passing while looking for the perfect shot. You can't score unless you take the freaking shot.

You know how to improve your penalty kill? How about stopping taking stupid penalties. Too many times, players are taking selfish penalties. It's bound to happen. The ones that really upset me are the lazy ones. Give that extra push to catch up instead of using a lazy hook or trip.

The Flames are getting caught out of position too many times. They look like they have no idea where they are supposed to be. The communication has to be there. Players have to know what the others are going to do. For example, all four players cannot geta caught behind the net on a powerplay. Players cannot leave the zone until the puck leaves the zone. The forwards have to help the defence get the puck out. The Flames are making obvious mistakes that any junior player knows not to make, let alone an NHL player.

This team need help. Changes have to be made. They can't just play 10-20 minutes a game. The game against the Ducks was another example of pathetic, lazy hockey. If it weren't for Smith, it would have been 8-1. Gaudreau and Monahan have to show up.



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Well, This is Ugly

The Flames have fallen into this habit of not playing a full 60 minutes.  Either they are trying to the easy way out, or they have lost the will to work, basically hoping to rely on their good looks.

The defence is still making very embarrassing turnovers. Well-established defensemen do not make these kinds of mistakes. On paper, we have one of the best defences in the League.  We continue to give up close to 40 shots a game. The nights we don't, the goalies take the night off.

Don't even get me on the forwards. They have decided that playing in their own end is no longer necessary. They seem to think that they do not have to fight for the puck. It is like they think they have diplomatic immunity. Lazy is not acceptable; work is. Someone has to take away their immunity and give them hard labour.

The good news is that the Flames are still in the midst of the playoffs race. These brain farts can be fixed, it just a matter of discipline and hard work. Right—work seems to a dirty word. Putting themselves on the line should not be an alternative. It should be the only method of playing.

In the news, the Flames have sent Lack down for obvious reasons. He was struggling with his play. To be honest, he did not have much help in front of him. I was quite surprised that Gillies did not get the call-up. The Flames instead went with Rittich, who was great against the Avs. Before we ordain Rittich as the backup, let's see how he does in his second start. At least his first start was a pleasant surprise.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Jagr gets his first and so does Jankowski

Nearing that special 20-game mark, the Flames finally get some help from the third line. Jankowski has shown he belongs to the big guys. He no longer has anything to prove down in the AHL.

He seems to have settled down the third line. He can benefit from Jagr, who can show him the ropes.

Talking about Jagr, the Flames are doing exactly what he wants. He wanted to play with the kids, and he got his wish with Jankowski, and of course, Bennett. Jagr has been showing signs of why the Flames wanted him so badly in the first place.

One of the main reasons for keeping Jagr is he is so strong with the puck. When he has the puck, he makes things happen—mostly because he does not give the puck away. His hockey IQ is off the charts. He finds the spot to be in the offensive zone.  His work habits are second to none. He has a strong influence with the kids, which makes him another coach on the ice.

The main concern we have right now is Stan Bennett. The Flames are still trying everything to help him to succeed. They have made strong suggestions that he could be obtained.  Stan is showing signs of improvement and Flames are continuing to be patient with him.

Johnny is playing like a house on fire; he is probably playing his best hockey of the season. He has been flying with Monahan. Our first line has been our best line of late. Johnny has to keep up his work ethic and not fall into lazy plays.

The biggest problem with the team is the special teams. The powerplay and penalty kill are atrocious. The main problem with the powerplay is Brouwer Versteeg. If we want the powerplay to be successful, then we have to use the right players, more along the lines of Jankowski.

The powerplay and sloppy defence have to be eliminated for this team to be effective.

Friday, October 27, 2017

One-on-One with Russ Cohen

Reblogged from Flamestrs Thoughts

On the new face-off rules:


Russ:


I'm not loving it, and it seems like some players are very confused. That's why we're seeing some of the players getting thrown into the penalty box. However, there were a lot of players cheating over the years, and it became an accepted practice. Bobby Clarke cheated on a ton of face-offs, as well as Mark Messier after him. This is forcing players to use better technique to win a draw rather than brute force. We do hear some analytic backlash regarding face-offs. This new rule has done one good thing — it has emphasized how important face-offs can be, especially late in periods and late in the game.


Randy:


I hate the rule. It slows down the games down. I simply want the linesmen to drop the puck. Let's get on with the game!


On finding prospects:


Russ:


A lot of times, it's luck. I'm not a scout and don't have the pressure of filing critical reports about players. I do have a reputation that I take very seriously, and that's why I do take pride in finding players and want to do a better job when I miss. Goalies are very hard. I first look at their play on the ice. Most have the same style these days, so I look to see if they're confident and does that rub off on his teammates. Then I like to talk to them and see what makes them tick. How do they break down the action? Or are they reactionary? Neither is the right answer, but it just helps me create a baseline to work off of.


Randy:


Well, you sure know your stuff, Russ. You have called a lot of prospects right on. I can usually call a person on his skating and shot, and that is about it.  I love your work. You are one of the best in the business.


Russ:


I literally have over ten years of files of every NHL team's best prospects. Those lists are at least 20 deep, and I update them almost daily. I do like to have new information based on live viewings (preferable) or on video (watching full games over highlights). Players continue to grow physically and get stronger and mature. A lot of times, I'm looking beyond the score in games to see what a player can or can't do. I look behind the play and see some things you don't see on television. When watching something online or on television, I may watch a game 2-3 times if I can. If I used just pre-draft information on all my player profiles, they would become stale. I save the best information for my radio show, Hockey Prospect Radio on Sirius XM Saturdays 8 - 10 AM and on every TSN station (check your local guide). I also give out a fair amount on my website www.sportsology.com and the HockeyBuzz cast that I'm a part of every weekday from 1 - 2 PM. I write for a few websites and I've authored eight books, with my new one on the way. People can find me on Amazon.com. That's my latest book, but you can just click on my name to see the rest.


Randy:


I like to thank Russ for helping me out with this opportunity. Rarely do I get a chance to meet one of the best. A terrific follow on Twitter. Ten years of documents; I cannot even imagine being that organized.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The State of the Union Calgary Flames

So what do we know about the Flames so far?

WE STILL DON’T HAVE A TOP RIGHT WINGER 

The Flames still have not found a home for the top right winger. It seems they have tried Lazar, who was not bad but still does not quite have the skill to match up with Monahan and Gaudreau. Ferland, now injured, was not looking good at all. He is day-to-day. Maybe he will be given another chance. Jagr has had his chance and has looked the best so far. I am worried about the speed, so I am not sure he is the best fit there. Time will tell on if the Flames get this issue fixed.

Mike Smith

Mike is the MVP so far through the first six games. He was particularly outstanding in Southern California where the Ducks and Kings were by far the better teams. Smith has been steady and consistent so far, and he has been reliable through and through. His stickhandling with the puck has helped the Flames forwards and defensemen.  The only thing that worries me is the amount of rubber he has faced. The Flames have to buckle down and give them some support.

The monster has been slain

Call it what you want, but the Flames finally found a way to win at the Honda Centre. They had a goalie who stood on his head, but as my wife says: "he is part of the team." I cannot state this enough. The Flames proved they could play with the big boys with this win.  The Ducks were a wounded duck, but a win is a win.

A bad habit is forming

The Flames have been guilty of not playing a full sixty minutes. Most games, the Flames have not put in a full effort. So far, the Flames have been outplayed. The Flames have to squash this. They have the talent, but sometimes talent is not enough.  They cannot fall into being a lazy team; they must be kicked in the butt as quickly as possible.

Conclusion

The Flames look like they are beginning to overcome the nightmare of a slow start. The ability to play a full sixty minutes will make this team even stronger. The mystery of the first line right-winger has to be solved sooner or later.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Like it or not, here's Jaromir

Well, there you go. Although none of us should be surprised, I was shocked when the news broke. I just did not think that Jagr would choose the Flames. Nothing against the Flames; I just expected him to play in the limelight out east.  But, I guess he wanted to play in Canada more than in the big city. Colour me purple and call me impressed.

Now that he is here, who does he play with? Does this put  Jankowski's future in jeopardy? Sending Jankowski down at the expense of Jagr would not make me a happy camper. Jankowski was fantastic at camp and deserves a spot on the roster.

That being said, what are the lines I would use? (Undoubtednly, the exact opposite of what the Flames will do.)

1.  Gaudreau-Monahan-Ferland

I don't like Ferland on the first line, but he is the best of the worst situation. Gaudreau and Monahan have to rebound and cannot afford another slow start. Ferland has to somehow find a niche in this trio. If he can, the Flames would benefit by finally having a good first line.

2. Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik

If it is not freaking broken, don't freaking fix it. The Flames' best line for most of the season. The three work perfectly with each other. I would not change a thing. Tkachuk the disturber, Frolik the sniper, and Backlund the straw that stirs the drink.

The bottom six are a crap shoot. As far as I am concerned, the only guarantee is that Jagr will be on the third line. I have gone through every combination I could think of, so here goes.

3. Jankowski-Bennett-Jagr

Bennett is going to be the full beneficiary to the Jagr signing. He is going to be the sniper to go with Jagr. Jagr will find him and Jankowski all night long. I put Jankowski here because he is the best forward of the bunch, based on skill and the fact he has nothing to prove by being sent down to the AHL again.

4. Versteeg-Stajan-Brouwer

As much as Bennett wins, Versteeg loses. He is a talented forward with no place to go. Here is hoping he can get some powerplay time. He won't get much on the fourth line. Stajan is the perfect fourth-line centre who does everything expected from him. If Brouwer can rebound, maybe this fourth line will be a good one.

I could honestly see Lazar there just as easy as Stajan. Lazar has something to prove. This line could change from game to game.

Conclusion 

I am not happy about Andersson being sent down, but I guess it makes sense, being that he is the youngest. He has time; there is no need to rush him. Gillies had a terrific camp. I think next year he will be the backup to Smith. I have no problem with him being sent down.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Does not matter if you like or not, here's Jaromir

Well, there you go. Although none of us should be surprised, I was shocked when the news broke. I just did not think that Jagr would choose the Flames. Nothing against the Flames, I just expected him to play in the limelight out east.  But, I guess he wanted to play in Canada more than the in the big city. Colour me purple and call me impressed.

Now that he is here, who does he play with him? Does this put  Jankowski's future in jeopardy?   Sending down Jankowski at the expense of Jagr does not make me a happy camper. Jankowski was fantastic at camp and deserves a spot on the roster.

That being said, what are the lines I would use?  In other words, the exact opposite of what the Flames will do.

1.  Gaudreau-Monahan-Ferland

Not that I like Ferland as a first line, but he is the best of the worst situation. Gaudreau and Monahan have to rebound, and cannot afford another slow start. Ferland has to somehow find a niche in this trio. If he can, the Flames should benefit by finally having a good first line.

2. Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik

If it is not freaking broken, don't freaking fix it. The Flames' best line for most of the season. The three work perfectly with each other. I would not change a thing. Tkachuk the disturber, Frolik the sniper, and Backlund the straw that stirs the drink.

The bottom six are a crap shoot. As far as I am concerned, the only guarantee is that Jagr will be on the third line. I have gone through every combination I could think of, so here it goes.

3. Jankowski-Bennett-Jagr

Bennett is going to be the full beneficiary to the Jagr signing. He is going to be the sniper to go with Jagr. Jagr will find him and Jankowski all night long.  I put Jankowski here because he is simply the best forward of the bunch. Based on skill and the fact he has nothing to prove by being sent down to the AHL again.

4. Versteeg-Stajan-Brouwer

As much as Bennett wins, Versteeg loses. He is a talented forward with no place to go. Here is hoping he can get some powerplay time, he won't get much ice time on the fourth line. Stajan is the perfect fourth line centre who does everything expected from him. Maybe if Brouwer can rebound, this fourth line will be a good one. I could honestly see Lazar there just as easy as Stajan. Lazar has something to prove. This line could change from game to game.

Conclusion 

I am not happy about Andersson being sent down, but I guess it makes sense, being that he is the youngest. He has time; there is no need to rush him. Gillies has a terrific camp. I think next year he will be the backup to Smith. I have no problem with him being sent down.