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.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Flames Preview 2017

Are you excited? On the edge of your seat? Despite all the gloom and doom of the no-new-arena crud, I am really looking forward to this season. So I thought I would do a fantasy kind of prediction blog.

These are my big three; the three I feel will need to carry the load this season: Monahan, Gaudreau, and Tkachuk.

Why those three players?  Monahan and Gaudreau control the first line. Monahan, the sniper, has a bullet of a wrist shot. If he can get set up for a one-timer, it is a goalie's nightmare. Johnny is probably the best playmaker on the team. He is a gifted passer who is smart beyond his years. If Johnny can find you, it is like taking candy from a baby. You will become an instant star.

The third player I picked was Matthew Tkachuk because I feel that sooner or later, Matthew will be the leader of this team.  When something needs to be done, Tkachuck is your man.

Sean Monahan
The most productive Centre on Flames. Sean was pretty solid.  He, like the Flames, started off very slowly.  A slick sniper with a dash of the playmaking forward. Sean will rebound this season; he will score 35 and add another 35 assist equaling to a total of 70 points.

Johnny Gaudreau
Johnny will rise again, the best playmaking forward on the Flames. As go the Flames, so goes Gaudreau. The Flames have succeeded this season; it is time to put up or shut up. The load is right on the shoulders of Johnny. He will take the load with 25 goals and 50 assists for a total 75 points.

Matthew Tkachuk 
Matthew is a **** disturber with a touch of a talent. Matthew is talented young forward and if not for Johnny, would be the best winger on the team.  He will continue his growth with a 60 point season; 17 goals and 43 assists.

Overall
I am expecting to battle for third in the division, and they will get it.  45 wins, 26 reg losses and 11 overtime losses, for 101 points.

Darren's Predictions 


I predict this season's point totals for Gaudreau, Monahan, Tkachuk and the Flames.

Randy poses an interesting question. We, as fans, often fixate on points and believe they indicate the worth of a player. In Gaudreau`s case I think that is 100% accurate, because if he is not producing, he does not bring much value.

Gaudreau
Let us start with Johnny Gaudreau. Some of you know that I have been critical of Gaudreau in the past and have questioned his overall value. Gaudreau is highly talented, no one is going to argue that; but I want to see more.

Last year, Gaudreau had a slow start and finished the season with 18 goals and 61 points. At the end of the year, my grade for Gaudreau was a B minus. I felt his season shots, a total of 182 in 72 games, was low. I understand that he is a pass-first player, but that has to change in my opinion.

My prediction for Gaudreau's total points this season is 75 points. This is based on 82 games, and quite frankly, anything less than 75 points would be considered disappointing. Gaudreau gets top powerplay minutes and gets every offensive opportunity that is presented during a game. I would like to see 25 goals with 50 assists.

If Gaudreau is not producing, he is not helping the team. Gaudreau will have a full camp and no excuses coming into this year. Well… the fact that he and Monahan have no right winger to compliment them could be considered an excuse.

Talking about right wingers, how are Jarome and Jaromir doing?

Sean Monahan
Do you remember when he was drafted and everyone projected him as either an elite third line center or a solid second line center? “He won’t produce enough at the NHL level” “a defensive center.”

Well, Monahan has become a very reliable consistent scorer and an all-around very good hockey player. Monahan is 22 years of age. Twenty-two! I can’t wait to see how he elevates his game again this season. Last year, Monahan scored 27 goals and added 31 assists. A five-point drop from the previous season, but he did register 200 shots on goal. I fully expect Monahan to finish the season with about 60-65 points. I say 25 goals and 38 assists for Monahan.

Outside of being a center, Monahan brings much more to the table than Gaudreau. If Monahan struggles offensively, his ever-improving faceoff abilities and his sound defensive position, will continue to benefit the team.

Who is Monahan’s right winger?

Matthew Tkachuk
This is a tough one. Automatically after last season, you expect another big step offensively from Tkachuk. Thirteen goals and 48 points in 76 games resulted in a very strong rookie showing for the former sixth overall draft choice by the Flames.

I think the goal total will increase for Tkachuk and 20 goals may not be a stretch for the young man. Last year, Matthew played on our best line with Backlund and Frolik. One has to assume that will be the case again this year. The 3M line was given a lot of defensive responsibilities, and anytime you play with Backlund and or Frolik, that will likely be the case. I believe having learned how to be responsible in the defensive zone in the NHL will only help Tkachuk continue to grow offensively.

My point’s total prediction for Matthew Tkachuk is 18 goals and 32 assists for a total of 50 points. Last year 33% of Tkachuk’s points came on the powerplay and I believe that number will drop. I feel he will produce more during five-on-fives than last year.

The Flames overall points total?

The Calgary Flames finished last season with 94 points. Considering their start to the season and going 4-6-0 in their last ten games, that is a very solid number.

The Flames changed their goaltending and in come Mike Smith and Eddie Lack. To complement them, the Flames brought in Travis Hamonic on the back end. Treliving did not make those moves to get to 94 points. Now, mind you if the Flames reach 94 points and make the playoffs, most fans will not complain. I, on the other hand, expect the Calgary Flames to finish the 2017-2018 season with 102 points.

Last year, the Flames lost 17 home games. They tied for the highest of any NHL playoff team; even Vancouver only lost 17 home games last year. That will improve. Last year, the Flames started off horribly. That MUST improve. Last year the Flames allowed 221 goals, second highest for any Western Conference playoff team. That will also need to improve.

There is a lot of room for improvement. With the offseason additions, the expectations are that a lot of those team stats categories will improve. This is Gulutzan’s second year as a coach, and outside of the goaltenders, the roster had very little turnover. No “World Cup” this fall, meaning every player is at camp. No contract hold outs, unless you consider Jagr (joke). The excuses have been removed.

The Calgary Flames will finish the season with 102 points.

Fans predictions


This year, we wanted to try to get some Flames fans to answer questions. I am committed keeping in touch with the fans in all issues to the Flames.

cdec17

cdec17 went the extra mile with his predictions:

Johnny Gaudreau- 79 points (31 goals, 48 assists)


Sean Monahan- 70 points (33 goals, 37 assists)


Dougie Hamilton- 55 points (15 goals 40 assists)


Sam Bennett- 53 points (28 goals 25 assists)


Matthew Tkachuk- 50 points (20 goals 30 assists)


Mikael Backlund- 48 Points (19 goals 29 assists
)

Mark Giordano- 41 Points (13 goals 28 assists)


Michael Frolik - 40Points (15 goals 25 assists)


Kris Versteeg- 40 points (18 goals 22 assists)


T.J Brodie-  35 points (6 goals 29 assists)

Michael
Ferland- 35 points (15 goals 20 assists)

Mark
Jankowski- 35 Points (8 goals 27 assists)


Spencer Foo- 34 Points (12 goals 22 assists)


Troy Brouwer-32 Points (15 goals 17 assists)


Travis Hamonic- 25 points (6 goals 19 assists)

Curtis
Lazar- 25 points (10 goals 15 assists)


Michael Stone- 25 points (6 goals 19 assists)


Matt Stajan- 15 points (5 goals 10 assists)


Brett Kulak- 14 points (3 goals 11 assists)


Freddie Hamilton- 10 points (2 goals 8 assists)




DARKHORSE- JAGR- 15 GOALS 25 ASSISTS  (40 POINTS)



Season Starting Lines (minus Jagr) 

Gaudreau- Monahan- Ferland

Tkachuk- Backlund- Frolik

Versteeg-Bennett-
Foo
Lazar- Jankowski-Brouwer


Hamilton-Giordano

Brodie-Hamonic




Smith
Lack

FLAMES SEASON RECORD

 47-29-6 = 100 Point season


colinayles11



Sean Monahan 84 points
Johnny Gaudreau 73 points
Matthew Tkachuk 57 points.


Calgry Flames will get 102 points.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Flames Camp Notes

I was able to attend the first two groups A and B today down at the Dome.  There were a few surprises for me and some assurances that the big guns are ready.

Out of the tryouts:

Joseph Cramarossa

I'm not saying he was fantastic, but he had a good first day.  He showed what he brings to the table. A spark plug with a side of nastiness.

Defencemen 

Travis Hamonic

And the Hammer cometh. Travis was steady; he had a couple of one-on-ones with Brodie. The two of them put on some major battles. He put a smile on my face, knowing our defense is in good hands.

Mark Jankowski

He was strong in the camp.  He looks like he has beefed up. Hard to get off the puck. He showed he is ready. He may very well fight for a spot on the team this season.  It is time to put up or shut up for Mark.

The Rest 

Johnny and Sean were still a little rusty, but in all honesty,  it is only the first day of camp.  Frolik is skating hard, showing that he is ready. Tkachuk and Frolik had some good battles in the corners for the puck.

Smith showed off his stick work with nice passes. In the three-on-three scrimmage, Jankowski set up Cramarossa on a nice goal.

The sixth and seventh dman battle will be an interesting one at camp. I only saw Tyler Wotherspoon and  Mark Bartkowski.  Neither stood out to me, but they are in the mix. I find it interesting that Rasmus Andersson was with Stone in the third group.  Does that mean it is his job to lose?

I must make a comment on Gillies. I thought he looked good. Most importantly, he looks healthy. He was consistent. His glove hand looked good and had good rebound control.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Jaromir Jagr: Why or Why not.


Everyone seems to be talking about Jaromir Jagr.  Whichever side you're on in the Jaromir saga, for or against, you're talking about it. Everywhere I go, this is the hot topic.  So, I guess I have decided to address the issue.

Let's discuss the pros and cons of making an offer for Jagr. Because for every signing there are always pros and cons. So basically, I am playing devil's advocate.  I have a split personality, arguing both for and against the signing.

Cons 


Speed

Jaromir is not very fast; that is putting it mildly. Jagr does not have the speed to meld with the Flames' lineup. The main concern for Jagr is that he does not have the speed to make a two-on-two into a three-on-two. Or the opposite side can make up speed to save a two-on-one. This would be a  major concern for the Flames if they decided to go through with it.


Taking a spot from the Young Guns

The Flames have some prospects who are close to earning a spot this season.  Signing Jagr may inhibit their chances. It might very well stunt their growth or hurt their confidence.


Jagr is just not good enough to make the team

The other concern I have seen is that Jagr is just not good enough to make this team. Therefore is signing Jaromir making the flames better.  Is he better than what the flames have right now?

Pros 


Hockey IQ

Jaromir is one of the smartest players in the League.  He sees what others players don't. He is one of the best communicators in the game. He will make a play out of nothing.


He still has the hands

Jagr can still have a shot. He still has the moves to stick-handle through a phone booth. He would be the best skilled right winger on the Flames. But, unfortunately, in Calgary that is not saying much.


Add to the powerplay

Jagr would add to a potent powerplay. Jagr is still an accurate passer. He finds ways of getting the puck to the right player at the right time.  He is a powerplay specialist who would work perfectly with Johnny and Sean. He would be a great addition to the Flames powerplay.

Conclusion

Finally, one more tidbit: we have been told Jagr is not willing to take a PTO.  This makes it a bigger gamble, all or nothing. I think I would take the gamble if the money were right, meaning $2 million or less for the powerplay specialist and fourth liner.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Bennett Update, Addressing Jagr

The Calgary Flames and Sam Bennett are about a million dollars apart. Sam wants 3 million a year, and Calgary Flames are offering 2 million. Most of the people seem to think that Sam Bennett will settle with a 2.5 million per season.

I do not see the problem. Just cut down the middle and split the difference. From what I have heard, it might not get settled before camp starts. Which really surprises me, considering we are only a million apart. What is the problem? The Flames need to settle this. If Bennett lives up to his potential, he will be a force in the future.

Not only do they have to fix this to bring in Bennett to the fold, but they also have to do it for another reason. The Flames are focused. They can not be distracted this season. They are all in, and the distraction over Bennett could cause a rift in the space-time continuum!

Apparently, the Flames have contacted Jagr and are considering him an option.  Enter the second problem. The Flames need to sign Bennett to figure out how much they can sign Jagr for. The main problem is that if they sign Jagr for too much, it might put a kink in the Bennett negotiations.

So there it is a nutshell. Sam Bennett pretty much controls how long the Flames stay in this holding pattern. Will it cramp the Jagr talks?  Only time will tell.