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.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Flames Then and Now

I dare say the Flames'  defense has never been so highly vaunted since 1989. Most people are putting the Flames defense in the top four in the League. Some say as high as second in the League just behind the Preds blue line.  How good is this defense? I think excellent, but only time will tell how good they are.

So, I thought I would compare the 1989 team with this year's defensive corps. Which defense is better? This is obviously subjective, but let's have a look:

1989 Flames

Al MacInnis

Maybe the best dman on the Flames ever.  Al had three 20-goal seasons as a defenceman.  Although this was in a different era of hockey, twenty goals is comparable to fifty goals as a forward.  Al was a consistent all-star while with the Flames.

Gary Suter    

A terrific playmaking defencemen who would have been number one on most teams. But because Al, Gary never got any of the limelight. That suited Gary just fine.

Jamie Macoun

A steady stay home defencemen who you could always rely on. Jamie knew his limitations and rarely got caught out of place. Jamie was the player who blocked the shot when needed.  He was a stable influence on the defense to calm things down.

Brad McCrimmon

Brad was a solid defenceman with some offensive punch. Mostly on the ice to cover up mistakes.  An excellent penalty killer with a no nonsense mentality.

Rob Ramage   

His best years were with the Blues. By the time he got traded to the Flames, he was a service defenceman.  He was mostly there to fill a hole on the defense.  And he did. A solid dman who could be relied on in the defensive zone.

Dana Murzyn

A number six defencemen who played limited minutes.  Nothing more nothing less. He did what was expected of him. The only thing was, there not much expected of him.

2017 Flames

Mark Giordano 

The leader, the heart, and soul of the team.  Mark has been so steady for so long. When the Flames needed a hit, goal, or play, Mark is their man. He does everything well on the powerplay and penalty kill.  Most offensive dmen lack the defensive play. Mark does not.

TJ Brodie

TJ is a gifted young defenceman who can distribute the puck with accuracy. He is a solid, playmaking defenseman who can cover up his mistakes with his speed.  He could be as high as a number two on most teams. In Calgary, he is a three or four guy.

Dougie Hamilton

Dougie can do it all for the Flames.  An excellent, all around defencemen.  Dougie is involved in all aspects of the game, his slapshot highly underrated. He is used as the number one powerplay unit with Gio.  He is a slick, playmaking defensemen who can pass with the best of them.

Travis Hamonic

The highly-touted ex- New York Islander will fit right in.  The key point is Travis does not have the pressure of being the man.  He is a second pairing defenseman. He will flourish in his role. No pressure, and all the glory in the lineup this season.

Michael Stone 

In ninety percent of the League, Michael would be the second pairing defencemen. Unfortunately for him, he is on the Flames, which puts him as a number five defencemen.  Michael is not a flashy player, but he is consistently playing with in his strength. Rarely does he play out of his game, which is the main reason the Flames re-signed him.

Matt Bartkowski/Rasmus Andersson 

Whichever one gets the job will have Stone as a teacher. Matt is the most stable.  Meaning more experienced and more predictable.  Andersson is the more talented but maybe makes more mistakes. Either way, you get what you get in sixth defensemen.

Conclusion

There you have it. I feel the "now" defense is very close to any team in the League.  The only reason I would be leaning toward the "then" team is Al Macinnis.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Here we go again, same old, same old

I keep dreaming of a right winger, but the Flames management doesn't seem to cooperate. Every year, I keep hoping the Flames will address the issue. Instead, they leave a gaping hole year after year. It isn't brain surgery.

We need a right winger with Mr. Gaudreau and Mr. Monahan. Having a slick forward with skill and the hockey know-how would be a big asset. He does not have to be a superstar, just a winger with some skill. No offense to Ferland, but what the Flames need is a player who can play with Gaudreau and Monahan.

What are the qualifications?

HOCKEY IQ

He must be able to think ahead of Sean and Johnny. To be successful, he must be able to figure out where he should be. If he can be in the position to score, the other two forwards will get him the puck. Gaudreau and Monahan are constantly evolving; our right winger must evolve with them.

SPEED.

The right winger has to have some speed to at least to in the same zone as Johnny and Sean. The winger has to be fast enough that he can turn a 2-on-2 into a 3-on-2. Johnny or Sean need another target.

NO STONE HANDS

The winger has to be able to finish. Gaudreau and Monahan both have the ability to pass at anytime to anyone. It will do them no good if they continue to see the winger but he cannot finish the passes. The ability to convert some of the chances is vital.

DEFENSIVE RESPONSIBLE

Our winger has to have some defensive responsibility. There will be a few times where he will have to cover up for Monahan and Gaudreau. That happens when a player is as imaginative as Gaudreau. Once in a while, there is going to be a bad pass or Monahan and Gaudreau will not be on the same page.

The Flames were an inconsistent hockey team last year. In fact, a ten-game winning streak is the only reason they made the playoffs. They must get more consistent. More than one line must contribute. Last year, the 3M line was the best line and most consistent line. This year, teams will not be caught off guard. It is vital the Flames get more out of their first line. Monahan and Gaudreau must be more consistent.

Conclusion

The defense must be more responsible. The breakdowns in coverage must improve. The forwards must come back to help. Team defensive play has to improve massively.

The goaltending is a gamble. Smith and Lack have to return to their glory years. They don't have to be outstanding, but giving up one bad goal a game has to be a bad memory never repeated. They do not have to be perfect. The ability to come up with a save when needed would be nice. The tandem cannot be the reason for losses. Nothing brings down momentum like a bad goal.




Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Flames get Hammer, Smith, and announcing Mr. Foo

As we left the draft weekend, the Flames grabbed the big prize.  So now what? The Flames wanted a number four dman and a new starting goaltender. The Flames get a mobile puck-moving responsible defender In Travis Hamonic (Hammer). Travis could be a number two, which puts the Flames into the elite defensive corps in the NHL.

The Flames acquired Mike Smith for two reasons. One is the familiarity between him and General Manager Brad Treliving.

Brad has seen Smith at his best and his worst. Brad knows Mike as Canada's  goaltender in the championships year after year. He knows Mr. Smith carried the Coyotes on his back into the playoffs a couple of years back. The problem is, everyone knows him as a bad goalie of a bad team.  Mike was inconsistent last year, but to be honest, he had company. The Coyotes did not give him the support he needed last season. If he can be the goalie that Brad sees, the Flames could be in for a memorable season.

So what's next? In my opinion, the Flames have needed a right winger for some time. As I write this, the Flames announced the signing of Spencer Foo. The prospect from Union College was coming off a career year with 26 goals and 62 points. He is a potential sniper who is fast and smart; a player who might be the missing link the Flames need to take that next step. They need a sniper who can score on a consistent basis.