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.


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.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Who the Flames Will Pick

It is this time of year, the time I make a complete fool out of myself. It is time to pretend that I am a professional scout, and it's your time to laugh at me for making a fool out of myself.

This year, the Flames do not have the second or third rounder.  So I will just do the first rounder and a fourth rounder.

With the First round selection, I predict the Flames pick:

Klim Kostin 

A big, rugged, right winger who will eat people up in front
of the net.  He has adequate offensive skills and will put up points the dirty way.  Kostin makes very strong plays with no fear. He abandons all caution to the wind. He is a big power forward who just might pay off. Flames will have to patient with him.

With the fourth round, the Flames pick:

David Farrance

A highly skilled defencemen who can pass with the best of them.  Potential top four dman and a power play specialist.  Farrance is a rocket from the point, which will cause torment to most goalies.  He has a fairly accurate shot and is a pinpoint passer, which will help the Flames tremendously in the future.

Next picks, I am just listing them:

Fifth round, Brady Lyle D

Sixth round, Ryan Hughes C

Seventh round, Saku Vesterinen

This and that 

The Flames will no doubt look for a right winger and a puck-moving defencemen. Also, look for the Flames to be busy during the draft. The Flames may very well get additional picks.

The players that comes to mind are Nate Schnarr, a slick center with some skills and Aleksi Heponiemi, a small, talented forward who moves with the best of them. The Flames might very well step in and grab him.

The Flames might be looking for that top-six forward. I have not heard any names; they are keeping things close to the chest. They are getting tons of offers for Bennett. Not shopping, but listening to offers.

Here is Dearen's opinion on who the Calgary Flames are going to pick for number one:

Who will the Calgary Flames select at #16 in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft?

You mean the draft? Like the expansion draft? No? Oh...

I predict the Flames select Juuso Valimaki, the Captain of the U18 Finland team who is a solid two-way defenseman. Valimaki scored 19 goals for the Tri-City Americans this past season, yet when you watch him play you feel like he can produce much more. Juuso measures six feet tall with his weight hovering around 200 pounds at the age of 18. Juuso's strengths are his solid skating abilities and his intelligence in his own end. Flames assistant Craig Conroy was quoted as saying this is a "character" draft, and Juuso has plenty of character. Juuso Valmaki has been compared to the likes of Mattias Ekholm and Erik Johnson. At #16 the Calgary Flames are proud to select Juuso Valmaki.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flames and the Expansion Draft

Are you excited about the Vegas team?

The only thing that excites me is losing Bouma. The Flames will either lose one of their young defenders or a third line forward. I desperately don't want to lose Alex Chiasson. His offensive contributions come in handy.  I hope it will be Lance Bouma; he is an easy replaceable fourth line forward. But unfortunately, the only way that happens is if the Flames arrange a deal for that to happen. Who do you think the Flames are going to lose in the expansion?

Next, who are my picks? There are many options. I feel it is down to four players. I am sure the experts will give you more options, but they are wrong!  That is my story, and I am sticking to it.

My picks, or who I think the Golden Knights will consider:

Matt Stajan

The Golden Knights may choose Matt for his experience.  He is an excellent penalty killer, who gets the job done.  Matt is a solid fourth line Centre. In fact,  he might be the third line Centre.  He will be a great example for the younger kids.

Alex Chiasson 

Alex was a pleasant surprise in my eyes. I was not expecting his twelve goals.  His size will help the Golden Knights on the powerplay, and he will not let the smaller players get pushed around.  His best quality is the garbage goals he can get in there with the best of them.  He could be a second line winger on the expansion team.

Brett Kulak

A solid chance in the NHL. I honestly believe that Brett will be in the NHL on a regular stint. He is a solid defender who has some spunk.  With the Flames, he is probably a fifth to seventh defencemen.   He could pitch in with some offense skill.  There is lots of time for Brett to develop the perfect fit for expansion team who can be patient with him.

Tyler Wotherspoon

Wotherspoon never truly developed into the offensive defencemen people thought he would. But if you do not make Tyler into something he isn't, you still have a young defenseman with some defensive smarts.  If the Knights are looking for a young, stay-home defenseman, Tyler is their man.

The Flames will be making some changes in the off-season.  So I thought I would pick Dearen's brain to see what some of the solutions could be:

Q: Who will be the Flames starting goaltender next season? 

A: I want to answer this question with two answers. No one will be the Flames legitimate starting goaltender next season and Mike Smith. I would love to say a young goalie like Grubauer or Raanta, but those two goalies are not proven goalies and may not even be available. Treliving and Brian Burke appear to like veteran goalies, and for that reason, I believe Mike Smith will be the Flames next attempt at a #1 goaltender. Smith is 35 years old and has a cap hit of $5,666,667 for the next two seasons. Mike Smith has had some injury woes, and that is why the Flames will bring back Chad Johnson as the backup. You don't like my answer? I don't like my answer either. However, the acquisition cost likely makes more sense than an M.A. Fleury, who may not accept a trade to Calgary. Another name that I will mention is Jaroslav Halak (he showed well in the World Cup). I know he was waived last year and I know the majority of people will tell you he is not a #1 goalie. And they are right. I hope you realize that I am telling you that the Flames will not acquire a #1 goaltender. The Flames will either have to make a trade and take a risk on a goalie like Grubauer, Raanta, or Condon, or acquire/sign a guy like Mike Smith, Steve Mason, Jonathan Bernier or Ryan Miller and hope they find their past success. I predict that Treliving goes with familiarity and acquires Mike Smith and signs Chad Johnson to back him up.

Q: Who will fill the void at Right Wing next season for the Flames?

A: Brouwer!! Oh, wait that was last year when Brad Treliving overpaid a third line winger and expected him to fill in our top 6 roles. I love Ferland, but he does not belong on our top two lines.

If we look at Free Agency, we see names like Radulov, TJ Oshie and after that, it drops to names like Vrbata, Justin Williams, and Patrick Eaves. Radulov and Oshie are both 30 years old and are going to want term and money. I am not convinced Calgary has a realistic chance to land either guy. Radulov will end up back in Montreal while rumors suggest Oshie goes back to Washington. Eaves had a crazy good year and is going to wait for that one team that will overpay him on a 3-4 year deal. I hope Calgary is not that team. I just don't see a legit top two line right winger that can help the Flames in free agency.

The Flames may need to get creative and look outside of the NHL. How about Valerie Nichushkin? I am not entirely sure if he can opt out of his final year with CSKA Moscow, but perhaps you can speak to his agent and work out a deal with Dallas. Nischushkin made it clear he was not happy with Dallas and returned home. Maybe a new coach in Dallas changes that? Nischushkin shoots left but plays the right wing. The 22-year-old has the size and the skill. Other names that I will throw out there are Nikita Gusev and Evgeny Dadonov. The Flames will have to get creative and take a risk, and perhaps they look in Europe to find a crafty winger to play with Gaudreau and Monahan.

Q; Should the Flames consider signing Jarome Iginla?

A: No. I love Jarome just like any other Flames fan. Jarome Iginla will be 40 years old and although he had a little success in LA, his best days are far behind him. The Flames want to play an up-tempo puck possession style game, and Iginla does not fit that style.

As much as we can use a right winger and need a goaltender, I am curious to see what the Flames do on defense. Brad Treliving and Brian Burke have recently been quoted saying that you need to have six very capable defensemen to be successful. Right now the Flames have three legitimate NHL defensemen under contract in Giordano: Hamilton and Brodie. A lot of work needs to be done on the back end.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Calgary Flames: The Questions, the Answers

Now that the season is over; we can sit back and ask ourselves what is next. What are the Flames priorities? Obviously, the Flames have a wish list. Guess what? I have one too.  Since this is my party, my list is more important.

So here is my list in no particular order, of what I would do if I were the General Manager. Watch out Brad; I am gunning for your job.

NUMBER ONE GOALIE

Antti Raanta

The Rangers backup is a steady goalie who ready for more responsibility. Antti is a steady goaltender who plays the angles and will give the Flames a chance to win every game.

I love Antti. He is consistent. He is who he is.  You know what you are getting—a starting, capable goalie.

TOP SIX RIGHT WINGER

Patrick Eaves

Patrick is a sniper who would fit in perfectly with Johnny and Sean.  Eaves is a smooth skater who thinks with his head. He would be a perfect stop-gap. Flames could probably, sign him for a 2-year window, long enough for prospects to come in. The native Calgarian should be brought home.

NUMBER FOUR DEFENCEMAN

Kyle Alzner

Kyle is the best option for the Flames. He is a steady, dependable stay home dman. Kyle would cut down on the defensive mistakes.  He would bring a stable veteran influence in the dressing room.  He leads by example. He would a great help to the top three in the lineup.

These players would not fill all the holes, but they would go a long way to making the Flames a better hockey team next season.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Flame trade deadline

I understand how everyone looks at the deadline as insignificant.  I can completely understand that it was, well, pretty boring.  But dare I say that if we take a deeper look, it was significant for the Calgary Flames players. What I am getting at is the message it gives the players: "We believe in you."

Most people seem to think that if you don't bring in a stud, you are sending the wrong message. But I think if it's not broke, why fix it? The Flames management believes in this team and its chemistry.   Chemistry is vital to a team's success.

So what do we get in Lazar? We get a young forward with tons of potential. What I like most about Curtis is his speed. He will fit right in. Curtis has a quick release and is an excellent passer. His weakness is in the faceoff circle. For that reason, I think he will be on the wing.   He is worth the gamble. A second rounder plus a dman who never plays is not too steep of a price. This year's draft is pretty weak.

The other thing I am pleased with is the acquisition of Stone to fill a weak spot in the line-up. Before the Stone trade, the Flames were extremely weak on number 4-6.  Think I am overestimating him? Look at their record since he was acquired!  Bringing in Stone to solidify the defense might just have saved their season.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

There are no words

There have to be changes made to this team soon. Goaltending is awful. They are not making the saves when needed. The defense is bad at best, and that is being kind. Gio, Brodie, and Hamilton have to be better and play smarter.

They have allowed too many blind passes in their own zone. They have to play smarter and pinch at the right times. Too many two-on-ones. And, of course, stop the merry-go-round with the sixth dman. The Flames need to make up their minds who is in and who isn't.

As for the forwards; don't get me started. We are basically a one-line team. Monahan and Johnny are not interested, and of course, we don't have a  third-line winger. The Flames never faced the issue of getting another top-6 forward and are paying for it now.

Bennett is looking like a confused puppy who has no idea what he is supposed to be doing. Stajan has been pretty good. The problem is the fourth-line centre forward showing no push-back. Where is the emotion? This team looks like they have packed it in for the season and are making plans for the summer vacation.

There has to be urgency in the Flames' play.  Once the first bad goal goes in, the team looks like 'here we go again!'

True, the goaltending has to be better, but the team has to show more heart. I am the first to admit the goalies have given up their share of bad goals. But it is hard to win when you cannot score and do not bother to show up until the third period. There is no emotion once this team falls behind. It's like they say, 'well, that's it. Time to pack it in.'

The management has a whole bunch of holes to fix and a coach that no one likes. Players will not listen to him, and he does not have the guts to make them. Players have to have repercussions for the way they play. They have no one to answer to. Or should I say, the stars have no need to listen, but if you're not the star, that is a different story? The third- and fourth-liners have a whole different standard to live up to than the stars.  And yes, that is adding to the problem. There have to be consequences for everyone, including the leaders.

Oh yes, there are a lot of holes in this ship that cannot be fixed with duct tape.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Flames needs


Have you seen this person? If seen, please contact the Calgary Flames organization! Okay, it's not that bad, but Shawn Monahan has struggled this year.

Is it the pressure of a big contract? Or maybe it's the system? Either way, Shawn seems to have lost his way to the yellow brick road. I do not know the reasoning, but it sure looks like he has lost his mojo. He has been struggling with the puck, fighting it like a hot potato.

The other elephant in the room that the Flames need to address is the top six forward. It is no secret the Flames are in dire need of a scoring right winger.

I suspect the Flames are mocking the asking price. It seems the sellers are very greedy; there simply are not enough sellers. There are slim pickings right now; this issue might not get filled until the deadline.

So let's try to address the issue of who the Flames should have as the targets. In no particular order:

Brock Nelson 

The Islanders are in trouble, being in the toughest division. Brock is a skilled young cheap forward.  It is no secret that Bennett has been struggling. Maybe moving him to the wing could help.  And penciling in Nelson there.

Patrick Sharp

Might be the best option. Patrick is not exactly having a great year, but he has a ton of skill. His expiring contract makes him expendable; he might be the power right wing the Flames so desperately need.

Martin Hanzal

A skilled young center who is a UFA at the end of the season. Martin is a big skilled forward for the Coyotes who has a ton of potential. He has never lived up to the hype. Maybe a change of scenery would do him some good. Again, I like the idea of moving Bennett to the wing.