February 25 2017 02:00PM
Teams send their pro scouts to rinks for any number of reasons. Sometimes it's to advance scout a future opponent. Sometimes it's to get a sense of the upcoming free agent class. This season, it's likely that teams are also trying to get a sense of what the other teams in the league are going to do in terms of protection for the upcoming expansion draft.
That said, particularly in the run-up to the National Hockey League's trade deadline, teams scout games to find out what players may be available and how they might fit in with their groups.
For whatever it's worth, here's what we can suss out from the scouting list over the past 10 Flames home dates. (Disclaimer: Just because a team's on the scouting list doesn't mean they're there [as travel plans often change] and on the same vein, teams may have sent somebody to the game but they weren't on the list.)
February 25 2017 12:00PM
(Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports)
I don't believe in the Wideman curse.
It isn't that I refuse to acknowledge that the Flames are being penalized more heavily this season than last, but rather it is that I don't believe it is entirely due to the incident where Dennis Wideman cross checked Don Henderson into the boards.
Kerry Fraser wrote a piece in late January responding directly to the question of whether the Flames are being unfairly targeted by the officials because of Wideman. I've recommended it to not only Flames fans, but fans of any team.
But back to the Wideman curse, the Flames are simultaneously receiving more penalties than any other team in the league (ahead of Colorado by 0.03 penalty kills per game) and being penalized at around a league-average rate of 18%.
How is that possible?
They are committing a greater number of infractions.
This season I have tracked a number of Flames games for
penalty infractions committed by both the Flames and their opponents, logging
those infractions which were called and which were uncalled.
I did something similar at the end of last season and decided to repeat it again this season but over a longer period.
In all I logged data on twelve games, or roughly 15% of the entire Flames’ season, and compared that data to an equal or greater number of non-Flames games from around the NHL. (Be warned - image-heavy after the jump.)
February 25 2017 10:00AM
Through three quarters of the season, it's tough to argue against Mikael Backlund being Calgary's most valuable player. In the midst of a career season, Backlund will be eligible for a contract extension starting July 1 and there's plenty to suggest the Flames should lock him up as soon as they can. While it's still a little ways out, I think we can start to get a pretty good picture of what Backlund's next deal might look like.
February 25 2017 08:00AM
Think back to the start of the season. The Flames were just about on the verge of taking the next step, and with a new coach - and oh, we really hoped Brad Treliving had gotten this hire right - it was time for the Flames to show serious signs of improvement.
They were borderline unwatchable, and the season was sunk. You simply can't be that bad and think you have a chance at the playoffs, even that early on. The chances of coming back are pretty slim.
Well, the Flames appear to have come back. And from those early days of calling for Glen Gulutzan's head, the Flames are, dare I say, rather fun to watch now.
Of course, the winning helps.
Now imagine a full season of this with a probably better roster. No poor start, because they'll be used to the coach's systems; hopefully no mental breakdowns, either, because they're playing better than their January selves, too. That's something to look forward to next season. In the meantime, this is growth.
February 24 2017 09:01PM
(Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports)
Tonight's visit to the Florida Panthers was a game that the Calgary Flames probably would have lost six weeks ago. That's not to say that the Flames weren't playing well six weeks ago, it's just that this game had all the makings of a let-down game: Second game of a back-to-back, nearing the end of a road trip, and the Panthers have been playing really well over the last while.
But the Flames have been playing well and getting the bounces over the past few weeks (which wasn't happening six weeks ago). It happened against tonight in South Florida, with Calgary getting timely goals, good goaltending and good enough defense en route to a 4-2 victory over the Panthers.