February 20 2012 01:32PM
Just a few things kicking around in my head this Monday afternoon.
I was thinking about the first Olli Jokinen trade the other day and it's impact on the Calgary Flames since it occurred. I mean, how many moves in the past 3 years have had some relation to it? Obviously, if the first trade doesn't happen, then Calgary probably keeps their first rounder, Brandon Prust and Matthew Lombardi. The Flames don't have that insane salary crunch late in the year when the injury bug hits, and that maybe allows them to stay in 3rd going into the playoffs. They have more forward depth (and we never see Warren Peters) in the first round, and they play against lesser competition. Maybe they win that round or they go long enough to see Mark Giordano and Robyn Regehr get a little healthier. (Worth noting that in my opinion the 08-09 team prior to the Jokinen trade was probably the 3rd best Flames team ever constructed.)
If they make the second round, do the Flames go and try to sign Jay Bouwmeester? I would hazard that the answer to that would be yes, just due to the stupid amount of injuries sustained by the blue liners. What about Mike Cammalleri? He probably stays; he's said on record before that he would've taken 5 million in Calgary due to the lesser taxes in Alberta. The Flames probably don't suffer as many losses due to the forced continuation of the Iginla-Jokinen duo, and the power versus power structure of the team would create more favorable matchups for Iginla and Cammalleri.
As a result, the Flames probably don't end up losing 9 in a row in the middle of the season-if the team was still holding down 6th, would Dion Phaneuf still get moved in the second worst deal the franchise has ever made? Even if he did get moved for the exact same return, no Jokinen probably means no Kotalik or Higgins. Calgary has 3 million dollars in extra cap space and a mid-to-late teens pick in the 2010 draft. Would that player be on the ice right now for the Flames? What could Darryl use that three million on?
Assume the events of July 1st, 2010 onwards occur as normal. Now the Flames have Jokinen, Langkow, no Kotalik, Cammalleri, Bouwmeester, the pick from 2010, Prust, Lombardi, etc.-instead of missing the playoffs three years in a row, the Flames are playoff teams all three of those years with some cap space to spare.
Just something fun to think about.
Anton "Jorts" Babchuk
I know we harp on Babchuk a lot around here - and with good reason - but I have heard from a trustworthy source that Anton Babchuk was shopping on Rodeo Drive during the All-Star break. His apparel? A deep V-Neck and Jorts.
What a guy.
Anyhow, if you watch Babchuk in the games he plays, he happens to have a rather annoying pattern of play that apparently no one has tried to correct yet. Generally, as a defenseman, you want to keep the play in front of you; meaning you want to see as many of the opposing players as possible to allow you to react better to the direction of the play. I was always taught that when the puck is behind the net and you're the defenseman in front of the net you're supposed to be as close to the far post as possible so as to not block your goalie and see the ice while still leaving you in good position should a man drift towards the slot.
Every time a play like this develops:
Babchuk is in the wrong position, facing towards the corner, leaving the slot open and obstructing his goaltender's view, like this:
When he should be like this:
You want to make sure the slot is taken away, because that's a much higher percentage shot then a guy coming out of the corner with two other players pursuing him. Just something I find extremely annoying, made even worse by how simple it is to correct.
The Flames' team PDO right now sits at 1004. This is interesting, because that's not an absurd number even though we all know the team (well, Miikka Kiprusoff) is playing way above their collective talent level right now. That's not a knock on the team, it's just the reality when you have 9 players who are either AHLers, replacement level NHLers or rookies. Since the Vancouver game on December 23rd, that's only a change of 2 points. I really don't know what to make of it. For what it's worth, last year at this point it sat at 997.
However, the team's even strength shot percentage continues to decline and that is extremely worrying. It now sits at 46.7% on the season, meaning 179 more even strength shots have been faced by the Flames goaltenders then the team's opponents. This time last year the team was outshooting their opponents, with a 52.7% even strength shot differental-a difference of 142 more shots last season and a delta of 321 year over year. That's about 12 games worth of even strength shots difference, which is absurd. Make no mistake, this team is nowhere near as good as last year's. The last time the Flames weren't in the negatives in shot differental? Tuesday, November 8th 2011-only because they out-shot the Minnesota Wild by 10 shots at evens.
I will be attending as a media member, and like I have the past two times I've gone this season, I'm putting out a call for questions you might want me to ask. Keep it tactful and I'll do my best to get it asked. This applies to you dirty Oilers fans too, but my availability for them will probably be less then it is for the Flames.
Put your question(s) in the comments.