Five things: No, wait

Ryan Lambert
October 10 2013 08:37AM

1. Third-period leads

The Flames have to this point in the season done exceedingly well at scoring a lot of goals (four per game) and usually enter the third period with a lead, which is a good thing to do if you want to win hockey games.

This is a team that seems very good a building leads and, as you might expect given the makeup of the roster, very bad at holding them. What was interesting to me is that they've actually only allowed one more goal in the third period than they scored, because it seemed like it should be a lot more than that. It's kind of amazing that they could enter two of their three games with a lead going into the third period — which those who think they're playoff competitors must be heartened by — but they didn't win either of those games. Their only win of the season came in a game in which they were tied after 40 minutes.

Not that you wouldn't expect this kind of thing out of a young and/or bad team because that's almost always what separates good teams from those that are not so much good. The Flames are the latter and have been this whole time; they bleed goals and they can't hold leads and even if they're scoring a lot it's because they're shooting 11.4 percent (before the game last night). Meanwhile, they're only stopping 87.9 percent of shots. Neither is sustainable, obviously, but I know which is probably at least a little more sustainable.

2. This isn't right at all

Of course people in Calgary have been heartened by these performances. "If they're going to lose, at least make it entertaining" and all that, and the Flames have to their credit delivered. No one expected them to score 12 goals in their first three games considering who was playing and who was on the shelf and who was shipped out of town last year.

But obviously the people who want a tank-job have been ripping their hair out: Four points from three games? This is the kind of thing that's always been frustrating about the Flames. They get almost to where they need to be (in this case conceding lots of third-period goals and getting no goaltending to speak of), but also don't quite get there. That thing Kent said a while ago about the difference in results when the expectations change is true. People seem, from what I've seen, to be perfectly happy with four points from three games, but this kind of thing last year with the blown leads and so forth would have made people scream and hold their breath.

This is all going to catch up with them eventually, of course, and I still think this is a truly bottom-of-the-barrel team, but the success, such as it is lately, is extremely counterproductive.

3. Monahan's production

Something that is less counter-productive, but could soon become so if things go as some are starting to expect, is once again the Monahan Issue. Obviously through three games he's a point a game player and in the attacking zone he's looked very, very good.

But what's gone less noticed, mostly because of the context in which it's happened, is that while he was on the ice for three goals for at even strength in the first three games, he's also been on the ice for seven goals against, including four in the Canucks game alone. He has, to my eyes, looked very much "not ready" and that likely also informs that thing I was worried about this whole time: he's only getting 12:54 a night, and in that time he's getting drilled when he's pinned into his own zone.

It's kind of amazing that's even happening, to be honest, because also in those first three games, he's starting just 27.8 percent of his shifts back there. The rest are in the neutral or offensive zones, and that's the kind of thing that should be far more conducive to a better corsi rating against the kind of soft competition he's facing (15th in QOC on the team, ahead of only Chris Butler, Lance Bouma, Shane O'Brien, and Brian McGrattan).

You gotta send him back to junior. He has a lot of work to do and this isn't the place to do it.

4. Glencross to Philly?

When teams are rebuilding it's of course logical that they would be the ones most often connected with trade rumors originating in some of the league's bigger markets. And given the ways in which the Flyers are especially connected with such rumors more than any team save for Toronto, it was logical that connective lines between Calgary and Philadelphia would arise.

However, the idea of Curtis Glencross going to Philadelphia, which has certainly cropped up in the past few days, is one that doesn't make a lot of sense. For one thing the Flyers have no cap space and one can't imagine Calgary being too eager to take on an equal amount unless they were getting something very good in return. Which I'm not so sure Philly would give up. At least, not at this juncture.

Obviously, as the trade deadline approaches teams will get more interested and come knocking, and if Philly's anywhere near the playoffs they're gonna sell every half-decent prospect to try to save Paul Holmgren's job.

Glencross could at that time be particularly attractive because he's cheap and signed for next season. Frankly, I'd be shocked if he wasn't gone at that point.

5. Here's a new and updated thing

After the Iginla picture got so many complaints the last time I used it I have since updated it and I hope you all like it and don't hate me.

686dfac3780611cb7acad6ce5166c6c1
Yer ol' buddy Lambert is handsome and great and everyone loves him. Also you can visit his regular blog at The Two-Line Pass or follow him on Twitter. Lucky you!
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#51 Ren
October 10 2013, 02:49PM
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Might be a strange question but can Monahan be sent down after 9 games? Is the 9 game mark just the point at which we 'burn' a year of his ELC?

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#52 Nick24
October 10 2013, 03:16PM
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Ren wrote:

Might be a strange question but can Monahan be sent down after 9 games? Is the 9 game mark just the point at which we 'burn' a year of his ELC?

He can still be sent down but we would burn one year on his ELC. I think that we would have until February to send him back to the O.

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#53 Nathan
October 10 2013, 03:34PM
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@RustyStrombone

Actually, the Flames have a PDO of 108.6, which is 3rd highest in the league. Also worth pointing out that the Habs and the Blue Jackets have PDOs of 92.3 and 92.0 respectively. The two teams the Flames have beaten have been absurdly unlucky in the early goings. (Washington has the worst PDO in the lowest PDO in the league at 90.9).

I think the Flames are going to stink this year, but I'm not sure why that would get anyone bent out of shape. What are we all expecting? This little run of luck has been nice, but it won't continue forever. Let's not turn into Wild/Leafs fans, please.

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#54 beloch
October 10 2013, 04:33PM
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Re: Monahan

"He has, to my eyes, looked very much "not ready" and that likely also informs that thing I was worried about this whole time: he's only getting 12:54 a night, and in that time he's getting drilled when he's pinned into his own zone."

His average TOI/G has gone up to 13:35, and take a look at this trend:

Game 1: 11:40
Game 2: 13:20
Game 3: 13:42
Game 4: 15:41

A four point trend-line isn't exactly great data, so we'll see how things shake out in another five games. However, for a kid to go directly from junior to the NHL and get this kind of TOI is astounding.

Monahan is receiving a lot of shelter, playing against some of the softest competition of anyone on the team and getting very high offensive zone starts. However, his relative corsi is +9.00, which is fifth highest on the team. He might be sheltered, but he's showing signs that he doesn't need to be.

In draws, he's 45.0%. That needs to improve, but he's an 18 year old with 4 games of NHL experience playing against veteran NHL'ers, so it probably will.

Now, take a look at Monahan's scoring chance progression.

Game 1 (Washington): 1 6 (-5)
Game 2 (Columbus): 4 6 (-2)
Game 3 (Vancouver): 8 3 (+5)
Game 4 (Montreal): 7 3 (+4)

He might be only +2 overall in scoring chances, but there appears to be a trend of improvement here as well.

In short, Monahan is getting a lot of highly sheltered ice-time and he's actually doing pretty damned good. Mad props to Hartley for introducing this kid to the NHL right! Monahan appears to be progressing rapidly in the NHL, which is something I'm not sure would be true back in the OHL where he clearly has little to learn. If he were playing Colborne's minutes, I'd absolutely be in favor of returning him to Ottawa, but if Hartley can keep giving him minutes like these? He stays. You can see the kid's ceiling raising every game. How can this not be *fantastic* for his development?

You say you want the Flames to lose this year, but you want Monahan sent down because he might not be as competitive with the minutes he's getting as... Colborne? MAKE UP YOUR BLOODY MIND WHAT THE BLEEP YOU WANT THIS TEAM TO DO!!! Seriously, there's just no pleasing some people.

I say make the decision that's best for Monahan's development. Burning a year on his ELC this season is sub-optimal from a contract standpoint, but if staying this season raises his ceiling, you've got to suck it up and do it.

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#55 theCalgaryJames
October 10 2013, 04:46PM
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icedawg_42 wrote:

"Nuge" and Monahan play totally different games, PLUS Nuge weighs about 30lbs. In fact both Nuge and Hall play the type of game that makes them very prone to injury. Monahan does not play like that - nor is he build like a bird. You'll have a tough time convincing me they are on the same track. You'll have an even tougher time convincing me that using a year of his ELC (if he turns out to be ready) is "bad" for business. Calgary sits 29th overall in cap hit. SMART management is about putting the proper SECONDARY pieces around our stars when they're ready to get paid (and contend.)

This is my general take when it comes to the issue of burning a year of his ELC. Do people think we wont have the money to sign him? Are the flames in some financial trouble I'm not aware of? There's only one other team in the league with a lower payroll than the flames and we have wealthy owners who have shown they'll spend money on this team. This isn't even to mention the fact that the cap will still be going up not down after this season. We have so much money to spend and build this team with. Frankly, If the kid sticks with the team and all of a sudden the flames are forced to back a dumptruck full of money up to his doorstep a year or two earlier then isn't that a good thing? It means he's met the expectations we'd hoped he would. It means he's an excellent if not elite centerman.

If the kid continues to produce (I'm aware a regression seems extremely likely) then I think you have no choice but to keep him. It seems to me that the holes in his game are entirely defensive zone issues. I also find it odd (though not surprising regarding his tired, cherry picking, rhetorical history) that RL uses Monohan's +/- as an indicator of his defensive lapses. He was a -3 in the Vancouver game but I don't really know how you can fault him on any of those minuses. Also, +/- is a useless stat quoting it is ridiculous. It's also beneath the reputation of this site to use it as any true evaluation of a player...

Monohan's defensive game is not gonna get better if he's dropped down to the OHL. He's gotta learn and take his bumps and bruises at a pro level for that to improve. Ideally I'd want him in the AHL or at least to have that option but that can't happen so C'est la vie. If he's being used by the coach regularly enough (14-15mins a night) then he deserves to stay. If it costs a year of his ELC than that's what it costs. Right now the player is letting his play speak for it self. He's got 5 more games to prove he belongs. His play is the only thing that should dictate whether he stays or not. The ELC conversation badly needs to go away.

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#56 theCalgaryJames
October 10 2013, 04:57PM
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beloch wrote:

Re: Monahan

"He has, to my eyes, looked very much "not ready" and that likely also informs that thing I was worried about this whole time: he's only getting 12:54 a night, and in that time he's getting drilled when he's pinned into his own zone."

His average TOI/G has gone up to 13:35, and take a look at this trend:

Game 1: 11:40
Game 2: 13:20
Game 3: 13:42
Game 4: 15:41

A four point trend-line isn't exactly great data, so we'll see how things shake out in another five games. However, for a kid to go directly from junior to the NHL and get this kind of TOI is astounding.

Monahan is receiving a lot of shelter, playing against some of the softest competition of anyone on the team and getting very high offensive zone starts. However, his relative corsi is +9.00, which is fifth highest on the team. He might be sheltered, but he's showing signs that he doesn't need to be.

In draws, he's 45.0%. That needs to improve, but he's an 18 year old with 4 games of NHL experience playing against veteran NHL'ers, so it probably will.

Now, take a look at Monahan's scoring chance progression.

Game 1 (Washington): 1 6 (-5)
Game 2 (Columbus): 4 6 (-2)
Game 3 (Vancouver): 8 3 (+5)
Game 4 (Montreal): 7 3 (+4)

He might be only +2 overall in scoring chances, but there appears to be a trend of improvement here as well.

In short, Monahan is getting a lot of highly sheltered ice-time and he's actually doing pretty damned good. Mad props to Hartley for introducing this kid to the NHL right! Monahan appears to be progressing rapidly in the NHL, which is something I'm not sure would be true back in the OHL where he clearly has little to learn. If he were playing Colborne's minutes, I'd absolutely be in favor of returning him to Ottawa, but if Hartley can keep giving him minutes like these? He stays. You can see the kid's ceiling raising every game. How can this not be *fantastic* for his development?

You say you want the Flames to lose this year, but you want Monahan sent down because he might not be as competitive with the minutes he's getting as... Colborne? MAKE UP YOUR BLOODY MIND WHAT THE BLEEP YOU WANT THIS TEAM TO DO!!! Seriously, there's just no pleasing some people.

I say make the decision that's best for Monahan's development. Burning a year on his ELC this season is sub-optimal from a contract standpoint, but if staying this season raises his ceiling, you've got to suck it up and do it.

THIS... Sweet, Jebus... THIS!

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#57 coachedpotatoe
October 10 2013, 05:09PM
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theCalgaryJames wrote:

This is my general take when it comes to the issue of burning a year of his ELC. Do people think we wont have the money to sign him? Are the flames in some financial trouble I'm not aware of? There's only one other team in the league with a lower payroll than the flames and we have wealthy owners who have shown they'll spend money on this team. This isn't even to mention the fact that the cap will still be going up not down after this season. We have so much money to spend and build this team with. Frankly, If the kid sticks with the team and all of a sudden the flames are forced to back a dumptruck full of money up to his doorstep a year or two earlier then isn't that a good thing? It means he's met the expectations we'd hoped he would. It means he's an excellent if not elite centerman.

If the kid continues to produce (I'm aware a regression seems extremely likely) then I think you have no choice but to keep him. It seems to me that the holes in his game are entirely defensive zone issues. I also find it odd (though not surprising regarding his tired, cherry picking, rhetorical history) that RL uses Monohan's +/- as an indicator of his defensive lapses. He was a -3 in the Vancouver game but I don't really know how you can fault him on any of those minuses. Also, +/- is a useless stat quoting it is ridiculous. It's also beneath the reputation of this site to use it as any true evaluation of a player...

Monohan's defensive game is not gonna get better if he's dropped down to the OHL. He's gotta learn and take his bumps and bruises at a pro level for that to improve. Ideally I'd want him in the AHL or at least to have that option but that can't happen so C'est la vie. If he's being used by the coach regularly enough (14-15mins a night) then he deserves to stay. If it costs a year of his ELC than that's what it costs. Right now the player is letting his play speak for it self. He's got 5 more games to prove he belongs. His play is the only thing that should dictate whether he stays or not. The ELC conversation badly needs to go away.

You have been reading my mind. Monahan has proven he can play D in the OHL, he has proven he can score in OHL; what will improve there? His skating , his strength, his face offs none of these will improve significantly in the OHL where he can dominate already while if he he plays here he will improve in all these categories. If he regresses in the next 5 games he should go down but if continues to play at this level this is the best place for him. Talk about contract is just so minor at this point.

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#58 44stampede
October 10 2013, 07:49PM
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It's way too early to get too excited about Monahan. Personally I am impressed with the kid so far, but to make a major decision on where he ends up in 4 games is not smart. Even 9 is not enough but at least it is more than double of what we have now.

I used to think that Glencross would be good for the team rebuilding but I am starting to open to the idea of him being gone. The only way I would do it would be if there was a large win in prospect and picks. He is cheap, signed for another year and is a top 6 forward on most teams.

There were a ton of scouts at the last game apparently. Who were they scouting?

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#59 Baalzamon
October 10 2013, 08:11PM
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@beloch

"In draws, he's 45.0%. That needs to improve, but he's an 18 year old with 4 games of NHL experience playing against veteran NHL'ers, so it probably will."

He's actually significantly worse than that. I'm not sure where you're getting this number from, but he's closer to 37% by now. He's gotten worse in every successive game, as a matter of fact.

Not that that matters much. Just nitpicking here.

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#60 beloch
October 10 2013, 09:25PM
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@Baalzamon

My bad. I was using behindthenet's faceoff stats which include all faceoffs while he was on the ice, not just the draws he took. Still, faceoffs are one of those stats you really need a good sample size to judge. I sincerely doubt he's actually gotten worse over the course of four games. ;)

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#61 Baalzamon
October 11 2013, 09:05AM
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@the-wolf

"but I can't stand sites like FN where the whole idea is to simply cheer blindly about everything, good, bad or ugly."

uh.... is it possible you meant something other than FN (as in: Flames Nation)?

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#62 kittensandcookies
October 11 2013, 11:46AM
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I think he means CP, where they're insanely rah-rah it makes my brain bleed. They have some posters that are so blindly positive they make Leaf fans look normal.

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#63 the-wolf
October 11 2013, 11:46AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

"but I can't stand sites like FN where the whole idea is to simply cheer blindly about everything, good, bad or ugly."

uh.... is it possible you meant something other than FN (as in: Flames Nation)?

hahah...oh,mna...can't believe I wrote that. Talk about a lack of caffeine in the system.

I meant CP forums! I stand corrected!

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#64 the-wolf
October 11 2013, 11:47AM
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kittensandcookies wrote:

I think he means CP, where they're insanely rah-rah it makes my brain bleed. They have some posters that are so blindly positive they make Leaf fans look normal.

Yes!

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#65 kittensandcookies
October 11 2013, 11:59AM
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It also doesn't help that Bingo can't write worth a damn.

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#66 Captain Ron
October 11 2013, 05:22PM
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Sven has three ears.

I love that about him.

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