Five things: Rocky road

Ryan Lambert
October 24 2013 08:45AM

1. Roadtrippin' ain't easy

So the Flames enter today 1-3-0 on their current roadtrip, and 2-3-1 away from the Saddledome overall. In those six games, they've given up (get this) 22 goals, which is obviously way too many. Frankly, in the three games in which they've gotten their five road points, they've been lucky to escape; that Washington game was a disaster, the Columbus game flat-out bizarre, and the win over the Kings muddled by a slew of late penalties.

This is, one suspects, kind of the Flames everyone thought they'd be getting when the year began. They have seemingly little in the way of an ability to put together a complete game, particularly away from home, and that's kind of the hallmark of deeply flawed NHL teams these days. They'll occasionally do things well, even more rarely they'll do them really well, but there's always a deficiency of some kind: defensive letdown, offensive sputtering, goaltending gaffes (and man, the team's save percentage to this point in the season is a robust .894), special teams trauma. These have all plagued the team at one point or another on the road. Fortunately, the road run comes to an end tonight with what will probably be a loss to Dallas (statistically speaking).

The Flames schedule, in looking at it, is weird, isn't it? Three-game homestands abound in the early going, though two are merely broken up by a one-game swing out to Winnipeg and back in mid-November. Maybe the team builds up its confidence again starting on Saturday, but the stretch at the end of this coming home run is brutal. Hosting Detroit, at Chicago, at Minnesota, at St. Louis, at Colorado, hosting San Jose. Woof. Really good chance they might come out of that with zero points.

2. Monahan's increased responsibility

By the time you read this the Flames will have already announced their in-no-way-shocking decision to keep Sean Monahan with the big club despite the fact that it's a terrible idea, and in the run-up to that announcement they've done all they can to justify it.

He jumped from 15:10 at San Jose, where he was eaten alive at even strength, to 21:11 at Los Angeles, where he was eaten alive. That was then scaled back, somewhat, to 19:26 in Phoenix, where he actually did pretty well (something in the 48 percent corsi-for range). Of course, in those three games he also had two goals and an assist, the latter of which was actually at 5-on-5, so all the evidence mounted perfectly for Hartley and Feaster to make this wrong decision.

No crying when he stops getting literally every bounce to go his way a month from now.

3. Everyone coming back

What has been remarkable about the Flames' ability to continually be at least in some ways competitive during this early-season stretch is that there are still so many important players hurt. The run-up to the Phoenix game saw Calgary bring David Jones back into the lineup, and Matt Stajan was along for the ride as a kind of prelude to their likely returns tonight in Dallas. Of course, then Mark Giorgado got injured in warmups (something I'll address in a minute) and now the whole thing is on its ear again.

The good news is that all these players slotting back into the lineup for the first time in weeks puts the team in a position to start sitting Brian McGrattan for once, and that's always going to be viewed by all sane people as a good decision,

4. The Giordano injury

Boy does this put the Flames in a bad position. Chris Breen drew in Tuesday night as a result, which was nice for him since it was his first-ever NHL game, but that is a gaping hole in the defense to leave. The Flames' bottom-3 or 4 defensemen are, of course, uniformly garbage. The odds, I think, are probably good that Chris Butler is reinstated back into the lineup even though it's a terrible idea, just because you don't know how Breen holds up over a long period. (As I write this, I should note that there's been no word whatsoever on his status or how much time he'll miss.)

At some point, you'd almost rather just have TJ Brodie push Wideman-like minutes every night just to make up some of the difference so the goalies don't get shelled. Not that it matters, really, since that's already happening, but this has to be a major point of concern.

5. Something that just occurred to me

The Flames' third loss in four games the other night kind of reminded me that I hadn't checked where they were in the standings for a minute, and also served to re-inform me that oh yeah Phoenix is a division game now. I was legitimately shocked, therefore, to see the Flames, who have only lost three games out of their first nine, sitting sixth in the division.

Granted, they have a game in hand on a few teams ahead of them, but nonetheless, they already appear to be on the outside looking in. What was that stat Elliotte Friedman had the other day about being four-plus points out of the playoffs on Nov. 1 being really in tough to make it? Well, the Flames are currently four back of Phoenix for the third and final guaranteed playoff spot in the Pacific, and that could be a major problem going forward.

That's interesting, though. We could more or less know the Flames' chances of making the playoffs a week from now. Never too early to start the fire sale, I guess.

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!
Avatar
#51 Justin Azevedo
October 24 2013, 05:01PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
1
props

@jonahgo

generally, I like to have at least 30 games worth of sample for corsi. unfortunately for us, monahan had to be evaluated on an expedited scale due to the realities of his contract situation.

Avatar
#52 DoubleDIon
October 24 2013, 11:40AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@Baalzamon

Agreed, Jackman is beyond awful. He had 2 good years for us and should have been scrapped after that. McGratton sucks, but at least he's a nuclear deterrent. Jackman isn't good enough at punching faces for how bad he is at hockey. There are guys with better hands in my beer league, literally. I'd like to see a functional 4th line that can dominate other 4th lines offensively. That's the main area the Flames could take advantage of their opposition. We have lots of 2nd/3rd line types that could kill 4th lines. Some combination of Horak, Colbourne, Galiardi and Bouma would actually give us a strong 4th line.

Avatar
#53 Scary Gary
October 24 2013, 11:46AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Poor Brodie will be saddled with Butler tonight I imagine.

Avatar
#54 Mikeoxbig
October 24 2013, 01:26PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

It's actually hilarious to read Lambert's articles, I get a kick out of the pessimism. I don't think he is a bad writer, just a controversial one. We are all so protective of our team and the players that it's like having a new born baby and then your buddy tells you he looks like a clydesdale kicked it in the face. Of course they are going to be bad and of course there are going to be long nights but just dont keep rubbing it in our face. We want to focus on the positives, like keeping Sean Monahan. And we want to read about the future of this team because the current incarnation consist of Butler, McGrattan etc..... On the bright side though, i think we win tonight in a shootout and Ramo plays amazing!!!!

Avatar
#55 TRAV
October 24 2013, 02:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@Justin Azevedo

Justin,

Just out of curiosity I tried searching up a Ryan Lambert Boston Globe article and din't have any luck. I sometimes read his stuff on puck daddy and was interested if he maintained a similar style with the globe previously. I am a lousy web searcher and as I mentioned didn't have any luck. If possible could you post a link to one of his articles. I know that he does some politics and music stuff and I am just generally curious.

thanks, TRAV

Avatar
#56 Justin Azevedo
October 24 2013, 02:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@TRAV

http://thecheckingline.com/blog/mark-trible/tcl/q-ryan-lambert-puck-daddy he says in an interview here about a local boston newspaper and i vaguely recall him saying something about it at some point on twitter

Comments are closed for this article.