The Flames At The Dot

Ryan Pike
October 29 2013 09:05AM

 

 

Even before the rebuild, one of the biggest holes for the Calgary Flames has been face-offs. This season, they're 30th in the league. Last season they were 28th. They were even 30th during Brent Sutter's last year as coach. Being bad at face-offs isn't a new phenomenon, and seems to be immune to changes in management, coaches or players.

Here's a brief situational look at how the Flames are doing at the face-off dot after 11 games.

NEUTRAL ZONE

Team-wide, the Flames win roughly 42% of face-offs at center ice. The breakdown among the regular centers is like this: Joe Colborne is at 47% (but has taken the least neutral zone draws), Mikael Backlund is 43%, Sean Monahan is 40% and Ben Street (now in Abbotsford) is at 31%. Matt Stajan's at 57%, but has only taken 23 draws (as opposed to Backlund's 65).

OFFENSIVE ZONE

Overall, the Flames are again at 42% in the offensive zone. Player-by-player, that breaks down to 57% for Street, 43% for Backlund, 63% for Monahan and a miserable 31% for Colborne. Monahan has taken the most offensive zone draws of the regular centers, while Colborne has not-shockingly taken the fewest. Stajan's at 58%, but has only taken a dozen draws in the offensive end.

DEFENSIVE ZONE

Arguably the most important zone to win your draws in, the Flames have had some success in the defensive zone – although they're still losing 52% of their draws and winning a mere 48%. Sean Monahan leads the regulars at 50%, followed by Backlund at 48%, Colborne at 47% and Street at 45%. Backlund's taken 87 of the team's 216 draws in their own end , which is a pretty big proportion (about 40%) and shows how he's been deployed by Bob Hartley thus far. Stajan's at 42% in his own zone through 19 draws.

EVEN STRENGTH

When things are even-keel, the Flames fare at 44% overall. The team's leaders are Stajan (50%), Street (46%), Monahan (45%), Backlund (43%) and Colborne (41%). Backlund takes the most of the team's even-strength draws (92), followed by Monahan at 70.

POWER PLAY

Overall, the Flames win 45% of their power-play draws. Curtis Glencross actually takes a number of these and has fared pretty well for somebody who's not a natural center. He's won 47%. Of the regular centers, Monahan takes the most power-play draws and, to be blunt, has been getting killed. He's won just 29% of his PP draws.

PENALTY KILL

The PK is where the Flames have been getting killed (in terms of getting scored on a lot) and they're not amazing in the face-off circle, winning just 44%. Matt Stajan has won 64% of his draws, followed by Backlund at 59% and Street at 23%. Backlund has taken the majority of Calgary's short-handed draws, which combined with his percentages make him pretty damn useful as a defensive player.

SUM IT UP

On the whole, Calgary's won about 44% of their face-offs, which places them dead-last in the NHL. Stajan's got the best team-wide winning percentage (at 52%), but he's also only played three games, so there's no telling where his percentages will end up over a longer span. Backlund leads the regulars at 45%, followed by Monahan and Colborne, both around 42%. Considering that Monahan and Colborne are both fairly inexperienced, they're likely to get better over time, but the team obviously has some work to do. They were excellent against Washington, so hopefully they can keep it up.

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Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's covered the Flames and the NHL since 2010. His work can also be found at The Hockey Writers and The Wrestling Observer.
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#1 Stubblejumper
October 29 2013, 09:15AM
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Good article. Perhaps sheds some light on Hartley's defensive/PK deployment of Backlund to try to drive better defensive possession.

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#2 NHL93
October 29 2013, 09:39AM
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Is Yanic Perrault available as a 'guest speaker' at practice?

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#3 Kent Wilson
October 29 2013, 10:05AM
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@NHL93

Manny Malhotra is still looking for work...

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#4 piscera.infada
October 29 2013, 10:15AM
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I find it interesting that this article appeared here. I remember at the end of last season, I posted on this site that the Flames needed to get better in the faceoff circle, and that I believed that drafting a kid named Monahan would probably help them at that (once he gets a little more experience at the NHL level, of course). That was immediately met with several posts claiming faceoffs don't matter, or at least, don't have any effect on winning. I just don't understand why it now matters... What's the deal?

Is it perhaps because now that our faceoff percentages are statistically horrible - instead of statistically brutal - people are now noticing how bad it is? 'Cause it's been bad for a loooooooong time.

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#5 mattyc
October 29 2013, 10:27AM
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From Fear the Fin:

'winning draws while shorthanded should mean that your penalty kill will have greater success. Right?

Surprisingly, that's wrong. The correlation of shorthanded faceoff percentage and penalty kill percentage is actually in the negative at -.17. Now these numbers don't confirm that the lower your faceoff percentage is the higher your PK percentage will be-- after all, correlation does not imply causation, and saying that you would be better off losing all your draws doesn't make sense at all. However, this is suggesting that, amongst the league as a whole, a good faceoff percentage does not equal a good kill over the course of a season'

Copper and Blue also has a nice round-up: http://www.coppernblue.com/2009/8/9/981552/defensive-zone-faceoffs-how-much

Basically, I'm not sure why we're focusing so much on faceoffs either, but I'd be open to enlightenment.

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#6 Vowswithin
October 29 2013, 10:44AM
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@mattyc

Would you agree if you have the puck the other team can't score? I mean aside from you throwing it in your own net... It's the same reason why even if not scoring Backlund is a beast!

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#7 piscera.infada
October 29 2013, 10:58AM
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@mattyc

It's tough to make a direct statistical correlation, but just from the eyes-test there is importance to faceoffs. If we're going to use 'advanced stats' to discuss possession, and likewise chart possession to be a reasonable judge of player quality, I don't understand why an act that can instantly determine whether or not you have possession (the majority of the time) is overlooked with such determinism.

I understand the statistics are difficult to chart with regard to faceoff wins and losses, as often the effects of a won or lost faceoff occur a good deal of time after the faceoff was won or lost (ie: a powerplay that works the puck around the zone for a minute before a goal is scored), or is fairly minimal in terms of not being on the ice (ie: a won faceoff following an icing, when the line that iced the puck has been on for a long shift).

I'm not saying faceoffs are the penultimate judge of player value, but I've never been one to argue that it is not an important part of the game. If you actually think that losing a defensive zone faceoff on a penalty kill is something to slough-off as unimportant (regardless of cherry-picked stats) - then I certainly take issue with that view, as we've seen it time and time again with the post-Yelle Flames.

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#8 SmellOfVictory
October 29 2013, 11:17AM
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mattyc wrote:

From Fear the Fin:

'winning draws while shorthanded should mean that your penalty kill will have greater success. Right?

Surprisingly, that's wrong. The correlation of shorthanded faceoff percentage and penalty kill percentage is actually in the negative at -.17. Now these numbers don't confirm that the lower your faceoff percentage is the higher your PK percentage will be-- after all, correlation does not imply causation, and saying that you would be better off losing all your draws doesn't make sense at all. However, this is suggesting that, amongst the league as a whole, a good faceoff percentage does not equal a good kill over the course of a season'

Copper and Blue also has a nice round-up: http://www.coppernblue.com/2009/8/9/981552/defensive-zone-faceoffs-how-much

Basically, I'm not sure why we're focusing so much on faceoffs either, but I'd be open to enlightenment.

I think faceoffs are in the realm of physicality: they're nice to have if you can get them, but they shouldn't be a goal unto themselves. Don't get players solely as faceoff specialists, just as you shouldn't get players solely because they play physically. I imagine they do contribute overall to better possession, but the effect isn't large enough to warrant taking an inferior player who can win an extra 30 draws/season or whatever.

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#9 Baalzamon
October 29 2013, 11:17AM
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Giordano: 6-8 weeks (broken ankle)

Stempniak: week-to-week (broken foot)

me: yikes.

Also, Breen is day-to-day. So, who do they call up for the #7 D?

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#10 piscera.infada
October 29 2013, 11:20AM
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@SmellOfVictory

Don't tell that to Team Canada who picked Bergeron in the last Olympics as a defensive zone faceoff specialist. I understand what you're saying, but IMO a center who's no good at faceoffs is like a goalie who can't control rebounds - it's not all they're asked to do, but it is an important part of their job.

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#11 Kent Wilson
October 29 2013, 11:36AM
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@piscera.infada

Faceoffs are potentially important, but the issue is teams and players tend to cluster so much in the middle that the differences don't tend to be meaningful. For instance, if you are a 50% player, you win 5 out of 10 draws on average. If you're a 40% player (which is a big shift in the NHL), you win...4 out of 10.

Where you gain or lose a true advantage is in the margins...so guys who are 60%+ or above probably bring real value over time. Similarly, guys south of 40% are a problem.

As for why we're tracking them...for interests sake in part, but also because it points perhaps to why Hartley is making certain decisions on the ice.

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#12 Kent Wilson
October 29 2013, 11:36AM
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@Baalzamon

Breen played 10 mins in the NHL and he's hurt??

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#13 kittensandcookies
October 29 2013, 11:38AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Giordano: 6-8 weeks (broken ankle)

Stempniak: week-to-week (broken foot)

me: yikes.

Also, Breen is day-to-day. So, who do they call up for the #7 D?

Fuuuuuuuuuuu.......

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#14 FireOnIce
October 29 2013, 11:41AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Giordano: 6-8 weeks (broken ankle)

Stempniak: week-to-week (broken foot)

me: yikes.

Also, Breen is day-to-day. So, who do they call up for the #7 D?

Buffalo's not the only team that can be completely sh*tty. Just watch them catch the Flames now!

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#15 schevvy
October 29 2013, 11:43AM
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Well, could a Wotherspoon call up be in store?

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#16 FireOnIce
October 29 2013, 11:47AM
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Breen's injury is an abdominal wall strain per Roger Millions. Could've been done eating a batch of delicious pancakes, or playing for 10 minutes in the NHL.

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#17 Clay
October 29 2013, 11:47AM
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Something I've wondered for a while... is there any bias in this stat, like for example the way hits are counted rink to rink?

Calgary is probably very strict (winger wins, following the play at the dot right through possession), but are other rinks?

We still suck at it regardless.

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#18 Baalzamon
October 29 2013, 11:48AM
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schevvy wrote:

Well, could a Wotherspoon call up be in store?

My guess would be Billins, actually. They brought him in this summer, and he's been putting in good work with the farm team (ie. maybe they want to reward him). Moreover, they don't lose anything (developmentally speaking) by playing him very little (or not at all).

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#19 mattyc
October 29 2013, 11:55AM
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@piscera.infada

Pretty much what everyone else has added. I don't think faceoffs are meaningless, just that it's a minor part of the game, that is swamped by parity. Furthermore, it's rare to even have a clean win. Most often it's some messy scramble where it pops out somewhere non-ideal anyways

I'm of the belief that it's not irrelevant, just that, as far as team skills go, it's in one of the lower tiers of things I would focus on improving.

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#20 RexLibris
October 29 2013, 11:59AM
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Giordano out? More minutes for Butler!

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#21 Burnward
October 29 2013, 12:05PM
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Here's the thing about stats, I know I hate losing a draw in my own defensive zone when I play.

No stat will ever convince me that it doesn't impact the game.

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#22 mattyc
October 29 2013, 12:05PM
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@SmellOfVictory

I agree.

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#23 kittensandcookies
October 29 2013, 12:05PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Giordano out? More minutes for Butler!

You could only wish to have a #1 d-man like Butler available.

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#24 Burnward
October 29 2013, 12:06PM
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As for Gio/Stemps. Dang...that's really going to hurt.

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#25 Kent Wilson
October 29 2013, 12:15PM
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@Burnward

Here's where nuance is lost in these stat discussions - no one is saying that cleanly losing or winning a draw in the offensive or defensive zone is meaningless. It can definitely have an impact, which is one of the reasons we correct for zone starts in possession rates.

The thing is everyone in general in the NHL is almost as good as everyone else at it. So unless a team or player is remarkably great or poor at it at, the overall impact over time is muted.

It's a meaningful distinction that is dissolved by the binary nature of these arguments.

For the Flames, I think the team needs to work on this aspect of the game because they are currently worst in the league. You definitely don't want to be at the wrong end of the distribution.

Young centers almost always suck at this, but the good news faceoffs are something a kid can improve at over time.

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#26 Burnward
October 29 2013, 12:23PM
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@Kent Wilson

Agreed, for sure.

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#27 Dave
October 29 2013, 12:24PM
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@Kent Wilson

Well said Kent.

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#28 John
October 29 2013, 12:28PM
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I don't understand why defencemen don't wear padded hockeys skates, for the majority of them, it won't make a difference in their skating ability. Is it better to get a puck off the ankle? Hobble around for a few minutes and hope nothing is broken? With Giordano out, there no depth player to replace him.

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#29 RKD
October 29 2013, 12:30PM
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I know the Gio injury is terrible, but that improves our chances of another top 10 or hopefully top 5-7 pick. I'm not in favouring of tanking, but even if the Flames stayed competitive they would probably finish anywhere from 9-12th place and that's the worst position we would want. Drafting a guy 10-20 is not the same as top 5. To me Monahan is a top 5 guy unless he really goes south. We can't really be surprised, Gio was in a boot for the third jersey unveiling, usually a guy in a boot is not day to day. It really sucks for Gio who was off to such a great start.

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#30 Kevin R
October 29 2013, 12:35PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Giordano out? More minutes for Butler!

Grrrrr.....Who invited you???? :-}

Look out Buffalo, here we come.....you too Oilers.

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#31 piscera.infada
October 29 2013, 12:43PM
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@Kent Wilson

Faceoffs are potentially important, but the issue is teams and players tend to cluster so much in the middle that the differences don't tend to be meaningful. For instance, if you are a 50% player, you win 5 out of 10 draws on average. If you're a 40% player (which is a big shift in the NHL), you win...4 out of 10.

I agree with you. I think the big thing with faceoffs is situational, so that would have to be part of a statistical calculation. Obviously, a faceoff at centre-ice or the blue-line dots is going to have far less of a burden on the outcome of a game than a faceoff in either your offensive/defensive zone will. I think it's entirely pragmatic to want your top centreman to win those big defensive faceoffs, just like you want him to be able to win those offensive zone faceoffs on a PP. Chasing the puck into your own zone every time you start a PP is far less desirable than getting set up with possession.

I like the stat, and I hope it keeps up - but the reason I'm so passionate about it is likely because I played centre my whole life, so I get it far more than other positions.

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#32 SmellOfVictory
October 29 2013, 12:59PM
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piscera.infada wrote:

Faceoffs are potentially important, but the issue is teams and players tend to cluster so much in the middle that the differences don't tend to be meaningful. For instance, if you are a 50% player, you win 5 out of 10 draws on average. If you're a 40% player (which is a big shift in the NHL), you win...4 out of 10.

I agree with you. I think the big thing with faceoffs is situational, so that would have to be part of a statistical calculation. Obviously, a faceoff at centre-ice or the blue-line dots is going to have far less of a burden on the outcome of a game than a faceoff in either your offensive/defensive zone will. I think it's entirely pragmatic to want your top centreman to win those big defensive faceoffs, just like you want him to be able to win those offensive zone faceoffs on a PP. Chasing the puck into your own zone every time you start a PP is far less desirable than getting set up with possession.

I like the stat, and I hope it keeps up - but the reason I'm so passionate about it is likely because I played centre my whole life, so I get it far more than other positions.

It's also an incredibly small proportion of time within the game. If there are, for sake of argument, fifty faceoffs per game, that's maybe a couple of minutes of the game. It affects initial possession, but there's a lot of time in-between faceoffs for possession to be gained or lost; and that's more important, in an overall sense. It's why, to use the Team Canada argument earlier, Team Canada invited Bergeron as a defensive faceoff guy rather than Malholtra; they're both amazing on the dot, but Bergeron is an elite two-way player whereas Maltholtra is not Olympic calibre.

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#33 BitGeek
October 29 2013, 01:15PM
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I think faceoff stats are similar in nature to blocked shots.

With blocked shots, the more blocked shots you have then the less puck possession you'll have too. But if you don't know how to block shots (if you suck at possession) then your goalie will have way more work to do. So being good at blocked shots is not necessarily a bad thing, just not something you want to have to do very often.

Faceoffs are similar in the sense that if you're just average at winning them, then it doesn't really mean anything in the big picture. There's no sense focusing a whole bunch of time on faceoffs if your team is never going to improve beyond mediocre. If you suck at them, then it does make a difference so it behooves a team to at least improve to the point of being average at them.

Now, if a team knew how to improve faceoffs to the point that the team was way above average, then I'm guessing it would be worth your while to spend the extra time on them in practice.

Sounds like most teams are average at faceoffs so unless your on one of the extreme ends of that chart then don't worry about it too much. Unfortunately the Flames suck at it, and haven't really been able to do much about it over the years.

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#34 BitGeek
October 29 2013, 01:17PM
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What I'd like to know more about is "icings" and how that relates to possession. ;)

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#35 gotommygo
October 29 2013, 01:17PM
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Flames projected lines are posted. Backlund is centering 4th line with Bouma and McGrattan. http://flames.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=689067

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#36 Craig
October 29 2013, 01:29PM
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It'll be cundari coming up, and hopefully he shows that he's better than Butler and SOB those two are god awful. I really like Cundari, and think he can make a big impact.

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#37 insvenwetrust
October 29 2013, 01:43PM
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Cundari=young gio

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#38 CutterMcAwesome
October 29 2013, 01:53PM
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All i know is Monahan will get better with time. More draws taken equals more experience.

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#39 SoCalFlamesFan
October 29 2013, 02:26PM
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@Kevin R

We are 1-0 without these two already.

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#40 RexLibris
October 29 2013, 02:35PM
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@Kevin R

Ha!

Not too sure about that. I think the Flames finish higher than most predicted, including their fan base.

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#41 everton fc
October 29 2013, 03:18PM
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gotommygo wrote:

Flames projected lines are posted. Backlund is centering 4th line with Bouma and McGrattan. http://flames.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=689067

If they keep winning with a lineup like this, you gotta hand it to Hartley and the coaching staff, me thinks.

Is Colbourne simply getting a look with better linemates? Having Backlund centre the 4th line is nuts, unless they play 10 minutes.

Is Backlund in the doghouse?

As for the next d-man called up, Cundari has experience... For what it's worth, I think it'll be him.

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#42 RexLibris
October 29 2013, 03:34PM
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Hockey Prospectus reviewing the top 20 CHL players recently. I don't know if its been mentioned here already, but for interests' sake...

4. Emile Poirier, LW, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL) Draft Status: Calgary, first round (#22 overall) 2013

It may be somewhat of a surprise that Poirier is listed this high given some of the other high scorers in the CHL, but Poirier is thus far the most effective player in the Q. He has recorded four game-winning goals in the last three weeks. Poirier plays in all situations (he already has one short-handed goal), and can fight, if necessary. Poirier has posted points in 11 of the 13 games in which he has appeared, including all of the Olympiques October contests, and was recognized by the league as its First Star for the week of September 30th.

15. Morgan Klimchuk, LW, Regina Pats (WHL) Draft Status: Calgary, first round (28th overall) 2013

Klimchuk is not a sexy choice for a top-20 player in the CHL; he does not play on a team that is tearing up the league (Regina is right in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference) and he is not doing anything outstanding. What he does do is solidly contribute to every game. Currently leading the Pats in scoring (six goals, 12 assists in 13 games), Klimchuk is particularly effective on the power play.

http://www.hockeyprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1599

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#43 Bean-counting cowboy
October 29 2013, 04:24PM
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Tyler Meyers anyone?

I think we could send Butler back to Buffalo in that trade. We are strong with LW prospects, if we sent Klimchuk their way, would those two be enough to get it done?

Meyers has had a tough go after his rookie year but is currently averaging 21 minutes of ice time and he is just 23 years old (still fits the rebuild mode)

This would soften the blow until Gio returns at which point our D would look really solid.

Can you imagine if we put Kanzig on a pairing with Meyers down the road? Opposing forwards can't wait to jump back on the bench!

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#44 coachedpotatoe
October 29 2013, 04:49PM
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Careful what you ask for? There has been a lot of talk about seeing the prospects lately; now with the injury to Gio and Stemp we get that wish. There might also to be a tendency to over react and make a stupid costly trade.

Who will we likely see come up? While I liked what we saw out of Cundari last year but he has sat out a couple of the last few Heat games; either he was injured or in the doghouse. He would be the most likey choice but if he is injured then it comes down to Billings or Ramage. Billings is more like Russell and Ramage more like Gio. Spoon still needs more time in AHL.

Up front I would prefer to see one of the skilled forwards but I suspect that in the short run we will McG and Jackman. From the farm we will likely see Horak,Knight or Byron(yes I know there are lots here that don't like him but he has had a good season so far) the other would be Hank.

I would not want to make a trade out of desperation, I would prefer to see the prospects.

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#45 coachedpotatoe
October 29 2013, 04:51PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Hockey Prospectus reviewing the top 20 CHL players recently. I don't know if its been mentioned here already, but for interests' sake...

4. Emile Poirier, LW, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL) Draft Status: Calgary, first round (#22 overall) 2013

It may be somewhat of a surprise that Poirier is listed this high given some of the other high scorers in the CHL, but Poirier is thus far the most effective player in the Q. He has recorded four game-winning goals in the last three weeks. Poirier plays in all situations (he already has one short-handed goal), and can fight, if necessary. Poirier has posted points in 11 of the 13 games in which he has appeared, including all of the Olympiques October contests, and was recognized by the league as its First Star for the week of September 30th.

15. Morgan Klimchuk, LW, Regina Pats (WHL) Draft Status: Calgary, first round (28th overall) 2013

Klimchuk is not a sexy choice for a top-20 player in the CHL; he does not play on a team that is tearing up the league (Regina is right in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference) and he is not doing anything outstanding. What he does do is solidly contribute to every game. Currently leading the Pats in scoring (six goals, 12 assists in 13 games), Klimchuk is particularly effective on the power play.

http://www.hockeyprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1599

Where did Shinkaruk rank? What about Horvat? Many out there still would have prefered those picks.

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#46 J
October 29 2013, 05:07PM
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I hope people realize flames do have a young, strong two way center who is known for his faceoffs and currently winning faceoffs at a clip of over 65% in the ahl... His name is Corban knight

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#47 piscera.infada
October 29 2013, 05:20PM
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coachedpotatoe wrote:

Where did Shinkaruk rank? What about Horvat? Many out there still would have prefered those picks.

Nurse is 8; neither Horvat or Shinkaruk is ranked in that top-20. I don't know if that says much. But it sure is nice to see Klimchuk and Poirier on the list. I also really like how both are considered "all situation" type players. That's awesome.

@J

I hear that! I was listening to the Troy Ward interview on the Fan today, and he raves about Knight - it seems like every coach he has loves him (which bodes well for his development, even if he's not quite there). The number one take away for me, was that he's able to change his game depending on the wingers he plays with - apparently he's very good at complimenting a variety of different 'styles' of play. Ward also said Knight is not flashy, but he's very sound all-around, and always happens to chip in - perhaps that's why he didn't necessarily stand-out in training camp, the rookie tourny, and rookie camp, yet he always seemed reliable and always seemed to contribute. I really like the players that can do that at a high level - they aren't a dime a dozen.

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#48 coachedpotatoe
October 29 2013, 05:43PM
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Bean-counting cowboy wrote:

Tyler Meyers anyone?

I think we could send Butler back to Buffalo in that trade. We are strong with LW prospects, if we sent Klimchuk their way, would those two be enough to get it done?

Meyers has had a tough go after his rookie year but is currently averaging 21 minutes of ice time and he is just 23 years old (still fits the rebuild mode)

This would soften the blow until Gio returns at which point our D would look really solid.

Can you imagine if we put Kanzig on a pairing with Meyers down the road? Opposing forwards can't wait to jump back on the bench!

5.5 million till 2019? That's a pretty high price to pay for a player who seems to be regressing. In many ways I like the idea because of his age and size. i would not be prepared to trade a high end forward or too high of a draft pick. How about a do over, they can have Butler and Byron back plus a couple of our extra forwards, B Jones and Rhino and we get Meyers, that way they will be assured of winning the lottery.

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#49 B7
October 29 2013, 05:50PM
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piscera.infada wrote:

Nurse is 8; neither Horvat or Shinkaruk is ranked in that top-20. I don't know if that says much. But it sure is nice to see Klimchuk and Poirier on the list. I also really like how both are considered "all situation" type players. That's awesome.

@J

I hear that! I was listening to the Troy Ward interview on the Fan today, and he raves about Knight - it seems like every coach he has loves him (which bodes well for his development, even if he's not quite there). The number one take away for me, was that he's able to change his game depending on the wingers he plays with - apparently he's very good at complimenting a variety of different 'styles' of play. Ward also said Knight is not flashy, but he's very sound all-around, and always happens to chip in - perhaps that's why he didn't necessarily stand-out in training camp, the rookie tourny, and rookie camp, yet he always seemed reliable and always seemed to contribute. I really like the players that can do that at a high level - they aren't a dime a dozen.

I concur with those comments re: Knight. It will be interesting to see when Flames' management makes the shift from veterans to rookies. As much as Knight could play in the NHL right now, I can understand that getting top minutes in the AHL is valuable while the vets in the NHL eat up the top minutes (although they aren't supposed to win quite this much). Will they shift towards the youth by Christmas? Mid-season? After the trade deadline? Only if they are out of the playoff race? If I were running things, I would make room for him in the top 2 or 3 center positions with some PP or PK time sooner rather than later (ie by Christmas). And his faceoff skills are ridiculous - I heard from someone at the game that he went 9-1 last game.

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#50 Bean-counting cowboy
October 29 2013, 06:02PM
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@coachedpotatoe

You might not be prepared to give that up, bit then the deal likely wont get done. We need young D and Buffalo wouldn't accept marginal players for a guy with that much upside.

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