Five things: And we're back

Ryan Lambert
October 03 2013 11:05AM

1. Taking a run at Baertschi

Probably no one in Calgary was especially happy to see Sven Baertschi seemingly half-ass his way through the rookie tournament — see Jay Feaster's disease rant — or the preseason, but it was more than a little surprising to see Brian Burke come out and speak so frankly about what a huge disappointment he's been.

At some point, it's enough to make you wonder just how much rope they're going to give this kid going forward. They already did that "Send him to the AHL for a wakeup call" thing and it seemed to work at least somewhat effectively but you can only go on the promise of what your talents say you could be before everyone gets frustrated and starts counting you out. Granted, there are a lot of stats that Kent dug up for high-quality 20-year-old forwards in the last few years which show that Baertschi compares very favorably to them, but again, there's a show-me factor that I think the organization would like to keep in mind.

No one's counting him out or anything, but I did think the Burke comments came a little bit out of left field, all things considered. It will be extremely interesting to see how the kid responds, especially given who he's being put with to start the season. Which brings us to…

2. Monahan and Baertschi playing with Jones

This was a line that played together in practice yesterday and is thus a presumptive inclusion for the first game of the year. Tough to be sure what to make of it.

On the one hand they are all theoretically guys who can put the puck in the net, which is to say that Jones is a former 27-goal scorer, but a lot of their promise of production is really only in theory. Jones has hit 20-plus goals twice, Baertschi is a very promising young player, and Monahan obviously is the best prospect in the system. But that comes across as a lot of what-ifs to cobble together, and more to the point (and also germane to the above discussion about Baertschi's proving he can ably produce in the NHL), that's a lot of youth to have on a line with a guy who had three goals last season despite getting almost 17 minutes a night.

I'm growing increasingly convinced that Monahan is just getting a nine-game run with the big club before he's sent back to the OHL but nonetheless I can see this being a line that takes on water very quickly if things don't break exactly right for it. Maybe that's true of every Flames line this season, but is that conducive to success for the kids in particular? What happens with Jones doesn't really matter, but development does. The upside is that these two start to form a sort of psychic connection they can rely on next year and the year after and then for several more after that, but the downside is that it further cements Baertschi's "can't produce" label.

Burke says he'll become a better defensive center

3. The Colborne trade

This is the reason I think the Flames will now send Monahan back to juniors, even with the demotion of Corban Knight.

It was a reasonable enough move, considering this is a) a guy with whom Burke is extremely familiar, and b) an essentially no-cost acquisition. Giving up a mid-round pick for someone who is surplus to another team's needs is good asset management and the end of the day, and while I don't necessarily buy all that stuff Burke was selling about Colborne reinventing his game on the fly, he's probably someone that helps fill a roster spot in the short term if nothing else.

The AHL numbers don't look great and the trade was poo-pooed, but those take into account the fact that he was dumb enough to play with an extremely serious wrist injury for most of an AHL season. Both prior to and following the correction of the problem he was something like 0.9 PPG or a point a night, and that's pretty solid.

Again, it's worth trying at the end of the day because you'd rather have Knight get bigger minutes and burn the opportunity at the NHL level — in a lost season — on a guy who projects higher (in theory) and who costs nothing.

4. The dumbest angle you'll ever see

I understand that there's a lot of reason to be negative about the Flames and that there's a lot of reason why the team and its fans would be willing to "sell hope," as it were, but this season preview piece from the Canadian Press, entitled, "Flood effort fuels Flames in their bid to be a playoff team," is kind of bizarre. Who thinks up that angle then saunters up to Mark Giordano like, "Say there Cap'n, those deadly floods: You gonna use em for motivation to get into the playoffs?" What's he supposed to say?

Is it something the team and the city probably still thinks about a lot? Sure, of course. It was a devastating disaster that must have been extremely scary for those on the ground. But to "sell hope" in that way is trying to tie yourself to the issue, and that's gross.

5. Nope, sorry, this is dumber

This is Brian Costello of the Hockey News selling hope in the dumbest possible way: How can they be worse than they were last year?

Buddy, have you looked at the roster? "I think the Flames will miss Iggy a lot less than any pundit expects. Let’s face it, there were a lot of things Iginla didn’t do well, especially as he slowed down in recent seasons." Okay sure, but you can still pencil him in for 30 or so goals even at his advanced age, independent of who's around him. Who else on the Flames do you think you can say is good for even 25? Mike Cammalleri? Maybe Curtis Glencross? Beyond that, I'd say it's a big ask.

But he's right that Karri Ramo would have to put in some serious work to be worse than Miikka Kiprusoff last season. So there's that. 

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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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#1 Kent Wilson
October 03 2013, 11:25AM
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Im actually with Costello that the Flames may not be all that terrible this year. Not good, but not bottom of the barrel yet. That is, assuming the goaltending improves at least a little bit.

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#2 ChinookArch
October 03 2013, 11:17AM
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"The AHL numbers don't look great and the trade was poo-pooed, but those take into account the fact that he was dumb enough to play with an extremely serious wrist injury for most of an AHL season. "

Lambert,

Do you read FN? If anything the readers here put up an overwhelming thumbs up for the Colborne pickup. Are you referring to the TO fans? Many of them were very unhappy about the return.

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#3 Jeff Lebowski
October 03 2013, 12:10PM
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1. He now knows where he stands with BURKE. Sven mentioned loving challenges so I agree in being very interested in how he responds. I think he will be very motivated. Perhaps we'll look back at this moment as the one that jump started his career.

2. Sven & Monahan are perfect for each other's development right now. We've seen Monahan be reliable but what I really want is for him to get offensive confidence to skyrocket ie have guys finish his plays, have 23 get goals too. According to Burke Sven needs help in the areas Sean has shown proficiency in already. DJones is to there to keep up with these kids, contribute but fight anyone who even looks at 23 or 47 funny. Protect the kids.

3. Colborne vis a vis Monahan is plausible almost obvious. I don't think it plays out that way but hockey ops are covering their bases. Privately, I think they're hoping 2 younger options (two of Backlund, Monahan, Colborne) play well enough to push Stajan out. The best kid gets Glencross line, the other gets 2C and Knight is recalled. Or Horak, Reinhart, Jooris.

4. Yep.

5. Predictions stink. I think that even if they lose more than win it's going to be exciting and fun to watch. They preach attacking, relentless hockey. I'm so looking forward to match ups vs coilers and other skating teams.

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#4 Parallex
October 03 2013, 01:12PM
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Yeah... hate to say it but I'm with Costello (hate to because most of what he says is not smart). Iggy was on pace for around 20 goals last year prorated over a 82 game season (with the primo PP time he got) he's not someone you just pencil in for 30G anymore. Give all his minutes (EV & PP) to others (who almost by default will be better without the puck) and I think you replace the bulk of his production pretty easily.

Where the Flames finish is going to be principally decided by Ramo. If we get the level of goaltending from him that we got from Kipper last year then we're looking at Sam Reinhart/Aaron Ekblad as a real probability but if he's an average or better starter then we best start looking at the Draistel/Del Colle/Richie's.

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#5 TRAV
October 03 2013, 01:33PM
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Another article I really enjoyed! Can't wait for season to get underway. Just wondering what lineup Lambert would start with? I am of the opinion that we will see many different line combinations both in a game and from game to game. I also expect to see a ton of movement between AHL and NHL. I expect that our top line sees the least movement but I nearly got laughed out of the place when I selected Stajan late in my hockey pool...

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#6 FireOnIce
October 03 2013, 12:16PM
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@T&A4Flames

I agree re: Jones being a pleasant surprise. People are so down on David Jones, I don't get it. Yeah, his advanced stats aren't great and he hasn't looked awesome in the preseason.

But. I live in Denver and have watched him in his seasons with the Avs. He was on pace for a 25-30 goal season once and then took a bad knee-on-knee. He's had 2x 20+ goal seasons. David Jones has a lot of grit, and plays hard many nights. Certainly a favorite of mine when he played for the Avs. He just seems super snakebit in terms of finishing and when he's off, boy is he off.

Also, Joe Sacco is a horrible, horrible coach who misused even Gabriel Landeskog. I'm not surprised Jones didn't do all that well the last season or two.

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#7 Jeff Lebowski
October 03 2013, 12:55PM
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Baalzamon wrote:

What makes you think that Jones will be protecting anyone? Almost 300 games in the league, and he hasn't even crested 100 total penalty minutes.

Stajan fought in the preseason. He's not a fighter. I think the team is trying to foster that mentality. Protect each other because as in the predictions everyone is dumping on Calgary.

I could be wrong but the impact of the Stajan fight was HUGE in the room.

Remember last year when Backlund dropped em?

If I was Hartley I'd say that to every non core future core player. If you're with kids and they get pushed around and you don't do something you will be out of here. No need to become a tough guy, just stand up for each other and especially, specifically, unequivocally stand up for the kids. Or you play in the minors.

So, just a gut feeling really.

PS- Apparently he has 2 NHL fights. So he's done it. http://www.hockeyfights.com/players/17197

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#8 jeremywilhelm
October 03 2013, 01:41PM
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Big Body

Grit

C'mon guys, lets keep those cliches rolling! We can do better!

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#9 T&A4Flames
October 03 2013, 11:59AM
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Baalzamon wrote:

Yeah, I really don't like the idea of Jones playing with Monahan and Sven... mostly because I don't like the idea of Jones playing at all at this point.

I like it personally. A big body that has some skill and something to prove. I think we will be pleasantly surprised by Jones this year.

The Colborne trade was a smart move.

The Flames will be worse next year, that I am counting on and bracing for.

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#10 Bean-counting cowboy
October 03 2013, 02:13PM
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FGD??

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#11 calgaryfan
October 03 2013, 04:31PM
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I think Costello is bang on getting rid of Iginla and Tanguay is addition by subtraction. It is no accident that management is telling all the players they have to buy in or not play, no more players standing at centre ice waiting for the long pass. Back check or sit in the press box.

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#12 Bean-counting cowboy
October 03 2013, 11:43AM
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I would have much preferred a Baertschi, Monahan, Hudler line. More skilled. Shelter the crap out of them and throw Jones to the heavies a bit more.

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#13 beloch
October 03 2013, 05:23PM
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And first blood in the 2013-2014 season is drawn by... David Jones? Nice.

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#14 Baalzamon
October 03 2013, 12:47PM
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@Jeff Lebowski

What makes you think that Jones will be protecting anyone? Almost 300 games in the league, and he hasn't even crested 100 total penalty minutes.

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#15 Baalzamon
October 03 2013, 11:15AM
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Yeah, I really don't like the idea of Jones playing with Monahan and Sven... mostly because I don't like the idea of Jones playing at all at this point.

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#16 everton fc
October 03 2013, 02:27PM
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FireOnIce wrote:

I agree re: Jones being a pleasant surprise. People are so down on David Jones, I don't get it. Yeah, his advanced stats aren't great and he hasn't looked awesome in the preseason.

But. I live in Denver and have watched him in his seasons with the Avs. He was on pace for a 25-30 goal season once and then took a bad knee-on-knee. He's had 2x 20+ goal seasons. David Jones has a lot of grit, and plays hard many nights. Certainly a favorite of mine when he played for the Avs. He just seems super snakebit in terms of finishing and when he's off, boy is he off.

Also, Joe Sacco is a horrible, horrible coach who misused even Gabriel Landeskog. I'm not surprised Jones didn't do all that well the last season or two.

I agree 100% on D. Jones. He hits hard, works hard, and has decent hands. He also seems a very decent guy - level-head - which is good for the young guys and the room.

But I agree that D. Jones - like B. Jones - won't be protecting anyone. That's definitely not his role. A lot of guys like the open-ice stuff, but never drop the gloves.

(How's that for cliches!)

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#17 DoubleDIon
October 04 2013, 12:05PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Im actually with Costello that the Flames may not be all that terrible this year. Not good, but not bottom of the barrel yet. That is, assuming the goaltending improves at least a little bit.

I agree completely. Kipper was an absolute funnel last year. Only the Panthers had worse goaltending. If we're even top 20 in goaltending I don't see us being much worse than last year. Iginla gives up as many goals as he gets with his defensive indifference. We'll miss JBo even though I hate the guy, but SOB is an upgrade on Sarich.

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