Gaudreau Watch: NCAA Brackets Set

Ryan Pike
March 23 2014 10:14AM

The conference tournaments are behind us now, so now the last leg of college hockey is upon us: the NCAA's Frozen Four tournament.

Brackets were announced this morning. Here's where the Flames kids, including Johnny Gaudreau, fit in.

BOSTON COLLEGE

The #2 overall seed, Boston College opens on Saturday against the University of Denver in Worcester's regional bracket. The winner of that game faces the U-Mass Lowell/Minnesota State winner on Sunday. Bill Arnold and Johnny Gaudreau won the NCAA Championship two years ago but lost in regionals last year.

PROVIDENCE COLLEGE

The Friars play against Quinnipiac on Friday in Bridgeport, CT's regional bracket. The winner faces the winner of Union vs. Vermont on Saturday. It'll be the first Frozen Four experience for John Gilmour, Mark Jankowski and Jon Gillies.

COLGATE

Tim Harrison's crew lost in the ECAC Championship game on Sunday, but they're in the big dance. They play in Cincinnati's regional bracket and play Ferris State on Friday. The winner gets the winner of Wisconsin/North Dakota on Sunday.

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Now in his third full season covering the Calgary Flames and the NHL, Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's trying to keep his head up, his stick on the ice and is giving it 110% every shift. You can also find his work at The Hockey Writers, the Wrestling Observer and Tough Talk MMA.
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#1 mtgould89
March 23 2014, 10:39AM
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Gaudreau's a Pro-dreau.

Hah, see! They rhyme! No? OK.

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#2 BurningSensation
March 23 2014, 10:54AM
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I can't recall a time when so many of our prospects had arrows pointing in the right direction.

Even Jankowski is getting some love for how he is developing!

(though I would really, really, really, like it if he could tear the cover off the ball in this tournament and next season)

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#3 Ryan Lambert
March 23 2014, 10:59AM
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Point of clarification: The Frozen Four is only the last four teams in the tournament. Prior to that it's just called the NCAA tournament.

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#4 Colin.S
March 23 2014, 11:33AM
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Is FlamesNation going to cover the games involving Flames prospects in any sort of way? I'm still really curious about Jankowski. Earlier in the year(probably before his recent hot streak), I thought Lambert said he was demoted to 3rd/4h line duty, and if his recent hot streak is goals for playing against other teams 3rd/4th liners I'd be a little worried.

If Jankowski's actually turned a corner and he's back on top line minutes along with the points/shots to go with it, I see it as a good trend in the right direction. He's still got at least 1 year of College left, if not two, but hopefully he keeps charting in the right direction.

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#5 Stan
March 23 2014, 11:42AM
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Colin.S wrote:

Is FlamesNation going to cover the games involving Flames prospects in any sort of way? I'm still really curious about Jankowski. Earlier in the year(probably before his recent hot streak), I thought Lambert said he was demoted to 3rd/4h line duty, and if his recent hot streak is goals for playing against other teams 3rd/4th liners I'd be a little worried.

If Jankowski's actually turned a corner and he's back on top line minutes along with the points/shots to go with it, I see it as a good trend in the right direction. He's still got at least 1 year of College left, if not two, but hopefully he keeps charting in the right direction.

I believe he has been playing on their second line.

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#6 BurningSensation
March 23 2014, 11:52AM
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Colin.S wrote:

Is FlamesNation going to cover the games involving Flames prospects in any sort of way? I'm still really curious about Jankowski. Earlier in the year(probably before his recent hot streak), I thought Lambert said he was demoted to 3rd/4h line duty, and if his recent hot streak is goals for playing against other teams 3rd/4th liners I'd be a little worried.

If Jankowski's actually turned a corner and he's back on top line minutes along with the points/shots to go with it, I see it as a good trend in the right direction. He's still got at least 1 year of College left, if not two, but hopefully he keeps charting in the right direction.

My understanding (and on this Ryan Lambert is actually the right guy to ask - a sentence I can't believe I just wrote) is that Janko was moved to 2nd line C to start the year (from 2nd/3rd line RW) and was tasked with greater defensive responsibilities.

I am given to believe he has been pretty good to very good in the role this year despite a first half of the season that was mediocre at best.

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#7 The Last Big Bear
March 23 2014, 11:53AM
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I really think FlamesNation should spend a bit more time dwelling on that ***-kicking in Edmonton last night.

Heck, I'd read a multi-page blog entry about the jersey toss alone.

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#8 kittensandcookies
March 23 2014, 11:56AM
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Is this team going to make the playoffs next year?

The rookies are going in the right direction. Hell Wotherspoon gets called up, and no one notices him because he actually knows how to defend.

We have two good goalies now.

More offense is needed.

But anybody notice the team's recent winning percentage?

If they keep that up, they'll be well within contention next year.

Effort + skill = winning.

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#9 Emir
March 23 2014, 12:09PM
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@kittensandcookies

Personally I am doubtful. I think cammi is playing for a contract and is generating key goals that have us winning games. I think its three years until playoffs.

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#10 BurningSensation
March 23 2014, 12:21PM
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kittensandcookies wrote:

Is this team going to make the playoffs next year?

The rookies are going in the right direction. Hell Wotherspoon gets called up, and no one notices him because he actually knows how to defend.

We have two good goalies now.

More offense is needed.

But anybody notice the team's recent winning percentage?

If they keep that up, they'll be well within contention next year.

Effort + skill = winning.

I'm going to say 'no', but that for the first half of the season they will be within spitting distance.

At some point we'll have an injury to Gio, Brodie, Ramo, or Backs and get exposed the way were mid-season.

We need a few more things to go right before we make the playoffs;

- Gaudreau makes the team and shows consistent offense

- Sven takes the next step and stays with the club because of effort and will at all ends of the rink

- Colborne keeps his shootout prowess rolling (and if he could take another step up offensively that would help

- the rookie we get with our pick this year is as good or better than Monahan (which is possible, I'm hoping for Bennett or Draisatl)

- Ramo/Ortio demonstrate they can be a competent/league average pairing in net

- One of the dancing bears (McGratton, Westgarth) is no longer our dancing bear

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#11 Kevin R
March 23 2014, 01:11PM
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Emir wrote:

Personally I am doubtful. I think cammi is playing for a contract and is generating key goals that have us winning games. I think its three years until playoffs.

There is a definite ring of truth to what you are saying which makes me very apprehensive about signing him to a long term significant contract. We may need every nickel of cap space for Brodie, Backlund, Byron(I cant believe Im saying his name here) & Gio in the next 12-24 months. If Cammi takes a 2-3 year deal at a reasonable Cap hit, I'm all for it. Anything more & I can forsee the lamenting now. Gotta love that game last night. One thing that sticks in my mind was how many Oiler fans were giving it to me about enjoying my old balls hockey team while they draft all their #1 overalls & win the Shultz lottery. There are no words of how sweet that win was.

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#12 ChinookArch
March 23 2014, 01:18PM
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Are any of these games and or the Frozen Four going to be covered on TV? If not, does anyone know where to look on-line?

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#13 MichaelD
March 23 2014, 03:59PM
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@ChinookArch

I always stream games on first row sports. Its usually pretty decent.

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#14 Kent Wilson
March 23 2014, 05:06PM
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BurningSensation wrote:

I can't recall a time when so many of our prospects had arrows pointing in the right direction.

Even Jankowski is getting some love for how he is developing!

(though I would really, really, really, like it if he could tear the cover off the ball in this tournament and next season)

Lambert has a scouting report from a live viewing on Janko coming up I believe.

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#15 MontanaMan
March 23 2014, 05:26PM
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Flames are definitely trending in the right direction. I have looked at the photo for this article several times as I can't believe the size difference between Gaudreau and college d-men. Admittedly, I have never seen him play and his stats speak for themselves, but his size is going to hurt him big time playing pro. For every St. Louis and Fleury there will be 100 too small finesse hockey players that had all the skill but lacked size, strength and tenacity. I know FlamesNation is high on this kid but I'm not sure that this guy won't spend more time in Europe than he does in the pros.

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#16 Primo
March 23 2014, 05:49PM
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@MontanaMan

Perhaps he will be a failure but lets not make another "Martin St. Louis" mistake!! Lets learn from that mistake and do it right this time! Evaluate this kid relentlessly even if it means 1-2 years in Abby!

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#17 Baalzamon
March 23 2014, 06:57PM
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@MontanaMan

The UND players flanking Gaudreau in that picture are Kevin Lind and Steven Fogarty. Both are 6'3".

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#18 sathome
March 23 2014, 07:09PM
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I do think Gaudreau having played in the NCAA against grown men and not teenagers in the CHL will help his transition to the pro game.

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#19 ChinookArch
March 23 2014, 08:12PM
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MichaelD wrote:

I always stream games on first row sports. Its usually pretty decent.

Thank you. I'll check that out.

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#20 Ohreally14
March 23 2014, 08:33PM
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There's still a glaring hole in terms of elite level talent in our prospect pool. It looks a lot better then it did before but still not lacking the type of top tier prospects an organization needs to compete for a Stanley Cup. I would hope the organization would still preach patience moving forward and not rush this.

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#21 Kevin R
March 23 2014, 10:31PM
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MontanaMan wrote:

Flames are definitely trending in the right direction. I have looked at the photo for this article several times as I can't believe the size difference between Gaudreau and college d-men. Admittedly, I have never seen him play and his stats speak for themselves, but his size is going to hurt him big time playing pro. For every St. Louis and Fleury there will be 100 too small finesse hockey players that had all the skill but lacked size, strength and tenacity. I know FlamesNation is high on this kid but I'm not sure that this guy won't spend more time in Europe than he does in the pros.

Don't forget he played pretty good at the World Juniors which was loaded with teams with top/potentially elite prospects. He faired OK in that tourney. Personally there are very very few young players that showed they were elite right from the get go. All these kids have talent & you never know whether they can translate that talent at the nHL level. Who would have guessed Brodie had a top 2 D pairing pedigree in his game at the NHL level. Many of these kids just need the right circumstance. When we had a bubble team with all the vets, a kid like Byron had zero chance to show his stuff. Suddenly, wham, look at him this year. No #hi*, he suddenly is looking like the second coming of Martin St Louis. If he does this next year & breaks out with a 50 point season, sabre fans will be going WTF was that!

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#22 beloch
March 24 2014, 03:26AM
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Bruce Arthur royally ripped Kevin Lowe this morning on TSN, but one thing he said sort of stuck in my mind.

"Last night they’re playing a Calgary team that is not as talented as the Edmonton Oilers. And they get drilled. "

Are the Flames really "not as talented" as the Oilers? Perhaps the closest thing to a measure of talent as a "raw material" entering the NHL is draft ranking. The average draft position of Flames who played last night was 77.8, while the average Oiler was drafted at 56.1. Those averages exclude undrafted players, of which the Flames had 3 (Glencross, Giordano, and Westgarth) while the Oilers had two (Scrivens and Fasth). In that sense, yes, the flames are "not as talented". However, draft position is a famously poor measure of player talent. Is Gazdic more talented than Giordano because he was drafted?

How then, should we measure performance? What about by results? Good ol' points on the board? If we think of talent as the potential an individual player has, this method ignores where they, and their team-mates, are on their individual development curves. We could put together an all-star team of the most talented hockey players ever to play the game, throw them out there against the Hitmen and then watch half break their hips while the other half has coronaries. (Note: The average age of the rosters that played last night was 26.1 years for the Oilers and 26.6 for the Flames)

Can we even really think of talent as the innate peak performance a player is destined to achieve? If two identical players are separated and sent to two coaches, one of whom sucks, their eventual peaks will differ. Even if the players are reunited after just one season, the difference in their performance might last their entire careers. Both nature and nurture matter.

Let's take a look at the Oilers and Flames current seasons. If two initially identical rookies joined these teams at the start of the season, what kind of nurture would they have received and how would they compare now? The case could probably be made that the rookie sent to Edmonton might have developed some lazy habits in terms of back-checking, similar to Hall. The rookie sent to Calgary would probably have learned to play hard even when down a few goals. I could go on for a while, but it really does seem like the rookie sent to Calgary would become a better player over the course of the season, while the one sent to Edmonton would not. I'd be curious to hear from oiler fans on this to see if they agree. I admit I'm deep into speculation here, but the fact that a lot of players experience extended periods of suck in Edmonton but rebound massively once traded (or are allowed to walk) does back this up at least a little.

Where is all this going? I think that the quality of nurture in Edmonton has been poor for an extended period of time. Take Sam Gagner for example. He had 49 points in his 18-year-old season! For comparison, Monahan is on a pace for just 39 points. However, Gagner hasn't so much as matched that point total since. I admit, one player does not a case make. However, look at the other top picks Edmonton has. They all seem to have common weaknesses. Poor possession. Inadequate effort when back-checking. Flagrant cherry picking. Low degree of mental fortitude when trailing significantly. What are the odds that so many elite rookies would share all of these bad habits? Could they have been formed since joining the team?

Perhaps it's time to stop saying the Oilers are the more talented squad. They might have been if those young lottery picks had spent the last few years playing in Detroit or Pittsburgh. However, their potential has been lowered by years of learning bad habits and generally receiving poor nurture. Hall once looked like he was destined to be a generational player. Now, what are typically the most crucial developmental years of a player's career are behind him and he's a soft-minutes scorer and defensive liability. He's still a good role-player, but a generational elite talent? Not anymore.

What about the Flames? We're seeing players like Brodie, Giordano, Byron, etc. out-performing what their talent was thought to be even just a short period of time ago. Is this mere luck or is the nurture being provided in Calgary good? It's too early to tell with this year's crop of rookies, but improvements year-after-year in Giordano, Brodie, etc. are encouraging to see. The case can be made that Calgary is generating talent, not destroying it.

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#23 Jeff In Lethbridge
March 24 2014, 07:26AM
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@beloch

I'm not sure why someone would 'trash' that argument? oiler troll? I just don't see how one could disagree with this thought as it seems pretty self evident.

well done.

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#24 kittensandcookies
March 24 2014, 08:19AM
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@beloch

Hall, Hopkins etc. are more talented. At CRYING!

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#25 Emir
March 24 2014, 08:59AM
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@beloch

Brilliant post. Absolutely brilliant and well thought.

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#26 BurningSensation
March 24 2014, 09:25AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Lambert has a scouting report from a live viewing on Janko coming up I believe.

Is that your way of preparing us for a negative review of Jankowski?

(It's ok, I can take it)

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#27 Captain Ron
March 24 2014, 11:31AM
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MontanaMan wrote:

Flames are definitely trending in the right direction. I have looked at the photo for this article several times as I can't believe the size difference between Gaudreau and college d-men. Admittedly, I have never seen him play and his stats speak for themselves, but his size is going to hurt him big time playing pro. For every St. Louis and Fleury there will be 100 too small finesse hockey players that had all the skill but lacked size, strength and tenacity. I know FlamesNation is high on this kid but I'm not sure that this guy won't spend more time in Europe than he does in the pros.

The small size stigma was labelled on a few players over the years. Gretzky and Fleury come to mind immediately. There was no shortage of doubters about those two before they entered the NHL.

In the end it will be up to Johnny himself to decide whether or not he can hang in the NHL.

From what I have seen of him so far I am leaning toward the hell yeah side of the debate. You can bet there will be someone riding shotgun on his line too. He could easily be an 80 plus point player.

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#28 piscera.infada
March 24 2014, 11:52AM
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@Captain Ron

I completely agree, it's up to him. The kid just oozes speed and skill - traits that can't be overlooked. I was interested in the size argument, and while I agree with @MontanaMan that he will have to work harder and hit the gym more to be prepared, but it's hardly a reason to approach a player with that amount of skill with scepticism. Looking through 2007 scouting reports on Patrick Kane, they all mention his size, saying he'll likely get muscled off pucks easily - from The Hockey News: "[Kane's] smallish stature can hurt him in tight-checking games and against bigger opponents, and it can also lead to injuries. Is not as good without the puck as he is with it--he can be accused of playing perimeter hockey sometimes. Could use more strength.".

In the end, it will be about patience. If the organization can allow him to develop in whatever league he needs to, he could without a doubt in my mind be a game-changer moving forward. He's competed and excelled in the NCAA, and he also looked very good in the rookie camp this past summer. In Gaud we trust.

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#29 Captain Ron
March 24 2014, 11:56AM
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@beloch

I really enjoy reading a post such as this one that is so well thought out. Bravo, well done and all that!

In Calgary the expectation is to win every shift of every game no matter who the opposition is or where the game is being played or who is in the lineup that night. Cultivating this winning attitude among the team will probably be more effective in the long run than tanking a season for the sake of drafting 1st overall.

This is the best coaching staff we have had here in years. There are no entitlement attitude problems in the Flames dressing room anymore.

Having more fun watching the Flames play than we have in years!

Hartley totally gets it when he says we are also in the entertainment business. In the past couple of months the Flames have dismantled the Canucks emotionally, and now the Oilers in a skills competition beat down, both times on the road on HNIC's premier nationally televised game.

How good was that!!!!!

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#30 Captain Ron
March 24 2014, 12:08PM
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@piscera.infada

Funny you mention Patrick Kane. He was a player I had in mind for comparison. While he is taller than J.G. he is hardly a big man. The ability to handle the puck the way they can and make those crazy good passes and shots can be very intimidating to defenders in a similar manner that size and strength does.

Funny a guy like Paul Byron could be an excellent mentor for him.

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#31 piscera.infada
March 24 2014, 12:23PM
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@Captain Ron

Totally.

It will be an adaptation game for Gaudreau, just as it is for every single prospect with aspirations to play in the show. The most striking part of the Kane scouting report is the part about being a "perimeter player". When you watch Kane now, he does play on the perimeter quite a bit, but when he has the opportunity he takes it right to the front of the net - that's a learned part of the NHL that many bigger prospects just don't understand, and it hinders them greatly in the NHL game. If Gaudreau has the willingness to learn coupled with the desire to work hard (and overcome his "disadvantage") he'll be great.

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#32 BurningSensation
March 24 2014, 12:30PM
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Whats the scouting report like for Gaudreau when it comes to zone entries?

The kid is a wizard stickhandler, I wonder if he has some of Kane's possession domination ability when it comes to gaining the O zone.

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#33 lionlager
March 24 2014, 12:31PM
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@beloch

I thought the same thing when I heard Arthur say that Edmonton was the "more skilled" team. At this point in time that seems like a very lazy opinion to have. Sure, they were SUPPOSED to be loaded with talent, but meanwhile the Flames are getting it done and their 'superstars' up north are often more of a liability than stealing games with their non stop failed toe-drags. Like you said, Gio is the real deal and trending upwards. Their stars - that look great on paper - are not.

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#34 MalaysianAirlinesHijacker
March 24 2014, 12:37PM
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Who cares about NCAA Hockey? They don't have future especially with Calgary

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#35 Kent Wilson
March 24 2014, 12:49PM
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@BurningSensation

Not necessarily. Ryan was complimentary of Janko's apparent upswing during the FN Faceoff.

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#36 mk
March 24 2014, 12:56PM
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@beloch

Long read, but a quality post beloch! I'm with you - I'm not sure the speculation is the whole story, but it does seem to follow the evidence.

I will caution: I believe next season will be much harder as a Flames fan. I don't seem them making a major improvement, but the expectations will be higher (now that we've seen the effort they put out). Steps forward from Monahan, Baertschi, etc. will help, but Giordano, Wideman, Cammalleri, Stajan, Glencross and Hudler are approaching the age where decline begins.

We definitely don't have the same veteran-heavy-aging-roster problem that was here before, but these players are giving significant contributions and will need to hand off the reins to younger players eventually. That might create some more rough patches for next season and beyond. Luckily, the Flames aren't just dumping everyone and hoping the youth can take over instantly.

Go Flames go!

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#37 Parallex
March 24 2014, 12:59PM
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@lionlager

"but meanwhile the Flames are getting it done"

I wouldn't presume to speak for anyone else but for me the difference between getting it done and not getting it done isn't the difference between the 5th worst team in the league and the 2nd worst team in the league. I revel in the incompetance of the folk up in Shelbyville as much as the next Calgarian but in all honesty we (The Flames) are also not getting it done... we're just thus far unburdaned with the weight of expectations is all.

When we're back in the playoff picture and Edmontonians are still chucking jersey's onto the ice... then I'll say we're getting it done.

Gotta have standards.

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#38 lionlager
March 24 2014, 01:17PM
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@Parallex

Actually tried to edit that after it posted but couldn't ;). Let's say ALMOST getting it done. Or at least losing with a respectable effort.

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#39 beloch
March 24 2014, 01:26PM
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@mk

Here's a crazy stat.

The Flames went almost exactly 50% in 5v5 fenwick close against the Ducks and Kings early this month, and have not had one game below 60% ever since[1]. That's nuts. This little run they're on isn't luck. It's dominant play. It's true that some of the teams they've been dominating are pretty awful, but playing Anaheim to evens is bloody encouraging! If you look at the team's rolling 10 game average for this stat it's been headed steadily skywards since January.

Can the team continue playing elite teams to evens and dominating poorer teams for the rest of the season? Probably not, but that they're doing it for any period of time at all is huge. It really shows the team is taking huge steps forward. The upward trend in Fenwick has been present since January, so this probably isn't just a blip.

Oh, and on luck... The Flames still have the second lowest PDO in the league, ahead of only Florida. That's a combination of both sh% and goal tending, both of which Calgary is currently ranked at 25th in the league. It's a pretty safe bet that the average quality of goal-tending should improve next year, if only because Ramo has his adaptation pains mostly behind him.

Fan expectations may well be higher next year, but the underlying stats indicate the team's performance may well be in line with them.

[1]http://www.extraskater.com/team/calgary-flames/2013

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#40 Jeff In Lethbridge
March 24 2014, 02:16PM
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MalaysianAirlinesHijacker wrote:

Who cares about NCAA Hockey? They don't have future especially with Calgary

trolls are fine, but this troll's choice of names is in extremely poor taste. I wouldn't mind if you banned the IP. this is pretty sick.

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#41 Bean-counting cowboy
March 24 2014, 02:30PM
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@beloch

Good stuff Beloch; you are on top of your game today!

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#42 mk
March 24 2014, 02:50PM
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@beloch

Wow - that's an encouraging sign! It looks like (via the link you posted) that Gio, Cammalleri, Backlund, Brodie and Galiardi are the biggest drivers at the moment. Corban Knight looks good by 5v5 fenwick close too (very little data though).

I also didn't realize that Backlund and Brodie have had nights of 80%+ (!) 5v5 CF%. These are the pillars of the rebuild right here.

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#43 kittensandcookies
March 24 2014, 03:31PM
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@beloch

Thanks so much for this. I was going to ask if anyone knew their recent advanced stats.

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#44 Captain Ron
March 24 2014, 04:49PM
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Jeff In Lethbridge wrote:

trolls are fine, but this troll's choice of names is in extremely poor taste. I wouldn't mind if you banned the IP. this is pretty sick.

I'm with you Jeff. Kick their arse to the curb permanently.

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#45 Kmp
March 24 2014, 04:55PM
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Jankowski was 3rd line center in his last game vs Umass. He was centering a line with Mingola and Demopolous. He looked decent, has a hard wrist shot takes the body and is pretty responsible defensively, tough he was on ice for 2 goals against. Maybe he needs better line mates and he always looking for the line change, seems to take short shifts. Where the first 2 lines never want to come off and stay out too long.

I don't see Providence or BC making it past round 2.

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#46 Kmp
March 24 2014, 05:03PM
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@Kmp

Janko played on 2nd unit PP.

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#47 Kevin R
March 24 2014, 07:58PM
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Parallex wrote:

"but meanwhile the Flames are getting it done"

I wouldn't presume to speak for anyone else but for me the difference between getting it done and not getting it done isn't the difference between the 5th worst team in the league and the 2nd worst team in the league. I revel in the incompetance of the folk up in Shelbyville as much as the next Calgarian but in all honesty we (The Flames) are also not getting it done... we're just thus far unburdaned with the weight of expectations is all.

When we're back in the playoff picture and Edmontonians are still chucking jersey's onto the ice... then I'll say we're getting it done.

Gotta have standards.

I agree, Flames are where most of us expected & have been taking delight in many of our players & the development they have taken. Expectation is brutal & shows the scratches in the paint. Now the only thing I think one can argue with Bruce Arthur is that the expectation of this years edition of the Oilers was much higher than that of the Flames. I don't think too many would argue that. The other thing is that 3 1st overall picks in the last 4 years screams theoretically they should have more more talent or better yet, more potential to translating to top end players in the NHL. But that`s what I have been trying to say earlier, there is a fine line between players of which become elite & which just become NHL players. Circumstances & nurturing are huge in the translation to the NHL. & I think the other question is, would Hall, Nuge & Yaks have developed into different players in Calgary versus Edmonton. Now that's the intriguing thought.

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