Post-Game: Just Enough To Win

Ryan Pike
March 07 2014 10:57PM

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(courtesy the NHL/NHL.com)

Joe Nieuwendyk's number was honoured (but not retired) on Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. As expected, the Calgary Flames sat around on the bench for about 20 minutes as people talked about how great Nieuwendyk was as a player. Then they played a fairly uninspired two periods of hockey, aside from a few pockets of energetic play from the kids.

And then the New York Islanders failed to cash in on 66 seconds of a two-man advantage, already up two goals, and the Hockey Gods punished them for it. Three Flames goals in just over four minutes, and the Flames accomplished a miraculous comeback and won despite being the worse team for about 45 of the game's 60 minutes.

It was as if the Islanders just wanted to lose the game more than the Flames did. (Spoiler: This is probably true.)

THE RUNDOWN

Just like Wednesday's game with the Seantors, the Flames came out of the gate full of piss and vinegar. They had a lot of early scoring chances, but fell off a bit as the game wore on. With the team short-handed, Paul Byron came off the bench, corralled a loose puck, then slickly dished it to Markus Granlund down low, who sniped it past Anders Nilsson to put the Flames up 1-0. Joni Ortio got the other assist for his first NHL point. After that initial surge, the Flames play fell off and the Isles found their legs. They out-shot Calgary 11-0 after the Flames got out to a 6-0 shot lead, and Colin McDonald cashed in, beating Ortio over the shoulder glove-side from a wide angle to tie things up late in the period.

The second was all Islanders, despite the shots being even at 8-8. The Isles beat the Flames to loose pucks. The Isles kept the Flames to the outside in the offensive zone. The Flames somehow became completely unable to clear a puck out of their own zone. Flames players – veterans and youngsters alike – made bone-headed decisions that ended up in the back of the net. Mark Giordano over-committed on a Flames rush, allowing Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo to go up on a 2-on-1 and beat Ortio (via an Okposo shot) to go up 2-1. A bit later, an awful back-handed neutral zone pass by Ben Hanowski was intercepted, leading to an Isles rush and a laser-beam Brock Nelson wrister that beat Ortio to make things 3-1 after 40 minutes.

About two minutes into the final frame, the Flames dug themselves a deep, dark hole: they were down by two men (Giordano and Bouma were in the box) against the team with the most 5-on-3 goals in the NHL. However, the Isles failed to capitalize on the advantage – largely passing around the perimeter and not really committing on their few chances. After that big kill, the Flames found their legs again, although both teams really didn't execute well offensively until late in the period. When one of the teams did execute – spoiler, it was Calgary – things got out-of-hand fast. A Mark Giordano wide slap-shot bounced off the end boards and right to Joe Colborne, who batted it in to make it 3-2. A little later, Sean Monahan flipped the puck on net from the blueline. Anders Nilsson couldn't fully glove it, so he batted it to the corner. Monahan came away with the puck, shuffled it along the boards to T.J. Galiardi, who found Monahan at the front of the net for the rookie's 19th goal of the year to tie the game. A little while later, the Flames beat the Islanders in on a dump-in, and a Giordano point-shot was tipped by Colborne out-front to make it 4-3 for the Flames. Joni Ortio (and his posts) stood tall on a few late Islanders chances and the Flames celebrated a 4-3 win. Shots were 9-7 Flames in the third.

WHY THE FLAMES WON

The Flames played just good enough to win in the third and the Islanders played just bad enough to lose. Through 40 minutes, this was one of the more disappointing home efforts in some time – and that's including games where they scored zero goals – but they woke up in the third period. Guys crashed the net. Guys beat the Islanders to loose pucks. Guys made smart passes. The Flames found their game for just long enough in the third period to come away with the win. Coach Hartley probably wants to burn the tape from the first two periods, but there's a lot of positives from the third.

SCORING CHANCES

Team Period Time Note Home Away State
Home 1 19:20 Cammalleri 5 7 11 13 37 39 21 37 40 45 46 51 5v5
Home 1 19:19 Galiardi 5 7 11 13 37 39 21 37 40 45 46 51 5v5
Home 1 18:54 Backlund 5 11 17 37 44 11 18 21 27 45 51 4v5
Away 1 18:39 Okposo 5 11 17 37 44 11 18 21 27 45 51 4v5
Away 1 17:20 Bailey 3 7 11 32 37 3 12 15 29 44 45 4v5
Home 1 15:36 Galiardi 4 8 16 23 37 44 3 12 15 29 44 45 5v5
Away 1 15:27 Nelson 4 8 16 23 37 44 3 12 15 29 44 45 5v5
Away 1 13:39 Nelson 4 8 23 37 39 44 12 15 29 37 45 46 5v5
Away 1 13:32 Nelson 4 8 23 37 39 44 12 15 29 37 45 46 5v5
Home 1 10:03 Monahan 4 8 23 37 39 44 12 15 29 37 45 46 5v5
Away 1 7:09 McDonald 3 32 37 44 59 60 11 13 14 18 27 45 5v5
Away 1 2:52 Cizikas 3 8 23 37 39 56 11 14 17 43 45 53 5v5
Away 1 1:42 Okposo 5 7 32 37 60 3 18 21 27 44 45 4v5
Away 1 0:49 Clutterbuck 4 11 17 37 44 3 12 15 29 44 45 4v5
Home 2 18:09 Reinhart 3 23 32 37 56 59 13 18 27 37 45 46 5v5
Home 2 15:13 Reinhart 4 5 13 23 37 59 3 15 44 45 53 5v4
Home 2 14:45 Russell 4 5 11 13 23 37 3 15 44 45 53 5v4
Home 2 14:34 Monahan 4 5 11 13 23 37 3 15 44 45 53 5v4
Home 2 13:39 Backlund 3 5 8 11 37 39 11 21 29 40 44 45 5v5
Away 2 13:31 Okposo goal 3 5 8 11 37 39 11 21 29 40 44 45 5v5
Away 2 12:58 Martin 3 32 37 56 59 60 3 17 37 43 45 53 5v5
Away 2 7:53 Nelson 4 10 16 37 44 58 12 15 29 37 45 46 5v5
Home 2 6:13 Backlund 3 11 13 37 39 56 13 18 27 37 45 46 5v5
Home 2 4:31 Granlund 5 7 32 37 58 60 11 14 21 40 45 51 5v5
Home 2 4:01 Giordano 5 7 8 11 13 37 21 37 40 45 46 51 5v5
Home 3 11:34 Backlund 4 8 11 13 37 44 3 21 40 44 45 51 5v5
Home 3 10:03 Byron 3 32 37 56 59 60 11 12 14 15 29 45 5v5
Away 3 9:26 McDonald 3 11 32 37 56 59 3 13 18 27 44 45 5v5
Home 3 8:40 Brodie 5 7 8 11 13 37 21 37 40 45 46 51 5v5
Home 3 8:33 Giordano 5 7 8 11 13 37 21 37 40 45 46 51 5v5
Home 3 8:32 Colborne goal 5 7 8 11 13 37 21 37 40 45 46 51 5v5
Home 3 5:38 Monahan goal 3 32 37 56 59 60 3 17 43 44 45 53 5v5
Home 3 4:21 Colborne goal 5 7 8 11 13 37 13 18 27 37 45 46 5v5
Away 3 3:53 Nielsen 5 7 8 11 13 37 3 21 40 44 45 51 5v5
Away 3 1:13 Nielsen 3 5 8 11 13 37 11 21 40 45 46 51 5v5
# Player EV PP SH
3 SMID, LADISLAV 14:52 5 6 00:00 0 0 01:32 0 1
4 RUSSELL, KRIS 17:59 3 4 01:39 3 0 01:31 0 1
5 GIORDANO, MARK 21:01 9 3 01:39 3 0 03:22 1 2
7 BRODIE, TJ 20:39 8 1 00:21 0 0 02:44 0 2
8 COLBORNE, JOE 15:21 9 7 00:21 0 0 00:00 0 0
10 KNIGHT, CORBAN 06:24 0 1 00:00 0 0 00:00 0 0
11 BACKLUND, MIKAEL 17:55 10 4 00:21 2 0 04:15 1 3
13 CAMMALLERI, MIKE 19:07 9 2 00:46 3 0 00:12 0 0
16 MCGRATTAN, BRIAN 04:58 1 2 00:00 0 0 00:00 0 0
17 BOUMA, LANCE 13:48 0 0 00:00 0 0 02:28 1 2
23 MONAHAN, SEAN 13:30 3 4 01:07 3 0 00:05 0 0
32 BYRON, PAUL 14:07 4 3 00:53 0 0 02:40 0 2
37 ORTIO, JONI   16 11   3 0   1 4
39 GALIARDI, TJ 15:17 5 4 00:21 0 0 01:12 0 0
44 BUTLER, CHRIS 16:40 3 5 00:21 0 0 04:41 1 2
56 WOTHERSPOON, TYLER 11:15 4 3 00:00 0 0 00:00 0 0
58 HANOWSKI, BEN 05:31 1 1 00:00 0 0 00:10 0 0
59 REINHART, MAX 13:31 3 3 01:18 1 0 00:00 0 0
60 GRANLUND, MARKUS 13:30 3 2 00:53 0 0 01:43 0 1
Period Totals EV PP 5v3 PP SH 5v3 SH
1 9 5 5 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 3 8 3 5 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0
3 3 7 3 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

RED WARRIOR

Two goals for Joe Colborne on Joe Nieuwendyk Night? On the night his hero was honoured, Colborne has a really solid game.

SUM IT UP

The Flames (25-31-7) have played 63 games, so they have 19 games left this season. The rookies hit the road tomorrow night, as they head to Vancouver for a date with the Canucks. The last time these two teams met, the Flames lost in a shootout.

Oh, and Bob Hartley got fined for starting his fourth line because John Tortorella lost his damn mind. The Flames' recent resurgence and the Canucks recent collapse can probably be charted back to that one Saturday night in Rogers Arena.

Tomorrow night is the rematch. Doncha dare miss it!

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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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#51 BurningSensation
March 08 2014, 12:25PM
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RexLibris wrote:

I'm in the Reinhart camp, from an Oilers' perspective.

It allows them to move Gagner for a blueliner, which is probably an easier deal than for a replacement C.

I was in the Seguin camp in '10, Nugent-Hopkins in '11, Galchenyuk in '12. So we'll see what happens, but I prefer to add down the middle and find blueliners through a variety of ways, sometimes allowing other teams to draft and develop.

But if he is there, yes, I believe the Oilers take Ekblad. He and Nurse would be a nice combination allowing Klefbom, Marincin, Petry, Simpson and Schultz to round out your bottom group in a few years' time.

Personally I think Ekblad is the clear best choice as a prospect.

The problem for Edmonton is that while he fits a need, he wills till take a few years to reach his full potential as a #1 guy (look at the aforementioned Tyler Myers and his not-exactly-straight-line-development).

The Oilers IMO simply can't wait for Ekblad to develop into a contributer.

That said, I think you (and all of Oilers Nation) are dreaming in technicolour about trading Gagner for a D-man. Gagner is the hockey equivalent of Andrea Bargnani - all he brings to the table is offense, and you have to adjust everything about your team to accomodate his weaknesses which are substantial (in Bargs case it was that he was a 7ftr who couldn't rebound to save his life, was an inefficient and conscienceless chucker, and played atrocious help defense).

I'm convinced he is not a genuine NHL player. He can't be a #1C because he simply isn't good enough offensively to make up for his deficiencies. He can't be a #2 C because he gets killed at the dot, and he can't check opposition forwards to save his life. He could be a #3 C, but then you have to give him cherry zone starts and gobs of 1st unit PP time for him to produce, and everyone else has to pick up the slack. He makes way, way, too much money to be a #3 C anywhere else. Edmonton recognized these weaknesses and have even tried to convert him to the wing, and that was a bitter failure as well. At this stage he's something of a powerplay specialist with a big ticket contract. The forward equivalent of Marc Andre Bergeron, but with 10x the sunk financial costs.

(As a side note, I have a bottle of whiskey riding on how bad Gagner is. I made a bet with an Edmonton friend of mine (occasional commenter at LTs site, Doug Mclachlan) that if Edmonton kept Gagner on the team the Flames would finish ahead of them in the standings. I don't drink, but I expect that whiskey will taste really f*cking good)

I chuckle every time a poster at LTs suggests 'Gagner + ? for Couturier!' or 'what plus Gagner gets us Bogosian?' The answer of course is 'never going to happen'. Nobody sane wants Gagner, and certainly not for Couturier or a legit NHL defenseman (and if Mike Gillis trades Bieksa for him I'll chalk that up to the 'nobody sane' qualification of my assertion).

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#52 T&A4Flames
March 08 2014, 12:28PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Iginla and Bouwmeester were both from Edmonton.

Funny how these things can work sometimes.

And Hall's from Calgary. :)

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#53 albertabeef
March 08 2014, 12:54PM
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prendrefeu wrote:

So I'm confused on how I should feel about this...

On one hand, I'm super stoked that we're seeing the kids play and getting them some "big stage" experience. That includes learning how to come back, learning how to play a full 60, and #gritchart

On the other hand, should we be in tank mode to get one of those top picks?

On the other other hand, damn I like it when we win. I mean, yeah... Go Flames Go!!! And the future is looking good.

On the other other other hand, I have no idea about Ekblad or the other names that keep getting tossed out there. How good are they? Like, generational Sid the Kid good? Or Rico Fata "good" ?

that is exactly what us Oiler fans have being going through for, what, 3,4, 7 years?

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#54 albertabeef
March 08 2014, 12:59PM
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Stubblejumper wrote:

Great comeback win..hopefully supports a "never-say-die" culture to play a full 60 every game.

Looking forward to seeing Poirier and his speed and Burrow-like tenaciousness on the right side, and Gaudreau and his Fleury-like magic on the left. Ferland with some size & grit, Baertschi's playmaking & Klimchuk's pursuit .

Overall forward group looking well-positioned and balanced to improve, replacing 4-5 vets over next couple years, with no one older than Backlund.

Still need 2 more top 6 high-skill forwards to round out the group.

Problem is defence. Have some 4-6 defenders in the system with potential to make it(Sieloff, Kanzig, Culkin, Roy, Kulak, Gilmour etc).

However if we forecast forward 3 years from now (post Gio) there is a huge gaping hole with top 3 defenders with skill & size. If we don't draft or acquire our rebuild will look front-heavy back-lite like Edmonton.

Would love to get Ekblad as a projected top 2 defender but highly unlikely at this point.

You will have to tank pretty badly to get Ekblad - he won't get past the Oilers pick.

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#55 mattyc
March 08 2014, 01:06PM
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Those Backlund scoring chance numbers.

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#56 Kent Wilson
March 08 2014, 01:08PM
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Everyone is mentioning the kids right now which is nice, but the Flames top line and first pairing unit are killing it given their circumstances. Look at Backlund's, Brodie's and Giordno's chance numbers tonight for example.

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#57 mattyc
March 08 2014, 01:14PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Everyone is mentioning the kids right now which is nice, but the Flames top line and first pairing unit are killing it given their circumstances. Look at Backlund's, Brodie's and Giordno's chance numbers tonight for example.

Cammalleri too

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#58 mattyc
March 08 2014, 01:18PM
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Also not getting the credit he deserves (imo): TJ Galiardi.

He's drawn 13 more penalties than he's taken this year (by far leading the club), and has the best possession stats on the team (CF% and FF%) - even higher than Backlund (albeit in easier circumstances).

link

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#59 Bean-counting cowboy
March 08 2014, 01:55PM
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and Backlund leading the forwards in total ice time yet again.

You have to think his little dry spell should be turning around here soon.

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#60 seve927
March 08 2014, 02:24PM
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Bean-counting cowboy wrote:

and Backlund leading the forwards in total ice time yet again.

You have to think his little dry spell should be turning around here soon.

It almost seems like he's on the verge of stardom. I've never thought he looked dominant before (and never really thought he would be), just highly competent. He is beginning to rise above the crowd of 'good' players across the league IMO.

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#61 coachedpotatoe
March 08 2014, 02:28PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Everyone is mentioning the kids right now which is nice, but the Flames top line and first pairing unit are killing it given their circumstances. Look at Backlund's, Brodie's and Giordno's chance numbers tonight for example.

A big part of the reason we are all talking about the kids is that is something new. We have been praising Gio and TJB all season and Backs for about three months, so it's nice to have another distraction.

I like the top line as posted on the flames website Cammi, Backs and Bouma; if we could have 4 lines of a similar makeup I would be happy. I wonder what happens when Stajan comes back to work? How close is Hudler and Glenx? Hankowski will be the first to be sent down, but how long of an audition will Knight get?

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#62 T&A4Flames
March 08 2014, 03:48PM
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BurningSensation wrote:

I think that if the Flames do trade down in the draft it would have to be WAY down. I can't see any team (save an insanely desperate Gillis) looking to move up just one or two spots, but then, you never ever know. Burke has a way of getting teams to do really stupid things in trades (yeah, why don't YOU draft Patrick Stefan 1st overall, and I'll take the Sedins! - that sounds fair, right?), so I guess it can't be ruled out.

I think Carter is a nice comp to Virtanen, but Jake is much more physical than Carter, and may not have as high a ceiling as an offensive force. This may have to do with Virtanen being a more 'pure' winger than Carter (who was a C in jr. and eventually converted to RW by Philly).

The Kessel comp is off side. Virtanen is much, much bigger/stronger than Phil the Thrill, and has nowhere near the offensive ability. (interesting to note that Kessel was also converted to wiing from C).

Virtanen is kind of a funny prospect. He was a top pick in the WHL entry draft, and the Hitmen sort of expected an offensive whiz kid. When it turned out that Virtanen was more of a power winger than skill forward, I think it was something of a surprise given the kids obvious skill level. The Hitmen are a deep team, and Virtanen doesn't get cherry minutes the way other prospects might. So there may be untapped upside to him still. Plus, big wingers tend to take longer to develop (Cam Neely springs immediately to mind).

If Burke uses the pick on any of the guys I mentioned (Fleuy, Virtanen, Dal Colle) I'll be thrilled. Ritchie makes me VERY nervous, as I am concerned he's just Chris Stewart part 2.

I don't see Carter and certainly not Kessel as good compatibles for Virtanen. I think Perry is a good comparable. That's right, the Corey Perry that helped Burke's Ducks win a cup.

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#63 BurningSensation
March 08 2014, 04:01PM
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T&A4Flames wrote:

I don't see Carter and certainly not Kessel as good compatibles for Virtanen. I think Perry is a good comparable. That's right, the Corey Perry that helped Burke's Ducks win a cup.

I don't think he has the skating issues Perry did. Nor does he have the same goalscoring touch. Other than that, I like the comp a lot.

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#64 T&A4Flames
March 08 2014, 04:15PM
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@BurningSensation

Vitanen's touch?

18 Jake Virtanen LW 67 42 25 67 +22 93 10 2 1.00 1.39

His scoring touch seems just fine to me.

Comparatively, here are Perry's # in his draft year.

2002-03 London OHL 67 25 53 78 6 145 11 0 - - - 1.16

And in draft +1

London OHL 66 40 73 113 38 98 19 2 - - - 1.71

Virtanen's #'s look damn good.

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#65 RexLibris
March 08 2014, 05:27PM
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@BurningSensation

Gagner has managed 286 pts in 465 games while playing on one of the worst teams, and shallowest rosters, in the NHL over the seven seasons he's been around.

He's a terrible defensive player, but has a .62 ppg average over that time.

That is a genuine NHL player, by virtually any standard.

Lowetide has described Gagner's situation as "seven years' experience, or one years' experience seven times?" because of the number of coaches he's played for (five in seven years).

Unless you lace that bottle of whiskey with something strong, though, there is no way he could be traded for Couturier. Ignore those who suggest he otherwise.

But he may be worth somebody's underwhelming blueliner. In the same way that Luke Schenn was swapped for James Van Reimsdyk (granted, that was a heck of a deal by Burke) a swap of young players at different positions makes the most sense in a Gagner trade - forward for defense.

Until the Oilers can upgrade the 2C position they are going to have roster imbalance. But let's wait and see what MacTavish does this summer with Gagner before declaring him of no value to anyone.

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#66 Baalzamon
March 08 2014, 05:52PM
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@T&A4Flames

Well... his goals look good. 25 assists? Normally a player who just barely manages a ppg isn't considered a top 10 prospect (see Nicklas Jensen and Brendan Gaunce).

Compare his numbers to Josh Ho-Sang's for instance.

Virtanen reminds me of Curtis Lazar, except a little more dynamic.

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#67 T&A4Flames
March 08 2014, 10:46PM
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@Baalzamon

So Ho-Sang is a playmaker and Virtanen more a finisher. Considering what we have in the pipeline, we could really use a big bodied, right shooting finisher.

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#68 Baalzamon
March 08 2014, 11:16PM
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@T&A4Flames

Have you seen where Ho-Sang is ranked, though? Being able to score like he does at his size, why isn't he in the top ten along with much bigger blokes like Virtanen and (shudder) Ritchie who don't score anywhere near as often?

Don't take this as a suggestion that I'd take Ho-Sang over Virtanen, but there's nothing encouraging about Virtanen's season to date if he's to be drafted in the top 7.

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