October 07 2011 11:56AM
The new season is finally upon us. The sun rises on 2011-12 and with it a new dawn for the Nations Network. We've added some new sites and new faces this summer and are currently working away in Wanye's secret hide-out on future various plans and schemes. Here's a little of what you can expect from us this season:
October 07 2011 09:33AM
Old face, new faces, different management, same coach. It's a cross-roads season for the Calgary Flames with the organization wriggling itself clear of Darryl Sutter's long shadow. Jay Feaster pruned two of the more expendable members of the former "core" in Daymond Langkow and Robyn Regehr this summer, but is still apparently set on battling it out amongst the Western Conference's middle class for a post-season berth.
The rebuild, or retool, or whatever you want to call the post-Sutter efforts is likely to be done in degrees rather than a single, purifying conflagration, so the team and we the fans will be caught between worlds this year. Here's how Flamesnation sees things as we head into the unknown:
October 05 2011 08:08PM
One thing that tends to pop up around this time of year is posts and articles about the output one can reasonably expect from the main players for the upcoming year. Of course, if you take a trip to your local messageboard you will quickly discover that expectations are usually actually quite unreasonable - in part because fans hopes spring eternal in the off-season and in part because people tend to project skaters totals outwards based on, say career totals (+10-25% or so), rather than probable role on the club.
October 05 2011 06:17AM
(One sometimes overlooked aspect of the Flames big turn around last year was their improvement on the man advantage. The club went from bottom-third to top-10 very rapidly. I asked JaredL of the excellent analytic blog Driving Play to investigate whether that improvement was due to luck, ability or circumstance and what it might portend for this year. This is what he found)
Kent asked me to step away from my usual home at Driving Play to write an article on the Flames' improvement on the power play last season. Analyzing special teams is a tricky business, much more so than even-strength play. The sample sizes are drastically smaller; the Flames averaged over 49 minutes per game at even strength compared to about 6:25 on the power play and 5:42 killing penalties. They are also irregular - one game you might be on the power play just once and another you might get 10 opportunities. Despite all that, we can use shooting stats to get some insight into what was going on out there.
October 04 2011 02:30PM
10/11 finish: 62 points, Dead last
Key Players: Hemsky, Horcoff, Whitney, Eberle, Hall
Additions: Sutton, Eager, Barker, Smyth, Hordichuk, Belanger, RNH
Subtractions: MacIntyre, Reddox, Fraser, Stortini, Jacques, Foster, Vandermeer
Cap Position: About $8M in space
Projected finish: in the conference's bottom four
It's neither rivalry nor spite that compels me to say the Oilers are - or at least were - awful. They've been the worst unit in the entire NHL for two years running and were only marginally better than that for several seasons prior. The period between Edmonton's unlikely cup run and now has been the gloomiest valley for a franchise that experienced a lot of peaks in it's history. One wonders how long the city's memories of former glory will continue to sell hope for the club and it's decision makers.