January 16 2016 10:00AM
It was a rough start to the season for the Flames, and not just because expectations were heightened after last year's turn as Cinderella or because Brad Treliving improved the roster considerably in the off-season. The Flames were objectively, abjectly bad at the onset. The defense was porous, the offense punchless, the goaltending sievelike.
It seemed like the club was going to run in place or even take a big step back. Everything that had worked for them previously was gone, but their weaknesses were still as glaring as ever. More disconcerting, the coaching staff had seemingly failed to adjust in the offseason, instead choosing to stick with staid strategies that were in desperate need of updating.
Auston Matthews seemed like a real possibility after October. And he still might be. But the truth is the team has improved since those first few dark weeks. In fact, they have taken a real step forward over last year.
January 11 2016 08:00AM
It's only the second week of January, but already every game is taking on the desperate feel of a "must win". The Pacific Division is so tightly packed that any team not named "The Kings" can be in or out of the playoffs on the turn of a two game winning (or losing) streak.
@Kent_Wilson with the horrible divisional home loss to the lowly coyotes shud the Flames start to consider tanking?— Buzz the Dog (@burleywonderdog) January 8, 2016
Right now the Flames are tied with the Sharks for 5th in division with 40 points. But they are only two points behind 3rd placed Vancouver (with two games in hand) and three points up on the basement dwelling Oilers.
There isn't much more clarity if we pull back and look at league wide standings. The Flames currently occupy 26th overall, but are only six points up on last place (Columbus) and six points back of 15th (Ottawa). A good January or February can put them smack dab in the meaty part of the standings, but a prolonged losing streak will put them in the Auston Matthews race.
From the perspective of the trade deadline, the Flames aren't clear buyers or sellers at this point. Hopefully the next few weeks simplifies things for Calgary's decision makers.
With that in mind, we mull over some the clubs trade options in latest edition of mailbag, including Jonathan Drouin, Ben Bishop and Kerby Rychel.
January 04 2016 10:00AM
Happy new year and welcome to the first FN Mailbag of 2016!
After a brief two-game slide, the Flames beat up the Avs in Colorado recently to get themselves right back into the playoff conversation. However you want to characterize the first three months of the season, most Flames fans would have accepted a fair chance at the dance come January if given the option in September I think.
The recent losses to the Ducks and Kings show that the Flames still have some ground to gain if they're to become contenders. In this mailbag, we look at some of the things the org can do to continue to improve the roster including potential trade targets, trade assets and what's to be done about Joe Colborne.
December 30 2015 01:00PM
In his final year of college hockey, Johnny Gaudreau led his team in scoring by 15 points over just 40 games. The second and third best scorers for Boston College were his regular line mates Kevin Hayes (65) and Bill Arnold (53). The best point total managed by a "non-Gaudreau" player was Patrick Brown (30).
This situation is playing itself out again in the NHL with the Flames. Gaudreau currently has a team-best 39 points. Second and third on the team are Sean Monahan (25) and Jiri Hudler (20). At this pace, Gaudreau could lead the Flames by 30+ points by the end of the year.
Gaudreau's offensive potency is relevant in a discussion of Sean Monahan because the two players have been connected at the hip since about December of 2014. Like Gaudreau, Monahan is set to become a restricted free agent this summer and as Pat Steinberg recently reminded us, he's going to get paid.
It is therefore vital for the Flames to evaluate Sean Monahan's individual contributions, which means: how good is Monahan without Gaudreau?
December 28 2015 05:00PM
Happy holidays FN readers! Thanks for making 2015 one of the best ever for the blog, not to mention consistently providing the weekly mailbag feature with ample fodder for discussion.
For the final edition of the FN Mailbag of 2015, we look at Flames roster decisions, Gaudreau's ceiling and whether the club should keep Mikael Backlund or not.