February 26 2015 09:00AM
1. We begin with a loss
That game against the Rangers was, I think, a nice encapsulation of what Flames fans should expect for most of the remainder of the season. There are more than 20 games left, but this was a contest in which the Flames tried very hard for a while and at least held serve for a lot of the early goings of the game, but once they conceded it quickly became apparent that this was not a game in which the Flames were going to score. Even a one-goal lead at that point felt insurmountable based on how things looked on the ice.
You really do have to wonder when this team's shooting luck runs out. So many guys shot 10-plus percent for so many games that it necessarily has to come back to bite you, and we're getting to the point at which regression tends to hit teams: about 60-70 games in, things start going the way they "should" when teams PDO their way to early success.
February 19 2015 09:00AM
1. What the Flames need
So we've got the trade deadline in two weeks or so and the dominoes are already starting to fall. A guy I thought the Flames might target, and in fact did — Cody Franson — has instead gone to league-leading Nashville in one of those "rich-get-richer" deals that you're not sure how they went down in the first place (it's not dissimilar to how the Leafs pried Franson out of Nashville in the first place: For Brett Lebda, somehow). I think we can all agree that given the price — a B prospect, a first-round pick, and Olli Jokinen — that's something that's at least relatively in the Flames' wheelhouse, although maybe you say the first-rounder might have been a bridge too far for a rebuilding club, though I'll get to that in a minute.
February 12 2015 09:00AM
1. Tonight, tonight
While one would normally hesitate to call any game in mid-February "a big one," tonight's game at Los Angeles is about as big as a mid-February game is likely to get.
The Flames are holding on somewhat comfortably to that playoff spot of theirs, and prior to last night's games were tied for second in the division, which no one thought possible for Feb. 11 way back in September. They keep winning, but San Jose (albeit with two extra games played after Wednesday's tilt with Washington) and Vancouver (still holding a game in hand following the Chicago matchup) are hovering close; that seems like it's shaping up to be a three-horse race the rest of the way, and that's if everything goes ideally for the Flames.
February 05 2015 09:00AM
1. What if?
A quick look at the standings as I write this ahead of Wednesday night's game against the Sharks shows the Flames in eighth place in the West, with 59 points from 51 games. That put them somewhat comfortably ahead of a cluster of four teams with 54 or 55 points, though most have a game in hand.
And what I learned from some research I did last week, being five points out of a playoff spot this late in the season are effectively out of it. While some teams may be making a little bit of a hard charge lately — Colorado and Minnesota chief among them — and Los Angeles at least has the building blocks to do the same if they can ever recover from this woeful slump (just five wins from their last 21 games, which seems impossible), it's looking increasingly likely that the Calgary Flames will against all odds make the playoffs this year.
January 29 2015 08:30AM
1. A quick intro
Last weekend I had the opportunity to see Providence College play one of the better teams in the NCAA on two consecutive nights, and this is, I think, a unique opportunity that few college teams afford a person covering a single NHL team.
The Friars, as you well know, have three Flames prospects of varying levels of notoriety: Jon Gillies, Mark Jankowski, and John Gilmour. Providence has been a very interesting team this season, one that seems more prone to ups and downs than most others in the country. They started the year 1-3-1, then won 13 of their next 16, then lost two straight heading into this weekend. The fifth-ranked UMass Lowell River Hawks were their opponents for this particular home-and-home, and seemed as though they would prove a tough test for the No. 18 Friars.