February 23 2017 07:00AM
This is a four-part series analyzing where each NHL teams stands heading into the trade deadline based on the context of each division, and the short- and long-term implications of buying or selling with the expansion draft around the corner.
The Metropolitan Division is stacked. At the time this article was written, four of the top five teams in the NHL standings were all from the Metro. The Pittsburgh Penguins look even better than they did when they won it all last year, and the Washington Capitals are gearing up for one final run with this group of players. The Columbus Blue Jackets have come out of nowhere, and the New York Rangers have enjoyed a renaissance. Even the bad teams in the Metro, the Islanders, Devils, Flyers, and Hurricanes aren't pushovers. So, what do you do in order to make yourself work your way out of this division come playoff time?
February 22 2017 02:00PM
Since Jiri Hudler in the 2014-15 season, the Flames have had a fair bit of trouble with finding a right winger to play with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Hudler was magic with the duo in the year the Flames went to the playoffs, but he fell off a cliff the following season, and then he was traded.
That line has had a mostly rotating cast since, with multiple other forwards getting the call and none of them really working out.
One of those guys was Micheal Ferland. In the 2015-16 season, he played 144:47 5v5 minutes with Gaudreau and Monahan. The line had a CF of 53.8%, but their GF was a mere 45.5%. They looked great, but they weren't really producing tangible results, things didn't stick, and the Flames had a miserable season, anyway.
Against the Predators the Flames continued to have a not-miserable if inconsistent season, kicked off with Ferland back on that line and scoring two goals to show for it.
February 22 2017 12:00PM
Brad Treliving probably thought he'd solved the Flames' goaltending woes last summer. At least, he likely thought he was inching closer to a long-term solution.
In the 2016 offseason, Treliving traded for Brian Elliott and signed Chad Johnson to a cheap, one-year deal. Together, Elliott and Johnson promised to improve Calgary's netminding by over 30 goals against if they could manage career average save rates at even strength. In addition, adding two veterans gave Jon Gillies another season to develop in the minors so he could potentially challenge for a spot in 2017-18.
Unfortunately, nothing has worked out in Treliving's favour. Neither of the veterans he brought in have managed to quell the organization's goalie anxieties. Calgary still boasts some of the worst netminding at even strength this year and Gillies has struggled through a mediocre season in the AHL.
Which means there are no easy answers moving forward. Johnson and Elliott are both pending free agents and Gillies hasn't made a convincing case that he's ready for prime time. So what do the Flames do? Should they re-sign one or both of the current incumbents and hope they rediscover their form? Or do the trade for one of the goalies who will no doubt hit the market in advance of the expansion draft?
February 22 2017 10:00AM
With just one goal and two points in his last 22 games, Sam Bennett is in another prolonged scoring slump. Now in his second full season with the Calgary Flames, Bennett continues to struggle with offensive inconsistency as he adapts to playing centre at the highest level. The Flames project Bennett as a centre long term, but that doesn't necessarily mean he should be playing down the middle right now.
February 22 2017 08:00AM
That game was a roller coaster of emotions. It had everything: big leads. Devastating comebacks. Fights. Big saves. A Micheal scoring two goals and a Mikael scoring another two, with two Michaels out there along for the ride.
And two points - while giving up another point to a team the Flames are in direct competition with.
Well, you can't say it wasn't exciting.