Musings on the alternate universe in which Joni Ortio does not get hurt

arii
May 22 2015 11:00AM

On Feb. 20, Joni Ortio, the Adirondack Flames' starting goalie, stepped on the ice for a game against the Oklahoma City Barons. Seven minutes and 16 seconds later, he was off the ice, and the next morning, diagnosed with a high ankle sprain that was going to keep him out 6-8 weeks.

The NHL trade deadline was just a week and a half away.

With Karri Ramo being an upcoming unrestricted free agent, and Ortio almost certainly slated to be the backup next season, it was bad timing. Ramo probably went from on the block to off it, and Adirondack, already on the playoff bubble, fell into a tailspin of losses it couldn't recover from.

Maybe things wouldn't have changed if Ortio had stayed healthy. Maybe the Flames, still in a playoff push, decide to keep both their goalies. Maybe Ortio, despite an All-Star AHL season, fails to bring the baby Flames the extra 10 points they needed.

But also, maybe not?

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The Big Gainers - Part 1: Chicago Blackhawks

Kent Wilson
May 22 2015 09:00AM

In my recent look at the Flames cap situation, I noted the club is probably going to want to accelerate the rebuild somewhat in the face of an impending cap crunch. All of the franchise's cornerstone kids (and their cornerstone captain) will be expensive come 2017. It's one thing to be a rebuilding club with cap space, but it's another to be capped out and still struggling to get over the hump. 

This is a not insignificant challenge, despite the Flames' success this year. Calgary was the third worst possession club in the league 2014-15 and history tells us teams like this face overwhelming odds to make the post-season every year (they miss the post-season almost 98% of the time), let alone win a Stanley Cup. 

To be true contenders, the Flames need to become a positive possession team, preferably north of 52%. That's the threshold annual favourites tend to meet or exceed every season. But is it possible to improve a club's underlying numbers so drastically in such a short period of time? 

As it turns out, yes it is. In this series I will investigate six modern NHL teams who have rapidly improved their possession rates over the course of just a few years. We'll take a look at what changed for each club and if there are lessons the Flames can apply to their own situation. 

First up, we look at the Chicago Blackhawks.

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The Roundup

Nation World HQ
May 22 2015 06:45AM

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Oilers and Leafs land the coaches they want, the Canucks ongoing rebuild and Jordan Subban, Flames draft plans and cap situation, Zack Kassian, Ladi Smid, the NHL draft, free agency and more in this week's Roundup brought to you by DraftKings.

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2014-15 By The Numbers: #18 Matt Stajan

Ryan Pike
May 21 2015 01:00PM

Matt Stajan may be the most underrated player on the Calgary Flames.

The team's most veteran center, Stajan emerged as a bottom-six staple last season as well as a very effective penalty kill specialist. He was used as a shut-down pivot in the post-season - to great success against Vancouver and varying success against Anaheim, when his wingers seemed to get banged up and become less effective as a result.

After several seasons of fans and analysts alike maligning his old contract, Stajan's found a niche as a leader in the room and a a very useful player for the team's third and fourth lines.

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The Right Way and the Wrong Way (For Now)

Pat Steinberg
May 21 2015 11:18AM

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The Calgary Flames need more organizational depth on their blueline. Not only do you and I know that, but so does General Manager Brad Treliving who admitted as such last week in his season ending news conference. This week's signing of Czech product Jakub Nakladal has already started to address the issue in what I believe is the proper way. Wax on: low risk moves that have minimal immediate impact on the salary cap. Wax off: making a big splash in unrestricted free agency come July.

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