February 20 2017 08:00AM
The 2017 edition of the Calgary Flames is a study in frustration.
Some games they are terrible and rightfully lose. Other games they are dominant... but still lose, either because their scorers can't score or because their goalies can't stop the puck. Or because the club takes too many penalties.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that none of these problems were supposed to be problems. Last season, Calgary was the least penalized team in the league. This year, they're the most. Every single high priced player that Brad Treliving has re-signed in the last 12 months is having a down year, hobbling the Flames offense. And the goaltending that should have been vastly improved, isn't. It's a minor miracle Calgary is within throwing distance of a playoff spot despite all of these issues.
We're nine days away from the trade deadline and Treliving must be scratching his head. Almost of his assumptions heading into the season have likely been undermined. Many of his core players haven't been primary contributors, his goaltending remains shaky, his blueline is still top heavy, his big UFA signing isn't working out and his farm team has just finished losing 10 in a row.
Nevertheless, the playoffs are still possible. So what's next?
February 19 2017 12:00PM
As you have probably heard if you have working eyes or ears these days, the National Hockey League's trade deadline is rapidly approaching. On March 1, teams have to make a ton of quick decisions as the door to make transactions slams shut.
The Calgary Flames are one of the teams who have to not only figure out their options for the rest of this season, but also project out what their plans are for next season. Waiver eligibility could be a big factor in the decision-making.
February 19 2017 08:00AM
The game reset for overtime.
That was a bad first goal on Brian Elliott, there's no denying that. That said, the Flames outplayed the Canucks the entire way, and to an extent that you can't simply brush it off with a cry of "score effects!" Not with the amount the Flames pushed, and definitely not with all of those penalties they had to kill.
And they wouldn't have been pushing as hard as they did in the final minutes if they weren't down 1-0. The Canucks scored a goal Elliott shouldn't have let them; the Flames broke Ryan Miller's dam in the final six seconds.
After that, it was a matter of overtime. Three-on-three play makes mistakes deadly. Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik got caught on the wrong side of it. It happens, and the Flames were able to crawl away with a point to keep them just barely relevant. (They're ninth in the West with a winning percentage of .525. The Kings are at .526.)
February 18 2017 11:54PM
(Anne-Marie Sorvin / USA Today Sports)
Saturday night's collision between the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks was big for both teams. The Flames had a golden chance to effectively end Vancouver's playoff hopes. The Canucks had a chance to claw closer to the Flames and keep their post-season dreams alive for another night. In a tight-checking, playoff-like atmosphere, it ended up being largely the performance of the two netminders that determined things.
The Flames lost 2-1 in overtime to Vancouver. They were both extremely unlucky to only get the single point and extremely fortunate to get anything at all considering how close they came to leaving empty-handed.
February 18 2017 02:30PM
On Jan. 24, Elliotte Friedman offered up some thoughts about shift lengths in his 30 Thoughts column. Specifically, it was about how much time Erik Karlsson spends on the ice over the course of a single shift (#17):
A year ago, Karlsson played the most in the NHL (2,375:55) and had the longest shift length (1:04). But he was tied for 72nd in shifts per game and 34th in overall shifts taken. It’s not like he’s stapled to the bench, as his overall time is eighth. But he’s now second in the NHL in shifts per game, going from 27.1 to 32.2 per night. His length has dropped to 0:50, which is 38th. He’s agreed to stay out a little less, but the trade-off is minimal as they put him out there more.
What does this have to do with the Flames? Well, shorter shifts generally result in more effective shifts. And Johnny Gaudreau has gone from being tied for 64th among all forwards in average shift time in 2015-16 to fourth this season.
That's quite a jump, wouldn't you say?