October 15 2011 11:27AM
Coming off their first win of the season on Thursday night, the Calgary Flames finish a three game road trip tonight in Toronto, taking on the Maple Leafs for one of two meetings this season (5 pm, CBC and Sportsnet 960). The Flames and Leafs will be forever linked to their blockbuster trade from January 2010, a deal that saw Toronto get their new captain Dion Phaneuf.
October 14 2011 07:03PM
After a summer of sloth, our review of some of the recent events of note from around the league returns Nationwide. In this iteration of the round-up, the Flames snap out of it, the Oilers sleep through another night in St. Paul, and the Jets get a reality check in the Windy City.
October 14 2011 04:52PM
Last night, watching the negative reaction to Tom Renney’s selection of Shawn Horcoff for shootout duty, I was struck by how poorly a player’s shootout ability is reflected in his overall offensive totals (Horcoff has, when used, been one of the league’s best shootout options).
So I decided to look at who the worst shootout players in the game (min. 20 shots) have been, and it’s quite a list. Among the skaters on the list are numerous major award winners – guys who have led the league in total goals, total points, and been named the NHL’s most valuable player. The Canucks, Oilers and Maple Leafs are all represented. One of them even shows up on the highlight video above. Like I said, it’s quite a list.
October 14 2011 10:25AM
With the the Kyle Turris rumor floating around, one of the comparisons that keeps coming up is to Calgary's own Mikael Backlund. In part to judge Turris' worth on the ice, but also becasue Backlund is one of the assets assumed to be involved in a potential deal.
October 14 2011 09:16AM
Every Thursday (and sometimes Friday) we're using the Snepsts system to project how many points each of the Flames may score this year. The Snepsts system, explained over at Hockey Prospectus, searches history for players with similar statistics (adjusted for era scoring levels) and uses their future performance as yardsticks for today's.
We've already looked at most of the Flames key forwards and key defensemen, and this week we'll look at some of their secondary forwards: Tom Kostopoulos, Tim Jackman and Mikael Backlund.
Tom Kostopoulos' historical projection is hardly going to be interesting – he has scored between 18 and 22 points in all but one of his NHL seasons. Unfortunately it looks like age is finally catching up to him (he'll turn 33 in January), and he won't manage even that modest scoring expectation.
Historical matches: 8
VUKOTA: 62 GP, 7 G, 10 A, 17 PTS
SNEPSTS: 78 GP, 4 G, 8 A, 12 PTS
Closest matches: Sami Pahlsson, Randy Gilhen, Bob Corkum
Kostopoulos will have to produce in order to justify using up a fourth line roster spot on a veteran instead of one of the younger, developing players.
Tim Jackman hit a career high last season with 23 points after scoring just 28 points in his previous 191 NHL games. The big winger continued to play a tough game, but with improved discipline and taking a lot more shots than usual. Can he keep that up into his 30s?
Historical matches: 4
VUKOTA: 63 GP, 9 G, 11 A, 20 PTS
SNEPSTS: 82 GP, 4 G, 6 A, 10 PTS
Closest matches: Matthias Tjarnqvist, Blair Betts
The VUKOTA projection system is optimistic that Jackman can continue to play at this level, but Snepsts is far more pessimistic, as usual. Only 10 points, and would need to really play well defensively to prevent his roster spot being handed to one of the Flames' kids.
The Snepsts system needs at least two solid seasons to run a good historical comparison, but there's not enough data on Backlund, who has one-and-a-half seasons of experience.
Instead we can translate his 2009-10 AHL data, add in his one goal, nine assist, 23 game NHL seasons, and wind up with something almost identical.
2009-10 AHL/NHL Translation 77 8 17 25 2010-11 NHL 73 10 15 25
Backlund has essentially enjoyed identical back-to-back 25 point seasons, while playing just 12 minutes a game of mostly sheltered ice-time. Using that, we can search NHL's history for all 21-year-olds who are within a goal and an assist of his 2010-11 season, and see what happened to them.
Now VUKOTA projects 13 goals, 18 assists and 31 points in 65 games, but the 30 matches we found with Snepsts averaged 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 points over an 82 game schedule – though we're sure Backlund is bound to miss at least 5-10 games.
The high-water mark is Cam Neely's 55 points in 75 games, and Mario Tremblay's 47 points in 76 games. At the lower end are players like Kris Beech, Jamie Lundmark, Jody Hull and Martin Gelinas, all of whom finished in the sub-20 point range.
A lot will depend on his opportunities this year. If Backlund gets top-line minutes with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay he's practically guaranteed to top 30 points and even threaten to drive up into this upper-40 high-water mark. Worst-case scenario is that he's buried on the depth lines for another year and finished in the mid-20s again.
Cory Sarich, Chris Butler, Scott Hannan and Brett Carson
Derek Smith, Clay Wilson, T.J. Brodie and Brendan Mikkelson
Lance Bouma, Stefan Meyer, Paul Byron, Greg Nemisz
Raitis Ivanans, Guillaume Desbiens and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond.