October 17 2016 11:45AM
We're now three games into the Flames' season. They have not necessarily gone optimally. A part of that has been the defence, and a part of that is the fact that it has been inconsistent, lineup-wise. Just four members of the Flames' eight defencemen have played all three games: Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dougie Hamilton, and Deryk Engelland. Two have played only two games: Jyrki Jokipakka and Dennis Wideman. Two have only played one game each: Brett Kulak and Nicklas Grossmann.
After three games, we appear to be at a more satisfactory lineup than what the Flames started the season with. Brodie and Giordano have been reunited, the younger members of the group are all playing, and Engelland fills out the rest by being the best of the remaining three.
Something that hasn't changed much, though, are the forwards. The lineups looked pretty satisfactory to start with: each line appeared balanced, and all four of them had guys who could play a regular shift with no problems.
But they haven't been scoring all that much, is the thing.
There are plenty of justifications for that, namely: the top line has played all of three games together, and had one preseason game between the three of them. If they get a little more time together, it's possible they figure it out, and the scoring will go up. It definitely looks like they're starting to get there.
But it's an off day, so let's play panic mode and rearrange the forward lineup, just for fun.
October 17 2016 08:00AM
Okay, so this wasn't the start we were all hoping for. Going 0-3* against the Oilers and Canucks definitely sours the start of the Glen Gulutzan era somewhat.
*(0-2-1 technically, but 0-3 feels more honest)
Still, this is no time to panic. Starting the year off poorly was almost inevitable given what the club was facing: an entirely new coaching staff, new additions to the roster and a top line that didn't skate together once before the puck dropped. Playing three games in four nights - all of them home openers - likely didn't help things either.
There are a lot of moving parts here, so it's understandable if the Flames don't quite have their feet under them yet. I figure it can take a new coach up to 20 games to really begin to understand what he has in his roster, but Gulutzan has already begun to make the proper adjustments after stubbing his toe on opening night.
It's a tough pill to swallow after an off-season of anticipation and optimism, but it'll get better. In today's mailbag, we talk about Brian Elliott and what the Flames have to do to take the next step.
October 16 2016 02:15PM
We're only three games into the 2016-17 National Hockey League season for the Calgary Flames, but one shadow will loom over this entire year: the upcoming 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.
With the Las Vegas
Desert Knights, er, No-Names, joining the NHL for 2017-18, we're having an expansion draft in late June. That additional draft will mean a flurry of additional trade and signing activity, and has already resulted in a ton of pro scout traffic in the early season. (Traditionally, pro scouts only head out en masse prior to the trade deadline.)
How are the Flames looking in regards to the expansion draft and its various requirements?
October 16 2016 08:00AM
The Calgary Flames, in their third game of the season, played 65 minutes and failed to score a single goal. They rode an adorable own-goal by the Canucks until there were just under four minutes left in the game, when their top players got hemmed in their own zone for about a minute and a half, couldn't regain the puck, couldn't clear it, couldn't do anything, and gave away the game Vancouver had been trying to give to them.
They have played three games against the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks. These are not two teams that are world beaters. These are two teams who are closer to the bottom of the rung than the top, and the only one who has any say in changing that is Connor McDavid.
And Glen Gulutzan's Flames - the ones that took three games to dress the defencemen who should be dressed, the ones with a still-dysfunctional top line, the ones finally with a group of 12 functional forwards on the ice but one that's so thin on depth they can't really do anything as a collective whole - have lost three games to them, and any silver lining that initially glimmered is growing dull and faded by the second.
They are, in a word, pathetic.
October 15 2016 11:35PM
(Anne-Marie Sorvin / USA Today Sports)
The Calgary Flames have had a rough few days. They've played three games in four nights, in three different cities. Sure, the games were against two of the suspected worst clubs in the Western Conference. But for a team that's got no consistency (and seems unsure of its identity), three divisional games should've been exactly what they needed to get themselves settled. Right?
Nope. For the third time in this short season, the Flames managed to lose against a divisional opponent. And for the first time this season, they failed to score an actual goal. They lost to the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in a shootout at Rogers Arena, ending a disappointing first week of the regular season.