There’s lots of stuff going on in Flamesland today, so while I don’t do these types posts often I figure it’s a good time to throw down some thoughts in no particular order.
– If you’re getting excited about the Flames 5-0 pre-season record well…don’t. I hate to be a wet blanket (or not, since I do it all the time), but pre-season records mean absolutely nothing when it comes to predicting regular season success. If you don’t believe me, observe the Edmonton Oilers, who are also undefeated. If memory serves, the Toronto Maple Leafs were a perfect 7-0 last year as well.
– On the Mike Peca/Jay Bouwmeester/Ken King thing. Tempest in a teapot. I understand King’s desire to defend his player, but his comments have done nothing but strengthened the response of the fourth estate (who have rapidly closed ranks around Peca and probably for good reason) and brought undue attention on the comments themselves. Outside of earnest messageboard fans, no one would have remembered Peca’s criticisms today had King not made a big deal about them.
On the comments themselves, I would tend to disagree with Peca’s assessment of Bouwmeester, but in the broad scheme of things I would prefer analysts who don’t pull punches and tip-toe around because of the potentially fragile sensibilities of their targets. So defend his right to say it and all that.
– Anyone curious about my assessment of the game last night can scroll through the comments in the game thread below. Matt Pelech’s performance is one worth discussing in particular however given the club’s tangle of defenders at the bottom end of the rotation. Feel free to append your own thoughts in the comments of this article.
To my eye, Pelech visibly struggled against a fairly hum drum group of players last night. He had a sequence of three straight shifts where either his decision making or skills got him in trouble: a poor read in the defensive zone, leading to a quality chance against, a penalty (which was subsequently scored on) after a bad Kronwall pinch that exposed Pelech’s lack of speed (he couldn’t close on the opponent fast enough ) and then an egregious neutral zone, cross-ice pass that killed a break-out and caused the action to move South.
Pelech played on the Flames "third pairing" with Kronwall and was obviously one of the worst defenders on the club. On a night when Bouwmeester and Regehr didn’t dress, Pelech’s ice time was still limited and highly managed by the coaching staff. There’s no ice times from the game last night, but there were large stretches of the contest where Pelech was stapled to the bench. That’s not a good indication for a player trying to grab a roster spot, especially considering the level of competition from last night.
This leads to the Pelech vs. Pardy discussion which has cropped up now and then, both here and around various water-coolers. There’s some sentiment that the former may be chosen over the latter to make the team this season, which didn’t make much sense to me at the time and makes even less sense to me after watching Pelech closely in Saskatoon. The kid isn’t ready and, at 23 years old, one begins to wonder what his ceiling is. Pardy, on the other hand, is a known commodity: a capable enough 3rd pairing guy. Pelech may be perceived as the asset with the higher ceiling (mostly due to his draft pedigree) but he hasn’t proven to be an NHLer yet and there isn’t a big enough difference between the two guys cap hits to compel the organization to take that gamble. Pardy has more experience, is better currently and costs marginally more money. There’s no real cap benefit to keeping Pelech over Pardy and, at this point, there’s probably a greater risk of Pardy being claimed on waivers than the kid. Most of the arrows point in the wrong direction for Pelech.
– Speaking of Kronwall, the big Swede was predictably waived today. That leaves all the NHLers plus Brodie and Pelech in camp.
– I expect other cuts shortly, including Greg Nemisz who again looked like a lost boy amongst men last night. He’s at least several years away.
– Some hopefuls having decent camps despite not having a prayer to make the line-up? Stefan Meyer and Jon Rheault. I imagine they’ll be pretty important guys for a young Abbotsford club this year.