Time to take a break from the scoring chance posts for now I think. Some people love graphs and charts and pocket protectors and such, but even their eyes will start to glaze over if I do nothing but talk about advanced stats every day (and I would). So here’s another round of random thoughts ’bout the Flames and other stuff.
– Robert Cleave and myself appeared on Matchsticks and Microphones recently (an M&G podcast). The episode hasn’t been uploaded to the site yet, but one of the topics that came up was, again, the fate of Jay Feaster.
I’m going to play spoiler here and reveal some of what we shared on the matter: despite a lot of noise around town about Feaster being "the guy", we here at FlamesNation still think the fact Jay is still walking around with the "acting" tag suggests the owners and management are still waiting to suss out other options before making everything official. The organization has made some changes around the edges when it comes to periphery coaching staff this off-season, but those moves were a.) minor b.) likely directed by Brent Sutter and therefore c.) probably inevitable no matter who was sitting in the big chair.
I’ll be convinced Feaster is the guy either when the team comes out and makes it official OR they actually start making real, impactful decisions with him at the helm. For example, if they head into the draft or July 1st with Jay as "acting" GM, then I’ll begin to assume it’s his job for sure. Until then, my theory that the franchise has it’s eye on another guy for GM and Jay is bound for another role in the upper offices remains unshaken.
– The second round has been a bit of a dud, but probably the most interesting issue cropping up right now is the fate of Bruce Boudreau. The Capitals failed to meet expectations in the post-season again, but one has to wonder how much weight that should be given over their regular season results.
Why? Because the playoffs are short. Really short. And making decisions based on small sample sizes (even though they are perceived as very important samples in our minds) can lead you astray very easily. The Caps have been an excellent-to-dominant team under Boudreau during the regular season which is a vastly larger chunk of information relative to their couple of playoff choke jobs. That suggests to me he’s probably a pretty capable coach.
– Here’s a simple question for Flames fans that we’ll get into more in depth later in the off-season. If you had the choice, would you designate the upcoming season as more "developmental" in terms of goals, meaning more weight given to procuring draft picks, prospects and developing high-end youngsters at the pro level in the org? Or would you prefer to see the club try to wring at least one more competitive year out of Iginla and the core, meaning less focus on development and futures procurement and more to signing veteran free agents, maxing out the cap, buying at the deadline and finishing as high as possible.
This is a toned-down version of the "rebuild" argument I think. The choice to focus on procurement and development could occur while retaining Iginla, Regehr and company I think (meaning no full-on rebuild), but it would have to be an action item on their "to-do" list for it to happen at all. The second choice is basically the status quo – go with what you have, try to fill spaces with free agents and veterans as much as possible. The risk in the first is to reduce the Flames chances of truly battling for a playoff spot/cup. The risk in the second is to further stagnate the organization should the push to "succeed now" fail again.
– I recently got an Empire Avenue account. Im not too certain why, but I said the same thing when I signed up for twitter a couple of years ago…
– Watching the Canucks in the post-season has me more convinced that Ryan Kesler is the best forward on the team and by far more deserving of any "MVP" honors. He plays tougher circumstances and is just flat out better all over the ice. The Sedins have had problems fighting through a couple of capable checking units now (Bolland and Legwand), despite AV still feeding them favorable zone starts and such. There’s not question the twins are a couple of key pieces to the Canucks machine, but Kesler is definitely the engine.
– Every year, the hockey gods decide to touch a team or two in the post-season. This year, it’s the Lightning. They got their heads beat in by the Pens in the first round by just about every measure except for score. Kinda like MTL and WAS last season. Roloson stood on his head and saved their bacon. The second round versus the Caps was much closer, but in no way was it a true "sweep" in terms of actual differential in play or talent. Not sure how long they will be sprinkled with pixie dust, but it’s going to be interesting to watch.
– Stay tuned for Pat’s look at ex-Flames remaining in the post-season today or tomorrow as well as another round of Lambert’s "Contrarian Corner" this week. I’ll also continue to pump out chance/possession/graphing/nerd articles as we plunge further into the off-season.