Today is sort of a milestone day for me. It was a year ago this very day that I went from commenter to contributing writer here at Flames Nation. It has been a phenomenal experience and the responses I have had from everyone over the past 365 days has made it all that more of a rush. Not only have your comments been appreciated, but your concerns as well, when I had to take a leave of absence.
I also want to thank Robert Cleave and Pat Steinberg for their guidance over the past year, in writing, style and general advice. Most of all to Kent for, without him, none of this would have ever been possible in the first place Thanks Boss!
In keeping with this theme today, I wanted to talk about another milestone or goal that is hopefully achieved this year within the Calgary Flames. Recently Curtis Glencross stated in the media that he would like to set his sights on a season of 30 goals and 30 assists. Last year, Scoreface (Sorry Justin) managed 26 G and 22 A while playing only 67 games. Is it out of the realm of possibility for him to hit a 30/30 campaign this year provided he stays healthy; and well provided we have a season this year?
Do the Numbers Paint The Picture?
To Glencross’ credit, he has improved his goal totals every year he has been in Calgary, only in the 2009-10 season has his assists totals dropped. This is going to be a different year for the Flames though, and quite possibly could be significantly different for Curtis.
With the departures of the likes of Langkow, Jokinen and Moss, there is little doubt that Glencross is going to be one of the guys that is asked to carry the cross in Calgary. The out-going of players in a shut down role has not been replaced with equal newcomers. There can be little expectation on the ability of Hudler and Cervenka to fill those slots, and with the high likelihood of Bärtschi making the team this year, there are just not a lot of options available to the new coaching staff of Hartley and Co.
As versatile as Glencross is, he is currently without any linemates. Because of his versatility, he is an easy candidate to slot in where he is needed; right now, it’s glaringly obvious where there is a significant hole in the line-up. The thought of Bärtschi playing alongside Glencross and having Backlund at centre at first seemed like a natural fit to me. Introducing Sven to a line with speed, grit and a centre that knows how to drive the play north sounds like a no-brainer; the offensive promise also seemed like something that would help Backlund’s game, right?
While discussing it on twitter with Robert Cleave and Domebeers, Bob brought up a most reasonable point.
— Robert Cleave (@rmcleave) August 13, 2012
It should be a certainty that Sven will see largely sheltered minutes, thereby removing him from the possibility of lining up with the other two. You just can’t take two players out of roles that they can play to accommodate a potentially offensive line that has a rookie, no matter how much potential that rookie may have. Instead, it seems far more plausible that if you are going to shelter Bärtschi, then most likely you also shelter Cervenka and have his good buddy, Jiri Hudler, round out that trio. How will that sit with Flames fans as a more than likely third line?
Talk a Big Game!
Despite what line he plays on, sheltered or buried amongst the heavies, if there is just one guy on the Flames roster that can defy the odds, it’s Glencross.
In a world where those who follow advanced statistics have grown to loathe the term “clutch” as a means to describe a player, it’s ironic that Curtis is the guy that best embodies it for the Flames. Ironic in the sense that Glencross is an advanced stats fanatic, he follows it all and can hold his own with any of the internet’s Nerd Herd (No offense to anyone from NHL Numbers…)
The most prominent statistic that has drawn attention is his increasingly insane shooting percentages. As the seasons go by, it is often discussed by statisticians that eventually it will have to regress back to the norm. The problem is no one really can tell what the norm is for Glencross.
In his four seasons with the Flames, Glencross has posted personal shooting percentages of 8.6, 12.8, 16.1 and last year a phenomenal 23.6%, leading to his most productive season in the NHL with 26 G and 22 A for 48 pts; all while sitting a career worst -13. Numbers that may in fact contribute to the argument that +/- is not necessarily an accurate metric to use in evaluating a players value.
Can Curtis continue to defy NHL tendencies and maintain these high percentages? It stands to reason that he will not, but it also is not crazy to think that his numbers shouldn’t drop too dramatically, especially if he is able to achieve his goal of 30 G and 30 A. More than likely, there will be two significant factors that will affect his sh% and determine if he will hit his objectives.
The first, as mentioned before, would be what line Curtis ends up on. Robert, Domebeers and I talked a bit about this as well on twitter and according to Bob, Glencross’ past numbers may not be an indication of what Flames fans can come to expect in the 2012-13 season, or perhaps even beyond.
— Robert Cleave (@rmcleave) August 13, 2012
Would a 15 goal season be a dramatic step backwards for Curtis? There is little doubt that it would be in the eyes of Glencross; and would do little to help him maintain his iconic nickname. However, if he fulfills the role for Hartley that Sutter so desperately wanted Jokinen to fill, then in the eyes of the organization, his value as an asset would surely increase while giving time for the younger scoring forwards to develop.
The second factor will be just how many shots Glencross can manage on net. With the Flames, he has managed to shoot more than he has his entire career anywhere else. All that being said, over his six year career, he still has only averaged 106 shots per year. Just to put that into perspective in regards to his objective of 30 goals this season: in the modern era of the NHL, only one player has ever scored 30 goals while taking 110 shots or less.
If Glencross is successful this season, it will put him in some pretty exclusive company. It may seem like only a slight improvement from his performance from last year, but as discussed above, there are going to be many factors that will make the achievement a lot less reachable.
What say you Flames Nation? Can Scoreface go 30 and 30 or is he setting himself up for the disappointment many of the fans are coming to expect…