1. What should we take from that win?
So Calgary picked up its second win of the season Tuesday night and thoroughly pushed around Detroit on the road in doing so. It finished 4-1, but could easily have been more than that, though it seemed that, just as a means of standing in the starkest possible contrast to the Chicago game, every time the puck got around the net, it went it.
You certainly can’t argue with the result, except to say that perhaps the perception of what Detroit was before (excellent in all areas of the ice) clouds what reality dictates it is now (less so in all areas of the ice), might make people think this was a better win than it was in real life.
This game was, in every way, the Flames simply winning the special teams battle. Calgary seemed to carry possession, and I was pretty shocked to check the box score at the end of things and see they only put 23 shots on net, but at least held Detroit to 26. Going 3 for 4 on the kill is okay but not great, but going 2 for 5 on the power play is obviously going to win you a lot more hockey games than it loses. You’re going to get four or five or so cracks with a man advantage pretty much every game, and if you score twice, that really takes a load off your back when it comes to 5-on-5 play.
The thing is, though, you can’t expect a power play to go two-fer every night, and therefore it’s difficult to determine what this means for the team. Again, I thought they did pretty well against the Red Wings at even strength, and that was the just result after the pain of the Chicago game, but I guess I still need convincing that this team can be competitive, and keep its foot on the gas.
2. A Kiprusoff absence?
That won’t be easy with Miikka Kiprusoff out of the lineup for any more than a game or two, though. I was honestly starting to think that he’d play every second of all 48. And the reason for that is there’s just no one the team really trusts beyond him to keep the puck out of the net.
What else does it tell you that he kept getting starts, and not even getting yanked out of games, when his GAA looked like a good grade-point average and his save percentage was so far below .900 it got the bends when he stopped 19 of 20 on Tuesday?
For evidence of how little faith the team has in Leland Irving, one need look no further than the Flames’ official Twitter account after the game. It was filled with quotes from veterans on the team saying stuff like, "Oh yeah, no, we were like TOTALLY confident in Leland. That guy’s a good goalie. No worries at all. None. Not one. Nope. Where would you get that idea? He’s great." That thing about dothing and protestething too much sprang readily to mind.
Anything more than two games of Irving and it’s time to start frantically hitting the panic button, and I was already doing that given Kiprusoff’s performance prior to Tuesday. So that can’t be a bright spot.
3. Is this a lost cause?
And that’s the other thing. I was listening to stat genius and all-around nice fellow Neil Greenberg’s appearance on the Sports Junkies, a Washington sports gabfest, about the state of the Capitals. After their loss to Toronto on Tuesday, Greenberg declared the Caps done, and with good reason.
It’s generally thought that teams will need at least 50 points to get to the playoffs in this abbreviated season, and the Caps are on just five from their first 10 games. That means that in the final 38 games of the season, the Capitals would need to earn 45 points, meaning they’d need to win close to 60 percent of their remaining games to make it. Needless to say, that simply won’t happen, barring a miracle that would be in no way minor.
But that got me thinking about the Flames, as you might expect. Calgary, even with the win Tuesday, is still dead last in the West, and 29th in the league. Now, with that having been said, it has a game in hand, and in some cases as many as three, on literally everyone in both conferences, so there’s still the chance that it can make up a little bit of that ground after this gruesome start, but a few more losses and you can officially count the Flames just about out, can’t you?
Let’s do the math. The Flames need 50 points at a minimum to make the postseason. They have six from seven games. That means that in the remaining 41, they need 44. That requires them to win about 54 percent of the points available to them going forward. That’s about what they did in failing to make the playoffs in two of the last three seasons. And it won’t get easier in all likelihood, given that they’re going to be cramming more games into the back part of the schedule to make up for all those games in hand. Their opponents, meanwhile, should be more rested. That’s not exactly a recipe for success.
4. You wanted to know about Johnny Gaudreau?
Ryan Pike wrote a post yesterday asking when, exactly, Johnny Gaudreau would turn pro. Given the points he’s producing at the NCAA level (his Pts/Gm is best in the nation at 1.5, and he’s only eighth in scoring nationally because he’s played between three and six fewer games than everyone in front of him), he doesn’t seem to have much left to prove offensively.
But as to the question itself, well, it may have been answered, though in a somewhat incomplete manner, in the Boston Globe over the weekend.
Said the article (emphasis mine): "There is maturation that still needs to happen, which is one of the reasons Gaudreau’s family is fighting off the advances by Calgary to get him into the NHL. His father says he will play at least his junior season in Chestnut Hill, and perhaps his senior as well."
So if you were just itching to see Gaudreau in the AHL next year, go out and get some calamine lotion; it’s gonna be awhile.
5. Do I really have to say it?
Loath though I am to admit being wrong, I have to say that I’ve really like what Dennis Wideman has brought to the Flames to this point. I still think it’s a terrible contract, absolute garbage, in fact. It will be extremely regrettable well before it’s over. But for right now, Wideman has arguably been the Flames’ best defenseman, and that’s something I never thought I’d say.