Five things: Pyrrhic victory

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.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      I think ‘Merica names the 4 years of college as 1=Freshman, 2= Sophomore, 3=Junior, and 4=Senior.

      I think the Flames situation may be less dire than it looks, because every game they play is in-conference, meaning every win they get is a loss for someone ahead of them in the playoff race. That wouldn’t be the case all the time in a full season as they play some Eastern teams, which aren’t “4 point” games.

    • seve927

      In College:


      I expect him to play one more year then bypass his senior year, he’s too good to stay another 2 years…

    • CDB

      Freshman- 1st year at BC
      Sophomore – 2nd year
      Junior – 3rd
      Senior – 4th

      Gadreau is just wrapping up a phenomenal sophomore year. I would be slightly surprised to see him stay for 4 years, assuming next year continues on the path that his college career seems to be on. Understandable this is a unique situation given that his skill and hockey IQ are far superior to the level he is at, but that he has the physical stature of a mid-teen. Still, at some point there will be nothing left for him to prove at this level, and no amount of time in the BC cafeteria and weight room can change that.

      When he is as thoroughly dominating a level as Gadreau currently is, he will need to learn to play against men. The Flames will want him as prepared as possible for that, but the only true way to adapt to playing against bigger and stronger players is to actually do it. I don’t feel that putting up 80 points as a senior in college would enhance his development as much as getting a feel for the pro game and lifestyle. No amount of time in the weight room or BC cafeteria is going to be as useful as that experience. Staying for his Junior year for some more physical maturation seems like the smart decision

      He will always be a small, slightly built player. It is impossible to predict how his body is going to mature and develop, but it should be noted that I believe he is now 19 and will be 20 his Junior year. This isn’t a case of Steven Stamkos entering the league at a young, underdeveloped 18 years old. I just don’t feel that staying for a Senior year will be as beneficial as gaining some pro experience. Assuming the situation is right

  • Stockley

    Can’t say I agree with you on the Wideman contract. Now that I have seen him play he is indeed a highly skilled defenseman with a right hand shot. He appears to have strong leadership and has really stepped up Brodie’s play as a mentor and pairing partner. Is dominating on the PP and is the key reason Calgary now has a potent powerplay that was non existant last year.

    Worth every cent of that contract!

    • RedMan

      I tend to lean towards this sentiment. Wideman has some weaknesses in his own end at times, but has been as a whole very good, and definitely makes this team better.

  • Wideman has been used correctly by Hartley – middle tier competition, plenty of PP time and o-zone draws. He works well with Brodie as well owing to the kids mobility.

    The fears surrounding Wideman when he was signed were twofold:

    1.) he’d play on the top pairing with Bouwmeester. Or the club would trade JayBo and leave Wideman the shut-down option. That’s not his bag, baby.

    2.) His contract, owing the amount, length and added NTC is rather risky.

    So far, so good on #1. We won’t know about #2 for a few years.

    • Stockley

      Sadly that’s the price that needs to be paid to lure free agents to Calgary at the moment. It wasn’t really the term or dollars that scared me; it was the NTC. It’s like Flames management and ownership aren’t learning from past mistakes; both their own and other teams around the league. Guys with any form of a no-movement clause are really hard to move.

    • RexLibris

      Sooo, are you kinda of saying with the lack of a proper mean shutdown Dman & the fact Butler expectations this year really havent been met, there is no way we can trade JBO. That statement is based on the precept of the best defence is a good offence. Why I say this is that I really like how JBO has been playing under the Hartley system but again, for 6.68mill, that is the pay of a franchise player. Besides the Edmonton game, he’s been good, but still value versus cap hit still not where it should be. Saying that, his play has really upped his value & the return could be, well, quite worth it, especially if we are intent on resigning Iggy. we really could use an extra 1st in this years draft, preferably one that has a chance at a lottery ball.

  • RedMan

    I have 1 point and 1 related question:

    We have all heard the (sad sac) Edmonton fans laugh at Calgary for not “blowing it up and rebuilding” like Edmonton did so that we can “compete with Edmonton and make the BoA interesting again”.

    My Point: Doesn’t this smell a lot like the “don’t throw me in the briar patch” argument? Do Edmonton fans really want Calgary to get a gaggle of 1st overall picks? The fact is, Calgary has owned Edmonton for ever… that MAY change… which is what they are hoping for. Some of the fans are so excited that they live as if it has happened already – this is the way Edmonton fans are – always living in how good it is going to be, cause the present really sucks. Ya, they say they are happy for where they are at, but they might as well be, they have no choice!

    ED. fans say we should “blow it up” like they did… i.e. we should SELL SELL SELL – sell off Iggy, Kipper, Bouwmeester, Taungay, and anyone else we have over 27…

    This leads me to my question:

    If Edmonton ‘BLEW IT UP’ i order to start their rebuild – WHO did they sell off? did they actually have a raft full of hall-of-famer’s and key pieces to ship out to contenders hungry for star power to boost them i their race to the cup, like Calgary does? Or did they just suck so bad that they got all those first-over-alls for the pure suck of it?

    Please help me out here – I’m really curious about this,because Edmonton really likes to sell themselves these days as the model for rebuilds…

    • Stockley

      Blowing it up in a rebuilding effort is one thing. Acting like finishing dead last is wonderful and throwing parties like Oilers brass did is sort of pathetic. There’s nothing really good about finishing dead last. The Oilers are going to be a really exciting team after they’re done with their growing pains. They aren’t going to take that next step until management starts surrounding these kids with not just veterans… but the RIGHT veterans. It’s not a surefire recipe for a cup win. The Bruins didn’t blow it up and start from ground zero. They rebuilt on the fly. Now they have broken their cup drought and are an elite team through smart drafting, shrewd free agent signings and making mostly the right trades.

      I don’t find anything exciting about the Flames treading water. I’d welcome a rebuild as much as so many others (how many more times are we going to be treated with articles from THN and other sources on that very subject?). At the same time I don’t think there is anything exciting or laudable about being a terrible hockey club and find it a little annoying to see so many smug Oiler fans acting like being a laughing-stock is something to be proud of.

      • RexLibris

        I remember hearing someone from the Edmonton media saying that Edmonton didn’t blow up their team, it impoloded on them. they were trying desperately hard to sign big free agents, and group II players.

        • This is true. Through a majority of their struggles over the last 5 years the Oilers were actually trying to compete.

          Only when they bottomed out completely with no chance of competing did they start marketing hope in the form of “we’re rebuilding”.

          • RedMan

            so in essence your saying they never had a ‘sell-off’ to rebuild… never shrewdly shipped ANYONE out with impeccable timing to gain rebuilding picks? they just sucked so bad that they called it ‘rebuilding’ after landing in last over and over again?

          • Parallex

            Well, personally being one from the rebuild camp in many heated conversations, I think they are only a handful that truly want to detonate TNT. We may joke about it & vent about it when we are ticked, but truly, define rebuild? I have been on this site and have advocated that trading mid thirty core players or trading underachieving high payscale players while we can get some youth back is not blowing things up Oiler style. I believe that a team has two type of assets, the players under contracts and cap. Cap space can be as valuable as a player. Assuming managements mission statement is to win a Stanley Cup, trading older, popular core players becomes a hockey/business decision & not idol worship as Wolf so eloquently words it. Flames management has exercised the philosophy I have mentioned here in the past when for financial reasons they traded Nieuindyke for todays Iggy, Fleury for Regehr. On the flip side & the fear I have, I really dont remember if we ever got a return back on Roberts, Macinnis & Suter. Something we really cant afford losing the likes of Iggy if he wishes to expand his horizons in his quest to win a Cup.

            On most sites, everyone says Calgary needs to blow the whole thing up, thats simply because they want a chance to buy key pieces they
            desperately need from our team for cheap. Personally, Tanguay loves Hartley & is the type of veteran I would want to tutor the young future core. Our current core is just too old & it has to get younger. Is that a rebuild, maybe because Sutter left it too long to replenish the young talent & future core. But it certainly isnt & shouldnt be a scorch the earth rebuild everyone including MSM feels we need to do. We have great pieces to be part of a changing of the core. Notice how the people who say we need to burn it to the ground are the same ones that say Iggy & JBO & Kipper might only be worth a 2nd & a mid level prospect. If that is all we can get, then screw them, these guys arent going anywhere. But if your mission statement is to win a Stanley Cup & you have some incredible offers on the table that can help you achieve that goal now & in the future, regardless of the players names above, you do the deal.

          • Stockley

            …that sounds scary similar to another team in Alberta, doesn’t it?

            I just hope the Iginla saga doesn’t turn into the circus sideshow Toronto had with Sundin. Jarome deserves better from the team, the media and from us in the fanbase.

  • redricardo

    Edmonton sells nothing but hope. How much credit they get for perennially sucking is mind boggling. They may turn a corner and be more competitive eventually, and the statistics so far this year show that’s happening, but can we let them finish higher that 29th before we crown them for “rebuilding the right way”.

    I was watching the game last night, Gagner is the only centre they have left. Do you think anyone there will admit they should have taken Seguin over Hall (franchise type centre?).

    Meanwhile, I’ll bet money that if you go up to Seguin and ask him if he’s still upset at being picked second after Hall, he’d kiss his Stanley Cup ring, and say “Thank God both Burke and Lowe aren’t good at their jobs!”

    • Stockley

      Hall has a lot of talent, he scores some pretty goals; but he’s also proven to be injury prone so far in his young career. He’s an accident waiting to happen both on the ice and off.

      With all due respect to Eberle who seems to have both confidence and growing leadership; that team doesn’t have a Crosby or a Toews to lead on and off the ice.

    • seve927

      Do the stats show that? I don’t know that Dubnyk is a .923 goalie and as he’s started to fade, so have the Oilers. They’re still consistently getting outshot and outplayed from what I’ve seen.

      • redricardo

        I’ll try to find the stats I was referring to. I saw an article on twitter yesterday(I think…)from Jonathon Willis (possibly??).

        It stated that the Oilers are actually seeing some positive corsi rates where they’re actually starting to outplay their oponents, especially compared to previous years.

        If I find it I’ll post the link, even though I hate pointing out any positives for the Oilers. I soothe myself by hoping that because it’s a young season with a small sample size, there’s still time for the Oilers to find their patheticness.

  • Stockley

    Thanks Jeffandellie: that the Oilers didn’t suck on purpose but just sucked isn’t just true, it’s fun to say.

    I’m OK with one more year of Gaudreau at BC, but two more – I don’t believe that and I don’t want to see it. (Not that he’s Johnny Hockey, but Kreider’s struggles have been instructive this year.)

    • Stockley

      I just want to see Gaudreau in Calgary at some point and not see a repeat of the Justin Schultz fiasco. Feaster made lemonade with lemons in the Erixon debacle, I’d rather not find out if he can capture lightning in a bottle a second time around.

  • McRib

    Its nice to see people are FINALLY coming around on Wideman!!! Honestly was blown away with the negativity of his signing this offseason (Hudler as well). 5.25 Million for a Top. 10 Offensive Defenseman is a steal not overpaying, especially when you compare him to Ryan Suter’s contract. Bet Washingon sure wishes they paid 5.25 for him now, they even could have gotten him cheaper.

    For all those fans who want to blow the team up and rebuild I ask this…. Isn’t signing Hudler, Wideman and Chervenka as well as drafting good talent like Sven, Gaudreau, Wotherspoom, Sieloff and Jankowski rebuilding….

    Edmonton’s best young player was drafted at 22nd, you don’t need to bomb to rebuild! Plus the reason Edmonton did a full rebuild is no free agent wanted to go there or be traded for that matter… Cough Cough… Dany Heatley! Yet we picked up two of the best available this summer, no need to blow it up just yet.

    • supra steve

      Now, if only we could figure out who will hold that magic 22nd overall draft pick, we could ship them a player or two and grab the next Eberle at #22 in the 2013 draft. OR, we could look at the Flame’s recent draft history (Erixon, Nemisz, Backlund, Irving, Pelech, Chucko–all taken between 23rd and 26th overall in their draft years) and conclude that the Oil getting Eberle 22nd overall was more then a little lucky. It does happen, but when it happens and what team makes that great/lucky pick is largely random. Could Jankowski (at 21st overall in 2012) be such a pick? Only time will tell.

      To sum up, no GM or scout will tell you that picking 22nd is as good as picking 14th or 5th, or 1st, because it is NOT.

    • Parallex

      “For all those fans who want to blow the team up and rebuild I ask this…. Isn’t signing Hudler, Wideman and Chervenka as well as drafting good talent like Sven, Gaudreau, Wotherspoom, Sieloff and Jankowski rebuilding….”

      I’m not one of them (the fans who prattle on about “blowing it up”) but if you look closely I think you’ll find that by and large they’re the same fans who keep on talking about the team as if it’s been the exact same team for years and years never acknowledging that there are significant differences between this team and prior Flames teams. About 1/3 of the team is different using a same time comparison… and frankly I just don’t know exactly how much those people expect the team to change. Ultimately I think there is a significant chunk of the fanbase that will refuse to acknowledge any rebuild that doesn’t involve the team getting top 5 draft picks and Jarome Iginla being traded… that seems to be the only rebuild that segment on the fanbase will accept as a rebuild, I don’t think they can wrap their minds around a rebuild that includes retaining Iginla (and to a lesser extent Kiprusoff).

      • redricardo

        There are different levels of rebuild & trades to win have large impacts on how teams rebuild &/or maintain a playoff contending status. No one here is disappointed that Dion was traded, problem was the return was a desperate attempt to win immediately. If the return, which easily could have been at the time, a 1st & a top prospect, the Flames outlook going into this & next year is so much different. I dont see trading Iggy is such a vile a thing as many on here some to feel. Its the return that could potentially be vile. How assets are managed can prevent what many Flames fans are bickering about today. Whats done is done & Feaster just has to work his way through this, but the time is coming where tough tough decisions are going to have to be made. Half the fan base will applaud him & the other half well berate him. I for one will judge a signing or trade if the move falls under the Mission Statement to win a Stanley Cup.

  • redricardo

    Wideman looking worth the money. His shock and awe approach under Hartley. Only seen the highlights but he’s been on the goal line clearing things out on more than one occasion. I like him fine so far.

  • RexLibris

    The Oilers rebuilding style isn’t blowing it up. They didn’t have the assets to move. In fact, they blew it up in the years prior to actually rebuilding when players like Pronger and Smyth were shipped out, and then they were bad in spite of their best efforts.

    My entire rebuilding series was launched because of the common misconception that the Oilers intentionally sold off every veteran they had in order to tank. They didn’t.

    As Kent said, they were just really bad for a long time, while trying to be good. And eventually they had the good sense to face it, like an alcoholic who finally looks at himself in the mirror and says “this isn’t working, I better change”.

    As for the Flames rebuilding, some Oilers fans want the Flames to kickstart their rebuild because, in my opinion, they are being sincere in wanting a good BoA. They see that the Flames have assets they could sell to rebuild that the Oilers did not when they began.

    Trust me on this, there are a great many Oilers fans who want the Flames to just keep on going – offer sheet or trade for O’Reilly, go sign Iginla to a four-year extension, keep trading 2nd round picks and let Weisbrod and Feaster “outsmart” everybody on draft day by trading down or going off the board, because they feel that the team is just digging itself further and further into a hole.

    I’d like to see the Flames rebuild. Not because I harbour any sentimentality towards the team, but because I recognize that there are good, decent fans in the city and that, from where I sit, I see a management team feeding hypocrisy and illusion to its fan base. I don’t want to ever see the Flames win another Cup, but I certainly feel that the fans deserve better than what I feel they are getting. I may strongly (too soft a term?) dislike the Flames team, I mean I’m Edmontonian, but I don’t dislike the fans the way I dislike some of the fan behaviours I have often seen from Toronto and Vancouver. Too often there I find a strong sense of entitlement steeped heavily in resentment and hyperbole. Or maybe it’s just Damien Cox.

    Just as a note on Wideman, I can’t help but draw similarities between his contract and Souray’s. Both impressed the fan base early on, and while I sincerely hope that Wideman’s career doesn’t get sidelined by injury and vitriol, I do believe that the final two to three years of that contract will become as unwieldy and out-of-scope as Souray’s. But we have a long time ahead of us to debate that, let’s not pronounce anything conclusively eight games into the season.

    • RexLibris

      The strange thing about Souray is that he seems to have resurrected his career outside Edmonton.

      I don’t think anyone really likes Wideman’s contract. Even if it’s good value now–and personally, as much as I actually have been impressed with Wideman’s contributions so far, I don’t think it is–in 3 years, it won’t look so good. I think everyone (for the most part) acknowledges that.

  • RexLibris

    The reasons for and agsinst a rebuild have been debated on here ad nauseum, but I will speak to one specific point:

    Jarome being traded. To many, myself included, he remains a sign of the old guard. A new era/direction will never really happen until he’s gone. Until he’s gone, the team is still rebuilding around a 35 year old RW who causes as many goals as he scores. Yet, other teams’ GMs would pay a decent price to acquire his services.

    Beyond that, it’s basically a philosophical split between 2 different camps:

    1) Those who drink the kool-aid. The fan who will believe whatever line is fed to them and live by the motto ‘next year.’ Who think every generation of prospects that comes along are going to be superstars any time now and tend to ignore things like the standings, historical record, how everyone else on the planet views their team, etc. Eternal optimists and the ultimate fan in many respects. TO fans are the ultimate embodiment of this, but there are are many Calgary fans right behind them. Those who live on nostalgia and hero worship.

    2) Those who who want the team to win the Cup and have an appreciation of how that’s actually accomplished in the real world. Those who are tired of seeing a team supposedly built to ‘win now,’ but that in reality has only gotten past the 1st round once since 1989. Those who demand a winner over hyperbole and realize that actions speak louder than words. Those put the team winning ahead of the name on the back of the jersey.