Random Thoughts – TJ Brodie, Iginla’s Shooting Percentage and Other Stuff



After the rough start and tough loss against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Flames have pulled out of the season opening tailspin with back-to-back wins over Detroit and Columbus. Neither was an overwhelming effort and you can argue both could have gone the other way, but Calgary wasn’t exactly "lucky" to win both either. They battled the the depleted Red Wings to about even in terms of scoring chances and limited them to just six shots on net when Detroit was chasing in the third. In Columbus, Calgary came out of the gate really flat but turned things around in the second and mostly dominated the rest of the way.

Backlund’s Hard Luck

– Mikael Backlund’s redemption season seemed to be on track, especially when his turn with the Czechs last night resulted in his third goal of the season. And then he got hurt again.

No word on the severity of the injury right now, but it’s doubtful he will be available for the Canucks game. The last thing Backlund needs at this point of his career is another long-term affliction, especially with pucks going in for him and people starting to notice he’s a quality player.

Furthermore, the Flames can’t really afford to see Backlund go down long-term given their already tenuous situation down the middle as it is. Backlund is the Flames best possession pivot by a fair margin and the depth chart without him (and Cammalleri) looks like this: Tanguay (not really a center) – Stajan – Jones – (?)Horak, Street. Moving Hduler or Cervenka to the middle is also an option I suppose.

Kneel Before TJ!

– On the good news front, how about TJ Brodie? I have been high on the kid for awhile and was intrigued by his play in the AHL this season during the lock-out, but his noteworthy performance so far in the NHL is surprising even to me. Promoted to the second pairing after game two, Brodie is nevertheless leading the Flames back-end in corsi (a staggering +22.30/60) and his zone start ratio is only 50%. Last night, he finished with over 20 minutes of ice, two assists and a +3 rating.

Our perception of the sophomore is no doubt being pumped up by a lucky run (PDO is a team high 106), but his other results are very good and his play by eye has matched.

Make no mistake, Hartley is still being somewhat careful with the lad: Brodie sees next to no time on the PK and the head coach is burying the rest of the blueline in terms of quality of competition (Bouwmeester and Giordano) or zone starts (everyone else), so the kid isn’t hiking too far uphill. Still, it’s hard to get over just how good Brodie has been thus far.

Iginla is Fine

– In recent games, I’ve noticed a shift in how Hartley deploys the PP units. To start the year, it was pretty much all Iginla/Tanguay/Cammalleri. I’d say that general grouping would get about 80% of the minutes. With Cervenka, Glencross, Stempniak and Hudler in the line-up and playing well, the split between the first first and second units is much closer to 50/05. In fact, Iginla isn’t starting ever PP for the first time in forever. It’s the right decision.

Also, anyone worried about Iginla’s goal total shouldn’t be. He’s shooting just 3% through the first 8 games, but is averaging about 4 shots per game. Jarome still isn’t the best two-way player and I still think he’d be better served not seeing so much ice time against the other team’s best starts every night, but he’s certainly still capable of potting more than a few goals. He’ll get going eventually.

Irving Now, Taylor Later

– I don’t really fall on one side or the other when it comes to the Irving/Taylor debate. Logically if Taylor was better than Irving at the AHL level then it follows he is better than Irving at the NHL level. That said, Irving has been fine in his first two outings (not great, but fine) so the organization might as well give him rope to see if he’ll thrive or hang himself. If Irving stumbles in Kipper’s absence, then see what you have in Taylor.

Whatever happens, I hope the club gives Taylor some time at the NHL level this season. His results the last 3 seasons and the fact he usurped Irving in Abbotsford suggests the organization might have something on their hands. It’s worth giving him a shot either now or later to see if he’s something more than just a good AHL ‘tender. Especially considering the organization’s uncertain goalie situation beyond 2013.

– On a personal note, I want to add that this year’s iteration of the team thus far is much more interesting to watch on a pure entertainment basis – and this is coming form someone who is entirely skeptical about the club’s future and direction.

By about the middle of February last year, after watching game after game of the Flames being fed their lunch in terms of shots and chances and will no apparent sunrise on the horizon, I’ll admit I became weary of Flames hockey. I provided what interest and analysis I could for the site, but eventually I began to approach the games with something akin to apathy.

We’re not even 10 games in yet so we don’t really know how indicative this small sample will be of the rest of the season. Still, it’s been refreshing.

Other Stuff

– Remember those player usage charts we talked about recently? Well Leafs fan @theninjagreg has made it so you can look up usage charts for every team in the league here. Huzzah!

– In addition, Left Wing Lock has added a line matchup tool at their site here. This allows you to see what % of ice time each player/line spent against other players each night. LWL has other tools worth checking out too.

– Mak sure to swing by JetsNation.ca to check out the contributions of JN hopefuls. We’re putting out 3 to 4 articles a day from the applicants over the rest of Februar and there has been some good material so far. 

  • DoubleDIon

    TJ has been pretty good. Same with Backlund and Glencross in my books. Iginla and Cammaleri frustrate the crap out of me. So many lazy plays and so many times not getting the puck out when it come up their side. I’ve liked Hudler and Wideman even though I hated the moves when they were made. Cervenka has been kind of ok. He has good ice vision, but reaches too much instead of skating when he’s battling or pursuing a puck carrier.

  • Derzie

    What’s J Blow’s TOI these days? He’s playing much better and he’s all over the ice. I think I have to stop calling him J Blows.

    Brodie is what I expected. He still makes the odd gaffe but he’s very mobile.

    Everybody’s defensive stickwork has gotten way better. For the first time in, well, ever, the Flames’ players actually seem to know how to take the puck away from opposing players with their stick, especially when they don’t have proper positioning.

    The coaching staff seemed to have succeeded in making the players shoot, and shoot accurately, especially the d-men. What a change.

    Does Comeau have a brain? He’s so… dumb.

    This team might actually have a chance. Yikes.

      • Scary Gary

        The way Van’s goalies are playing they’re going to be tough to beat tomorrow, especially if the flames start out like they did against Columbus.

        I’m not negative but I have tempered expectation 🙂

      • T&A4Flames

        Honestly I’m stunned that the coaching staff have almost completely changed the way the team plays. Yesterday on the Fan they talked about how the coaching staff expects the puck to leave the defensive zone in one pass, or pass to the other d-man and then pass. That’s in stark contrast with Sutter’s stupidity – one legitimate Sutter play was to have the d-man behind the net with the puck waiting… and waiting… – remember that BS?!?

  • Derzie

    I too had really become weary of watching the same boring God awful Brent Sutter coached Flames & coaches before that had a Sutter flavor as well. I am totally converted on my hope & confidence in drafting again and am finally excited about some of our prospects. I have felt the old core has been so brainwashed in this Sutter hockey for so long that I wanted the big changes right thru the core. I felt the core actually felt the same way about the game they have been coached to play & it showed these last 3 years. Its early but this team is starting to get me thinking differently but forgive me for not trusting them to continue and that it’s all one nasty tease once again. Pinch me but its starting to get fun again being a Flames fan.

  • icedawg_42

    whatever the results, this iteration kicks the crap out of the Brent Sutter versions on sheer entertainment value alone.

    Also, its T.J. Brodie factor is off the charts, and only getting higher.

    Poor Mickis. Hopefully, he isn’t out for long.

  • beloch

    The last couple of years people have been saying that the Oilers, with all their youth and speed, are a fun team to watch compared to the Flames. I’ve watched a few Oilers games so far this season. Those games were legitimately suspenseful at times because the Oilers are so deadly on the PP and so utterly feckless in their own end. With the Oilers, something always seems bound to happen sooner rather than later. Their giveaways are pretty much constant, so there’s lots of end-to-end action too. Compared to most of Butter’s games, this is indeed exciting to watch.

    Hartley’s Flames are something else entirely. That game against Chicago especially was a tremendous treat. The scoring chances were non-stop. It seemed as if the puck gods themselves had decreed that Calgary would not win, but still the team maintained one of the most furious onslaughts I’ve ever seen in a regular season hockey game. The Flames outshot Chicago by 47 to 19. That’s a shot differential of 28 shots! They had 24 shots in the third period alone! For comparison, Edmonton averages 27.6 shots per game! It was tremendously exciting hockey to watch. The loss was unfortunate, but the only truly regrettable thing was that there was just 5 minutes of overtime. That would have been one helluva playoff game!

    Some Leaf fans I work with actually admitted that they watched the Chicago vs Calgary game and that it was some of the most exciting hockey they’d seen this year. These guys usually take every opportunity to dump on the Flames! If the team keeps playing like this they will win new fans.

  • Michael

    ‘- On a personal note, I want to add that this year’s iteration of the team thus far is much more interesting to watch on a pure entertainment basis – and this is coming form someone who is entirely skeptical about the club’s future and direction.’

    Couldn’t agree more, I have concerns about the future, and the direction this club is taking scare the hell out of me… but, at least I’m no
    longer falling asleep watching the Flames try to play hockey.

  • Derzie

    If Backlund goes down that easily, he needs to find another career. That knee on knee involved 2 knees and was a mild collision where 1 guy skated away. Seems really fragile. Prior injury maybe?

    • Derzie

      Haven’t done much for sports have you? Doesn’t need to look bad to be bad. Some of the most innocent looking hits or crashes have had massive injuries or even death so don’t judge till you take a hit yourself on what is bad or not. Knee on knee is always dangerous

    • supra steve

      Do we know it’s the knee yet? Looked like he landed on his hip. I’ve done that 100 times, never any problem, then on the 101st fall something wasn’t right, hurt like a bi*ch.

  • Avalain

    I still say that the Flames are catching opponents off guard with their new style of play. Also, the 4 day break did them a lot of good, both physically and in getting off the rails of the train wreck collision course they were on.

    But, sooner or later, teams will adjust, that stretch pass is going to be taken away and the legs are going to get tired.

    That said, it is more entertaining. But in the end, I’m expecting the same results.

    • Scary Gary

      Agreed, in Van will be tough, then Minnesota, Dallas and St. Louis next week, then a back to back on the road Dallas/Phoenix followed by the kings then a another back to back Minn/Phoenix.

      If we’re .500 on those nine games alone I’d be surprised. That being said I’ll still watch all the games, I find the new style and injection of new blood entertaining.

    • seve927

      Take away the stretch pass? NHL teams can’t handle the stretch pass? I think you can do better than that. Every team needs to make adjustments throughout a season. If something gets taken away, something else opens up. I think the truth is they’ve improved their roster enough that they can actually adapt a bit. Not get bogged down in the same style whether it’s working or not.

      Get tired? That I can see. This condensed schedule probably benefits a younger team.

      I think their play has deteriorated a bit here on the road. I said from the start I’d wait 10 games before passing any judgment. Right now I’m encouraged. But I think the second set of 10 will be more telling. And down the stretch they could fall apart (per your get tired comment) even if they’re good through the first half.

      • RKD

        I only mention that because it gets a lot of play in some of the media commentary as though it were just invented yesterday by the Flames. Obviously not and obviously there will be adjustments.

        So far the emergence of Brodie and the acquisition of Wideman have been huge. Wideman has not been as bad defensivley as some have asserted and Brodie looks like he could play on the top pairing by next season.

        Taking Butler off the top pairing has freed up JBo to play better as well.

        The one area I’ve been wrong in with the Flames was in their ability to attract free agents. I had surmised that by now, no one would want to come here. I was wrong.

        Jokinen and Moss were replaced and with the way Moss was always injured it’s almost like a bonus in that sense.

        However, I just don’t see enough there to crack the top 8 and I don’t think some of the offensive dominance Calgary is showing over other teams will last.

        In other words, the ‘stretch pass’ thing was just an example.

        But the games are FAR more entertaining.

        Kind of a ramble, I know.

    • RKD

      What stretch pass? They don’t use it any more now than they did under Sutter. The only difference is it actually works now. I was so annoyed with the stretch pass the last few years, I remember begging Sutter to try something else, only he never did.

      Of course, I never begged in person… maybe that was the problem.


      I sincerally doubt that that ** next to Backlund’s name actually means that he’s on the injury reserve. The Flames website is notoriously bad for updating the team roster (though admittedly, they’re usually just ridiculously slow). There is no information anywhere about Backlund and Kiprusoff actually being placed on the IR. I’m not saying they’re definitely not on the IR, I’m just saying I’m going to need more than a “**” on a poorly up-kept site before I take it as anything more than speculation.

      Really hope Backlund isn’t hurt too bad =(

  • Michael

    Read my mind on the Irving/Taylor situation. My thoughts exactly. I hate to say it but I think Taylor may be the better goalie at this point based on some games I watched of ABB this year. Still think its right to run with Irving however, and hope he proves me wrong.

  • RKD

    I have nothing against Brent Sutter but I think his system was suffocating to this team. I do applaud him for converting Jokinen into a two-way center and using Jay-Bo in a shutdown defenceman.

    However, from an offensive standpoint his players were not allowed to be creative or jump into the rush. I don’t think the Flames should run and gun but at the same time being overly focused on defense is hazardous to a team who struggles to score goals.

    Again, we have some better offensive players with Hudler, Cervenka, and Wideman. Brent wanted Iggy to play defense from the blue line in. Hartley’s uptempo style will help the Flames because he demands puck possession and that attack style will help the Flames down the road.

    • RKD

      For sure and part of this is what I’m trying to get across.

      Calgary has ignored the coach and tried to play run-and-gun in the past on more than one occassion to disastrous results.

      However, Brodie coming up and Wideman coming in and Jbo not having to babysit have created better results because the transition game is so much better.

  • jeremywilhelm

    Edmonton is a blast to watch, until they give up the lead in the 2nd period (inevitable) then they start pressing and get scored on even more.

    The team needs good D and I think Dubnyk could provide league average goaltending. Once they get a competent D core, they will be in the playoffs.

    • Avalain

      Does anyone else have this crazy feeling that Edmonton will end up in our old spot, 1 out of the playoff this year? Except this time they’ll win the lottery again and get Seth Jones because of the new CBA…

      • RKD

        That would be…….really crappy.

        I don’t think Dubnyk is a true #1 goalie.

        I think Edmonton’s D is actually underrated, but Whitney isn’t playing well.

        I think their bigger problem is that their forwards need to learn how to backcheck.

  • the forgotten man

    All this goalie controversy stuff is easy to solve…being a proponent of social Darwinian/Hunger Games principles, why don’t we just airlift Irving, Taylor and Brust into the heart of Forest Lawn on a Friday evening at 1am with nothing but a CT bus schedule…first goalie to make it back to the Saddledome alive gets the temporary starter role and the honour of fleecing Kippers jock.

  • the forgotten man


    Backs and kipper out on IR, Backs out for 4-6 (goodbye this year) Level 2 MCL.

    Ben Street recalled.

    • the forgotten man

      I could not be more disappointed…. Why couldn’t Cammy be out 4-6 or jackman or …. Iginla lol

      Not a good thing when one of your moving forward core end up injured. Well I will say that with these recent development we are looking a little bit like the oilers that blew it up because they had no choice…..

      How do you even evaluate the contract you would give Backlund since he missed two years in a row? Not his fault, but…… ARRRGGGGGGGG

  • the forgotten man

    Sunshine Steve here again. Ferland 6 G 8 A last six games!

    Really though, this is just completely unfair. I feel really really bad for Mike. Now this may be the time to set him up with a more than fair contract based on what we’ve seen from him. He may be a guy that deserves a show of confidence from management.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      No offense SG, but I thinking your dreaming, Babchuk is untradeable! My hope is that the man has a sense of pride, and when the Flames make him sit with no chance of ever letting him play that he’ll go back to the KHL.

      • CitizenFlame

        Just playing devil’s advocate here, but why not let Babchuk play before passing judgement. Hartley has reinvented the Flames in only 7 games. Numerous players are playing better than they have since before Brent Sutter. Who knows, maybe Babchuk looks alright in the new system? Probably not, but you never know.

        • ChinookArchYYC

          I think you are right in saying Hartley has been successful in getting better results from several players. I don’t have any hope for Babchuk and expect he will be the same as last year. He is a below average skater, slow, makes poor decision, and is frustratingly immobile. He as a heavy shot, but is as much a liability on the PP, as he is a scoring threat.

          Regardless of all the opinions on Babchuck, I expect that Hartley will give him an opportunity, as he has done with everyone else. I just believe it will be a waste of time, because I can’t think of an NHL defenseman currently under contract that is as bad as Anton Babchuk.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Really, defensemen are in such short supply, I wouldn’t be shocked if Hartley dresses 7 D sometime soon and uses Babchuck just as an occasional PP option. Because if he happens to score a couple (hey, it could happen} some foolish team will gamble on him.

    Yeah I kinda hate the idea of dressing him too – but it’d be good to be able to ditch that contract.