FGD: Doing It Wrong



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On trade deadline day, April 3, the Calgary Flames basically threw in the towel. And yes, by that I mean the trade that sent Blake Comeau to the Blue Jackets was meant to be a watershed moment for the franchise. Combined with the deals that shipped out higher-paid, higher-skilled players named Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester, those moves were the beginning of the Flames’ long-delayed rebuild and a sign to fans to prepare for some losses.

Since the trade deadline, the Calgary Flames have somehow won half of their games. Exempting their deadline day 8-2 spanking at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers, the team has played six competent, fairly consistent contests. They lost to San Jose and Vancouver (twice). They beat Edmonton, Phoenix and Colorado. They’ve missed the veteran presences of Matt Stajan, Curtis Glencross and Alex Tanguay, and it has not mattered one bit.

In other words, in terms of selling off their high-end players and trying to tank for a Nathan MacKinnon or Seth Jones at the NHL Draft in June – they’re doing it wrong, but they’re showing the kind of resilience and consistency that Flames fans are probably really conflicted about the whole thing.

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Brace yourselves, fans, because the Flames are threatening to actually move up in the standings when they host the Minnesota Wild tonight at the ‘Dome. Puck drop is at 7pm on your friendly neighbourhood Sportsnet communications venues.


The Flames had fun on the weekend, edging out Phoenix in overtime and embarrassing an Edmonton team all the way out of playoff contention, all without moving up in the NHL’s overall standings. It was the very definition of having your cake and eating it too. But Calgary (16-21-4) can leap from their cozy perch and overtake Carolina, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Nashville with a win and some help tonight. That would put them as high as 24th overall, which would just screw with any dreams of Drouin or MacKinnon.

So who’s to blame for the resurgence?

Well, maybe Jay Feaster. After being told for so many years that Calgary’s prospects are lousy, he puts a bunch of them on the roster to tank the season…and they’ve actually scored goals and played well. Recent signee Ben Hanowski will get his shot to prove his worth tonight too, by the way.

Journeyman back-up goalie Joey MacDonald, hoped to be the latest in a long line of bad back-ups, has also been quite good. Truth be told, he’s won half of his decisions as a Flame and is the only netminder with a goals against average south of 3 per game. He was a big reason the Flames escaped with 2 points against the Coyotes (someone knee cap him!).

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The other problem is that the team is generally playing loose, relaxed, up-tempo hockey and getting contributions from everywhere. In the last six games, Mikael Backlund has two goals and two assists and has been excellent. Mark Giordano and Lee Stempniak each also have four points. Roman Horak, Sven Baertschi and Max “Power” Reinhart are racking up points, as well.

It’s just not fair.


Well, it’s possible. The Wild are 13th overall (7th in the West) with a 22-16-3 record, but they’re under .500 on the road and have won just three times in their last ten games. It’s possible that the Flames could beat them, particularly the way they’re playing right now.

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If the Wild play up to their talent level, the Flames should lose and creep back down towards the bottom of the standings. But there’s no guarantees. If it helps, Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom is really good and always seems to frustrate the Flames. The key to beating this tanking team lately has been to throw a hot goalie at them (Niemi, Schneider, Luongo), so that may be a good omen for those hoping for a loss.


After this game, the Flames play six more times – twice at home and four times on the road, where their horrible away record will drag them kicking and screaming towards a good draft pick. Their remaining opponents are Detroit (20-15-7, 8th in West), Anaheim (27-10-5, 2nd), Minnesota again, Nashville (15-20-8, 13th), St. Louis (23-16-2, 6th) and Chicago (32-5-4, 1st). There are at least three guaranteed losses right there. But will it be enough? Find out starting tonight.


  • beloch

    Reinhart was -26 in the AHL. Minus. Twenty. Six.

    When a kid like that comes up and contributes points, what are you going to do?

    Okay, okay… Reinhart was probably having a bad year on the farm. He’s still -1 in the NHL, doesn’t have great possession stats, and 2 points in 5 games isn’t exactly hitting it out of the park. However… Going from -26 in the AHL to anything other than a complete disaster in the NHL is astounding. I was honestly expecting him to suck for another season or two in the AHL and be quietly dropped like so many other Flames prospects. It’s good news if he won’t go quietly into forced retirement!

    Feaster should bring up more questionable AHL’ers, like Chris Breen. Sooner or later the suck is going to come with them. Other options for Feaster include having lunch with Backlund. I’m sure if Feaster passes the ketchup wrong Backlund will break his wrist again…

    • Reinhart’s numbers are so poor in the AHL, I suspect their is something else to them – either he was starting 3 out of 4 shifts in the defensive zone or he had terrible percentages (or both). Because he’s clearly not that bad of a player.

      • beloch

        According to stats from theahl.com, he was getting 2.1 shots per game but his sh% was 4.9%! I don’t know of anyplace to get zone starts for the AHL unfortunately, but his puck luck certainly sucked.

        Anyways, it’s a pleasant surprise that he’s not a write-off yet.

      • Michael

        I heard he was used primarily by Ward as a shutdown forward to start the year. He only recently put him in a top-6 role. So he was playing the entire game with bottom 6 players, against top 6 players.


        Im sorry to say but fans like you drive me nuts. He was used in a shutdown role on one of the lowest scoring teams in the AHL.

        I have always liked what Reinhart brings to table. His stats have never been earth shattering, but when you see him play (WHL,AHL,NHL-ive seen him play in all three) you can see aspects of his game that guarantee he will be an NHLer.

        Stats do no always paint an accurate picture when accessing a player… There are too many factors involved, look at Babchuck, his stats from 2 years ago even had me tricked into thinking he was a good addition to the team. Now we see he was used in a way that hid his deficencies

        • McRib

          Sorry meant to say he was a Second Line Centre on a Non-Playoff Team Worst Case, Third Line on good team Worst Case. But honestly his Hockey Sense is through the roof, his brother Sam developed earlier and is going to be a Top. 3 Pick because of the very similar attribute. Give him a couple years and I think he could be a Second Line Centre on a good club, First Line on Non-Playoff Team.

          • McRib

            Ok I can get behind that.

            If I could pick the type of player I see him turning into if he develops as well as we all hope is a Mike Richards type.

            So your assesment is accurate in that way, since Richards is exactly what you described..

        • McRib

          His dad was such a smart player and it looks like he has rubbed off in Max. You better not argue about things that can’t be measured on this site unless you like a great debate. You are right though, intangibles that often are not measureable are still very valued by decision makers in the hockey community.

        • beloch

          Fans like me drive you nuts?

          I looked at his AHL stat-sheet, read a herald article where Hartley flat out told him opportunities to play in the NHL don’t come every day for kids who are -26 in the AHL, and expressed pleased surprise that he’s not been a total dud, noted that his stats indicate he’s not been lucky with the puck and is getting a good number of shots per game, and I’m driving you nuts?

          What about this is driving you nuts? That I actually like to see unexpected talent surfacing? Is it that I don’t drive 10 hours out to Abbotsford to watch AHL games?

          Chill out man. You’re wound too tight.

          • schevvy

            Haha. I only meant fans who look at just stats and form an opinion on a player drives me nuts.

            I’ve read some fans who would be willing, albeit before last game, to trade Sven for a top 5 pick this year to get Barkov. The reason is cause some fans expected an instant top line player out of Sven and since he wasn’t he is a bust and Barkov will be better for sure.

            I’m not comparing you to those fans I’m just saying when fans are wanting to give up on players when they haven’t even really had a chance to prove themselves, it drive me nuts.

            I respect your opinion, you seem like you do your homework, so I apologize for offending you there. Haha I don’t think I’m tightly wound tho, I read that and laughed out loud. Although I’ve gotten heated in defending Iginla (before he was older, still do but felt stronger about it back then) when my old man bashes him.

            I didn’t know Hartley said all that about Rienhart. I heard about the -23 thing but didn’t know he was worried he was a bust… I thought Ward was high on him, especially lately…?

          • beloch

            I do appreciate hearing about players from people who know more than the stat sheet. Stats, especially AHL stats, often don’t tell the complete story.

            Reinhart looked good tonight, especially in the third. The kid’s got some moves! He could stand to work on his passing a bit, but the whole team was having problems in that area tonight.

            Hanowski looked better and better out there. His goal was dirty, but you’ve got to give him credit for knowing when to crash the net. Given his size I think he’s got a real shot at making the team straight out of camp next season.

    • 25cent

      Chris Breen is out for the year with shoulder surgery. But I do like your strategy.

      Let’s hope these guys do not get on a winning streak! Or we will see McKinnon go to the Oilers!!

  • Michael

    It’s nice seeing some of the kids getting to play, but seriously, put the vets back in so that we can rack up some good old fashioned losses.

    Unless the Flames screw this up like most other things tis year, this is a once in a ‘Calgary Flames’ lifetime shot at a top 3 pick.
    While I won’t like it much, I can take 5 or 6 losses to round out the season.

  • McRib

    Any game I have seen Max Reinhart was playing the role of shutdown centre on the PK and taking all of the defensive zone faceoffs, +/- rating no surprise considering. Also during the second half of the season he was given more offensive opportunity and most of his 21 points came in that 20-30 game stretch.

    Brother Sam is being lauded as the Smartest Hockey Player in years (a potential first overall pick in 2014) and Max posses a similar hockey sense. As is the case with most young players with high Hockey IQs. I think he is going to be a better pro than projected out of junior, once physical game (first step, strength, etc) catches up with mental.

    Honestly Worst Case Scenario, I see him as a Second Line Centre down the road.

    Ayone who watched him in Kootenay’s 2011 WHL Playoff run would say the same, as he dominated the WHLs best.

    • McRib

      “Honestly Worst Case Scenario, I see him as a Second Line Centre down the road.”

      I love him but I think Best Case Scenario is him as a Second Line Center, not worst case.

      Worst case is more in the 3rd/4th line scenario…

  • McRib

    Love Reinhart too. To me, he’s one of those guys you win with because he’s so versatile and reliable.

    Needs 1 more year in the AHL to work on his offense and get stronger.

  • McRib

    Well maybe everyone should look into the archives and looked at the opinions of another young kid by the name of Brodie. Ceiling of a 3-4 dman. Well that kid got a chance & is so smart his development went straight up the learning curve. Today he is playing top 2 minutes & we are all loving his game. I see Reinhart as the same type of player. Give this kid a chance. Wolf is probably right. I see him getting 8-9 games to start next year & then back down to Abby. Once he’s back after that, I predict he wont be going anywhere & we’ll be as excited about him as we are about Backs. Mac in net tonight for 3rd straight game, wonder what message that sends to Kipper.

    • flamesburn89

      Where would Brodie be on a contending team though? Probably a #3. But I get yoour point.

      Agree that after next season, Reinhart probably sticks for good.

      What message does that send to Kipper? How about, “get lost?” No offense to Kipper, but Hartley is obviously trying to still win games.

      If so, what a terrible way for Kipper’s career to end. And after such a tremendous season last year. I may be way off on this as I’ve heard rumors that the Flames actually want to re-sign Kipper after his contract expires, but I have a really hard time seeing him back next season, let alone beyond that.

      • beloch

        The current Brodie might be a #3, but the Brodie from earlier this season might not have been, and Brodie from this time next year might be #1 or #2. He took a big step forward this year and he might not be done yet!

        Despite my opinions driving certain people nuts, I’m not sold in Reinhart yet. Heck, remember Baertschi’s 5 points in 5 games debut last season? I certainly thought he was going to hit the ground running this season, but he clearly needed (and has benefited from) more time in the AHL.

        I’m not trying to bash Reinhart. I’m just saying 5 games is not a big enough sample size to determine if a player is ready for the NHL. Let’s just say he shows more promise than his AHL counting stats indicate.

      • flamesburn89

        Not sure where Kippers head is at. The 5.8 mill cap hit is unacceptable. If he truly wants to stay, which, whatever, we do an amnesty buyout, probably cost about $900K, then resign at 2 years for 2.0mill per & get that cap hit down by almost 4.0 mill. I would prefer to see what the other goalies like Ramo, Berra, Macdonald & Brossoit do in training camp first. We cant afford to let Kipper play 70 games again. That position needs to go younger as well.

    • beloch

      Prospect projections are just guesses. Some kids smash through them and others never measure up to them. Brodie has proven to be a smasher, and that’s great to see. If you look in the archives you’ll find articles about players who were going to be great but never panned out too.

  • flamesburn89

    Nicklas Backstrom always seems to shut the Flames down, so I feel like this one is a loss. But who knows, the youngsters might just put a few by him and the Flames could just pull one out. And if that happens, god help us

  • Scary Gary

    Via Steinberg

    Mike Cammalleri-Roman Horak-Ben Hanowski

    Sven Baertschi-Mikael Backlund-Lee Stempniak

    Curtis Glencross-Max Reinhart-Tim Jackman

    Jiri Hudler-Steve Begin-Roman Cervenka

    Mark Giordano-Dennis Wideman

    T.J. Brodie-Cory Sarich

    Chris Butler-Brett Carson

    Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Jason Pominville

    Devin Setoguchi-Matt Cullen-Jason Zucker

    Cal Clutterbuck-Torey Mitchell-Mike Rupp

    Charlie Coyle-Kyle Brodziak-Pierre-Marc Bouchard

    Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin

    Jared Spurgeon-Brett Clark

    Tom Gilbert-Clayton Stoner

      • Scary Gary

        The oilernation is going off still about his comments regarding the two tiers of fans; haha that’s the worst thing you could do in a blue-collar hard working town like Edmonton. I guess his business savy instincts didn’t identify merchandise as a large revenue.

        • beloch

          Haha I was thinking that too, what can he gain by alienating his non-season ticket holder fans? He’s an emotional guy with an huge ego and isn’t overly professional in his mannerisms and in the way carries himself.

          I’ve never liked him, I like MacT tho..

    • Scary Gary

      Forever a flame, THAT Blake Comeau!!!!!! Crowd goes wild (no pun), BC (we’re tight like that) wakes up from his pre-game nap only to realize he’s slept through the game after dreaming of large swooping circles through the neutral zone.

  • schevvy

    If the goal is to lose why didn’t Kent or VF write the pregame?

    Also, if the Flames win because of the young guys, I will not be disappointed. Plus, they’re definitely losing 3-4 of these last few.

    • Jeff Lebowski

      Sarich is alright. Depends on how you measure him. He’s like a Rhett Warrener. Does the little things and plays physical. If you mean stick skills or skating speed then yeah he’s no Erik Karlsson.

      I posit that Sarich’s style is of value to a team. I can understand the argument that he’s a dinosaur and more mobile d are required. But I still like that grit and physicality on the Flames backend.