1. The Backlund situation
So word on the street is that the Flames are actively shopping Mikael Backlund for reasons that outright defy explanation. Sure, they’re not just taking any old bodies you want to give up for him, as Carolina reportedly found to its dismay, but this is taking the sell-off of parts to an illogical extreme.
This is, for example, pretty much the textbook definition of selling low. That is, Backlund is currently on pace for about eight goals this year, which would be a career low, because he’s — somehow — shooting below his career shot percentage of 6.3, at a current level of 5.9.
Obviously, a look at the deeper numbers tells you Backlund is in fact quite valuable to the Flames despite the meager production; his corsi share prior to last night’s game was second among Flames forwards behind only Mike Cammalleri, despite far more difficult zone starts (among forwards, only Matt Stajan, David Jones, Lance Bouma, and Curtis Glencross have it tougher), though against somewhat soft competition.
He’s also just about the only useful possession forward the Flames have who isn’t older than 26. And so of course Feaster is shopping him. While one can’t opposed to entertaining offers for all players at any time just to see what there is to see, actively putting a for-sale sign around the neck of an unlucky 24-year-old center, who just happens to be dirt cheap and signed for next season, is ludicrous.
Even if you’re disappointed with the production and general lack of development of an offensive game, a $1.5 million third-line center isn’t the worst thing in the world to have on hand.
2. One change for Flames with new TV deal
With Rogers taking over the NHL TV world in Canada for the next dozen years, a lot is about to change. One thing that probably isn’t, though, is the Flames’ broadcasts. (Too bad. Watching Flames games sucks for more than just the on-ice product these days.)
However, that deal means a lot more money, specifically for Canadian teams, coming in. That might enable the Flames — and I swear to god people are already saying this already — to more heavily pursue top free agents in the near future. This is a thing the Calgary Sun is actually advocating. As if that wasn’t the problem that got the Flames into this mess in the first place.
You know how that song goes: Some things will never change.
3. This is how eager everyone is for something good to report on
Speaking of the Calgary Sun and its general awfulness: They’re already running stories on how Joe Colborne has been “a pleasant surprise.” You know old Joey Colborne, acquired on the cheap from Toronto, the guy with the same number of points (and one extra goal) as Backlund despite his shooting percentage being nearly five times higher. His corsi share, meanwhile, is just 43.6 despite starting 55 percent of shifts in the away from his own zone and playing Monahan-esque competition.
By all means let’s ship out the good 24-year-old center who’s been in the organization for years, but praise the new kid — only because he’s new — for being more or less the same player under much easier circumstances, because he got points against the Jets and Panthers. Makes a lot of sense to me.
4. An hilarious proclamation
5. I spent last night with Providence College
As you may well know, the U.S.’s (superior) version of Thanksgiving is today, and yesterday was of course one of the busiest travel days of the year. But having tomorrow off, as one does, and for want of something more interesting to do than going to a bar in my hometown and seeing a bunch of idiots I went to high school with, I instead drove x hours in traffic to Connecticut — a worse place than Edmonton — to watch Providence College play Quinnipiac, one of the top teams in the country. They entered the game ranked Nos. 4 and 5, respectively.
The specific reason for my interest, beyond the fact that it was college hockey and Providence in particular, was that on Friday Jon Gillies suffered what appears to have been a groin injury and missed the second period. Though he played the next game (and was in fact spectacular against UNH in making 32 saves on 34 shots, and winning), he was also held out of practice all week. A nation held its breath.
Fortunately, Gillies was fine. He was, according to his coach, always going to start this game, and he was good — not great — in stopping 45 of 48. When you are on Gillies’ level, it seems, that kind of performance barely raises eyebrows at this point. Kind of amazing to think about.
Meanwhile, our boy Mark Jankowski did not fare quite so well. He took 21 shifts at 5-on-5 (for 13:23 ES TOI), as well as a handful on both the power play and PK. In all of them, he attempted a combined zero shots. Let me repeat that: He did not attempt one shot. This despite getting four offensive zone starts, one in the neutral zone, and three in his own. He was 2 for 6 on defensive zone draws.
But here’s the amazing part, and I swear to you it’s real: his corsi-for was just 3 (!) in the game. His corsi-against was 26. That’s a minus-23 in a game in which he took 21 shifts, and only three of them actually started in his defensive zone. The percentage for 3 of 29 is…10.3%. He was utterly dominated. What do you even say any more?
In five of his last eight games, he’s gone without a shot on goal. This is a disaster.
But hey, at least John Gilmour assisted on the game-tying goal on a 5-on-3. That’s something, right?