The Flames have an off-day today as they recover from perhaps their worst outing of the season, scoreboard-wise, last night in Glendale. With the team off, it seems a good enough time to see what’s happening around the Flames-related world.
KNIFE TO A GUN FIGHT
The Flames are in the midst of a bit of a skid, having won just once in regulation since December 4 and having amassed a wonderous 1-7-2 record in their last ten outings. The big question is "what the heck happened?"
The short answer may be – they’re not surprising anybody anymore.
Heading into the season, the Flames were considered a team with several fundamental holes – no star goalie, no star forwards, and a defense that lacks minute-eaters – and they were projected to finish really low. Ugly ugly games were expected. The good news is that the Flames showed a willingness to out-work their opposition on most nights. That work ethic definitely caught a few teams on their heels and helped the Flames rack up points early-on.
The bad news is that this team still has those same holes it did prior to the season. When you’re a team with flaws, and you play teams without flaws (or with fewer), you need to play a perfect game to win. If you don’t play a perfect game, you’ll probably have a long night, no matter how much you out-work your oppostion. You’re just out-matched.
Think of it as being in a gun fight, but bringing a knife instead of a gun. You need to fight a perfect fight, and hope that the other side doesn’t remember that, whoops, they have a gun and can end things whenever they want.
THE HEAT IS OFF
A few bits and bites about the Flames’ AHL affiliate down in Abbotsford.
On the injury front, I’ve been lead to believe that Steve Begin (signed to an AHL deal) probably won’t play at all this season due to an unspecified injury. Michael Ferland is also out for awhile with a "significant" knee injury. But Patrick Sieloff is well on his way to recovery from an infection and should rejoin the team soon.
The Heat are in the midst of a bit of a skid lately as their roster thins out a bit due to recalls and the aforementioned injuries. The club is now without veterans Greg Nemisz (traded) and Paul Byron (Calgary), and they’ve gone 4-6-0 in their last ten since the big club’s moves began. The Heat were also super-hot, unsustainably so, to kick off the year and this is also probably a weird perfect storm of injuries, recalls and bad percentages correcting for that start.
The good news is that Joni Ortio continues to have strong numbers – including a .921 save percentage – and will hopefully get a look-see late in the season in Calgary. Ortio’s return and strong play in North America is one of several positive stories on the farm this year, but it’s probably my favourite one.
With so many bodies out of commission, the farm club has added former 2001 first round pick Adrian Foster and Alaska Aces forward Jordan Kremyr to fill out their lines. Kremyr was said to be good in Abbotsford’s training camp. David Eddy has been sent back to Alaska, which probably doesn’t bode well for his NHL/AHL aspirations.
The trade deadlines are here or rapidly approaching in the Canadian Hockey League. The QMJHL’s deadline has come and gone, and it saw a Flames prospect change addresses. Ryan Culkin, previously captain of the Quebec Remparts, was sent to the Drummondville Voyageurs in exchange for a first round pick and Drummondville’s own captain, Francis Lambert-Lemay. Culkin’s an NHL prospect and Lambert-Lemay’s not, so Quebec got a pick, too.
The WHL deadline is approaching and Mathew Dumba is probably headed to Portland. Expect that to lead to some shuffling by other high-end teams. Adam Tambellini has officially left college, and the Hitmen have acquired his WHL rights. More moves are sure to follow. Flames prospect Brett Kulak, scoring at a point-per-game, may be an attractive commodity for a contender.
RED WARRIOR ROUND-UP
We’re 43 games into the 2013-14 season, so I thought it’d be nice to catch up on who’s been impressive thus far, in the form of our end-of-game Red Warrior award. Here’s our leaderboard thus far:
- Mikael Backlund – 7 (last: December 27)
- Lee Stempniak – 5 (last: December 10)
- Mike Cammalleri – 5 (last: December 21)
- Jiri Hudler – 3 (last: January 6)
- Sean Monahan – 3 (last: December 31)
- Karri Ramo – 3 (last: January 4)
- Paul Byron – 3 (last: December 21)
- Five players – 2 (Glencross, Berra, Wideman, Giordano, Bouma)
- Six players – 1 (Stajan, Butler, Colborne, Baertschi, Russell, Galiardi)
The math will not add up, as some games we had multiple winners and there was that one game where we thought the Flames dads were the best on the night.