Looking at the Line-Up Card

One of the things we all learned this year is that the line-up card seems to matter, sometimes.

Mikael Backlund’s play (and confidence) found another gear when he found himself wearing the alternate captain’s A, and on several occasions Bob Hartley attempted to channel his team’s emotions by playing specific players to start the game.

Once it cost him $25,000.

On other occasions, it gave the team’s first few shifts a bit of a jump. Here’s a quick glance at how Calgary’s line-up card – the starters and listed captains – fared throughout the 2013-14 season.

STARTERS

Injuries, trades and recalls meant many, many players got the chance to be in the starting line-up. Here’s how many games they started.

FORWARDS

  • Matt Stajan – 35
  • Mike Cammalleri – 26
  • Lee Stempniak – 24
  • Curtis Glencross – 20
  • T.J. Galiardi – 18
  • Mikael Backlund – 18
  • David Jones – 16
  • Jiri Hudler – 16
  • Joe Colborne – 13
  • Lance Bouma – 12
  • Brian McGrattan – 12
  • Sean Monahan – 10
  • Paul Byron – 8
  • Kevin Westgarth – 4
  • Ben Street – 3
  • Sven Baertschi – 3
  • Blair Jones – 2
  • Markus Granlund – 2
  • Bryce van Brabant – 2
  • Kenny Agostino – 2

DEFENDERS

  • T.J. Brodie – 49
  • Mark Giordano – 35
  • Chris Butler – 29
  • Kris Russell – 25
  • Ladislav Smid – 13
  • Dennis Wideman – 7
  • Shane O’Brien – 2
  • Tyler Wotherspoon – 2
  • Chris Breen – 1
  • Mark Cundari – 1

GOALIES

  • Karri Ramo – 37
  • Reto Berra – 27
  • Joni Ortio – 9
  • Joey MacDonald – 9

More often than not, a veteran started for the team, or someone riding a hot streak. McGrattan started once before the January 18 melee in Vancouver, but ended up being the bodyguard for returning forwards – playing alongside Matt Stajan and Curtis Glencross when they returned from injury. And if you were making your NHL debut and/or playing in your hometown, you also probably started the game.

On the back-end, a huge gulf between the trusted top four and everybody else.

LETTERMEN

  • Mark Giordano dressed for 64 games as captain.
  • Mike Cammalleri dressed for 63 games as alternate captain.
  • Matt Stajan dressed for 49 games as alternate captain.
  • Curtis Glencross dressed for 38 games as alternate captain.
  • Lee Stempniak dressed for 16 games as alternate captain.
  • Mikael Backlund dressed for 14 games as alternate captain.
  • Jiri Hudler dressed for 2 games as alternate captain.

Lots of injuries of the team’s leadership group means lots of turnover. The three “regular” captain/alternates (Giordano, Glencross and Cammalleri) played together for less than 30 games, so the various combinations of on-ice leaders likely kept everybody on their toes all year long.

  • RedMan

    interesting…. now, off topic:

    I am really struck the last couple of years how the league calls playoff games so totally different then regular season.

    They put the whistles away, and let guys get away with really attacking each other – dirty hits,slashing,crosschecking, late hits… the play gets so rough that I find myself actually being a but surprised.

    OK – please don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining – but what does bother me is that by changing the rules so drastically, you tilt the outcome to teams that are… big, physical, tough.

    this ma not be popular, but I wish they would call the games either the same or close to the same as during the regular season, so that any strengths that get a team to the playoffs remains a strength and cannot be neutralized by goonery.

    and guys like cook – should get half a season for ridiculous stuff like that knee on knee during the playoffs. when the strategy becomes to injure the better players, this needs to be addressed.

    • Skuehler

      What pisses me off is when the let the guys play, but eventually call a penalty late in the game, like the Tampa game last night. There mucking it up in the corner, refs don’t mind it (kudos to them), but then a guy trips over another dude’s stick, and all of a sudden its a penalty, which Tampa loses the game off of.

      Just seems like a poor way to run the game, I’m sure the players think that nothing’s gonna be called (which probably isn’t good for their health, but hey its the playoffs), and then all of a sudden a penalty for roughing is called and everyone’s like “oh shit”.

      If you’re gonna let them play, when can you decide that something that was ignored as a penalty in period 1 is now a penalty in OT?

      I suppose it goes the other way to, like how your saying they’ll call a penalty in the game 1 (or the reg. season) and later in the game NOTHING is called, which happens more often than my beef. That is bothersome to an extent, but I think at least some bad call didn’t decide the game. I know, hypocritical of me, but at least it kept VAN from winning the Cup in 2011.

    • Parallex

      IMO. The rules are the rules are the rules. They should be applied evenly regardless of the who, what, where, when, and why. If it’s on the books it should be enforced. No exceptions.

      • loudogYYC

        I agree to an extent, the stuff that was going on in the St Louis/Chicago game was just stupid. especially Keith skating around slashing people. That being said the Refs should let more go then a regular game. They should still call penalties but they should let things like weak hooks, or little slashes or stuff like that go on. No one wants a team to win a series from a stupid call *coughmontrealcough*. They do have to call more then they are though because it is getting out of hand.

        On a side note can the NHL PLEASE get rid of the delay of game penalty!! Its such a ridiculous penalty, and has cost alot of teams this playoffs already. Plus it makes no sense that players can board, charge, slash, trip and everything else because its overtime in the playoffs but if they flip the puck over the glass its a penalty. Just change it to if a player flicks the puck over the glass its like icing and the defending team can’t change.

        • piscera.infada

          “That being said the Refs should let more go then a regular game. They should still call penalties but they should let things like weak hooks, or little slashes or stuff like that go on. No one wants a team to win a series from a stupid call *coughmontrealcough*. They do have to call more then they are though because it is getting out of hand.”

          The argument from my perspective is that if you’re going to let those ticky-tack calls go, you have to let them go for the whole game. The problem with that Montreal game was that they weren’t calling the holding, hooking, and little trips for the whole game, then they call one with under two minutes in the game? It was ludicrous.

          The problem with officiating is that different officials are going to have different standards as far as what goes and what doesn’t – as well it should, these are the best individuals at their craft, and they often times have to make split-second decisions at the drop of a hat. It’s a difficult job, and often the intensity of the playoffs has a large impact on that. No official wants to be the reason a game is won or lost – that’s why a lot of the “little” things are often overlooked. As such, consistency needs to be mantra, but referees ‘x’ and ‘y’ will always have different standards than referees ‘s’ and ‘t’. It’s almost impossible to remedy – unless of absolutely everything gets called completely black and white (which is itself, very difficult to do).

          • Skuehler

            I’ve thought about that in the past – just how much of an impact officiating has on the game. The officials are basically a third team on the ice. With the players performance dissected so thoroughly, it surprises me that officiating effects are simply sluffed off as ‘it affects both teams’, or ‘we can’t use that as an excuse, we didn’t do enough to win’, or ‘it balances out’. I would think that especially in the playoffs refs would be scouted and there every call and non-call analyzed and charted to spot trends and tendencies and biases etc. their impact is just to significant in the context of how the players and other aspects of the game are examined.

          • Skuehler

            My take falls in line with many here. I’d like the calls to be consistent with the regular season. We play 82 games to get to the play offs, why change the game at the playoffs?

            as for missed calls. Well it is tough luck. Sometimes calls don’t go your way and you have to fight through it. You can’t pin your losses on one or two bad calls. You have to generate more because human error is a part of the game. No way to make officiating perfect and there is always subjectivity involved.

          • Skuehler

            I agree in consistency in officiating and where is the best hockey played? Exactly – in the playoffs. Playoff games are superior tempo and tough hockey. Would be great to see the officials call the regular season just like they call the playoffs. It would make for exciting regular season games and end the snooze fest games against the Wild and Sabres. Might not be a team left at the end of the year!!!

          • piscera.infada

            I wouldn’t go as far as to insinuate that biases attributed to referees are malicious in any way. I reffed somewhat high level hockey for awhile, and while I can attest to watching some players closer than others, I wouldn’t say there was ever bias towards a team. Plus, these guys are professionals, they leave their families and travel much like the players do (sometimes even more), their partners are routinely juggled, and the areas in which they ref are also changed throughout a season.

            I’m not saying there are no improprieties on the part of individual referees, but the second the league got a sniff of something like that, they would be out on their ass – Auger was temporarily “relieved” of part of his schedule after the Islanders cried fowl a few years ago, nothing was ever proven, and he was back.

            For me, the argument simply goes more to human nature. Some people are going to be more black and white when it comes to simple things like following procedure, others see more “grey area”. Unless there is a cemented black and white rule (ie. the dreaded “puck over the glass = delay of game penalty”), there will always be some modicum of interpretation. That interpretation itself can bend at the whim of the pressure and intensity of the playoffs.

            By no means am I saying referees are beyond reproach. I just wouldn’t go crying fowl. As I said, these guys are professionals, and they do one of the hardest jobs in professional sports.

          • Skuehler

            I’m not disagreeing with you at all. And I didn’t mean to insinuate anything. But on the other hand, officiating in other sports has been susceptible to corruption.

            Anyway, my only point was that officiating has a huge impact on a game. With so much pressure on players and organizations, and so much money at stake, I don’t understand why their impact has been analyzed more. Not that I’m particularly interested, just that far less significant factors are considered in much more detail

          • loudogYYC

            I don’t think that I would ever ascribe any bad faith or corruption to any on-ice official without proof at the criminal standard (beyond reasonable doubt). But as you say, there are individual tendencies.

            Kerry Fraser confirmed this in a piece he wrote for another site several years ago.

            http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=364101

            Firstly, I think if you could decide what factors to consider, and then worked them through your stats, that would be handy. Secondly, don’t tell us, tell the Flames. No point giving away a perfectly good advantage.

        • Parallex

          “That being said the Refs should let more go then a regular game.”

          Disagree. If it would be a penalty in the regular season it should be a penalty in the post-season and if it’s not a penalty in the post-season it shouldn’t be a penalty in the reg.

          Sure, no one wants a team to win a series from a stupid call… but I don’t want a team to win (or lose) even just a game in the regular season from a stupid call either. And let’s be honest here… can we really say with a straight face that the willfull inaction of not enforcing blatent rule violations is, in and of itself, not a stupid call?

      • RedMan

        exactly. so it’s not just me that thinks this year has been particularly rough. the refs seem determined to let the nasty stick work and late hits etc go… its been odd, even uncomfortable at time.

  • Parallex

    I agree that penalties in the regular season should be penalties in the playoffs. But its funny, in 2011 if the refs had called all the actual penalties in the Finals, Vancouver probably would’ve won the Cup. Yuck

    • MattyFranchise

      I actually doubt that, to be quite honest with you. Boston out-played Vancouver in every possible way in that series. Roberto Luongo is the only reason it went to 7 games in the first place, for all that he catches the flak for the loss.

      • MattyFranchise

        Strange, I remember it as a series that was extremely close, even with Boston taking it to the Canucks in bean town. I also remember Tim Thomas being slightly better than Luongo, being the difference-maker for his team, but it might be because of all the beer/celebrating I did after game 7 🙂

  • piscera.infada

    From a Flames perspective my takeaways from watching the playoff round include:
    ** what is the optimum kind of team model the Flames need to build in order to win a Stanley Cup?;
    ** what is the trendline in team modelling..not where we are now but where are we forecasting the optimum model to be in 3-5 years;
    ** how does that affect drafting, trading and cap management for the next 3-5 years.

    Regarding Team model people talk about the Boston or Detroit or LA models. I am certainly not an expert by any means, but when I hear this type of talk I translate that to mean greater or lesser emphasis on the basic elements comprising the team fundamentals and playing characteristics/identity.

    So what are those elements? They could be overall team speed, skill, size.

    Specific team characteristics or identity will be impacted by the basic elements a coach has to work with. For example, to have a puck possession team (and positive Corsi, relCorsi) you would need higher skill levels.

    Is it a coincidence that 6 of the top 7 teams favoured to win the Cup are considered to be “heavy” teams e.g. BOS, LA, SJ, ANA, CHI, STL plus PIT.

    With DET, TB, MTL, DAL and newly emerging COL is speed and skill ascending and trending upwards?

  • Listened to Ward this morning on the radio, seems he was pleased Poirier and it sounds like he will in the playoffs. Also the word is that Sieloff has started to skate again. This will be a tough series for the Heat, Grand Rapids are the defending Calder Cup Champions and have a number of guys back. The good news for the Heat is that a number of the Griffins players are up with Detroit and the Heat are as healthy as they have been all season; the only notable players are Ferland who has been out for 30+ games and Spoon. Go Heat go.

    • I think Troy went as far as to say that he could easily see Porier being a 20-30 goal guy. I personally like what Porier brings and hope he develops this way. Fast, decent size, gritty, and RW. Checks all the boxes I want in a scoring player.

        • Skuehler

          When Feaster/Weisbrod picked Poirier over Shinkaruk et al it was widely panned by many, including TSN broadcast crew etc in the vein of “another high risk pick like Jankowski”.

          While the jury certainly isn’t in yet it seems that Feaster made the right pick at the time.

  • Skuehler

    Hey Ryan, Skueler has a real point here. Why don’t you guys turn some of your fancy stats programs loose on the officials and see if there are real tendencies?

    One of the thoughtful regulars commented the other day that winning face offs is as much about cheating and knowing which officials will let you cheat as it is about physical factors. Obviously that’s not an exact quote but I think it reflects what he said.

    God forbid someone find out that there are certain officials that favour the home side, whoever that is.

    • piscera.infada

      Totally, although, I think you could make the argument that if even one of the Flames put their arms up and started celebrating like they just won the cup, it probably would have been reviewed. In today’s game, I doubt that call is missed, as Toronto would have likely buzzed the time-keeper.

  • Skuehler

    The Poirier pick may turn out to be one of those picks that goes down in legend. Not too many people talking about Hunter these days. Maybe one day we will all regret the day Feaster was let go…….

    • Skuehler

      I agree. To my untrained eye, In the Penticton tournament last year Poirier looked as good as Monahan. Granlund looked even better. It’s going to be exciting to see these guys next season.

    • Skuehler

      At the time Poirier was drafted the majority of the Flames fans were critical of Feaster for not drafting Hunter the Calgary kid based primarily on emotion rather than hockey sense.

      The Canadiens were set to draft Poirier at 25th. They had been scouting this kid since he was 12 years old. They had him identified as a future superstar. Kudos on Feaster /Weisbrod while aware of the anticipated negative feedback from the fans made the right hockey decision in the best interests of the Flames organization!!

      As a side note I have a place in Penticton and annually attend the tournament. I thought the top 3 Flames players in order of performance were Ortio, Ferland, and Poirier. Monahan and Granlund were right behind.
      In terms of organizational talent I thought the Flames were 2nd only behind the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers by far had the worst talent based on my observations overall.

    • loudogYYC

      Feaster, or any GM for that matter, gets too much credit for making picks. The Flames spend a couple million dollars per year paying specialists so that the GM can walk on a stage and officially make a pick they were told to make.

      Scouts should get the credit, unless the GM gets in the way and picks who he likes, like Darryl Sutter used to do, and like Feaster and Weisbrod did with Jankowski. Then the GM is getting in the way of the specialists and likely hurting the team in the process.

      Flames won’t regret firing Feaster and Weisbrod. They weren’t generally brutal but their mistakes were way too big.