FGD #6: A Trip to Ohio (5pm MT; SN Flames)

After an improbable road trip that’s already seen them break even points-wise, the Calgary Flames head into the great state of Ohio – now again home of Lebron James – for the fifth game of their six-game trip, this time against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus is the home of the cool cannon, the former home of an excellent mascot named Boomer (a civil war cannon with a jaunty mustache), and a pretty good hockey club that’s really progressed over the past few years. Heck, they made the playoffs last year and nearly upset the Penguins.

The game should be the first career NHL game for Josh Jooris and the latest edition of the “Can you top that?” series between Flames netminders Karri Ramo and Jonas Hiller.

Can the Flames continue their winning ways? I would’ve say “no” flatly a week ago, but I’m gonna shrug and say “Maybe” now. The game goes early tonight – 5pm MT – and you can catch it on Sportsnet Flames and Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

THE FLAMES

The local hockey heroes are 3-2-0 somehow after beating Chicago on Wednesday by a 2-1 score in overtime (and Nashville 3-2 in a shootout the night before). They’ve shuffled the deck slightly, putting David Jones on the injured reserve and bringing up camp standout Josh Jooris from Adirondack. If he keeps his training camp number, he’ll be the first man to don #86 in Flames history.

Lines, (via Daily Faceoff):

Hudler – Monahan – Jooris
Glencross – Backlund – Byron
Raymond – Colborne – Bouma
Bollig – Stajan – McGrattan

Giordano – Brodie
Russell – Wideman
Smid – Diaz

Ramo
Hiller

Setoguchi out, Jooris in. Gaudreau out, Bouma in. No other “shuffling,” as it appears Bob Hartley likes his tough minutes line and his fourth line. Ramo gets his third start of the season, and will have to provide his response to Jonas Hiller’s excellent game in Chicago. Bouma wore a full cage at morning skate, per Derek Wills, Randy Sportak and Kristen Odland (who are in Ohio with the team), but he reportedly will slot back in despite his facial injuries.

Gaudreau does sit, but recall that T.J. Brodie sat when Bob Hartley first got to Calgary. There’s probably a plan in place here, so nobody panic. He’s 21. He’s played 6 games ever. He’s learning. It’s less encouraging than if he’d already scored a zillion goals, but let’s keep our wits about us.

The Flames PK has been pretty great lately, despite giving up the lone goal against Chicago’s scary PP. Their PP still needs some work.

THE BLUE JACKETS

The Jackets boast a 2-1-0 record and have been off since they lost to Dallas on Tuesday. Once again, Calgary faces a team that’s rested and been waiting for them at home for a couple days.

Lines via Daily Faceoff:

Foligno – Johansen – Atkinson
Hartnell – Anisimov – Wennberg
Calvert – Letestu – Skille
Tropp – Chaput – Boll

Johnson – Savard
Erixon – Wisniewski
Tyutin – Prout

Bobrovsky
McElhinney (McBackup)

The Jackets boast a pretty stacked top six and two Flames draft picks – Tim Erixon and Curtis “McBackup” McElhinney – on the back end. Their defense is arguably their big weakness, but they have superb starting goaltending and a pretty strong forward attack that only really falls off at the fourth line. Jared Boll isn’t amazing. Expect to see lots of Backlund out against Ryan Johansen’s line tonight.

A nice mix of youth here, including recent draft picks Marko Dano (who’s not playing tonight) and Alexander Wennberg, integrated in with their established group. It’s almost like GM Jarmo Kekkalainen knows what he’s doing, eh?

SUM IT UP

The Flames have already exceeded expectations for this road trip – it has not been a Widowmaker as I expected it to be – which probably means they’re a confident, loose group of hockey players. The Blue Jackets aren’t quite as stiff a test as Chicago or St. Louis, but expect the team to come out of the gate trying to get even more points on this trip.

Whether they do or don’t will depend on if they have another strong 60-minute effort like they did against Nashville. We can already assume they’ll get good goaltending.

  • redricardo

    Agreed. We’re getting outshot by 12 shots a game so far this season.

    That’s incredibly awful. The best we can hope for is that as the goaltending evens out, the vets step it up and the shots even out too.

  • redricardo

    Our puck possession is crap and I don’t need any stats to verify that. I have yet to see anything enticing in the offensive zone and seeing a lot of being hemmed in our defensive zone.

  • Rock

    I don’t understand why the experts think teams need to have a goalie declared to be a number one. Myself I believe having 2 capable goalies that are number ones is healthy for any team.

        • everton fc

          I said this on another thread here. Weisbrod, and Troy Ward, might have been bad moves by Burke. Jooris, Van Brabant, Hathaway, Gillies… Can we include Arnold? Conroy had a bot to do with this, too. Perhaps.

          Can’t see Jooris going down anytime soon. To see him on the ice and being productive at the end of the game, in front of the net. Here’s hoping Ferland gets the next look.

          • everton fc

            BB BT have zero clue how to draft past the first round……..time will back this statement up.

            Wouldn’t it be nice to have 4 years before your are held accountable for your mistakes at work?

            WW

    • McRib

      Jack Skille actually looked great tonight… Hahah. I understand he is a bust for a 7th overall pick, but I have never seen anything close to that amount of skill from him the past four years that he showed tonight. Every time they announced his name I did a double take… that’s Jake Skille….

  • AF

    I actually thought that was a decent effort. It was a terrific third period and apart from the horrendous first ten minutes of the game we played alright. Jooris had a terrific debut.

  • AF

    Ugh that post for Gio. Great finish. Good to see the Flames shelling the opposition for a change. If we only play one period it seems to be the third. Much better than the old Iggy/jokinen/tanguay team that would fold in the 3rd. Good game.

  • Lordmork

    Also, we can’t judge from the preseason and one NHL game, but how amazing will it be if Jooris turns into a half-decent NHLer? It would improve the RW depth so much.

    • McRib

      Whats interesting about Josh Jooris are his point totals when he played in Jr.A before NCAA. He had 116 Points in 50 GP as a 19 Year Old. Everyone knows the ECAC isn’t as offensive and he played on a very deep team that won the NCAA the next year in Union, so obviously he didn’t see a ton of special teams time or ice time in general as they likely rolled lines keeping offensive chances down.

      But when he was in Jr.A he had two more points than his linemate Greg Carey who lead the NCAA in scoring last year and was a highly sought after free agent. Maybe this kid has more upside than even the Flames brass were expecting…. Great debut tonight, I am definitely a believer..

  • Captain Ron

    Jooris looks like a keeper. Feaster spoke highly of him. Turns out he may be right about the guy. That was a hell of a nice goal he scored. If he could become as good in his prime as Glencross was it would be a huge bonus for the Flames going forward!

      • Captain Ron

        I hear ya. The man had his lapses but it it looks like he left us a few presents in his relatively short time here. I think there will be more to come too before all is said and done.

      • SavardianSpinorama

        I now more confident than ever that Feaster was sharp on the Jankowski pick! That also included 2nd rounder Seiloff!

        In fact it may turn out even better than the Tim Erixon for Granlund/Wotherspoon deal which was outstanding in itself!

  • icedawg_42

    The problem with BB and BT is that they aren’t taking their own advice. Both state that the team needs to be bigger, but that skill needs to accompany that size. So, while I have no issue with drafting a Hunter Smith in the second round of the draft, veteran additions such as Bollig and Engelland as well as the continued use of McG, is grasping at straws. The Kopitars of the world don’t grow on trees. In other words, stop forcing the truculence and start rewarding the skill.

    • Captain Ron

      My secret hope is that Burke and Treliving brought those two on board as stop gap measures to satisfy the salary cap until some real talent emerges from the ranks. All the while quietly tanking a bit for a shot at one more top draft pick.

    • SavardianSpinorama

      You worry too much. You are mistaking Treliving for an idiot, which he is clearly not. You can bring up Engelland if you want, but he fit the M.O: He’s a short-term hiccup, here for nothing more than reaching the cap floor. Engelland, while a liability on the ice, provides the team with the flexibility of sending him down and bringing someone else up without penalizing the team via waiver risk.

      As for McGratton, he’s living on borrowed time, which is too bad, because I like the guy (when he’s not playing).

      • RexLibris

        This argument makes no sense.

        Engelland as short-term? He’s signed for three years.

        Waiver-risk? There were virtually hundreds of players placed on waivers this fall and the sum total claimed was four – Richard Panik, Adam Cracknell, Jack Skille, and Nate Prosser.

        The only defenseman sent down by the Flames who had to clear waivers was Mark Cundari.

        There are no defensemen on the Flames’ farm team likely to demand promotion to the NHL based on play and readiness for the NHL this season, meaning that the potential for waiver risk on a current player is virtually nil.

        The Flames could have gotten to the cap floor by offering Engelland, or another defenseman like Carlo Colaiacovo or Tom Gilbert, the same amount of money for one year and used Brodie’s extension to bolster their cap position for next season.

        This doesn’t mean that Treliving is an idiot, and I don’t think the-wolf was implying that in his commentary, rather it looks to me like a common mistake of new GMs in offering too much in either salary or term, in this case both, to one of their first free-agent signings.

        • SavardianSpinorama

          It’s called “cap floor and waiver flexibilty,” Rex.

          Maybe I didn’t emphasize that quite enough by saying, “CAP FLOOR and WAIVER FLEXIBILITY.”

          You get it now that I have SHOUTED?

          • RexLibris

            No.

            Maybe try again in my good ear, because I thought I had addressed the cap floor and waiver eligibility rather succinctly above.

            Here’s the Coles’ Notes:

            Engelland for 3 years at $2.9 million

            or

            Gilbert/Colaiacovo for 1 year at $2.9 million + Brodie extension in 2015-2016.

            Waiver wire concerns for Flames defense prospects = none.

            Therefore, Engelland off the ice = Engelland on the ice.

          • SavardianSpinorama

            I will try again.

            If ALL teams dispose of the McGratton’s of this world, they will be replaced by those who look equally bad thanks to the median.

            Get it?

          • RexLibris

            I’m confused.

            I thought we were talking about Engelland, not McGrattan.

            Are we conflating the two? Because I don’t really see the cross-over.

            Also, you keep using the word median and 50%, I assume you are referring to a bell curve design and the 50th percentile, in which case, half the group would represent 50% on either side of a dividing line, not 60/40.

            And this also defeats the premise of the bell curve, which is to say that the greatest collection of samples falls within a certain range somewhere within the middle, outside of which you have extremes which represent a small portion of the overall population, giving weight to the statistical theory of “average” which works well mathematically and in some population studies but is all too often misapplied such as in small sample size educational environments.

            So, back to the topic at hand: McGrattan and Engelland.

            I’m going to try and separate the two ideas here so we can look at them separately and then see if we can re-combine them to illustrate what I believe your point to be.

            If ALL teams dispose of the McGratton’s of this world, they will be replaced by those who look equally bad thanks to the median

            This is perhaps true on the condition that were the league to replace entirely players who occupy the “McGrattan” area of the vollman usage chart (to use an analytical reference as an example) then the corresponding improvement would be scaled across the board in terms of overall increase in Quality of Competition.

            Correct?

            Except that generalization can’t really be proven and one could argue that play would improve if the “median” as you say were to be moved higher up the scale. Replacing players like McGrattan with those more like Tom Sestito, for example, on a league-wide basis would improve the potential level of hockey play across the board.

            Compare it with the following: you suggest that the median would rise and therefore those players would continue to look bad. This arguments is similar to suggesting that increased pay to the lowest wage earners will drive up inflation because it pushes the dividing line of income equality. While the economic theory has some debatable merit, this same line of reasoning does not apply to the level of player skill in the league.

            Now, about Engelland.

            You are Brad Treliving. You want to hit the cap floor, allow for roster flexibility, and not hurt the team’s opportunity at a boffo pick in the 2015 draft.

            What would you do?

            I wouldn’t sign someone like Engelland for three years.

            And the Flames have roster problems that are well beyond the ken of Gilbert or Colaiacovo.

            Still don’t see how these two are linked.

          • SavardianSpinorama

            I would sign someone like Engelland if I thought he had “upside.”

            Upside doesn’t mean winning now.

            Upside means roster flexibility, cap floor, and leadership potential.

            I am not going to get into an argument about bell curves. Sorry, it still boils down to whether you have the puck or you don’t.

            If every team gets rid of face punchers, at the end of the day, the fourth line on losing teams is still going to look like the fourth line on losng teams.

            Deryk Englland is not the Flames’ problem. Crappy drafting and the failure to realize Iginla and Kiprusoff should have been dealt for legitimate assets are the problem. All the analytics in the world aren’t going to make up for that, and when we factor in cap spending and blah blah blah . . . this goes well beyond a chat over a five dollar beer in a dumpy pub.

    • everton fc

      Maybe not. The league seems to be changing. But what makes McGratton more valuable, if I can use that word, is he’s playing hockey. Getting, what three SOG’s vs. the Blackhawks… He can fill a 4th line role somewhere, if he can play more than 5-6 mins. I think he probably can play 8 mins a night, but teams are looking for more.

      His time is short. Ferland would be a better addition. His time is soon to come.

      • RexLibris

        I think McGrattan would be claimed by a team looking for that 4th line guy who plays reasonably well.

        San Jose traded for Mike Brown, for heaven’s sake, so presumably there would be a place somewhere for McGrattan.

        He isn’t the be all and end all of playing tough guys. I think what teams are looking for is a Georges Laraque kind of 4th line guy who is responsible with and without the puck but also scratches the “enforcer” itch so many GMs seem to still have.

        I don’t think a team like the Oilers, with Gazdic and Hendricks already, would take McGrattan, even though he’d be an improvement on the former.

        But someone would.

          • RexLibris

            That’s one statistical view.

            Trust me, check out Gazdic or Westgarth on the Vollman chart which will give you cross-referenced QualComp adjusted for Corsi, CorsiRel or Quality of teammates.

            Gazdic and Westgarth were beneath McGrattan and looking skyward.

          • RexLibris

            And I’m comparing them to two who have dressed for the Oilers.

            Engelland was never going to be a Dan Girardi pickup.

            But he needed to be better than Smid for the contract to make sense.

            The problem is that he never was going to be that player and yet the Flames management convinced themselves, and then proceeded to try and convince the fans, that he was.

            This sort of thing happens all the time. Its why Dallas Eakins scratched Jeff Petry for Brad Hunt by saying that they needed his shot on the powerplay. For a road game against the Kings.

            That sort of reasoning usually nets you a quizzically bemused look from your friends and a healthy wtf glare from your boss.

            The Flames have committed to Engelland. They’ll move Smid, Wideman, even Russell likely before they admit they were wrong on Engelland.

          • everton fc

            Unfortunately true. The part that’s worse though is the MSM who seem to function as more of a PR device these days instead of the critical, objective platform they were intended to be. The Calgary media were beating the Engelland drum for a solid week.

            GMs need to remove their egos and admit mistakes. Sadly, few do. We’ll see what happens with the goons here by the 20 game mark.

            Btw, the only name on that list I disagree with is Russell. At least, I hope they’re not that ignorant.

      • RexLibris

        McGrattan was one of the worst forwards in the NHL last year by the numbers when he was on the ice. He had that negative of an effect on his team, that he was in the absolute bottom tier. He’s a terrible player at this point in his career, and I don’t see any feasible argument that could counter that, and it’s made worse by having a very similar style player on Bollig dressed every night as well.

  • Grant

    I think it would do a world of good to have Gaudreau go to Adirondack for a few games. Play first line minutes and in all key situations and bring him back up and play him in the top six and see what he can do.

      • Grant

        Your comment is crap . I did not make a derogatory statement about Gaudreau .if i was a Flames you’d be ok with what I said.
        Fans on this website seem to think he might not be playing up to his full talents, and he has not been put in those positions. A few games in the minors would help him develop quicker.
        He wouldn’t be the only good player that played in the minors.
        I think you are just taking it a little personal

        • xploD

          I agree with your comments Grant. It was the same fans on this site who said the Oilers mismanaged their youth by not giving them time in the AHL, but when it comes to JG, he doesn’t need it. I’ve never understood why people think a very small but skilled forward can emerge from a short and soft college career and play every day in the NHL. Of course time in the A would help JG get ice time in all situations and restore his scoring confidence. But nobody will believe it on this board – they still think Sven is an elite prospect and Backlund is a number one centre!

          • Bean-counting cowboy

            Backlund is a #1 in the shutdown sense, but not counting stats, so more like a #2. Sven is an elite prospect in that he has shown scoring prowess in the past but was mismanaged. I would think most on FN would agree with this, don’t you? Am I missing something?

          • Kevin R

            I think Sven is not going to hit his ceiling with the Flames unfortunately. He is a prospect with value but this kid needs a change of scenery. For whatever reason he is feeling like he is not getting a fair shot & & is getting fuelled by his agent & family back home. He is not rising to the challenge & taking charge down in Addy & I think he is capable of being a top 3 scorer for that team. What is he now, 0 points & -3? I really see a similarity between Turris & Sven. I think BT needs to work a deal for a bluechip Dman type of return for Sven. Our D needs to be addressed sooner than later. After Brodie & Gio we have a very distant drop to Russell. Russell is a great #4 dman & we just do not have anything coming that can step into a #3 role. If we ever get a 2nd pairing that has decent numbers in comparison to our Brodano pairing, look out. Tspoon isn’t the answer right now, maybe later but I think he will get some time in the 3rd pairing & he would probably do fine. Would a Larsson from NJ for Sven be reasonable?

          • Grant

            Yes you are missing something. “Backlund is a #1 in the shutdown sense but not counting stats…..” That might be the worst definitiion of a #1 in the history of hockey.

          • EugeneV

            I agree that Backlund could be a #2 on our team, but not now that we have Monahan and Bennett.

            2 years or less from now Backlund will be gone.

            I’d like to see him traded sooner than later for a young stud D-man.

            Maybe:
            Larsson or Gelinas from NJ
            Pulock from NYI

            etc…

            I see Backlund as a luxury we don’t need moving forward.

  • SavardianSpinorama

    The argument I see here – thanks in no small part to analytics – is that many of the people commenting think they could run an NHL team better than Bob Hartley!

    Please!

    If you’re that good at spotting sh**, and the game is that simple to be defined, why are you here instead of running the Leafs or Flames?

    I like analytics, don’t get me wrong, but to suggest for one minute Hartley or Burke or Treliving or Lowe or Eakins or Linden don’t see these things . . . it’s out-to-lunch.

    There are only so many players to go around. And some are bound to fail and look like crap.

    It’s called the median.

    And aside from the median on the ice, there is also the median off it.

    No matter how much the league improves, there will always be players who “look” like they suck.

    Otherwise, the league would be totally generic and a crapshoot.

    • SavardianSpinorama

      I don’t think it’s out to lunch at all that Burke, Hartley and the Flames are incredibly ignorant towards analytics and the new NHL. The decisions they’ve made so far would emphasize that point of view. Not to mention how Burke has spoken about them.

      You are asking people to give Hartley and Burke a pass based on the fact that they have these positions. That if people were smarter then them, they’d be general managers themselves. That’s not how the world works. Listen to what Doug Maclean, an ex-GM, had to say about analytics or listen to anything else he says about the game of hockey. There are a lot of stupid and a lot of ignorant people in sports.

      • SavardianSpinorama

        Brad Treliving has never said once he doesn’t believe in analytics. Not once.

        I will say another thing.

        We can get rid of the Engelland’s and McGratton’s of the hockey world because we don’t like their possession stats. Their terrible stats will be taken over by someone else (I am talking the league as a whole). Stats are stats! Some players are better and some are worse. In the end, possession has to add up to 100 %. The best teams are over 50% and the worst teams are not. It’s pretty simple math, when it’s all said and done.

    • RexLibris

      Did you really just use Lowe as a positive example?

      Next you’ll say that Milbury was a competent GM. No, the sad truth is that I (or several million other fans with a functioning brain stem) could’ve been thrust into the NYI situation right off the street and delivered vastly better performance. This isn’t to say fans know better than every pro hockey person, but certainly some of them.

      I mean, you have worked? If you’ve ever worked for any sort of large org, you can’t honestly tell me that all of your bosses deserved their positions? If so, please tell me where you work so I can apply because I’d like to see that.

  • RexLibris

    Jooris was refreshing to watch tonight. Mostly because outside of Monahan and the kid in the press box, that’s pretty much it for prospects we get to watch on a nightly basis. For the rest of this roster, at this point, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. That’s a little deflating in itself, to watch a large number of middle aged players who have really reached their ceiling already. For example, how many players on this roster, are actually around and making contributions by the time this team is ready to compete for a playoff spot? 3? 4?

    • everton fc

      I think we’ll see more prospects get a look. Certainly Ferland’s the next to get the call. McGrattan would be picked up by a team. But I’d personally role Tootoo in the same slot. He’s a better hockey player. Just look at McGrattan’s stats. He doesn’t add value. He has 10 goals and 27 points in his entire HL career. All things considered.

      Perhaps a healthy Jones would get picked up, as well. Not to mention Setoguchi. Give the kids a chance. Jooris. Ferland. Granlund. Baertschi, who I’m still not sold on(-3. Ferland’s +1). I’d rather see Ferland get McGrattan’s minutes.

      The problem w/McGrattan and Engelland is they are getting old. Regardless of “analytics”. It’s a young guys game, for the most part. Unless you’re an elite player. Or a Gio. Or a Sergei Gonchar w/a good ankle.

      • RexLibris

        I think the only way we see more kids is through injuries. I think it’s quite a reach to think Setoguchi would get claimed after not getting an offer almost all summer and then having that type of pre-season. As for McGrattan, not many teams looking for an enforcer that don’t already have one.

        I think Ferland would be really exciting to watch. I think we agree with the last part you made, almost 90% of this Flames team is pretty much who they’ll be for the rest of their careers. The ceiling has been reached and there’s little room for improvement. That’s why these Engelland and Bollig contracts really get to me, because they make it even harder for kids to get their shots.

  • SavardianSpinorama

    In short, Rex, at 50%, there are those who are above it (say 60%) and those who are below it (40%).

    Winning teams are above the median. Losing teams are not.

    You are Brad Treliving. You want to hit the cap floor, allow for roster flexibility, and not hurt the team’s opportunity at a boffo pick in the 2015 draft.

    What would you do?

  • Rock

    Always want to get rid of the tough players I wonder how that is working out for Toronto they dispatched there tough guys. Edmonton still wished they had a Mcgratton his job is not to score goals his job is to show his presence on the ice which he does very well. He makes the young players comfortable and helps to gel the team. Tough guys add excitement to the game don’t see anyone booing at the hockey games when there is a good fight going on now that is the most exciting play in hockey. Maybe they should decided tied games with the most exciting play in hockey instead of the lame shoot outs

    • Grant

      They do have a Mcgratton but he is injured and will soon be back. Gazdic can actually play and fight. Ask about 5-6 fighters who got rocked by him last year. Hell ask we Westgarth if Gazdic can fight. He might not remember.

      • Grant

        Will Gazdic be fighting with a full face shield again this year?

        That would certainly rock some more knuckles……

        Gazdic is the biggest joke of an enforcer in the league.

        WW

        • Grant

          Every enforcer who comes into this league has to wear a facesheild. So really don’t get your point . It’s the law!!!!? Ask Westgarth and the other guys he put to sleep if he was joking!!