It’s a practice day for your Calgary Flames as they prepare themselves for the remaining four games of their current “road trip” – a big one including stops in Glendale, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim – so let’s take some time to poke around the various happenings regarding the local hockey club.
–Brian McGrattan cleared waivers and was assigned to the AHL’s Adirondack Flames on Saturday. McGrattan is perhaps one of the nicest guys in hockey, and routinely is used as a resource by the NHLPA for any players who are having substance abuse problems and need someone to talk to. In short: he’s a tremendous human being. That said, he’s a marginal (at best) NHL hockey player, and he’s probably only slightly better than most of the players in the American League. That said, he could be a pretty solid resource for a young Adirondack locker room – similar to how captain Nolan Yonkman is being used there. For now, the Flames will be carrying 22 bodies.
–Mark Giordano was invited to the NHL All-Star Game in Columbus, while Johnny Gaudreau will represent the Flames in the Skills Competition. Giordano’s one of 12 defenders invited, while Gaudreau is one of six rookies. It’s the first trip to the festivities for both. Giordano’s the first Flames All-Star not named Iginla, Phaneuf or Kiprusoff since Valeri Bure and Phil Housley in 2000. The All-Star Game is January 25 in Columbus, and the Flames will be off entirely for four days (January 22-25) for the All-Star break.
–Morgan Klimchuk, Eric Roy and the Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Calgary Hitmen 5-4 yesterday. It was a pretty entertaining game, all things considered. Klimchuk was minus-1, but that goal was scored shorthanded off a defensive gaffe by draft-eligible Russian Ivan Provorov – who made up for it with a three-point effort. Klimchuk was solid defensively overall, but never really was able to pull the trigger when he did get the puck in the high-percentage areas. Lots of double-clutching offensively, but he was effective on the forecheck and using his speed to generate chances and turnovers. He also started off a nice passing sequence in the Hitmen zone on a power-play that led to a goal.
Eric Roy was a tale of two halves of the game: he’s not a particularly great defensive player, and he coughed the puck up a few times and generated some Hitmen scoring chances as a result. However, Roy did a solid job jumping into the rush in the second and third periods, including having the first assist on Brandon’s second goal.
On the other side of the ice, Keegan Kanzig was adequate for the Hitmen. His game isn’t flashy, in that he doesn’t make a lot of flashy plays but is usually in position. He got into a first period fight, but beyond that was pretty quiet. He was matched up frequently against Klimchuk’s line, and while they didn’t score on his pairing, he did seem to have trouble with the forward unit’s speed, as he was frequently beaten for loose pucks (and on the forecheck) by Klimchuk and company.
-And now, a graph (5-game rolling Corsi For percentage):
The Flames are 29th in the NHL for Corsi For this season (only ahead of Buffalo) and 28th in the league for Corsi Close this season (ahead of Buffalo and Colorado). They’re a 44% Corsi team right now, which basically means they’re spending roughly 56% of the time in their own end.
They are what they are, at this point. If they get the bounces and execute a bit better, as they were earlier in this season, they may be able to nudge their percentages to about 46% or 47%, at best. That may equate to a few more wins over the long-term, but if things stay about where they are, expect the team to slide a ways down the standings from here on out.
This road trip is definitely going to be key to the direction the team will take for the remainder of the season.