It’s that time of the season where BOTH teams are ramping up for a playoff push. Never thought I’d say that again. Feels good, man.
This week, there are a whole bunch of story lines surrounding the Adirondack Flames, so I dove into a few topics to briefly discuss some of the more interesting tidbits Flames fans should know about.
BILL ARNOLD (AKA MIKAEL BACKLUND 2.0)
there’s one thing Adirondack followers now know for certain, it’s that Bill
Arnold can stand on his own without Johnny Hockey. In fact, I’d go as far as to
say that the Needham, Massachusetts native will be the best Flames pick from
that 2010 draft.
impressive has Arnold’s rookie season been? Before he bummed up his shoulder
and ended up missing nearly two months (16 games), he was either the leading or
second-leading scorer having played in every game up until that point. Since
returning from injury, he’s collected six points in nine games. And while
points are cute and all, Arnold’s true artifice comes from his defensive
you ever get the chance to watch him, you’ll think you’re watching Mikael
Backlund. I’m not just saying that because Backlund is the Flames’
defensive-forward guru and fans are familiar with him – I’m saying that because
of the similarities in everything from skating and stick-handling to demeanour and
placidity under pressure. That’s not even mentioning the fact that Arnold’s
about as easy to knock off the puck as it is to tip a cow.
probably not NHL-ready this season, but when/if Matt Stajan or Backlund get injured
next season, look for Arnold to get the call. He will be an NHL player.
KENNY “ALL-IN-ONE” AGOSTINO
don’t think expectations were ever very high for Kenny Agostino, which is a
good thing. But it’s also kind of surprising given he was one of the guys the
Flames got for the greatest player in franchise history.
been a reasonably successful season for the rookie pro. He has 29 points in 54
games, which is about par for a guy fresh out of college. For comparison sake,
last season Ben Hanowski had 31 points in 55 games, Corban Knight had 44 points
in 70 games, Josh Jooris had 27 points in 73 games, and this season, Bill
Arnold has 27 points in 48 games. Agostino’s essentially where he should be as
a scoring forward right out of the college ranks.
we just might be smack dab in the middle of witnessing him “get it.” Here’s what
I mean: in the last 16 games, he’s added 17 points. In March (so far) he’s put
up 12 points in his last 10 games, including a seven game scoring streak where
he 10 points over that stretch. He’s arguably been the best Flames forward this
is one of those players who is a jack of all trades and a master of none. He
can score, skate, play physical, hold it down defensively, but isn’t great in
any one of those areas. It could come with time that he develops into a
specialist of some sort, but this season Flames fans should just be satisfied
with what he’s accomplished. Next season, we’ll see if he can pull a Josh
Jooris (who is basically the poster boy for the “Always Earned, Never Given”
thing Agostino has going against him, however, is that he’s a left winger in a
left wing-heavy organization, so he’s really going to have to find a niche and
shine in order to get some organizational recognition.
Baby Flames are by no means a power house this season, but are still in the mix
for a playoff berth in the seventh or eighth seed. Here are the facts:
Flames have 13 games remaining. Seven of those games are at the Glens Falls
Civic Center while six are on the road.
Flames are on pace for 84 points which would put them in the eighth seed, one
point ahead of the Toronto Marlies and Chicago Wolves.
they’re holding down the eighth spot and have two games in hand on the ninth
place Hamilton Bulldogs and two games in hand on the seventh place Milwaukee
Flames are currently at 70 points. The teams nipping at their heels are the
Hamilton Bulldogs with 70 points, the Toronto Marlies with 69 points and the
Chicago Wolves with 69 points.
Flames’ Magic Number is sitting at 26.
their remaining 13 games, the Flames are set to play eight teams currently in a
playoff spot. Ouch.
the good news is they’re in the mix and they have a good sum of games in hand
on those ahead and behind of them. The bad news, really, is that last bullet
point. They play eight playoff teams in their remaining 13 games. Even worse
news than that is of those eight games against playoff teams, eight of them are
against teams you could consider elite.
PATRICK SIELOFF, THE FORWARD?
getting into sweeping generalizations about the 2012 draft, I’m starting to
become a little concerned about Patrick Sieloff’s trajectory. I understand he’s
only 20 years old and has had an injury-riddled career, so expectations should
unfortunate that Sieloff was one of many by-products churned
out of Feaster’s hype machine by saying things like, “we feel that Patrick
could be here [in Calgary] as a seventh defenseman.” At this point, that
proclamation is so far from the truth, Feaster is probably pinching the bridge
of his nose in rue.
more troubling is it seems his future as a defenseman is in question. In fact,
it’s starting to look more and more like if he wants a future in hockey at all,
it might have to be as a forward. In an intermission radio interview with Ryan
Huska last week, the head coach mentioned Brian Burke’s inclination to have his
Humvee-like prospect switch to the wing. What!?
me help you comprehend this.
were rumours back at the 2012 draft table where Feaster and company were going
to take Sieloff with the 21st overall pick if Mark Jankowski was drafted
before they could grab him. That’s how highly Flames’ management thought of
this kid at the time.
he’s likely to become a big, physical crash-and-bang grinder, and that’s fine.
But there’s a bit of a dilemma in that. Do you want to push him to the wing at 20
years of age where he’s still young enough to learn to play forward? Or do you
wait it out, be patient, and see if he can turn into a legitimate defenseman since
he’s still young?
you’ve exhausted all other options and feel like you need to salvage him, then
put him on the wing. I don’t feel like they’ve exhausted all their options. On
the other hand, I’ll be the first to admit it’s tough to watch Sieloff play
defense most of the time. He’s really not that good at it, but let’s at least
wait a couple of full seasons to see what he can become before making him a
develops on the Sieloff front is something we should all be keeping tabs on.
GOALTENDING SINCE ORTIO’S INJURY
all miss Turkubot 2.0. How can you not? He’s been Adirondack’s backbone all
you’d think the team would be doomed in his absence, right?
that hasn’t been the case. Since Ortio’s injury, the Flames have gone 6-4-2-1.
Not good, not bad. As far as goals for and against, the Flames have allowed 46
goals and have scored 45. That’s only a -1 goal differential. Hardly enough to
blame Thiessen or Carr. It seems as though the real problem is the lack of offense.
hasn’t been a huge issue, if I were to speculate, I’d say the lack of offense
is probably due to a greater concentration on defense. The team knew Ortio
would bail them out time and time again, so they could freewheel on offense a
little more. With Thiessen (or Carr) holding down the paint, there may be an
inclination to help him out a bit more and sacrifice some scoring.