WWYDW: Positive Reinforcements?

I can almost picture Bouma sitting with a pint of Cherry Garcia, watching Ferland’s highlight reel. What Would You Do Wednesday returns to talk about the Flames possibly getting healthier.

The Flames are preparing for the second-round of the playoffs (wow, typing that is crazy) and the longer the Flames hang around, the better their chances are of getting some bodies back into the lineup. The problem is, whom would you take out? Would you want to mess with the chemistry of a winning roster? How long would you wait before you make changes? Let’s get into it after the jump!

Now that Micheal (that’s how it’s spelled btw) Ferland has firmly planted himself into the hearts, minds, and locker doors of Flames faithful, it seems pretty much impossible that he will be taken out of the lineup again these playoffs. After replacing Lance Bouma on the Flames’ third-line, Ferland looks to finally represent the ever-elusive trait brought up here by Kent many moons ago, “functional toughness” as he can both hit and play hockey. 

However, it is possible, though by no means certain, that Bouma could recover from his “Upper Body Injury” (widely speculated to be a broken hand) at some point and that could lead to some awkward situations. Bouma has been a warrior all season for the Flames and I would bet that he will slot back in if he is healthy which means someone from this current lineup would have to be removed, barring any new injuries that may (and hopefully will not occur) in that time.

Paul Byron is another Flames forward who has been slowly recovering from an injury over the past few weeks, though Byron’s recovery has been a little stranger. At times, it has looked as though Byron is very close to return only to vanish from the main skating group. The injury is lower-body and he has suffered a few setbacks during his recovery. 

Byron is a tougher guess with regards to his return but it is possible that it is sooner rather than later. In that case, it is an open question whether or not he usurps a current roster spot or not. The Flames could certainly use his speed, specifically his ability to enter the offense zone with control of the puck, and I believe he would be an upgrade over a player like Mason Raymond. Although, lately saying a player is an upgrade over Raymond hasn’t exactly been a ringing endorsement. 

Oh, and if I see one comment about Byron’s breakaway prowess, or lack thereof, I swear I will devote every future article to lamenting the loss of Kevin Westgarth. Don’t test me, I’m crazy. 

If Raphael Diaz were to get healthy, it will be the easiest decision yet for the Flames regarding injury replacements. Throughout the playoffs, the Flames have been using Corey Potter and Tyler Wotherspoon about as frequently as solar eclipses. 

In game six, Wotherspoon recorded under four minutes of ice time while Schlemko took shifts with Brodie. When Potter played in games one and two, he played 3:56 and 5:34 respectively and, like Wotherspoon during his time against the Canucks, was essentially benched after the second period in favour of double shifting Brodie.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Schlemko out there with Brodie just fine (so much so that I believe that it should be the new normal but that’s another article) but if Diaz were to return, the Flames could partner him with Schlemko and hopefully take some of the stress of Brodie and his loveable, gritulence-oozing boat anchor. Also, though no conclusive evidence exists that proves TJ Brodie is mortal, it is possible that he may begin to wear down as the playoffs continue if he continues having to endure this kind of workload.

So let’s get into it. What are the scenarios that make sense for swapping the injured players back in? For Bouma, things are a little tricky if they are looking to swap him in for a player near the bottom of the roster. As of this moment, there is no chance that one of Ferland or Jones is swapped out on either wing on the third line for obvious reasons. 

The line of Bennett, Backlund, and Colborne seems to be rather untouchable as well for less obvious reasons (see: Colborne). It seems logical to swap out Bollig on the fourth line once/if Bouma returns to the lineup but that may be hard to do. Despite the fact the Bollig routinely plays very few minutes (relative to the rest of the forward corps) Bob Hartley does seem rather enamoured with his experience. Also, I’ll say it, Bollig hasn’t been terrible in that limited role these playoffs. However, I believe Bouma would be a major upgrade. My vote: Bouma in – Bollig out.

Finally, if Byron was to return, I think that either Mason Raymond or even Joe Colborne would be suitable swaps, though I believe that Colborne’s play has earned him a few more fans since the postseason has began. 

Raymond has averaged 8:37 per game this post season and has generated just two shots on net. Both Raymond and Byron are strong skaters but Byron can be used on the penalty kill which would allow the Flames to take Colborne off of the penalty kill. Alternatively, Raymond hasn’t played a single second short-handed these playoffs. I think that Raymond is a strong candidate for replacement if Byron is healthy again, heck, I would even like to see Drew Shore in that role right now.

My vote: Byron in – Raymond out.

But what do you all think? Should these players even be slotted in at all? Should switches only be done after a loss, regardless of the health of the reinforcements? What would you do?

  • smith

    I can do without Raymond or Bollig. The sooner they can be replaced by Byron and Bouma the better chance we’ll have against the Ducks.

    If we had Gio, Diaz, Bouma and Byron all healthy there would be no question who would win this series.

  • Bouma’s played great with Backlund through the regular season. If he’s healthy, I think it’s a no-brainer to send Colborne to the Jooris line and make Raymond/Bollig a game-to-game decision.

    The other thing is that there are going to be injuries, and any benching decisions are probably going to make themselves.

  • MonsterPod

    We lost Smid, Gio, and Diaz on D this year. Any other team would call up their best young D from the A and slot them in.

    We resisted that for the longest time (playing Potter out of the press box). This is a glaring organizational weakness and now it’s a team weakness. Our 5/6 can be exploited much easier than Anaheim’s can.

    I wish we knew what was ‘wrong’ with Wotherspoon, because I’ve been excited for him for a few years now. A year ago, down the stretch, I though he looked really promising — good size, good vision from the point on the PP, moves just fine.

    I know he was injured early, but something else just seems amiss. Obviously there’s something Hartley doesn’t trust or like. So anyway, I’d like to see Wotherspoon get more minutes as this series goes on. Make some big plays, step up, and make our 5/6 stronger.

    Also, Raymond out — Shore in.


    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      Its not a knock on Wotherspoon and I dont think it has anything to with trust/Hartley. He is just young. Not every young guy is ready in their 2nd year pro. Kid is good. He just needs another year or two.

      What they Flames have going with our young players right now is amazing but we shouldnt take it for granted. Not every prospect is ready and not every prospect can contribute right out of the gate.

      I also think it has something to do with the youth in the forward core… a desire to have experienced D backing them up.