Pre-Season Post-Game: Avalanche Buried

The Calgary Flames came into tonight’s game with some momentum. After losing their first two games against the Edmonton Oilers when the curtain raised on the pre-season, they’ve been on a bit of a roll.

Tonight, they put an NHL line-up against the Colorado Avalanche. To steal a phrase: “They are who we thought they were.” The Flames didn’t play a strong full 60 minutes, but they didn’t need to. They coasted to a 2-0 win at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

THE RUNDOWN

The Flames scored 24 seconds in on a really nice passing play by Sean Monahan, Jiri Hudler and Johnny Gaudreau that ended with a tap-in by Hudler for a 1-0 lead. The rest of the period was rather back-and-forth, and the Avalanche actually out-shot the Flames by a slim 9-8 margin.

The Flames really took over the game a few minutes into the second period, a few minutes after Jiri Hudler was left wide-open and knocked in his second off a gorgeous set-up by Michael Frolik. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg thing, really. The Flames kept the puck more than they did in the first, holding and carrying it in rather than chucking it into the offensive end. As a result, the Avalanche got tired and took penalties. Because they took penalties, the Flames held the puck even more, leading to more chances and more Avalanche penalties. The home side out-shot ’em 14-8 overall, but 9-2 at even-strength. Yowzers.

The home side went back on their heels a bit in the third period. Maybe it was the Avalanche executing a bit better – they did – or the Flames collectively thinking “Well, we have this well in hand…” but the Avs drove the pace of the game more than they did in the first two periods. Shots were 12-10 for the Avs in the final frame, but Karri Ramo was only tested a couple times.

RED WARRIOR

Jiri Hudler scored twice, so let’s go with him.

But among the rest of the team, both Josh Jooris and Garnet Hathaway buzzed around a lot all night. Drew Shore was also pretty good, particularly in the face-off circle. Both goalies (Ramo and Hiller) were good; Hiller made 15 saves and Ramo made 14, though neither really had to stand on their head.

Oh, and the highlight of the night…

UP NEXT

The Flames are back in pre-season action on Thursday when they head to the MTS Centre in Winnipeg to face the Jets. The game’s on TV in Winnipeg, but is most likely blacked out in the scenic Albertas.

The NHL’s roster deadline is this coming Tuesday at 5pm ET and games get going for the 2015-16 regular season next Wednesday.

  • everton fc

    How do we keep Byron and Hathaway and Granlund? Someone’s gotta go.

    Perhaps we see this to start the season;

    1.Gaudreau – Monahan – Hudler
    2.Bennett – Backlund – Frolik
    3.Bouma – Stajan – Jones
    4.Ferland – Granlund/Jooris – Jooris/Colborne

    We have no true 4th line, which is great. Bollig and Byron or Colborne get the final two spots. Colborne/Byron, Shore and Raymond are either traded, or waived. Hathaway is sent to Stockton, and becomes first call up.

    Can’t see where Colborne fits anymore, though. I’d take Hathaway over him now, but I am biased. But Colborne’s ability to play centre and wing may save him. And may save Byron, as well. But I don’t think it saves Shore. But I do think he and Byron would both clear waivers. Ditto Raymond.

    Colborne would not clear waivers…

    Anyone for keeping Hathaway over Byron??

  • smith

    Is there any hope of Engelland being replaced? Please?

    How about Bollig, Raymond and Colborne?

    It would be so nice to replace those guys with Granlund, Kulak, Ferland and Byron. We could actually have a very nice fourth line and bottom defence pair!

    • CofRed4Life

      Hartley says Bollig stays with expanded role!

      Can we work a deal with the Leafs for at least Raymond (for a 6th rounder)?

      Colborne played through injury last season – lets see him in the regular season a few games before we trade him….Flames spent a lot of time working with him; shame to give up on him at this stage.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        Maybe it’s just me, but the messaging from the Flames seem consistent in their support of Bollig and in particular Engelland. If the team is steadfast in the support of these players, especially Bollig , the Flames will lose a good young talent for nothing. This makes me wonder about the trade potential of one of the Flames better assets, in order to avoid exposing players to waiver.

        Flames blogs are full of suggestions to trade young prospects like Grandlund, Shore and regular NHLers like Jones and Raymond, but none of those are easy trades to make, nor would a great asset likely be recovered. If Bollig stays do value assets like Bouma or Jooris get moved, in an effort to get compliant, or avoid losing players to waiver? Bollig’s gotta go, but I’m not confident the Flames will do the right thing and waive him.

  • CofRed4Life

    The key word tonight seemed to be balance. Russ/Wides clocked in about 22 min, Gio/Ham at 19, Engl/Wilson about 18. Very unlike last years when the top four generally ate far more minutes.

    Among the top 3 centers Bannett 17, Mony 16, Backs 15–implying three relatively balanced lines playing times.

    The two power play units looked scary good: Bennett, Gaudreau, Mony, Huds, Frolik, Ferland, Wides/Russ, Gio/Hamilton. They didn’t score, but the puck movement looked very sharp and they had a lot of chances.

    Admittedly Colorado did not have their A team on the ice, but the Calgary PP still looked very strong. Last time I was this happy with it was in the days of MacInnis and Suter–a rumor or dim memory for most fans!

    It looks like the addition of Hamilton and the reduced time on ice may translate to less running around in their own end. There seemed to be more defensive structure in this game than most last year. Should be even better when Brodie returns.

    GFG!!!!

  • hulkingloooooob

    at this point i’d start with:

    Forwards:

    Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Jiri Hudler
    Sam Bennett – Mikael Backlund – Michael Frolik
    Micheal Ferland – Markus Granlund – Josh Jooris
    Lance Bouma – Matt Stajan – David Jones

    Joe Colborne – Paul Byron

    Defensemen:

    Mark Giordano – Dougie Hamilton
    Kris Russell – Dennis Wideman
    Brett Kulak – Tyler Wotherspoon

    Ryan Wilson

    (but they’ll likely keep Deryk Engelland)

    Goaltenders:

    Jonas Hiller
    Joni Ortio

  • hulkingloooooob

    How many games has Raymond actually played this off-season. It seems we don’t see name on the game sheets. Which is interesting, as you may think the Flames may play him to raise his trade value, at least.

  • smith

    It will be interesting to see who they play the last two preseason games.

    My gut says they will give Raymond a chance despite not earning it(like Gucchi last year). Boy, I hope I’m wrong.

    Also I think that both Bollig and Eng’s will ultimately get the McG treatment. Start the season on the team but as the season where on the staff will realize they can’t play at this tempo and there is no need for a one dimensional player; also the kids will surpass them.

  • smith

    The only doubts I have about our GM are is his seemingly inability to see Engelland and Bollig’s lack of ability. If they were replaced how many less times would the flames get trapped in their own end each game? It has gotten way more frustrating this year already than last year thanks to all the good depth players pushing for jobs.

  • smith

    Is anyone keeping track of shot attempts in the preseason? How did our players do there? I would like to see how the bubble players stack up by this metric. I wouldn’t even mind seeing some PDO in the post game reports!

      • mk

        Best quote from that article was along the lines of “Iggy must be telling management ‘I’ve seen this team before and its not going to work’ considering all the ex-Flames on the Avs roster at the moment”.

    • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

      Now I get it! What I thought was a bunch of stats nerds, is actually a bunch of “fantasy” players who get points for what their individual players get credit for outside of the things that actually matter.

      Phew… Football and Baseball are sports that can be “measured” by those sorts of “fancy” stats that are becoming popular with the mathematics crowd. They can be compartmentalized because of the nature of the sports ie. situational vs free flowing.

      Hockey is about making plays and skill and effort. These things can’t be measured or predicted. In Baseball (where all this fancy stat stuff comes from) you can predict in advance of a match up how much success a batter will have against a pitcher, in football you can match up a 6’5 receiver against a 5’11 cornerback and predict the outcome of a fade route to the corner.

      Hockey ain’t like that!

      ONE SHOT IS NOT EQUAL TO ANOTHER, they are all different depending where the pass came from plus how much traffic is in front of the net plus an infinite amount of other things.

      FOR THE LAST TIME… you can’t measure so many of the things in hockey that win games.

  • TX Flame

    Hamilton and Gio looked awesome last night.

    Baalzamon pointed out that the Backs line looked like it had about 100% corsi at one point. I don’t suppose we are able to measure it? They really did look very good and I don’t think it was just because they were playing Colorado’s “B” team.

    While I have been an advocate of sending some of the higher priced under-performers to the AHL, I haven’t sat down and looked at how the Stockton roster looks if the Flames do that nor what they would have to do if they run out of slots on the roster. You can’t send just anyone down to the ECHL.

  • Toofun

    I was at the game last night, here’s “the good, the bad and the ugly”.

    Lot’s of good as you would expect against an AHL Av’s squad. The best of the good was Johnny Gaudreau. He looks even stronger on his skates this year and his passes (as mentioned in an earlier post) are just incredible.

    The bad. The Av’s only really had the one NHL line tonight and they caused us fits, hemming us into our our end and causing several scoring chances. MacKinnon is a very good player.

    The ugly. You’ve heard this one before but there is almost never, anyone, on the other end of an Engelland pass.

  • mk

    The solution to our over abundance of players at forward…an NHL expansion draft for Vegas/Quebec. We could shed our inferior forwards creating the log jam and even someone like Engelland

    Problem is it won’t be happening this summer, but the summer after if the rumours are true that an expansion team will join the league in 2017-2018.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    I only watched the second period and it was utter domination. Sounds like it wasn’t that way the entire game but the Flames were definitely the better team.

    I see the Flames competitive window for a cup 2 to 3 years from now. Bennett, Monahan, Gaudreau will be in their prime and we should have meaningful contributors still on entry level deals both on forward and defense. Contracts of Bollig, Raymond, Engelland and Smid will be gone.

    Keeping this in mind I think we should look at trading Wideman as soon as Brodie returns in October. Buffalo and Boston are already hurting on D with injuries… who knows what other injuries teams will have between now and then also.

    If Lehner stumbles out of the gate in Buffalo, I could see a deal that would send both Hiller and Wideman that direction.

    I’m okay with D pairings of:

    Gio/Hamilton

    Russell/Brodie

    Wilson/Nakladal

    Engelland

  • smith

    I really liked Bennett on the left wing last night, I hope he stays.

    As for the logjam on the bottom six, this is how I would group them: 4 LW’s fighting for two spots, and 2 C’s fighting for one spot.

    LW C
    Ferland – Granlund
    Byron – Colborne
    Raymond
    Bollig

    To me, the guys on the outside right now are Raymond, Byron.

    That leave’s Ferland and Bollig fighting for the last spot on LW, and Colborne and Granlund fighting for last spot on C.

    Maybe Ferland and Granlund take another year in the AHL?

      • piscera.infada

        Up until the past couple games, I had been a proponent of Shore over Granlund, but not any more. I think Granlund’s offensive upside is too great to be denied.

        I think Shore will draw the short straw and be packaged up with a veteran just to get them out of the organization (Raymond).

        • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

          I think that may have actually been the plan all along with Shore. He doesn’t LOOK like a player to me. He is often weak side and his stride bothers me for some reason.

          • piscera.infada

            I actually don’t mind Shore. I see ability, and I also see promise in his numbers while he was with the Panthers and in the AHL. I’m not sure why it hasn’t really translated to Calgary, but I do prefer Granlund over him, and I honestly think it’s between those two. Oddly, I feel like Shore will be more valuable in trade than Granlund will.

    • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

      Ferland is ready now.

      Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland

      Frolik – Bennett – Hudler

      Bouma – Backlund – Jones

      Colborne – Stajan- Jooris

      Gio – Hamilton

      Russell – Brodie

      Wilson – Wideman

      Ortio
      Ramo

      I think that is their strongest line up.

        • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

          I just think they will keep 3 goalies and see what they can get for either Ramo or Hiller until their hand is forced by needing to call up somebody from the farm, then put Hiller on waivers if he hasn’t been traded for magic Beans. (or maybe to a cap floor team with Engelland with retained salary, 1/2 for both of them for this year)

        • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

          And I also think that Kulak is pretty much ready right now and if they could get rid of Engelland, then Kulak and Wilson switch in and out. Kulak 50 games minimum.

      • everton fc

        I agree with almost all of it…with the exception of Byron in for Colbourne. I know if is strange to want to replace a big man with a smaller player but it comes down to the changing landscape….small shifty players now have more impact especially in 3 v 3. Byron is strong defensively so you could go with 3 forwards in OT knowing he could real any player in.

        • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

          Byron wouldn’t get anywhere near the ice in OT. He is NOT good defensively, his positioning is generally weak (because he thinks he can gamble because he is fast) and when you have 3 on 3, it is really 1 on 1 and since he can’t score or out muscle anyone he will be a liability in OT.

          • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

            I think the organization would disagree, they have no problem putting Byron in a defensive role. He is perfectly built for 3 v 3 just not finishing…yet. I seem to remember that his possession numbers were decent….not sure.

          • Cfan in Vic

            Yep. He was a good possession player last season. That, combined with wheels, and I think he’d be OK 3 on 3.

            That said, the team has better options for 3 on 3, and I doubt they’d roll 3 lines in that short a span.

    • Burnward

      Ferland is being used on the top 2 lines, he won’t be going back to the minors. He has an opportunity to play and police johnny and Monny which not many players can do. It does not seem like the Ferland experiment is working yet, but I like Hartley pushing this for some security of his prized young guns. Ferland has good skill and honestly Johnny could turn anyone into a 30 goal scorer.

    • everton fc

      First, Ferland isn’t fighting anyone for a position in Calgary. Cross him off the list.

      We are softer on the left side, than right. Raymond, Byron & Bollig play LW. We all agree if we were GM we’d move Raymond. Most would move Bollig.

      Truth is, Bollig, like Ferland, can be crossed off the list. They guys who have something to rove are Byron and Raymond. The question is which one has more on-ice value to the GM and coaching staff. Hartley loves Byron. He’s benched Raymond. Byron plays our gritty, up-tempo style. Raymond is not gritty. To me, Byron stays over Raymond, but do we have room for him the press-box, let alone the bench?

      To me, Byron & Bollig swap 4th line LW duties. But that only works if Bennett plays centre. As for Granlund vs. Colborne, Granlund’s easier to send down, obviously. Perhaps they give Colborne another long look? But both must hope Bennett moves to wing. And Colborne is not as good centre a Granlund – the latter will score more goals than Colborne.

      With no immediate room on the right-side for Colborne… Would they waive him and get nothing back?

      • piscera.infada

        I think you could get something for Colborne if you played your cards right, but it would likely have to be an in-season move–meaning, you’d have to play him for the first month, or so.

        The one problem I have with Granlund is faceoffs–he’s god-awful. You’re right though, he’s better positionally than Colborne at centre. I imagine that you could stick Granlund and Jooris together on a line, have the latter take strong-side draws, and shift back to wing after faceoffs.

        I agree re: Bollig, as well. I doubt he’s going anywhere any time soon. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he only plays somewhere around 40 games this season. That leaves 40 or so, for someone else–which is progress in an organization that just over a year ago dressed McGratton and Westgarth at the same time.

        • everton fc

          Bollig’s had a good camp. Even w/o the 2 goals. He seems a very committed team player, and I’m not just using clichés. He gives the most he’s got most shifts. Which is why Hartley and the brass like him. The fact he can chuck punches with the best of them (he may be one of the tops in the league at this dying role) give him more value than some of the others mentioned here. If he can develop a reasonably efficient two-way game this late in his “development”… Good for him. And the Flames. Again, I like Bollig and Byron in and out of that 4th line left wing position.

          Shore will clear waivers, I think. And I think Byron might, as well. Raymond won’t. And who wants that contract?? I agree on the faceoffs w/Granlund. Which may unfortunately punch his ticket to Stockton, over Colborne. But someday, Granlund will score 15-20 goals in this league. A 15 goals season from Colborne would be “career” stuff. Totally different players. But I think Burke wants Colborne to succeed here. So we’ll probably see him stay, and Granlund back in the “A”. Which is nuts, really, because Granlund is an NHL player. He’ll figure out the faceoffs…

          Colborne has also not succeeded at centre, versus wing. But he’s big, and we have to give him the benefit of the doubt, I suppose, being he was playing injured the latter part of last season. Hopefully he stays and scores 15 goals/40 points.

          I’m not confident that will happen, though….

          • Dan the Drunk

            I am not too worried about Bollig. I also think that he will do whatever is asked by the team, and that includes not being disgruntled in the press box…which is an art in itself.

            I don’t care who you are or what level of competition you are playing against, when you are considered a bubble player and you go out and play well and score 2 goals then you are taking the message real seriously….unlike some of the other players. On his body of work in tryouts alone he deserves to be on the roster.

            I remember watching Byron last year and in some games (before his injuries) he was one of the best players on the ice. I also have a problem with Jooris on the 4th line, I think he has a lot more to give offensively.

            Shore has the size and tools and should be better than he is, but something is not clicking for him yet….whereas Granlund is much better than I thought he’d be when he was drafted because of his pedigree.

          • everton fc

            I agree with your whole post.

            One thing I noticed with Shore last night; in the third, Rendulic, who played a pretty physical game, and might have had an issue late in the 3rd w/Ferland if he didn’t have that cage on, roughed up Shore a bit, won that battle cleanly after a faceoff centre-ice, and Shore had no response. Nothing. Doesn’t seem as physical as you’d like to see when someone’s on the bubble.

            Just something that stuck with me. Rendulic could be a nice find, for the Avs.

          • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

            Interesting….shore was part of the U.S. Development program which usually churns out decent prospects… But despite his toolbox teams have given up on him. I think teams are enticed by his size and skill and willing to take a chance on him. I think we will lose him to waivers but others will soon see the holes in his game.and the lack of grit.

          • RedMan

            I think we all seem to agree that Granlund has more pure offensive upside, but sucks at faceoffs – so why keep him at center? move hi mto wing,and maybe he becomes a league average 2nd line guy.

            Where colbourne does have some strength is in puck battle along the boards. I am looking forward to seeing where his off-season workout has left him, because last year he was definitely becoming more physical and aggressive, and just maybe – as a late bloomer, he develops into the big guy teams want.

            Team seems committed to giving Ferland a chance to find a niche in the top six. Going to be interesting to see how that plays out.

            If he doesn’t do well, then i suppose Bouma and Grandlund will get a look. Raymond is the man who “should” be taking the 2LW spot, but he just hasn’t grabbed the brass wing and may find himself on the outs looking in, because he is not strongly suited to a checking role on the bottom 6.

  • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

    So if I’m reading the consensus correctly; opening night roster would be something like this:

    Gaudreau – Monahan – Hudler

    Ferland – Backlund – Frolik

    Bouma – Bennett – Jooris

    Bollig – Stajan – Jones

    With Raymond, Byron, Granlund and Colborne on the Outside?