Let’s Hope The New Lines Stick

We got some awful news yesterday, Flames fans.

Lance Bouma broke his fibula, and so everyone’s dreams of Top Six Forward Lance Bouma are now but a memory, at least until January-ish. But that also means that Bob Hartley is being forced to shuffle the deck a bit.

And shuffle the deck he has, with the apparent return of Top Six Forward Mikael Backlund!

Granted, these lines are preliminary, and exclude the recently-recalled Markus Granlund – who will probably play center. But if nothing else, they have some balance.

  • The top line is their best line, and unless one of them gets eaten by a shark, I can’t see Bob Hartley breaking them up.
  • Sam Bennett has been skating really well and hasn’t looked out of place as a center, but focusing on his defensive responsibilities have arguably negated his offensive talent at the NHL level thus far. Putting him with the defensively-responsible Backlund and Ferland, the bull in a china shop, has some nice possibilities.
  • Jones and Frolik showed some nice chemistry in the third period against St. Louis, Stajan’s got good chemistry with Jones, and the trio should (at least) become a half-decent shut-down line.
  • Finally, Raymond, Jooris and Bollig admittedly seems like a bit of a dog’s breakfast. However, Raymond’s got some wheels, Jooris is a good face-off man, and Bollig has an underrated shot (if/when he can get a chance in the offensive zone). This line is likely where Granlund slots in when he gets put into the line-up. I’d imagine Bollig rotates out to the press box, Jooris moves to the right wing and Granlund becomes the center. Raymond and Granlund played together quite a bit last season when Granlund was up and showed some chemistry – I think Drew Shore was on the right wing for a few of those games – and at this point, the Flames need to get some chemistry going. Oh, and if Granlund struggles with face-offs they can rotate Jooris in from the wing to help out. It gives them some flexibility.

Fun Fact: So far, the Flames have scored seven goals. The Gaudreau line has produced five of them, including the team’s two power-play markers. They really need more from the remainder of the line-up, and producing three support lines that can push the game into the offensive zone is a great first step.

  • everton fc

    Jones to the left side, Bollig and Ferland to the right side…

    Serious shuffling.

    Swap Bollig for Jooris and move Granlund in to centre the 4th line – I’d prefer that. Swap Jones w/Ferland – I’d prefer that.

  • SmellOfVictory

    I’ve noticed that Bennett has played a lot more of a winger-style game for his first few games this year, in spite of being put at centre. Maybe he should just convert full time.

    • piscera.infada

      I’ve noticed that Bennett has played a lot more of a winger-style game for his first few games this year, in spite of being put at centre.

      How so? I haven’t noticed that one iota. I feel like people are conflating a lack of offensive success with a lack of effectiveness at centre.

      From what I’ve seen, he’s been responsible in his own zone–sure, there have been a couple of gaffes, but that’s true of his wingers as well. In fact, I might argue he often comes too deep in the defensive zone. He’s been the second best centre at the dot (although that’s not saying much).

      That all said, I’m not opposed to putting him at wing for a period of time to generate some secondary scoring, because it’s very much needed.

      • OKG

        I agree with everything in this post. Bennett has arguably been the Flames’ best center through three games, full stop. But I don’t mind putting him on the wing temporarily to make arguably the best second line possible with the available players. Not much anyway.

        I don’t like putting a guy like Bennett on the wing, but I’m not about to complain either. That line should be good.

      • SmellOfVictory

        I didn’t say he was ineffective at centre; just that he plays like a winger. He spends the vast majority of his time along the boards, and he’s playing a very north-south style game.

        Winning faceoffs is great, but I’m just saying that stylistically and positionally he doesn’t look anything like a centre – at least not in the offensive zone.

        • everton fc

          Have Granlund centre a line w/Bennett on the wing. Faceoff issues diminished.

          In addition… I think Bennett looks quite at ease down the middle, and on the wing. The org likes the flexibility of these players – probably why Colborne’s still around, why Byron hung on… Why Bouma has value… Frolik… Jooris… It’s great to have players who can slot into multiple roles.

  • Cfan in Vic

    An injury to Bouma is bad news for sure, but if Granlund pushes Bollig into the press box, and Jooris takes most of the draws, I think this is actually an improved Flames team over last game. I hope that’s the way it shakes out tomorrow.

    Off topic: Did anyone see the highlight package from Arizona/Anaheim? Anthony Duclair and Max Domi (both 20yo) seemingly unraveling the Ducks all by themselves. Wow. Those two look great! (a little jealous…)

  • RedMan

    Flames are poised to take the next two – scuttle the Jet’s home opener (home teams have not done well, as usual – seems like the pressure gets em or something) and of course I am counting on them to decimate the Oilers this weekend.

      • Bean-counting cowboy

        I actually don’t mind it. Make the Stajan unit the true shut-down trio for hard matchups. Gives Backlund & Bennett a bit higher ground to be more offensive cause what we need now is secondary scoring. If Frolik is with Backlund, the temptation is to make that group the shut down unit, and in giving Stajan Jones and Ferland the higher ground limit the offensive output as compared to Backlund Bennett Ferland

  • wattree

    I’m hoping that Backlund ending up on the 4th line was simply a byproduct of their plan to play Bennett at centre. Stajan, Jones & Ferland were pretty darn good together last year, so I can see where you wanted to leave them alone. Which leaves only the 4th line as an opening.

    I wonder if Backlund could play LW eventually?