Islanders 4, Flames 0: post-game embers

Well, that sure was a game of hockey!

This wasn’t quite as terrible as previous efforts were. Don’t get me wrong, it was still pretty bad – the Flames are really not playing particularly well – but in previous efforts, the Flames gave up much, much earlier. At least now, they’re starting off games decently enough.

The puck just isn’t going in. Then the other team proves better than them, and then they give up. But at least you get some level of effort first.

Haha, what

Bob Hartley started off the game with somewhat new line combinations. Of course Gaudreau, Monahan, and Hudler remained together; it was nice to see Bennett back up with Backlund and Frolik, though. Grant ended up centring Colborne and Jones, and that left Bollig, Stajan, and Jooris to round things out.

But when the Flames entered the third period down 1-0, he decided to try something new. And then something else new. And then another new thing for good measure.

At even strength only, these were the lines Hartley played throughout the entire third:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Bennett

Hudler – Grant – Colborne

Frolik – Backlund – Jooris

Bollig – Stajan – Jones

Alright, mixing things up a little. He kept it going, as the next shifts were:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Bennett

Frolik – Backlund – Jooris

(The Islanders scored a goal here.)

Hudler – Grant – Colborne

Bollig – Stajan – Jones

And this is where we start going a little more all over the place:

Colborne – Monahan – Jooris

Gaudreau – Frolik – Backlund

Colborne – Monahan – Jooris

Bennett – Grant – Hudler

And why stop there:

Gaudreau – Monahan – Frolik

Bennett – Grant – Hudler

Colborne – Backlund – Jooris

(The Islanders scored again at this point.)

Gaudreau – Monahan – Frolik

Bollig – Stajan – Jones

And since none of that was clearly working, why not go back to what you’d just tried like two minutes ago:

Colborne – Monahan – Jooris

Bennett – Grant – Hudler

Gaudreau – Backlund – Frolik

Bollig – Stajan – Jones

Colborne – Monahan – Jooris

Gaudreau – Backlund – Frolik

Bennett – Grant – Hudler

(The Islanders scored again.)

Colborne – Stajan – Jones

Bennett – Grant – Jooris

Colborne – Stajan – Jones

And then the Flames got a powerplay, Hartley sent out Gaudreau, Monahan, and Hudler, and it was mercifully over.

Over one period, Bennett and Gaudreau, for example, played on three different lines. Twenty minutes, and three different line combinations per player. They were supposed to generate offence with that? With a coach that formed and dismantled lines throughout the period? With players they haven’t regularly practiced with?

Well, that didn’t work. The Flames not only stopped producing chances with consistency (although that Gaudreau – Backlund – Frolik line tried really, really, really hard), but they were giving up goals all the while.

Frantically switching line combinations in the dying period of a 1-0, then 2-0, etc. game is the action of a desperate man. There was no payoff.

What do the lines look like next game? Who cares, they won’t stick. 

Where do we go from here?

Why is Brandon Bollig

Of course, we have to address this particular issue. Even after Paul Byron was waived, the Flames had more than enough forward personnel to keep Brandon Bollig out of the lineup. He’s not one of the 12 best forwards on this team, after all.

But hey, you can kind of rationalize it. With Lance Bouma and Micheal Ferland out, the Flames are missing two of their toughest players. And if you want that feature still in the forward lineup, you turn to Bollig.

There are several problems with that.

First: Bollig’s impact on the game was to take a stupid interference penalty in the offensive zone, thereby putting his team on the penalty kill for no particular reason. Now, the Isles didn’t score on this kill – it was Dougie Hamilton’s puck over the glass call almost immediately after where Mikhail Grabovski finally solved Joni Ortio – but that didn’t help.

Speaking of puck over the glass penalties, Bollig, for some reason, tried to do a stretch pass (as this entire team is wont to do). It failed miserably (as is wont for this team). Bollig’s pass, made under zero pressure, instead flew right over the glass, and he put his team, now down 1-0 and no longer generating anything, back on the kill.

That’s not toughness, that’s just stupid hockey. I don’t care how underwhelming Mason Raymond may be: if he’s going to take dumb penalties (and he probably isn’t going to take penalties as atrocious as those), at least he can be a scoring threat on occasion.

Furthermore. Okay, so you want toughness, but two of your tougher players are injured, so you put in Bollig. Except… you still have other players that are plenty tough. Wasn’t that supposed to be one of Deryk Engelland’s defining features? Not him being a top four defenceman, the fact that he’s tough.

Or even this. There was a moment in the second period where Travis Hamonic took out Johnny Gaudreau. He was called for interference, but before he was off the ice, Sean Monahan was on him, and it kind of looked like he had murder in his eyes. There were no fisticuffs – just some very intense hugging, and probably some bad language – but before Gaudreau had even gotten himself up, Monahan was in Hamonic’s face.

Bollig isn’t going to protect Gaudreau out there, because Bollig and Gaudreau should never, ever be on the same line (and throughout the chaos of the third period, it seems Hartley agrees).

Monahan was willing to step up to the task, though.

So again: what’s the point of having Bollig in the lineup? He’s not being tough, he’s not protecting anybody, and all his contributions were to take two stupid, easily avoidable penalties and put his team down a man.

And for all his efforts, he got more ice time than David Jones. (At least Jones had the decency to not take penalties and actually get shots on net and try to get something going. What nerve.)

Where has the SH% gone

The Flames are missing shots they probably would not have last season. Of course, last season was the fabled “top two shooting percentage team in the league” season, and part of the reason why they scored as many goals as they did. Gone is their 10.52% shooting percentage, now replaced with a mere 7.55%.

That’s a difference of about six goals, which would give the Flames a -13 goal differential, rather than the -19 they currently sport. So they’d still be in a pretty bad spot.

But hey, at least they’d be putting pucks in the net. The game kicked off with Jaroslav Halak mishandling the puck, gifting the Flames with beautiful chances – and Joe Colborne missed a wide open net. He’d go on to do the same thing later. Credit where credit is due, he did lead the way in shots (six) and scoring chances (four), but fact is, things simply aren’t going in for the Flames to start the season.

In 2014-15, it took 49 games for the Flames to get shutout. This year, it took nine games.

And it really, really isn’t for lack of trying. Colborne should have had a couple. Same with Bennett. Gaudreau. Backlund. Jones. Giordano. The effort to score is back again – it’s just, so far this season, it’s not happening.

Of course, that’s not the main problem. The Flames and Kings both have 16 goals this season, tied for second worst in the Pacific Division. (RIP the Anaheim Ducks, scorer of six. And somehow with the same number of points as the Flames. Okay.) The main difference: the Flames have allowed 35 goals against; the Kings, 17.

Neither is putting the puck in the net, but the Flames’ defence is an unmitigated disaster that’s just enhancing the problems. You can’t win if you can’t score, but you really can’t win if a puck in your zone is enough to send you into fits.

Oh no, Kris Russell

Kris Russell did not have a particularly pleasant game. He was on the ice for all three Islanders goals in their third period, either getting twisted around, out-battled, or simply not doing much of anything as the Isles turned their surmountable 1-0 lead into a crushing 4-0 win.

Probably most damning for Russell was his part in the Islanders’ third goal. Casey Cizikas turned Russell inside out from the corner, eventually feeding Cal Clutterbuck. It shouldn’t have been able to get to that point. Cizikas shouldn’t have been able to make that pass; with just Russell covering him, he did. (Granted, it’s not entirely on Russell – his teammates should have been covering Clutterbuck – but it did start where he was.)

But at least he led the way with five blocked shots? That’s supposed to be a good example of his defensive prowess, right…?

Joni Ortio deserves better

Through two periods, Ortio had stopped 23 of 24 shots, good for a .958 save percentage. The one goal scored against him came on the powerplay, so he couldn’t exactly be blamed for it; especially as he was doing a pretty good job dealing with the lively Barclays Center boards and the Flames defence we’ve come to know and not particularly enjoy. 

It was a team-wide breakdown in the third, though, and that’s where Ortio picked up his .886 SV% finish. He should have had the second goal; goals three and four weren’t exactly on him, though.

So Ortio did, in fact, play his part in the loss. But considering the team in front of him and his current stage of development, he really did all he could, and deserved at least some offensive support to have a chance.

Goaltending remains a symptom, but not the main problem. God-era Miikka Kiprusoff wouldn’t be able to do a thing to help out this team, let alone an entirely different kid from Turku.

    • Burnward

      Don’t even think about it. Thanks to our friends to the North, we have as good of a chance of drafting Matthews as anyone else.

      Calgary has a better chance of landing Stamkos than Matthews at this point.

      • The Oilers Shot Clock

        You obviously missed my point.

        Flames young core are just that. They are a few years away from even getting close to their prime. Until they do the Flames are going no where and need to focus not only on creating a winning culture but developing the young players that are not only on the roster but within the system.

        Not making the playoffs this year is not the end of the world. It is part of the rebuild process! Being in a position for a lottery win and or a high draft choice will be very valuable for a building franchise…patience is critical !

  • The GREAT Walter White

    So I have this neighbour who is an absolute sloth; he has not accomplished anything over the last decade.
    All he does is invest his welfare money to buy lottery tickets.
    About 5 years ago the lucky bastard won the lottery… But mismanaged his money so bad that soon he was broke again.
    Then he won the lottery again the next year, and the next, always bragging about how much money he had, yet at the end of the year once again broke due to poor money management.

    After each year complaining how unlucky he was because the jackpots in previous years were so much bigger than the ones he won…

    Would you believe it; he won the lottery again this year, with a bigger jackpot than the previous years…..he decided to get a new financial consultant looking for better “luck” this time around, yet he is still making crap investments.

    And here he comes over to my house again bragging about how rich he is……!!!?

    What a goof!!!


    • Oil City Roller

      I know what you mean! I had this neighbour, wore tight wranglers, drove a jacked up 350, wore a cowboy hat, a real hayseed. Last year he entered a rodeo and did better than expected. After that he was telling everyone who would listen how he was going to be the next champ.

      This year his old lady slept with his brother and left him. His rig rocket broke down and got repossessed. He entered another rodeo but got bucked off on the first ride and landed in a huge pile of horse turds. The funny thing is he still thinks he’s on the right track in life.

      A real sad situation.

      • Derzie

        I’ve got a similar neighbour. They’ve got a young kid who uses a silver shovel to clean up the same horse turds we have in our yard. The local newspaper reporters circles the block all day taking pictures of the lad. The horse crap seems about the same height as mine and he’s been shoveling all month. There are lots of pictures of his work in the paper though. I’m thinking our will be cleaned up by Christmas but the kid will be shoveling all year. Smelly times. Our kid is out of the spotlight and is a masterful shoveler. One of the best in the neighbourhood but the paper guy has other things to cover.

      • ChinookArchYYC

        At least the hayseed accomplished something, and he was directly responsible for his success. WW’s neighbour on the other hand, sounds like a real piece of work. Albeit a very lucky one.

    • Cfan in Vic

      The thing Flames fans just can’t understand is why the comments THIS year are filled with hate. It never happened past years. Go back and look. Threads were never highjacked by Oiler trolls. Maybe occasionally, but thats it.

      The reason is that last year Flames fans got so high up on their horse and looked down and ridiculed the Oilers at every single opportunity. Oiler fans just took it. They knew they suck.

      This year, Oiler fans STILL think they suck. You’d be hard pressed to find many Oiler fans who think they make the playoffs this year. Still rebuilding, and happy to have a player better than any Flame player to ever play the game of hockey.

      Its Flames fans who have fallen so far from the “we are awesome”, “we are contenders”, “regression? pff”, “we will be the first cinderella team in 100 years to repeat”, “last year wasn’t fluke, we were awesome”, “Colorado comparisons are wrong, because we are awesome”.

      The reason Oiler fans are being obnoxious losers is because they were provoked last year. I agree its annoying for everyone. But Flames fans brought this on themselves. And I wouldn’t expect it to stop. I know many Oiler fans who are happier when the Flames lose than when the Oilers win. They expect to miss the playoffs this year, so their greatest joy is in watching Calgary burn.

      This won’t end anytime soon…. Not trying to start a squabble here, just explaining to Flames fans why the Oiler fans are being so inflammatory this year.

      • Cfan in Vic

        The main problem:

        “I know many Oiler fans who are happier when the Flames lose than when the Oilers win.”

        The secondary problem:

        “Flames fans brought this on themselves.” That’s just not true. The ones who go over and troll on ON generally enjoy engaging back and forth in this useless pissing contest. Most of us “Flames Fans” don’t comment on ON. The “Payback” from ON affects only the ones who don’t want to play that game, so your statement is complete rubbish (but seemingly shared by a lot of people over on ON).

      • Parallex

        “The reason Oiler fans are being obnoxious losers is because they were provoked last year.”

        I disagree, There was an obscene amount of Oiler fan trolling last year (though not the juvenile orgy level of now). Which is doubly idiotic because the Oilers stunk last year (and the year before that and the year before that and the year…) people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

        “I agree its annoying for everyone. But Flames fans brought this on themselves. And I wouldn’t expect it to stop.”

        In that case I would encourage moderators on all nation sites to take more liberal use of the banhammer. Obnoxious trolling does nothing but derail perfectly good articules for discussion. It makes visiting a less enjoyable experience and repeat page views less desireable.

        So yeah… I’m in favor of troll banning (Preferably by IP address if possible). I also think restricted commenting privaledges (no commenting by unregistred users) would be in order (again if possible).

        Seriously, is discourse higher then the level of a 12 year old to much to ask?

      • The GREAT Walter White

        I don’t think that is what it is at all. Most flames fans last year weren’t talking about how we were cup contenders last year. We weren’t out provoking people. It was your own fans saying how much they hated the oilers and how much more fun it was watching flames hockey. Flames fans knew what we were and it was said in almost every single thread. We were just enjoying the ride. go back and look for yourself. As for our new players (Hamilton, frolic), they do make us better. Little bit of a learning curve for Hamilton but he’ll get there. The flames are on paper a better team than last year, doesn’t always mean we will make the playoffs (see Dallas).

        Flames fans hated what was going on up north almost as much as you guys just so you know.

        The big issue I think was a bit of jealousy about our playoff run and how fun our team was to watch last year. Has nothing to do with what any flames fan said last year or this year. Just a few small people trying to feel big now that they have a possibly great player in mcdavid

      • Captain Ron

        Yes of course it is all our fault. We perpetrated the whole thing. Shame on us for being so inconsiderate of everything Oiler related on ON and FN.

        I think I will grab a box of kleenex and go watch a few of those old Boys on the Bus recordings while dubbing in some of the new Messier/McDavid commercials. Cause we don’t get to see them all that often here in the southern part of the Province. Will follow this up with an hour of prayer at the Oiler alter asking for forgiveness.

        • Captain Ron

          Hahaha! & every 3rd Sunday they have the ritual were you must bath in holy Oil water & chant “McDavid is better than any Flame to ever play” 3 times in front of the congregation.

          Don’t plan anything else that Sunday, I hear it could take over 4 hours. They are getting so many members that they are conserving on that Holy Oiler water, so it takes longer to get oneself properly bathed in the small rental hot tub.

    • piscera.infada

      Kudos for your story, I had a good chuckle.

      It reminded me of neighbors that I have. They are the definition of blue collar people. Always working, never taking holidays, and always saving diligently.
      You could say that everything they had was “earned and not given”.
      Eventually the hard work payed off and they built up a large sum of money.
      I don’t know if it was arrogance or complacency, but they ended up using that money to sign a long term contract with their friend’s boy Sluggie to mow their lawn.
      Sluggie never showed up once, the lawn is not mowed,
      and the money is gone.
      To top it off, they need a new house and the economy is in the toilet.

    • TRAIN#97

      Then what happened is that his good luck started to rub off on to you. For the last couple of years you have won some smaller jackpots and it looks like the way you’ve been buying tickets you are set to win the lotto this year.
      Hey I just drove by your neighbors house and it looks like he is getting set to move into one of the nicest houses that I have ever seen.

      FN Mod: removed comment that the poster made that was unnecessary and contrary to the ‘don’t be a dick’ rule.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    They played two of the best teams in the league these past two games and hung in there til late in the game…no complaints with the effort the last two games.

    They just need to avoid stinkers against the weaker teams (Edmonton & Vancouver) like early in the season. Defence needs to tighten up a lot, still playing too soft, Brodie will help but he isn’t the saviour and won’t make the difference in his own…all 23 guys need to bring their lunch pails and keep it simple.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    Hartley is what he is…A poor line matcher with a penchant for employing players more adept at face punching than playing hockey.

    Jack Adams trophy means nothing. I don’t think he’s a good coach and if he lasts the season Id be surprised.

    • Burnward

      Hartley suddenly can’t coach hey…I guess it’s his fault the players can’t play anything resembling defence this year or that they are failing to execute their defensive schemes…or that the roster he has to work with includes really one line can produce offense at this level…or that his goalies can’t stop a beach ball.

      I remember when it was all Brent Sutters fault too and his like matching was horrible, decisions horrible…everything horrible

      I remember the same thing with the coach before too.

      Hell, I even remember Edmonton going through 5 coaches in the last 6 years and it was every one of them’s fault that the players were underperforming.

      Blame the coaches all you want but the reality is the players have to execute at the end of day and they haven’t been.

      • The Oilers Shot Clock

        I wouldnt say suddenly….Id say, ever since he didnt have a Sakic or Forsberg on his roster he has been bad.

        He wont last the year, and it wont be a bad thing.

    • piscera.infada

      I actually agree. I don’t think Hartley is the issue, himself, at this moment. I do wonder however, how long it will take for his horrible tactics to catch up to him. I think he is part of the problem, and I wonder when it’s safe to say it?

      And before people come back with the “Jack Adams” argument, I had the same issues last year with Hartley. He’s a great motivator, but a brutal tactician, and it’s becoming ever more evident with this team’s offensive futility.

      • The Oilers Shot Clock

        You said it better than I did as I wouldn’t blame him either for the slow start or the holes in the lineup.. I just dont think hes ever been a solid coach, especially for a young team.

      • The Oilers Shot Clock

        So it’s Hartley’s fault that he has three players that are offensive producers at the NHL level and the rest of the team is a bunch of pluggers. Didn’t realize he was the GM that assembled the roster as well.

        There isn’t a coach in the league that could do more with that roster.

        • piscera.infada

          That’s besides the point. Read my comment again–reading comprehension is golden.

          I specifically stated, “Hartley is not to blame for the start”. I do however believe that he is “not a good tactician”, and that, is exacerbating the problem you are talking about (lack of scoring ability). I went on to say that “this worried me last season”.

          I don’t argue that the team had success last season, but much of it was in spite of Bob Hartley. This year will (hopefully) eventually come down to how this team can rebound, and Bob Hartley will have to play a huge role in that–I hope he’s able to be more than a cheerleader.

        • RickT

          Absolutely there are.

          In what world is Bollig a better option than Raymond? Ever? In a world that was four years ago when face punchers were relevant (and he isn’t even particularly good at that, either)?

          We need offense. Bollig is basically the antithesis of that.

          In what world is Engelland a better option than Nakladal? Lace my dog up on skates and he’s going to defend better.

          And Engelland on the PK? Where am I? Why is that a good idea? When is it a good idea? Maybe on the pond over Christmas break in a game of shinny. And even then, I don’t know – a person who can skate, like at all, will not have much an issue there.

          Why did he refuse to play Ortio for so long? Like Ari said, the only reason the Flames were in it past the midway mark of the 2nd was because of him.

          Hartley has become crotchety old man. If he was a good motivator, why do the Flames give up after two goals this year, when they would never last year?

          It’s not a lack of talent, at all. We have sublime talent (albeit, we are not elite – that’s where we had the blue collar attitude from last year – and we are better this year). There is poor usage and player decisions.

          • Byron Bader

            Hey look, I get it that BH has some strange line-up combos and lots of people don’t agree with them. However if you’re saying that we can’t score and are losing because we don’t have Raymond, Nakladal and Ortio out there I think you must have forgotten the guys on the team who are supposed to be doing the scoring (i.e. Monaghan, Hudler, Bennett, Frolik, Backlund)?

            Its convenient to find 1-2 small things you don’t like and put all the blame there but the reality is its a team game and the team just isn’t playing well enough.

    • The Oilers Shot Clock

      Hartley does a few things really well that make him a good coach.

      He is quite good at developing character and challenging players to be their best. A good example of this is how he handled Ferland with his personal life. He demonstrates that he cares on a deeper level than just hockey.

      Hartley hasn’t lost the room, but changing the lines up every shift can only go so far to spark some offence. He needs to make a statement by giving Bollig the boot, and focus on the fundamentals like zone entry, and playing disciplined hockey.

      Hopefully when Brodie comes back we will see some more stability and something will stick.

    • Parallex

      Meh, I think Hartley is generally more in the average range. There are few really good coaches (you can count them on one hand) and even some of those guys aren’t so good in the long-term.

      But yes, Hartley is an issue. It’s not the same issues that Butter (Brent Sutter) had to address Bingo’s comment… Butter’s problem was that he had sound tactics but he didn’t have the horses to execute them (playing a defense heavy PvP system only works if your P are better then their P and ours weren’t) that’s not to excuse him… if you continually run out a strategy that can’t work and refuse to change it then it’s on you. Be it a simple regression of shooting % or a league adjustment to his block-shot/stretch-pass emphasis Hartley’s tactics aren’t working and he needs to change it up.

      • piscera.infada

        The biggest problem I have with Hartley’s “system” in the offensive zone is his reliance on the rush. The games I’ve watched this year (all of them except Detroit), they’ve shown that they are dangerous in the offensive zone when they work the puck down low into the corners and behind the net. This allows the defensemen time to actually gain the blue line and pinch to keep pucks in. It allows players like Gaudreau, Hudler, Bennett, and Frolik to actually work the puck around the zone.

        The problem this year has been the team trying to create almost all their offense off the rush. It means sure, you enter the zone with a 3-on-2, or a 4-on-3 almost every time. This year as opposed to last year, teams are actually falling back and simply maintaining gaps when the Flames rush into the zone. A quick missed or blocked shot, or missed or intercepted pass, or simply a routine save, and suddenly the opposition is springing the other way entering the zone in an odd man opportunity. By that time, the damage is done–everyone starts running around, and zone-time and usually goals are the result.

        I made an argument on here around this time last year (right after we came back to beat the Ducks in overtime), that the good teams were starting to sit on the “rush”. It seems this year it’s every team. Creating all your offense off the rush is not a sustainable way to create in the NHL simply because it requires Pee-Wee level defensive coverage to break it up. That, is on Hartley.

  • Burnward

    Good: Johnny, Sam, Frolik,

    Passable: Mony, Colborne, Gio, Wideman, Smid, Engellend

    Disappointing: Everyone else.

    Press boxed due to stupidity/wake up call: Backlund, Hamilton, Bollig.

    Way too many passengers.

    And get a goalie. Yesterday.

    • The Oilers Shot Clock

      Why the hate for Backlund? He has been one of if not the most effective Flame at driving the play into the offensive zone. He’s be hit with terrible team shooting percentage while he’s on the ice (less than 2%) and personal shooting percentage (less than 6%). He’s generating the biggest proportion of chances for the Flames out of any player on the team but has had terrible team finish. For the record, his shooting percentage the last few years is around 10% so yes he’s having “bad luck” and he is able to shoot.

      • Derbyherb

        This is the kind of thing where you’re using the stats to support a narrative you already believe.

        Have you considered that his shooting percentage is low because he floats weak muffins at the goalie’s chest from 40 feet out?

      • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

        He CAN”T score. That IS a fact.

        The last time I checked, wins in the NHL were given to the team that scored the most goals in a game.
        Has that changed? Have wins all of a sudden started being doled out to the team that flips the puck in the general direction of the other teams net more?

        Yeah… I didn’t think so.

          • Parallex

            It’s so superficial as to lack any value.

            In the broadest sense yes, games are won by the team with the better goal differential… Goals are derived from shots which are derived from shot attempts which are derived from possession of the puck. Ergo players that help your team gain and keep possession of the puck are good and contribute to winning.

          • piscera.infada

            Goals are derived from shots which are derived from shot attempts which are derived from possession of the puck. Ergo players that help your team gain and keep possession of the puck are good and contribute to winning.

            I feel like this rather simple logic tends to give people problems.

          • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

            Right Piscera, at its core, Hockey IS as simple as that.

            The “new” stats are making a simple game more complicated than it is. People want to figure everything out, but not everything CAN be figured out.

            The so called advanced stats crowd are the same as the teacher who wanted me to “show my work” for how I got the answer, when I just told them that I just looked at the question and knew the answer.

            What some try to analyze through numbers, some of us just see and the mathletes keep saying “but how?” and the visual crowd just says “i just do”

            Corsi is built into what I watch and evaluate during a game, but I can immediately filter out all the garbage (weak muffins as I have seen mentioned) and then adjust my evaluation based on what I see, not at what some numbers tell me.

            Sorry, but some don’t need the new numbers to tell them what they see.

      • Derzie

        To see why Backlund is getting heat, forget any stats you have read. Watch the last few games and isolate on Backlund. Almost all of his touches of the puck end in a turnover or a missed shot. Almost every one. Try it.

        • piscera.infada

          Backlund is what he is, which to me is an elite 3C. Used accordingly, he thrives. Play him higher with two elite wingers and he can still thrive because he can skate, he can think, he moves the puck the right way and the other two on his line would be the finishers. The fact that Backlund is not a finisher himself is not new news nor does it mean he’s not a very useful player to have on the team. The real problem is fans miscasting him, wanting him to be something he’s clearly not. It was the same with JBo when he was here. Great player in his own way, but it was never enough for a lot of fans.

        • Captain Ron

          Funny you mention this. I did that once live at the dome, and for a couple of games on TV with both him and Hamilton. It wasn’t pretty to watch. The play was dying on Backlund’s stick more often that not in much the same way it does with Raymond.

          Hamilton was doing more looking around than engaging and needs to be much more assertive and aggressive in his play.

    • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

      Geez man, you can’t say anything bad about Backlund, he is The Corsi Monster.

      Me want Corsi! Corsi, Corsi, Corsi… blah blah blah

      But Hamilton is fair game after 3 games.

  • mattyc

    Deryk Engelland was passable last night, if by ‘passable’ you mean it was easy for the opposition to pass the puck by him to score. He was sitting on his hands on that first goal.

    People, Backlund and Hamilton are not the problem.

  • Byron Bader

    Maybe I’m delusional but since Friday they’ve been quite good. Friday: Howard was unbelievable for 59 minutes. 63 minutes really … he had no chance on those last two goals. But they squeezed it out. Sunday: if one of their many, many chances goes in to make it a 2-0 game it’s done. Monday: If they can catch a break and get but one goal in 40 minutes against the Islanders they’re getting a point there for sure as I feel they hung pretty well with them for about 50 minutes. Wheels came off a little after that Nielsen goal but probably a bit of human nature to sort of sink and fall apart after you’re pressing, pressing, pressing for a great few minutes (that shift was probably their best shift yet) and the Islanders come down on their first shot in about 6 minutes and it bounces off whatever the hell and goes right in.

    Any sort of normal rate of pucks going in the opposition net over the past week and change and their record would be something like 3-4-2. Looking at the schedule to start the year off and no Brodie I was expecting somewhere around that 4-4-1 record.

    Very curious how they look in another week when the schedule lightens up a little.

    One positive is that the pacific is so bad and 3 teams have to make it. The hope is grim but could be in a better spot at the end of this week.

  • piscera.infada

    I would also like to point out how bizarre some of the commenting is this year opposed to last year.

    Last year the “Flames are a great team, advanced stats are wrong” crowd, has become the “this team will never win again, trade everyone, the world’s over” crowd.

    On the other hand, the people saying “the Flames are not as good as you think they are” crowd last year, is the “Flames are not as bad as you think they are” crowd this year.

    • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

      I am also really amazed at the constant posting by the Oiler fanboys. With 3 wins in 9, you would think they would be a little quieter, but somehow Messier’s boy has them thinking they will beat everyone and their team is poised to dominate.

      They beat a struggling Flames team, Detroit and eeked out a win against the Nucks. Not exactly beating the league elite. McDavid is having a good start to his NHL career, but the season is 82 games long. Let’s see if he can dominate Eastern teams or the Western powerhouses. See if he can step it up when his line starts to slump.

    • The GREAT Walter White

      Ha, how true. It’s because the second group you mention are rational and reasonable. They try not to get too high or too low.

      The first group are the typical fan boy band wagoners. Funny how quiet the anti-advanced stats/there will be no regression crowd is regarding just how wrong their arguments were last season. Not one apology, just pull out the knives instead.

      Look at the incredible hate for Hamilton. As though his draft pedigree and years of scouting reports are all suddenly wrong and a mere half dozen games in he’s a bust and we should trade him and everything going wrong is his fault. It’s crazy and asinine. It’s also largely coming from the same people running around preseason calling the Flames D the best in the league.

      Year three of a rebuild. As Kent likes to say, progression is never linear. This team needs to learn how to overcome adversity. It’s all part of the process in learning how to win, especially when bounces don’t go your way. So put the knives away and start looking at the big picture of a rebuild that had another few seasons to go.

      • piscera.infada

        Look at the incredible hate for Hamilton. As though his draft pedigree and years of scouting reports are all suddenly wrong and a mere half dozen games in he’s a bust and we should trade him and everything going wrong is his fault. It’s crazy and asinine. It’s also largely coming from the same people running around preseason calling the Flames D the best in the league.

        I’m just pointing this out because it’s perfect in every way.

        Look at the incredible hate for Hamilton. As though his draft pedigree and years of scouting reports are all suddenly wrong and a mere half dozen games in he’s a bust and we should trade him and everything going wrong is his fault. It’s crazy and asinine. It’s also largely coming from the same people running around preseason calling the Flames D the best in the league.

        There it is again, in case anyone missed it.

        • Burnward

          You guys don’t think a quick reset game might help him?

          He seems lost at times and playing tentatively. Like a 22 year old kid with too much going on.

          Use it as a teaching moment. Get his head right, if that’s the issue.

          • piscera.infada

            Perhaps it could. I am one of those who can see it coming along slowly for him. He needs to play, he needs some stability in terms of a partner.

            I don’t think he “needs” to be benched, just as I don’t think he forgot how to hockey.

            The comments that irk me are this false-equivalency that “Hamilton is J-Bow”–two different players, two different organizational situations, and J-Bow for his warts was not a horrible hockey player–as well as those that are ready to label him a “bust”, or that the Flames would “like a do-over on that deal”. That latter point is a farce of an argument, and belies any knowledge of not only the game, but the business of hockey.

            So, no, I guess ideologically I don’t see a problem benching Hamilton, but I also don’t think it will accomplish much. I think the kid simply needs to feel comfortable–I imagine that’s extremely difficult to feel when your new team has started way behind their loft expectations.

          • Burnward

            I hope so too.

            I see some decent things of late…but he’s also seeing softer competition. Those brain cramps in his own end are getting to me though.

            By Christmas it’s entirely possible we’re talking about a completely different player.

  • Parallex

    Taking cheap shots at the Oilers because your team is playing poorly reflects badly on those fans. The Flames are a good organization going through a tough time right now but they have a good coach and good management that will eventually right the ship. They simply do not have enough skill yet and their best talent is still very young. I look forward to the day when both the Flames and Oilers are more competitive that will give us some great hockey. Walter White you sir are a bitter angry person and I pity you but you do not represent the many great Flames fans that are out there that stand behind their team in bad times.

  • Derzie

    Gaudreau (A) – Monahan (C) – Bennett (B)

    Hudler (C) – Grant (B) – Colborne (C)

    Frolik (B) – Backlund (D) – Jooris (C)

    Bollig (F) – Stajan (D) – Jones (C)

  • ville de champignons

    Relax everybody. At the end of the week if they don’t have 4 wins (and they won’t) then they can focus on making individual adjustments (we mostly agree who they are). Not a bad thing to be in the lottery but geez, why couldn’t this have happened last year?

  • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

    I think Dreger nailed it this morning. Last year the team was not expecting much and began over achieving. From that they began to believe it was because of hard work and good systems and coaching. But really, 6 career years, an unsustainable shooting percentage, and a league of teams that consistently underestimated Calgary, gave the team a lot of wins they likely would not have gotten. This year, no one is underestimating the team. The shooting percentage has fallen back down to earth. There are a few injuries. And the goal tending is below league average rather than on it.

    What’s worse, is the Flames are actually over the cap with their bonus cushion. And even though they do have about 16 mill coming off the books, About 6 of their key players need to be given raises or resigned next year. So the team has very few options to actually improve their situation.

    Congratulations Calgary, at best you built another bubble team.

    • piscera.infada

      I should maybe amend this and say credit where credit is due, as even with the terrible underlying numbers, the team was indeed a hard working one last year. They did indeed play like the wanted to win rather than expecting to.

      This year, that work ethic hasn’t been as prominent in addition to all the other things. However, I have seen a bit more from Gio lately, and the team seems to take their cue from him, so maybe they turn it around.

    • Parallex

      This comment is completely asinine.

      We’re talking about a team in the third year of a rebuild, and our core currently consists of:

      1) Johnny Gaudreau (23)
      2) Sean Monahan (20)
      3) Sam Bennett (19)
      4) TJ Brodie (25)
      5) Dougie Hamilton (22)

      & to a lesser extent

      Gio, Backlund, Frolik, & Hudler

      In addition we have:

      Kylington, Andersson, Poirier, Mangiapane, Granlund, & Gillies all developing in the minors, plus whoever we draft and/or acquire through trading non-core vets (any of Wideman, Russell, Hiller, Ramo). We haven’t finished building anything yet. The only players we have to lock up next year are Gaudreau, Monahan, and (debatable, but for the sake of argument) Hudler, while most of the remaining complementary pieces are RFA’s.

      This rebuild is a work in progress, and I think very few people on this site are surprised that we took a step back, just more at the horrifying magnitude of it (which I personally don’t think full reflects the quality of the team either).

      Furthermore, you’re terrible at basic addition, we have the following contracts coming off the books next year:

      Hudler (4M) + Jones (4M) + Colborne (1.275) + Jooris (0.975M) + Monahan (0.925M) + Gaudreau (0.925M) + Grant (0.700M) + Russell (2.6M) + Nakladal (0.818M) + Hiller (4.5M) + Ramo (3.8M) = 24.518M

      Of the players coming off the books 6 are RFAs, and many of the names on that list are worth significantly less than their contracts, or have prospects competing for their spots on the team.

      If you’re a Flames fan – relax, this team is still finding it’s identity & assembling the complementary pieces to a very solid core.

      If you’re not a Flames fan – this is a pathetic attempt at a troll. Not only does your conclusion hold about as much water as the Sahara, you lack basic skills in mathematics, which further discredits your point.

    • piscera.infada

      And that proves what exactly?

      That the Boston media is garbage? They are. They’re the ones who created “the deflator” story for Tom Brady. They’re the ones who reported that the original reason the Bruins couldn’t sign him was that “Hamilton was ‘uppity'”.

      Or, that the Flames spent a seventh round pick on what will likely be a career AHLer as some sort of “pact” to sign a young, high-ceiling defender?

      Or, that the media does a pretty nice job of creating a story where there probably isn’t one?

      Or, all of the above?

  • Burnward

    Too early to start talking trade?

    Just a thought, but the ducks are looking for a top six forward.

    What do you think the return for Hudler be? If the Flames could land a 1st round pick for him should they pull the trigger?

    Also, why not move Russell and/or Wideman now.. Brodie will return soon, and we can play Nakladal or Kulak if we need to?

    At this point, why not? Those could be a couple moves to really shake things up and if we strike when the iron is hot it could set us up for next season.

    Any thoughts?

    • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

      I would’ve dealt Wideman in the off-season, but I heard that Treliving tried and failed. Perhaps playing Wideman with Giordano improves Wideman’s game and possession numbers enough so that teams think he is a solid top 4 option. In that case, maybe you could pull a 2nd and maybe a a middling prospect for Wides (might have to take salary back though).

      As for Russell, I’d like to see how he does when Brodie returns healthy, but if his game remains shitty for the next 5 or 6 after Brodie returns, I’d deal him for a mid to low draft pick. The guy just bleeds shots against.

      I’m on the fence about Hudler. I can see the arguments for resigning him, but if he asks for too much money (with respect to the Flames cap, not his play), then I can see him being dealt to a contender near the deadline. I could easily see him going for a 1st rounder like Vermette last year.

  • Cfan in Vic

    sick of the stretch passes, halve the time we miss the pass and end up icing it. Also for the love of god stop putting bollig in the lineup, at least run somebody do something useful. Feel like hudler is getting off easy, the guy loses every board battle.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Time for many to settle down. Right now, to get the same points as last year, we have to win at a 62.5% clip for these remaining 73 games. Aint going to happen. Amazing how things can go off the rails so quick. Columbus is basically toast right now & Anaheim is about the only team that could suck for the first 10 games this bad & still squeak in.

    Time for Bob to start locking the boys in a room & replay hi lights from games last year. Talk about how they mentally felt then, how they mentally prepared then & the biggest question, were they having fun. Compare that to today. Then, get this team back to playing entertaining fun hockey again. No expectation, just try to win each game as they come & just maybe, we can start winning 55% of these games & maybe reset goals come February.

    As a fan, I knew last year was going to be hard to match. I knew we got points from games we probably had no business getting. I knew playoffs would be tough to accomplish again. This team is young , the rebuild is fresh & they need to grow that winning identity. Right now expectation is so high, they aren’t even playing the entertaining brand of game we coveted last year, win or lose. Time to get everyone on the same page, have some fun playing hockey, entertain the fans & just play the best you can. Everything else will sort itself out. We have to stop trading our 21 & 22 year young players that are inevitably going to be our future.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Hamilton is not a bad player. He has to come to terms with a new city, new team, and the pressure of a big contract.

    I’m sure the pressure from the fans is not as great as to what he is subjecting upon himself.

    Once your team pulls itself together, you will be happy to have him.

    This will be a good test for your management and coaching. They will either make a couple good moves or a string of bad ones to set the team back even further.

    I am certainly not a hockey expert to know what the good and bad moves are, but I have ten years experience watching a bad combination of management/coaching.

    Good or bad, support your team.

  • Captain Ron

    Kris Russell is too small to play effective defense. He gets manhandled in most puck battles and the 3rd Islander goal was a prime example. He gets way to much ice time and has no points this year and is a stellar -12. Time to cut down on the ice time. What’s that often quoted saying, ‘Earned but never given” well Kris hasn’t earned anything this year.

  • Johnny Goooooooaldreau

    any chance we can trade our team for mcdcvid, toews or crosby……….atleast there is something generational to build around…… about frustrating!!!

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Ari, one of your best articles yet. Concise and to the point. And I agree, the game was eminently forgettable, especially the 3rd.

    I’m not sure what is up with all the line changes, trying anything at this point, I guess. Hopefully that will settle down and we get some consistency soon. Of course, if the players started playing with a bit more urgency and desire that would certainly help.