Flames 4, Avalanche 0 post-game embers: Pleasant surprise

The way things were going, I honestly didn’t think the Flames would shut anybody out this season. It was a pretty good effort by Karri Ramo, too, keeping it a one-goal game until his team was able to bust out the offensive support in the second period. 

And that’s a performance that will help out the goal differential! The Flames now have a goal differential of -20, tied for fourth worst in the NHL with Anaheim; Columbus, Philadelphia, and Edmonton are all below them. So that’s nice.

Really, what a nice little game to help showcase some of what’s on the horizon for Calgary.

Give Dougie Hamilton all the power play minutes

For the last little while, we’ve seen Dennis Wideman essentially be the king of the Flames’ power play. Not through anything he really did, just by default of him getting the most minutes and the entire game plan seemingly based on getting him to shoot.

It hasn’t worked.

When you have six power plays in a game, though, you have time to experiment. And while Wideman still got big minutes – 4:45 – he was fourth out of Flames defencemen with the man advantage. Mark Giordano led the way with 6:17, Dougie Hamilton was second with 5:50, and T.J. Brodie with 5:32. (Kris Russell got in 2:04, because why not?)

And Hamilton was easily, bar none, the best defenceman on the power play. Maybe the best Flame, period (although Micheal Ferland definitely deserves some love, more on that shortly). He scored the only goal on the power play. He set up Ferland for what would have been a sure goal had he been able to deflect it in properly. He was active from the point, leading all Flames with six individual corsi for attempts with the man advantage, and he was dangerous. Much more dangerous than Wideman has appeared this season.

Hamilton was Boston’s leading power play scorer last year for a reason. Now it’s time to start passing over the mantle of #1 power play quarterback to Hamilton – and it’s one he should hold for years with the Flames.

This is a great situation all around.

Micheal Ferland continues to prove himself

Johnny Gaudreau led the way with 7:33 in power play time, total. Joe Colborne was second for forwards with 5:50, Mikael Backlund was third with 5:18, and Ferland was fourth with 5:08, and probably the most dangerous forward out there. He led the way with four individual high danger scoring chances. He had six shots on net in total. And he led the way for the Flames with a nice 69.23% ES CF – and that’s with a 22.22% offensive zone start.

Backlund was up there with him, too. The two nearly combined for a goal against the Los Angeles Kings when Backlund found Ferland in the slot but Jonathan Quick was just a touch better; this time, it was Ferland intercepting the puck, cleanly carrying it in, and finding Backlund in the slot to chase Semyon Varlamov.

There’s the idea of making Ferland a top-six forward; there can also be the idea of him being a part of a shutdown line. It sounds silly, but a Micheal – Mikael – Michael line could actually end up being really, really awesome. We already know Mikael and Michael work well together, and some budding chemistry is evident between Micheal and Mikael, so why not?

With each passing game Ferland is definitely looking like more than just a fourth liner who hits people, though. He should develop into a force for a while yet.

No reason to scratch Josh Jooris again

It was confusing to see him scratched to begin with. At worst, Jooris is a solid depth player who tends to at least drive the puck forward, and be a valuable asset on the penalty kill. That’s not a bad thing to have in one’s bottom six at all.

In his return to the lineup, Jooris played 13:54, which was actually the third least amount out of all non-injured forwards on the Flames (that’s another thing dressing Jooris helps enable: the Flames were able to roll their lines, despite Jiri Hudler’s injury, because the remaining forwards could all be trusted to take a regular shift). He was the beneficiary of a little power play time with 1:48, and more importantly, a prominent penalty killer with 1:24 played.

That 1:24 was actually fourth on the Flames for forwards (behind Lance Bouma, Backlund, and Matt Stajan), but he was sent out regularly enough, and was good at either obstructing the Avalanche’s lanes or clearing the puck. Consider how Bouma and Backlund had corsi differentials of -6 when shorthanded; Jooris had a differential of -1. These are extremely small sample sizes, and I wouldn’t advocate taking Backlund off the kill (though I do think there’s something to be said for replacing Bouma with Granlund), but it’s always good to see someone who just got back into the lineup make an immediate positive impact. (Stajan’s differential was an even 0, for the curious.)

He also had a goal and an assist, which is nice if you’re into that sort of thing I guess.

Joe Colborne played so much

Looking at the box score after the game really surprised me, because I definitely wasn’t expecting to see Colborne be the only Flames forward to play over 20 minutes (20:29, to be exact). He wasn’t particularly noticeable even with all that time he had; off the top of my head I recall one instance of him giving the puck away in the offensive zone and hauling ass back into his own end to correct his mistake, but that’s about it.

One shot on net over all that time. And again, so much time spent on the power play (he has now played 63:16 on the power play this season, ninth out of all Flames players. He has zero power play points. The eight guys ahead of him all have at least three. Backlund, who has played 37:18 on the power play, also has three. I’m not quite sure why we keep trying this so hard, but at least Bob Hartley could afford to experiment this game, so whatever). 

It’s just weird. To quote Mean Girls: “Stop trying to make Joe Colborne happen. He’s not going to happen,” at least not in such a prominent role. I mean, Ferland played about six fewer minutes and was a constantly visible force out there. 

(Total speculation on my part, but Colborne is an RFA after this season. Is he someone the Flames try to deal? I genuinely don’t have a clue what the plan might be with him – this is a team that has a lot of depth forward options, and Colborne has probably gotten more chances than anyone to prove himself a top-six guy and hasn’t really done much with it.) 

I will love you forever Jarome

Alex Tanguay had that nice feed to Jarome Iginla late in the first period and I was convinced that was going to be #600 and it would have been beautiful and perfect but then Wideman got in the way really excellently (reminded me of Lucic on Brodie the other game, actually) and stopped it and that let Ramo keep the shutout in what was still a 1-0 game so it was an important block but DANG if that wasn’t a conflicting moment for me internally.

I know this has nothing to do with the Flames but dangit Iggy is special and 600 goals is special. Though this reminded me of when he was chasing #500 way back when the World Juniors were in Calgary, so the Flames were on a long road trip that ended with Boston beating them 9-0, and you were just like, “… Please don’t get #500 in this worst game ever,” and instead he got it the very next game back at home.

The Avalanche don’t play in Calgary again until March 18, so he’s probably not scoring his 600th goal here. But they do play the Lightning in five games, and I guess that would be fitting.

… OR, if the Flames are still looking for top six forward options, maybe Iggy is the answer?? I’m sorry. I know he’s not. Games against him are emotional and I am accordingly getting carried away. He is still beautiful. I really enjoyed this story. Have a good Sunday, friends.

  • MontanaMan

    Ari..as usual great article. Thanks for acknowledging Iggy…the true Flames fans acknowledge and appreciate his accomplishments as a Flame both on and off the ice.

    With regards to Johnny’s challenges on the road it is obvious with last line change he is put at a disadvantage given his size…as suggested numerous times it’s time to put Ferly on that first line as a reward for his performance and ability to send others a message…

  • wattree

    Colbourne seems to give the puck away once per shift these days. And in a “brings promising rush/pressure to a sudden end” kind of turnover. It seems to be getting worse as the season goes on as well. Maybe he’s feeling the pressure of not having a contract for next year? Regardless, no more 1st line or power play time please.

    And as much fun as it is to watch Wideman pound shots directly into the defenders legs, no more power play for him either.

  • KACaribou

    Not sure the thinking there, putting Ferland on a shutdown line when his offensive skills are just starting to really emerge though. I’d say he’s inching closer to the top line every game.

    I thought Colborne played pretty well last night. Not surprised by his minutes. I have been thinking he should be down on the 4th line, but when the game starts surprise! he’s on the top line. But give credit when it is due. I thought he played pretty well.

    Colborne being away from Ferly surely helped. Ferly was the most dangerous forward as you stated. I think he’s making Backs better as well.

    Jooris played really well, but to say no reason to scratch him again is quite presumptuous. He will get sat again, but he played very well last night.

    Looks like Hamilton will be a regular on the PP, he was very good. Love the mean he is starting to develop too.

    The way Ramo has played in the past month or so we really couldn’t have had a better netminder.

    • Burnward

      The battle between 13/14th forwards and that last roster spot will continue. Raymond has some speed, and is occasionally a good choice. But this game should give you pause to suggest Bollig to be a viable option. Stajan line gets away from Bollig and the line plays over 8 minutes. Stajan played over 14 actually.

      That line combined for the 2nd and 3rd goal in what could have been a lot closer game without them. Does it make any sense to pay over $5m for two players and have them reduced to less than 10 minutes because of carrying a grit player?

      This is one of those games that Hartley would/should look at and evaluate the ability to play Bollig. He sits between Dec. 10th and Dec.29 and CGY goes 5-2. He comes back and they go 0-2. Hmmmm.

      • KACaribou

        Wow you have really over-analyzed the importance or lack of such by a 4th line player. Oilers used to win regularly with a slug named Semenko, who was far worse than Bollig. I know you hate him, but let it go my friend.

        • wattree

          You are oblivious to the impact of rolling 4 lines. Any player incapable of playing more than 8 minutes should be suspect, regardless if their name is Bollig or not.

          Semenko? Really? You are reaching back to a different era in hockey when thugs were part of the game, and required to patrol the ice? Back when there was no such thing as an instigator penalty?

          Big Ern was a fan favorite right up to the point where he could only play 6-8 minutes and couldn’t keep up. Westgarth was a player with the same grit as Bollig, but again was a liability.

          • KACaribou

            If you are telling me I am oblivious to the impact of rolling 4 lines, why have some of the great coaches in history double shifted their best lines continually. Rolling 4 is not the answer you think it is.

            What are your coaching credentials may I ask?

          • Nick24

            In today’s NHL rolling four competent lines is a necessity. Look at all the good teams today: LA, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Chicago. They all have players on every line that first and foremost are good hockey players. When you have a player that isn’t good enough to take a regular shift, you can’t roll your lines, and this puts pressure on all your other lines to play more than they should have to.

            Sure, double shifting can be useful, but it shouldn’t be constantly relied upon. Just look at Pittsburgh. They have a few very good players in Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel, but having those players still doesn’t balance out their lack of depth. You can no longer simply have a few amazing players to carry the team and expect to be successful. You need a strong cast of good players that can all chip in.

          • Kevin R

            Really or is the Pitt an example of the dangers of paying so much cap $$$ to a handful of players as they age. Give Kane & Toews 4 years & we’ll see how well they do with 2 players making $20mill & 23% of the cap.

          • KACaribou

            It doesn’t put pressure on the other lines. They love it. They want more ice time and shifts.

            And don’t you want to see Coach Bob skip a fourth line shift and run with Johnny Hockey another shift every second rotation? I do.

            And I am guessing that skipping that fourth line every second rotation – no matter who is on it – in favour of our first line, will be more productive anyway.

            Breaking News: this is already being done by virtually every coach in the NHL fairly regularly.

        • Matty Franchise Jr

          Semenko? You mean the guy who played on the same team as the #1 and #2 point getters in the history of the game? An entire line of Semenkos playing 0 minutes a game couldn’t have sunk that team.

          Maybe the reason that the Flames keep losing to “big, gritty” (but actually highly skilled) teams like ANA and LAK is that they keep putting “big, gritty” players in the line up who are not very good at hockey and can’t be trusted to play more than 5 per night, effectively making the team a 3 line team.

          JoJoo forever, Bollig never.

          Also, I don’t think it is coincidence that the top line was totally invisible all night and Colbort was on that line. Here’s hoping that experiment is over.

  • MontanaMan

    Wideman has been dreadful this year, considering his “strength” is in the offensive zone, particularly the power play. The last few games, I should have counted the number of point shots by Wideman that missed the net – I’m sure they were double digits in each game. The key for a point man on a power play is to get a low shot through traffic for a deflection or rebound. Wideman’s shots are typically chest height and off the net, usually ringing the boards and ending up in Calgary’s end. Unacceptable for a point man on a power play.

  • Kevin R

    A suggestion might be put Jooris on the top line with Gaudreau & Monahan. He can at least keep up with these guys. Then put Bennett back at centre with Ferland & see if those two can create a bond going forward.

    • Kevin R

      I have felt this way fo awhile now. Jooris is better than a 4th line player….he has good on ice and off ice chemistry with Johnny. I think Hartley has played with his confidence like he did with Byron after his injury. I think Jooris can add far more than what we are seeing given more responsibility. My fear is that the they will mis- manage him and lose him like they did Byron. Ferland is my first choice for that line followed by Jooris, Jones…maybe Bouma.

  • KACaribou

    Agree 100% on Hartley refusing to play Jooris, particularly when the alternative is Bollig. Watching Bollig get at least 3 shifts in the 3rd period of the Anaheim game left me fit to be tied. With Jooris in there, he combines with Stajan and Bouma to give Flames have a better-than-typical 4th line. Swap Bollig in for Jooris and the line becomes essentially unplayable in a close game. It makes less than no sense to scratch a healthy Jooris.

  • FlamesFan1489

    Pretty simple: The puck dies on Colborne’s stick. The reason the first line was so bad was he killed any of the good rushes they had. And all the lines that didn’t have him played well. Maybe it’s time to put him in the press box?

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I’ve been a broken record all season long on Joe Colborne. Big Joe is a 4th line RW on this team, and from time to time can elevate his game to 3rd liner. Last night, he received the second most forward minutes on the power play after Guadreau (2ND MOST!). More than Monahan, Bennett, Ferland, Jones, Backlund and Hudler (yes I know he was hurt, but clearly would have got more the Jiri too). Which of this list is Colborne a better option on the power play?

    He has the attributes to be good on the power play. He could (like Ferland) stand in front of the night as a screen, and look for a tip in, or battle for a dirty goal on a deflection. Instead he plays a perimeter game and provides little to no value. 63+ minutes of power play time this year and his contribution to the team: no goals, no assists, no points.

    I’ve been watching Colborne closely all season long, and I’ve done my best to be fair and equitable toward his play. I like his demeanour, I like his community work, and as a fellow born and raised Calgarian I can’t help but like the fact that he’s a local kid. My own view, Colborne plays a soft, perimeter game. He avoids high traffic/danger areas and is rarely a scoring threat. I believe he needs to add 15 – 25 lbs and play, (Trelliving’s words) “a heavy game”.

    BTW. He’s listed at 213 lbs, and after seeing him in a t-shirt, I highly doubt he’s over 200 lbs.

    • Trevy

      I tend to agree, but given his steady increase in ice time in all situations, I’m guessing they’re doing their best to showcase him as a trade chip for the upcoming trade deadline. I’m sure there are teams that surely will be interested in a 6’5″ center, who’s only 26yrs old and makes barely over a million.

      It’s too bad Hudler keeps getting “injured” as well since he’s as good as gone and his trade value is sinking like the Titanic. His time in Calgary was very beneficial in the tutoring of our young players, but it’s come to an end. Lastly, if we can also jettison Russell and replace him with Nakladal, I think that would be equivalent if not an upgrade on defense.

      Of course there’s the goalie situation…

  • KACaribou

    If you think Bollig was that bad the other night, you simply didn’t watch the game or have no idea what you are perhaps watching. I am saying don’t be constantly s@#tting on the same group of guys every bloody game. It’s boring. There are lots of other guys who literally didn’t do s@$t against LA. Suggesting we lose because Bollig played 8 minutes is the sign of someone who should lift their head from the stat sheet and actually try to comprehend the game from a player level.

    • Derzie

      Very well put as is your comment on the rolling of 4 lines. It is nice to have a 4rth line that can give 10-14minutes some games but with special teams and the need to get your top 6 out in that 18-20 minute range most games, rolling 4 lines isn’t done by many coaches.

    • KACaribou

      If you think this site is upsetting to me you are fooling yourself. I think it is a blast getting everyone all worked up by presenting new ideas like not piling on the same guys every day. The language was not for you to translate. It was for the ambitious readers BTW; they need something to do on a Sunday other than dumping on Bollig, Russell, Engellend, Hudler, Colborne or Smid. BTW I never swore. You are lying.

      ——————–FN MODERATOR: if you’re intent is to work people up here, you will not last as a welcome guest.

  • KACaribou

    I will go on record with saying that if the Flames were to replace Bollig, Colborne, Wideman,Engelland,Raymond and sometimes Russell with other players that the same people would be writing about some other player that is responsible for the Flames losing a game,or how bad a player is.You can put any combination of players together and they will still lose to a good TEAM. That’s what hockey is, a TEAM sport.Teams are made up of individuals that contribute to the style of their game plan. It may be wiser to comment on the systems a team plays and wether or not players fit that scheme, rather than pin losses on individuals.

  • Derzie

    For the Flames to get the next level, they have to move on from Bollig, Colborne, Smid, Engelland, Wideman, Russell, Raymond, Jones, Hudler, Hiller. When not eating popcorn, what line they play on in the meantime should not include the top 2 pairings or lines. As long as they are gone asap, we are moving in the right direction.

  • Trevy

    I’ve had about enough of this Iggy business. First of all he lost interest in being around here. Then he dictated which team he got to go to which was detrimental to what we got in return. We loved him so much we wanted him to go to a team where he could win a Stanley Cup. Pathetic. As far as I remember he’s been a minus player ever since. That doesn’t do a team any good no matter how many you score. So good Iggy; get your 600 and don’t come back.

    • flames2015

      First off, it was a mutual departure for the organization and Iginla. Iggy stayed here for years while we didn’t make the playoffs. The organization thought we could play ourselves into the playoff picture again with the aging players that we had. It wasn’t until we traded him and Boumeester that the flames finally admitted that we needed to rebuild and get younger.

      He had a NTC in his contract, so he fully has the right to dictate where he was going to go. Given his age, and what he’s accomplished in the NHL, he has every right to want the chance to win a Stanley cup with a contending team. He was also our highest bargaining chip to get draft picks. It’s too soon to say whether or not those picks will pan out, but trading him landed us 3 picks.

      I’ll always have the utmost respect for Iginla and what he did for this team, I’d love to see him retire as a Flame one day.

    • Tomas Oppolzer

      1) What do you mean “lost interest in being here”? Do you have any evidence of that whatsoever? Do you know him personally?

      2) After more then 15 years and 1000+ points for CGY, he didn’t owe the team a damn thing. He went where he thought he had the best shot at a cup. It was Feasters fault for not getting more out of Pittsburgh. Iggy earned that NTC and the chance to choose his path.

      3) As for the +/- argument. that’s 1. a dumb argument, +/- is an almost meaningless stat. and 2. wrong. This season is the only time he’s been a minus since leaving CGY, and COL is terrible. He was +2 in PIT, +34 in BOS, and was even last year.