FlamesNation Roundtable Flashback: We were so wrong

One of the best things about sports is no matter what, there’s always a new season. Your team was terrible the past year? Don’t worry, they won’t get cancelled (uh, probably); there’s always a chance for a new season.

And with new seasons come new season predictions. Every year, the best and brightest of sports minds, not to mention everybody else with an opinion, come together and prognosticate on just how the season will go. And no matter how wrong everyone is, they get to do it the year after, again and again and again.

The Flames surprised us in a good way in 2014-15; in 2015-16, it was… more the opposite.

Here’s our round table from before the season started. Come laugh with us at how wrong we all were. Because without laughter, there’s just sadness.

Where do the Flames finish in the division and with how many points?

General consensus: They finish second or third in the division, with anywhere from about 96-100 points.

What actually happened: They finished third last in the division with 77 points. Haha! Whoops.

Do the Calgary Flames make the playoffs?

General consensus: Yes, but just barely.

What actually happened: They were pretty much dead in October, but an impressive homestand brought them back into the mix of things. Then they really died around the trade deadline, and were officially mathematically dead in March. So at least we predicted a struggle, although it was much shorter-lived than initially imagined.

What about the 2015-16 edition of the Flames makes you excited?

General consensus: The new acquisitions and the youth, mostly.

What actually happened: Dougie Hamilton didn’t play nearly as much as we’d all hoped, and even Michael Frolik got shafted on occasion. Sam Bennett didn’t exactly get the chance to settle as Markus Granlund occupied much of what should have been his time at centre, and when he wasn’t playing with Mikael Backlund, he didn’t exactly have the best linemates ever.

Johnny Gaudreau took a massive step forward, though, and T.J. Brodie proved himself one of the most important players on the Flames. Sean Monahan kept on posting impressive offensive numbers. Micheal Ferland didn’t show a ton over a full season, though, and Lance Bouma was not able to sustain his play. Brandon Bollig played only eight fewer games and Deryk Engelland spent more time as a top four defenceman, so the vaunted depth didn’t necessarily always push inferior players down.

What about the 2015-16 edition of the Flames fills you with a feeling of impending dread?

General consensus: Shooting percentages and Bob Hartley.

What actually happened: Shooting percentages and Bob Hartley. Nailed it.

What player that’s on the farm team right now do you think makes the biggest impact on the 2015-16 roster?

General consensus: There wasn’t really one, so I’ll just list all the players named: Garnet Hathaway, Ryan Culkin, Emile Poirier, Markus Granlund, Bill Arnold, Oliver Kylington, Paul Byron, Jakub Nakladal.

What actually happened: Hathaway was a longstanding recall, but I’m not sure he exactly made what one could call a “big impact”. Nakladal was a good choice, though. We lost Byron far too soon, Arnold was never called up, and Culkin, Poirier, and Kylington didn’t really do much of anything.

Nakladal is the clear winner of this bunch, but I suppose we could also say Granlund provided a pretty big impact. Especially considering not only how long he stuck around for, but that he brought back the guy who could potentially be the next biggest impact: Hunter Shinkaruk.

Yes or no: are the Flames off-season acquisitions enough to avoid the oft-prediction statistical regression of the team’s performance? (Sub-question: if no, what else could they have done?)

General consensus: Yes, because Hamilton and Frolik were great adds; but they’ll probably need to do more to completely offset regressing (i.e. a change in either coaching tactics or personnel).

What actually happened: The Flames fell in the standings, but their 5v5 possession game jumped up nearly 4%, which is fairly substantial growth. In the long-run, this past season was probably a step forward; in the short-term, it was a step back. It’s reason for hope, but also reason to remind ourselves that they aren’t there yet, so those suggestions on what could still be done totally have merit.

  • Flames might be mediocre but at least they are young, fast and mediocre now instead of the old, slow and mediocre team Feaster inherited from Sutter. Treliving and Feaster’s draft picks and signings gave us a team that was usually fun to watch and easy to cheer for during the season

    • KACaribou

      You nailed it. Watching the 15/16 Flames was so much more entertaining than watching those fat cat old teams with Iggy/Tanguay/Olly and the like that it isn’t really even close. Win or lose, this group is money in the bank for the fan.

  • KACaribou

    WHAT ABOUT THE 2015-16 EDITION OF THE FLAMES FILLS YOU WITH A FEELING OF IMPENDING DREAD?

    General consensus: Shooting percentages and Bob Hartley.

    What actually happened: Shooting percentages and Bob Hartley. Nailed it.

    OK I UNDERSTAND SHOOTING PERCENTAGES BUT WHAT EXACTLY DID BOB HARTLEY DO THAT CAUSED IMPENDING DREAD? THE FLAMES TERRIBLE START WAS DUE TO THE D AND GOALTENDING BEING TERRIBLE. TREE LEFT BOB WITH 3 GOALIES, NOT HIS CHOICE OR DESIRE. TREE GOT DOUGIE HAMILTON WHO MAY HAVE PUSHED POSSESSION STATS BUT ALSO COUGHING UP THE PUCK LET TO MANY MANY GA. BOTH SITUATIONS IMPROVED GREATLY AS THE SEASON WENT ON. BUT BOTH SITUATIONS ULTIMATELY CREATED BY THE GM, NOT THE COACH.

    • Christian Roatis

      Off the top of my head: Banishing Hamilton for a bad start after expecting him to fit with Giordano like a glove, playing Joe Colborne on the 1st PP unit all season despite having the worst PP in the league and Colborne not recording a PP point till, like, February, and Colborne being the extra attacker EVERY time with the Backlund’s, Frolik’s and Bennett’s chilling on the bench.

      They’re probably not awfully popular, but those are a few of my quips with him.

      • Parallex

        Basing you’re entire game strategy on Block Shot-Stretch Pass is also a big fail in my books.

        Here’s my big problem with Bob Hartley… there are two of him. There’s Bad Hartley who criminally under-uses guys like Hamilton/Backs/Bennett and criminally over-uses (or mis-uses) guys like Russell/Engellend/Colborne… and then there is Good Hartley who addresses many (but not all) of the failings of Bad Hartley. The big problem is that Bad Hartley is also Default Hartley. He falls back to bad habits with the greatest of ease.

      • cjc

        To which could also be added playing Bollig night after night, using Russell as a top-3 D until he was mercifully traded, giving Bennett fourth line minutes for multi-game stretches and bemoaning the lack of shot blocking while failing to fully acknowledge the team was getting badly out-shot (and piling up injuries due to shot blocks).

        I`m hoping that Treliving`s decision to trade Russell was partly a signal to Hartley that he doesn`t agree with his defensive philosophy.

  • RedMan

    i preface my comments with a caveat; i have never played hockey and don’t pretend to know all the nuances (grew up in the desert).

    that being said, there are questions about the coach for which i would like answers.

    i love how our team is built around an active defense who join the rush, even lead it, BUT, is this an extension of the dreadful stretch pass? the stretch pass really seemed to fail more often than it succeeded, and left the guys chasing and led to so many turn overs.

    lousy special teams – is that ultimately Hartley’s failure?

    Joe Colbourne is a better player now then he was last year right? in fact many are saying now that he will be overpriced now. This is because he was “developed” by the coach, right? i get that many wanted to see others get his ice time, especially on the power play, but without this ice time, he wouldn’t have developed like he did this year.

    • Parallex

      I would say the lousy special teams is ultimately Hartley’s failure. He heads up the coaching staff and Gelinas ran the special teams and I figure he didn’t freelance and had his systems approved by Hartley so yes he ultimately shoulders the blame.

      As for Joe Colborne ol’ Big’n’Local himself… I’m not really sure he is a better player. I think he spent a big chunk of the year (the later half especially) playing with Backlund and Frolik which made him look better but I’m not at all convinced that he (Colborne) is the author of his own improvement.