I have nothing against Deryk Engelland here, I just feel like I make this face a lot when I’m watching this team. Side eyes for days.
The only redeeming thing I think I can say about the Flames’ fifth game of the season – one that saw their record turn into an unimpressive 1-3-1 – is that there were moments when the Flames just wouldn’t let the Hurricanes get the puck out of the offensive zone. There were times throughout the night when they really battled to keep it in there.
Though nothing really came of any of those battles. And you just knew they had to fight so hard because it was a miracle they got into the offensive zone in the first place. Especially when they have an extra guy, for some reason.
Yeah, this isn’t on Brian Elliott
Brian Elliott was the Flames’ big get this offseason. A team in desperate need of goaltending, they found one of the better guys throughout the entire league, and got him for a relatively cheap price. And so far, he has given up at least four goals a game.
I don’t know how you blame this one on him, though.
Last night, goals against him were the result of:
- A gift to Troy Brouwer that was immediately turned over and rushed down the ice. Was it stoppable? Sure. Should that situation have ever happened to begin with? No.
- A powerplay goal. You know, powerplays? Those things teams are supposed to score on?
- Both of his defencemen falling asleep and getting beat. Sure, a stop would have been nice there. Viktor Stalberg not getting the chance to score would have been nicer.
- A five-on-three powerplay goal. You know those things? Powerplays??
The Flames waited nearly two full periods to score a goal. By that point, they were down 3-0. And quite frankly, it doesn’t matter how many you give up – if you aren’t scoring to begin with, you aren’t winning. They couldn’t even pull off that feat with the Vancouver Canucks.
Or is Elliott the one who’s supposed to score on powerplays now? Yeah, it helps when your goalie can make the save. Try giving him a lead to work with. This team has done that in one period. One. Out of 15.
Basically, nobody can do anything
They can’t enter the offensive zone. They can’t keep ahold of the puck. It feels like every battle is a threat for them to turn it right over. They can’t make accurate passes and they can’t receive them.
I don’t blame someone like Johnny Gaudreau, who knows he has to be the offensive heartbeat of this team, trying to dangle through everyone on his own. One time he’ll score a goal, other times he’ll get knocked on his ass or have the puck stripped. But it’s not like there’s any cohesion or chemistry or any reason for him to believe his teammates will be in place to help, so whatever. He got a goal out of it.
I don’t mind line shuffling when this is the forward group they have, but seeing it this often this early into the season – hell, seeing lines swap so many times in one game that looking at the lineup beforehand is basically completely meaningless now – is a sign of panic.
Besides, it’s not like it matters who’s on whose line, anyway – none of them can do anything. There’s little point in looking at anyone’s individual stats, or praising or condemning any one player in particular. Right now, they suck as a whole, and that’s what matters.
For the love of god, the powerplay
Six powerplays, including a full, uninterrupted four minute advantage in which literally nothing happened. Zero goals.
One for 22 on the season. That’s a success rate of 4.5%. That’s a special level of incompetence; that’s depths of pathetic we didn’t even see last season, and last season was bad.
And it’s not like this can even be totally tied in with how pathetic the team is at even strength. Hell, they have more successful offensive zone entries on the penalty kill. (I don’t have the numbers to back this up, I don’t know if that’s true, but it certainly feels that way.) It’s as though the second this team gets a man advantage everyone turns a special level of useless and you’re better served taking a two minute nap rather than watch them try and fail.
It’s almost as if there was a previously-established history of Dave Cameron being not great? History as recent as a couple of months ago? But no this is fine. At least with Glen Gulutzan you can point to the fact that it’s been a couple of years since he was last a head coach, and he was younger back then and maybe he’s learned something. I don’t know where the logic with the powerplay hiring came in. But it’s officially the worst in the league. If only there had been some way to have foreseen this.
Paul Jerrard is cool though.
Is the season over?
Up next for the Flames is the St. Louis Blues, a team that made it to the final four last season and is off to a good start to this season. If it turns into a loss – which is probably the better bet to make – then the Flames will have a 1-4-1 record. Their one win came in overtime in a game they never had the lead; their shootout loss only happened because the other team scored a goal for them.
In 2015-16, we knew the season was over in October. It’s not something anyone wants to believe, but the writing was on the wall pretty quick with that one. You dig yourself into a deep hole, you’re gonna have a pretty difficult time getting out. You can’t dig up, stupid.
After the Blues, it’s the Blackhawks. Then the Blues again. Then the Senators, who had the sense to stop having the Flames’ current powerplay coach hanging around. Then the Capitals. Then the Blackhawks again, then the Sharks, and okay at least the Kings and Ducks have also had bad starts to the season. How many of those games do you think these Flames win? One? Three if they’re lucky? And that’s not being a downer, that’s being realistic.
The Flames didn’t open their season against world beaters, and they’re 1-3-1. The world beaters are coming up, and this is a team that hasn’t improved one bit. There’s only so long you can blame that on “well Monahan’s back and Gaudreau missed preseason and bloo bloo bloo.” Preseason was uninspiring, but at least the games were meaningless; this is probably worse.
So yeah, the season might be over. This might be a little too “sky is falling” but almost nobody on this team has their shit together. (And no, they probably wouldn’t be much better off right now if Bob “we have to block more shots” Hartley was still on board.) And at this point in time, they are simply not worth watching. And they have shown zero signs that they will be any time soon.
Over the past few days, we’ve talked a lot about reasons to keep Matthew Tkachuk up or to send him down. Reasons to keep him up? He hasn’t looked out of place, and is there really anything more he can learn back in the OHL?
How about this: is there anything he can learn on this team, as it is performing, right now? When Sean Monahan played his rookie season during a hopeless year, at least it was at the start of the rebuild. This was supposed to be a “turning the corner” year and instead we’re talking about Nolan Patrick.
Forget burning ELC years. What’s better for an 18-year-old kid who still has plenty of room to grow: keeping him up with this mess, or letting him go be the guy in a lower league and have fun trying to defend a Memorial Cup?