The preseason is over! Our long national nightmare is over and hockey games that count in the standings are just around the corner. Join us as we wave a hearty goodbye to the exhibition calendar and look forward to final cuts and the beginning of the 2017-18 regular season!
Ryan Pike: By the time this is published on Sunday [editor’s note: we did the chat on Saturday afternoon], the last preseason game will be done. Who has really impressed or disappointed you guys through the first six games?
karimkurji (Karim Kurji): Sean Monahan has scored a lot of goals so I’m happy about that.
Vintage Flame (he’s back!!): I’ve really liked Jankowski and his play. I like his poise with the puck. On the flip side… Mike Smith has me… worried.
Ryan Pike: I agree with the Jankowski element, too. I’ve been impressed by him over the last three or four years, in that he keeps upping his game as expectations for him also rise. I also really liked Dube and Poirier when they were up.
karimkurji: I’m honestly not worried that Smith has been shaky on the ice. What really concerns me is how he’s responded to his poor play. With casual joking remarks, I don’t like to see these guys not take their job seriously. I have faith he’ll be good in the reg
Ryan Pike: I wouldn’t read too much into his comments.
karimkurji: Even Lazar has said, okay yeah, I know I’ve been pretty awful.
Vintage Flame: I honestly want ONE thing for this team in the regular season. To see them start and realize the potential they are supposed to have “on paper”. We saw Elliott struggle to start and that continued far too long. We’ve seen it with goaltender after goaltender really… I just want to see Smith begin with the start he is supposed to have.
karimkurji: I completely agree. But the team we’ve seen play through the preseason is going to get blasted by the Oilers
Ryan Pike: Let’s be honest: it’s a playoff team, easily, if they get average goaltending. Isn’t this like the third or fourth preseason that’s seemed rather sleepy?
Vintage Flame: Agreed Karim, and yes Ryan… It is. that’s the problem. We’re not supposed to make much of the preseason, but I guarantee, Oil fan is pretty stoked over a 6-1 preseason record. Regardless of what it means.
Ryan Pike: Do you think it’s the product of having a team heavy on veterans?
karimkurji: Absolutely. But I still hate it.
Vintage Flame: It used to be the problem for sure. It should be less and less of an issue as this new generation develops. Does that make sense?
Ryan Pike: But in theory the kids could ease off the gas a bit in the preseason as they feel more established and secure in their spots.
karimkurji: Sure! But at a certain point, don’t you just get sick of losing? Even in the preseason?
Vintage Flame: They shouldn’t be easing off the gas though. As the Flames continue to stock the cupboards with viable prospects, positions are less and less secure. No one’s job was ever at risk under the Iggy regime. That’s not the case now.
karimkurji: True. Dillon Dube was the only one who seemed to get what you’re saying, Vintage.
Vintage Flame: And he played like he wanted someone’s job.
karimkurji: Dube is the best. But it’s pretty sad that he’s the only one that is really coming to mind right now.
Ryan Pike: Dube played the exact same style he did at the World Juniors. It was encouraging to see.
Vintage Flame: That’s sort of the difference between Dube and Janko. Dube played like he wanted someone’s job, Janko played like he deserved the job already.
karimkurji: What’s the deal with Bart?? Why is he playing in hockey games when Andersson is still around? Rasmus has been decent.
ctibs (Christian Tiberi): Once again, welcome to the Dube bandwagon. (Dubewagon?)
Vintage Flame: Rasmus is already passed Bart… By a country mile. My only thinking is that they don’t want Rasmus to be comfortable as a #7 D-man, whereas Bart is lucky to be there.
Ryan Pike: Waivers and handedness is probably factoring in, too.
karimkurji: I’m all for keeping Bart around to be the 7th man where he doesn’t ever play games. But shouldn’t Rasmus be playing tonight?
Vintage Flame: Is it better to play Rasmus as a #6 or #7 now? Or, develop him top 4 in the AHL and bring him up later?
karimkurji: How important is handedness really? I’ve never truly understood the insistence on having both hands on each pairing
Vintage Flame: With the split second reactions of D pairings nowadays, I can see the importance of handedness on the point. It’s a factor now.
Ryan Pike: Players are pretty split on the impacts, but coaches see it as important (particularly Gulutzan).
croatis (Christian Roatis): Gulutzan sees it as very important.
ctibs: Remember those day one pairings last year? Good grief.
croatis: Treliving mentioned it a lot when talking about the Hamonic trade. That he’s a right hand partner for TJ.
Vintage Flame: I prefer NOT to Christian.
Ryan Pike: And the way they’re drafting too really shows they want a balance.
croatis: Grossmann-Hamilton. 5 minutes in, Grossmann fires a pass up the middle like a kid in atom and the Oilers score. Nice.
karimkurji: What a joke.
Vintage Flame: I was hoping we could get through this without discussing Grossmann.
ctibs: TJ seemed to succeed on his offside, Dougie did not.
karimkurji: Hopes were too high.
croatis: Talking leads to healing.
ctibs: I don’t know where it matters and where it doesn’t.
Ryan Pike: I’m told it matters a lot defensively.
croatis: Gulutzan believes you take away half the ice if you’re playing on your off side. That’s from the Hat article on Hamilton on the Athletic I believe.
Ryan Pike: Basically, you have to cross your body after accepting the pass to handle it, which creates complications. Brodie was good at it, a lot of guys aren’t.
ctibs: To get back on track, do y’all think Andersson has a shot at the third pairing?
croatis: I do not, no;
Ryan Pike: This year? No. As soon as next year? Sure.
Vintage Flame: I don’t see Andersson on the 3rd pairing yet… Maybe another year, like Ryan just said.
karimkurji: I have Brodie – Andersson as my second pair for next year. Hamonic on the 3rd.
Vintage Flame: Really? Interesting.
ctibs: Jumping the gun, but next year’s defensive pairings are going to be an interesting thing to look at.
karimkurji: Or Brodie – Fox depending on how ridiculously amazing Fox becomes.
Vintage Flame: If Hamonic, with the Flames gets back to his form of 2 years ago… I don’t see that happening… Unlless Hamonic replaces Gio.
Ryan Pike: Honestly, I think Stone and Andersson’s futures depend on how soon Fox signs.
karimkurjiL I think it also depends on when the Gio decline happens.
Vintage Flame: No fault of Gio… It happens to all.
Ryan Pike: But Gio’s a lefty.
ctibs: Well that impacts kylington and valimaki.
karimkurji: So the top 3 righties we’ll have in the future will be Dougie, Fox, Andersson.
croatis: For what it’s worth, Pronman ranked the Flames’ D prospects as: Valimaki, Fox, Kylington, Andersson. And noted Valimaki has created separation.
Ryan Pike: Let’s presume the Flames have locked in Brouwer and Lazar on this team. Where do you put them? You have to use them.
ctibs: The trash can.
karimkurji: Lazar can be an extra.
Vintage Flame: Getting popcorn.
karimkurji: Brouwer will likely be the designated pocket dog eater of the team. Our Phil.
ctibs: I agree with other christian. Can’t see why they’re bothering with Bennett-Brouwer again.
Vintage Flame: Brouwer is just useless.
ctibs: Especially when Bennett did great work this preseason (for what it’s worth) with no Brouwer.
Ryan Pike: My theory is they see Bennett now as able to carry the mail, so here’s Brouwer.
Vintage Flame: Honestly, I was thinking about this and I’d like to see Bennett play with Johnny and Sean and give the Centre spot to Janko. But I also see just how high they are on Sam and what big expectations they have for him this season.
ctibs: I think they push Bennett at centre until it’s clear he can’t play it at an NHL level.
karimkurji: It’s clearly more important for them to see Bennett at center than to see him succeed.
Ryan Pike: If Bennett can be a decent center, suddenly next year they have four really good centers and the ability to transition somebody like Dube into the lineup on the wings.
Vintage Flame: They were also quite certain Wideman was going to be great on the PP…. Not so much.
ctibs: That was Hartley hockey and thank God we aren’t trying that anymore.
Vintage Flame: Brouwer is like Wideman.. Same problem, different position.
karimkurji: Going off what you said earlier, Vintage, if we’re saying it might be better to see Rasmus on the top-4 in Stockton, is it really a good thing for Janko to be the 4th line center?
ctibs: I did this on the mailbag a while ago. I don’t see what else he could do in Stockton.
Vintage Flame: 4th? I was thinking 3rd.
ctibs: But i also don’t see what he could do on the fourth line.
karimkurji: We know that the top 3 at least to start will be Monahan, Backlund, and Bennett though.
Vintage Flame: That’s what i mean… I’d have Bennett on the wing and my centres would be Monahan, Backlund, Janko. Janko, Ferland and Versteeg.
Ryan Pike: If the Flames hit the skids a bit this year, I wouldn’t be shocked if Gulutzan tried a few different things out.
karimkurji: I’m so excited to see what Ferland can do this year. He’s looked real good on that top line.
ctibs: Ferland is the breakout player this year.
Vintage Flame: It better be Sam to be honest.
ctibs: Also true.
Vintage Flame: Can I point something out? How long has it been since we have been so blessed with so many possible combinations and pairings… especiallly on DEFENSE???
Ryan Pike: The drop-off across the roster seems a lot less than it has been in previous years.
ctibs: Agreed. Three good lines almost wow.
Vintage Flame: To be in a place where we don’t have to pray for Gio to play til he’s 50. I’ll close off by just saying, I hope Mike Smith figures things out before the All Star game.