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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Slack Sundays: talking Mike Smith puckhandling, secondary scoring and the Vegas flu

It’s a long weekend and someway, somehow, the Calgary Flames managed to wrangle three days without games into their schedule. Between this and all of their opponents these days being teams playing on the second half of back-to-backs, somebody at the league office must love ’em. The long weekend means that much of the FlamesNation crew was available following Remembrance Day festivities to dive into the topics of the day. Let’s dive right in!

Ryan Pike: Heading into Saturday’s games, the Flames were 16th (league average) in points percentage. That’s… something?

Vintage Flame: It’s kind of cliche to say but it feels like a start. Rather than muddling around, they seem to be playing with more purpose lately. More purpose, more enthusiasm rather than sitting back watching Smith and waiting for an opportunity to do something offensive. If they can get their special teams on track, they could make some waves.

croatis (Christian Roatis): Good news is the PDO still has a little ways to go (aka SH%) and they’re Top 10 in CF at ES.

ctibs (Christian Tiberi): They’ve looked much much better over the last five games or so.

taylormckee (Taylor McKee): Absolutely, it’s been night and day. I do worry a bit about Smith’s workload though.

croatis: Is Smith hurt?

Vintage Flame: Lol. It is polarizing with Smith. Initially we we worried how much he would play as a 35 yr old, now we worry that we can’t play him enough or that Gully is burning him out.

Ryan Pike: Anybody who hasn’t seen Gulutzan’s media scrum from Friday, check it out; he discusses Smith quite a bit. The gist is: he doesn’t think Smith’s hurt.

croatis: He’s been everything they’ve needed, which is positive. Does he hold up? Who knows? But that’s been the risk since the day he was acquired.

arii (Ari Yanover): I mean, he may not be hurt. But Smith has started all but one game so far and we’re 16 games into the season. That’s kind of a lot?

Vintage Flame: Good! I honestly have to say Smith has been a more than pleasant surprise, and I have been surprised.

taylormckee: It’s reminiscent of the Kipper days, Re: workload.

arii: I get the schedule has been spaced out so finding opportunities for Lack to come in is a little odd at the moment but like… is the plan to ride Smith with a 70+ game Kipper workload?

Vintage Flame: Remember when Kipper complained about workload and Keenan told him to go look up Glenn Hall. Poor Kipper.

croatis: Yeah its tough to justify starts for Lack when they have a 7 game homestand that lasts nearly 3 weeks… the sked has been whack.

arii: The most games Smith has ever started in a season is 69, back in 2011-12, when the Coyotes made the third round, so maybe we’re on to something here. But, more likely, we are not.

croatis: .930 SV% that year too.

arii: When dude was 29.

croatis: That whats I call causation! He’s always been good in stretches, from the NHL to IIHF with Canada.

Vintage Flame: Mike Vernon was the same way… Play me, play me and I’ll deliver. Was at his best when he was busy.

ctibs: He has also been very poor in stretches. And i think we’re going through a bad Mike Smith stretch right now.

taylormckee: My memories of Kipper’s backups was that they’d start like once an eon, then suck, thus necessitating more stress on Kipper

croatis: question is which Mike Smith do we get in the playoffs assuming they get there

ctibs: remember Henrik Karlsson

Vintage Flame: If you can recognize his ebbs and flows then you can temper that with Lack starts maybe?

arii: Did Kipper have a backup that had a pedigree anywhere close to Lack’s though? … Toskala? When Toskala was old?

croatis; cause out of his mind Mike Smith could carry this God forsaken team really far… Toskala had his only good stretch in like 5 years with CGY too

Vintage Flame: Toskala was terrible

croatis: no he wasn’t. had nearly a .920SV%

taylormckee: I guess what I wonder is that perhaps the problem might not have been the goalies exclusively but who can be expected to be good starting once a month

croatis: imagine if Elliott and Johnson in their current forms returned

arii: Toskala was younger than Smith when he played all six of his games for the Flames and here I am calling him old

croatis: I hated Curtis McElhinney more than anything when he was here

Vintage Flame: I didn’t mind Turek under Kipper.. Didn’t last long though

ctibs: im surprised McElhinney still exists in the NHL. never been concerned about Mike Smith’s injury history. his age though? concerning

Vintage Flame: McElhinney was terrible too… Like Trevor Kidd bad, worse even.

croatis: oh god so bad. he won like twice as a Flame

Vintage Flame: That much?

croatis: at a time where they were trying to get Kipper rest so he played more than he should’ve IIRC

arii: He had such cool masks

Ryan Pike: McElhinney’s first win was in that weird stretch where Sutter had to dress 15 or 16 players.

croatis: nightmares. 4 wins in 29 games as a Flame

arii: COOL MASKS

Ryan Pike: Here’s my thought: is age the only reason we’re more concerned about Smith’s injury history than say Backlund’s or Hamonic’s or Giordano’s?

arii: I’m not concerned about Smith’s injury history at all. Smith was targeted in part because he was a proven starter

Ryan Pike: I just find it kind of astonishing that Smith has a few muffins because he’s catching slappers wrong in his glove hand and everyone’s worried about injuries because of his age, meanwhile there’s also Jagr’s old groin and whatever soft tissue thing is wrong with Hamonic. It seems like an odd thing.

Vintage Flame: I was at the Jersey game and was less than impressed with two of the goals he let in. Is that being over worked and tired or is he just sloppy sometimes.. Cause it pokes into a few games now?

Ryan Pike: I’ve seen every start he’s made and I’d observe that his mechanics are a bit off.

arii: I mean when you get Mike Smith Is A Great Puck Player you’re bound to get Mike Smith Let In Some Goals Because He Was Too Busy Failing At Playing The Puck. Skaters get to make mistakes with playing the puck because they always have another line of defence behind them. goalies… don’t

billtran (Bill Tran): I don’t think anyone expected Smith to keep up his SV% though. In fact I’d argue many people were waiting for it to return to the norm. He carries with him the notion of having great fluctuations.

arii: Seriously he was at .931 before his little bad stretch here. Now he’s at .924. That feels a bit more sustainable, though I’d bet on it dropping a little more

billtran: His puck handling has been less than stellar to be frank.

Vintage Flame: He seems a little unsure of where he is on the blocker side. Positioning seems off.

arii: Honestly being at every home game I have a much greater appreciation for his puck play. I don’t know how much of it gets captured on TV but he does waaaay more than I was ever expecting

Vintage Flame: I don’t want to see him drop much more than .924

arii: His best season ever is .930, his second best season is .916. I mean… It’s not as big of a deal as long as the Flames’ SH% regresses and they actually score goals now.

billtran: From what I’ve seen a lot of tries to thread the needle with a pass ends up going off an opponent and not hitting the intended target

Vintage Flame: I’ve tried to pay attention to his puck play and I thiiiink I’m okay with it, I’m not one to criticize it by any means.

taylormckee: I just feel like we acquired Lack so that Gulutzan could trust a backup, right? If not, what is the point of this goalie logjam?

arii: Elliott is .903 right now. Johnson is .878. I can live with .915 Smith.

billtran: Though Smith has gotten a lot of good dumps to the neutral zone going off the glass.

Ryan Pike: I think the challenge for Gulutzan is that Smith’s good enough to allow the Flames to figure their other stuff out, and until they do that fully they basically have to ride him given the quality of their game right now and where they are in the standings.

arii: Smith takes away the dump-in option, he clears the puck from his zone much quicker, etc. There are still a few hiccups (and maybe this is another area where losing Hamonic is not ideal, because then you’ve got Andersson out there playing mostly pretty well but occasionally Smith does a thing and you can just see Rasmus going “?????“) and then there are at least two goals directly against because of it (could’ve been three were it not for Fiala not being able to corral a bouncy puck) so it’s more like… how much does this add up to over the season, is it a net positive or negative?

Vintage Flame: His normal play of the puck seems fine to me, where he frustrates is when he’s trying the thread the needle passes. He seems to take unnecessary chances

Ryan Pike: I would argue net positive.

billtran: One thing I’ve definitely appreciated about Smith’s puck handling though is that he instantly frees of a defender by drawing pressure towards him. Obviously watching it happen is not great for the heart rate, but it seems to at least give the Flames a good shot at maintaining possession through their transitional play

arii: same but we’re not even at the quartermark yet so

Vintage Flame: He is for sure net positive right now

arii: So going through the schedule right now, it looks like it stays mostly spread out until February when it’s suddenly ALL THE GAMES AT ONCE, but it feels like maybe Lack should get in a little more regularly before
then?

Vintage Flame: I would think, like Ariisaid, we are at the quartermark. If he’s net positive now, he should stay that way and I would think with some tinkering, he even improves that area.

billtran: There’s a couple of back-to-backs on the road in November and December

arii: Lack gonna start four games until February, aw yiss… Well at the quartermark the Flames are also one of the worst goal-scoring teams in the league. Should they stay that way? Is that what we’re expecting?

Ryan Pike: I want Gaudreau to have all the assists this year, but it’ll be primarily on Monahan, Ferland and Jagr goals.

taylormckee: Good lord I’m sick of talking about Bennett. Surely he’s due for something now. 3rd line scoring would be amazing.

ctibs: they got one and 2/3rds goal last game! (the 2/3rds is because Jagr and Janko was on the ice and not Bennett)

Vintage Flame: Monahan is playing unreal right now… I love his game. Guy seems to have all the confidence in the world.

arii: First line is unreal right now

Ryan Pike: Imagine how this team could be if they got secondary scoring. Bonkers.

ctibs: Ferland is playing out of his mind right now

taylormckee: He looks like he mayyyyyyyy be worth that contract 😉

arii: if Monahan and Ferland are unreal/playing out of their minds then what is Gaudreau lol

Vintage Flame: That whole line is firing and not one of them is dragging along the others.. It’s great to see.

Ryan Pike: I’ve gotta say, we’re close to seeing actual chemistry on that third line. The Flames with three good lines and adequate goaltending could be scary good.

arii: Gulutzan was saying on… Wednesday, I think, that 93-77-68 had only played one game together, let’s give it some time. And then next game everyone gets some points. So let’s keep giving it time

ctibs: Johnny might be mvp level right now if he keeps it up

Vintage Flame: Monahan is just thinking goal with every shot, you can tell in his placement and how he snaps the puck. Johnny looks like he can just go anywhere he wants on the ice and he’ll make plays happen. Ferly looks unstoppable.

Ryan Pike: Anybody else see Jagr’s comments on Gaudreau after Thursday’s game?

arii: everybody ever yes

billtran: I have those comments tattooed

arii: “Johnny is going to win the Art Ross every single year if he feels like it” – Jagr, roughly

billtran: One thing about the roster right now is it’s inching towards its ideal composition, one player transaction at a time

taylormckee: Absolutely. It’s just frustratingly slow sometimes and confusing as to why it had to happen at all (Bart, Glass)

billtran: I think Kulak is here for good now

arii: There is no way he cannot be

Vintage Flame: He should be

arii: like… just watch the games, nerds. I don’t need no fancy stats to tell me god damn Kulak is a very good hockey player. but then also the fancy stats tell me Kulak is a very good hockey player so that’s nice too

croatis: I enjoyed Andersson

taylormckee: Definitely. Let’s trade stone, right? Right?

arii: sure why not. Stone for Marner. or Galchenyuk I don’t care.

Vintage Flame: When they interviewed Jags the other night, it was in front of Bartkowski’s stall, i was like, “You’re still here huh?”

billtran: Who says no

arii: Someone’s gotta be scratched every night!

taylormckee: We’ll throw in Hathaway. Dude’s a supermoon or something

arii: Like there’s no room for Andersson right now unless Stone goes away pretty much

taylormckee: And there’s no *real* way that happens right? 🙁

billtran: Hathaway is a waxing poetic supermoon for some folks

arii: Though there’s also no real need to rush Andersson right now (see: hey look Kulak is pretty good and that came about in an okay way!!) but maybe the trade deadline will be interesting?

croatis: Byron Bader suggested Valimaki and Bennett for Marner on a Twitter poll. Overwhelming “no” from the populace.

Ryan Pike: No goddamn way Treliving trades Valimaki.

Vintage Flame: is Marner available?

arii: I don’t pay attention to the Leafs so I’m just going to say yes

croatis: the rumour that Toronto might look to deal Marner popped up this week from Kypreos I believe

arii: They don’t wanna care about Calgary needs with their inane Dougie rumours, I’m gonna not care about their needs. Marner for Wideman

Ryan Pike: And it’s Toronto, they rumour about everything and they very rarely have a basis in reality.

arii: Marner only has one goal this year so pretty clear he’s bad and we should take him off their hands imo

Vintage Flame: Stajan, Mayers, Reese, Hagman, Leeman… Need I say more?

arii: man Stajan ain’t gonna make it to 1,000 games is he

karimkurji (Karim Kurji): Sorry to just chime in now, but I legit think Marner is available. Elliotte said he’s fallen out of favour with Babcock and Babs runs that town so he’s likely available

Vintage Flame: We’ve seen our fill of Leafs

Ryan Pike: Stajan’s been useful.

arii: Stone for Marner solves so many problems though. I mean for us. Probably not for them. I don’t know.

billtran: Aren’t they in the market for a d-man?

arii: Then for them too!!!

karimkurji: 13-23-Marner could be ridiculous though

Vintage Flame: I would deal Stone for Marner, but if they come sniffing for another Phaneuf-like deal, then beat it.

arii: Well it’s not like they’re getting anyone from the top four. or Kulak. don’t nobody even think of coming sniffing for Kulak.

karimkurji: What about something like Stone and Andersson

Ryan Pike: Long-term, the best strategy may be just swapping the Stones of the world for picks or prospects as the existing kids get good and slide into the lineup as cheap depth options.

croatis: Stone for Marner would be an inane deal to make for Toronto. Stone and Andersson guts the Flames’ depth on the right side

arii: if you deal Stone + Andersson who plays 3RD tho.

croatis: Bart would have to make an appearance

Vintage Flame: I wouldn’t give Rasmus or Valamaki in the conversation

taylormckee: Stone + Kylington?

croatis: I will part with my son

karimkurji: They’re not making that deal though

taylormckee: The Leafs won’t yeah

arii: If Rasmus isn’t ready now he will be very, very soon by the looks of it

karimkurji: Flames have to part with something actually good to get someone definitely good

arii: like again I’m saying by trade deadline. based on absolutely nothing

Ryan Pike: Rasmus is this year’s Kulak.

Vintage Flame: Give Stone and Bartkowski, throw in Brouwer if they cry

arii: listen if the Leafs think Stone is good then he is good

croatis: Brouwer’s NTC apparently expires on July 1. bet they 50% retain and ship him to somewhere that appreciates *good* leaders

Vintage Flame: If Babcock wants to get rid of Marner, it’s for a reason. That means I’m in no way giving him Valimaki, Andersson or Kylington

karimkurji: Do we actually think Brouwer will get moved? I think a buyout is way more likely

arii: I think it’s pretty clear to everyone league-wide now he is a fourth liner at best

billtran: There are real GMs who think Shipachyov was the worst C on a team that ices Bellemare and Eakin

arii: Even when Jagr was injured and the Flames were short a forward he was playing fourth line minutes. plus powerplay time for some reason. But otherwise, fourth line

billtran: Tre might yet still be able to convince someone Brouwer has decent value

Vintage Flame: GM of the year if he does

arii: I think that ship has sailed

Ryan Pike: Brouwer has a modified NTC starting July 1. And very low trade value. He’s here until his deal expires or he’s bought out.

arii: “Hey Vegas want a free Brouwer??” “sorry I can’t hear you over the sound of me taking this defenceman who’s about to become a free agent anyway”

karimkurji: Yeah Brouwer isn’t going anywhere and it sucks

Ryan Pike: Brouwer being exposed got Vegas to claim Engelland which got Calgary to re-sign Stone

arii:  ENGELLAND HAS NINE POINTS IN 16 GAMES THIS YEAR? WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN??? HOW did this happen. my world is spinning. I need to lie down.

ctibs: He’s a sniper. Also his PDO is stupid high

arii: All of vegas’ pdo is stupid high that doesn’t mean NINE POINTS IN 16 GAMES

Vintage Flame: I was disappointed to see the Flames expose Englland over Bart

Ryan Pike: They needed to expose Bort because of expansion requirements. I’m glad Engelland’s good in the room has turned into good on the scoresheet

Vintage Flame: Same.. That first home game was ridiculous. Who didn’t wish Engelland’s goal was the winner?

arii: Engelland is tied for sixth in Vegas scoring

croatis: Well when Maxime Lagace is winning games with an .812SV%…

Ryan Pike: Vegas is the hockey team equivalent of playoff baseball; dingers all the time and no defense. But it’s really fun and probably helps that market long-term

Vintage Flame: Haha.. Juiced pucks in Vegas?

arii: I find it funny that the Flames’ two visits to Vegas this year are the first of back-to-backs. No staying overnight for them!

Ryan Pike: No Vegas flu.

arii: This is another conspiracy against the Oilers, probably.

  • freethe flames

    Trade Stone right now because after 2 NHL games Andersson has proven he is an NHLer; listen to yourselves. How many D men who are not as good as Stone did the PP use to win the cup? I like Andersson and believe he can be very good but he is going to remain a work in progress; the rea question is he better served playing 20+ minutes in Stockton every night or playing every 3rd game in the NHL and practicing with NHL players? If the former he goes back down and we see Stone and Kulak play together with Bart dressing if someone is nicked up. If the later Bart gets sent down.
    Marner is likely a pipe dream but what about some of the other Leaf forwards who are more NHL ready than some of our guys. Personally I would rather see Mangiapane be given a shot before I look for a trade. But that would require FHamilton or Stajan being sent down.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      What you are saying makes sense long term. The short term answer is that we soon hit the road with a “healthy” Hamonic and Bart. Two weeks on the road and the only available option for a fill in is the Bart-man? Two weeks traveling with the team and practicing, possibly playing versus not playing in Stockton until the 17th and missing 5 games. If I’m BT I want spare tire not a can of flat fix.

  • The GREAT WW

    Let’s assume it takes 94 points to make the playoffs.
    That’s 12 games over .500 for the entire season.

    We are currently 2 games over .500, so we need to go at least 10 games over .500 for the rest of the season. That’s doable….

    The Oilers are currently 3 games under .500, so they have to go 15 games over .500 for the remainder of the season; that becomes more challenging…..

    WW

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Another way to look at the Oilers predicament. They need to win at a pace of 2/3 games to reach 100 points. The longer they win 1/2 or 1/3 the less likely they make it. I hope they finish 8th and lose in the first round, because you know they will somehow win the lotto.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        “…because you know they will somehow win the lotto.”

        So? They’ll pick the wrong guy or they’ll screw up a kid’s development or they’ll sign someone after the entry-level and go to cap hell or they’ll make the right pick and handle the player perfectly and it it still won’t work because Edmonton.

        Oh, and they have precious little organizational depth to do anything with so they’ll probably have to keep forcing kids into the league before they’re ready, and that never ends well.

        But no no, Hockey News, it’s a Crosby/McDavid final with the Oilers beating us along the way.

        The Hockey News is aware that the magic 8 ball isn’t actually magic, right?

    • HOCKEY83

      Or you can be like Ottawa This season and lose a lot in OT. Or like last years Nashville who was 41 29 12 or Toronto who were 40 27 15. That more losses than wins. There are different ways to get to that 94 points.

    • Atomic Clown

      Remember Tkachuk and Marner wreaked havoc with a crappy center like Dvorak between them. Bennett/ Jankowski centering one the most lethal duos in CHL history? I’d be interested in seeing that happen

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Marner fits a need. RHS center. Can play RW. Fast skater. High ceiling. If the Leafs don’t want him, then we should be all over that. Bennett for Marner and Fehr to make the money work. Everybody walks away happy.

      • HOCKEY83

        not a chance Bennett would fetch Marner. As I said up top the only way Toronto would trade Marner to the Flames is for one of Hamilton, Monahan, Gaudreau or Tkachuk. 7 points in his last 5 games. He’s hot right now. Bennett is nothing right now. They may do Bennett as a throw in if the Flames give Valimaki along with a pick.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      I’ve been watching some of the Leafs this year. I don’t like Marner. He’s a selfish player and he doesn’t know where he fits. Got talent, but dependability is something else. Reminds me of Ho-Sang.

      Don’t like ’em.

      @Atomic

      “Remember Tkachuk and Marner wreaked havoc with a crappy center…”

      But that’s the other side of the argument, isn’t it? They did rip it up and sometimes…maybe we could have a Thornton Seteguchi x2 thing going here.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    So, the last few games Smith wobbled a bit. I’m not concerned. He’s started every game but one and if this is what bad goaltending looks like for us now, I’ll take it. I say he can go 70+, but I know I’m in the minority, there. Brad kept pointing out that he’s an athlete who’s in great shape when he was signed, and that despite the age, the; “…milage is low…” .

    As for playing the puck, I’ll spot him the odd goal against because of what he adds to offense and the PK and every other facet of the team’s performance.

    If he keeps it up, I’ll be able to say honestly this is the third goaltender the franchise has had that I’ve been genuinely excited about.

    Oh, and one more thing: he’s an exciting player to watch and he makes games fun for me. Go Smitty!!!

  • deantheraven

    Smith should sit sooner, not later. He needs a spell and Lack needs a start.

    Brouwer will have to be bought out before July 1 or ride the pine all next season.

    Bartkowski could be sent down, Stone could go at the deadline (I’ve been saying this for months) and then we’ll get the chance to see at least 2 of our D prospects for real.

  • thymebalm

    Flames Goaltending

    I don’t believe GG has any faith in Eddie Lack. He has only given him 1 start through 1.5 months of hockey. His save percentage, rebound control and angles are league bottom right now. This was a reclamation project for the goaltending coach, and so far, they haven’t been able to rebuild him. Maybe a half a year as the practice workhorse retraining his fundamentals (again) will help him be a reasonable backup. I don’t think so though. Shooters are too good now for goalies who are small in the net and leave pockets.

    Meanwhile, In the AHL, Gillies (4-3-1, 2.50GAA, .918SV%) & Rittich (4-1-0, 2.20GAA, .928%) are both looking ready to split a back up role in the NHL and get 5 starts a piece. The trouble is if Smith goes down for an extended period, you can’t count on either one of these guys carrying the load without getting overwhelmed.

    Lack is here primarily as an injury insurance policy. The Flames oldest goalie prospects are ready to break into the league, but the Flames have an old starter with an injury history and risk is too high that one of Gillies/Rittich would be forced into too big a role too soon. We are already seeing the games pile on Smith, and the Flames have been lucky with the schedule to allow him recovery time.

    It’s my opinion that Treliving could waive Lack, send him to the AHL, and should he be claimed, pick up another goalie closer to the playoffs for insurance. The Flames do have two goalies just floundering in the ECHL right now, and one of them is the Flames ‘top’ goalie prospect. Seems reasonable to try to get Parsons into the AHL with better coaching and facilities and connection with the big club. I personally think Rittich is closer to ready, but Gillies could probably fill the role as well.

    I think the issue is the asset deficit going into the next couple of drafts is kind of handcuffing Treliving, and he’s unable to react as quickly on the fly. As a GM, he seems to really take things slowly- whether its feeling out a trade, or signing a contract. He’s worried about spending even more assets on goalies if he loses Lack and then Smith gets injured. Fair enough I guess.

    My only problem with this whole thought process is what if Lack is a bad insurance policy? He kind of looks like he is.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      You’re basing your assessment of Lack on one start. As for Gullly’s faith in him, he was talking about Lack in a scrum recently and said he looked really good. Myself, I see a guy who was a number one guy in the league and did well, albeit for a short time. Without the pressure that comes with that, and with a coach that was with him when he had success, I think he could be a sterling backup.

      Either way, if a goaltender is winning and wants to play, you gotta put him in. I don’t think Eddie’s lack of starts is an indication that anyone is displeased with him. How can they be? He hasn’t had a chance to do anything yet.

      • Kevin R

        Agree. When we start to see Smith play back to backs then we can start asking different questions. Acquiring Marner would give us a potentially elite RW we haven’t had since Iggy. & we aren’t about to draft one next June are we? Leafs need a D & lets face it, Stone will only get us picks(2nd & 3rd) back & maybe a B prospect. Hamonic wouldn’t even get Marner back as a return. But Brodie could get us Marner + back. Let Stone/Hamonic play 2nd pairing & play Kulak & Andersson in bottom pairing, & a complete home run would be those two playing the same minutes as Hamonic & Stone & take over the 2nd pairing status so to speak. Then next year Kylington & Valimaki will be pushing for roster spots next fall. We have to start getting the D pipeline, clearly our strength, actual NHL minutes. Risky yes, but if we keep plugging along at just over .500 by mid December, that would be a deal I absolutely would consider. But that’s just me :-}

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    The one element that is missing from the goalie narrative is what it has done to our prized prospect, Tyler Parsons. By trading for Lack, Parsons was forced to play in the ECHL. After some stellar play in pre-season in the AHL and some strong initial games in the ECHL, he is ranked 45th out of 46 goalies. He owns a 4.69 GAA and .870 SAV%. Now this would be a concern for any goalie, but what does it do to a prized rookie goalie. Sending Parsons to the ECHL appears to be a mistake. A mistake that could have been avoided without signing Lack.

    I understand that the ECHL is not a great league for goalies but this is worse than anyone likely expected. Remember, Parsons was arguably the best goalie at the Heat camp. Perhaps this would not be an issue if the organization had confidence in Lack… but the don’t. Rittich has excelled in the back up role. Parsons and Gillies can split AHL duties. It is time to move Lack for both the benefit of the organizational depth and the player himself.

    • Kevin R

      The other goaltending head shaking is trying to figure out the mindset of window open now or just about to open. I honestly didn’t think our window was open this year & hence surprised of the Stone signing & Lack acquisition. I thought next year was the window opening. Smith will have 1 more year after this, 1 more year older & we needed to see one of our young goalies make the step into the NHL. I agree I thought Riitch & Gilles could be sent up & down taking turns backing up, getting an NHL start & then get a few games down in the AHL while Parsons gets a decent workload in Stockton. So what happens next year? Lack leaves, Smith has a good year & now do we resign him because he is the only goalie with any experience & we’ll be that much more dependent on an even older goalie & we once again failed to get any NHL experience for Gilles & Riitch & see what we have. Same as D. Andersson & Kulak should be the bottom pairing & gain confidence, experience & potentially make one of our 2nd pairing guys expendable as Valimaki & Kylington push their way into the lineup next year. I kind of get Trelivings plan but I can’t follow the route we seem to be going carrying out said plan.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        I would say that-after the acquisitions-we CAN open our cup window this year.

        Hopefully it doesn’t get stuck. Or if it has one of those handles that you turn in a circle, they can fall off sometimes.

      • Just.Visiting

        Re the Kevin R comment….I’m with you. Contending this year is a bonus, but I’d never compromise the real window to do it. I’m just happy that GG has both Janko and Jagr in the lineup. There may be a point this season at which an adjustment needs to be made to get Mangi and Ras into the lineup as well for a foundation of experience that would be really valuable next year.

    • flamesburn89

      Yeah I would just bring Rittich up as the backup. They don’t want to play Lack, and his ceiling at this points seems lower than Rittich, Parsons, and Gillies.

    • Just.Visiting

      Re the Jumping Jack Flash comment….Exactly…This is one of the major problems with roster management by the Flames. What can’t you do because of the choice made on the Flames roster. In this particular case, the acquisition of Lack basically has two major consequences. One is that you’re not getting either Gillies or Riitch the experience they should be getting at the NHL level if you’re serious about moving one of them in as the full time backup next year with a greater share of the load. The second is that you have Parsons playing below where he should be without the same level of competition or coaching.

  • HOCKEY83

    ctibs: He has also been very poor in stretches. And i think we’re going through a bad Mike Smith stretch right now.

    If this is a bad Mike smith stretch it’s considerably better than anything we’ve had over the last 3 years…I can live with this stretch.

  • flamesburn89

    Like VF, I have been pleasantly surprised by Smith. His play has started to dip as of late, which I think most were expecting. There was no way he was staying at .931 all year, just like there was no way Elliot was staying sub .900 all year last season. As a critic of the Mike Smith trade, if he can provide >.915 SV% the rest of the year I will gladly eat some crow.

    I would deal Stone if you can get a cheaper d-man back. Maybe Vegas deals one of their plethora of defencemen and a draft pick for an upgrade in Stone? They have 3 picks in Round 2 of 2019, Round 3 of 2019, and Round 2 of 2020.

  • MontanaMan

    I have NO CONCERNS about Smith. Goalies will have their ups and downs, as will Smith, but I believe in him in the long run. He’s had a much better start than Price, Anderson, Talbot and many other “premier” goalies and although he’s let in a few weak goals, I’m more than happy with his start. Speaking about pack handling, you notice it when he botches a passing attempt, but just as important, you don’t notice when he makes the first pass and starts the play up ice, which he does about ten times per game. Again, he needs to pick his spots but I’ll take the positive impacts over the negative.

    • HOCKEY83

      Smith is one of the best puck handling goalies I’ve seen. Very entertaining to watch the Dmen enjoying his stretch passes out of the zone. Against Jersey was the first Elliott style bad goal he let in all season as well as one puck handling mistake goal. Though for most of the game he played awesome I would consider that loss on him. Even in his losses he puts on a clinic.

  • Off the wall

    Do we remember our 5-10-1 start last season? Of course we do.

    This year we are 9-7. Not bad considering we’ve yet to see secondary scoring come to life.
    And of course having Bartkowski in the lineup.

    Our best players have been just that. Mike Smith has been everything we hoped he’d be, solid, dependable and feisty.
    I have no concerns with the few gaffes he’s shown, he exemplifies a true winning attitude. He’s also carried this team.

    I wouldn’t be so quick to discount Lack yet. He really hasn’t had an opportunity for us to assess his game. Give it time before we decide to flush him down to Stockton folks.

    I don’t think we’re going to make any trade noise. Treliving will stand pat with this group. He did after- all, add necessary pieces already.

    We have nothing to offer that would be attractive to other teams without weakening our own core.Plus we’re kinda outta picks.

    Stay the course, secondary scoring will need to be better, Smith is our demigod, Gaudreau will dance like Fred Astaire now that he doesn’t have to worry about being hacked like tree.
    Our defence will continue to get better with Bart out.

    I’m feeling a lot better than last season and we’ve yet to hit our stride.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      That’s what I’ve been thinking lately as well. We’ve had the right pieces performing since the beginning and everyone else is nearly caught up, now. And now that Jagr is back * genuflects * our secondary scoring is about to get the Jagr bump.

      We could be scary good, guys. You never know.

    • Just.Visiting

      I don’t have a problem with Lack per se….He seems like a great guy to have in the room and representing the team to the public. My problem is that the choice to bring him in has consequences that are probably not in the longer term interest of the team as it moves to the window as a contender.

  • OYYC

    Outside of sitting Brouwer, I wouldn’t touch the forward lineup right now. The top 2 lines are set. The 3rd line could become one of the best in the league. The 4th line could use another energy player instead of Brouwer. The team needs to work on their special teams on the ice instead of watching film.

    This Marner talk is plain silly. Where’s he going to fit? Anyone that wants Marner on the top line must be advocating for Ferland to get bumped to the 4th line. No thanks, Ferland is just getting started as a force on the top line – leave him there please.

    • Off the wall

      Agreed OYYC.
      Here’s some fascinating data as per Hockey Writers;

      The Flames have had more five-on-five scoring chances than their opponents 10 times and more high-danger chances nine times.This is based on 15 games.

      On an individual basis, several players have a lot of shots and chances in all game situations but zero goals:

      Please note this was written before Jagr and Jankowski scored and Bennett received his first point…

      Bennett: 17 shots, 19 scoring chances and 7 high-danger chances (in 15 games)
      Brouwer: 14 shots, 13 scoring chances and 8 high-danger chances (in 15 games)
      Stajan: 12 shots, 14 scoring chances and 8 high-danger chances (in 12 games)
      Lazar: 10 shots, 17 scoring chances and 8 high-danger chances (in 11 games)
      Jagr: 9 shots, 12 scoring chances and 8 high-danger chances (in 6 games)

      “If these players keep generating chances at these rates, sooner or later the proverbial dam is due to burst.”

      • OYYC

        The overall confidence on this team is very high right now as well. The Flames are definitely trending in the right direction on this home stand. Their play can be sloppy at times, but that can get worked on.

        Most of the very questionable roster choices to start the year should be put to bed now. The secondary scoring will come, they just have to believe in themselves, and they have the perfect mentor in Jagr pumping everyone’s tires.

        • MontanaMan

          Agree that the confidence level is rising but for the Flames to be a contender, they need to get Bennett’s confidence back. A very good test tomorrow night against an excellent team in St. Louis.

          • GodsGotSandals

            I agree I think the 3rd line is the difference between good and great. If the 3rd line is dangerous other teams can’t match up. Also defense need a bit of work.

  • Jessemadnote

    It’s funny we roast Leafs fans for there JVR for Hamilton threads, and he we are discussing Stone for Marner. That trade is absolutely ridiculous. Marner’s been slumping, playing on the fourth line and he is still on pace for the same point total as Tkachuk.

    The equivalent trade to Stone and Kylington for Marner is Zaitsev and Dermott for Tkachuk. Would you do that trade?

  • Lucky 13

    I’m a firm believer that the GM’s finally got some changes that have contributed to a better, skilled game.

    3 changes this year, 2 I agree with:

    1. Offside challenges, only 33% were overturned last season. I like the opposing team being penalized for wrong challenges.
    It speeds up the game.

    2. No time out after an icing. Great call, how many times have we seen a team abuse this?

    3.Faceoff violations. Offending team gets penalty after 2nd violation?
    This is where I don’t get it. I’m sure we need to see proper face- offs and many were abusing the rule, however I think we should have a better system than this.

    Failure to line-up properly can result in the players ejected.
    Why should a Centre man be tossed for his team mate making an error?
    I think the linesmen need to drop the puck quicker, instead of waiting for perfect positioning, but that’s just me. If you’re not ready, too bad, you’ll be ready next time.. right Stajan? Lol

    I love all the infractions against stick work. No need for slashing the opponent, stick in the hands, or careless use of stick.
    It’s why we’re seeing skilled players getting better opportunities at scoring. JG is benefiting the most part on our team, his game is based on puck skills.

    One question for you more knowledgeable fans. Is a goaltender allowed to play the puck out of the trapezoid, if there is no opposing player in the his (defensive) zone ? I think I’ve seen this several times by Smith and I honestly can’t remember him being penalized for it.

    • Off the wall

      Lucky 13, probably one of the dumbest rules ever instituted was the trapezoid for goalies.

      Rule 28.8 states that a goalie may not play the puck outside the trapezoid behind the NET.

      However, they are still able to play the puck up to the red line, according to rule 27.7

      So basically they can skate all the way to Centre Ice to play the puck, regardless of where the opposition is. But they dare not play the puck out of the trapezoid area behind the net for that is a violation of NHL rules.

      I’m not sure why they don’t just eliminate the trapezoid. Most goalies don’t venture the way Martin Brodeur has or ever will.
      Well except for Smith..

  • WillyWonka

    Don’t expect at the Flames to trade any defenseman soon. In order to make a legitimate run in the postseason you have to have a deep pool of defenseman. The Flames are positioned just like they need to be for a legitimate run. Now just need to tighten up a bit defensively tune up the power play and penalty kill and get four lines rolling.
    If any changes, I’d like to see Hathaway and Mangiapane come up… rotating them in and out changing with stajan and Brower

  • Brownblazer

    Two thoughts – I think our 3rd line dam is about to burst. Did you see that beast mode shift from Jagr in the 3rd last game? He ragged and dangled last like the jagr of old. I haven’t seen a shift like that from him as a flame. I think he just got his legs under him.

    Re: Smith puck play – While I live how much he plays the puck, there is one downside aside from his give seats. I’ve noticed that there are times when our d are forced to stop in the sideboards(on the redline ) to wait for the pass. The other teams forwards read that and when the puck comes our d are flat footed and vulnerable for the hit and turn the puck over. He’s got to read that potential a bit better imo.