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Flames 5, Lightning 1 post-game embers: Those were all in

I think we’d all be okay with stick-throwing jokes throughout the entire season if the Flames keep getting these kinds of results. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. But was it a clean two points? What a good show.

Mike Smith was basically perfect

I mean, not actually. Mike Smith did surrender a goal. It wasn’t really on him – a perfect shot after a less than ideal turnover – but it did put the game into doubt for a while there.

The Flames were lucky to be up a goal after the first period. It wasn’t so much that they played poorly as much as how good Tampa was. We’re talking about the top team in the NHL currently; it isn’t surprising that they completely took it to the Flames, outnumbering them in corsi events, shots, high danger chances, everything but the one stat that actually counts. Smith was an absolute force in the first period, and the second, during most of which the game was tied.

Smith stopping Cedric Paquette on a penalty shot was huge, and it also wasn’t. It was because Tampa, at that point, probably deserved to have the lead, and a penalty shot goal could have opened the floodgates for them. It wasn’t, because Smith really didn’t have to do much: he watched Paquette fool himself and then just had to block it. But it also was, because a lesser goalie might have bitten on that attempted showmanship. Remember Smith, in an earlier shootout, basically telling another player who did that to get out of there with that noise? He is so, so confident in himself – and rightfully so.

It didn’t feel like the Flames had really taken control of the game until their fourth goal early in the third. From that point on, it was smooth sailing. But it was Smith who got them to that point, and in doing so, upped himself to a .922 save percentage (.927 at even strength). If this keeps up, this will be the second best season of his career – though you still have to hope that David Rittich can take a little more load off of his shoulders through the second half of the season.

Top line keeps doing top line things (i.e. scoring)

Micheal Ferland opened the game’s scoring, as he seems wont to do in 2018. Johnny Gaudreau continued to cement himself as one of the best offensive players in the league, as he’s seemed wont to do since he first entered it.

It truly is amazing. At what point do they come down?

Ferland is just breezing past his previous career highs. He’s already at 19 goals, 28 points, on pace for 37 goals, 54 points. He did score in juniors: 96 points in 68 games in his final full junior year. The thing then was, though, he was second on his team in scoring then; linemate Mark Stone soared above him, with 123 points in 66 games. (But then, Ferland was still 15 points ahead of the next closest guy.) And now he’s playing complementary guy to some of the top scorers at the highest level. It’s taken a few years to get there, but every step along the way has been worth it.

With the caveat that he is shooting at 19.8% – though, with 96 shots so far, he’s seventh on the team in shooting.

As for Gaudreau, this was already his 16th multi-point game of the season, matching his total from 2016-17. With 51 points, he’s tied for sixth in league-wide scoring. One more point puts him in a tie for second. Two more gets him standing there all alone. Even with his earlier drought, he’s still in this great pack of top scorers, currently headed by Nikita Kucherov’s 60 (!).

And also, everybody else

Sure, Ferland and Gaudreau’s goals alone would have won the Flames the game. But the Flames got some insurance as the game went on, and finally, rather than concede, they added on to it.

Andrei Vasilevskiy is a pretty good goalie, but he was, without a doubt, the worst one on the ice last night. The Flames got the floodgates to open with Sam Bennett scoring a powerplay goal (!!) as the second period neared its end, and Mark Jankowski pulling off a hell of a move right at the start of the fourth, and then Matthew Tkachuk just taking the salt shaker and dumping the rest of its contents into the wound.

Five goals from three lines. Lately, the Flames have only been getting offence from their top line and top defence pairing and that’s it; last night, everyone else was able to join in on the fun, against one of the top teams in the NHL, and put all of Tampa’s potential thoughts of a comeback on ice.

Six Flames are now at 20-point seasons, with T.J. Brodie and Dougie Hamilton almost there (both at 19 each, and shoutout to Brodie for hitting 200 career points). Bennett is three points away, and Jankowski five (and Michael Frolik, RIP). The start to the season was not great for many. It’s been coming around for most of the rest since December.

Dominated special teams

If the special teams are bad, the team is probably going to have a bad time. When both the powerplay and penalty kill are perfect, the team is probably going to have a good time.

The Flames haven’t given up a powerplay goal since Dec. 29 against the Ducks, when Mike Smith’s puck handling attempt went awry. Their penalty kill has been a perfect 15-for-15 before then. To start the season, the Flames were giving up multiple powerplay goals more often than not, and it all kind of culminated in four against during that blowout in Detroit (two of which probably shouldn’t have happened since, you know, Tkachuk never actually speared anybody). In the 25 games since then, they’ve given up nine powerplay goals, never more than one a game, for a success rate of 88%. Season-long, they’re at 80%, 20th in the NHL.

They also have the 20th ranked powerplay in the league at 17.7%. It looks like the penalty kill has gotten there, so there has to be hope for the powerplay, even without Kris Versteeg, right? The past three games, they had four attempts per, only to come up with nothing. They’ve now scored three powerplay goals during this five-game win streak on 15 opportunities.

Back in the black

The Flames’ goal differential on the season is now +1. This is the first time they’ve had a positive goal differential since that aforementioned Detroit brawl. That was back on Nov. 15; it took them nearly two months to get back there, and only just barely.

Playoff teams tend to have positive goal differentials. This has been the Flames’ biggest win since their 6-1 drubbing of the Canucks. They absolutely cannot take their foot off the gas.

If they do, I’m guessing another stick gets thrown. It’s still a dog fight for the playoffs. They’re still fourth in Pacific Division points percentage, eighth in the Western Conference. A five-game win streak has leapt them back into contention, now they’ve got to keep going. Plus-one is precarious enough as is.

    • Arminius

      Size, wins faceoffs at a 50% clip as a rookie, nice hands, can hammer the puck, defensively responsible. Lots to like alright
      He will make Backlund expendable, like it or not

        • Longshot1977

          While I am really appreciating what Janko is doing, I’m not ready to bail on Backlund, especially since it seems that Bennett is becoming a full-time winger. If Bennett started to excel at Centre in the Top 9, I do think the Flames would be prudent to explore moving Backlund and getting max value. With Bennett playing wing, we haven’t really solidified a good 4th Centre option (and no, Stajan and Lazar aren’t great options), so it’s probably best to stick with what we’ve got until a Centre prospect can take root in the NHL.

          • rusty_shakleforde

            I think there are flashes of brilliance with Backlund. He isn’t converting on the amount of plays he could be. There are moves he’s starting to make this seasons, plays he’s starting to try out more and more, and an increase of confidence to make these plays. Time will tell.

            I think most of us can agree that he is really swell defensively. But I do think he shows good promise offensively. He will be a fairly 20+ goal scorer soon enough I think.

            And even if I’m overshooting it, it feels as tho we’re kind of assuming he won’t grow and develop as a player, which he totally is.

          • MWflames

            don’t forget about our other world junior captain centreman…. Curtis lazar.

            Dube has done well, but its premature to pencil him onto the roster next year. He will play in the AHL most of year more than likely.

      • everton fc

        Backlund will simply move down to 3rd line centre, as he ages, and Jankowski blossoms. I’d keep Backlund for the balance of his career (here comes WW!)

    • BlueMoonNigel

      I never understood all the dirty dishwater so many had been pouring on him since he was a first round pick. Instead of trying to go the pro route at 18, he went Ivy League. Why was completing his degree at a prestigious uni considered a bad thing? Sure he lost some years of earning huge NHL coin, but I am betting that when he’s in his 40s and 50s, his degree and the contacts he made at school will pave a pretty decent life after hockey existence for him.

      Getting his education was also a great fallback plan if he wasn’t good enough to stick in the pros or an injury prematurely ended his goal to play pro.

      In many ways, Jankowski should be lauded for his deft decision making and patience at such a tender age. How many kids at 18 drafted in the first round would stick 4 years in college, especially if they figured they could make pro after their first or second year of varsity?

      I’d be curious to know what other NHLers followed the same path as Jankowski: first round pick and complete an Ivy League education. I daresay the list is rather short. Yet another reason that makes Jankowski special.

      • Sven

        I agree and I love Jankowski and he just keeps getting better and better

        but as someone who lived in Boston for years I know that, although Providence College is a great school , they play in the Big East not the Ivy League

        Adam Fox is however Ivy League (Harvard) – and I cant wait for him to mature up to the big team

        my bad for nit picking

        GFG!!

        🙂

      • Cfan in Van

        He also took a long time developing, so in that respect, college was the ideal option. Physically, his frame didn’t fill out until his last year or so in college. Credit to the coaching guidance in Providence, they developed his defensive game first, and his offence came as his the rest of his game rounded out in last couple of years as well (all based on the prospect updates over the years – I’ve been keenly keeping track). Now he’s got a very well rounded game.

        At 23 he seems to be capable of elevating his game further, based on his time so far with the Flames. Hopefully he keeps rising. I’m thinking he’ll turn out to be a fantastic penalty killer once they start to trust him more. His super long reach would be very useful.

      • Sven

        and now you got me to thinking……

        the best NCAA players as pros:

        Brett Hull – Minnesota-Duluth
        Martin St. Louis – Vermont
        Doug Weight – Lake Superior State
        Paul Kariya – Maine
        Chris Chelios – Wisconsin
        Keith Tkachuk – Boston University
        Rob Blake – Bowling Green State
        Adam Oates – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
        Brian Leetch – Boston College
        Rod Brind’Amour – Michigan State

        and the best and the brightest of the best and the brightest – the Ivy League

        Joe Nieuwendyk – Cornell
        and
        Ken Dryden – Cornell

        here’s to hoping we can put Fox on that list in 20 years

      • Thunder1

        You are exactly right. Ken Dryden did it and he became a Senator. One thing that was never in question about Janko… kid is smart!

        Dr. Randy Gregg took a similar route, but at a less prestigious university that is still number one in my heart!

      • oilcanboyd

        Adam Fox will also complete his Ivy League education. Harvard does not accept dumbos.

        John Weisbroad should also be lauded for recognizing the big talent of the skinny kid in high school.

        Janko is the complete NHL Centre! Amazing moves on his goal last night.

        • MWflames

          I disagree… Professional Hockey the salary that goes with it is far too tempting. not to mention, he’ll be bored of the lower competition soon. He’s an athlete first and foremost, and will want to pursue that first and foremost. we’re not talking about deferring a couple of months or a year… we’re talking two full years. He’ll sign his contract at the end of his season this year.

        • MWflames

          Also, how often does a GM or AGM get fired for or at least partly for a draft pick…. and then said draft pick turns out to be a great pick? I imagine janko’s success is both bitter and sweet for feaster/weisbroad

      • Flames fan since 83

        BlueMoon, if you compare NCAA to CHL, there is no doubt what the better option is.
        College coaches get paid many times more than say a WHL coach which stands to reason College coaches are better. If you are on a full ride scholarship, then you are getting meals, living accommodations and an education! Plus, you only play 36 games. So every game is Huge pressure to win. You get full access to amazing weight room, physio dept, and practice weekdays with games on weekends. This schedule allows you to “train” and add strength and weight. Last, you play against men. Many between 20 – 25 years old.
        In the WHL, you play mostly against players 20 or less. Ride a bus, and play 80 plus games.
        I don’t mean to diss the WHL, but as a parent or player, it’s a no brainer which is a better path if the choice presented itself.
        BlueMoon, I agree, Jandowski should absolutely be lauded for making the College decision!
        The thing that the NHL should do is fix the ruling that allows College Players that don’t sign for 4 years to become free agents. IMO.

        • Flames fan since 83

          I should mention that just because you get paid more doesn’t always mean better. But FYI, average NCAA coach salary is $357,000.00 (US dollars). Average Canadian hockey coach is $60,000 – $80,000. (Canadian dollars)

    • canadian1967

      I have yet to see an article from that Ryan Lambert Weasel apologizing for his totally ignorant writing about Janko.
      That would be the only thing that could ever make me read anything written by that Wanker.

  • Longshot1977

    Guys…5 goals from 5 Flames, and look at their ages.

    Ferland – 25
    Gaudreau – 24
    Bennett – 21
    Jankowski – 23
    Tkachuk – 20

    When you then think about Monahan (23 in age and jersey), plus all of the young offensive talent we have in the prospect pipe (Philips, Mangiapane, etc), I really think that for the first time in forever, the Flames may have one of the best group of forwards in the NHL, in just a year or two.

    • Alberta Ice

      Well noted. Love our prospect pipeline too. Add Dube, Fox, Gillies, and Parsons too. Many others on that Heat team are looking very good too. Lots of depth and I am so glad this year Jankowski, Hathaway, Mangiapane, Kulak, and Rittich are playing on this team. Getting Hamonic might be worth the lost trade picks for this year as his play continues to improve on D. Yep, this team is for real and the future looks bright indeed.

  • Day1-Cfan

    Great win for the Flames last night! 5 game win streak on the line tonight, keep the pedal to the metal.
    There is no room to slack off tonight or Sunday these 2 games and the points that go with them are critical before the break. SJ will have 4 games in hand on us. By the time we come back from the off week SJ will have played those games, then we will see where we stand points wise. Should give a good understanding of our chances of making the playoffs.( nice to see the oilers in the rear view). I am liking the way the team has been playing the last while. Long way to go yet. We are in a playoff spot right now, lets not give it up the rest of the way!
    Keep it up! GFG!

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Agreed. The Flames fumbled but recovered against the Wild and got 2 points in Tampa, which I didn’t see happening. They really need to get 4 for 4 in these next two games if they want to hang tough as a top 3 in the west. 3 out of 4 points would be okay but they have already left way too many points on the table. 2 or fewer points and this roadie is a wipeout.

  • Skylardog

    I think we all feel a whole bunch better about the results in the last 2 weeks. They look good.

    Funny how Ari puts a little perspective in at the very end in the last 3 paragraphs. It has taken a 5 game win streak to get back into a wildcard and 4th in the Pacific, based on win%, as mentioned.

    Better hope they continue to roll, their work is far from over, but they have shown what they can do. This team can beat ANYONE in the NHL when they are interested enough to show up and play.

  • Mickey O

    https://www.nhl.com/gamecenter/cgy-vs-tbl/2018/01/11/2017020664#game=2017020664,game_state=final,game_tab=stats

    Very flat TOI usage as well from the forwards and defencemen. Backlund had the most at 18:47 for the forwards, with Lazar a second under 10 minutes. Even Kulak and Stone logged big minutes. Part of the ice time distribution was because of the low number of special team events.

    But the 4th line played well, and hemmed the Bolts in the offensive zone a few times and Wonderbread almost scored. If this team ever gets close to rolling 4 lines, and 3 pairings, then look out!

  • buts

    Great win and taking nothing away from the team but these are the dog days of the season and we saw last year that in the middle of a condensed season we had our 10 game win streak and got into the playoffs, then finished the year limping into the playoffs not playing well as other teams ramped there play up. This year we had a bad start but that is also when teams are firing on all cylinders, in essence showing there true makeup…..I’m hoping it’s not a repeat of last year. We are finally playing closer to our potential and I thought Mike Smith was a good goalie but he is outstanding. His compete level is off the charts and you can see it from your seat in the stands or from your couch.

    • Calgarycandle

      I understand your concern, but also this is a much different team. Smith, as you say, not Elliot. The addition of Janko and Hathaway, Bennett taking a step forward, Gaudreau and Monahan strongly clicking again, Ferland coming so wonderfully into his own.

    • Mickey O

      The 3M line was spent at the end of last year when the team was trying to finish high up in the standings. It is easy to say now, but even at the time I figured the Flames would have had a better shot at beating Chicago as the 8th seed. The mental aspect of not beating Anaheim forever in their barn played a factor. Elliot played like crud, but we were still in every game.

    • BringtheFire 2.0

      Our start could be called disappointing, but I wouldn’t call it bad. Smith got the first few for us then we did .500 for a while. It could have been far worse.

      But the idea of; “limping into the playoffs…” I do agree with. If we can play exceptional hockey for the rest of the year and hit the playoffs with the whole operation humming the confidence will bode well for the first round.

  • Squishin

    Props to the team for the 5-gamer. The danger now is letting up against Florida. We all know Florida is nowhere near as good as the Lightning, but it would be such a sucky thing for the Flames to watch a weaker team steal points from them. Remember what ended the 10-game streak last year? There was a super-emotional win against Pittsburgh, then they sat back and let Boston roll over them in the next game 5-2.
    Don’t underestimate any teams in the league! With the salary cap, everyone is good.

    • Mickey O

      It is a let down spot for sure. But if Rittich plays (which he should) then they will put in an honest effort. Rittich is very popular in the room because of his compete level and sense of humour. Florida is a very luke warm favourite (-117) in the game. The books consider this to be basically a toss-up if they know Calgary’s back up is starting.

      • ThisBigMouthIsRight

        Yup, I’d also like to see Marek Hrivik get a shot at centering the 4th line tonight, see what he can bring and give the Staj a rest after B2B & lots of ice time last night. To me it seems like the perfect time to give him a Hot cup of coffee.

        • Mickey O

          Agree on Hrivik for sure. Mangiapani played with Hrivik after Janko got called up.
          But according to Steinberg, GG is going with the same line-up with Rittich in net.
          The last couple of times on back-to-backs he’s put Bart in for Kulak, so at least there’s that.

  • JMK

    Was just looking at cap friendly there – summer of 2019 Tkackuk, Bennett and Ferland will all be looking for new contracts. Could be a tricky year if the cap doesn’t rise much especially with Brouwer, Frolik, Stone & Hamonic all still on the books. Brouwer will have to be bought out or shipped for his final year and hopefully Rasmus has made one of Stone/Hamonic expendable.

  • Calgarycandle

    Normally I’d agree with Ari that Ferland’s 19.8 shooting percentage is totally unsustainable. Bit I’m remembering several of his recent goals and there all from within very tight quarters–ten feet from the net or less. He has been using his size to get to the net and then poke the puck in. I do remember one slap shot of his from the blue line where he scored, but if the majority of his shots are this close maybe his shooting % can at least stay in the teens.

    Agree on Arminus’ comments on Jankokowski. If he had started the season with the Flames, he’d be on track for 20 goals and I think should hit that mark next season. Plus GG has him out on penalty kill and pp. He is an extremely mature rookie, much like Byng was last year.

    I’m also seeing value in both Stajan and Brouwer right now. Too high paid–definitely. But there are both fixtures on a PK which has become extremely effective. Brouwer has fought twice in about 10 games and is a reason the Pacific teams don’t push us around as easily as they used to.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Brouwer’s real value to the team is 5v4 and 5v3 PK. His offense is almost stagnant. He’s weighing down the 2nd line, but it seems to be affecting Backlund more than Tkachuk. It could also be that Backlund is suffering from a nagging injury; he’s always had a bit of a muffin for a shot, but he’s missed easy tap-ins recently. The 2nd line is getting hemmed in a lot too.

      Stajan. is really just playing well on the forecheck. He’s generating offense, but too many times the puck dies on his or Lazar’s stick; they get knocked off the puck or knocked over too easy. Stajan is still good at faceoffs, though.

      Ferland is sniffing around the net, so it’s not surprising that the puck is going in at 19.8%. Playing with the talent he has on his line, the passes to him are not going to be in his feet so he’s more likely to get a clean shot in the slot. On rebounds, he’s got quick hands and power. It’s not like someone is going to knock him out of there.

      I think there is still work needed on the PP units. The top unit has a few set plays, but all are LHS. Since Dougie has a decent enough shot, why not just put him on the right point. Then you could have a setup like the following:

      Unit 1
      Johnny-Monahan-Ferland
      Janko-Dougie

      Unit 2
      Bennett-Backlund-Tkachuk
      Gio-Brodie

        • FlamesFanOtherCity

          He has the hardest shot, but like Wideman before him, he misses a lot more than he hits the net.
          Brodie-Stone wouldn’t be any better than Gio-Brodie. Gio hits more shinpads than the net, but defends the blueline a bit better than Stone. With the 2nd unit, they play more down low with the puck anyway.

  • Justthateasy

    So how do you sum up the Brower incident? He laid out one hell of a body check and then had to defend himself and administered a severe beatingto the next guy. I was totally surprised at no retribution or headhunting by the Lightning for the rest of the game.
    It certainly set a tone and kudos to Brower.

  • MontanaMan

    The NHL season is a marathon, not a sprint. That message is directed to those who have wanted to fire Gulutzan for two years (WW), fire Treliving, trade the entire team and start over. There will be peaks and valleys throughout the year, including between now and the end of the season, but steady as she goes. Right now the team is looking good (Note: Why do people comment that it “wasn’t perfect” but it was a win? When was the last time a team played a perfect game, especially on the road?) and although there are still issues (PP), the hope is to continue to improve and peak during the playoffs. It’s refreshing to read comments without the “fire Gulutzan” or “waive Brouwer” drivel that was prominent during one of the valleys.

  • Alberta Ice

    Hats off to Tre and this organization for making some bold moves over these past few years. Besides the great trove of draft picks (still can’t believe we got Tkachuk- thank you all you organizations that passed on him), and the great team contract signings for Mony and Johnny (still can’t believe the Chia sold the league out on the McD and Drai contracts), and the best move of all, bringing Smithy from Arizona to stabilize the goal tending situation (is he awesome on the road or what), and even bringing in an all time great like Jagr just to add some mystique, aura, and awe to our young talent – well, the dividends are paying off royally now Flames fans. This team is for real and the consistency is just now kicking in. My only concern is how they handle this big time off coming up and then keeping their play at this level for the rest of the year. GWG.

  • Flint

    Just ’cause. Gaudreau(51) Monahan(40) Ferland(28) =119 in 43GP. McDavid(48) Draisaitl(34) Maroon(21) =103.

    Draisaitl is the highest paid player of the six by ~2mil a season (8.5 ouch). McDavid is soon to make 12.5! and Maroon is a UFA reportedly looking for 3.75-5million. That would make ~25million for the Oilers first line next year whereas ours will be sub 15million! Outscoring their line and saving 10million beans!

    I know, I can hear Oilers fans saying “Why you comparing to us?” Boo hoo, but everyone in the league is because of the dough Chiarelli handed out to two of the highest paid players in the NHL now.

    I like our first line. I think I’ll stick with our first line. Thank you BT.

  • everton fc

    Hard to comprehend the potential of this team in two-three years w/guys like Mangiapane, Klimchuk, Andersson, Kylington, perhaps Wotherspoon (I see him as the next Hathaway, in terms of “big surprise”)… Dube, potentially Fox… Rittich to take over #1 from Smith (I see this happening, and hope it does)… Valimaki…

    Good times if the front office doesn’t screw it up.

    • Burnward

      Focus on forwards that can skate like the wind and bring it each night for each of the next two drafts.
      That should be the only requirement. The top end skill is there for YEARS. Defense is STACKED.

      Next is the guys that might not have the top end ability but can make life difficult on the opponent. Cheap supply of effective bottom-middle six guys is what they need…and should be the easiest to identify maybe.

  • KKisTHEproblem

    Interesting stat on Gaudreau, just moved into a tie last night with Saad for 5th most points out of players from the 2011 draft. 10 behind Scheifele in 69 less games. May catch him shortly with Scheifele out (not sure how long for). Best part: only 40 points back of RNH in 140 less games played. Will absolutely luv it when he passes him. Long term top 5 points from that draft will be: Kucherov, Gaudreau, Scheifele, Huberdeau and Couturier, not sure what order!

    • deantheraven

      I think we can win with Backlund. He’d be a prime reason for us to make it that far, IMHO. And unless it’s no more than Brodie (wish) and a bottom 6 roster player (dream) plus a top prospect, Tre should be aware of what there is in the room, when they’ve obviously become a tight-knit group it would be folly to make any wholesale changes.

      • oilcanboyd

        Last interview I saw with Tre (yesterday I think), he stressed the importance of developing from within your organization. He likes where the team is going.. In other words, don’t expect a blockbuster trade any time soon.

  • Flint

    Ok Flames Nation. I know you all want to jump to those like/trash buttons in an instant, but let’s think this through.

    We have all heard of the under the table contract agreement with incoming UFA’s before the season ends. Mikeal Backlund 3.6aav, Matt Stajan 3.1, Jagr 2.0ish, and Versteeg 1.75 are all coming OFF the books next year (~10 million). Backlund will get a raise here or elsewhere (~5ish). And we need a 2nd line center/a new center/or Backlund.

    The New York Islanders desperately need defenders… like bad, bad, badly. We have lots of em on the farm, including ones who aren’t just prospects (Kylington etc) and could likely be playing in the league today (Wotherspoon). And thinking of all the possibilities at the deadline, one, however unlikely is Backlund could leave…

    Jonathan Tavares is a 27 year old center. A center who still has 6-8 excellent years left in him.

    Are we going to win a cup with Backlund? Yes or No? Just thinking out loud…

    • KKisTHEproblem

      Luv the thought of:

      Gaudreau/Monnny/Ferland (don’t want to break up this line)
      Bennett/Tavares/Tkachuk (that’s the best 2nd line in the league)
      Mangi/Janko/Hathaway (hell of a 3rd line as they all get more experience)
      Klimchuk (he’s ready for 4th line duty)/Lazar or Hrivik or Dube (too early, needs a year in ahl?)/Brouwer or Fro (trade-able? Throw him into the deal?)

      That is an elite forward group

      • KKisTHEproblem

        Backs, Fro and Brodie for Tavares if he’ll sign here (tough to leave NY and come to cowtown)? Plus a D prospect? Maybe don’t need to throw in Fro?

          • Flames Fan in Edmonchuck

            Or we just wait until the offseason and sign him as a UFA. We could probably offer him a huge contract if Backs is not coming back….. I doubt he would come here though…. He is a Toronto guy and has played his whole career out east, unless we were the MAX bidder (which I don’t think we could be)…. I LOVE the idea of having him on the team but so do 30 other fan bases…. probably won’t happen but we are instant legit contenders of it somehow did.

    • deantheraven

      I mis-posted above you, trying to reply but I hear you, Flint. I’d still rather see Backlund re-signed, the sooner the better. I’d love to know what stage Backlund’s agent and Tre are at. Hope he’s not looking at what the market might be in July, but if so, there’ll be enough cap space to take him on for med. term at 5 mil. Keep him.
      Getting Tavares would be awesome, but who goes the other way? Tre would have to really fleece Snow.

      • Flint

        In theory Backlund and Tavares could go back to their respective teams with new contracts. I don’t think we can win this year as we stand and I dunno if we can win with Backlund as a 2C. Most of it would depend on if the Isle keep sinking like a stone. If we could re-sign Tavares long term we’d be vaulted into the instant elite team category I believe. If not, at the very least we lose a few prospects… who are in a log jam anyway with our depth, at a very solid team for the playoffs. I dunno… it’d be ballsy… but you know what they say

  • deantheraven

    It’s encouraging to see the Flames take on some of the better teams, especially ones that they’re competing against for a playoff spot. The Lightning could be giving excuses like the upcoming bye already came, but who cares. The Flames beat them soundly and had similar success against the Caps, Penguins and Preds. We just gotta get out of our division.
    The best sign of growth to see would be a long winning streak like last year, without falling of the track at the end of the season and the whimper in the playoffs. Hopefully, if a dip comes GG will go full Bautista on their asses and they’ll keep surging.