Get your questions in now, because you’ll have nothing to talk about for just under one week.
With Garnet Hathaway soldifying his spot on the 3rd line should we be worried about another regrettable Bouma-like overpay this offseason?
— Ryan Good (@RyanScGood) January 14, 2018
I’m not sure Garnet Hathaway has that spot locked down. He came out electric, but has fallen flat over the past few games. In his first 11 games since being recalled, he was a positive corsi player seven times, but has been a sub-50% in five of his last 10. He also has seen his scoring dropped off, going from six points in those 11 games to just two in the next 10. The shine is starting to wear off.
I wouldn’t worry about an overpay, though. I think the Flames have learned from the Lance Bouma experience and know that Hathaway is likely not a long term solution. The comparison doesn’t really work all that well because Hathaway has just been okay, whereas Bouma actually looked like he turned a corner.
The team knows they have an expensive future ahead of them, so they probably don’t want to get married to depth players. He’s working now, but they can certainly upgrade that spot.
When all the bodies are back (minus Jags ?) are they prepared to sit Brouwer?? Probably not but worth a look I think
— Ian Duval (@duvie27) January 14, 2018
Troy Brouwer is never going to sit down. Just gotta accept it. A healthy scratch is certainly the best option given what the Flames have on the farm, but they’re going to squeeze every penny out of that contract until they can move it. Sorry.
And another. Should we be concerned about all the shots we are giving up??
— Ian Duval (@duvie27) January 14, 2018
Yes and no.
The Flames definitely got much better than they deserved against Tampa and Florida (no I’m not complaining) but they’ve gone into the third period with a two-goal lead in the last six games. That’s where score effects really play in. A two-goal deficit is pretty easy to overcome, and teams will certainly press hard during the final frame to equalize. It looks bad on the scoresheet, but it’s only indicative of the fact that the Flames got two good periods in while the other guys only got one.
The problem I see is that the Flames allow maybe too much in the third period. They’ll take their foot off the pedal completely, allowing the opposing team to press and take the lead away. I will admit that the team has become a bit better with playing with the lead (see Tampa, Carolina), but that needs to continue if they want to keep extending this winning streak.
What is Micheal Ferland? And what’s he gonna cost us at the end of next year? Curious to see his fancy stats since joining the top line last year.
— Earnest P Willygonk (@buckgnarly) January 14, 2018
I think in the second mailbag of the year, I pointed to Micheal Ferland as someone who could at least hang out on the first line for the time being, but pointed to Tyler Toffoli as an ideal first line RW.
Thankfully, Ferland has started playing at the level of Toffoli (Ferland is 43GP-19G-9A, while Toffoli is 43-18-12). The two are producing similarly at the underlying level too.
Data from naturalstattrick.com, at 5v5:
The difference between the two is that Ferland shoots less, about four fewer shots per hour than Toffoli. His shooting percentage is also 20%, whereas Toffoli’s is 9%. I’m being a little facetious here, because this is a bit of a down year for Toffoli, who had CFs above 57% the past four years.
So while I think Ferland’s play is outstanding this year, he’s been a bit inflated by an otherworldly shooting percentage. That’s going to dry up, as it usually does (his goal scoring drought, and the first line’s struggles during December, were also due to his SH% plummeting). The underlyings suggest a guy who does belong in the top six, but whether or not he will stay on the first line permanently for the duration of his contract remains to be seen.
Thankfully, the Flames still have him cheap for another year. If Ferland can keep up his incredible production, no one’s complaining. I feel he would get something in the range of $5-$6M on his next contract along four or five years (debate amongst yourselves if you would pay him that) if he can keep it going. If he falls off the map, it’s okay, because he’s still only a $1.75M man for 2018-19. Then you can cut ties or keep him around on the cheap. No matter which way you cut it, there’s very little opportunity here for the Flames to come out on the losing side of his next deal.
Can you please put Rittich's numbers into perspective as a rookie goalie?
— Nick Adams (@T0Y_L0VE) January 14, 2018
If David Rittich continues to put up a .932 SV%, it would be the best rookie goaltending season by that measure since Tuukka Rask in 2009-10.
The caveat is that Rask played 45 games while Rittich has played six. That makes this comparison quite difficult and pointless. I kind of want to see what Rittich can do with more games (which he should see in February), but I wouldn’t be tooting the “best rookie goaltender ever” horn until he totally and definitely proves that he can be that goalie over a longer period of time.
For reference, finishing above .920 would be a top 10 rookie goaltending season.
Eye test suggests Kulak and Stone has been an above-average 3rd pairing. Do the numbers back it up? Is one of them contributing more or less to the pairing? Are they getting an appropriate number of mins?
— Timothy Smith (@TimoteoSmith) January 14, 2018
The numbers certainly do back up that assertion. In about 357 5v5 minutes, the Kulak-Stone pairing is a 50.3 CF% pairing, which is nearly one percent higher than the Brodie-Hamonic pairing.
It’s hard to use WOWYs to determine who is the better performer, as Michael Stone’s partner without Brett Kulak is Matt Bartkowski, who is certainly a possession blackhole (for what it’s worth, however: Kulak is 55 CF% away from Stone in just under 100 minutes, while Stone is 47.5 CF% away from Kulak in 265.5 minutes). But just the difference Kulak makes should give a hint as to who’s the better player.
For minutes, I’m a bit torn. The pairing works because it is sheltered (nine minutes of 5v5 TOI per night, started more often in the neutral and offensive zones than the defensive zone). I would certainly trust them with 10-12 minutes per night, but I feel that leaning heavily on Giordano-Hamilton is the right way to go, even if it comes at the expense of lower pairings.
Is our defence finally living up to its preseason billing, or is it three scoring lines that’s helping us win 7 in a row?
— Bolo (@Tblasko58) January 14, 2018
I actually think it’s unreal goaltending that has been the main driver of the Flames’ success. The team has had only two sub-.920 SV% performances (none below .900 SV%) during this streak, and the rest have been above .930 SV%. At 5v5, they’ve only had one sub-.920 SV% performance.
Other than goaltending, I don’t feel it’s such a black and white topic. Of course, the team as a whole has been strong throughout the seven-game streak. I think the first line getting back in gear helped a lot, but the defence settling down has been key. Dougie Hamilton seeing more ice time is a plus, Brodie-Hamonic not being a disaster is great, and the aforementioned Stone-Kulak pairing being solid also helps.
In spite of 7 straight wins & getting to 2nd in the Pacific, what's the Flames biggest weakness that should be addressed by coaches during the All Star Break?
— ianberg (@ianberg) January 14, 2018
Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before: the powerplay.
They haven’t been Oilers bad, and they’ve scored a powerplay goal in each of their past three games, but they’re still a dismal 16.67% (3/18) on the powerplay in the new year. A lot of the underlying metrics haven’t changed, and it hasn’t been that much better by the eye test. You really wonder how many of the frustrating losses could’ve been put away just by a half-functional powerplay. The right players are being used, it’s just a question of systems at this point.
They’re finally starting to get their bounces at 5v5, but they can certainly earn some more by revamping their powerplay.