# Oilers 4, Flames 3 (SO) post-game embers: Loser point

In the words of Jason Mendoza: “It’s okay. The pattern is green-green-green-red. Remember that when it starts up again.” Except here, the pattern is actually loser point-loser point-loser point-loser point. Which is actually red-red-red-red. Remember that when the season starts up again.

I could go through this game. I could microanalyze a small handful of stats and/or plays like I normally do after– it’s been 48 games of doing that? Already? Geez. Thanks for sticking with me, friends.

Anyway, I’m tired, for some reason. Following up a seven-game winning streak with a four-game losing streak is a stupid kind of whiplash. I took a cursory look at the box score – T.J. Brodie is still getting number one defenceman ice time and I have no idea why because he’s obviously the third best defenceman on the team; he and Mark Giordano led the Flames with five and six shots, respectively, which is interesting; Ryan Lomberg played 6:30 in his NHL debut and I’m sure his fight had something to do with that but then I see Curtis Lazar only played 9:05 and I still for the life of me can’t figure out what his purpose is because at least Lomberg made Zack Kassian ragequit; hahahaha the Flames had four powerplay opportunities against a historically terrible penalty kill and did absolutely nothing with them hahahahahaha great gag guys; that was not goaltender interference – aaaand yeah.

So let’s try something a little different.

Pro: The Flames picked up four points in four games.

Con: The points are the construct of an artificial parity system designed to make teams think they can compete for a playoff spot and while they mathematically do count, they’re more of a cheap illusion in the long run.

In theory, you could say that this is the same as the Flames winning two games and losing two games, except it’s not at all. For one thing, you don’t get any feelings of happiness that tend to follow a win. For another thing, their ROW count – the first tiebreaker – still sits at a mere 23. That’s what the Sharks are at, but they have a game in hand. The Kings are at 24, the Wild are at 24, the Blackhawks are five points back but even they’re also at 23. This alone could keep them from a playoff spot. Not winning enough in regulation or overtime.

Let’s say there are a maximum of two points that can be earned out of every game, like something that makes sense. In that case, the Pacific Division would fall as such:

• Golden Knights: 64 points
• Kings: 52 points
• Sharks: 52 points
• Flames: 50 points
• Ducks: 48 points
• Oilers: 44 points
• Canucks: 38 points
• Coyotes: 24 points

The Flames are in the upper half of the division, but not in a divisional playoff spot, but really, really close. This current stretch of “oh god how do we hold onto a lead” isn’t ideal, but they can afford to have it. Just barely, though.

Pro: The Flames scored more than one goal.

Con: Apparently they can’t hold a two-goal lead, either.

It took one minute for their lead to disintegrate. One. I was really hoping the mentally weak second half of January wouldn’t make an appearance in 2018 as it did in 2017, but hey, here we are all over again. The Flames can play a legitimate good game but it doesn’t seem to matter because the second something goes against them they crumble. And we have already been through this so. Many. Times. At what point does it stop? It’s as dependable as the Flames having a terrible powerplay.

This was the first time in this stretch the Flames have been trailing in a game, and at least they came back from that. But they didn’t really do anything else. Remember how going to overtime always felt like it would be an automatic win? Now it’s four straight losses. They’ve already doubled their loser point totals from last season. Nice.

Pro: Matthew Tkachuk is awesome.

Con: … Is anybody else?

Tkachuk was far and away the best Flame on the ice, and absolutely nobody else compares. (Although Mikael Backlund’s assist on his game-tying goal was sublime.) Tkachuk is only 20, and has already emerged as far and away one of the best Flames in every possible facet, and that’s a great sign for years to come.

But, uh, scoring depth? The third line hasn’t scored any points since the Tampa blowout. Sportsnet showed a graphic during the game about how Jack Eichel, Connor McDavid, and Johnny Gaudreau are all in on over 40% of their teams’ offence. The Sabres are one of the worst teams in the NHL. The Oilers aren’t much better. So the Flames are…?

In their defence, the Flames, Kings, Sharks, and Golden Knights all have roughly the same number of 30-point scorers. Having every single line contribute at a high level is probably just not going to happen. And pretty much no player is going to stand out positively for 82 individual games in a row.

But it sure would be nice if the offence and defence could stand out positively together. As it stands, the Flames are in the bottom half of their division in goals for. And that +2 goal differential is looking kind of weak.

We best be hoping Michael Frolik is able to pick up right where he left off when he comes back. And that Kris Versteeg actually is able to play again by March. And hell, that Jaromir Jagr is able to get to 100%, for real this time, and suits up again. If everything goes right, the Flames’ forward depth could end up working out okay after all – but it’s not exactly a good idea to rely on everything turning out for the best.

Pro: The Oilers are irrelevant at this stage, so them getting any points is irrelevant.

Con: What does that say when you lose to an irrelevant team?

First the Sabres, now this. I’m more concerned about the long-term prospects, though. The Flames are legitimately in contention for a playoff spot, but as said above, loser points are fake as hell, and make the team’s record look much better than it actually is. So assuming they make the playoffs… then what? Are we expecting this group to do any actual damage? What counts as a successful season? Remember that they have like, no draft picks, because they traded a bunch of them away to assemble this, so there really aren’t any silver linings here.

Is this what an all-in team should look like? When they’re on, they’re on. They look damn good. They’ve also won 25 of 49 games, which is really not great, unless I’m totally missing the mark on the level of expectations I’m supposed to be holding here.

Pro: We don’t have to think about these people again until Tuesday.

• Ricky

Stone has a cannon of a shot so of course Gulutzan NEVER gives him any power play time. Ferland getting less ice time than Brouwer is just so wrong. Whatever happened to meritocracy? Mangiapane should be given one game playing with Johnny or Tkachuk, he is a skillplayer being consistently put on the 4th line, idiotic player deployment.

• Dougiefred

Sub Mangiapane in with Gaudreau probably means Ferland goes to 4th line the screams would be deafening fire coach Ricky he is a clueless idiot, Ferland is a 1st liner, there is no winning on this site.

• Cheeky

I think the point is put players in a position to succeed. Mangipane is not a checker, he’s offensively gifted and as such should be given a chance to show it. A coach’s job is to do that, who in their right mind puts the 2nd best goal scorer (Ferland) on a 4th line? Oh right Glen would – same guy who keeps him off top PP…

• Ricky

Hey Dougiefred-Why do you assume that Ferland goes to the fourth line? Did you see where I also mentioned that Mangiapane should play with Tkachuk. Speaking of clueless buddy, look in a mirror. This site is intended to get people’s opinions, not for people like you to diss others. Plus i have 18 likes to 0 trash it, so a lot of other people agree with me. If you cannot be respectful then stay the heck off of the site.

• Dougiefred

Ricky to intention to diss you, my comment was an attempt to illustrate how the majority on this site react to anything management does or says regardless of it’s validity.

• Ludis Fanaticus

Ferland doesn’t kill penalties. For Brouwer that was over 2:00 of extra ice last night. It’s not all of the discrepancy but most. The rest I think comes from the coach wanting the shut down line out a little more once the Oil had tied it up.

• oilcanboyd

Ricky, I agree except the Mangianpane comment. Should play him at least 6 games on any lin e in order to evaluate him. Ferland auditioned a lot longer on bottom 6 lines.

• cberg

Let’s take a look at this team versus the last truly entertaining and successful team in Calgary, the 2014-15 Flames. In any discussion of Hartley you have to start and probably end it acknowledging the difference in players between then and now. BH had Gaudreau, Monahan and Hudler as his three top forward weapons, with Brodie and Gio on defence. Of course he also had others, let’s see…. Ferland (great hitter, no scoring), Backlund (just getting established), Wideman (meh D, actually their top D scorer), “snipers” Bouma, Jones, Glencross and Colborne, Byron (can’t pot a breakaway) and too-young Baertschi, Bennett and Poirier. And of course who can forget Bollig, Smid, Stajan (not much different), Granlund, Raymond, Diaz and others….

Today the team has four strong D led by Gio, Hamilton, Brodie and Hamonic, and Stone and Kulak are no slouches. Better D better less scoring. Gaudreau, Monahan, Ferland, Tkachuk, Backlund, Jankowski and Bennett highlight the forwardswith Frolik pretty effective too. Arguably, pretty much every single one of them is better than their 2014 counterpart. At goalie Smith/Rittich (~0.925) is miles ahead of Hiller/Ramo (~0.913). The ONLY area downgraded between then and now is the coaching, substituting an NHL 0.529 (DAL) coach who has NEVER won at any level (though pretty outstanding at the ECHL level) for an NHL 0.562 (COL, ATL &CAL) coach who has ALWAYS won at every level, including the Stanley Cup.

One can certainly argue that the team is much “better” under GG than BH (well, ya know, Corsi), but you could just as easily argue that BH would be taking THIS TEAM of talent right to the Stanley Cup, which looks like a massive long shot today.

Hopefully after the next (All-star) break they’ll get their heads back in the game and go on another (winning) streak to firmly establish themselves as a playoff team. I’m afraid the last beach break is lingering because when the going’s been getting tough the past 4 games their minds have been wandering, and they’ve got 4 consecutive losses to show for it. Yeah for Bettman points?

• Skylardog

Been thinking it every time someone points to the failures of the Hartley teams, but just never got to posting what you just did. Thanks.

Back then the players were not good enough to even make the playoffs. Today, they have assembled a team that could make a legitimate run for the cup. Yet here we are, drowning in mediocrity.

• Stu Cazz

I don’t agree that the Flames have assembled a team that can make a legit run at this time…..Stanley Cup contenders have a clear identity, they are able to roll 4 lines with the bottom 6 producing or making an impact physically, they have a top player(s) that are considered true finishers, and their special teams perform consistently…..

• JMK

You do make a fair point; however, I also remember an awful lot of criticism on here about Hartley’s deployment and player usage. And when you look at special teams; 2013-14 PP-15.7%, PK-81.7%; 2014-15 PP-18.8%, PK-80.6%. Compared to this years; PP-17.3%, PK-80.9%, it’s not that much different. Now I know you didn’t necessarily make any of these points, I’m just pointing out the criticisms I’ve seen of GG were similar for BH.

Rather than reminiscing about a coach that didn’t work, I think we should forward to who the next one – and better one – could be.

• cberg

I agree we should be forward-looking, but part of that process is an evaluation of where we are/have been, especially comparing the players. Clearly the players have been upgraded, that’s one huge difference. As for the stats, BH’s best team was 2014-15, when the PP=18.82%, PK=80.65% quite a bit better than today’s, with poorer players. I do recall lots of consternation and complaints about BH really being tough on (some) rookies and favouring vets. In that regard he’s the same re: vets, however a big difference is GG has a hard time being “hard” on anybody. The buddy-buddy system doesn’t push the players, and them pushing themselves is a bit problematic and wildly inconsistent. Finally, when the game is on the line I have zero confidence GG can adjust in-game versus BH seemed very inspirational and how many times did that team come back with energetic and overwhelming late game efforts to win? Many here see that as a weakness, I see it as effective utilization off the skill he had at the time. Effective use of this team’s skill would be far better than what we are seeing today. The seeds of BH’s demise were sown in the loss to Anaheim, where they dominated physically and territorially, but really with Hudler and Gaudreau your top two weapons how hard is it to focus all D schemes and shut them down, and then who’s taking up the slack?

Who should be the next coach? Well, that’s a good question. I would like a successful winner. Not sure who that would be but I think it would be better than waiting the years it will take to “develop” GG as a bonafide NHL coach, if he ever gets there….

• The Doctor

The good Hartley year was the result of a ridiculously high shooting percentage, which every analytics geek insisted would come back to earth. It did, the following year and we were bad and missed the playoffs. Hartley’s teams were terrible at possession and made the playoffs once, missed every other year. GG got ya back in the playoffs his first year behind the bench. Hartley thought Brandon Bollig was a valuable component of an NHL team. Don’t get me wrong, I have my issues with GG. But some perspective is in order.

• Cfan in Van

I agree with this. Hartley was also totally unable to come up with an alternate system, once everyone found out that we mostly just stretch-passed. I don’t think that GG is the way forward, but I also haven’t forgotten Hartley’s many flaws (still a good stop-gap coach at the time). The fact that they managed to make the 2nd round as serious underdogs sheds a flattering light on BH’s tenure as coach.

• Off the wall

All great points!

• KKisTHEproblem

Just to point out: I think we all believe the talent is much better now but we have the same PP and PK %’s basically? It just highlights the problem

• Cheeky

Great points cberg. As much as Hartley didn’t have a great system, he knew how to squeeze the talent and effort out of his players. It was exciting hockey with him at the helm and maybe it was time for him to go but GG is just bad. As soon as he came in he tried to erase everything good that BH did (most coaches will keep some stuff and add in their own to enhance but never completely erase). Gone were the Firefighter helmet (source of pride and link between Flames and Fire) replaced by a Police hat (because GG almost became one). Gone were the stretch passes, not even to be used once in awhile to keep other team guessing. Gone was the hussle and hard work, gone was the comebacks, gone was the D jumping into plays and the list goes on and on. I get that we needed to tighten up our possession but it could have incorporated some of the above (which the players would have adapted easier to newer system with some familiarity). I agree the team’s talent is 10 fold better yet which team do you prefer? I never understood the GG hiring and never will but we need someone who can win. GG talked about the coaches he learnt under such as Torts – Torts is an old school berater, not a friend but a coach. He said himself and Mike Sullivan had similar coaching styles as they were both assistants together (yes that guy that has won last 2 cups) – what a laugh. Watching afterhours on CBC after Ducks game with Bieska on, GG walks past and Bieska leans back and says “Hey bud good to see you” and shakes hands. That is GG, everyones bud. We need a coach not a bud…

• FuNky ANGER

Flames need to find a killer instinct, and a powerplay that can score.

For the goalie interference, I think they got the call right last night. Connor wasn’t pushed into Rittich, his skate then hits Rittichs stick/blocker which turned him a few degrees. When the next Oiler shot the puck in Rittich was no longer square. Had he been he would have had a better shot at saving the puck. I’m a goalie and completely agree with the call, regardless of which team it happened too; not that it helped us in the end.

The Oiler broadcast last night was absolutely brutal to listen to too.

• Prairiechicken

I respectfully disagree. To me it seemed like McDavid barely clipped him and the goalie had time to adjust. It didn’t impact him from stopping the puck. The biggest sign was usually if they’re brushed even the slightest, the goalies scream foul to the refs. He skated right to the bench without even thinking about it. But I admit my bias as an oiler fan so can live with the call itself.

Again, the thing people want is consistency. We remember the call in the playoffs with Kessler pulling on talbots pad … Which wasn’t deemed interference. I’m sure every team including the flames can think of similar calls. What’s deemed interference is completely subjective as is. So why bother with a review?

• Derian Hatcher

I would trade you Drew Remenda for Kelly Hrudy any day. I would also throw in a dinner for 4 at the steakhouse of your choice.

• KKisTHEproblem

• Jumping Jack Flash

It is a dumb rule but the right call.

• Derzie

Ari, thanks for eloquently sorting out how I feel about this team and loser points. Well done.

• Derzie

Also, the NHL clamored so hard for the expansion Knights to be a parity team, they made a mess. The team is a runaway success to the benefit of Las Vegas and at the expense of 30 other teams and their fan bases. This league is fatiguing to watch and follow. GG is a product of what the NHL wants. Boring, predictable parity. It has to change but how long will it take?

• cberg

For \$500 million they have the give the team a fighting chance. Greed is all it was. I don’t have a huge problem with it, I mean what’s worse than watching an expansion team struggling a decade to even get to 0.500? Agree on GG, see my comment below. Definitely boring, I never watch a full game. Sad, but true. At least some other channels like the History channel are putting out some decent shows now to watch instead….

• BendingCorners

My guess is that they are a one-year wonder. Too many of them are aging castoffs having a career year for this to extend into multiple seasons. But this year is incredibly fun to watch. They believe in themselves and they don’t wilt. BT hired the wrong GG.

• oilcanboyd

Regression will set in next year? like the oilers this year…

• Danomitee

Fire Dave Cameron. Ottawa was 29th in the league on the PP when he coached them, and they have Erik F*@#n Karlsson. He was never the man for the job. Treliving, it’s time to start owning your mistakes.

• Day1-Cfan

• BringtheFire 2.0

We’re in the middle of a playoff race with points in our last umpteen games. Other teams would kill to be where we are and our goaltending is awesome.

Fairweather. Fickle. Impatient.

• Off the wall

Nope, it speaks of frustration. Take off the blinders, you’ll see better..

• Day1-Cfan

Been on this wagon since Day1, neither Fairweather, Fickle or Impatient.

• buts

This team has no killer instinct and it starts behind the bench. You can draw the same correlation to the PP not executing. Good teams take a PP opportunity to get back into a game or drive the nail into the coffin. Calgary can’t put a team away when we have a lead ….the lack of execution on the PP is sucking any momentum out of the team. BT wake up and at least fire Cameron. Watching the flames is like watching secretariat race with a bad jockey.

• buts

Rangers say that Zuccarello is available….he would be a great PP and top 6 forward. A good playoff performer as well. Move a D for him if you can.

• ThisBigMouthIsRight

That would actually be interesting…but… I’m sure Zuccarello’s ice time and usage would be completely used wrong and quickly mute any upside he has…

• Skylardog

Ari – You nailed that one. I know you spoke a few weeks of how you had stopped reading this blog because it had become a place where the only comments were on firing the coach. The funny thing is, you come up with all of the same conclusions on ice time, regulation wins, PP, player deployment… as the comments section. You just always stop short of calling for GG’s head.

I am sorry you stopped reading this blog because of the negativity. I feel that I and several others have been leading the fire the coach bandwagon for a long time on here. We had no intention of making you hate the space that you created.

But you, or some of the other writers need to take a critical look at the coach, investigate, and begin to point the finger. We love this team, we come to the same conclusions as you do on the games. The difference is that we are willing to call out the problem, whereas the writers on here fall short of that, despite connecting most if not all of the dots.

I started my investigation of GG back in June of 2016, by looking at his time in Dallas, comparing pre-GG stars hockey, and post-GG Stars hockey to his time at the helm. Based on that alone, I saw no reason why the Flames would ever hire him. Ask the question why Vancouver hired Willy Desjardins when an assistant coach in their system had head coaching experience in the NHL, and Willy had none. These areas would be a good place for one of the writers to start to critically look at what we have behind the bench.

• Zalapski

GG seems to have two heads. His systems, seem to work! It’s his player usage that baffles me. The way he uses Brouwer, Bartkowski, Grossman, Glass, not dressing rookies, the whole beating a dead horse with the PP thing. GG is just weird in the worst way. He could be good, I just think he thinks he knows something know one else does.

• Zalapski

no one* dang it

• BlueMoonNigel

If Gully is sacked, then that must trigger a personnel review of the entire org, including the performance of the GM who hired him. The timing of such a review might not work in Tre’s favour if it happens when this season ends and the club has failed to make the playoffs. You can be sure that if the season ends after Game 82, there will be very little love for the team in this city by the fans. media and owners. Could Tre survive such a review? It depends on what the mood of the owners is at that time and whether they think going with a new GM and new direction will hasten or hurt the rebuild. In any case, firing Gully will put Tre on the firing line as well, and as the song once rapped, “Don’t ask me what I think of you because I might not give you the answer you want me to.”

• Skylardog

GMs get to hire 2 coaches minimum in their tenure. GG is number his first.

What will get Tre fired is if they miss the playoffs, and he doesn’t make a coaching change.

• FlamesFanOtherCity

The GM is accountable for every trade, waiver move, recall and draft pick. He made a choice to hire a coach because he felt he had the right stuff. Cameron may have been a choice recommended by Gully, but we can’t say for sure. The A/coaches are usually the coach’s choice. The positives for Gully are that he turned us into a better possession team, which is what the brass wanted. The negatives are the bizare love affair with Brouwer and the questionable choices for player usage. Cameron has done nothing to better the team. They can’t score EN goals. They can’t score when their goalie is pulled. They can’t score on the power play. More than a minor offence. You could fire him and nobody would even question it.

• Off the wall

• Cheeky

As a coach, if you are on the hot seat you try to extend yourself by canning an assistant, blaming them for the losses. As a GM, you can the coach, blaming them on the loses until you run out of coaches, then you make a desperate trade until you are canned. Simple history…time for Cameron to fall…

• Orrwasbest

The flames have now lost 7 in a row to the Oilers! Come on guys you had a two goal lead and still gagged against these sad sacks!

• Anonymoustrollpolice

Flames should thank the hockey gods, for the loser point has made them look better than they are. Don’t forget the flames only have 3 more wins than the “sad sack’ oilers. Lol

• KKisTHEproblem

I agree but that was you guys last year just to be fair

• BlueMoonNigel

Yep. 5 valuable points left on the table against the mighty Oil and we’re still not done with them. Those lost points might very well be the ones that deny the team postseason play.

• ZISTVAN

This team is so hard to watch unlike the Hartley team that infamous year. I’m content now to catch the box score of games. They won’t make the playoffs. Reading between the lines I think Ari feels the same way. GG is an average coach with exceptionally good players with great potential who are failing to reach their potential as a TEAM. That’s on the Coaching Staff. Where it goes from here is anybody’s guess.

• Righty Defenceman

Full disclosure – I’m an Oilers fan.
The quality of the commentary on FN far surpasses the juvenile name calling that goes on over at ON.
Great Battle of Alberta!

• Crazy Flames

I am happy when plays like the OT goal goes against the Oilers but this goalie interference nonsense needs to fixed. I know it would slow down the game but to avoid confusion and things like this happening would it not be easier to automatically blow down a play as soon as a player makes contact with a goalie?

I just don’t know its getting frustrating…. Kind of like watching the play for OT and then lose it in OT.

• Derian Hatcher

Whether it goes against the Oilers, Avs, Wings or whichever team…whatever, but as you all know a goal was allowed the other night with an opposition player literally laying on the back of Fredrik Anderson of the leafs…called a goal. No matter what team you cheer for we’ve all seen the Mickey Mouse league, with Mickey Mouse refs, make Mickey Mouse calls. I have a friend in Florida who is beginning to watch hockey and he asks all sorts of questions – his first was “how do they know when to sub off?” (So you get the idea of his hockey knowldege as a novice fan). He called last night and was confused about the goaltender interference rule….ya so are the rest of us. The NHL has become a joke (if the play last night was reversed and it was Tkachuk scoring on Talbot on the same play, I wouls say the same thing). As Ray Ferraro said – they don’t even know what the rule is, so they just make it up as they go along.

As for the Flames…ya there are areas to improve, but they have collected points in 11 straight. As an Oiler fan, I’d take that any day. I’m just happy the Oilers players finally showed that they may give a crap.

• cberg

Forget who we are fans of, you are totally correct the NHL is a JOKE with its reffing and specifically this goalie interference rule. Personally, I agree with the call last night as the goalie was definitely pushed and positioned farther out from the net. The call against a goal in the Winnipeg game I question, as the offensive player never even got close to the goalie, nor did he directly push the D into the goalie. The Toronto call was a joke, should have gone the other way.

I like the idea above that once the offensive player touches the goalie the play is whistled dead. I would also assign a penalty even better, unless the puck precedes the contact in the blue paint. If a D player is pushed into the blue paint that’s on him, no penalty. Make it clear cut and called consistently…

• cberg

Reading my own idea I see the play last night would not be a penalty. What I meant was body contact=penalty, stick contact after a blue paint puck=no penalty.

• Derian Hatcher

All anyone wants is consistency – that is not too much to ask from a so – called professional league. Anytime there is video review it’s a frickn roll of the dice – no one has any idea how the rule will be applied. Those morons at the NHL are utterly clueless

• BendingCorners

Not a bad idea but maybe simplify it a bit. The referrees sometime get confused by complex rules.
If an offensive player contacts a goalie in the paint then stop the play. If the offensive player initiated the contact then call a penalty.

• oilcanboyd

Totally agree.
And how can the oilers argue that there was no interference. McJesus can walk on water (according to oiler fans) but he skated through the goalie grease and made contact with the goalie. Should have been interference call on McDavid.

• Prairiechicken

As someone else said, consistency is the main thing we all want. Right now, it’s subjective, and thus no one knows which way the reviewers will rule.
If it’s going to be subjective, why bother with delaying the game for a review process? Keep it in the control of the subjective refs and save the delay.

• Zalapski

The Flames NEED to fix their PP. It is what makes them an obvious pretender vs contender when it boils down to it. The PK has been great. The 1st and 2nd lines are elite. They need to find a top 9 scoring winger, Hathaway is a solid NHL energy guy, but Janko and Bennett need someone else there. Versteeg, Mangiapane? a trade? Klimchuk?

I’ve Been on the fence with Brodie the last couple of games. He’s been taking more chances offensively, ala Hartley days, he’s looked a lot better in that area and I hope he keeps it up. He’s still been kinda yucky on D though. Hamonic is improving , but boy is his style of play boring! He has better hands than he thinks, sometimes I wish he’d take a second and make a pass.
Rittich is a dawg. I don’t see him moving much further up the NHL latter, but he should be retained unless his next couple of starts are blowouts. He’s looked great. I love his passion.
Jankowski playing games in the NHL and looking good has made me reconcile the weird Jay Feaster years. The man could look insane at points but he drafted some nice players. A lot more than Sutter.
If only they’d fire GG and hire someone from within the org who knows the players (not Huska and DEFINITLEY not Cameron) who will mix up the lines or stop with terrible player usage and failing systems. I think the Flames style of play is a mix of run and gun and discipline. The Flames have improved under GG and have proven they can play within a system. I just think they need to let the Ponies run a little more.

• rusty_shakleforde

All of this ^ ???

• Jumping Jack Flash

I am the last person to defend GG but this season reminds me of the Jets last year. Paul Maurice had a disastrous year with essentially the same core players he has this year. When his contract was extended along with the GM I thought it was a farce. Now enter NHL caliber goaltending and now Maurice looks competent.

GG on the other hand has great goaltending but like Maurice last year, he is unable to get a good core group of players to row in he same direction. If Calgary had a league average PP they would have 4 more wins and that is just in the last 10 days.

The teams ahead of Calgary in the standings are not better than the Flames. On paper Calgary looks better than Vegas in most positions. Boston has a bunch of kids so how can they be that good that fast. The same goes for New Jersey.

• Joeyhere

Thank you Ari. You always seem to capture the level of optimism / or in this case frustration we are all feeling about this team

• KKisTHEproblem

Agree, thanks Ari. I think your take on things is generally right on and today’s was no exception

• Kevin R

Well, after losing to the Sabres & Oilers (a- freaking- gain) it has become obvious this team doesn’t have what it takes to win big games. To reiterate, I don’t know how any coach of the Calgary Flames expects to last if he can’t win even 1 stinking game against the Oilers. But…. back to the point & spirit of Ari’s post..Pro’s Cons

Starting with the Con: Our coach seems to find success in just getting to overtime. Well… seeing we ave 33 games left, that means we will probably end up at 91 points & just on the outside of the playoffs. This is a pretty big Con, whether you are a fan, player, coach, GM or Flames owner.

The Pros:
1/ No playoffs will probably end this coaching experiment
2/By getting 91 points the odds will be that we won’t be only relinquishing a top 10 pick to the Islanders (barring some out of this world luck (or bad luck) on the lottery balls.
3/I am going to save lots of \$\$\$ on incredibly expensive playoff tickets
4/We won’t have to endure & agonize over the horrible officiating during the playoffs
5/It will tell our GM that there is lots of work to be done & we can expect BT to be very active this summer

Silver linings:
-at least there is no way in hell the Oilers are making the playoffs & I take comfort in knowing they wasted their last cheap year of McDavid… by the way, who plays over 4 minutes of a 5 minute overtime, thats amazing
-maybe we get a new PP coach next year the players will want to execute

I did not expect that 7 game winning streak & will readily admit it got me excited that we had a team here. These last four games have just sucked any hope I had out & my expectations are back down to zilch.

• KKisTHEproblem

Re McDavid: 4 minutes and was still a huge threat constantly, really amazing. On the other hand, did anyone else catch Monahan’s pathetic excuse of a back check on the oiler’s 2nd goal? Completely outskated by Kassian. Absolutely not good enough…

• Alberta Ice

What a very entertaining game that BOA became last night. The Flames took a 2-0 lead and the game got to a place of being actually very boring. Then we get the chance to put the Oilers away with a power play. Nope. Almost fell asleep during that time. Then we make a new star player out of Davidson. Then a very poor pass by JG to spring the Oilers and within 90 seconds, the game is tied. At this point, the game became a real BOA. (So instead of taking a 1-0 lead like the past three and blowing it we try a 2-0 lead and blow it.) When the Oil got their 3rd goal, I thought that was all she wrote. But Matthew the Hun proved me wrong. The rest of that game was a battle. Talk about turns and twists. Missing open nets by inches was truly gut wrenching. Then the OT. Then the winning goal, er, the taken away goal (with memories of Matty’s goal taken away vs Buffalo due to a very debatable interference call which by the way should have also been a game winner; and, oh, on the live sportsnet tv broadcast, they were 100% convinced that goal would stand; LOL in today’s video replay of ‘who knows how this will turn out review’) Then ending with the shoot out shout out. (Kind of sucks that Camarelli beat Rittich.) So what am I trying to say? Once we let the Oilers back in with two goals, both teams woke up, and that game was really worth the watch. And even though we lost, it could easily have gone both ways. So give the Oiler fans at least one reason to smile in a very dreadfully disappointing season. Here’s trusting the Flames get some things figured out after the all-star break, especially that dreadfully disappointing power play.

• MontanaMan

Thoughts: 1). PP is broken – no big news; needs to be fixed RFN or the Flames are going nowhere; 2) Monahan needs to get his confidence back; not sure what is going on with him but it’s mental not physical; 3) Gaudreau needs to pot goals at key points in the game; JG played very well last night but he needs to cash in on chances where he’s in alone; 4) Resiliency – the Flames were still in control, even after the seeing eye goals by Davidson to make it 201, but they folded like a cheap tent and let the Oilers take the momentum; a mature club shrugs off the first goal and gets back to taking it to the opposition;; 5) There’s a fine line between winning and losing – look at the chances last night, including 5 or 6 in OT – one of those goes in for either side and its game over. What this tells me is that the Flames aren’t far off but they need to put their foot on the opponents throat when they get a lead. 6) Secondary scoring – Janko’s line has looked very ordinary and haven’t threatened much in the past 6 games; Bennett actually looks lost out there and hasn’t been using his speed to create chances; Hathaway is not a long term solution and will be pressbox bound once Versteeg returns or Tre brings in another winger – I think Hathaway has topped out and I’m not liking his future with the big club; Backlund needs to get it going in the offensive end – everyone raved about his defensive prowess last year while chipping in timely goals but this year, the offense has dried up; 7) Unlike some on this site, I don’t have the extreme highs and lows; this is a good squad that need to improve in some key areas, but I’m not in favor of firing the coach or trading half the team; a new PP approach (and possibly Ass’t Coach) are needed and Tre may need to add something at the deadline to tweak with the roster, but I’m comfortable with where they’re at and confident that they can make the adjustments.

• rusty_shakleforde

Totally. What I think it’s important to add is that a lot of the players you mentioned would do better with better lines. Not that I’m a coach, but it would seem to me that perhaps we should just try different line combinations once in a while rather than just “have patience in the process; they’ll figure it out; Bennett will get there; Backlund can still perform with a boat anchor on his line;etc etc”. I always look with excitement and trepidation at the projected lineup just hoping it will change. Yes we’ve had success lately, and are on a really great point streak. But the logic “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” to me doesn’t apply here: we aren’t “broke”, other than our powerplay, but we certainly aren’t where we could be. Which is why everyone here is so frustrated. Flexibility would go a long way, GG

• Off the wall

I must say, this is one of the best blogs I’ve read in a long time.
Ari has wonderfully stated our frustrations, which has resulted in an extremely open forum for discussion. Kudos Ari.

I appreciated all of our members opinions on here, even our Oiler friends. Great posts everyone!

I can’t add anything of value that hasn’t already been said. I’m more in awe of our passion for the Flames.

We are currently 9th in playoff percentage for postseason berth. We sit at 54.5%

Our closest competition LA , is commanding a 10% lead on us, even though we currently sit precociously at 3rd in the Pacific.

It’s sending off alarm bells. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, however we need to get serious if we’re “going for it.”
Right now, it’s a coin flip. Not good enough.

I don’t want to draw conclusions at this juncture. There’s no point.
What I’d love to see as a team, is cohesiveness — like Velcro that’s hard to separate—Like Tkachuk from the puck.

We have all the ingredients (players) to be a playoff contender. Question remains. What is it going to take to get there?

• Raffydog

I wouldn’t call 2 good lines all the ingredients.

• BendingCorners

The Flames outhit the Oilers last night. That is not their game. Skating and passing and taking away space is. Keeping the players focused and teaching them how to handle pressure when the other team forechecks aggressively or attacks with speed – those are coaching and leadership issues. This team has a fair bit of talent and only a few bad players. That seven-game streak showed what they are capable of. Now it’s up to the coaches and dressing room leaders to get them back to that level. If this is Backlund’s last year as a Flame, let’s hope he leaves with a Ring.

• redwhiteblack

The power play still can’t score. Frustrating. It is clear coaching is the big reason why no success. The coaching staff is a liability to the players.

• Dougiefred

There were 3 Oilers waiting for Johnny every time he got to the blue line and he just skated into them, over and over.

• BendingCorners

To evaluate GG let’s compare Toronto and Calgary.
Toronto has Matthews, Marner, Nylander and Kadri.
Calgary has Gaudreau, Monahan, Tkachuk, Backlund, Bennett, Hamilton, Giordano and Smith.
Calgary has a better team.
Toronto plays five weak teams a lot, including Buffalo.
Calgary plays three weak teams a lot, including Arizona.
Both teams are on pace for 93-96 points, which confirms Calgary’s status as the better team, less overwhelmingly than the lineup would indicate but within (I think) the range of random variation.
Toronto has a world-class coach who stubbornly overplays some bad veterans, especially Polak.
Calgary has an unimpressive coach who stubbornly plays some bad veterans, especially Brouwer.
It’s hard to argue from the above that GG is to blame for the Flames not being in first place ahead of Vegas. Probably having Babcock behind the bench, especially in the playoffs, would make a difference, but both teams have plenty of off nights where they just don’t seem motivated to play well. I’d love to replace GG with somebody that shows more intensity and manages the game better, but the key thing for this team is to actually grow into the necessary mindset that refuses to panic and refuses to surrender, and play harder when the game gets more difficult. While a more intense coach might help, in the end the players have to do this themselves.

• The Doctor

And we sometimes forget that a lot of our core guys are still really young.

• oilcanboyd

..and some of them just graduated from the AHL.

• Captain Ron

I’m pretty sure Morgan Riley and Anderson can be included on that Toronto list

• BlueMoonNigel

Explain to this dumb old country boy why if Matty is quickly becoming or–in the eyes of some–has already become the best Flame, why he should accept a new long-term contract that pays his less than Gio and possibly even Gaudreau and Monahan? This I can’t see.

Those morons in Edmonton and Buffalo substantially raised the salary bar last summer and that has already had the trickle down effect on the salaries of other players. How can Matty be paid equal or less than Gio? That would be like saying Matty is half the player of McDavid or 3/5ths the man of Eichel. Do you buy that? I sure don’t. It is entirely possible that Tkachuk will be negotiating his new contract at about the same time Matthews and Laine are doing the same. How utterly stupid and a financial illiterate would Matty look if he were to accept substantially less dough than his two highly-gifted draft peers because nobody on the Flames gets paid more than Gio?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Matty becomes the highest paid Flame in history with his new deal. The club had better start clearing cap space for him because his the wad he’s going to get will choke a dinosaur.

Matty, keep sticking your opponents and stick it to Flames management if they balk at paying you the fair dollar you deserve.

• cberg

Tkachuk may well get more than Gio but not huge, not even to Draisatl level. Considering their hockey contributions both Draisatle and Mcdavid are overpaid, for that matter, NOBODY is worth \$12.5mm per year. From an entertainment value and due to fear he’d leave I can understand why they paid McD, but Draisatle’s deal is stupid, as are several others on the Oilers. If Tkachuk gets more, it’ll be because the salary cap has gone way up which is still debatable. We’ll see. As for being the best player, not really, but certainly one of their best and in line with several others. I’m not too worried. Matty still has a couple years to prove his worth and if he continues to evolve to truly become their best player, and the salary cap goes up substantially, nobody will be too concerned if he goes over the “Gio Cap”.

• Anonymoustrollpolice

Oilers had no choice on the Mcdavid deal. What team in the league was going to lock Connor Mcdavid up for less??? Wasn’t going to happen.

However I agree the Draisaitl deal was just plain stupid by Chiarelli. He should be paid the same as Gaudreau. Not 8.5. That’s an anchor that could cost the oilers. He’s overpaid by 1.5 – 2.0 million. Lucic is also overpaid by the same amount. That’s 4 million in overpayment on 2 players. Will be interesting to see what Backlund gets.

• Derian Hatcher

It’s the same scenario…will the flames want to give him a bridge deal or lock him in for the longest possible term? If they want the latter, it will probably cost them plenty. If 19 keeps playing like he is, he will have the leverage IMO.

• oilcanboyd

Just because oiler management are morons doesn’t mean that we have the same type of management.

• Cheeky

Are you saying MT is better than JG? Or better scorer than SM? Unless he surpasses them (scoring back to back 30+ goals and 70+ points) there’s not a chance he scores a bigger payday. Great player he is now and will be, but next contract won’t be more than the other 2…

• BlueMoonNigel

When Smitty was acquired by the Flames he was touted as an Oiler killer because of the most impressive record he had amassed against out most-hated rival. So where was the Oiler killer last night? Sure the old fella needs a night off here and there, but why wasn’t that against Buffalo or the Kings? I’m not blaming Rittich for the loss, but if Smith really does elevate his game against the Oilers–like Getzlaf does against us–Smitty should have been holding last night’s game by the balls rather than wearing a ball cap and making like a spectator. A failing grade to Gully this week for his management of the goaltenders.

• KKisTHEproblem

Wasn’t Smith in goal for the 1st 2 games against the oilers this year? Both losses? I am not a GG fan at all but we complain about him not adapting and he tried something new. That’s one of the few moves I actually support

• BlueMoonNigel

Yeah, but the players in front of Smitty on those two nights arguably played their worst games of the season, save for the 3rd period of the second game.

• KKisTHEproblem

Yes, I hear that. I would have no issues with Smitty starting against the oilers but only if Rittich played against the Sabres or the Kings or maybe two of the last four. I think its going to be a big issue if Smitty, as a 35 yo, plays 70 games which he’s on track for if GG doesn’t start playing Rittich more. And what has DR done to not get those starts? A .929 save percentage? A 4-1 -2 record with the loss being the last stinker against the Oilers that was really smitty’s loss? We definitely agree that GG mismanages the goalies. Just another area he is lacking in with regard to player usage….

• BendingCorners

I’m hoping that with Frolik coming back the lines will be rearranged a little. Hathaway had a nice scoring run but it has ended so put him on the 4th line with Brouwer. Mangiapane is probably not ready but absent Jagr and Versteeg (or maybe an acquisition somehow) I think he needs to be in the middle-six rotation along with Bennett, Frolik and Tkachuk. I don’t really care what variation they try first but they need to try something.
As for the PP, I’m totally at a loss as to why GG doesn’t just put the first line out with Dougie and Brodie (until Versteeg returns), and then the (modified) Tkachuk line with one more forward plus Giordano or Stone but never Brouwer.
The PK has been good so it can just keep plugging along.

• oilcanboyd

With the large number of AHLers playing for the Flames this year, I consider this a transition year and making the playoffs would be a bonus. No new acquisitions please, if it costs us some players in development with the Flames, at keast not at this TDL.

• BlueMoonNigel

Just read a story about the North Korean women hockey players crossing the DMZ to commence training with their South Korean sisters to form a unified team led by coach Sarah Murray, daughter of Andy Murrray. That has got me thinking about Andy Murray as possibly the next head coach of the Flames. He certainly has strong ties to the city. I wonder if he was considered by Tre when the GM shopped for his first coach? Would Murray give up the life of a collegiate coach to return to the rigours of being an NHL coach? I always thought the Kings fired him too soon, but their subsequent cup wins suggest not.

• Jumping Jack Flash

Where not the only team playing to at least get a point, it has become a joke. However we seem to start the defensive shell immediately when we score first. I must admit, I turned the game off at the end of the second. I can see that we were trending in the wrong direction. When I checked the stats I saw that we lost in a shootout… No surprise there. Playing Brodie the most of any defenseman is genius…. It gives us leverage when negotiating a trade for Hoffman.