There’s only so many times one can answer “why is Brouwer?” without eventually becoming a Flames nihilist. You eventually will go numb and want to talk about hats, basketball, and burgers rather than fret about who’s on the third line for the umpteenth time.
So half hockey, half not. Have fun!
When precisely did CGY's season fall apart and why? The obvious answer is Mike Smith's injury but is there another point in time that's a better answer?
— Ian (@ianberg) March 3, 2018
Well it’s Mike Smith.
For a team with many inconsistencies, Smith was the one constant that could at least keep games within reaching distance. I think a large problem with these recent stretch of games without Smith is that the team collapses quickly and loses steam immediately thereafter. Smith usually could stay composed enough to remain steady in net during collapses, but David Rittich and Jon Gillies cannot.
Which is understandable for young netminders with just a bit of NHL experience, but certainly not helpful right now. The team falls behind, the goalies can’t stop them from falling behind further, the entire thing is a mess with no hope of a comeback.
How terrible is it going to be when either Edmonton or the islanders (with Calgary’s pick) get Brady Tkachuk?
— Matt Beaupre (@MattBeaups) March 3, 2018
I think Brady Tkachuk is getting a boost from his brother’s work, but he’s certainly still a very good player who will go top 10 in the draft. The Islanders picking him would be poetic and I’ll laugh at it. The Oilers tried to one-up Calgary by trading for Griffin Reinhart with about the same package that landed Dougie Hamilton, so maybe they try and one-up Calgary by drafting Brady and it doesn’t work out at all. That would be very funny, too. I think they (Oilers) go for defence above all, however.
On a more serious note, I think it stinks that the Flames didn’t bother to lottery protect their pick, and I don’t know if it was an oversight or intentional. Pride goeth before a fall.
will the flames get back a first and a second via trade at deadline? Since ny will have our lottery pick.
— Rod Thick (@karasu8989) March 3, 2018
I think they try, but ultimately fail. There’s not a lot the Flames should trade that other GMs would also be interested in. Would you like a forgettable Michael Stone on a bad contract, or a T.J. Brodie that must go now? The Flames will probably make some draft moves, but nothing that moves them beyond the third round.
Why haven't they tried putting TJ with gio to try to get his game back on track. Doesnt matter how good first d pair is if 2nd pair struggles
— Jarod (@Jarod23409143) March 3, 2018
Would TJ be better on the right?! Maybe a trade benefits him but we have no replacements. Help BT out with ideas to fix the back end.
— Ian Duval (@duvie27) March 3, 2018
I think Brodie’s problems aren’t originating from usage, but from the player himself. It seems more and more likely that Brodie’s issues were masked by playing with Norris-level Mark Giordano on a bad team (when you get to compare yourself to Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell, you look amazing) rather than them being a result of usage.
Our friend Kent did a great analysis last month on Brodie’s decline for the Athletic. I think it’s behind the paywall, so I’ll sum it up: Brodie’s stats have fallen across the board, and have fallen fast since 2013-14. He was one of the highest impact possession players and teammates in 2013-14, but steadily fell to middling to awful. He’s only 27, so unless he was hit with an early case of aging (you typically see these drops in production post-30), it seems more likely that he just looked much better on a bad team. Happens.
I can’t advocate breaking up pairings though. I think Gio-Dougie is one of the league’s strongest pairings, and splitting that up to help a liability may do bupkis in the long run. Who says T.J. returns to 2013-16 form just because he’s with Gio again? I don’t think a Hamilton-Hamonic pairing would be a great idea either.
I could be tempted to try Gio-Brodie, Kulak-Hamilton, Stone-Hamonic. That’s just me, though.
Has anyone ever asked GG about his player usage? How does he attempt to explain it
— Kyle Lewis (@vanlewis14) March 3, 2018
I don’t know if anyone has asked him about it.
My explanation is a bit roundabout, and it comes from a podcast I listen to called Real Good Show. The hosts were discussing the Maple Leafs and coach Mike Babcock’s infuriating usage of Leo Komarov, Roman Polak, and Matt Martin.
The interesting nugget that makes the most sense to me is the ideas of trust and predictability. Coaches trust these types of players. Hockey – sports in general, really – is random chaos and it’s up to the coach to control as much of it as they can. Babcock uses duds like Komarov and Polak not because he believes that they can provide as much firepower as Auston Matthews (Komarov plays, on average, two fewer minutes per night in all situations than Matthews. Comparatively, Troy Brouwer plays nearly three and half fewer minutes than Matthew Tkachuk, and six fewer minutes than Johnny Gaudreau), but because they know what to do and when to do it. It doesn’t matter if they do it poorly, they’re doing what’s expected of them and that’s good enough.
Coaches are control freaks, which is a problem in a game where there is so little you actually have control over. If they have a player who is predictable, they have control over something, and that gives them relief and something to work with. Even Babcock, widely considered one of the best all-time coaches, falls into this trap more so than Glen Gulutzan does. If you go around the league and poll all 31 NHL head coaches, all of them will prefer the reliable but less flashy veteran over the unpredictable and unknown yet higher ceiling call-up. It might be an unsatisfying, general answer, but you can look at the starting lineups of every team to confirm this bias.
To make it more Flames-centric, Brouwer and other veterans will always get the benefit of the doubt because they will always do what they do, night-in, night-out. That’s what coaches want, and you’ll be searching for a long time to find one that won’t prefer that.
Would Dave Tippett be a coach that would be available and a fit for our roster? His issues were with ownership in AZ right?
— Chad Cull (@chadcull) March 3, 2018
Dave Tippett’s name has popped up a lot, especially among fans, but he is almost certainly not the solution.
Part of the reason I think blaming the coaching staff for everything wrong with this season (a half-assed roster is the most likely culprit) is because that thinking a new head coach will instantly fix everything is delusional and shortsighted at best. As explained earlier with Babcock, many coaches have their shortcomings, and many coaches think in the same, infuriating manner. Tippett is not different, and he might be one of the worst options out there.
If you criticize Gulutzan for playing boring hockey, you’re not going to like Tippett, who has exclusively made his name from defensive hockey. If you think the Flames don’t score enough goals (certainly a major problem), only three Tippett teams have finished above 15th in the league in goals for. The man’s reputation for defence stems from having Marty Turco, Ilya Bryzgalov, and Mike Smith each having one unreal season (both Smith and Turco finished with over .930) and then never having one again. Not a great bet to make.
The highest ever producer under Tippett was Mike Riberio in 2007-08, with 83 points in 76 games. I would like to take this space to remind you that Tippett took over a Dallas Stars team with Mike Modano, Bill Guerin, Jason Arnott, Brendan Morrow, Sergei Zubov, Jere Lehtinen, and Turco and managed to crash that into the ground after one year of coaching them, scoring 195 goals over 82 games. The man should be put in hockey jail for his crimes against offence. I can certainly predict that he will not be helping a team that has struggled to put pucks in the net.
Here’s the real kicker: everyone, including myself, hates that Brouwer can play up and down the lineup regardless of performance. It’s that good veteran presence which Gulutzan loves that really makes us wish Treliving gave him the pink slip. Tippett resigned after signing a five-year extension and getting promoted to the VP of hockey ops because Coyotes ownership didn’t want to re-sign 40-year-old Shane Doan, a player who was years past his expiration date but still receiving second line minutes. Instead of playing the youth focused hockey ownership and management wanted over the one old guy, Tippett quit. How do you think he’ll treat our old veteran who wears an ‘A’?
In short: be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.
Rank the top three fast food burgers. By burger, not by chain.
— Ryan Gee (@redricardo) March 3, 2018
3. Carl’s Jr’s guacamole burger. The chain is usually overpriced, but I’m a sucker for anything with guac on it. We need more guac burgers.
2. McDonald’s junior chicken burger. The value menu is the only way to go and this is the best burger on it. It’s pretty much the same thing as a McChicken, but five dollars less expensive.
1. “Sam’s burger” at Boogie’s Burgers, a local Calgary place. I’m not sure if you can consider a place with two locations “fast food” the same way you consider big chains “fast food” but it checks the box for me.
What is your favourite hat?
— Sasha's Conference (@konnie7889) March 3, 2018
There is a really cool Burton and Starter hat that I have, but is pretty much worn out. I can’t find a picture of it.
do you think humans and the reptilian elite will ever live in harmony
— li, i’m gonna roll to chill 🎲 (@MAFury29) March 3, 2018
Are you planning to become Raptors fans?
— Leah Kessel (@leahflame) March 3, 2018
Planning? We (me) are already Raptors fans.
And if you are experiencing hockey ennui, I cannot recommend basketball enough as an escape, especially the Toronto Raptors. They’re the anti-Flames, in a sense. How would you like to trade in your underperforming, frustrating team for some better-than-expected, legit title shot, entertaining basketball? If you need something to do in April, who’s most likely going to be there for you?
The Raptors have smashed the superteam zeitgeist, winning without stars in the vein of LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Russell Westbrook. Instead, they have two of the most underrated players in DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, who have quietly put this team on top of the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Also unlike the Flames, the Raptors are being aided in their playoff push with the help of their bench players and a healthy dose of youth injected at the right time. Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakim, and OG Anunoby are all recent draft picks who have all been strong coming off the bench. It’s a fun time to be a Raptors fan! Join, before it’s too late!