Coyotes 4, Flames 1 post-game embers: Future?

Just two more games. Then we get a well-earned six-month break. Just gotta get through these two games first.

The plight of the recall limit

Spencer Foo had the most ice time out of all Flames forwards with 17:26, including a team-leading (albeit tied with four other guys) 1:01 on the powerplay. He also led the way with seven shots on net, and though he didn’t pick up his first NHL point, there were moments in which he was pretty close. (Still thinking about that fake and pass to Sam Bennett late in the third. That was awesome.)

Foo is in a good position because he’s a right winger in an organization devoid of them: one of the reasons he chose to sign with Calgary in the first place. And though it’s the end of the season, and the games are meaningless, and injuries to players have opened up some primo spots, you’ve got to think he’s making a very convincing early audition to play in the NHL next year. There are a lot of things to like and no glaring problems in his game.

Which kind of got me thinking: poor Morgan Klimchuk, who was recalled earlier in the season, played 7:25 in one game alongside Curtis Lazar and Matt Stajan, and was never seen from again. He’s now the active leading scorer on the Heat, so it’s not as though he’s some plug who got lucky, but he only got the one game before he was shuffled off. Former first round pick, and here’s a kid a year older than him, one professional year, and he’s already played more NHL games than he has.

That isn’t to call out the Flames’ usage of Foo at all; this is absolutely what they should be doing with him now. It’s just, the recall limit has exhausted the Flames’ options. I’m sure they’d love to see Oliver Kylington back in NHL action, too, but they can’t. Maybe Klimchuk could have gotten a chance to play alongside NHL top six forwards if the limit wasn’t in place.

There’s good reason for that limit, though: the Stockton Heat are still a professional team with fans of their own trying to make the playoffs in their own league. It’s not fair to anybody there to call up everybody worth taking a last look at. Just luck of the draw for Foo in this instance, I suppose.

Though it does leave me wondering: does Foo look this good now because he’s one of a few players with something to play for, and because he automatically gets first line time alongside Johnny Gaudreau? If Foo had been called up back when Klimchuk was, or Andrew Mangiapane, and played in the bottom six, would he look just about ready for the show? Is this an over-enthusiastic, premature celebration of him that could have benefited another player had he been afforded the same opportunities?

I guess September will be a good time to find out. In the meantime, everything’s good with Foo; even if he’s getting all the good chances right now, he’s doing a lot with them, and that’s encouraging.

So how about that Antti Raanta

I feel for Jon Gillies, but he has had a real rough go of things in most of his NHL games this season.

The Flames’ goaltending will once again be a question mark for next season (kind of, Mike Smith is still signed for another year, but the part wherein he put up rather poor numbers for approximately half of his games does inspire concern), and Antti Raanta is the only free agent goaltender on the market who put up excellent numbers over the course of an entire season and is still under 30 years old, that is, is likely to have greater longevity to his game. A .930 save percentage over 46 games is nothing to scoff at; he’s just followed up a couple of solid seasons as a backup with a great year as a starter behind a not-great team.

The Coyotes have been winning a lot to close out the season and Raanta probably has a fair bit to do with that. He played eight of 17 games for them over the month of March and only lost once (with a .938 save percentage, at that). The Coyotes were only able to win two games without him in net, and one of them took a shootout to get the win.

Point being: there are probably other factors at play, as well, but I’d say Raanta had quite a fair bit to do with the Coyotes’ mini-resurgence here. And he might reach the open market.

Another 40+ shot game for the Flames, stymied by another goaltender. They had their fair share of scoring chances. Raanta was good. Do you go after him in July?

Obligatory “Yay Nick Shore!!”

Nick Shore got bumped off the top line to make way for Bennett, and played primarily with Micheal Ferland and Lazar. He followed up with the play and capitalized off of Lazar’s rebound, scoring his first goal as a Flame. He has continued to look like a solid addition to next season’s centre group. He’s great. I’m happy he got a goal.

  • Alberta Ice

    Good point made on the radio this AM. Since no early draft picks this year, Foo’s signing might be the make up for this year’s fiasco in our draft pick. Great to find out Matthew Phillips and the Royals won a game 4 and are moving on in the WHL playoffs too.

  • Hockeysense93

    So Phillip’s talent and will to win… Gawden’s pure raw talent and ability to play with good players… Valimaki’s talent and poise on the backend… Dube’s 2-way talent and leadership… this team “looks” to be set up for the next few years. Now if the Flames can just surround them with players who have winning attitudes to help them along lol.

  • Squishin

    Good post Ari. I agree about Shore and Foo, and am excited to see them both next year.
    My thoughts:
    – HIT THE NET. JUST HIT THE NET. Do you know how many more 10-bell scoring opportunities and goals there could have been had the players not missed the net? A hell of a lot. Flames are first league-wide in missed shots. Corsi can go suck a nut in this case; possession is irrelevant if the shots have no potential to actually go in.
    – Speaking of scoring opportunities, there is a big difference between Grade A scoring chances and regular scoring chances. I don’t think Gulutzan knows this. Seemingly every game for the past few months, it’s him droning “we out-chanced them” in the post-game. Even when the Flames bleed way more Grade A chances.
    – What is a Grade A chance you might ask? I think it’s even more rare than the HDCF stat we see all the time. For me, it’s the following:
    1. Breakways where the skater does well (ie. not Gaudreau half the time) and the goalie has to come up big. Fischer’s break last night is a good example.
    2. A huge scramble in front of the net, with rebounds being fired in from all sides and the goalie or defence have to come up big to save a goal.
    3. A sniper shooting from the slot.
    4. Deflected shots from the point that get through and can fool goalies.
    5. Any goal that can’t be considered a bad goal by the opposing goalie.
    A perfect example of this new metric is the Edmonton game. The Flames did not out-chance the Oil for Grade A looks, their goalie just had a rough night and lost them the game. There were few (if any) proper scoring chances from the Flames.
    – Foo looked good, and I’m keen to see him more.
    – Lazar and Shore seemed to have some chemistry, and not just because they scored a goal. Could be a good combo to start off next year.
    – I don’t get the stubborn refusal from the coaching staff to put Ferland or Lazar on the Back+Fro line. Posters on here have been saying it for literally months. What can it hurt? Brouwer is tanking that line so hard, and both Ferland and Lazar can play well defensively.
    – I disagree about Klimchuk. The one game he played for us, he looked slow, confused, and behind the play. Same with Lomberg, other than a couple moments. I’m not sure the top-line minutes that Foo is getting would have made much of a difference for how they performed.
    – I am interested to see what moves are made in the offseason. It wouldn’t surprise me if both Gulutzan and Treliving were shown the door. They have made a mess of things together.

    • Skylardog

      I believe the price is one years salary for GG, paid out with no need for him to be in Calgary in 2018-19. Expensive, but not a big price given the sceme of things.

  • The GREAT WW

    No mention that the Backlund line were minus 3 each?

    No mention that Backlund has been terrible since Byng went down with injury?

    All this Foo talk isn’t fooling anyone; Please stop covering for Backlund…..


  • Hockeysense93

    I truly believe that GG is somewhat a coach that doesn’t really have a handle on player implementation. He is afraid of making decisions that may upset another player on the roster…therefore he always finds himself stuck trying to “not rock the boat” till it’s too late. Ferland…if you’re not scoring AND your not hitting…then maybe somebody else will. Brouwer…if you are not showing push cuz your moping on deployment…then maybe you should sit a couple games to get your fire back. PP…defencemen matchups…PP lol. It’s all a bad trend that needs to stop. The head coach is not there to make players happy and be nice. That’s an assistant coaches job (where GG is better suited). Where is the accountability on this team really?? Ferland in the past played his best when he was trying to prove his worth. Bennett, Brodie, kids coming up? Gio & Hamilton touted as one of the best pairs in the league…so break them up to even out the defence. Brodie has played very well in the past with Gio…so let him play with Gio lol. Is Hamilton that bad without Gio?? The point of personnel mismanagement is documented (Hamilton or Bennett not being played on PP properly). If Backlund plays so well overall…wouldn’t he make a better 3rd line centre shut down piece with some offensive gifts? Why not give Bennett an extensive look between Tkachuk and Frolik? Would Backlund be so bad as our best 2-way veteran presence to help call ups? Bennett needs to be in a position that he is aloud to succeed in. He wasn’t drafted as a bottom 6 player…he is not a bottom 6 player. Put him in position to build his confidence…because that’s obviously the problem here. Why not put his @ss in front of the net on PP instead of Brouwer? Cuz Brouwer’s confidence needs to be stroked?? Bennett has tons more talent with that hard nosed attitude to take licks in front of the goalies. I’ve been shaking my head all season cuz GG is becoming more and more transparent as a confidence killer, instead of utilizing his personnel properly to build “said” confidence.

  • Hockeysense93

    GG won’t try personnel changes because he’s afraid of losing, and he has that attitude that his system will work if “his” certain players play where he thinks they should. He is confused about coaching accountability and building fires in his players to have them earn. Babcock is a d!ck…but he sure knows how to put players in a position to build confidence and that internal fire. Plenty coaches that can do that…so that’s what the Flames need. Cultivation over not hurting someone’s feelings lol.

    On the Raanta conversation? That would be a great move…but there will be 20 other teams thinking the same thing lol. What would put the Flames ahead of everybody else? Overpayment?? Guess we’ll have to see what transpires…

  • Skylardog

    Guys spend the whole season here pushing and improving their play only to have Foo come in and get prime ice time that players like Lazar and Janko have never been given. Lazar has been one of the bright sparks for the past 60 days, yet remains an afterthought, relegated to 4th line minutes, the bench on the penalty kill (even though he is Calgary’s best PK player statistically), and not a sniff of first line time since the Winnipeg game in October where he was on a line with JG that scored 3 times. I am NOT saying he belongs there, but neither does Foo based on any sense of players getting ice they earned.

    Foo has shown well, but he has been given opportunity. Klimchuk is the perfect match for Frolik and Backlund, not a hint of time there. That would be a very, very good shut down line if tasked correctly (something GG does not have any understanding of).

    Confidence is such a huge part of this game. For most, that has been destroyed this season. Janko, Bennett, Tkachuk, Lazar, Shore, Ferland, and a cast of others must step up to form a scoring second line if this team is to succeed. The team is destined for mediocrity with Backs line as a scoring 2nd. That is not their strength.

    There is no place on this roster for Brouwer. Time for popcorn, followed by a buyout. Stajan has performed far better this season. Auditions for Backs LWer must start now. May I suggest Lazar as that is about all we have available because of the call up rules. Glass needs to sit. He has no place here next season, and as such, should not be used in favour of anyone.

    • Rocket66

      What happened to ferland. I really liked his play. Is he hurt?
      Has he had enough of gg I saw nights where he was demoted when Monahan could of be easily demoted also but never happened. I would like to know the truth about ferland he started the year off great and I bet if he was on the pp back then he would have a few more goals.
      My point is how does a player go from good to silent. Just like half of this team.

      • Skylardog

        When Versteeg went down he was almost never used again on RW on the PP. Demolished the confidence and the chemistry the first line had. Injury also a big factor I believe, but we may never know what the status of his injuries was.

    • CalgaryBornandRaised

      Lazar cannot hit the broad sign of the barn, he gets lots of decent chances but has zero finish, no way he should be getting first line minutes, Foo at least has put the puck in the back of the net regularly during the second half of the Heat’s season, I like Lazar as 3rd-4th line energy role hes doing

    • Derzie

      Hit the nail right on the head. For players (people) to be at their best, they need their confidence to be high. Confidence can make people overachieve. A lack of it guarantees an under achievement (i.e the 2016-18 Flames)

  • Vernon30

    I lose a Raanta question the other day. I think he’d be a great 1A, 1B option with Smith next year. Let Gilles go via trade, leave Rittich in the A until you either move Smith at the deadline next year, or until the start of 19-20. I like Raanta, and he has been on a winning Rangers team in the past, plus is doing a lot for the ‘Yotes this year.

      • Joeyhere

        Regrettably we would also have to pay a minimum of 1 to 1.5 mill per year for a basic replacement. So the cost savings of a buy out is almost non existent now.
        A buyout means we carry the pain on the cap for twice as long but we avoid the brain damage of watching him play.
        I actually think just benching him for the two years as a 13th fwd is now the best option

        • redwhiteblack

          Yes but we free up cap space and a replacement = better. No one is taking him. Having him around for 2 more years is counterproductive. Cut our loses and free up cap space. He is a big of the problem and will be worse, like really really bad at hockey next year.

          • jupiter

            There is a entertainment value that is lacking with the Flames. Management has too be concerned. ID bet there has been more than a few paying fans that have let them know how unhappy they are with the on ice product. They need to correct all the problems ,coachs,players,systems,identity.
            The officiating IMO needs to be cleaned up as well. They seem to be going backwards, and play a role in diminishing the entertainment value.

          • PrairieStew

            Free up cap space to do what ? Make another terrible signing ? 3 Million saved against the cap for 2 years. Even a $1m replacement means you are actually only saving $2 per year = $4 total, then you PAY $1.5 per year for 2 years COSTING $3M against the cap. Grand total cap savings = $1m over 4 years.
            Are they really that much better if a marginal NHL er takes his spot ? He is a leader, and that has value too. If we had 4 or 5 RWers banging on the door to be significantly better, then maybe. Based on one or two games – is Foo the answer ? Phillips ?
            I hate buyouts – why are we still paying Bouma next year ? Should have just kept him this year and forced him and Hathaway to slug it out, and send the loser to the minors. Then we wouldn’t be wasting money on him next year.

  • Trevy

    They always say you build a team from the net out. After seeing a healthy dose of our latest 3 headed goalie rotation, it’s become yet clear again we need to stabilize the goaltending situation. Raanta’s numbers on an Arizona team are quite impressive and he’s a free agent. I would definitely be trying to secure him during free agency or failing that, try to trade for Grubauer in a package involving Gillies. I do not see Mike Smith carrying the load again next season and I don’t trust either Riitch or Gillies to transition into the number one spot anytime soon. As for the forwards and defenseman, I think we all voiced our opinions for the last couple months on various solutions. Common denominator is getting rid of certain dead weight players and bringing in more with passion, offense and fight. The first order of business we all agree on though is getting rid of the coaching staff. However, for some reason, I have a very bad feeling Tre is going to keep Gully and just get rid of Cameron…I really hope I’m wrong

      • Derzie

        The only circumstance i would support for keeping GG would be if he was an assistant under a proven, stanley cup winning harda$$. Those are in short supply but if they miraculously landed coach Q, I could live with GG in a lesser role. Otherwise, adios Glen.

    • Joeyhere

      I can’t serioauly believe there are any circumstances that would justify keeping GG in any capacity
      As a head coach he has poor utilization, poor line matching, can’t motivate, poor player personal decisions. He’s produced the same decline here that he did in Dallas

      As a asst coach here – he would continue to try to be everyone’s buddy / their friend – not earning their respect and being a Ghost undermining a new head coach

      If he stays it’s only because BT throws himself in front of the train first and lets the next GM fire him 10 games in

      No GG under any circumstances period

  • Justthateasy

    If Raanta is available then you absolutely 100% for sure without a doubt no holds barred go after him.
    Like it all starts with coaching, on the ice it all starts with goaltending. If your goaltender can hold you in there the team will come around and eventually score.
    If your goaltender bums out then the team has to work extra hard.
    Gillies is playing too far back in the net on the screen shots.

  • Hockeysense93

    Yeah they need coaching changes across the board. Keeping GG as even an assistant would/could not work. Also need to replace Sigalet. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but he has not proven at all to help any goalie here in the last 4 years to become anything really. Time for a goalie coach change for sure.

  • Hockeysense93

    I’m actually quite serious about Sean Burke. Him and BT have ties and he’s a good goalie coach for tall goalies. He helped Dubnyk turn his career around when he was working with him in Arizona. I can’t see him moving forward with the Canadian program. He would be a good goalie guru for all our up and comers.