90

Capitals 4, Flames 3 (SO) post-game embers: Loser point from the jaws of defeat

The Flames looked like they actually belong in the NHL and went toe to toe with a pretty good team. That was a necessary step forward, even though it resulted in a loss; sometimes you play well but the other team just plays a little better.

Feel of the game

The Flames got off to a decent start, in that they initially limited the shots that actually got through to Mike Smith, and didn’t have a total meltdown. It quickly turned unideal when players forgot how defence and playing within one’s own zone works and hung Smith out to dry for the first goal, and giving up a powerplay goal five minutes later looked like it was going to spell disaster.

But instead, something else happened: the Flames got a bounce. They threw the puck on the Caps’ net, as they had been doing intermittently before, and 15 seconds after Washington had made it 2-0, Travis Hamonic got his first of the year to draw it back within one. Just over two minutes later Elias Lindholm immediately capitalized on a powerplay to even the score, and the Flames left the first period still looking like they could contend in the game.

It was a big step up. Play was largely back-and-forth with an edge towards the Caps until Matt Niskanen got the lead back for them late in the second, but the Flames worked to tie it up in the third and were finally rewarded when they trusted Rasmus Andersson to be on the ice with the goalie pulled. He blasted the puck at the net, Matthew Tkachuk tipped it, and just like that, the rookie finally picked up his first NHL point with 1:27 to go in a one-goal game.

Unfortunately, the Flames got a powerplay immediately after, and as we know, the powerplay is not to be trusted. Overtime was largely played at four-on-four, something of a disadvantage due to just how great the Flames are at three-on-three, and eventually, they fell in the fourth round of the shootout: about as anticlimactic of a loss as one can have, but not that bad of one.

The good news

Remember how bizarre it was that Andersson was cut to start the season? He’s definitely an NHLer: though he played limited minutes on a rookie pairing with Juuso Valimaki, it speaks volumes that he was trusted to be out there when the Flames went to a six-on-five situation. That he was the driving force behind the game-tying goal only adds to how much he deserved that. Hopefully he gets more trust as the season goes on.

Speaking of rookies, Dillon Dube looked great once again, with a number of chances for his first goal (including ringing it right off the post in the third period when the Flames were trying to tie the game). It’s been a solid showing from a rookie who jumped right into the NHL; if only he could build on his two assists.

Though there were still defensive zone breakdowns – that first goal against in particular – the Flames looked a lot more structured than they had been in a while. They gave up high danger chances, but you also saw forwards backchecking, covering guys, and breaking up plays far more often, preventing would-be disasters from happening. It was refreshing, but still something to build on, because it wasn’t quite good enough just yet.

Also appreciated: a quick response to falling down 2-0. The 2017-18 team would have sulked. The team of literally one game ago would have sulked. Saturday, the team worked to create offence, got it, and kept it a close game they had a chance of winning. It’s amazing how much better that is.

This team is so so so much fun to watch at three-on-three.

The bad news

In an earlier game, Johnny Gaudreau got thrown into the boards without a call. This game, James Neal got thrown into the boards without a call. What the hell? I’m happy concussion spotters are pulling players from games and whatnot but can there please be the same level of awareness among the officials on the ice? These shouldn’t be hard calls to make.

As much as it improved from one game to the next, the Flames still need a lot of work in the defensive zone. It’s actually kind of sad we’re still at this point, and you’d really think this roster would be better at zone play than it is.

Don’t get me wrong, Smith was much better, though that’s not exactly a high standard considering last time. And he made a handful of big saves that kept the Flames in it, that much is undeniable. But there’s still some shakiness there. He gave up the rebound that led to the Capitals’ second goal rather than swallow the puck. He was amazing stopping TJ Oshie on a breakaway right after the powerplay expired, but also left a net so wide open that it’s honestly incredible Nicklas Backstrom couldn’t score. And stacking the pads on a glorious Alex Ovechkin chance – what? He still has a place in the NHL, evidently, but it still seems as though his leash should be short – especially with the Flames not in a position to know who they’re going to have in net next season.

Numbers of note

1 – The number of points Andersson has in the NHL. It’s especially nice that it came in such meaningful circumstances; you take them however you can get them, but that’s way more special.

200 – The number of assists Johnny Gaudreau has in his career. Leading his draft class in that stat? Gabriel Landeskog, with 204. And Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, with 203. Gaudreau has played 195 fewer games than Landeskog and 143 fewer than Nugent-Hopkins and he almost has the same number of assists as they do. That’s nuts.

46.34% – The Flames’ 5v5 corsi on the day. Their 54.84% in the third period was the only frame in which they were above 50%. Switch to all situations, though, and they finished at an even 50%, controlling 60% of the shot attempts in overtime.

2:47 and 2:13 – Lindholm’s powerplay and penalty kill time. More was asked of him on special teams than any other player; him and Mark Giordano, who played 10 fewer seconds on special teams. Lindholm played 21:27 total, second most among Flames forwards, behind just Gaudreau.

14:29 – For as much as Andersson shone, particularly at the end, neither he nor Valimaki (11:33) played that much. The other defencemen all got over 20 minutes: Giordano 28:46 (!), TJ Brodie 25:21, Noah Hanifin 23:57, and Travis Hamonic 20:55. It remains to be seen if this top four will work, giving the Flames leeway with their rookie pairing, though this game may have set the stage going forward.

.889% – Smith’s save percentage in this one. Circumstances matter, but as the season goes on, the numbers tell a story. This season, in eight starts, Smith has only had a save percentage above .900 twice. Going back to his return from injury in March of this year, through 16 games, he’s had 12 games with save percentages under .900. He has been pulled in four times in those 16 games. You can point the finger at sloppy defence and high danger chances all you want, but that isn’t the only thing going wrong here.

Final thought

Despite the loss, this game was a step in the right direction. But the Flames will have to put together several more efforts of similar or higher quality in a row before we can even really start to think they’re turning the corner on 2017-18, they’ve proven that much.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      By playoff team do you mean the last overall seed in the playoffs who vanishes from the postseason after 4 or 5 forgettable games? If that’s the best we can hope for, then count me on the side that wants a basement view and a solid shot at winning the Jack Hughes lottery. This club is desperately in need of a “generational” talent and by all accounts, Jackie is the boy.

  • FuNky ANGER

    Just thought I would reply to a theme in last nights comments section about Smith’s inability to stop that third goal. I love how quick people are to rip a goalie when a goal goes in. You see an angle on TV and since you saw the puck the whole way you automatically assume Smith did too. Remember you’re watching a replay from an elevated position which is no where close to what Smith sees.

    I taped the game and watched that goal a dozen times in slow-mo and I strongly feel Smith could not see the shot puck until it was at the hash marks leaving him very little time to react. Smith had Jaskin directly in front and contrary to some commentors, Smith was trying to look around the screen the proper way. The biggest reason why Smith didn’t pick up on the puck was that Valimaki was blocking the view. Had Valimaki been more to the side of the lane I feel Smith would have had more of a chance than he did. To me if you’re going to be in the shooting lane either block the shot or move to the side so the goalie can see it the whole way.

    I’m not blind to Smiths faults, and no he hasn’t had a grest start … but that 3rd goal was NOT on him. Either was the 1st. The second goal though I can say that was on him as he didn’t control the rebound. Your quick to lay this loss on Smith, but I don’t think many goalies are stopping thar third goal.

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Here’s the problem I have with Smith in example; he was trying to look around a screen on his glove side. The play was on his glove side. He basically left about a quarter of the net open, defending only with his glove. IN other words, unless he sees the puck completely and can react in time, it’s in the net. He’s not doing himself or the team any favors by playing all or nothing on those chances. Come out a bit, take away more of the left side and he would be in a better position to make the stop.

      • FuNky ANGER

        I’m not sure what your talking about. Have you ever played the position? He had a guy from the other team standing right in front of him (with no Flames around) screening the play. If Smith comes out more and the shot goes to his right he’s leaving more net open on his right side for a deflection in from the screener. Good screeners stand in front of the goalie blocking his view but then also quickly move out of the way to not block the shot from getting on net. There is a reason goalies are voodoo and not many succeed. Because its a really hard position to master.

        • Flint

          Since you keep asking if people have played the position. I played 25 years, coached and scouted for 6 more. Smith wasn’t fighting to keep locked on the puck, that’s not what that looks like. He was searching. He lost the puck well before the player crossed in front of him. This is evidence by him dropping to his knees… he was guessing (which, if you’re going to guess, isn’t a bad thing). My problem is with the guessing. He failed to keep locked on the puck. He failed to read the cycle to the point. He failed to see Valimaki covering low (so if the shot got through, it’s likely coming high).

          Even if, it was an impossible play to track, he failed to make himself big by bursting forward the minute he didn’t know where the puck was, right to the back of #23’s left leg, which is where he should be. He’s 1-1.5 feet deep in from the top of the crease…. sliding slightly from the strong side to the weak.

          I get that it’s not an easy play… maybe he does it perfect and it still goes in. But he did it far from perfect. I’ve seen a lot of that kind of play before and if he doesn’t retreat, I bet he picks up the puck, and if he stays on his feet, I bet a big guy like Smith makes the save.

          • FuNky ANGER

            Great insight Flint … thank you. You obviously know more about the position than I. I just thought it wasn’t as easy a save as some are making it out to be. I don’t think Smith is great this year … but I also don’t feel that was a 100/100 times save either.

          • FuNky ANGER

            Flint honest question but do know any books or other materials that are great for learning to play the position? I’m hoping to one day teach goalies on my kids team and would like to know as much as possible to stear the kids in the right direction.

          • FuNky ANGER

            Not two different stories. Different elements of the same story. The guy in front was attempting to screen Smith but I feel Valimaki is the player more directly responsible for Smith not seeing the puck until it’s half way on net.

        • Cheeky

          When was the last time Flames had a player that stood in front screening goalie (Tkachuk did and we scored) consistently on the PP? Bet we could score a couple if we did this more often, I’m always jealous of other teams that score on us this way then we allow other team’s goalie all the room he needs to see…

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Smith looks shakey, flopping around, out of position, he was lucky last night the pucks were hitting him.
    I’ve said it a million times, goaltending is going to be the Flames downfall.

  • Korcan

    Hanafin looks a lot better playing with Hamonic — they make a nice pairing. Andersson looked great on that 3rd goal, and IMO does not look out of place when partnered with Gio (who doesn’t look better playing with Gio?).

    Despite his gaffe blowing the dzone early on Washington’s first goal, Brodie played better, but, like Smith, he looks a bit shaky. I mentioned in previous thread that he is reminding me of Justin Schultz his final season in Edmonton. TJ’s confidence appears to be very low resulting in uncertainty and thus costly mistakes. Here’s hoping he can get that confidence back and start playing with poise again. I believe he has the skill set to be good, he just needs to simplify things until the confidence returns.

    Bennett’s playing the best hockey of his career and it looks like he has finally figured it out. He’s not getting rewarded on the scoresheet yet, but if he keeps this up, the points will follow. Right now Peters appears to be putting him on whatever line needs a boost and Benny is responding. It’s amazing what confidence can do for a player. Now if Jankowski can just watch and learn from Bennett (remember they both started the season on the 4th line), maybe he can play himself back into coach Peters’ good graces.

    Overall, d-zone coverage still needs a lot of work, especially the Monahan line, but with yesterday’s improvement hopefully the team will buy in and show steady progress. That is the only thing, IMO, that is keeping them from being a very good team.

    • Porcupine at a balloon party

      For all the talk of Brodie’s struggles and his leaving the zone early which cost us a goal, I really think he was doing the right thing (in our quick transition system). It was the forwards that bobbled the breakout, wasn’t even really a forced error either. We’ve been guilty of being flat footed many times this year, especially on our breakouts and that’s what happened on the goal. Yes Brodie took a gamble, but if the forwards did their job, it was an odd man rush for us. Also, where was Gio on that play? It was a 2 on 0, no one is blaming him for not being back. It’s easy to scapegoat Brodie everytime he’s on ice for a goal against, and he certainly has had his struggles, but today was not one of those days imo.

      • calgaryfan

        Brodie is a d-man first, he keeps forgetting that. When he is the last man back he should never be leaving the zone. He has to pick his spots better. Brodie seems to not understand his priority is protecting the goalie. offence should not be his main concern. He is not good at scoring anyway.

      • HOCKEY83

        They have to scapegoat someone Porc…Unfortunately Stone didn’t play or all of Brodie’s faults and everyone else’s would have been Stone’s. The first goal was all on Tkachuk’s lazy play at the blue line. He just gave a piss poor effort to reach out and try and get a puck that Kuzzer just easily picked up and said ohhh thanks you leaving that for me.

  • Skylardog

    That felt like a win last night after the 9-1.

    Having said that, it scares me that we can consider a game we lost in a shootout, where we could easily have gotten into the same mess as we did in the 9-1, as a step forward. We really were lucky that Hamonic’s skate was where it was. Without that good bounce. it may have been very different.

    For those who track regulation wins (I do because it tells you more about your team at 5v5 and how they are likely to fair in the playoffs if they get there), we are now 4-5-2. Being under 500 is unacceptable from a team that has invested so much trying to take a step up to the next level.

    I think we are into a 1a and 1b goalie situation right now if we are honest, and if the Flames are honest. It will remain to be seen if Smith can hold his job as a 1x, or if Rittich can steal the 1 spot outright.

    • Toma41

      It is unacceptable and if it keeps up, there is nobody to blame but Treviling. Derek Ryan looks terrible. He was brought in to score some goals(he had more goals last season than our entire 4th line if I remember correctly) and to win faceoffs. He is doing neither. 1 goal and a 47% at faceoffs. He looks like he really doesnt want to be in Calgary. Neal showed up 15lbs overweight. by the time he sheds that, it will be Christmas….

      • Skylardog

        Ryan at 15 less Janko at 17, is -2. Appears now we get 1 of the 2 on any given night.

        Yes, Stajan, Brouwer, Lazar only had 12 together, but we have added Czars 5 goals and 22 points as well. Good thing we have Neal ripping it up right now.

        • Toma41

          Good point about the Ryan and Janko goal totals. Never thought of that. I guess its more import to develop the 31 year old Ryan than the 24 year old Jankowski who has been in the flames system for 6 (?) years now.

          • HOCKEY83

            I thought it was the oddest signing. Lets sign and overpay a guy who’s had 2 years of NHL experience at 31 years old(32 before the season is over)…How could that possibly go wrong. This team is no better or worse with or with out him. Useless waste of 3.1 mil over the next 3 seasons

        • Luter 1

          Big mistake giving up on Jankowski, just based on his limited time in the league and age I shuddered when they brought in 30 something Ryan because I knew Jankowski would sit. He needs to play and find his place as a PK and a somewhat unaggressive power forward…. someone needs to tell him to start hitting. (Mony, Brodie, Hanifin, Backlund….everybody but Bennett, are you listening, this isn’t no hit beer league, get your noses dirty)

    • Korcan

      And to make the goaltending situation even more unnerving, there appears to be no options down on the farm either. Both Gillies and Parsons are off to terrible starts. If Smith can’t get his game back i really hope Rittich is able to rise to the challenge. One thing we have learned about Tre, however, is he is not afraid to wheel and deal. If Smith continues to flounder and Rittich isn’t the answer, i don’t see Tre waiting too long to make a trade for an upgrade (the question now will be for who?.

      • Toma41

        I refuse to believe that EVERY damn goalie we have brought in over the last how many years is not good. Not one. Even our prospects. Can it be EVERY damn goalie or maybe the one goalie coach (Jordan Sigalet)? Im amazed that he still has a job with the flames. If anyone continues to fail miserably at their job, whatever that job may be, they normally get fired or demoted. Not this guy…everyones fault but his. For every good move Treviling makes, he seems to make 2 bad ones.

      • Sir ryosus

        McDavid and Crosby give maximum effort and battle for picks and position. That is the seperation. If JG battled to retrieve a puck he would automatically be better defensively

      • Cheeky

        Let’s also alot more that separates those 2 from anyone. Yes I’d like Johnny to be more responsible defensively but I’m fine with him putting up 80 plus points. That’s his style, he will never be a 2 way player, Monny on the other hand needs to become moreso (if he was a perennial 40-50 goalscorer then fine but based on only 30…).

  • Skylardog

    DId anyone see Ryan out there?

    Oh wait, I remember him slashing a stick out of the hands of a Capital for 2 minutes, in a game where you knew the refs were calling that infraction.

    And he was sitting in the box when the Caps picked up their PP goal.

    Neal is starting to get chances. They will begin to go in. I don’t like the 5 year deal for Neal, but I was ok with him coming here for $5.75 when we really need guys that can put a puck in the net. In 3 years we will be crying in our beer on that one (right now it is just the odd tear hitting the glass).

    But Ryan at $3.15 for 3 years is a far worse deal. Good thing BT and BP got their heads together and signed him up to play 8:25 on the fourth line for that price. Not sure where we would be without him if we had to put a guy like Janko in the lineup. Gosh, with $3.15 and the $1.95 in cap space we have, BT could have ponied up for a goalie worth $5.0 a season.

    As it is now if we have to go to the market to replace Smith this season (and I believe we will), an important part of the team will have to go the other way to free up enough cap space to bring someone in.

    We have to quit signing and bringing in guys management and coaches are familiar with from their time in other organizations. This is especially true when the pieces are coming from Arizona and Carolina, you know, 2 very successful organization over the past 5 years. We finally got the bug out of our system in trading with the loser Leafs and taking their junk, and now we target Arizona and Carolina. Oh wait, we may want a part or 2 from those Leafs now. Funny that they aren’t interested…

    • Dougiefred

      Janko is three steps back from where he was last season. Being assured he would play every game probably would’t bring him up to speed.
      Janko has improved every year since his draft but regressing this season he needs a shock treatment which he is getting.

      • Luter 1

        A young guys ability doesnt regress over one summer. Jankowski needs to be handled a little more carefully as he has to realize that he most likely won’t be a 1st or 2nd line but should be a valuable 3rd line and PK. He has to hit a little, use his size more and hit the net because he has a great wrist shot. Should see some PP. For cryinoutloud he’s been in the league one year with 17 goals and lots of guys were giving up on Bennett after 3 years, now looking like our best player. Ryan on the other hand, 31, small and surprising lacking of talent from what I see. Scares me to think our new coach seen potential in him, can you imagine how excited we would be with R. Reaves out there instead making sure Johnny and Neal weren’t getting catupulted head first into the boards. We would be a different team

  • KeepitReal

    The more I see Rasmus the more I like what I see. His offensive upside is exciting to watch. Smith’s rebound control is costing the Flames goals and wins. I sure hope the goalie bullpen is well stocked but I hear otherwise.

    • Kevin R

      Andersson reminds me of a young Brodie with a little grit to him. Definitely think Andersson should be tested with Gio & Brodie down with Valamaki. Leave Hanifin & Hamonic together.

      I hope Smith can get his game on track & geton a hot streak. Last number of years we have seen Flames hit low periods in October but get pretty hot in November/December. Probably going to need that again this year to be in the wildcard mix. I think what Treliving will get from this year is where we stand on the goaltending. Riitch will get more & more frequent starts & that will determine how heavy we will be in the goalie market. If Riitch is ok, me thinks Schneider may be on the radar. If he’s lights out I dont see any TDL deals for a goalie & even he’s bad, the phone bill to Columbus may get expensive.

      I hope they leave Bennett with Gaudreau & Monahan. I hope Lindholm continues to be at centre & for the Leafs, try it with Chucky & Neal. I like the Backlund with Dube & Czarnik.

      Lots of criticism on the new guys which is a little harsh, sorry, but at this level there is an adjustment period with the new team & training camp/exhibition are no where near the pace & scrutiny of the regular NHL season.

      Lastly, I know many teams whine about the officiating, we dont have a monopoly of having to endure what we see. NHL has to get the crap together & improve the standard of officiating in the NHL. Obviously what is happening now is frustrating all the teams & their fanbases. That’s unacceptable.

      • Skylardog

        “Lots of criticism on the new guys which is a little harsh, sorry, but at this level there is an adjustment period with the new team & training camp/exhibition are no where near the pace & scrutiny of the regular NHL season.”

        Neal gets a pass there, but Ryan (and Hanifin and Lindholm) is playing for the same coach he has had for his entire NHL career.

        Czar is actually preforming well above his historical level. He is after all on pace for 22, but with him missing 3 games his point pace puts him at about 30. His Historical point pace is 23 for an 82 game season. He is now even in the plus minus department, way ahead of his -12 career rate (how can anyone be -12 in 59 games playing for Boston?)

        Does it feel like Czar is exceeding expectations?

        • Off the wall

          Funny you mention that Skylar.
          I’ve done a little digging and if you take into account ( 5vs 5) Corsi%, GF, GA per 60, HDSC, and E +/-…this is our picture of our best players ( lineup)

          Tkachuk- Backlund- Czarnik
          Gaudreau- Lindholm- Bennett
          Dube- Monahan- Neal
          Frolik- Ryan- Hathaway

          Giordano- Hamonic
          Valamaki- Brodie
          Hanifin- Stone
          Andersson

          I know the boo birds won’t like this, but Lindholm is slowly pulling away from Gaudreau and Monahan.Perhaps that’s what Peter’s is noticing as well? Surprisingly, Backlund has been our best Centre, not Lindholm.

          I’m willing to say that a lot of this is a reflection of playing with Monahan and Gaudreau. They bleed chances together.

          As much as I love Andersson, his numbers indicate he’s on an upward trend, but still not top 6 D at this point. Even with the Giordano pairing he still needs a little more work.

          I’m completely surprised by these stats, however when you get blown out 9-1 it does skew the results.

          Trash away, it’s not like I expect anyone to like this. I don’t- but this is our current reality.

          • Skylardog

            I look at some of the same things you do, but always try to think about game situations and when guys were in the lineup.

            Andersson looks bad because he missed game 1 and 2 where we outplayed and outshot the Canucks badly. He has been in the lineup on a lot of nights when no one is “bringing it” Having said that, he definitely has his issues, any rookie D would.

            Czar looks good because he sat out the horrendous defensive spectacles that were the Nashville, Rangers, and Canadians games. How many chances were given up on those 3 nights? Talk about skewed.

            Ryan gets to miss the 9-1, as does Valimaki. Again, bleeding goals and HDCA. And Ras was even that night until goals 8 and 9 when Gio went rogue and caused the last 2 against.

            Czar gets lots of time with Backs and Tkachuk. Gosh I could look good on that line, and frankly, I can barely skate these days.

            Lindholm is getting time away from JG and Mony as you mention. His defense is bound to improve. Its not like he is plying with the worst guys on the team when he is at centre.

          • Off the wall

            I agree with some of the above.

            Again, you still can’t throw out stats because we had a bad- horrible showing, even if it’s a trouncing. It happened, we own it. Doesn’t make the Buckley’s any better tasting- ?

          • canadian1967

            Stop counting any Backlund “scoring chances” where he takes a shot as “high danger”. I think most teams game plan to have him end up with those scoring chances because they no there’s not much danger of him scoring, or even hitting the net.

          • Off the wall

            @ Canadian 67
            I don’t make up the stats friend, just throw them out there. It’s the GF, GA per 60 and HDSC for and against- that makes Backlund our number one Centre right now, not the Corsi events. Corsi is the last denominator I consider, because it’s the least predictable of all of them.

            Thanks for bringing it up though!

      • Rudy27

        Further to your points on reffing. With player safety being paramount, how can you dish out questionable stick slashes when fighting for the puck but let that hook and boarding on the Neal hit go? Thats two dangerous hits on the Flames in two games. How can both refs miss those when that’s where the puck was?

      • HOCKEY83

        As i said before the season started…There won’t be a wildcard shot for the flames or any team in the pacific because the central will be taking 5 of the 8 playoff spots and it looks like that is happening. The flames will only have 3rd place in the pacific to fight over which will make their playoff hopes even further away.

      • Sea of Redd

        They tried Anderson with Gio. Lost that game 9-1. Not that it was their fault, but there was no one to fix Brodie’s mistakes on the 3rd pairing. Not sure that’s the answer.

  • Vernon30

    Gaudreau, Monahan, Chucky, Lindholm, Hanifin, Bennett, that’s 6 guys 25 and younger, not to mention Valimaki, who are exceptional talents. If they had the goaltending, it’s entirely possible that they would be 7-3-1, or 7-2-1. Yes the defense has been bad at times, and that Penguin game was horrific, but better goaltending is key.

        • Skylardog

          I will do it with a story, just for you OTWW.

          I was in the backcountry for a week near the end of September, just me and my crazy sidekick, Jagger. He is a husky, like Harvey. I have few mining properties in BC and was putting in a week of work on one of them. We had a great time.

          Water is critical. I need it for some of the processing I was doing, and I also need it for camp. For a number of years, I have run water from a spring way up on the side of the hill above camp. This year was no exception. There is a creek close by, but you need gravity to give you lots of pressure. The creek is only maybe 10 feet above camp at the entrance to the site. You need at least 40 vertical feet to give you good pressure. You have to tap into the spring to get real good flow.

          To get water from the creek, I need about 600 feet of pipe and a pump, but to get to the spring, closer to 1200 feet of pipe. The benefit is, I don’t need a pump.

          Last year, I tried to get away with the old pipe I had, but discovered it had some holes, kinks, and as it was comprised of some shorter pieces held together by plastic connectors, it leaked air and eventually the flow of water stopped.

          I decided over the summer to go get myself 400 feet of new pipe to replace some of the old pipe that had just too many flaws in it. I also found a piece of pipe that looked good in my storage area and pulled that out to help fix the system. During the summer, I spent some time installing the pipe for my return in September. It amazes me how when you get things going you quickly discover the pipe you have has more flaws in it than you initially thought. I couldn’t get the flow to be as good as I needed it to be. I also discovered that the old pipe I got from storage had holes in it as well. It was nothing like what I thought I had.

          I can use a pump to get the water from the creek, but it means constantly running power to run the pump. I tried this in the summer and quickly discovered that if I tried to cheap it out and just run water from the creek, I could get the volume of water I needed, but eventually I would run out of gas. To do it right, I need to invest fully and get water from the spring. Cheaping out is just not the long term answer.

          So I went out in September and got myself another 400 feet of pipe. I cut out some of the remaining short portions that were working fine but leaked air at the connectors, and got rid of some of the other long portions that had a few holes in them and were being held together by tape.

          I also know that it is critical to have a really good tap at the bottom to stop the flow of water.

          My testing went well. I got some gold out of the test soil, and I believe I got some platinum out as well. I will be sending the material for testing later to see just how much platinum I have in the samples I collected.

          No matter how much you try to string many older parts together that have flaws in them, you can never get the results you desire. You have to throw out the weak parts and replace them with one solid piece that has no flaws.

          I also discovered that I still had long pieces of pipe that appeared to get the job done, but in reality had holes and flaws in their game. Rather than cut them up into smaller pieces by trying to get getting rid of their flaws, I just traded out the whole piece.

          This is why we should have made great strides by “throwing out” guys that were old and had flaws. Guys like Brouwer and Stajan are gone. Apparently, although it appeared to have few holes and flaws, Hamilton wasn’t even the right type of pipe for the job. We made these changes in the summer, and brought in a piece or 2 that play a solid game (Hanifin and Lindholm).

          But you can’t cheap out and try to just get flow from the creek. Try and run one or 2 guys all the time and you burn out. To make it work all the time you got to be fully invested. 4 lines, 6 defensemen, and 2 goalies. They don’t have to be perfect, but they have to be good enough in the places they are used.

          What I also discovered, is that when you have long parts that appear to get the job done but have holes in a few different areas, the result is the same. The system just won’t work. You cannot ask guys to tow the line defensively, while your top 2 stars are leaking goals defensively. You can’t keep sending them over the boards, while sitting guys that have committed to what the coach has asked of them. It will work for a while, but eventually the leaks will cause the flow to stop. How badly does it hurt when guys who have zero commitment to defense get all the ice time. As a player watching them go over the boards while I sit, I feel the need to go out and score, defense be damned. Is this what we are seeing these days. Defense has gone out the window.

          Without a solid tap at the end, none of it matters. If I have a flood because I can’t stop the water coming out of the hose, I get shut down. Guess we need a goalie.

          This is drastic, but it needs doing.

          Peters has already realized that Ryan is useless. He is getting limited minutes, has sat out, and is now on the 4th line. He has a $3.15 million contract for 3 years. Put him on the trade block now while he still has the appearance of being a good player. Offer to eat up to 50% of his salary. If there are no takers, put him on waivers.

          Put Czar on waivers now. Someone will take him. Bring up Graovac or Mangi, or Foo, or Rychel, or Lazar, or even Gawdin for that matter. Get rid of the small piece of pipe that really gets you nowhere. Lets test the pieces we have in storage. Maybe some of them are more complete and better than the short pieces we have in the roster right now.

          You want to send a shock wave. Put Neal on waivers too. Someone may take him. It will be a blessing in 3 years. If he doesn’t get picked up, message sent – to the whole roster. No one said he had to go to Stockton just cause you put him on waivers.

          Test Rittich as the starter. You need to know before the end of the season if he can handle it. If he can, then Smith can back him up. If he can’t, then you trade Smith and one of our top prospects for a top goalie. They take Smith for free so we have cap space for the incoming netminder. You have to give up the prospect to get quality. Smith is done as a starter.

          And if you still have leaks in some of the big pieces (JG, Mony, Brodie), then on the block they go. This is a move at the deadline, just like I had to have water in September just before the end of the mining season, but if you can’t make it work, go get new pipe, and lots of it. You should get something of high quality for JG and Mony. A first and a top prospect? A one for one that sees a complete player coming back?

          Personally, I am shopping 1 or both of JG and Mony already. Don’t get me wrong, I think the world of them both. But they are not going to win you a cup. They won’t play both ends of the rink. They won’t play tough, what you need in the playoffs. It wrecks the moral of the guys that will.

          Having said that, I would sit both of them down today, and make it clear what is expected of them, and see if they can change their approach. Maybe they surprise you. And if they don’t change then bye-bye.

          As for Brodie, you have few options. We don’t have any defensive depth. I put my worst pipe near the spring, save the best for near the tap. Limit his playing time and shelter him defensively.

          Like I know I have gold in the soil, we should have enough right now to get to the playoffs (I think it will be close though). The question is, do I have platinum? Only testing will help me to find out for sure. We won’t find out if we are a cup contender without fixing some of the holes in the roster, and testing the changes to the system under pressure. Old short useless pieces have to go. Never should have kept that old piece anyways.

          • Skylardog

            For those who say it will cost us a chance to sign a UFA if we treat them badly. Do we really care?

            Our 3 UFA summer signings. Combined 4 goals, 4 assists in 29 games with 4 games eating popcorn. All for the bargain price of $10.125 million. That’s 0.28 points per game.

            The other main UFA is Stone at $3.5 Mill.

            Please BT, no more, just no more.

          • Off the wall

            Damn, Skylar that was impressive.

            I’m turning into you, ( analytic junky) and you’re turning into quite the story teller!

            So that’s what you were doing off grid?

            Thanks for the story. That’s a volume of changes! It’s definitely a ‘shock wave’ of tsunami proportions.

            You tend to say what many of us are thinking. Remove the bad pieces, replace with complimentary ones – the type that aren’t as leaky from too much usage. Or disproportionate usage- because that’s the best we have.

            I’m all for it. Ryan, Neal for sure.
            If the return is right, I’d include Gaudreau and Monahan among them.

            We might take a bit of a step back in terms of offence- however I think we would more than make up for it, with better defensive players. HDSC is our nemesis this season.

            Although it’s early in the season, we aren’t the team that was drawn up by Treliving. He’s executed the perfect storm of speed, but didn’t address the basic fundamental problem.
            Grit, character, toughness and goaltending.

            Pretty soon you might not need to sift for precious metals, you might be getting a GM’s job?!

          • calgaryfan

            good post but a little drastic for me at the moment, unless you want to go total rebuild. The Flames lack a true number 1 center and they are not available in trades. If Johnny could bring a young center I would look at that as I think he will go east as a free agent. Peters should get an opportunity to change the way the Flames as a team think the game. They need to realize you win hockey games by keeping the puck out of your net first. Defence do not leave the zone early, forwards back check and are on the goal side of their checks. It is just understanding what kind of team they are and how they have to play. They do not have a Sidney, or a Connor

          • Luter 1

            Sorry Skylardog, Johnny’s untouchable, only player worth watching on this team (Ok maybe Bennett and Byng too). I would find it hilarious if we could dump especially Ryan (never with that crazy contract) and Neal really really really looks to struggle skating unless he’s got a double hamstring pull! He is actually labouring down the ice any time he needs to turn on the jets. And the concern about signing free agents, fooey, guys would know come prepared to play to be paid handsomely.

  • Alberta Ice

    Don’t mean to spook the rest of the league this time of year, but we are now set up for our scary run. Yep, our opponents think we will be an easy 2 points. Beware. Maple Leafs – We’ve got you where we want you psychologically in our next game. This should be an ‘easy, on ice, everyone going for points kind of night’ for the predicted Maple Leaf Cup winners. Especially in lieu of the Penguins game, we’ve got the opposition where we want them. (Almost worked with the Caps.) So with spooky times ahead this week, will the Flames actually take advantage of this hard earned mental edge? Boo hoo or Boo boo? Monday night’s game will answer this one.