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GototheFlamestotheGo

The Calgary Flames Thread - 12/13 Edition

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There's a lot of talk about the Flames improving. But, like TSN and The Hockey News, I just don't see it. If anything, I'd suggest that they're going to tank hard, and blow it up at the deadline.

I'm not a Flames hater, or a Canucks homer, I just see real warning signs. Here are six of them:

1) Calgary leans hard on Iginla. But Jarome took a step back last year, and this year he's a year older, and starting out injured. On top of that he's a slow starter. In the first 25 games of last season he only had 7 goals - on pace for 23 - but finished with 32. (The year before he had only 3 goals in his first 17 games, but then caught on fast to finish with 43.) The thing is, 25 games now is over half the season. And this time he doesn't even have a full camp or preseason games to help him get in the swing of things. I predict that Iginla will have his worst season to date statistically (even when prorated to 82 games).

2) Jokinen was a solid center for Calgary in the last couple of years. He played very well defensively (quite a culture shift for him), and scored his share of points. When you're a team that struggles for offense, losing your 2nd leading scorer, who scored 25% more points than your 3rd leading scorer, that is generally not going to work in your favor. What's the solution? Cervenka? A guy who has never played in the NHL, or even the North American game? The chances of him providing what Jokinen did are slim at best.

3) Where did Calgary have the most success last season? In their own division. They went 15-6-3 against the NW. But this year, the NW will be a lot stronger. Particularly Minnesota, whom they went 4-0-2 against, to get 10 out of a possible 12 points.

4) The Flames have been the worst team in the league for faceoffs. Now they've ditched their top center, are centering their top line with a winger who hasn't played center in 13 years. Their coach favors a puck possession game you say? This could get ugly.

5) For the same reason people say the Oilers will start so well - team familiar with each other - the Flames will likely not. New coaches usually take time to get to their team, players need to adjust. What Hitchcock did in St. Louis is an anomaly. Remember how brutal Vancouver was the first couple of months under AV? And the Flames will not have a full training camp and preseason to help them either.

6) The second reason people say the Oilers have an advantage is their youth will help them compete in a condensed season, with lots of games played over a short time period. The Flames, with the oldest top-6 in the league, will be at a severe disadvantage here. They have already shown a lack of ability to compete in the 2nd game of back-to-backs, going 2-4-4 last season, and 4-6-2 the year before. This year the key players are all older. They have eight back-to-backs in these 48 games, which is 1/6 of the season. And there is less time between the rest of the games too.

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Good analysis D-Money

Further to your point about Iginla: I don't see how he is supposed to produce without a real centre.

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There's a lot of talk about the Flames improving. But, like TSN and The Hockey News, I just don't see it. If anything, I'd suggest that they're going to tank hard, and blow it up at the deadline.

I'm not a Flames hater, or a Canucks homer, I just see real warning signs. Here are six of them:

1) Calgary leans hard on Iginla. But Jarome took a step back last year, and this year he's a year older, and starting out injured. On top of that he's a slow starter. In the first 25 games of last season he only had 7 goals - on pace for 23 - but finished with 32. (The year before he had only 3 goals in his first 17 games, but then caught on fast to finish with 43.) The thing is, 25 games now is over half the season. And this time he doesn't even have a full camp or preseason games to help him get in the swing of things. I predict that Iginla will have his worst season to date statistically (even when prorated to 82 games).

2) Jokinen was a solid center for Calgary in the last couple of years. He played very well defensively (quite a culture shift for him), and scored his share of points. When you're a team that struggles for offense, losing your 2nd leading scorer, who scored 25% more points than your 3rd leading scorer, that is generally not going to work in your favor. What's the solution? Cervenka? A guy who has never played in the NHL, or even the North American game? The chances of him providing what Jokinen did are slim at best.

3) Where did Calgary have the most success last season? In their own division. They went 15-6-3 against the NW. But this year, the NW will be a lot stronger. Particularly Minnesota, whom they went 4-0-2 against, to get 10 out of a possible 12 points.

4) The Flames have been the worst team in the league for faceoffs. Now they've ditched their top center, are centering their top line with a winger who hasn't played center in 13 years. Their coach favors a puck possession game you say? This could get ugly.

5) For the same reason people say the Oilers will start so well - team familiar with each other - the Flames will likely not. New coaches usually take time to get to their team, players need to adjust. What Hitchcock did in St. Louis is an anomaly. Remember how brutal Vancouver was the first couple of months under AV? And the Flames will not have a full training camp and preseason to help them either.

6) The second reason people say the Oilers have an advantage is their youth will help them compete in a condensed season, with lots of games played over a short time period. The Flames, with the oldest top-6 in the league, will be at a severe disadvantage here. They have already shown a lack of ability to compete in the 2nd game of back-to-backs, going 2-4-4 last season, and 4-6-2 the year before. This year the key players are all older. They have eight back-to-backs in these 48 games, which is 1/6 of the season. And there is less time between the rest of the games too.

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Don't get the old team argument. The Oilers have just as many players over 30 than the Flames. Even though they have more "young stars", we have veterans that have proven they can contribute at the NHL level and youngsters like Sven and Backlund who's looked great at camp. The 5 oldest teams made the playoffs last year while the 5 youngest teams missed.

Jokinen, while he improved his defensive play the last couple years, was inconsistent and never in the Flames' plan going forward. Tanguay was drafted as a center and has all the tools to be a good center in the NHL. Faceoffs aren't easy and will make me cringe to watch but Iggy has always been strong on the draws so he will take the ones on his side for sure. Backlund is finally put into a situation where he can succeed, in the top 6 with Sven and Cammy, and he will surprise a lot of people this year. The improved depth allows Hartley to put offensive players like Hudler and Cervenka with Stajan. Much like Backlund, Stajan was never really given a fair chance under Butter. While he's not a player that will carry his line, he's a good complimentary player that will produce if given the proper linemates as shown during his time in TO and the end of last season, helps that he's good on the draws and defensively sound as well.

Flames were 8th against the West teams last year with something like 11 SO losses. While some teams improved, some didn't. The additions this summer did nothing but improve the team. With a coach that's dedicated to details and wants to play a team game, I'm looking forward to this season.

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Don't get the old team argument. The Oilers have just as many players over 30 than the Flames. Even though they have more "young stars", we have veterans that have proven they can contribute at the NHL level and youngsters like Sven and Backlund who's looked great at camp. The 5 oldest teams made the playoffs last year while the 5 youngest teams missed.

Jokinen, while he improved his defensive play the last couple years, was inconsistent and never in the Flames' plan going forward. Tanguay was drafted as a center and has all the tools to be a good center in the NHL. Faceoffs aren't easy and will make me cringe to watch but Iggy has always been strong on the draws so he will take the ones on his side for sure. Backlund is finally put into a situation where he can succeed, in the top 6 with Sven and Cammy, and he will surprise a lot of people this year. The improved depth allows Hartley to put offensive players like Hudler and Cervenka with Stajan. Much like Backlund, Stajan was never really given a fair chance under Butter. While he's not a player that will carry his line, he's a good complimentary player that will produce if given the proper linemates as shown during his time in TO and the end of last season, helps that he's good on the draws and defensively sound as well.

Flames were 8th against the West teams last year with something like 11 SO losses. While some teams improved, some didn't. The additions this summer did nothing but improve the team. With a coach that's dedicated to details and wants to play a team game, I'm looking forward to this season.

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Great points as usual, D-Money.

I do agree that Iggy will likely have a slow start again and will have his worst statistical season yet, though I would blame that not on his natural deterioration but on the major adjustment that'll be going on in the top line centre position. In all the interviews, Tanguay has been at best apprehensive about his move to centre, stating time and time again that it is a major adjustment and that it will take time for him for the position to become second nature to him; time that the Flames do not have this year.

I'm also feeling that the high tempo, offensive-minded game is going to bring down Kipper's stats as well. I think the main reason for this will be tied to the fact that they'll be trying to play a puck possession game without any faceoff ability, thereby resulting in a lot of chasing and breakdowns in defensive positioning. I firmly believe that Kipper will still be solid and will make those clutch saves as he has done his entire career and give them a chance every night. His stats will likely be poorer though since I predict the D to be more porous this year, which isn't a good sign considering how porous they were last year. That said, if their goal output can make up for the defensive liabilities, something that didn't happen last season, then this could be a wash.

The one positive for me is that Backlund and Baertschi are playing well and are being given offensive zone time and PP time. This, especially the latter point, did not happen at all under Butter. Yes, Backs was far and away the team's best defensive centre last season and had the highest percentage of D-zone starts, but he is an offensive minded player and Hartley is finally giving him that opportunity. And all the reports from the training camp is that Backlund is playing a more aggressive offensive game and isn't afraid to cut to the slot and make space for himself and his linemates, which is a great sign considering that he's playing with Sven and Cammy on his wings. The strength of that second line could be a major positive.

I honestly don't see any issues with why the media are expecting the Flames to absolutely tank this season. They are surrounded by question marks and very few sure-fire positives this season. Clearly the underdog but if they are able to play the 2 forechecker, up-tempo game and forecheck the crap out of the opposition, then they could make some noise. If not, they'll atleast play an exciting brand of hockey.

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I'm also feeling that the high tempo, offensive-minded game is going to bring down Kipper's stats as well.

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Don't get the old team argument. The Oilers have just as many players over 30 than the Flames.

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Are you really saying because the age of your key players is the same as another team's depth guys, it's not an issue? Big minutes in a consensed schedule will definitely take it's toll more on older players.

The main reason it's an issue is because of Iginla. He already looked like he lost a step last year. Now he's 35, has less time than ever to get to speed, and is already injured. But he's the only real, consistent threat on the Flames - he alone has had to provide 16.5% of their goals for the last 3 years.

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And that's why Feaster got more depth by getting Hudler and Cervenka, and putting Sven on the team. Every team is in the same situation with all its older players. Iggy is always in great condition and he's going to see a lot of ice right off the bat to get used to game speed.

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No, no team is in the same situation with it's older players, because no other team relies on a 35 year-old for over 16% of their goals.

Other than Martin St. Louis and the Bolts, no other team plays a forward as old as Iginla for over 20 minutes a game.

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Jimmy Murphy ‏@MurphysLaw74 Per an NHL source, Scott Gomez has had talks with Ducks, Flames and Canes. As @TSNBobMcKenzietweeted Kings and Blues talking to Redden.

Hmm...this could get interesting. If this pans out, it will clearly be a 1-way deal but it better be at or around league minimum. 750k would be the absolute maximum I'd be comfortable with.

And who knows, if this happens, perhaps Stajan gets bought out this season itself once Cervenka returns.

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Well considering that they got these points playing exclusively on the 3rd line with no PP minutes, Im not concerned one bit.

Your top 6 forward has a whopping (with PP minutes) 5 more points than Higgins and 9 points on Hansen.

Now if they get 2nd line minutes like Glencross, I have no doubt they match or better those stats.

Again, with or without Kesler, our top 6 is and will be superior to anything the flames assemble. Our top line alone could win us games so no worries here. ^_^

Take out a player of Kesler's calibre on your team ??? Tanguay? lol and your team looks no different from an AHL lineup.

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I am definitely cheering for the Flames tonight over SJ. I hope Backlund gets off a good start and that Hartley's approach to leaning on his proven players when it is needed gets Iginla out of the gate faster than usual as it will be a quick sprint to the finish.

Also:

The Flames could be missing new additions Cervenka and Hudler. Cervenka is out with a blood clot, and Hudler was nursing an abdominal injury before returning to the Czech Republic to attend his father's funeral. Anton Babchuk (shoulder) is out; Jarome Iginla (groin) is expected to play.

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Dig that! Backlund with an assist. Haven't been watching though.. Sven is it going good?

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Very sloppy all game, even in the 1st period. The BBC line was good but even they had issues.

The main problems had to do with Cammy being unable to play right wing and Tangs struggling with playing centre. That top line was horrible and the lack of a true centre is so apparent. There is a LOT more to playing C than just passing. Glenny isn't cut out for top line and Tangs needs to get back to LW.

Kipper was very shaky too I thought. Wasn't moving smoothly and he should have really had that 2nd goal.

Not a good start. The last 40 mins was classic Flames hockey, aka aimlessly skating around and being passive. Not good at all.

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