Category Archives: Flames

All Calgary Flames related talk

I Hate to be the Oilers Fan Who Hates on the Flames, BUT…

I’ve wrote a few of these now!  Let’s not lie, because I firmly believe that being completely honest is much more fun and people obviously have respect for it.  I get really annoyed by things that get badly overrated.  It’s a shame it happens to be who it is, because the narrative for anyone who reads this will be “typical bitter Oilers fan hating on Calgary” and it really isn’t about Edmonton v Calgary.  I pull for the Flames!  I want the Oilers to beat them more than when they play any other team, but I want the Oilers to beat the Flames at their best, not kick them when they’re down.  And in reality, what I’m bitching about today means nothing.  But I get annoyed by it, and when I’m annoyed I feel like I do my best work, so here it is.

 

The love that the Calgary Flames get from the national media is nothing short of completely nauseating.  I can’t figure out what it is, but since 2015, this team has gotten so BADLY overrated going into every season by the national media.  At this point, it has truly become head scratching.  And no matter what they do, how badly they under perform, or what wrong moves they seem to make, it doesn’t seem to make a lick of difference to the national media.  My theory for a while was that they all fell in love with the team after their miracle 2015 season.  But now I’m really starting to wonder if something more goes on that we don’t see.  Either way, when you think people might finally wake up and be honest about what their team is, it might be as bad now as it’s ever been.

 

How much is that roster truly improved from last season?  Brad Treliving (who I have always stated I’m a MASSIVE fan of) lost the Dougie Hamilton trade.  I know it’s viewed as a win for them because they got a bit of an odd duck out of the room.  But people, he’s a top 20 defenceman.  Borderline number one guy.  But for whatever reason, everyone assumes T.J. Brodie is going to step right in for Hamilton, Hanifin in for Brodie, and the blueline will be fine.  Well first of all, that blueline was the most overrated in the league last season.  They were getting compared to Nashville before the season.  Everyone assumes that it is because Brodie has been playing on the left side and he’s more comfortable on the right side as to why he’s struggled.  Did we ever think that MAYBE he just had a career year in 2015 like so many other Flames did?  Did we ever think that MAYBE he just fit under Bob Hartley and couldn’t play in a more structured system under Glen Gulutzan….and if you thought Gulutzan was structured, Bill Peters makes Glen Gulutzan look like Pat Quinn in comparison.  But no, Brodie will go to the right side with Giordano and he’ll be an All-Star is LITERALLY what everyone assumes.  Ok…

 

Let’s not forget Giordano who is now 35.  He’s not going to decline at all?  Duncan Keith apparently may as well retire at 35, but Mark Giordano is just entering his prime?  I really like Giordano, but I haven’t thought he’s looked anything too special the last two seasons, and wonder if he wasn’t living off Hamilton more than Hamilton was living off him?

 

Then you have Noah Hanifin, and again it’s just a complete assumption that Hanifin is now a top four D-man, when he was on Carolina’s bottom pairing last season.  I know that Hanifin will be a top four guy at some point, again I’m a big fan (I don’t know if the Flames have a player I really dislike other than Matt Tkachuk and that’s more envy than dislike), but Hanifin is nothing proven as a top four defenceman yet.  His partner to start the season?  Travis Hamonic, who looks shot and if he were an Edmonton Oiler he’d be pissed on by the national media.

 

Up front, and this is why I believe most like them, they got a LITTLE better.  But they didn’t get A LOT better.  I believe what people are blinded by is the value that Brad Treliving got.  It was actually similar last season when they got Hamonic.  I believe people were so infatuated with what they paid rather than the impact he would have on the team.  And with their off-season pickups it is a lot of the same.  They didn’t pay AS MUCH as most believed James Neal would cost.  But Neal has only hit 30 goals twice, has trouble staying healthy, is an average skater who is now 31 years old, and has taken a beating over the years.  The Preds had no problem exposing him in the expansion draft.  The Golden Knights didn’t seem to mind letting him walk this off-season.  Nobody signed him on the first day of free agency.  But apparently NONE OF THOSE ARE RED FLAGS…

 

Austin Czarnik.  A lot of teams were interested in him, a lot of people feel like with a true chance he can be a regular in the league, but he’s going to have a big impact is he?!?  Derek Ryan was a much better bargain than Tyler Bozak, and they’re almost identical as players.  But he’s worth 3 mil?  Paying a 4th line centre 3 mil a year is a great move?  Bringing in a 4th line centre to be a 3rd line centre is smart?  Apparently it is!  And apparently those two players are just going to move the needle tremendously.  This team isn’t going to miss Michael Ferland at all, and they added these three offensive stars up front.

 

Finally, Mike Smith.  Now, there at least is SOME chatter about Mike Smith being able to both stay healthy and repeat what he did.  But there is zero chatter about the fact that they were just barely in the playoff hunt with Smith playing incredible.  So if he simply drops off a bit this season, how good are they going to be with a SLIGHTLY improved roster?!  This is what I don’t get.  I’m running down this roster (both with my eyes and my words), and I’m not seeing this major improvement, yet it is just a slam dunk for the national media that they’re going to be great.  John Shannon said on HC at noon the other day that he believes James Neal could get 40 goals playing on their 2nd line.  MOTHER FUCKER THE GUY HASN’T GOT 40 SINCE 2012 PLAYING FIRST LINE WITH EVGENI MALKIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Now he’s going to get 40 seven years later playing with Mikael Backlund?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?  It just drives me INSANE as you can read, not because it’s the Flames and I’m an Oilers fan, but it is so clear that there is something not right with this!  I’m blown away with how overrated they’re getting!

 

I’m by NO MEANS suggesting the Flames can’t be good.  I have no doubt they can finish top three in the division.  If you think the Flames can finish top three, of course.  Can they finish ahead of the Oilers?  Of course.  They have some real good pieces and should be solid.  It’s the fact that it’s such a lock that the media has them as which drives me nuts.  The Oilers are being shit on, and I both get why that is (I’m not delusional) and honestly prefer it because we’ve seen a lot lately how much expectations can effect teams.  But I might argue the Oilers have less question marks than the Flames.  Are the PK, PP, and Cam Talbot all going to be THAT bad this season?  As long as all three are simply solid, don’t have to be anything amazing, just solid, just not horrific, they’re likely back in the playoffs!  And yet those things get glossed over!  Forget that I’m an Oilers fan, because I really do try hard to look at things objectively.  The Oilers question marks are pretty solvable.  Not to say they don’t have holes.  The blueline is suspect, Klefbom staying healthy is a massive key, and they’ll need some kids on the wings to really step up.  But the Flames have a lot too and it is impossible not to compare the two teams as a fan of either one will tell you.

 

I hope the Flames have a great season.  Oilers and Flames in the Pacific division final, how tremendous would that be?!  But let’s just get a LITTLE realistic on this team.  They COULD be good, but why don’t we wait until they prove it to be so sure that they are?

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

A Couple of 93’s are a Couple of Big X Factor’s

Tonight is the night!!  The “Battle of Alberta” kicks off with not just one, but TWO extremely large games between two of the top teams in the NHL’s Pacific division!  There is zero doubt that these are the two biggest games of the season to this point for both the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers!

 

Oscar De La Hoya should have had me hyping the Alvarez/GGG fight this weekend!  Anyway, I’ll get right to it.

 

You have a lot of players on both sides of the BOA entering this season who could be deemed “X factors”.  Jesse Puljujarvi, Curtis Lazar, Darnell Nurse, Mike Smith, Milan Lucic, Troy Brouwer.  You can make a case that every single player on each side is an “X factor”.  But to me, and I think to most, there is one guy on each side who stands out above everyone else.

 

I’ll start in Calgary, since I’m an Oilers fan and give them the love 95% of the time on this site.

 

Sam Bennett.  I think at this point that it’s safe to say Bennett will play in the league for a long time.  I don’t believe the jury is out on him anymore.  Last season was a sophomore jinx for him though.  He wasn’t overly effective last season, at either end of the ice.  He bounced back and forth between centre and the wing, only put up 26 points, and I felt might have been more of a distraction for the Flames than a help.

 

Now, what I mean by that isn’t a knock on Bennett as a player or as a person.  But when you’re trying to find out who a player is and where he fits, that can take it’s toll on a hockey club.  The GM wants to make sure that player has every opportunity to develop (especially when it’s the first draft pick ever made by that GM), and the coach wants the same but it’s challenging when you’re needing the player to hit his potential and he’s struggling to do so.  And frankly, what worries me with Bennett is the bi-polar nature in his game.  I saw this with Sam Gagner in Edmonton.  When Bennett is hot, he’s scorching hot.  But when he’s cold, it lasts much longer than it should.

 

I don’t think it’s a must for Bennett to establish himself as a legitimate top nine centre this season.  But that’s without a doubt the hope the organization has entering the season and would go a very long way for them.

 

If they could run Monahan, Backlund and Bennett down the middle all season it would be massive for this club.  I question whether or not Backlund can repeat the offence he put up last season, but he was only six points better than his 15-16 campaign.  No doubt it’s the peak of his career, but the point I’m trying to make here is that I believe a 40-45 point season is more realistic.

 

And is that really too much of a stretch?  Just a 14 point improvement, only four more points than his 15-16 season.  But I think for the Flames, it’s vital that this point total comes from him playing the middle and being a kid who Glen Gulutzan can trust to play some tough matchups.  I realize they already have Monahan and Backlund who can handle those roles, but you have a situation where you can simply roll your top nine and don’t have to worry about sheltering anyone, it can take your team to another level, perhaps that of a serious contender.

 

The biggest thing that would help Bennett out is gaining strength.  No, I’m not going to harp on the pull-ups or lack there of, but it is obvious when you watch him play that he doesn’t have the strength he needs to play the style he does.  He has all the tools, but he doesn’t do anything well enough to overcome his lack of strength.  Once he gets it, he’ll improve a lot below the dots, he should gain an extra step in his stride, and he should improve greatly in the dot.  Sound like another centre up the highway?

 

What a segue!

 

I did hit on a lot of this with RNH in my last piece, but it’s definitely the biggest thing in my mind that holds him back, and I really believe that his game will eventually go to another level.  He seems to be too committed and has too much talent to not get there.  But it’s frustrating as hell waiting for it to happen.

 

I talked a lot about how much an increase in strength will help his skating ability which will have a trickle down affect with the rest of his game.  He’ll be able to get into better positioning to strip players of the puck, of course he’ll then have an easier time stripping players of the puck with added strength, he’ll be tougher on the puck which should present more opportunities to get shots off or find passing lanes, it just has so many benefits.

 

But maybe the biggest thing they need from RNH is to improve his faceoff ability.  Man, he has been so awful in the dot to this point, it’s completely unacceptable.  45.7% is his career high.  How do you take nearly 6,000 faceoffs in this league and never improve your percentage to AT LEAST 47%?!  And that’s still not really an acceptable number in my mind, but you can live with it.  And I know analytics will tell you that faceoffs don’t matter, but man, you can’t convince me it wouldn’t lead to more success.

 

If RNH is going to be the third line centre the Oilers badly need this season, he’s going to have to greatly improve in the dot.  McDavid and Draisaitl already have enough of a burden on their shoulders, and Letestu simply doesn’t have the game to see tougher matchups every night.  Add to that, this team’s best LH shooting faceoff man this season was Draisaitl and he was only 49% last season.  All three of McDavid, Draisaitl and RNH need to improve in the dot this season for this team to go to another level, but RNH specifically should be a 48-50% guy in the dot at this point.  I know, I’m the guy who just the other day tried to hammer home the point that he’s still only 24 years old.  But these numbers are just too damn low.

 

So what do they need out of RNH this season?  They need him to be along the same lines as Nazem Kadri was for the Leafs last season.  30 goals and 60 points?  No.  But 20 goals and 50-55 points would be massive.  We know he’s not going to see time on the top PP unit, which would mean a lot of those points would come at five on five.  Kadri was also 48% in the dot.  If Nuge can get to 47-48% I think it would go a lot further than people believe.  It would help with those point totals, and would help greatly when facing the tough matchups Todd McLellan him to see.  And they need him to tilt the ice more than he has been.  When McLellan has spoke about him being too cautious offensively, I believe this is part of his thinking.  If RNH takes more chances offensively, he’ll be better defensively simply by tilting the ice.

 

I don’t believe any of this is a big ask.  RNH is already capable of being this player without gaining the strength I’ve talked so much about.

 

With both players, they’re already good.  But they’re capable (and in Nugent-Hopkins case, paid) of being so much more.  If they can either get to those levels or at least move towards that level of player this season, both the Flames and the Oilers are going to be serious threats in the West this season.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Burning it to the Ground?

It is so easy to write about the Calgary Flames simply from a title standpoint.  Whether things are going great or going poorly, you always have that team nickname to fall back on!  Right now, things are going REALLY poorly in Southern Alberta.

 

Should I really go into my spiel which those who read my stuff have now heard hundreds of times?  Ok, once more.  I’ve maintained over the years, despite being an Oilers fan, I’m a Flames well wisher.  It’s best for the province when both teams are good, which in turn is best for the rivalry.  And don’t get me wrong, I want to beat no team more than the Flames as an Oilers fan, and I expect Flames fans to feel the same way.  But I don’t subscribe to this theory that it’s fun watching them be awful.  There was no joy from 1997-2003 in beating the Flames as an Oilers fan, and I’m guessing it was bittersweet for some Flames fans from 2007-2016.  For both fan bases, the other team should be a necessary evil.

 

So now that I’ve said that, let me pile on the Flames!!!

 

I’m kidding.

 

I’ve really liked the direction the Flames have been headed in since hiring Brad Treliving.  Yet all of a sudden in the last two weeks, everything appears to have gone from running smoothly to being on the verge of destruction.  The Flames have now lost six of their last eight games, the latest two coming in humiliating fashion.  One to the rival Oilers, the other to the likely hated by most (because if you don’t love them you likely hate them) Maple Leafs.  They’re now just clinging to the final wild card spot in the West, and if you go by points percentage (which I believe is much more accurate) they are on the outside looking in.

 

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday night that Brad Treliving’s job could be in jeopardy as he still does not have a contract extension for next season.  Nobody is commenting on it, and as Friedman said on Saturday the whole situation is “really weird”.  Agreed.

 

If they are seriously thinking of letting him walk…are they nuts?!

 

I understand things aren’t perfect right now for the Flames.  I fully understand the very recent struggles this team has had, but this clearly isn’t about what’s gone down in their last eight games.  This appears to be yet another bizarre happening with an organization which has had plenty in the last 10 years or so.  And the one constant through it all has been Ken King.

 

Daryl Sutter leaving coaching to focus solely on being GM, that was bizarre.  Jim Playfair run out after one season as head coach to bring in a well past his prime Mike Keenan.  Jay Feaster hired as assistant GM…not by Darryl Sutter.  Rumours of Brent and Darryl Sutter being at odds during Darryl’s final season there.  Rumours of Jay Feaster not being given the green light to rebuild a clearly deteriorating hockey club with a very shallow prospect pool.  Brian Burke being hired as President of Hockey Operations while Feaster was still the GM.  That’s quite a freaking list boys!!!

 

From the outside looking in, it’s felt like Burke actually brought some stability to the organization, which coming off the job he did in Toronto, few thought he could do.  But the hiring of Treliving and the combination of the two of them has seemingly been tremendous.  Where is the wrong move for Treliving?

 

Since he’s been running the draft they’ve done an amazing job with things.  2014 they had one of my favourite drafts.  2015 I was so bitter that he got Dougie Hamilton for such a cheap price when he would have been a perfect fit for the Oilers (and the Oilers three picks they could have offered were better than the three Flames picks according to the draft value chart, but the Bruins wouldn’t deal with Peter Chiarelli), and then with his remaining two 2nd round picks Treliving made two real solid picks.  Last year, more of the same.  In fact, this is what I said in my write up on them as one of my six teams whose draft I liked:

“I’m not trying to be a homer for Alberta.  But the Flames are crushing it with Brad Treliving running the show.  I used to love destroying Jay Feaster, but I have nothing but praise thus far for Treliving.”

I don’t care how Sam Bennett is currently doing, that was the right pick.  As I said, the Hamilton trade before the 2015 draft was a steal.  Last year Tkachuk falling to 6 was a gift, but he didn’t screw it up.  The Brian Elliott trade, again I don’t care how it’s gone that was a no brainer deal to make, literally everyone in hockey praised him for it!  Chad Johnson, great signing to be the backup, Troy Brouwer, Kris Versteeg, Michael Frolik, getting 2nd round picks for guys who were about to walk like Curtis Glencross, Jiri Hudler and Kris Russell was all great!  Has Glen Gulutzan been a good hire?  Probably not, although this team when they’ve simply gotten good goaltending have looked like a playoff team.

 

And that’s the big difference.  You look back at 2015, and I was saying it at the time that things just simply snowball.  Analytically they weren’t a good hockey team, yet they maintained their roll all season.  You start to get bounces, you start to get massive saves, and everyone just starts to get this feeling in the room like nothing can go wrong.  All of a sudden guys start playing above their normal levels and you start seeing extraordinary performances like we did with all those late game comebacks they had that season.

 

This season?  Well lately it looks like they know they aren’t going to get that save or that bounce, and when it goes that way (as Oilers fans have seen for the previous seven seasons or so) guys tend to not have anywhere near the fight they would normally have.  Can’t we all relate to that?  I know it’s never easy as a fan to look at these guys as every day people, but if you start getting a few breaks one day like traffic isn’t heavy or there isn’t a long lineup to get your coffee in the morning or perhaps someone you don’t like isn’t at work, doesn’t that give you a lot of extra jump?  Vice versa, if it’s a day where it is basically the lyrics to “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette, you’re dragging your feet and have a tough time getting up for other things you have to do that day.

 

If Flames upper management was smart, they would realize that in 2015 this team was still in the beginning of a pretty big rebuild.  I wondered this at the time and it might be right in the long run that it was actually more of a curse than a blessing that the Flames had that amazing run in 2015 with McDavid and Eichel at the top of the draft.  What would make sense would be if management’s expectations started getting far too high after that season, but the way Friedman was talking yesterday morning on the FAN 960 is that isn’t it at all.  I believe he said “even if they make the playoffs I’m not 100% that he (Treliving) would be coming back.”  Wow!

 

I don’t know how else to say it other than this is going to be a MASSIVE mistake in my opinion should the Flames let this guy go.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

April 1st, 2006

You might be wondering what the f*** this date has to do with anything.  You’re likely REALLY wondering what that picture is of.  I simply googled April 1st, 2006 and this is one of the first pictures which came up.  According to google, it is of the Zaney Woodruff Operation reunion.  So hey, thanks to them for there….music?  It looks like they would be a band…doesn’t it?  Anyway, it’s Saturday morning, January 14th, 2017.  Nearly 11 years after the aforementioned April 1st, 2006.  So what’s the significance of this date?  Well, I’ll tell you…first what happened to me on this date.  We’ll get to the significance shortly.

 

It was a sunny April 1st, a brisk spring day as I recall.  Actually, that’s a lie.  I have no clue as to what the weather was like that day.  But I do remember I had our baseball draft that day.  The Sweet Lou Whitaker was holding it’s 3rd annual player auction, and I had a team setup to win in 2006.  With star players such as Wily Tavares for only a dime, amazing Jays closer B.J. Ryan, and the ever flexible Ryan Freel I was sensing a title run.  I actually did make a title run that year, but at the auction that day I started a run on alcohol that was quite impressive.  If someone tosses a name out that has already been tossed or if you mention a name that has yet to be tossed and it’s not your turn to put a player up for auction, you have to do a penalty shot (I’m certain most of you know what penalty shots are, but for those completely useless dip shits out there…)  Didn’t have a list that day, so the penalty shots were a PLENTY.  Probably did 10 or so, in addition to drinking for the entire 7 hours of the auction.  You’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with April 1st being significant, but don’t worry it’s coming shortly.

 

I survived though.  Felt pretty tipsy, but was holding my own, and I had to.  The boys were in town for the draft, and it was only 6 o’clock so I had a long ways to go.

 

Next up, a fight with the girlfriend.  So THIS was fun.  She’s in Edmonton, I’m in Lloyd, she’s a huge bitch (note I didn’t use the word “was”), I’m a freaking GEM, yet I’m piled and she wants to pick a fight with me on the phone while I’m drinking at my buddies…and did I mention I was smashed?  So this went on for a good hour, but in retrospect it might have helped me power through, because I had to stop drinking….as much as I was.  What?  If she’s going to go off on me I’m a least going to put my feet up and enjoy a nice cocktail while she does her worst.  Don’t worry, I’ll get to the importance of the date in just one second.

 

Once that was done, back to drinking with my buddies who were just sitting around watching TV.  This took place at the now famous Dale Wells’ household.  You know, the producer of the smash hit movie “Fences” starring Denzel Washington?  No seriously, I was drinking in the house of a Hollywood producer.  In fact, I’ve drank MANY times in that house.  I’ve slept in that house.  I’ve been sick in that house.  I’ve had sexual relations in that house.  The phone number for the house was 780-875-3757.  It probably isn’t anymore as Dale hasn’t lived there for years now, but you should still use that phone number to see if it’s still Dale’s.  Maybe someone will answer who isn’t Dale, but they’ll say “yeah, you’re not the first person to call this number looking for Dale, but I’m sorry you have the wrong number” and just when you tell them you’re sorry for bothering them and thanks, they’ve hung up on you and then you’ll be kind of pissed at that person for a minute or so because they didn’t have to be SUCH a dick and could have at least said bye at the end.  No no no, don’t you bail on this piece now, I’m about to get to the main reason for this piece and what was the big event of April 1st, 2006.

 

But before I do that, we then went out to the bar, where a LOT more drinks were consumed.  Somehow, after this day long bender mixed with all kinds of shots, rye, rum and lots of beer, I’m STILL standing.  And I’m not just still standing, I’m not stumbling and have my wits about me pretty good for a guy who is completely done.  I remember my buddy Geno showed up that night and he was rocking sweat pants in the bar, it was the greatest thing ever!

 

That’s not what was so special about April 1st, 2006 though.  What was so special about April 1st, 2006 was that….oh yeah, I put a dip in!  And I don’t chew, but when you’re MFing obliterated and one of your buddies whips out his Copenhagen and offers me a pinch of it.  Any other time I kindly decline, so much kindness when I decline things because I’m a good guy unlike that prick who’ll hang up on you without saying bye if you got the WRONG NUMBER!!  This time I accepted the dip, ANNNNNNNND anyone who chews will know this is when ALL the liquor hit me at once, and I could not get to that bathroom quickly enough.  To say I was a mess is such a gross understatement…gross being the key word there.  I’ll leave out some gory details, but I got home that night wearing only my boxers because my clothes were…unwearable we will say.

 

Oh yeah, I almost forgot the whole reason for this blog and why April 1st, 2006 means anything of any significance whatsoever!  Damn, I basically just wasted a lot of your time!  Completely my fault.

 

It was the last time the battle of Alberta really meant something for both teams (see, I told you I would get to it).  The Flames were leading the Northwest division and if the Oilers wanted to have a shot at winning the division and getting home ice in the 1st round of the playoffs then they really needed to win this one in regulation.  Wasn’t much of a game, Langkow and Huselius  put on a show for the Flames, Horcoff got one back from Hemsky and Smyth to cut the Flames lead to 3-1, and then other than this nothing else happened:

Nice work Georges!

 

So you see now kids?  Enjoy this one tonight, because it’s been too damn long since a somewhat meaningful game to both teams took place after December 1st.  This is a pretty big game!  Not to those fans who have had competent management running their teams the last 11 seasons, but it is to us Alberta folk!

 

I hope you enjoyed my extensive breakdown of the game between the Oilers and Flames on April 1st, 2006.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

It’s Not a Hot Seat, But It Might Be Warming

586fb3b7-97df-4b89-bb64-1736dad5bae0_ORIGINALIt is always interesting to see who has read my stuff, or helped me promote it.  Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect most people to do that.  But there is the odd person who come along that give me good reason to expect that they’ll maybe check out some of my stuff or promote it.  This piece, probably not many people will read it or promote it.  Other stuff I do…those people might have damn good reason to back me so to speak.  Anyway, that’s pretty coded I know, but I couldn’t think of a good opening and wanted to bitch about that without getting myself into too much trouble.

 

I’ve had this thought since the start of the season, and it isn’t one that I’ve heard anywhere.  I’m sure if I got on a message board somewhere, fan boys will have made the suggestion.  But nowhere reputable.  That thought is, how long until we start hearing about Bob Hartley being on the hot seat?

 

On the surface, it’s WAY too early to talk that way.  Down the stretch in 2013 after Jay Feaster finally started rebuilding, he got his team to play pretty hard in the final 3 week or so of that season when it looked like they were going to be blown out every game after they dealt Iginla and Bouwmeester (I made A LOT of money on their initial misery).

 

2014, that continued.  Everyone entering that season was certain that team was a lock for 30th in the league.  They only finished 27th, but that was a pretty good accomplishment compared to what everyone believed they were headed for.

 

Then of course you had last season.  Outside of the Canuck and Oiler fans, everyone fell in love with that club.  Hartley was the Jack Adams winner and it really wasn’t close.  That team yet again was expected to finish 30th, and this time they made the freaking playoffs.  Ask an Oilers fan, that isn’t easy to do in this league, let alone the Western conference!  So Hartley really has done a great job in Calgary.

 

But now I’m looking at things, and I’m wondering…not if the axe is coming, but if we are going to start to hear about how the axe might be coming?

 

You have to look at some factors here.  First and foremost for me is that he was never Brian Burke’s guy.  He became Brian Burke’s guy, but Hartley was never hired by Burke, he was inherited by Burke.  And then he was obviously inherited by Brad Treliving as well.  I’m not saying they aren’t 100% in his corner, I have no clue whether they are or not.  But you have to assume that they aren’t 100% all in with him, simply because it’s so rare that a front office is with someone they didn’t hire.

 

Another thing that makes  me wonder with Hartley moving forward is both in Colorado and Atlanta he wore out his welcome in a big hurry.  The Avs under Hartley won a Cup, and lost in game 7 of the West finals every other season.  2 and a half months into the 02-03 season, he was gone.

 

In Atlanta, he brought them out of the gutter, and while he never won a playoff game and the division they won at the time was a complete joke, the fact is that he got them to be pretty competitive which is more than anyone else could say during the Thrashers time in Atlanta.  He took over in 03 and had the Thrashers playing great in the 2nd half of that season.  04 despite everything that went on with the Daniel Snyder tragedy they finished only 4 games under .500.  In 06 they couldn’t keep a goaltender healthy and still only missed the playoffs by 2 points.  Then in 07 they won the Southeast.  He did this working with total shit, let’s be honest about the teams he had.  Amazing coaching job…and he didn’t even last a MONTH in 07-08.

 

Add to all this, a guy with such a terrific track record coaching in the NHL wasn’t hired again until the 2012 offseason.  That’s…peculiar…is that right word?

 

So I’m wondering now with the Flames struggling if this is the beginning of the end in Calgary for Harts?  I wouldn’t, but then again I wouldn’t have axed him if I were Pierre Lacroix, and he did.  Nor if I were Don Waddell, and he did.  The Flames really haven’t been that different of a team this season from last.  You have to be honest about the bounces that team was getting last year, everything that could go right did go right.  And then obviously the goaltending was MUCH more consistent.  I mean the game last night isn’t the catalyst for this piece.  I’m well aware of the struggles under 5 different coaches in Anaheim (and to be fair to that stat, the Flames last win in Anaheim was actually in the 2006 playoffs, game 3 of that series).  And the Ducks put up 8, this is Nik Backstrom’s last hurrah in the league.  He was a guy who made sense for the Flames to take back in the David Jones deal because of the injuries the Flames have had in goal.

 

The team, at least when I’ve watched, is still playing hard and still look like they’re buying into the system.  They’ve just simply come back down to earth, as many expected them to do this season.

 

So when could it go from talk of the hot seat to actually being on the hot seat for Hartley?  I think the start of next season.  I’ll say they go into next season with Hartley behind the bench, and should the Flames struggle out the gate, he’ll be in trouble.  Brian Burke and Brad Treliving need to help him out by shoring up the goaltending situation.  When Kari Ramo emerged as the starter, this was a playoff contender.  Without, like any other team, things have been ugly.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Just Be Honest

1297761397934_ORIGINALDon’t know how many of you know this, but we have 2 NHL teams in Alberta.  Well…I use the term “NHL” loosely, but they are technically in that league.  Both are very young.  Both are in great situations moving forward and look like they’ll be among the league powerhouses within 2 or 3 seasons.  But both are currently going in very opposite directions.

 

I’ll start with the Flames since I just got done watching their game against Ottawa.  Now, I didn’t watch it closely.  It does look as though the Flames carried the play outshooting the Sens 38-23.  So that’s a big positive for them.  But damn, ONCE AGAIN, and I’m going to sound like a broken record, the Flames seemed to catch a lot of breaks.  Kris Russell made it 3-2 Flames on as bad of a goal as you’ll see, and they tied it on a PP that they simply had zero business having.

 

This team isn’t good right now.  But that’s not my beef.  My beef is with seemingly everyone in the media refusing to acknowledge that last season was an aberration.  Even most Flames fans would admit they got a large majority of the bounces, and while I’m not a fan of the analytics community (I’ll touch on that in a bit), I do fully believe analytics are a vital tool to use when looking at a teams performance.  They were awful analytically last season.  Yet when seemingly ANYONE in the media is asked about the Flames this season, they all seem to think they are going to get it together and be alright.

 

Hey, I said the Flames would make the playoffs.  But I also said that I didn’t love any of the Flames, Canucks or Sharks in the Pacific and that whoever ended up in the 3rd spot would be a reflection of poor depth in the division.

 

Nobody in the media wants to look at last year logically.  Career years from 9 players and that isn’t including guys like Monahan and Gaudreau who are obviously still too early in their careers to call it a career year, or Jonas Hiller who matched a career low G.A.A.  9 guys!  And they barely snuck in!  We’re serious here that we expected another season like that and expected this team to make the playoffs?!

 

Some in the media were asking the question before the season if the Flames were ready to contend!  Like give your FREAKING heads a shake!  And I know how this looks.  Oiler fan ripping on the Flames, and I’m about to praise the Oilers so I know that isn’t a good look.  It’s one I look to avoid.  But I’m just being honest about it from as objective of a view as I can.  And it isn’t taking any pleasure in the Flames struggles, it is mostly to do with (as most of my pieces are) the media as a whole being so ridiculous.

 

And why is it always the hockey media?!  As a huge fan of the 4 major sports, the hockey media far and away knows their sport the least.  Maybe I’m just too close to it.  But when you hear guys talking about how players who are only 1 dimensional snipers are among the best players in the league….like you never hear about how Chris Davis is among the best players in baseball, yet he led the majors in home runs.  You never hear about how Carmelo Anthony is among the elite in the NBA, yet he’s one of the best scorers.  Julio Jones isn’t going to be top 15 or so in MVP voting, yet he’s a touchdown machine.  The reason is that the media in those sports understand that the impact these players have is limited.  Yet the NHL media sees someone putting pucks in the net and apparently nothing else matters.  Just because it’s the most difficult thing to do in the sport, doesn’t mean it’s the only thing a player needs to do.

 

As for the team up the highway, they are only 1 point better in the standings.  And I by no means am going to suggest they are about to take off.  But Jonathan Willis wrote a piece yesterday that really bothered me.

 

It basically talked about how the Oilers are no better than what they’ve been, and in some cases they worse this season than any of the last 5 through 10 games.  Willis is a big time analytics guy.  I love these guys.  Willis isn’t bad, but most of them have this belief that nothing else in the game matters, you can simply read what the analytics tell you and that is all you need to go off of.  As I said before, I’m a BIG fan of analytics!  But I can’t stand the “analytics community”.  And this article was a big reason why.

 

You see, all Willis did was take the Oilers analytic numbers on the season and say “they’re just as bad if not worse than normal”.  Yet in the article, there was something conveniently left out.  What was the strength of schedule over the Oilers first 10 games in those other seasons?  I couldn’t find this in his piece, likely because it would dispel the piece.  Pretty conveniently for him that this information was left out.

 

Had he done this….

 

2010-11, 7 of their first 10 games were against teams that hadn’t made the playoffs the season previous, and missed that season as well.  3-5-2 over that stretch, which easily could have been the start this season as well against a MUCH tougher schedule.

 

2011-12, 6-2-2 start.  4 of the 10 opponents didn’t make the playoffs that season, 4 of the 10 missed the previous season.  And most Oiler fans will recall that they were getting even better goaltending to start that season than this.  I want to say Nik Khabibulin’s Sv% was around .960 at one point!

 

2013, 4 wins in their first 10, only 1 of which was in regulation.  4 of the 10 games were against teams that missed the playoffs that season, 3 of those 4 had also missed the season prior.

 

2013-14, 7 of the first 10 were against teams that missed the playoffs.  In fairness, only 2 of those teams missed the 2013 playoffs, but the record was 1-6-1 in the first 8 before winning in Ottawa and Montreal (Eastern conference teams, and we all know it to be the weaker conference).

 

2014-15, won 4 of their first 10.  All 4 at home and against Eastern conference teams.  7 of the 10 games against teams who hadn’t made the playoffs the previous season, but in fairness only the Coyotes and Hurricanes were the real weak spots on the schedule.

 

Now finally we look at this years first 10 games.  St.Louis x 2, Nashville, Dallas, Calgary, Vancouver, Detroit, Washington, LA, and Minnesota (is it awesome or humiliating that I knew that off the top of my head?)  2 of those teams missed the playoffs last year, and those 2 now lead their divisions (and while the Kings didn’t make the playoffs LAST year, I think we all know what they have done in 2 of the last 4 seasons).  To this point, Calgary is the only weak spot on that list.  Only 2 teams out of the East, 1 of which is a serious threat to win the Cup.

 

This year is FAR AND AWAY the toughest schedule through the first 10 games that this team has faced.  And they have been in every game.  Even the Washington game, the Caps pulled away in the end but the Oilers were hanging in there for the majority of the game.  They haven’t been GREAT, but watch the f***ing games!  They are a much better squad.  Better positionally, grittier, much improved team speed, and more balanced.  They SHOULD be at least 4-5-1 if not 5-5, but they are only 3-7.  If you watch them play you can simply see they are a much better team.  But leave it to a die hard analytics fan to attempt to discount that with his numbers.

 

The Oilers next 4 games…all at home.  3 against Eastern conference teams and Saturday against the struggling Flames.  I BET their analytics are better in those games, just a hunch.  If they aren’t, fine.  Jonathan Willis piece holds a lot more weight.  But let’s try to be better at our job, shall we?  I’m sure Jonathan is smarter than that, and likely just did it for clicks which is disgusting in it’s own right, but if I noticed this convenient omission then I’m certain most others did too.

 

Both of these teams, the Flames and the Oilers, are on the right track to be powerhouse teams.  Not just good, powerhouses.  The top teams in the West.  I would put the Avs in that category, but it is starting to appear that they are spinning their wheels just as bad as the Oilers have been (speaking of them, where is the NHL media now talking about how much winning helped their development?)  It is ironic.  The first part of this was ripping the media for standing by the Flames, the second part of this was ripping Jonathan Willis and analytics people for ripping the Oilers.

 

Maybe I just don’t like anyone?!

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Those Who Don’t Learn From the Past…

10389856One of the best things about doing this blogs/articles/a disgrace to writers everywhere, whatever you want to call them, is that you can write something in them to see just who is paying attention.  I have an old buddy of mine, Brad Ollen, who doesn’t tweet that much.  But he’s a Flames fan and more so a Seahawks fan.  He’s never said anything about the Seahawks stuff I write (would have LOVED last weeks), but he spoke up when I mocked Brian Burke yesterday on twitter.  So I guess we’ll see if the pride of Hillmond, with all due respect to the Mann brothers and Redden brothers, is reading!  If he is…he won’t like it.

 

First of all, as an Oiler fan, let me say this:  Good on the Flames for the amazing start to the season!  This organization is so much more competent than the Oilers right now, it really is night and day.  Jay Feaster who I mocked a lot on here while GM of the Flames, actually did an ok job assembling talent.  Now, he needs to grow up and check himself when it comes to mocking the Oilers because the last time I checked Feaster had been fired for a year and has very little to do with what the Flames are doing this season.  But respect where it is due.

 

I said it before the season, the Flames are on the right path.  They have snagged 2 centre’s (Canadian spelling today for a Canadian team) in the last 2 drafts who are going to be great building blocks, and with T.J. Brodie emerging this season their blueline is one of the best in the league.

 

But this leads me to my issue.  So Brian Burke comes out the other day and declares that the Flames are opening the vault and that GM Brad Treliving has instructions to go to the Cap if the right deals come along.  Nooooooo!

 

Brian, you did this already and it failed MISERABLY!!!  He had the Leafs rebuild going right and just couldn’t keep his hands out of the cookie jar in trading two 1st round picks for Phil Kessel.  A stud centre and a young stud D-man for a 1 dimensional winger later….and the Leafs are stuck where they are.  Not bad, but they aren’t contending any time soon.

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Here we are just over 5 years later and the Flames rebuild is going good.  Better than the Leafs was, but as most Flames fans have heard all season, the analytics would disagree with that and things should start evening out (if they haven’t already after playing great in their last 3 and walking away with nothing).

 

Now maybe Burke just meant what he said as a hypothetical.  But you know full well fans aren’t going to take it that way.  Fans take that as “we’re going for it!!”  And no way should the Flames be going for anything, not yet anyway.

 

I’m with Burke in that the Flames should be looking to add, but you need to get guys who are both short term and long term answers.  And they shouldn’t be moving a 1st round pick, nor should they be moving certain guys (Giordano, Brodie, Monahan, Gaudreau, Bennett, etc).  I worry Burke will do this.

 

Going back to my buddy Ollen for a minute, his response to me was how Burke isn’t the GM this time.  No, but he has the final say and make no mistake he will be in on trade talks.  For the flack I give Burke and will never stop giving Burke over the Kessel thing, he’s hit a lot more out of the park than failed like he did with Kessel.

 

So who makes sense for the Flames?  Well, Ryan O’Reilly is one guy who comes to mind, ironically whom they signed to an offer sheet in 2013.  The Avs and O’Reilly seem likely to part ways at some point due to a couple of lengthy contract squabbles and the depth the Avs have down the middle.

 

Now the Flames moving forward might not have a huge need for a centre, but they sure do now.  One of the worst teams in the league down the middle, especially in the dot.  O’Reilly is one of my favourites.  He is one of the best all around centre’s in the league (even though the Avs have been using him on the wing).  Very similar to Patrice Bergeron.

Avalanche takes on the Sharks

 

O’Reilly makes the Flames a lot better down the middle now, next season he would allow Sam Bennett to be eased in, and if Bennett and Monahan moved past him on the depth chart he would be the best 3rd line centre in hockey.  You can’t lose acquiring this guy…if you can get him without giving a 1st, or any of the untouchables for the Flames I mentioned earlier.  Not likely.

 

And guys like O’Reilly who make a lot of sense for the Flames are very few and far between.  It has to be centre if they do make a big move, and it has to be a guy with size in my mind.  Chris Stewart is a power forward, but they have plenty on the wing and he’s an impending UFA.  Antoine Vermette I would guess is moved before the deadline and is a fit, but like Stewart is an impending UFA.

 

It just doesn’t look good to me for the Flames to make a big splash, without giving up pieces they shouldn’t give up.  So why is Burke coming out and proclaiming that they’re ready to make moves and will go to the cap?  I just think you stay the course this season.  It is gravy you make the playoffs this season.  Should they, then look to take the next step in the offseason.  I’m not saying you can’t make small additions, but now is not the time to make the big splash.  But making the big splash is what Brian Burke is all aobut.  Can he keep his hands out of the cookie jar this time around?

 

It’s like a QB with a great arm.  They have so much confidence they can make all the throws, that they tend to have a lot of picks.  Burke has so much confidence that he can make great trades, that he sometimes horrifically fails.  Of course, it’s all Brad Treliving making the deals…just like Santa will be at your place in just a couple of weeks…

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

No Canada

 

Congrats to the Montreal Canadiens on making the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs.  You will be the only Canadian team to make the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, there for making you the best Canadian based team in the leauge.  Congrats, that is the equivalent of being the slimmest person who needs lap-band surgery.  Not that the Habs are in anyway bad, Marc Bergevin has done a great job there.  But they’re in the East, likely won’t make it past the 2nd round, and the rest of the Canadian teams have been garbage.

 

So what lays ahead for these 6 teams?  Will they make the playoffs next season?  ANY of them??  Many questions, and I don’t have all the answers because I’m just a douchy blogger….but I’ll try to answer a few.  So let’s start this off and I want to start with the Flames.

 

Now some might look at this and say I’m just an Oiler fan looking to trash the Flames.  I’m really not.  Full credit to them on a season that I didn’t think would happen.  I thought they were a sure fire top 2 pick team at the start of the year.  Bob Hartley should be a Jack Adams candidate in my mind.  But having said all of this, the Flames future doesn’t look too bright.

 

Now a Flames fan would likely tell me that it’s better to develop that winning culture, rather than be at the bottom and become who the Oilers have become.  Well, the Oilers are where they are because of their horrendous management.  The first year of their rebuild a lot of the media were raving about how great their room was at the end of that season despite being 30th overall.  With no expectations comes no pressure.  I guess you could be the Minnesota Wild who were a good non playoff team (whatever that is) from 09-2012.  Even after signing Suter and Parise to pair with all their young talent, they look like they’ll be a team stuck in no man’s land (make the playoffs, no shot at a Cup).

 

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Monahan is a great start, but the Flames still need a lot of work

But it is THIN for the Flames after Monahan.  They like the Oilers were, are stocked with small wingers, which really has been the Oilers major downfall.  They might snag a centre (Canadian piece, Canadian spelling) with what looks to be the 4th or 5th pick.  So they might get another high end centre with that pick which would be great.  But they still don’t have much coming on the blueline and while Mark Giordano isn’t old, he’s not that young either.  Maybe T.J. Brodie or Tyler Wotherspoon really overachieve, but you can’t depend on that happening.  But the Avs have been successful at least for this season being loaded down the middle with nothing on D so who knows.  To me it is vital that they end up 27th overall or worse to ensure they land one of Reinhart, Bennett, Dal Colle or Ekblad.

 

Entering the season the Sens looked like they were the most well setup Canadian team.  They had more depth in their system than the Oilers, they had more high end skill than the Leafs, and they seemed to be way better coached than the Habs.  I’m stunned at how their season has gone.  But now people will jump off their bandwagon and talk about what a mess it is.  At the draft when the Ducks use that top 10 pick, I’m sure the story will be how the Sens wish they had that trade back.  Well weren’t people just saying in July how the Sens fleeced the Ducks and then when Ryan was left off the Olympic team that it was such a mistake?  So which one is it?

 

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Spezza might be on the move, but the Sens still look real good down the middle for years to come

I still think this team is the best Canadian team moving forward, even better setup than the Habs.  Moving forward they’re great down the middle with Turris, Zibanejad and Lazar all under 25, Karlsson is a stud on D and they have some depth with Cowen, Ceci and others.  Robin Lehner needs to relax in net but that should come with experience and when it does he’ll be a star.  Add all this to Paul McLean who has had a rough year but I think he’s a top end coach in this league.  Maybe they move Spezza this off season, but if they do they’ll get a nice return and should be fine.  He puts up great numbers, but just seems to refuse to be the all around player you need your 1st line centre to be.

 

Of course 1st line centre has been a hot topic of conversation in Toronto all year.  I whiffed on them, I had them to make the playoffs comfortably, and a month ago it looked like they would.  Yet here we are, they’re all but eliminated and the city is in full panic mode about where this team is going.  They aren’t bad setup though.  They have some good pieces in place like Bernier, Bozak, Kessel, JVR and Rielly.

 

If I were Dave Nonis I would be using my 2nd compliance buyout on David Clarkson this summer.  This is  the last year teams will get to use their compliance buyouts (if they have any left, remember it is 2 per team), so why risk it?  If this is what he is, he’s a 2 million dollar player getting 5.25 per.  While the cap is expected to rise to 68-71 million, that is still a terrible contract.  They also need to upgrade down the middle.  I’m one of the few who was on the Tyler Bozak bandwagon before they re-signed him last summer.  But he’s not a legit number 1 guy.  He’s a real solid number 2, but not a number 1.  He reminds me of Craig Conroy and Shawn Horcoff.  Both were 1st line centre’s on teams that made surprise runs to the finals.  They had great all around games and could be used in any situation, but weren’t offensively gifted enough to be legit number 1 guys.

 

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If the Leafs take a run at Eric Staal, Gardiner and Kadri would be a good start of a package going to Carolina

I have no clue what might happen in Carolina this off season, and I do think the Staal brothers preference should they be asked to waive their NTC’s would be to go somewhere together if it’s possible.  The Leafs actually would have the cap space to bring in both, but they only have the assets to get 1 of them.  So I do think they’ll take a run at Eric.  Kadri, Gardiner, Stuart Percy and their 2014 1st would be a pretty good deal for both sides.  Some would try to tell me how they would have to move Rielly in the deal.  No they wouldn’t.  IF Carolina has a fire sale, teams won’t give their top end guys.  It just NEVER happens.  Didn’t happen for Nash, didn’t happen for Thornton, didn’t happen for Heatley, didn’t happen for Pronger any of the 3 times he got moved after the 05 lockout, it just NEVER happens that way and I wish people would finally figure this out.

 

More realistic this off season is a few UFA signings like maybe Joni Pitkanen?  Andrei Markov?  Either would be a nice addition at the right price obviously.  It isn’t a great year for UFA’s though.  So maybe let’s look at the draft situation and they appear as though they’ll pick 10-12.  As it stands right now (much will change between now and late June), Jared McCan is a possibility in that range.  He’s nothing flashy, but a real solid all around centre who has potential to be a Patrice Bergeron type.  If not him, maybe Roland McKewon who is a RH shot D-man playing for Todd Gill and Doug Gilmour in Kingston.  Either guy would be a real good addition.

 

Of course the Leafs slide has been masking the mess of late in Vancouver who are right there with the Leafs in the standings.  It could be an entertaining off season in Vancouver.  I don’t think they should rebuild per say, but they could stand to be renovated.  The Sedins aren’t going anywhere after signing those extensions before this season.  Gillis has to go, Torts should also go despite the 5 year deal.  That would be a good start, but then the question is who replaces them?

 

George McPhee might be out of a job in Washington.  He’s done a good job stockpiling talent in Washington, although not a good job in pulling the trigger on the deals he needs to.  Paul Fenton in Nashville has been talked about for many job openings the last few seasons.  Would ownership be interested in brining back Steve Tambellini who spent a lot of years in the Canucks organization including 3 with this ownership group as the assistant GM to Dave Nonis?  He was horrendous for the Oilers so they better not.  Speaking of Dave Nonis, Dave Poulin is another candidate.  Brad Treliving in Phoenix, Rick Dudley in Montreal (who is a Torts guy if they insist he stays coaching), lots of possibilities.

 

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Moving Kesler will net a good return and could be a blessing in disguise for the Canucks

As for replacing Torts, well that would all depend on who the GM is obviously, but I think they have to bite the bullet and get rid of him and allow the incoming GM to select his own guy.  The incoming GM will also have the pressure of moving Ryan Kesler as soon as he gets the job.  He doesn’t HAVE to, but he will get a great return for a guy who is one of the best 2nd line centre’s in the game but can’t stay healthy.  If the Pens offer Sutter, Pouliot and their 2015 1st I would be jumping all over that.  Sutter could take some pressure off Bo Horvat who’ll almost certainly step into the lineup as either their 2nd or 3rd line centre.

 

 

Other moves need to be done too.  I still think they can get something for Alex Burrows.  Time to go, the guy doesn’t have a good contract moving forward and even though he’s broke out lately, for the duration of his contract I’m betting you see more of the guy who had the enormous drought this season then Burrows circa 2011.  Alex Edler is another guy who should go.  He has never been the same guy since the Kings torched him in the 2012 playoffs.  Prior to that he was coming off an incredible season and looked like he was developing into a legit number 1 D-man.  He’s still a top 4 guy, but he needs a change of scenery.  They just have to guard against getting too young.

 

A team who is along the lines of what I’m thinking for young but not too young would be the Winnipeg Jets.  Now the Jets don’t get a lot of attention, and they’re really well run by Kevin Cheveldayoff.  But they still face a pretty steep hill to climb in the meat grinder known as the Western conference.  The one thing they MUST do is upgrade between the pipes.

 

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Next season, Pavelec should be replacing a legit starter on bad nights and not be the guy who constantly gets replaced

I’m one of those people who believed Ondrej Pavelec was going to become a top flight NHL starter.  Well it hasn’t happened and it is time to pull the pin on that idea.  He’s a solid backup.  But this team has no idea what he will give them night to night.  Jonas Hiller is a UFA.  Would he go to Winnipeg after so many years in the California sun?  Maybe not, but then again if the Ducks decide they can thrive with Frederick Anderson and John Gibson in goal what would be his other choices?  There aren’t a lot.  Maybe Minnesota….which isn’t much different from Winnipeg.  Maybe Jaroslav Halak is the answer?  Or maybe he re-signs in Washington, which would make Braden Holtby available.  They’ll have options and they have to take care of this problem.

 

 

They also could stand to upgrade their blueline.  There is talent on their back end, but obviously the biggest (literally) enigma is Dustin Byfuglien.  Teams will have great interest in the big man if he’s available, weather they’re looking to add size up front or some offence from their blueline.  I would be looking for another top 4 D-man in return, but perhaps a LH shot.  If Mark Stuart could be their number 5 D-man they would be in pretty good shape.  Bogosian on their top pairing, Trouba on their 2nd pairing, it could take great shape but they need to have the right guy coming back to do that deal.

 

I do love their size up front.  A key for this team next season will be if Mark Scheifele can take another step after a real good rookie season.  If he could handle the 1st line centre duties that would be a huge positive for this club.  Having said that it is likely much too soon to put that kind of pressure on him.  But still, their top 6 is Ladd, Wheeler, Kane, Scheifele, and maybe Byfuglien if Maurice chooses to put him up front all of next season….and if he’s not dealt.

 

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Still too many issues to count, but the Oil may have found something with Scrivens

And finally, the Oilers.  I don’t need to spend much time here on the Oil because I have another piece coming out all dedicated to their shit show season and what they have and what needs to be done and so on and so forth.  But I will say, the Colorado Avalanche were in the 4th year of their rebuild last year and finished 29th.  If the Oilers don’t literally have AHL goaltending to start this season they might not be anywhere near this mess.

 

 

 

I said it earlier, they had expectations where a team like the Flames didn’t.  So it’s pretty natural for these guys to just want this season to be done with already.  Come next fall barring 1 or 2 blockbuster moves, expectations will be extremely low and that will help them out a ton I’m certain.  They aren’t in anywhere near as bad of shape as they appear to be or as the Eastern media in particular make them out to be.  A shit show without a doubt, but it is fixable.  Having said that, don’t expect playoffs yet again next season.  A) the Pacific is too tough.  B) the West is too tough.  C) MacTavish won’t be able to pull multiple rabbits out of his hat.

 

This was an awful year for NHL teams in this country, that’s all.  The Oilers, Canucks and Leafs turned into shit shows, the Jets are what they are, the Flames are better than expected but still bad, and the Sens had an off year.  But I’m saying it right now, 4 of these teams can join Montreal in the playoffs next season (Canucks, Leafs, Sens and Jets).  The Flames will still need some time I believe, but they’re on the right track.  And while the Oilers get mocked for their rebuild taking time people forget that the Blues took 7 years rebuilding so it’s still too early to call it a failure.  Things will turn Canada….they can’t get worse!

 

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Too little, too late

 

Didn’t I JUST write this blog like a month ago?!  Yeah I’m sure I did.  It starred Jay Feaster and the Calgary Flames.  I talked about how awful of a GM Feaster is and how the Flames are in big trouble with him running the show.  I HATE re-runs.  I used to love them.  I never got sick of seeing Will staying in Philly and him talking to Uncle Phil on the phone about how he wasn’t coming back to Bel-Air and on the screen it said “Fresh Prince of Philadelphia???”  Great episode!  Never got sick of seeing the Simpsons softball episode either “Mattingly!  I thought I told you to TRIM those sideburns?!” and Don had shaved all the way up the side of his head from the sideburns up…TERRIFIC!  So maybe this re-run will be as sweet as those ones were!

Well its FINALLY happened.  The Flames did what they have had to do for over 2 years now.  They’ve dealt their franchise guy, Jarome Iginla (heard of him?)  And as I expected, Jay Feaster absolutely butchered this deal and is running that franchise completely into the ground.  Sure, I have no clue what the Flames got back.  Kenny Agostino, Ben Hanowski, I know absolutely NOTHING about these kids.  But I’m calling my shot right now, they got 2 kids who will only play in the show because of who they were dealt for.  They’ll play so the Flames save face.  They won’t be anything effective.  And they got back a 1st round pick which as of right now looks very likely to be at least 26th or lower.

I have to think a competent GM could have got more than this.  Are the Penguins REALLY saying no if you ask them for their 1st and Olli Maatta?  Or their 1st and Beau Bennett?  Come on!  But Feaster needed to get his 2 prospects.  And of course they got 2 college kids.  Leave it to an American GM to have way more faith in the US system then he should.  I’m not saying the USHL and NCAA don’t produce good players, they do.  But it seems as though American GM’s have an agenda to overload on those players.  Maybe I’m very wrong, but I kind of don’t think that the Flames know something about these 2 kids that the rest of the hockey world doesn’t.  It’s the same as Mark Jankowski.  MAYBE the Flames know something nobody else does…but lets be honest they don’t.

And as I have said, that 1st right now looks very likely to be a pick that will be 26th-30th, best case scenario.  Now it is a deep draft so a 1st round pick this year holds more weight then most year’s.  But still this was quantity over quality.  Take the 1st, get a prospect or a good young player and get the heck out of there.  GM’s get burned by this all the time.  Kevin Lowe when dealing Pronger wanted 5 pieces coming back.  So you couldn’t deal him 2 or 3 great pieces, it was more important to Lowe that he got 5 pieces which thanks to the Ducks making the 2007 Stanley Cup final they did.  I can’t understand why GM’s do this.

To make matters oh so much worse for the Flames and their fans….Feaster could have dealt Iginla when he first took over on December 26th, 2010.  The LA Kings were getting desperate to land that big time established player to take them from being a good young team to an elite team.  The rumors were that the Flames could have Brayden Schenn, Jonathan Bernier and a 1st round pick.  Potential future captain and great 2 way center, potential franchise goaltender, and a 1st that ended up being Oilers prospect Oscar Klefbom who scouts are very high on (of course Feaster would have likely taken Scott Mayfield out of the USHL because he would have known something amazing that nobody else did).  Sooooooooo….I hope 2 more 9th place finishes were worth that.

Now onto the rest of the Flames fire sale.  You don’t want to go overboard on selling.  Kipper still sounds like he might go somewhere.  I’m no insider but with Kipper I’m keeping my eyes on the St.Louis Blues.  I think that’s a situation he would report to and perhaps the Blues would do a Halak for Kiprusoff deal.  Maybe the Flames toss them a conditional 2nd round pick in case Kiprusoff retires after the season.

Jay Bouwmeester sounds almost guaranteed to be gone and everyone seems to think it will be the Red Wings that land him.  A lot of teams though will look to jump in on Bouwmeester, however if it is the Wings I believe a fair price is their 1st round pick and Brendan Smith.  Of course with Feaster I could project all day as to what the return will be, he has his own guys that he likes and they aren’t anything like what most hockey people look for.

Calgary ownership needs to see the mistake they’ve made in hiring Jay Feaster and clean house.  This guy is an absolute dumpster fire.  He didn’t build the Tampa Bay Lightning into a Stanley Cup champion, that was Rick Dudley.  What Feaster did was ruin a great young team in Tampa in very short order.  In 3 seasons that team went from Stanley Cup champs to the 1st overall pick.  Had that been a veteran heavy team that might be expected.  They weren’t.  Lecavalier, St.Louis, Richards, Boyle, Khabibulin, they’re all still playing!  As an Oiler fan a part of me is laughing pretty hard at all this (and Oiler fans shouldn’t be laughing at ANYONE the last few years), but I do feel bad for Flames fans because I believe this is only the begining.  As long as Feaster is around, the future is pretty bleak in Calgary.

 

Follow me on twitter where I will likely take at least 1 shot at Jay Feaster per week @TJ_Soups

One big F-east up

 

Here’s the thing.  I’m simply an AWFUL human.  Just ask Jay Feaster.  Now, Jay Feaster doesn’t know who some no name blogger who’s site is known by nobody except you.  Yes you, you’re the only one, I’m glad you’re my friend/family member/small time blog enthusiased.  BUT…if Jay Feaster did know who I was, I don’t think he would be a fan.  You see if this is the first time you’re reading my stuff you might want to go back and read what I’ve had to say about this guy in the past.  Jay’s chins think its unflattering (see, terrible human).

But he makes it oh so easy!!!  Tim Erixon, refusing to rebuild, Mark Jankowski, Roman Cervenka, Dennis Wideman, and now Ryan O’Reilly.  Flames fans, I’m not here to hate on you.  Yes I’m an Oiler fan and yes I want to beat the Flames more than any other team in the league.  But not like this.  This is like when Bret Hart used to fight some jobber with a name like Ted Smith who just rocked generic tights, was already in the ring, the Fink would introduce him as the Hitman was walking to the ring.  An automic drop here, a neck breaker there, elbow from the 2nd turnbuckle, sharpshooter, and 3 minutes after walking out Bret was walking back to the locker and he didn’t even have to shower.  Trust me, this isn’t showing up this bad on the ice YET…but it will pretty soon.

Now, at 4 PM Thursday I admit I honestly thought he had made a great move.  I said it on Twitter, the Flames had been playing some good hockey and are more desperate for an actual center than any other team in the league.  There are AHL teams that are better down the middle than the Flames are right now….and I wish that was a joke!  So Ryan O’Reilly would be a HUGE boost to the Flames.  If you’ve read my stuff (yes I’m talking to YOU again) than you know that I believe strength at center is perhaps the most vital ingredient to win in this league, especially in the West.  So a just turned 22 year old, 6’0, 210 pound, 55 point, 54% in the dot, 200 foot center would improve the Flames not just a little but a lot!  But I didn’t know that he would need to clear waivers.  Nobody did, but Feaster should have.

How not just Feaster but the entire organization wasn’t on top of that is well beyond me.  And then, to come out and claim that they KNEW about the rule but had a different interpretation on the rule is just digging yourself an even deeper hole and makes you look like a complete moron if nobody had that figured out already!  Would you not think to maybe call the league before hand and inquire about the rule if you knew about it?!

Can you imagine had the Avs not matched?  So O’Reilly goes through waivers, and every team in the league would put in a claim.  I’m guessing some of those teams may flat out get told to tank.  I don’t believe this goes on in the league, but for 1 week to get a 22 year old kid who is an elite 2nd line center it might be a rare occassion that it would happen.  Then, the Flames have this enormous f*** up hanging over them for the rest of the season and ridiculous pressure now to get away from the bottom of the league to avoid what would already have been the biggest mistake in NHL history.  No way a team that might be already playing over their heads (26th in the league) wouldn’t crumble with all that hanging over them.  Boom, you LITERALLY just gave away Seth Jones or Nathan MacKinnon.

And as for Pat Morris, save it.  Morris came out and claimed he thought the same way Feaster did about the rule, sure you did Pat.  This snake is the same agent who decided to go to the media with his client Chris Pronger’s trade request in the summer of 06 rather than keeping it behind closed doors.  He’s dirty, and I wouldn’t put it past him for one second to have gone to just about every GM looking to get an offer sheet knowing that his client would have to go through waivers.  What’s it to him?  O’Reilly gets back to playing (and for him hopefully out of Colorado which is what he wanted) and Morris gets a big pay day for him and his client.

But at the end of the day it is all on Jay Feaster.  The great Feast is at it again, and he is truely burning this organization down (get it? Flames, burning, histerical…ok quit laughing now).  He should be fired for this.  Doesn’t have to be now, but if he’s not gone by May 1st barring a miracle run I will be shocked.  And the thing is that they don’t have to go scorched earth like the Oilers did (rumor is ownership refuses to do that), but this is ridiculous.  You can rebuild by simply making smart trades, getting great bang for your buck UFA’s, and drafting shrewdly.  The Oilers had to do what they did because no UFA’s want to sign there unless the team is great, and they didn’t have one valuable asset to help the process along.

Feaster has no plan.  This clown has been terrible at the draft, threw ridiculous money at Wideman and Hudler last summer, and usually makes terrible trades too.  He is the worst GM in the league.  Greg Sherman is close, but you can’t win the title via count out or DQ and Feaster got himself DQ’d in the latest title fight against Sherman, he’s still the champ.  Oh and have you noticed he has a weight problem?!?  Look at me, just a terrible…simply horrible person.  It’s anti-bullying week and look at me piling on Jay when everyone is pointing and laughing.  I’m sorry Jay, buds?

 

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