Friday, March 30, 2018

Time to reflect

There is a time for hockey then there is is a time for life.  My heart goes out to Erik Karlsson and his wife Melinda for the loss of their boy.  There are no words I could even come up with to comfort them over the loss of their child. Hockey is just a game; my heart and sympathy go out to the couple. May the Lord comfort them is the time of need. 

Now back to a world of hockey. What happened to the Flames this season? Well, I can give you some reasons, every one of which would make you say "Duh." It is trying to figure out how to fix it that would make our hair turn gray.

Let's discuss what went wrong first season.

Obviously, the powerplay is total garbage. The powerplay has to be the biggest eyesore this season. It lacks any imagination, whatsoever. Everyone knows what is coming. There has been no fear in taking a penalty against the Flames this season.  Every night, fans are losing their hair over the lack of execution on the powerplay.

Wrong players on the powerplay unit. A coach's role is to put a player in a position to succeed. The Flames continue to make the same silly mistakes over and over. What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing and expecting different results. Every year, the Flames have the same problem. 

The Flames continue to build around the defence, which continues to let the team down. I am not sure where the blame is on that. Is it the coaching or the players? The system has to change. Fix it, because it is broken.  The players do not trust the system. Brodie's confidence is gone. Hammer has not quite fit in.  It took the Flames most of the season to settle on the number six dman.

Add the bottom six?  Or should I say the awful six? There has been no consistency. The right wing on the third line in Calgary has gone downhill. They have to figure out a winger with Janko and Bennett. The Jagr debacle was a massive failure. 

Then there is the ugly trade by our GM. Two first-round picks gone in the Hammer trade. What happens to Brad if the Isles win the lottery pick with the Flames' pick? He has to take some of the blame for this year. The Flames have some decisions to make. This is one ugly eyesore. Time to get it cleaned up. 


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Oh, the ugly came out to play.

The title speaks for itself.  Mr. Ugly came out to play, he brought some friends, and they pitched their tents for a spell. The Flames forgot how to skate, how to play defence, and most of all, forgot how to use their brains.

So what happened? Defence slipping, blowing leads, relying on the first line, no support. Smith was weak during the losing streak, giving up bad goals at the worst time. It was like the Flames were looking for ways to lose. They are in charge of their own destiny; they can't rely on other teams losing.  

The powerplay lacks any continuity. No one seems to know where anyone is. Spending so much time overthinking and not enough shooting. Plain and simple, there is no magic. It's like a magician forgetting his magic — the players are lost and have no idea how to fix it. Mr. Cameron has to figure out what is going on and how to fix it. Because at this moment, the powerplay resembles the Keystone Cops.

I wonder if it is the system itself or the players?  Are the coaches putting players in the wrong positions? There seems to be no logic to who the coaches put on the powerplay.  The coaches' job is to put players in the best position to succeed. The Flames seem to be using players' weaknesses instead of their strengths. Unless the players can turn their weakness into strengths, the coaches may have to consider other options.

Third-period collapse rears its ugly head. Every game, the Flames have fallen apart. The defence was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. The forwards like they're the reason for the defence and are too scared to try to save them.  They panic under pressure. And just when they have things under control, Smith lets in a stinker. Panic breeds panic; once it starts, it grows like a weed. The Flames have to bring back the calm. Stop trying to lose instead of trying to win.

Despite alll this, the Flames snapped their six-game losing streak last Saturday. This is a huge lift for the Flames, perhaps the turning point in the season. Their powerplay was still terrible, but they held the third-period collapse at bay.  The Flames seemed to hold it together under pressure. They were more relaxed in the third period, trying to win instead of trying to lose. The biggest improvement was in the forwards. They were supporting the defence, not being outskated. It was nice to finally see.

They backed that up with a win on Tuesday over the Hawks.  They came up with a decent third period again.  The Flames need to keep up the effort for full 60 minutes. Flames were awful for two periods in Chicago.  In the third, they got some breaks and capitalized on them. Smith put in a full 60-minute game.  Let's see how one of the best teams on the road does in their next five.

The Flames are still tracking the Sens.   They seem to scout Hoffman and Smith.  Hoffman seems to be a major target according to many sources.  A new name that seems to in the Media is Grabner. I like his speed.  He is an intriguing piece that could help the Flames make a playoff push.

Monday, January 22, 2018

What has Changed?

So what has changed? How have the Flames turned it around?  Have they improved that much? What is the main reason? Since the Coach's display and the throwing of the stick, the Flames have won four in a row.

I will take it a step further. Since Ferly has developed into the forward he can be, the Flames have been on a roll. Ferland is learning where he is supposed to be. The first line is playing like a first line.

Another key ingredient in the Flames is the emerging number 6
Brett Kulak is slowly growing into an NHL quality defencemen; Stone has found his partner. Brett is good, competent dman who knows his abilities and plays within his zone. I like Brett because he knows his role and does not try to do too much. He contributes where he can. He is only going to get better.

Another cog in the success of the Flames is that they have found a backup goalie. David Rittich has come out of nowhere and has been a feel-good story. David has given the Flames every chance to win especially with the last 40-plus save performance against the Panthers.  Dave has not lost a game in regulation this season. Each game better than the last.  He is a steady goalie who plays the angles and gives the Flames chances to win each game.

Trade deadline

I have been told the Flames are expected to be a big fish come deadline. No names have been named.  I am guessing the Flames will call on Hoffman from the Sens, unfortunately, Kane from the Sabres and a long shot Pacioretty from the Habs. All three names are out there. It will be interesting to see what the Flames will do, if anything.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Same old, same old

The Calgary Flames looking for a way to lose is becoming comical. What makes it so frustrating is that they keep losing the same way.

Think of the special teams as the Titanic. Think of the coaches as captains steering the ship into the iceberg. Think of the players as the passengers kicking and screaming, having no idea what to do. There are so many holes; no one has a clue which one to fix first.

The Flames have developed a system to get the puck and keep the puck in the zone. But the system is not working. They are throwing the puck in blindly and getting outworked. They are having trouble just getting into the zone. They have to start learning what to do with the puck. There is no thought to their system; they are working as individuals and not as a team.

I am still confused as to which players the Flames are using on the powerplay. They are putting players in a position to fail instead of to succeed. This is all on the coaching staff. Knowing the players is their job. They need to use players' strengths. This has to stop.

The players have to start looking for each other. Be on the same page, if you will. They have to start shooting the puck. There is too much passing while looking for the perfect shot. You can't score unless you take the freaking shot.

You know how to improve your penalty kill? How about stopping taking stupid penalties. Too many times, players are taking selfish penalties. It's bound to happen. The ones that really upset me are the lazy ones. Give that extra push to catch up instead of using a lazy hook or trip.

The Flames are getting caught out of position too many times. They look like they have no idea where they are supposed to be. The communication has to be there. Players have to know what the others are going to do. For example, all four players cannot geta caught behind the net on a powerplay. Players cannot leave the zone until the puck leaves the zone. The forwards have to help the defence get the puck out. The Flames are making obvious mistakes that any junior player knows not to make, let alone an NHL player.

This team need help. Changes have to be made. They can't just play 10-20 minutes a game. The game against the Ducks was another example of pathetic, lazy hockey. If it weren't for Smith, it would have been 8-1. Gaudreau and Monahan have to show up.



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Well, This is Ugly

The Flames have fallen into this habit of not playing a full 60 minutes.  Either they are trying to the easy way out, or they have lost the will to work, basically hoping to rely on their good looks.

The defence is still making very embarrassing turnovers. Well-established defensemen do not make these kinds of mistakes. On paper, we have one of the best defences in the League.  We continue to give up close to 40 shots a game. The nights we don't, the goalies take the night off.

Don't even get me on the forwards. They have decided that playing in their own end is no longer necessary. They seem to think that they do not have to fight for the puck. It is like they think they have diplomatic immunity. Lazy is not acceptable; work is. Someone has to take away their immunity and give them hard labour.

The good news is that the Flames are still in the midst of the playoffs race. These brain farts can be fixed, it just a matter of discipline and hard work. Right—work seems to a dirty word. Putting themselves on the line should not be an alternative. It should be the only method of playing.

In the news, the Flames have sent Lack down for obvious reasons. He was struggling with his play. To be honest, he did not have much help in front of him. I was quite surprised that Gillies did not get the call-up. The Flames instead went with Rittich, who was great against the Avs. Before we ordain Rittich as the backup, let's see how he does in his second start. At least his first start was a pleasant surprise.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Jagr gets his first and so does Jankowski

Nearing that special 20-game mark, the Flames finally get some help from the third line. Jankowski has shown he belongs to the big guys. He no longer has anything to prove down in the AHL.

He seems to have settled down the third line. He can benefit from Jagr, who can show him the ropes.

Talking about Jagr, the Flames are doing exactly what he wants. He wanted to play with the kids, and he got his wish with Jankowski, and of course, Bennett. Jagr has been showing signs of why the Flames wanted him so badly in the first place.

One of the main reasons for keeping Jagr is he is so strong with the puck. When he has the puck, he makes things happen—mostly because he does not give the puck away. His hockey IQ is off the charts. He finds the spot to be in the offensive zone.  His work habits are second to none. He has a strong influence with the kids, which makes him another coach on the ice.

The main concern we have right now is Stan Bennett. The Flames are still trying everything to help him to succeed. They have made strong suggestions that he could be obtained.  Stan is showing signs of improvement and Flames are continuing to be patient with him.

Johnny is playing like a house on fire; he is probably playing his best hockey of the season. He has been flying with Monahan. Our first line has been our best line of late. Johnny has to keep up his work ethic and not fall into lazy plays.

The biggest problem with the team is the special teams. The powerplay and penalty kill are atrocious. The main problem with the powerplay is Brouwer Versteeg. If we want the powerplay to be successful, then we have to use the right players, more along the lines of Jankowski.

The powerplay and sloppy defence have to be eliminated for this team to be effective.

Friday, October 27, 2017

One-on-One with Russ Cohen

Reblogged from Flamestrs Thoughts

On the new face-off rules:


Russ:


I'm not loving it, and it seems like some players are very confused. That's why we're seeing some of the players getting thrown into the penalty box. However, there were a lot of players cheating over the years, and it became an accepted practice. Bobby Clarke cheated on a ton of face-offs, as well as Mark Messier after him. This is forcing players to use better technique to win a draw rather than brute force. We do hear some analytic backlash regarding face-offs. This new rule has done one good thing — it has emphasized how important face-offs can be, especially late in periods and late in the game.


Randy:


I hate the rule. It slows down the games down. I simply want the linesmen to drop the puck. Let's get on with the game!


On finding prospects:


Russ:


A lot of times, it's luck. I'm not a scout and don't have the pressure of filing critical reports about players. I do have a reputation that I take very seriously, and that's why I do take pride in finding players and want to do a better job when I miss. Goalies are very hard. I first look at their play on the ice. Most have the same style these days, so I look to see if they're confident and does that rub off on his teammates. Then I like to talk to them and see what makes them tick. How do they break down the action? Or are they reactionary? Neither is the right answer, but it just helps me create a baseline to work off of.


Randy:


Well, you sure know your stuff, Russ. You have called a lot of prospects right on. I can usually call a person on his skating and shot, and that is about it.  I love your work. You are one of the best in the business.


Russ:


I literally have over ten years of files of every NHL team's best prospects. Those lists are at least 20 deep, and I update them almost daily. I do like to have new information based on live viewings (preferable) or on video (watching full games over highlights). Players continue to grow physically and get stronger and mature. A lot of times, I'm looking beyond the score in games to see what a player can or can't do. I look behind the play and see some things you don't see on television. When watching something online or on television, I may watch a game 2-3 times if I can. If I used just pre-draft information on all my player profiles, they would become stale. I save the best information for my radio show, Hockey Prospect Radio on Sirius XM Saturdays 8 - 10 AM and on every TSN station (check your local guide). I also give out a fair amount on my website www.sportsology.com and the HockeyBuzz cast that I'm a part of every weekday from 1 - 2 PM. I write for a few websites and I've authored eight books, with my new one on the way. People can find me on Amazon.com. That's my latest book, but you can just click on my name to see the rest.


Randy:


I like to thank Russ for helping me out with this opportunity. Rarely do I get a chance to meet one of the best. A terrific follow on Twitter. Ten years of documents; I cannot even imagine being that organized.