Thursday, December 31, 2015

Originally posted on Flames Jambalaya

What has been going in Calgary? The Flames have seemed to have changed their ways. So why the change of fortune? The Flames have been upping their play and suddenly seem to remember how to play.

What exactly has changed in the Flames’ play? I especially noticed a couple of things. The first is that the Defense has started to pitch in. They jump in the play at a moment’s notice. They look like the old Defense of last year. Gio is beginning to show his true colors. He is playing smart, picking the right times to pitch in.

Brodie is the best D-man on the team right now, bar none. By far he is playing the best hockey he has ever played his best hockey as a Flame. He is getting help with Hamilton’s arrival. His obvious problem was adjusting to the system; he has seemed to have adjusted.

Russell and Wideman are still having issues, but they have improved of late. Seems Russell is getting better as his positional play. He is back to blocking his shots.

So what is still needed? Simply put, more supportive scoring from the forwards. Right now it lacks mostly because of the Frolik. The Flames right now have a terrific top line, but they need more scoring from their second line. Which they were having before the Frolik injury. They need Mr. Hudler to be more visible. For some time, we have not even heard his name, he has to be the Hudler from last year.

Plain and simple, we have to somehow get more results from Backlund. He has all the talent. He has to learn to use the skill that he has. He needs to think with the puck and get smarter.

Sam Bennett is one of the best young players in the game. He must get back to where he was when Frolik was healthy. The Flames have to do a trade, or, better yet, find a linemate who can think like Bennett. He is not quite there to run the line; he needs a smart player to go with him.

That means Ferland has to step up his game to add some offence. Right now, he is one of the best pests in the game. He has to start capitalizing on scoring chances. The problem is, he has to get more scoring chances. That means Bennett has to realize he does not have to do everything himself and start trusting Ferland to give him a chance to score.

I have enjoyed watching the defensive coverage is getting better and getting smarter. The forwards are beginning to take responsibility in their zone. They are hitting and playing physical within the limits. Forwards are helping defense. They are finding ways to win and not to lose. I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Flames may not look like they’re trying to improve the team. But I cannot express this enough, they are one of the busiest teams in the League. The problem is, there are not enough sellers and too many buyers. That means the sellers are asking for the moon and the buyers are only offering the stairs. It's a game of chicken; the question is: Will the Flames be the first to cluck?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What are the Leafs to do?

There are a few questions Mr. Babcock has which will pretty much determine how long of a rebuild the Leafs are in for.

The biggest player that he has to make up his mind what do with right now is:

Jonathan Bernier

Is Bernier's career over as a Leaf? Now this is a loaded question, and you won't get the same answer from anyone.

Let's face facts. Bernier has been a huge disappointment. He has been awful; he is not controlling his rebounds, giving them away like candy. He is giving up at least one bad goal per game. His inconsistent play has been a huge problem for the young defense.

There is no easy solution here. The Leafs have to patient with him, simply because they will never get what he is worth. They cannot play him because he has not earned that right. Obviously, the Leafs really have no choice. They have to see what they can get for him. There is no way he is going get a fair shake with the Leafs. They need to get what they can and run.

The next question is: Who do the Leafs want to keep and build this team around? Babcock has said again and again that he has no interest in trading Dion or Kadri. So who else is staying?

If I were the GM—and of course I am not—I would say: No one! But I would like to list the biggest names I would shop:

Tyler Bozak

I am sure some team would be willing to take a huge gamble on Bozak. The biggest problem is the cap hit. The Leafs will have to take some of the cap. Hopefully, the Leafs can get a pick and a prospect in return.

Joffery Lupul

I still believe that Lupul has some value. Joffery can still be a solid third liner. Again, the main problem is the nasty cap hit. His cap says he is a 2nd line forward. The Leafs will have lower their demands to get this done. I still think it can be done.

The third and last asset:

Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

Parenteau is a good, cheap forward with some speed I would sell him hard at the deadline. He has played well this season and has been one of the bright spots this season. Pierre has been a special teams superstar, He has been used in both the powerplay and penalty kill. He is a very useful player that every contender could use in their final push.

How about you? Who do you sell at the deadline?


Sorting the Facts from Fantasy; and, of course, a Rant

Originally posted on Flames Jamalaya

Bottom line: The Flames are really trying to improve the team. The problem is this is real life, not fantasy. What I mean by that is that Flames trades are easier said than done.

Why is nothing getting done? There is one main reason: No one is willing to trade a player for prospects and picks. Simply put, too many teams feel they have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs.

As a result, if you want the million dollar prize, you are going to have to give a million in a half back. This is what is causing the end of any deals. The Flames have pretty much told anyone and every team in the League they are in the market for a top-six forward. Unfortunately, every team has told the Flames they want a top three dman. And the Flames are telling them they do not want one that badly.

Yes, I know they are trying, or else I would not be doing this blog. The Flames are in no hurry to trade Brodie; he is about as close to untouchable you can get. And you can pretty much say that for Hamilton. Although, I could see him gone before Brodie. Okay, now before you go nuts, I am not saying they are trading Dougie. What I am saying is, Brodie is ahead of him on the depth chart.

There is a reason I have not mentioned Gio. He is not drawing much interest with the way he plays. That is not inside info, just an observation. If he starts picking up his play, the Flames may have an asset they can deal. Again, no inside info, just an opinion from a no-name blogger.

As for the other two the Flames defensemen; the Flames would love to trade Wideman. The problem is that teams are seeing him as a one-year wonder. The way he is playing, can we really blame them? As for Russell, the Flames have to make up their minds what they're doing with him.

Amongst the forwards, the main asset is Hudler. Nothing is getting done because Flames cannot get anything close to making it worth their time. As for anyone else; you're kidding, right? The Flames are either not going to get a thing for them, or the player is us untouchable.

There is no way the Flames are giving up Johnny Hockey or Mr. Monahan. Oh, I am sure they could get a stud for Bennett, but I would harm them if they did. The answer could be Backlund, but he is really struggling and won't get the Flames a million dollar prize.

So there is the problem in a nutshell. Right now, it is a game of chicken. So, Brad Treliving, are you feeling a little fowl?

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Flames Three-Headed Monster

Originally posted on Flames Jambalaya

You would think the Flames would have gotten a more clear goalie picture by now. Instead, they have a messy, cluttered situation. Why, you ask? Well, it could be for two reasons. The first is obvious. They are equally bad to start off the season. Whether it's the goaltending or the defence, Houston, we have a problem and big one at that. The other is that the Flames muddied the water when they re-signed Ramo. They should have traded Hiller. Instead, we have a three-headed monster on our hands.

The three goalie system does not work. In fact, it often causes a distraction in the dressing room. When any given night you have one or two mistakes in your own end, it becomes almost comical. The goaltending is not picking up that great save when we need it. Which is rather troublesome. Either Hiller or Ramo has to start playing like they want the job. Or do I dare say, bringing in Ortio to give him a shot?

Talking about Ortio, let's face facts. Sitting in the press box is not doing him any good.  Either play him or trade him. The third choice is not a choice. What I mean by that is I do not feel he would clear waivers. I also feel he has nothing to prove in the AHL. You know what happens when you stop moving forward, you regress instead of progressing. That is why I feel they are at a crossroads with him. Play him or find a home for him. As long as he sits in the press box, you are not going to get much for him. He might not even be in the future for the Flames, with Jon Gillies on the farm.

The defense issue concerns me a bit. I know it's early, but the defense seems to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Most nights our second pairing has been the best pairing. Hamilton and Gio have struggled at times this season. They are really missing Brodie. His playmaking skills are what the doctor ordered for this team right now.

Yes, it's early, but the Flames have to squash this before it becomes a norm. The forwards deserve some blame for not finishing their hits and taking silly penalties because they are lazy. The players started believing all the hype and no team is going to take them for granted now. There is no sneaking up on teams; they are well aware of the Flames and more prepared to pounce on them.

Again, it's early, but I see nasty habits rearing their ugly heads. This cannot be tolerated. 'Never give up' has to be back in their game. Right now they are not even trying.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Calgary Flames Decisions

First posted on Flames Jambalaya

Going into the season, the Flames have some major choices to make. The biggest being in goal, crowded with three incumbents: Jonas Hiller, Karri Ramo, and of course Joni Ortio. Ortio having a one-way contract makes it that more interesting. This is the one choice I want to discuss tonight.

Karri Ramo

The ability of Karri to make the big save came in handy in the playoffs. But at the same time, his unfortunate ability to give up a bad goal was almost predictable. He was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Flames need a more consistent goalie this season. Whether Karri can deliver is anyone guess.

Jonas Hiller

Jonas would be the first to tell you he can be better this season. I love his ability to cover his net. He has quick reflexes for rebounds for the second start. He is usually in position for the next opportunity. But he has the tendency to lose focus and let in bad goals. If he can return to his days in Disneyland, he is capable of being a consistent number one goalie.

Joni Ortio

Here is the wild card. Joni has been outstanding at AHL level. He really had no more to prove. He is a big, lanky goalie who covers the net. He is a very good positional goalie who needs to work to continue his progress. The negative is that I am not sure he will get enough action to do that.

Leafs Training Camp

The Leafs are inviting everyone but the kitchen sink to the camp. For those wondering why, simply because they are trying to get assets to move at the deadline. Right now it's not about winning; it's about getting as many packages as possible for a rebuild. As a result, they were handing out PTO'S like candy; the biggest two were given to Curtis Glencross and Brad Boyes.

Brad Boyes

Brad has been a serviceable player for the last couple of years, but he is not the same player as he once was. The Leafs must be hoping that somehow he impresses someone enough to grab him. If he can go back to years past, he may very well help the Leafs on the offensive side of the game.

Brad can still put some points out. Given the right opportunity and Brad can produce. He still has the hands to shoot, and the ability to think on the run.

I still think he can be useful as a third liner. He might also be useful on the second line power play. The Leafs have to realize they can't expect much. But saying that, they have nothing to lose.

Boyes is extremely slow. He may never catch up once he makes a mistake. He has lost a lot in his game and struggles in his own zone. The Leafs will not be able to use him in all the aspects. He will have to be a specialty player mostly for power plays, and an extra forward in the last minute of games. I suspect he will make the team as an asset at the deadline.

Curtis Glencross

Curtis can be one of the most frustrating players in the League. There is no doubt that he has all the skill to be a valuable contributor to the hockey club. He just gets too selfish and could get the Leafs into penalty trouble.

Glencross's speed is a valuable asset, and he has it to burn. He can also get into corners and can often get under the opposition's skin. If he can get into the opposition's head, he can get them to take stupid penalties. He often gets garbage goals in front of the net.

Michael Grabner

The acquisition of Michael Grabner is an interesting one. Michael has some talent and will be a big piece in the Leafs' season. He adds some speed which he can use to his advantage. He is coming off of a bad season and will be expected to rebound. He will be motivated to put last year behind him and will be another asset that they can use to trade at the deadline.

It will be interesting to see who the Leafs keep and who they use as trading chips at the deadline. I suspect the obvious ones gone at the deadline are Bozak, Lupal and perhaps Dman Jake Gardiner.

The biggest question will be who do they dare keep for the rebuild? Only time will tell.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Top Ten Leafs

I have been doing top 10 favourite lists and this is the hardest one. This one could be be debated over and over the again. It is the Toronto Maple Leafs' turn.

I have seen too many Leafs to remember, as I am very old.  I could go with the 1967 Leafs team, because I was alive and they brought us the last cup.

My favourite time as a Leafs fan was the 70s and 80s. Some of my favourite players played during that era. Many of them will be on the list to be sure.

So on with the list. I cannot delay any longer. 

10. Dave Keon

Keon was part of that 1967 Leafs team. Dave was a solid centre who played well in all aspects. I loved the hardworking no-nonsense forward. He really seemed to represent the common folk. His best year was the 70-71 season, where he scored 38 goals and 38 assists for 76 points. I didn't love him because of the points, I loved what he represented. He was a leader on the Leafs.

9. James Van Riemsdyk

James is the ultimate power forward, using his strength to his advantage. He is on my list because he is a solid forward playing with heart. He bleeds  blue and white. He was often the best player on the Leafs during last season.

 8. Ian Turnbull

Breaking a Leafs record scoring 5 goals in a game, Ian loved his game. At the time, he was the Leafs best offensive Dman. He scored two 20-goal seasons, including his best season at 22 goals and 57 assists for 79 points in the 1976 season.

7.  Rick Vaive

I remember how much I laughed at the trade with the Canucks that brought Rick to Toronto. He scored 50 goal three seasons. The best of the three was the '54 season. I am not sure, but I think he was the first Leaf to score 50 goals in a season. I was upset when he was traded to the Blackhawks.

6. Errol Thompson

I always knew Errol as the other Sittler line mate.  I loved his slapshot. His top season was the 75-76 43 goal season. He was a solid power forward, especially on the powerplay unit. He was a solid team player who never gave up playing. I loved his play in the offensive zone.

6. Nazem Kadri

I have no reason for having him on my list. Except I have his sweater and he is just one of my favourites. I do love some part of his game. He is a good playmaking centre. Nazem was the Flames' number one Centre at times. He will always be one my favourites.

5. Paul Henderson

It’s not because of the Canada and Russia 1972 summit series. Although that didn't hurt. I really did like his style. He did what he was told. He always did his part. He did what he had to do in order for the Leafs to win. His stats were never awesome, although he had a 38 goal season 71-72 season.

4.  Mike Palmateer

My favourite goalie in a Leafs sweater. He was the man in the net for the Leafs for 76-79, the best being the 77-78 season, with a 2.78 goal against average. He was near an all star in his prime. He carried the team at times. He had reflexes like a cat.

3.  Borje Salming

Salming paved the road to the Europeans defecting to the NHL. He instantly became a hero of mine for his heart. I often pretended to play him in road hockey. He was a puck-rushing dman led by example. He was a terrific rushing defenceman. He will always be a Leaf in my mind, despite ending his career in Detroit. 

2. Lanny McDonald

Although, he was know for being a Flame, his Leafs days were just as important. He had three 40-goal seasons his best being 47 in 77-78. His best year was not a 40-goal year; his point total was 93 in 75-76. He was Sittler's hired man. He was often the key to the Maple Leafs’ success, including an overtime goal that eliminated the high power Islanders.

1.  Darryl Sittler

Sittler was the best captain of all time. Yes, that is only a subjective opinion. But he was the heart and soul of the Leafs  through the 70s.  He will always be known for scoring 6 goals and 4 assists against the big bad Bruins in one game. A record that will never be broken. He was the true picture of a Leaf.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Top Ten Lists

Randy's list first published at Flames Jambalaya.

I am trying to put together my Top 10 Flames list. Putting together my favorite Flames players is a daunting task. There are a quite a few!

I mean, I could have players like defenceman Kari Eloranta, a Flames defender who was with the Flames in the eighties. He never scored more than five goals a season. Okay, bad example. Why would I want him?

I could have put Kent Nilsson, AKA the Magic Man. He has the Flames' record  for most points in a season: 131. In an era when defensive hockey was not invented. But of course, he was an Oiler, so I really could not have him on my list.

Well, of course I am being a little facetious, but you see my point. There could be a whole bunch of players to chose from. It is a task which I do not take lightly. There is no set criteria. Just a totally subjective list of my favourite players. I am sure my list won't be the same as yours, but it will be interesting to see who are the most-liked Flames of all time.


10.  Doug Gilmour

Doug was one of the best second line Centres in the league. He did so many things and played with a edge. Although he never was the best at anything, he was very good at everything. He played with a chip on his shoulder and never let anyone push him around. He never stepped down from anyone. He was a true leader on the best team in the NHL. 

9.  Al Macinnis

A Powerplay specialist who was a very good offensive defenceman. Alan was the Conn Smythe winner in the 89 playoffs.  Alan had six 20-goal seasons with the Flames. Think of that for a defenceman. 

8. Lanny MacDonald.

Lanny was pretty much the heart and soul of the Flames, scoring that huge second goal in game six. He also gets the award for the best moustache  in the NHL. He holds the record for most goals scored in a season (sixty-six,) which will probably never be broken. Lanny was a fantastic power forward with a terrific snapshot and ten times the heart of a normal man. He played on both the Leafs and the Flames, a bonus for me, being a huge Leafs fan as well.

7. Joe Mullen 

Joe was is a pure sniper, one of the best American players. He played the Flames for five season, where he had a career year, scoring 51 goals and 59 assists for 110 points in 1989. He was part of the 89 Stanley Cup team. He was the perfect all-around player. The Flames turned their season around after acquiring Mullen. I loved the way Joe could always be counted on to score the big goal or big play just when the team needed it.

6.  Sean Monahan

I truly believe that Sean is going to be an all-star Flame for many years to come. He is a number one Centre. He was a the best player on the first line last season. He was the best player on the team many nights. He has the ability to play a full game in the defensive zone. He was used in all aspects of the Flames' game.

5. Theoren Fleury 

Theo was told he could never play in the NHL because of his size. Not only did he play, he got a Stanley Cup ring and was a 60-goal scorer. Theo had the heart of a lion and was a sniper. He was the man for the Flames throughout most of his career.

4. Mark Giordano 

Mark would have won the Norris if it was not for his injury. He was basically the first real number one defenceman the Flames have had since the 80s.   The last two years, Mark has been the leader and one of the best Captains the Flames has ever had, both for his play and his leadership in the locker room.

3. Mikka Kiprusoff

This one is personal. I have met him several times. Mikka singlehandedly took the Flames to the 04 Stanley Cup final, making the ‘scorpion' save against the Sharks. Then there was the save off of Martin Havlat as Kipper dove back from behind the net. I will never forget Martin's face when found out he never scored.

2. Jarome Iginla

Iggy was probably the greatest captain in Flames history. He did everything he could to get us the Stanley Cup, but unfortunately we let him down by never giving him a true Centre. Even without a  bona fide centre, he scored two 50-goal seasons, and how many Flames can say that?

1. Hakan Loob

The other number 12 in a Flames sweater. Hakan was my favourite Flame in the 80s. Hakan had a 50-goal year and a Stanley Cup ring. I loved his breakaway speed and agility to get away from opposing defencemen.  


Yes, I know my number one was a odd choice, I have no sound reason, except that he was my favourite Flames player. He might not have been the best of all time, but he is my most-liked Flame. Who would be on your list?


And here is Jason Friesen's Top Ten List for the Oilers

Back in the 80s i was young. As a 10, 11,12 year old boy i often wondered how anybody could be a Flames fan. Only a couple hours north there was the Oilers. A team with the best player in the world and an allstar lineup only a few hours north and you are a Flames fan? It made no sense. Thinking about that got me wondering who my alltime favorite Oilers would be so i decided its time to make a list.

10. Nail Yakupov

Most of you will wonder what im thinking with this pick. Nail was a 1st overall draft pick and in his rookie season with the Oilers he led the team in goals. I became a huge fan real fast. Things went sour for Yakupov. The team took on eakins as coach and with that a number of players dropped of production. Yakupov was one of them. It wasnt until Eakins was fired and a new coach came in that we started to see Yakupov gain confidence back and start to look like the player he can be.
9. Ales Hemsky
Hemsky never really grew into his potential as a player. More than likely this had a lot to do with the team around him. They were not very good but many nights we saw Hemsky Dangle the puck as good as the best in the league.
8. Doug weight 
Simply the reason Weight makes my list is he is all the Oilers had for many seasons.

7. Paul Coffey
His points speak for themself. I have yet to see a defenceman since coffee be able to skate up the ice and walk through players like Coffey could
6. Jari Kurri
The magic Kurri and Gretzky put on for the fans in Edmonton says enough about Kurri
5. Mark Messier
Messier was tough in all areas of the ice. He was the complete package
4. Bill Ranford
Growing up i loved goalies. Ranford in my mind was the best of the best in the early 90s
3. Grant Fuhr
Instead of telling you all the reasons i loved Fuhr ill tell you a little story on why hes my favorite goaltender of all time. I played goal in minor hockey. I would study Fuhr and durring games i would leave my glove side wide open hoping the other team would shoot left side high so i could try to make a spectacular glove save like Fuhr  
2. Wayne Gretzky
His stats speak for themself
1. Glen Anderson
As i did with Fuhr im going to tell a little story on why Anderson was and is my Favorite Oiler of all time. My first few seasons playing hockey i played wing. My 2nd year my mom was able to order me a team jacket. One day at school the principal came up to me and started talking hockey. He saw the #9 on my jacket. He said how hard of a number 9 is to get and i must really like Gordie Howe. Nope i said, i love Glen Anderson