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?