Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Calgary Flames: there are no words

Reblogged from Flames Scratchpad

There have to be changes made to this team soon. Goaltending is awful. They are not making the saves when needed. The defense is bad at best, and that is being kind. Gio, Brodie, and Hamilton have to be better and play smarter.

They have allowed too many blind passes in their own zone. They have to play smarter and pinch at the right times. Too many two-on-ones. And, of course, stop the merry-go-round with the sixth dman. The Flames need to make up their minds who is in and who isn't.

As for the forwards; don't get me started. We are basically a one-line team. Monahan and Johnny are not interested, and of course, we don't have a  third-line winger. The Flames never faced the issue of getting another top-6 forward and are paying for it now.

Bennett is looking like a confused puppy who has no idea what he is supposed to be doing. Stajan has been pretty good. The problem is the fourth-line centre forward showing no push-back. Where is the emotion? This team looks like they have packed it in for the season and are making plans for the summer vacation.

There has to be urgency in the Flames' play.  Once the first bad goal goes in, the team looks like 'here we go again!'

True, the goaltending has to be better, but the team has to show more heart. I am the first to admit the goalies have given up their share of bad goals. But it is hard to win when you cannot score and do not bother to show up until the third period. There is no emotion once this team falls behind. It's like they say, 'well, that's it. Time to pack it in.'

The management has a whole bunch of holes to fix and a coach that no one likes. Players will not listen to him, and he does not have the guts to make them. Players have to have repercussions for the way they play. They have no one to answer to. Or should I say, the stars have no need to listen, but if you're not the star, that is a different story? The third- and fourth-liners have a whole different standard to live up to than the stars.  And yes, that is adding to the problem. There have to be consequences for everyone, including the leaders.

Oh yes, there are a lot of holes in this ship that cannot be fixed with duct tape.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Leafs stand pat

I am excited to see this Maple Leafs team play this season. I am worried, though, that there will be pressure to add at the deadline. The future looks bright; I just don't want to darken it with a silly trade for a win-now moment.

We have plenty of skilled forwards who will continue to give us a surplus of scoring. The Leafs will always have no trouble scoring. What  Toronto needs is a number four defencemen who is reliable in his own end.

Too many times this season, we have let big leads slip away. The Maple Leafs have to play smarter and more responsible in their own end. Too much panic in their own zone. A solid, versatile, dependable defenceman would be the perfect add.

Now at this moment, we cannot in good conscience trade the veteran forwards. As long as the team remains in the playoff hunt, management has to give the team a chance of making the playoffs. As long as the team continues to win, management can not in any way discourage that.  A rebuild too early would clearly give the wrong message to the team and their fans.

So I as have at it, enjoy the experience and the ride. As long as the team stays close, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Go Leafs go.

Flames Needs

Originally blogged at Flames Scratch Pad

Have you seen this person? If seen, please contact the Calgary Flames organization! Okay, it's not that bad, but Shawn Monahan has struggled this year.

Is it the pressure of a big contract? Or maybe it's the system? Either way, Shawn seems to have lost his way to the yellow brick road. I do not know the reasoning, but it sure looks like he has lost his mojo. He has been struggling with the puck, fighting it like a hot potato.

The other elephant in the room that the Flames need to address is the top six forward. It is no secret the Flames are in dire need of a scoring right winger.

I suspect the Flames are mocking the asking price. It seems the sellers are very greedy; there simply are not enough sellers. There are slim pickings right now; this issue might not get filled until the deadline.

So let's try to address the issue of who the Flames should have as the targets. In no particular order:

Brock Nelson 

The Islanders are in trouble, being in the toughest division. Brock is a skilled young cheap forward.  It is no secret that Bennett has been struggling. Maybe moving him to the wing could help.  And penciling in Nelson there.

Patrick Sharp

Might be the best option. Patrick is not exactly having a great year, but he has a ton of skill. His expiring contract makes him expendable; he might be the power right wing the Flames so desperately need.

Martin Hanzal

A skilled young center who is a UFA at the end of the season. Martin is a big skilled forward for the Coyotes who has a ton of potential. He has never lived up to the hype. Maybe a change of scenery would do him some good. Again, I like the idea of moving Bennett to the wing.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Book Review: Mito Medical Kidnap File #1

This is a review of Mito, Medical Kidnap Files #1, by P.D. Workman (my wife.)

If you want real insight into disease, you can come to the right place. Pam gives you a perfect insight into the life of a teenager you do not want to be. Gabriel has been one sick puppy all his life, and trial after trial. The only person he can trust is his mother. All medical advice be damned, she goes against the recommended treatment plan. Who can trust the medical system now anyway? It is a medical system that is governed by one motivating factor: the almighty dollar.   

Gabriel refuses to give up.  He has no idea to who he can trust until he meets a crazy girl named Renata. She fills his head with conspiracy theories. She is the only friend he has, as he has lost his mother to the system.   

Follow along with them through every crazy adventure, Gabriel and Renata elude the law, doctors, and social workers as they try to make their voices heard. Where can they find an understanding ear? Will anyone believe them?  

More importantly, can they find a judge to listen or a nurse to stand up for them? How far will the doctors go to stop them from talking? This book takes you into the reality about a medical disorder that few people know about that affects far too many kids. They need to be heard and seen. It is a book that you hope is based more on fiction than on reality. Your heart will ache for the kids who actually suffer from mito. As a parent, it will make you pray for a cure. I grew closer to Gabriel with each chapter. A truly classic book that needs to be read. My wife Pam continues to amaze with each novel she writes. 

This book scares me and makes me want to find ways to help Gabriel succeed. You will find yourself standing on your feet yelling for the injustice to these kids. An inspiring book that makes me thirst for more. A true adventure for the underdog. 

Leafs Update

The kids continue to play lights-out this season. In fact, they continue to keep the Leafs in the playoff hunt. Who would have believed the Leafs would be still in the hunt this late in the season? Here comes the golden question one more time: Who deserves the credit for the Leafs being positioned as they are? I have a theory on that.  Here is my list, besides the obvious kids this season.

James van Riemsdyk

James has been rock solid, on track for another 20-goal season. In fact, he is closer to a 30-goal season.  He is a contributor to the powerplay unit as well, adding five powerplay goals so far this season.  He has been a stable influence on Marner plays. JVR has used his strength to his advantage. It is hard to take off his skates. He has been a force all season.

Matt Hunwick

I know it seems odd that I have included this name.  Matt has been very good this season; he has been a solid support to Morgan Rielly in the defensive zone coverage.  He is a rock in the defensive zone, and his +5 backs that up. He is a vet and is a great leader to the young kids. Matt is a valuable asset to the Leafs. Without him, Morgan Reilly would that much more in trouble. You have to love this kid's heart.  His courage is second to none. A great leader on the Leafs' blue line.

Frederik Andersen

The real Anderson has shown up and been consistent of late. He continues to hold the Leafs game-in and game-out. He continues to block that next goal. He has rarely has taken the night off. It might have taken take him time, but Anderson has emerged as the top goaltender the Leafs believed him to be.


The Leafs made a management decision no one thought possible.  If they continue to battle the odds and stay in the playoffs, do they actually buy at the playoff deadline or continue to hold the fort?

To add to the drama, everyone knows the Leafs could use a steady vet on the defense, a number four no-nonsense guy who can add to the toughness. Will they add at the deadline? Or do they fill the need in the offseason? Only time will tell.

Flames progress

I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. So tell me, why?  What is making the Flames a better team? I have a theory on that; well, at least, on elements which may have been in play. 

Flames Powerplay 

It looks like Mr. Cameron has all the players on board with him. Monahan has been especially good in the slot. He has been quite the sniper of late. The resurgence of Dougie Hamilton has been a major factor in the powerplay success. One could say the Flames have found their powerplay quarterback. Dougie has finally filled a desperate need, which the Flames have not had in years. The final factor: Mr. Johnny is back; I finally see the fire in his eyes. I don't know where he has been lately, but it so nice to see signs of the old Johnny of late. 

Flames Penalty Kill 

Mr. Stajan has been a workhorse. At times, he has been the best forward on the ice. But he has had help this season on the penalty kill in Deryk Engelland. The steady defender has been the biggest surprise this season. He has been consistent this season, doing everything that has been expected of him. Mr. Mikael Backlund has stepped up his game in the kill; his speed has been an intimidating force in the success of the kill. The major success is Flames are sticking to the box.  There not being caught out of position, keeping an eye on the puck at all times. 

Best line all season: Backlund, Frolik, Tkachuk. 

The heading says it all.  This line combo is really a line three in name only.  The three have been working together like a well-oiled machine. It's like they have been best friends for life. Backlund has found a new lease on life with his mates. He is the perfect distributor for two power forwards. Tkachuk is a beast, the power forward the Flames have been missing since some guy named Iggy. His strength in the corners is amazing. Frolik and Backlund have chemistry, together seems like Frolik knows exactly what Backlund is thinking.  Here is hoping this line continues to carry this team for the rest of the season. 


Troy Brouwer injury has brought up an interesting inquiry.  Do the Flames jump in and fill a need right away? Or do they dare stand pat? Which leads me to the fan poll question this week: Do we dare bring Iggy back for one last hurrah?