Thursday, November 02, 2006

 

This I Believe: All-Flames Edition

ONE. The Flames forwards are sufficiently talented to score as much as they need to. Last season, they ranked 12th in PP%, and have since added Alex Tanguay. Iginla, Tanguay, Langkow, Lombardi, Kobasew, and Huselius have plenty of talent and are a pretty decent top 2 lines.

I accept (or, endorse) the criticism that the 3rd and 4th lines are basically a void, but I don't know how big a handicap this is, statistically. I reject the criticism that the team is unfit for today's NHL, or whatever variation of that statement you choose. The PP will get better.

TWO. I do not know my hockey well enough, in an X-and-O sense, to assess whether the Flames' "system" is a wise one in the context of (A) the 2006 NHL or (B) their personnel. (Neither do most people who have opinions on both.) I'm sure that there are adjustments that could be made, surely this is always the case.

I am quite certain that forechecking hard and being in good defensive position is almost always a good thing, regardless of rules or era, so in that sense, I couldn't possibly have a broad philosophical objection to asking players to do these things. But...

THREE. There is a danger (a considerable one, based on the evidence so far) that over-coaching can promote an atmosphere where the pro athlete's brain neutralizes his physical gifts rather than augments them. So far this season, the Flames have been outscored 14-6 in the 1st period (and outscored their opponents 12-6 in the 3rd). That tells me that either the Flames are incredibly fit relative to their opponents thus far, or that they're starting the game with too much garbage in their heads.

FOUR. Per the above and my previous post, I think Coach Playfair needs to start sounding a lot more positive. It's possible that he's incredibly upbeat and encouraging in the dressing room, but I don't think so, and anyway that's not good enough. He and Sutter obviously believe to some extent in the power of the media, because they use the media to call out players and challenge them to be better. How's about using that same tactic to build some confidence?

"The players in our dressing room have the talent, the hockey sense, and the heart to beat any team in the league." Or, "Regehr and Warrener haven't had great starts, but they'll be back as good or better than ever." Or, "We've felt for three years that Matthew Lombardi had the potential to be a #1 centre in this league, and so far this season he's proving us right." Or, "Alex Tanguay is an elite point producer in this league, and his weak numbers so far is nothing more than a slump at a time when it's most obvious. He'll be fine; he'll be our #1 LW for the next three years."

What's the worst thing that can happen? Will the team go soft, and go (say) 3-7-1 over their next 11 games?

FOUR-A. It doesn't really look like Lombardi and Tanguay respond to that kind of up-in-your-face, hard-to-please-father type of motivation anyway.

FIVE. It is unlikely that the Flames, or any other team, can really be the hardest-working team in the league for an extended period. Yeah, it's something to strive for, but it's hubris (and disrespectful of the competition) to seriously expect to get there. Furthermore: if the team is not having fun, it's utterly impossible.

SIX. Here's an old hobby horse for longtime readers: Jarome Iginla needs someone to get the puck to a lot more than he needs someone to get the puck from. When I think of someone with more goals than assists, I think of guys like Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille: not bangers on the boards, but rather guys who find open space at the right times. Generally, not guys who control the puck much.

Iginla is not that type of player. He is a guy who creates scoring chances. He's more Joe Thornton than Jonathan Cheechoo. As such, if I were the ol' Coach for a Day, here's the one thing I'd do: I'd put Lombardi and Tanguay back on a line with Jarome, and give the two of them strict instructions that they are not to be preoccupied with getting Iginla the puck, but rather receiving it from him.

Those two guys have the best hands (where best = most opportunistic and effective around the net) on the team apart from the big man. If Iginla is playing with guys who can cash in on more of the scoring chances he creates, then team scoring obviously improves. Also, once everybody (Flames and opponents) realize that Jarome is playing with guys who can score, well, that'll help Jarome's scoring as well. Also, having a line that's really firing seems to have a lifting effect on a whole team.

SEVEN. The Wild just took at 13-point lead on Calgary for the NW Division lead. That's a big mountain. Fortunately, the Flames haven't played them -- or Vancouver or Colorado -- yet. There's a lot of opportunity left to have a very successful season

EIGHT. I have definitely eaten too much Halloween candy in the last three nights.

Comments:

The Flames method of old is really is playing the waiting game. The play tough D and hope to frustrate the the other team in to making a bad play. Take the turnover get an odd man rush a score one off of 3 legs and the ass of the some unsuspecting D man.
Well this year their tough D is is a little mushy. The other team scores 1st and then makes the Flames try and score one back. I am not the stat guy but that is what i think you would find.
I am also seeing the Hammer may be getting dealt. The next question is what would they get back?
I live in Cowtown so I get to read more about the Flames and go to a few games down at the Dome. Wonder if it is going to turn into the library again....
 


I agree with the Lombo/Tanguay/Iginla thinking. In fact, I was also beating that drum way back in the summer.

Unfortunately, 35% face-off man Langkow seems to be permanently entrenched as the #1 centerman for some reason...
 


I basically like Langkow, but how many times this season has he slammed his stick on the ice (or broken it over the crossbar) after missing a half-open net when a puck squirted to him? This is what I'm talking about: whoever plays with Iginla gets those opportunities, and I think Lombo/Tanguay cash more of them in.
 


Here’s a fun game. Take the forwards who average 14-16.5 minutes a game from each team and compare them:

Calgary - Tony Amonte, Stephane Yelle, Alex Tanguay, Matt Lombardi - 7 Goals

Anaheim - Andy McDonald, Todd Marchant, Chris Kunitz, Travis Moen - 14 Goals

Colorado - Milan Hejduk, Ian Laperriere, Tyler Arnasson, Marek Svatos - 14 Goals

Dallas - Jeff Halpern, Eric Lindros, Stu Barnes, Antti Miettinen - 8 Goals

Detroit - Robert Lang, Jason Williams, Tomas Holstrom, Mikael Samuelsson - 13 Goals

Edmonton - Joffey Lupel, Fernando Pisani, Ethan Moreau, Raffi Torres (kinda) - 9 Goals

Minnesota - Mark Perrish, P.M Bouchard, Mikko Koivu, Wes Walz - 6 Goals

Nashville - Scott Hartnell, David Legwand, Mikko Lehtonen, J.P Dumont - 12 Goals

San Jose - Mark Bell, Mike Grier, Steve Bernier, Chris Brown - 11 Goals

So here is my crude measure of depth up front. Notable is there are 8 teams in the Western Conference that don’t have to roll out guys like Amonte and Yelle 15 minutes a game. Makes it hard to play the “outwork, out forecheck ect.” style when you have to use Tony f-ing Amonte for 15 minutes.
 


Is your point that the Oilers could outscore the Flames even with one of their four guys playing on one leg for 4 months?

p.s. my word verification was:

cltxyOIL
 


Points 4 and 4a are dead on. If I had problems with my employees, the last thing that I would do is publicly humiliate them.

Hockey players are different, maybe. But human nature isn't. If you don't like your players, get rid of them. But stop treating them like dirt. It's stupid and doesn't work. I don't understand why anybody thinks it would.
 


Buffalo - Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, Jiri Novetny, Ales Kotalik - 22 Goals

Man they're good.
 


What kind of candy? I'm in denial right now so I have to ask the important questions.
 

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