Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Uh, my work here is done?

Wow. If there was an alternate universe in which Darryl Sutter and Mike Keenan were closely guided by my ramblings on this site, well, last night would have looked a lot like the one in this universe.

Keenan started out playing Moss with Tanguay/Conroy and Nolan with Boyd/Lombardi. Then somewhere past the halfway mark of the first, Nolan goes back to the Conroy line, and I see Moss back with Lombardi and... Yelle? Sure enough!

Go ahead and accuse me of seeing what I wanted to see, but: for the last ~50 minutes of last night's game, did it not look like the Flames had three legitimate lines, that could be effective at both ends? With an upcoming week off, Keenan sensibly parked Smith and Godard on the bench after three shifts, spotted Boyd in a couple of times, and the team was solid up front all night.

And on the back end, from the department of Well, I Guess It Could Be A Coincidence: Anders Eriksson was in the infirmary instead of playing 25 minutes, and the Flames gave up fewer scoring chances than just about any game this season. Phaneuf/Aucoin and Regehr/Sarich were basically flawless; Warrener and Hale each made one brutal play in their 11 minutes (only Warrener's led to a goal), and were otherwise sound.

And the GM did his part, too. He sent Nystrom back to the AHL -- a fine call -- and spent a few minutes yesterday dropping some science on the assembled hordes:
"The two best forwards on our team in everybody's view in the hockey world, by a long shot, are Jarome and Alex -- that is clear," said Sutter.

"The rest is simple. You can't keep everybody."
"He's been a great player for us for two years and we're lucky to have him."

And to top it all off, the Oilers lost to the worst team in the Eastern Conference. Goooood times.

And just a quick word on the Leaves... I find it very strange, the way the task at hand for them is being framed. I've heard a lot of, "Blow it up... draft top 5 for 3 or 4 years... young, cheap talent" as well as a good dose of "enough band-aids & stop-gaps... just making the playoffs isn't enough".

This isn't the 80s Norris Division, folks: if you're consistently making the playoffs, you're doing something right. If the Leafs had been good enough to make the playoffs the past two seasons, they wouldn't be in this mess, certainly not to this extent. The problem is not that they've been trading elite tomorrow for OK today; the problem is that they have been much worse than OK for too much of the post-lockout period.

And in case you haven't noticed: this "young, cheap talent" is very nearly mythical. Most rookies are no better than a veteran AHL-type, and in many cases (certainly 1st-rounders) make twice or more in salary than said veterans. If you're lucky, they earn their money in Year 2 and outperform their salary in Year 3 -- and then Boom, you have to pay them full market value.

Tyler has been the best at reinforcing this, but managing an NHL roster is essentially about making a continuous series of bets, and if you are good and/or lucky, you'll make more smart ones and fewer dumb ones than your competitors. There is general value to be found, and general pitfalls to be avoided, but there are no hard-and-fast rules and there is certainly no magic formula.


I was watching last night and thinking about your Yelle suggestion and how well it was working out in practice. Kudos.

Lombardi certainly looks like a much better player when he isn't dragging around two rookies...

I'd rather be a Flames fan than Oilers fan right now because even though you guys won't win any Cups, at least you get to watch your team in the reg season without blowing a gasket and be it only six games, you get to enjoy the playoffs.

That being said, this team won't beat the Ducks or Wings and outside of major injuries to either of those aforementioned teams, nothing will change that.

This team could beat the Ducks, as for the Wings that's another story.

This team could beat the Ducks, as for the Wings that's another story.

Bring it. I don't mind your tiering, though. Detroit's in another universe right now.

[i]This team [b]could[/b] beat the ducks[/i]

Operative word there.

The Ducks are looking very impressive lately...

That's bang on about the challenge of running an NHL team right now.

It strikes me that if we want to know best practices for NHL managers, we should pay close attention to NFL managers, who have operated under a hard salary cap for some time now.

I'm not much of an NFL watcher, but I understand that a smart NFL coach and manager can turn around a team there fast, and there's no use losing year after year and building through high picks.

nfl is a completely different ball game with no guaranteed contracts. you are always one bad season away from working at the local 7-11. guys can sign $7M per year contracts all they want. if you don't produce, they just show you the door.


Case in point: Anaheim. A few decent draft picks only augmented an incredible turnaround made by one terrific GM. I caught OTR the other day with a Q&A with Brian Burke, and Landsburg made mention of Burke's study of the New England Patriots, who are the model salary cap franchise. If Burke took some lessons from his field work, it surely has paid off.

That being said, this team won't beat the Ducks or Wings and outside of major injuries to either of those aforementioned teams, nothing will change that.

I disagree with that - the 04 Flames and the 06 Oilers couldn't beat the Wings either and yet, and yet ... a few bounces, steady goaltending and bang ... you find yourself on the way to the Final. If you look at who plays in the Final year after year, there's usually one team no one expected to be there.

Certainly as we sit here in late January it seems improbable that anyone can beat the Wings, and the Ducks do look strong, but I'd be prepared to bet that the Stanley Cup Final '08 will not be contested by both the Red Wings and the Senators.

Fine enough, Peter. But it won't be contested by the Flames either.

This thread's probably dead but I'm wondering if anyone saw Wed night's Det/Ana game? I watched the first two periods and with the Wings playing the second half of a BTB, missing ZBerg and losing Cleary after a first period bout with Pronger, they ripped the absolute cover off the Ducks in terms of scoring chances for/against.

It wasn't even close.

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