Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Potpourri for 5-2-1, Alex

Before I type this next sentence, I want to assure you that I am not on any type of drugs. Okay, here goes: Brian McGrattan was the best player on the ice for Calgary on Friday.

Yeahhhhh, let's not get carried away here, Lambert. He had a fine game -- and for Brian McGrattan, a tremendous one -- but he was the 3rd best player on his line. Prust set up two beauty chances in the high slot, the 2nd of which resulted in McG's assist when his miss was redirected into the net by Boyd. The goal came on one of the several chances Boyd created.

Full credit to McG for getting into good scoring position three distinct times. If he averages 1/3 that rate over all the games he plays this season, I'll be thrilled. But he wasn't the guy making things happen out there. And you know what? He's not going to average a scoring chance per game. Not close. It was his first goal in 91 games; no amount of improved skill and luck will turn him into a reliably competent player in the offensive end.

And it's not like this is all calculator skepticism either. In Eric Godard's third game as a Flame, on October 13, 2007, he drove the net on a 2-on-1 with Stephane Yelle and potted the game-winning goal. This spurred some chatter along the lines of ,"Well if he can chip in once in a while on the scoresheet, as well as providing some energy and a physical presence, then we might have a gem in this here heavyweight."

We didn't. He didn't score again in the subsequent (and final) 76 games of his Flames career. He scored twice last season for the Cup champ Pens, dressing for 71 of 82 regular season games and 0 of 24 playoff games. So I guess what I'm trying to say is: my expectations for Brian McGrattan's helpfulness going forward, with respect to Winning, have not been raised one iota.

**Congratulations to the Oilers; they haven't looked this good in October since the Lupul team started 6-2.

**This crossed my mind a few times in the past couple of weeks: I wonder if the NW Division is the new SE Division. It certainly seems, early on here, that every team has serious flaws -- the NW may spend this season getting bootstomped by the other two divisions, and have one of those races where the div champ gets the 3rd seed and the runner-up finishes 9th.

**Thanks to Robert Cleave for pointing out this brief blog post by radio colour guy & WHA legend Mike Rogers. First Rogers lets the cat out of the bag:
People make out that Sutter’s system is so complicated that Albert Einstein would have trouble figuring it out. Brent’s approach is no different than pretty well every team in the NHL.

I knew it! I frickin' knew it. Every time a team gets a new coach, the players gush about his new system, and say something almost exactly like, "Coach has got us playing a lot more aggressive, up-tempo game [...] we just have to make smart decisions." Accordingly, it derives straight from Rogers' comments that, within a fairly narrow range, there is a commonly-accepted "right way" to play successful hockey.
So why the problem? The system will only work as long as the individual will buy in and I believe that some of the Flames players are not willing to do so. Playing a strong defensive game is not glamorous, but scoring goals is. So what would the player rather do? I think you know the answer. Once the individual commits to the idea that everyone has to be on the same page, the team will be successful.

I dunno, Mike. If the players are being asked to do things that are "no different than pretty well every team in the NHL", then how can this be a committment thing? How did the players on the Flames roster get to where they are today if they can't do the things that are acknowledged league-wide as being important? If Jarome Iginla had 7 goals right now, but an identical number of goals against, would you suggest that he needs to commit to a strong defensive game, or that there was any problem at all? I think you know the answer.

**Get well soon, Moss. Go Flames.


If the NW division is turning into a reasonable facsimile of the SE division circa 2003-2006, then maybe then we might finally see a pair of Stanley Cups coming out west.

so be it

I just had a peek at Kent's scoring chances over at his site and if we take those to be proxies for ice time, all of Iggy, Phaneuf, Regehr and Jokinen were sheltered vs. Nash.

Mike Rogers nailed it.


Patrick LaForge's embarrasing responses on Connect2Edmonton
(my questions are 1-6). He is the king of diverting attention away from the issue/question.

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