Friday, October 23, 2015

Flames 3, Red Wings 2 (OT) - WE WON!

Credit: Candice Ward - USA Today Sports
Mark Giordano with three points! Joe Colborne with a beautiful tip! Jonas Hiller with some great saves! Jose Bautista with a two-run home run to tie it up!

What a night!

Sorry, I’m not writing much tonight - I’m off to watch the Jays game. The Flames’ best player was Gio (of course), and their worst was nobody.

WE WON! We passed the Ducks! We actually outshot our opponents! One of our goalies’ records (Hiller) is now at .500!

Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Disaster Alert: What's Wrong With the 2015-16 Calgary Flames?


Credit: Sergei Belski - USA Today Sports

At the time of this writing, the Calgary Flames currently sit 1-4-0, good for last in the Western Conference. They are currently in a game against the Washington Capitals, but they may as well be sitting on their couches at home: coming into the second period against the Caps, the score was tied at one. Now, the Flames' defence has allowed three goals, has taken a penalty, and is a collective -6 on the night. That penalty came from Dougie Hamilton, and it's his fifth of the season already. Dennis Wideman just turned a 2-on-1 for Calgary into a fluttering blocked pass, and another missed opportunity for the club to make up for their (many) mistakes.

Yikes.

The forwards haven't done much, either: while Johnny Gaudreau, David Jones, and Sean Monahan have all had varying degrees of success to start this season, much of the rest of the forward lineup has been either invisible, terrible, or both. Meanwhile, the team's goaltending situation is a mess. Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo have carried the load for the club thus far, to mixed results: they'll collectively lose their fifth game of the season tonight, barring a miracle comeback.

So, what can we do?

Find Hope in T.J. Brodie 


Remember last year, when T.J. Brodie had a banner year, and almost everyone in the hockey world was attributing his success to the great play of Mark Giordano?

Uh... well, Giordano is playing with supposedly-better Dougie Hamilton (more on him later) now, and that pairing has been a total trainwreck. Gio finished top-5 in Norris voting last season. Now, he looks atrocious! He's been brutal!

Doug MacLean is absolutely ripping the Flames, and Giordano, on Sportsnet right now, and I agree with him. It's wasting our time to watch veteran defenceman cause three goals, on "three big mistakes".

So, how does Brodie figure into this? Well, maybe, upon his return, he can regain the chemistry he had with Giordano last year. That pairing was excellent, and it'd sure help the Flames this year.

Blame Hartley 


Imagine that you're Bob Hartley. Life's good, right? You have a Stanley Cup ring, a Jack Adams, and the deplorable situation of carrying three goalies. Oh no! This toxic environment is killing our team!

Well, if you're Hartley, you can't do anything about getting rid of a goalie. That's Brad Treliving's job. Anyhow, you have three goalies. Your two veterans have been, to put it lightly, not good to start the season. You have a guy in Joni Ortio who went 4-1 in every important game that he played in last year.

Come on, Bob! Y'kno, like, you gotta go wid' who's givin' you the best chance to, y'kno, win! It's clear that Hiller and Ramo aren't those guys! #Orts is!

Bench the Underachievers


Dougie Hamilton should be a happy guy right now. He just signed a huge contract in the offseason, he is playing on the top pairing of a deep Calgary defence, and...

Well. He doesn't seem so happy right now. He's taken five penalties already! We're six games in!

Hamilton hasn't been contributing, at all. He's looked soft defensively (Doug MacLean's words, not mine), incredibly undisciplined, and very lost at times.

Remember how Dennis Wideman sat at the beginning of 2014-15 because of his sub-par play? Well, he went on to score 15 goals.

Dougie needs to be revitalized. So do the Flames' other underachievers, like Mikael Backlund, Kris Russell, and Dennis Wideman (again).

So, here's my advice: sit all of them. Make them healthy scratches. Maybe they just need to reconnect to the game.



I'm sure that the Flames will get it together at some point. They're simply too good not to, and they've gotten some horribly unlucky bounces this year.

But honestly. 1-5-0?


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Battle of Alberta Recap - Oilers 5, Flames 2 - Nadir

Credit: Perry Nelson - USA Today Sports
na·dir
ˈnādər,ˈnādir/
noun
  1. the lowest point in the fortunes of a person or organization.
    "they had reached the nadir of their sufferings"
    synonyms:lowest point, lowest level, all-time low, bottomrock-bottom
    informalpits
    "the nadir of his career"

So, about those Flames...

The Calgary Flames played a horrendous game on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers, playing a apathetic, lacklustre match which could be best described as their nadir. Their lowest point.

Put this game out of your mind. Don't bring it up at work, at school, or at home.

Oh, and don't forget to read this recap!

What Happened?


- Well, Connor McDavid scored twice, and the HNIC panel was talking about him all night (to the surprise of no one). He was pretty excellent, racking up three points. Why can't we get any players like him?

- Speaking of players like McDavid, well, the Oilers have three more of them, and they all scored as well on Saturday. That will not be a one-time occurrence.

- Cam Talbot got his first win as an Oiler. He looked sharp.

Now, onto the Flames:

- David Jones had an excellent game. He scored two goals, nearly deflected in a third late in the final frame, and actually looked like he had the desire to beat the Oilers.

- Dennis Wideman got assists on both of Jones' goals. He also looked solid.

- Dougie Hamilton played an incredibly ineffective game. #27 needs to stop taking penalties - his two minors on the night put him up to 4 on the season. In five games.

- Mark Giordano looks lost out there. Was T.J. Brodie the one who was keeping that pairing afloat last year? Gio was a team-worst -3 on the night.

- Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan had a single shot on the night. Not each. Combined. Monahan had the shot.

- Jonas Hiller made one fantastic save tonight. Other than that, he was really un-good. Joni Ortio needs to play, and soon.

- Brandon Bollig, or Paul Byron. Who would you waive?

- Mason Raymond was not spectacular tonight. Hopefully he'll get back to how he was playing earlier this year.

- The Flames currently sit at 1-4 on the season, the same as the Oilers. Since Edmonton has the tiebreaker against the Flames right now, the Flames currently sit at sixth in the Pacific Division. The only team below them? The Anaheim Ducks.

- The Flames' 19 goals against is the worst mark in the Western Conference.

- The Flames' 0-3-0 home record is also the worst in the West.

Your Flame of the Game 




Two goals. Two shots. Two candidates for this award.

David Jones was easily the best Flame tonight. He was the only player who looked like he was earning his contract (and at $4 million, too!).

Great game, Jonesy.

Also considered: Dennis Wideman, D

Worst Flame of the Game 




He's taking too many penalties, and has very little chemistry with Giordano. 

Also considered: Everyone not named Dennis and David

Up Next


The Flames play against the Capitals at the 'Dome in a battle between Curtis Glencross' two last teams.

Boy, could the Flames have used him tonight.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

RECAP: 10 Takeaways From the Flames’ 3-2 OT Win Against Vancouver

Credit: Sergei Belski - USA Today Sports
The Flames got their first win of the 2015-16 season on Saturday, downing the Vancouver Canucks in the second game of a home-and-home by a score of 3-2. It was also the first game for both clubs involving 3-on-3 overtime.

Want to know more about said game? Well, you're in the right place. Read on for 10 takeaways from this Flames/Canucks match.

The Game


- You know who had a great game on Saturday? Mason Raymond. He was held off the scoresheet, but he still managed five shots, four of which came in the first period. If he's trying to make his case for increased playing time, he's doing it the right way.

- You know who looked terrible on Saturday? Dennis Wideman. The Canucks scored two goals in the second period, both as a result of one of his penalties. He was also fighting the puck all night long, the most notable instance of this being one dreadful giveaway in overtime off a faceoff.

- Jonas Hiller looked sharp in this game. Many of his 28 saves were quite important, including this timely effort late in the first period:


- Dougie Hamilton scored his first goal as a Flame in this game: a slick wrister over the shoulder of Ryan Miller to open the scoring in the opening frame.


- The other regulation goal for the Flames came off the stick of one Sean Monahan. The Canucks' goals came courtesy of Bo Horvat and Jared McCann.

- This game was tied at the end of regulation, so, for the first time for both clubs, the game went to 3-on-3 overtime.

- The Flames chose to employ 2 defencemen and one forward in this overtime period.

- Johnny Gaudreau won the game for the Flames at the 3:03 mark of overtime with this smooth finish on a partial breakaway:
- With that goal, Johnny Hockey now has points on all four Flames goals this season.

- Finally, what is this supposed to mean?

Your Flame of the Game 


Many fans would choose Johnny Gaudreau and his 3-point effort to be given this honour, but instead, it goes to Mason Raymond, who played with the intensity and willingness of a player in risk of losing his job. If he continues to play like this, I'd have no problem with him in my top-nine. Excellent game, Mason!

Worst Flame of the Game


Yeah, it's you, Dennis. Two awful penalties, more awful giveaways... I don't even want to talk about it. Try again next game.

Up Next


The Flames take Thanksgiving off for another 3-day rest between games, suiting back up next Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM. You can watch it on Sportsnet Flames, or listen on the FAN 960.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

20 (or so) Takeaways from NHL FaceOff 2015 and the Flames/Canucks Game

Credit: Candice Ward - USA Today Sports

Well, that was something.

The Calgary Flames did not start 2015-16 well, losing 5-1 to the visiting Vancouver Canucks! But who cares? They always lose on Opening Night, and NHL FaceOff was in town! I was there, and I actually managed to get up on-stage, being the very important person that I am (or maybe just because of luck). Anyhow, we were partying all night long (in this case meaning eleven)!

Here are twenty-or-so takeaways from the night.

- Fort Calgary. What a great venue for NHL FaceOff. Honestly, very few people were there (maybe two thousand?), but as a result, there was tons of room to move around. Plenty of great kiosks were present.

- Probably my favourite kiosk was Honda's. They had a great game where you could shoot foam pucks into the back of a new 2015 Honda CR-V, a chance to meet Joel Otto (which I did), a cell-phone charging station (which I used). as well as a Plinko-style game where you could win Tim Cards. Hey, speaking of Tim Horton's...

- Tim's was everywhere tonight. They had free hot chocolate and coffee for those chilly 'uns; there was a stand with unlimited hockey cards; and, speaking of hockey cards, you could get a personalized card with your name and picture and everything on it. Sweet!

- A main sponsor was Pepsi. I was drinking a Coke. Tee hee.

- Speaking of sugary goodness, I consumed approximately eight Oh Henry! bars over the course of the night. Oh Henry! also had a kiosk up with a mini-stage where you could answer trivia questions. My best streak: 18 in a row. Plus, Jamie Macoun was there. Another autograph and picture!

- Theo Fleury was there, also, greeting everyone who walked in to the event with a handshake and a picture. Cool guy - I complimented his music.

- Don't even ask me about the music. It was shrill and annoying.

- My highlight of the night was probably when I was chosen to go up on the big, main stage. My task was to race against another, older guy to put on a bag of hockey gear quickest. His bag contained pants, shoulder pads, gloves, socks, a jersey, and a helmet, as did mine; however, his jersey was a Flames jersey, while mine was of the Canucks' design. To make a long story short, I won. My prize: a custom pair of $300 skates, "courtesy of Reebok and the NHL". Very cool.

Now, as for the actual game (these were written live at Fort Calgary):

- Yikes.

- Kris Russell looks out of his element today. Can't seem to make a pass.

- Dougie, no more penalties in this game, or else I will... I will be angry.

- 1-0 Canucks. I forgot that Jannik Hansen was still playing.

- And, it's 2-zip. Nice pick out of mid-air by Sutter.

- JIRI HUDLER! First goal of the 2015-16 season for Calgary!

- Ooh, this lady says that there's a contest going on, and that I'm going up on stage. This is the most excited I've been all night.

- That was fun.

- I sure hope that I spelled my e-mail address right on that form.

- Back to the game:

- ...

- Ouch. Five seconds left, and it's 3-1. Second intermission.

- They're chanting "We Want Jonas" here in Fort Calgary.

- Alex Burrows scores. 4-1. Hey, this Samsung tent looks cool. Hey, there's Boomer and Warrener!

- I guess that the Canucks just scored again. Craziness, I wasn't paying attention.

- Dougie Hamilton's in the penalty box again. I may scream.

- It's 11:30 already?

In short, I had a great time at the 2015 Molson Canadian NHL FaceOff. The atmosphere was electric, the booths and kiosks were very cool, and it was just an overall great experience.

Now, if only the NHL would bring the All-Star Game back here...

Best Flame of the Game 



Jiri Hudler scored the Flames' only goal tonight, and was one of the only Flames out there who looked actually "into it" at points during the game.

Also considered: Johnny Gaudreau, LW; Michael Frolik, RW

Worst Flame of the Game



Kris Russell had an atrocious game tonight. He couldn't make a pass, he was fighting the puck, and he couldn't find a way to break out of his own zone effective at any point in tonight's game.

Also considered: Dougie Hamilton, D; Karri Ramo, G

The Verdict:

Tonight's game wasn't the best Flames game I've ever seen, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, here. They never win on opening nights, and their new acquisitions will need time to adjust to the Flames' system. Also, the atmosphere was fantastic, and I got free skates.

I had fun tonight. Isn't that what matters?

Game Score: 3/10
Event Score: 9/10

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Thinking Aesthetically: Ranking the Top 10 Jersey Lineups in the NHL (#8)

Credit: Jasen Vinlove - USA Today Sports
Thinking Aesthetically, ladies and gentlemen! You know the drill. If, for some reason, you don't know said drill:

A) I have a new reader! Hello, new reader! Click on the directory of my posts on the right of your screen.

B) You skipped some early posts on this subject. Follow the same directions as what I prescribed in scenario A.

There you go. Now, let's get started!

8. St. Louis Blues

Home: No discussion to be had here, really. These jerseys are top-5 in the NHL. I love, love, love, love them. The striping is beautiful, the logo is beautiful, all of the colours are balanced beautifully... everything is beautiful. Or blue-tiful.

Super classy jersey, St. Louis.


Road: I like these jerseys slightly less than their home counterparts because of the off-putting navy accents, but otherwise, it's a solid look. I'm a huge fan of the logo and striping, and I think that this jersey would look far better if everything navy was the same shade of blue used on the shoulder yoke. Speaking of the shoulder yoke, it's beautiful. I like how there aren't any shoulder patches.


Alternate: I'm going to list off everything that I dislike about this jersey:

- Too much white
- Not enough yellow

The white is overpowering. On the other hand, the navy blue provides a nicely muted body colour, and I love the logo. There's a reason that these have been around since 2008!

Score:

Home: 10/10
Road: 8.5/10
Alternate: 8.5/10
Overall: 27/30

Thinking Aesthetically will return!




Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thinking Aesthetically: Ranking the Top 10 Jersey Lineups in the NHL (#9)

Credit: Marilyn Indahl - USA Today Sports
Let's skip the formalities, here: the ninth-ranked team in my countdown of the best jersey lineups in the NHL is described here. Enjoy!

Before I begin, I just want to make a note of something: I am very, very tired. I just saw The Martian, which was excellent. You should go see it. This post will feel rushed, and that's because it is. I'm going to continue to post one of these a day until October 6th, when I will post the top 3, all in one long post. 

Thanks. Now, onto our regularly scheduled programming!

9. Minnesota Wild


The Minnesota Wild are, along with the Columbus Blue Jackets, one of the NHL's two newest franchises. Their logo has remained constant since their 2000 inception, but their jerseys have gone through radical changes.

I mostly enjoy their current designs. Read on!
 
Home: I call these jerseys the "Pierre-Marc Bouchard design", simply because they're old and underrated and... that's it. Not a great comparison, huh? Man, I'm tired.

Anyhow, apart from the creative decision to use red as the body colour, the jersey is pretty by-the-numbers: the green shoulder bit is accented rather nicely by a beige striping design. I love beige on jerseys, and this one is no exception - it's beautiful. However, this jersey is a relic from the early days of the ill-fated Reebok Edge movement, and the weird shape of the green blob seems so unnatural and weird that the jersey comes off as odd. I do enjoy the round logo, however, and the beige is nice (have I mentioned that?)

Very good design. Not my favourite, but it's something.

Road: Hey, did you know that the Wild are the only team in the entire NHL to use a different crest on all three of their jerseys? Their road whites remove the circle from "Mr. Forest Star Bear", and I'm not sure if I care. I like the logo either way, and in the case of this jersey, the rest of the design is so mesmerizing that I'm not sure if I noticed and hey, look, a squirrel.

My point is that the Wild's road jersey design is so good that the good logo isn't even necessary to make it feel complete. Seriously, they could go out against the Canadiens just wearing these base design, minus the logo, and not feel bad.

Sarcasm aside, I've got to say that everything in this jersey, from the immaculate piping to the nicely-contrasting red numbers to the clean-looking shoulder yoke, is perfect.

Alternate: I sure hope that I'm not alienating anyone here with my love of beige. Seriously - it's a perfect accent colour that goes with anything. The decent script logo (which, by script logo standards, is phantasmagorical) is helped along by the returning, excellent striping from the road jersey and the same lettering scheme (minus the red, thankfully - it wouldn't have worked on this one) to create a very suitable and appropriate third jersey. There's a reason that the Wild have worn this jersey since 2009 - it's a great design.

Score:

Home: 8/10
Road: 9.5/10
Alternate: 9/10
Overall: 26.5/30